Discovering John

Discovering John

A Story by Gio Iannotti

The Absolutely True Story of a Soul Dying to be discovered.


Discovering John


                          [The Absolutely True Story of a Soul Dying to be discovered]                        


I would like to tell you about a soul that I met unexpectedly some time ago. It was on Halloween eve back in 1998. When ever October rolls around . . . at midnight, most nights . . . John comes to me. He always has the same request which he whispers to me softly. “Please tell my story, Gio. I want people to know I was here.” 


Saturday, October 31st, 1998: Pinellas County, Florida.

My girlfriend called out of the blue. “Gio,” she said, in her distinct Brooklyn accent, “What’cha doin’ today?”

“Not much,” I replied. What else can you say when you have no plans? 

“Ya gotta come wit’ Marty and me. Dere’s dis party. It’s my friend Ellen’s birthday.”

“I don’t know Ellen,” I said.

“Ya, so ya know me and Marty.”

“But, I don’t know Ellen,” I reaffirmed.

“Shut up,” Lu commanded. “Be at our house at two sharp. We gotta help set stuff up.”


“Decorations, like spider webs wit’ fake spiders on ‘em . . . pumpkins stuffed with paper shreddings. Get here on time. I don’t wanna half-ta-get mad at you.”

“But Lu . . .”

“No buts. Get your akxxx over here by two.”

I love Lu and Marty. I had no other plans. “I’ll be there,” I relented. I wasn’t late.

When we arrived at Ellen’s, there were three other ‘helpers’ in attendance: A woman named Laura and her husband, (who’s name I’ve forgotten), and Laura’s friend Steve.

The seven of us got to work. After the house passed our joint ‘creepiness test,’ we retired to the back yard to get to know each other a little before the rest of the crowd arrived.

Ellen, our host, spoke first. After she talked a little bit about her childhood, and where she had been and hoped to go in life, Ellen said, “Laura and Lu are my best girlfriends. They convinced me to throw myself this party. It’s been a lot of years since I had a birthday on my real birth day . . . which is because it really is today.”

Laura jumped in next. She and her husband were visiting from Miami. We were spell bound when she told us how she used to work as an extra on the set of Miami Vice . . . there was such a flourish to her words and drama in her mannerisms. There were a lot of follow-up questions about Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, who played  Detectives James Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. When we had exhausted what we remembered about the series which ended in 1989, Laura pointed to Steve. “Steve, has been a good friend of mine for many years,” she said.  “He just decided to come into town ‘on a lark’. My buddy’s words.”

Steve nodded a hello.

Lucille piped up. “Me and Marty’s from Brooklyn. I met Gio da first week we got here. She moved here da same time we did from Connecticut. Ain’t dat a small world?”

Steve perked up. “Connecticut, whereabouts? I used to spend every summer there after my parents divorced.”

“Wow,” I replied, “that’s interesting. I grew up in Bridgeport. Ever heard of it?”

“Sure,” Steve said. “But I’ve only driven by there on the highway.”

To which I instantaneously thought, “Thank God.” Until his next words hit me.

“I Spent most of the time visiting my father in Clinton,” Steve said.

[What? This is weird . . . Steve looks to be about my age . . . that would mean his father would be close to my mother’s age.] The goose bumps on my arms confirmed the sensation.

“My mom grew up in Clinton,” I managed.

“Really,” Steve said, “It is a small world.”

“Gio, ya look all kinda strange. What’s goin’ on in dat head?” Lu asked.

“If ya gotta know,” I adopted her accent for as long as I could do it justice, which wasn’t long at all, “I’m betting Steve’s family and my family actually know each other.”

“No way,” Lu looked me over like I had two heads.

Steve shrugged.

“My mom was one of eleven. If your dad didn’t know her, Steve, he had to know someone else in her family. Clinton is a very small town!”

“The thought is freaky,” Ellen agreed.

            “Steve, what’s your dad’s name, and how many siblings did he have? My mom’s gonna be blown away if it does turn out she knows you guys.”

“My dad’s name is Burton. He had two brothers, Richard and John. My Uncle Richard, the youngest, is still alive. John, who I never knew, shot himself at sixteen over some girl.”

“What? Say what again?” Now the goose bumps on my arms were joined by a nervous twitch in my eye. I jumped up from my chair. “Holy s**t,” came out involuntarily.

“What’s wrong wit’ you, Gio, ya look like ya just seen a ghost.”

“When I say Clinton is small, what I’m saying is that in the 30’s and 40’s if the population capped a thousand, I’d be shocked. Today it might be all the way up to ten thousand.”


“I get dat’s not much people.”

“Lu, when you left Brooklyn how many folks lived in that borough alone?”

Marty answered, “Almost 2 and a half million. I know. I sold insurance.”

“Clinton’s population today is 3,500,” Steve replied.

I nodded and continued, “Everybody knew everybody back in the day. Suicide was rare. There’s this story I remember. When mom’s younger sister was just fourteen, a sixteen year old boy apparently killed himself over her.”

The doorbell began to ring. Ellen and the rest of the backyard troupe, minus Steve and I went to meet and greet.

“Any idea what high school your family attended,” I asked.

Steve looked nonplussed but I think he was really having a hard time coming to terms with the surreal.

“My mom graduated from Morgan High,” I continued.

“Everyone in my family went to Madison,” Steve said.

“Madison High is just in the next town over.”

“Ya, but I was told the girl my uncle was crazy over went to Madison High, too.”

I hoped he was right but my heart would not stop pounding.

“I’m gonna talk to my dad tomorrow,” Steve said. “Talk to your mom. Give me your number. I’ll phone you later in the afternoon and we can trade notes.”

I called my mom early the next day. We began with all the formalities. “How’s dad?  How are you feeling? What’s the weather like?” My hands were sweating, my stomach was in knots when I finally said, “Mom, I might have met someone yesterday . . .”



 “I might have met someone yesterday who’s father might know your family.”

“Really? That’s interesting. What’s his name?”

I repeated Steve’s fathers’ name. [Long pause.]

“Gio, I need you to promise me you will never speak to that person again!”

“Why? Mom, did this man’s brother John kill himself over Aunt Lois?”

“What did you say? How did you . . . You can’t know about that!” My mother’s voice confirmed serious, biological panic.

“I was twenty-one. You and I were driving to Clinton, mom. We went past a white house and you got all flustered, remember? You told me that was where the boy lived that killed himself over Aunt Lo.”

“I did not ever tell you that!”

“Yes you did, how else would I have remembered?”

“Swear right now, on a stack of bibles, you will never mention this to your Aunt. She was traumatized and ostracized for years. She’s never gotten over it. Never gotten over it.”

“Aunt Lo and I phone each other what, three times a year? If you think it will upset her, I won’t ever mention it. But you have to admit, mom, that it’s more than strange to be at a Halloween party I never planned on going to . . . just to find out about something that happened decades ago in a place thirteen-hundred miles away. Any idea what year this happened?”

“Lois was fourteen, I was nineteen. I was away in cadet nursing school so I never got the full story. Lo wouldn’t speak about it. I picked up bits and pieces from my other siblings.”

“Then it would be sometime in 1941 since you were born in ’22.”

“Sounds right. Promise me you won’t speak to that Steve guy again and double down promise you will never breathe a word of this to my sister. It would kill her.” 

When my phone began to ring a few hours later, I had another out of body feeling. As I reached to pick up the handset, I somehow knew it was going to be Aunt Lois.

Her signature “helloooo,” was creepy in its’ own right. We only talked to each other a few times a year and I was normally the person initiating the call.

After the pleasantries were over my Aunt Lois said, “I hear something in your voice. What’s wrong darling?”


“I know you better than that.”



“Can’t tell you Aunt Lo.”

“Why is that?”

“Been sworn to secrecy.”

“By whom?”

“Your sister.”

“There should be no secrets between us. What’s going on?”

“This might sound like a crazy question, but just answer it for me, okay? Did you graduate from Morgan high school?”

“Yes. I finished my junior and senior years there.”

[Finished . . . Junior and senior . . . hmmm.]

On a lark I followed up with, “And . . . before that?”

“I was bussed over to Madison High.”

“Oh my God!” My body slumped while standing.

“What’s going on?”

“Aunt Lois, I went to a Halloween party here in Florida yesterday. Got a last minute, unexpected invite.”


“I met the son of someone you might know. Mom threatened to strangle me if I ever told you about it.”

“I’m seventy-one years old. Shocks don’t rattle me much anymore. Who did you meet?”

“A man about my age. His name is Steve. He’s from Colorado.”

“I’ve been to Colorado a few times but I don’t know any Steve’s who live there.”

“Steve’s father grew up in Clinton. He used to visit him there every summer.”

“I see . . . and Steve’s father’s name is?”

“Aunt Lo.”

“What’s his name, honey?”

“Burton H-----.”


“Aunt Lo?”

My aunt cleared her throat. “Everyone thought Burton’s brother John killed himself over me. He didn’t. Not many people knew the truth . . . but those that did never wanted it to come out. I was ostracized for years over poor John’s death.”

“Mom is going to shoot me for bringing this up. I’m so sorry, Aunt Lois.”

“Gio, honey, I’m glad you did. I actually feel relieved. Today is All Saint’s Day. What better day to purge myself of John’s ghost? I need to tell you the true story. You have time?”

“Of course.”

“My grade school teachers thought I was talented musically so I tried out for the band in Madison and got accepted. Morgan didn’t have that kind of program. Clinton paid to bus me across town. John’s father, Turton was the school administrator.”

“Turton is a real name?”

“An unusual one perhaps. Real nevertheless.”

“Is a school administrator the same thing as a principal?”

“It is. A school administrator has a lot of power, at least Turton did. I was a naïve farm girl. John and I became friends. I was too young for a beau, and John understood that . . . at least he said he did . . . but above all else, he needed a sounding board. John had a secret that he didn’t trust with anyone except me.”

Aunt Lo paused to collect her thoughts.

“It was a Sunday in November. We had a school function that day. When John showed up, he was distraught. I could tell he’d gotten into Turton’s liquor cabinet. I scolded him firmly. That’s when he signaled for me to follow him. When we got to a shadowy corner where no one else could see, John showed me his back. It was raw from the flogging he’d taken. His father beat him to a pulp quite regularly. This one was a very bad one.”

“Oh my God, why would his father do that,” I asked my aunt. I couldn’t believe the brutality she was conveying.

“Burton was two years older than John. He was a straight-A student. John held solid B’s. He was also athletically talented. Everyone except Turton loved his out going personality. Turton took everything out on John while holding Burton up on a pedestal.”

“How awful.”

“John was a sweet soul who wanted to be loved and respected. He didn’t get it at home.”

“So what happened next?”

“I had permission to sleep over my girlfriend’s house that Sunday night. After dark we heard a rap on the back window. When I looked out, I saw John’s big blue eyes staring in at me. He waved for me to come outside. I shook my head, no.

I’d always been taught if a boy came calling he should come to the front door and announce himself properly so when John rapped again, I shook my head again. Then he went away.

A few hours later we heard ‘pop, pop.’ We didn’t know what it was. My girlfriend’s dad wasn’t home. Her mom was afraid to go outside.

The next day we went to school as normal. Around ten in the morning, the teacher’s all gathered in the hallway. They were crying. My girlfriend’s mom had gone out back to hang clothes and found John’s body. He had shot himself out of desperation and depression.”

“Aunt Lois, I am so sorry.”

“You wouldn’t believe how many nights those blue eyes have come rapping on the window of my dreams. If only I had . . .”

“You can’t blame yourself, Aunt Lo.”

“I know, but it’s such a shame. John had so much going for him. I can only wonder what kind of punishment he might have been subjected to when he got home from school after the social.”

“Now I understand why he came to me here in Florida. John is a powerful soul. He wanted you to know he’s in good hands. He wanted to finally give you peace of mind. He wanted others to know he was once alive . . . his spirit still existed. I was the first available conduit he came in contact with after all of these years.”

“You are right and thank you honey for trusting me with this knowledge.”

After we hung up Steve called. He was curt. He told me his father did know my family but that any further communication would be off limits. Then he hung up.

Angels came to collect Aunt Lo’s soul on 21 September 2017. It never seemed right to tell John’s story until after she was departed. It does not seem appropriate to mention John’s last name while members of his family are likely still alive but with the little I knew about him I did find something in the archives.

I found John William H----- listed in the 1940 census. He was 15 at the time. His name was not included in the next census.

I also found a very old newspaper notice. John died in the early morning hours of 17 November 1941. He was16. He is buried in Beaverdale Memorial Park in New Haven.

“Rest in Peace John. You have your constant friend, my dear Aunt Lois to lean on again.”

Much love and respect to all Hallowed Souls . . .


© 2019 Gio Iannotti

Author's Note

Gio Iannotti
This is a true story. John was real. I hope my writing was good enough to allow him to be known.

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Added on October 26, 2019
Last Updated on October 26, 2019
Tags: Halloween, true story, deja vu, past-life experience, recognition, spirit, ghost


Gio Iannotti
Gio Iannotti

Daytona Beach, FL

Gio has worn many hats, from multi-million-dollar, competitive proposal writer and contributor to freelance newspaper communist to teacher. She has also been a contracts and finance director, care-giv.. more..