Ghost Story

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Daniel Dieter Abt

The following story is true. Of course I leave open the possibilty that this is mere coincidence but still it is a fun tale for me to tell.

The year that James Cameron's movie "Titanic" was to be released I owned a video store that did alot of direct promotion of major studio releases. Because of my warm relations with the studios and in this case because of my special interest in Titanic I was able to wrangle a tour of the set in Baja Mexico.

My store was highly specialized and my staff comprised of individuals who were devoted to cinema. To enhance this enthusiam and to ensure that my staff was very conversant in all aspects of film I encouraged them and paid for them to study film. In between film seminars in Los Angeles I decided to sail down to Baja with the manager of my business in between two seminars to see the Fox studios in Baja.

We set sail on the Carnival lines "Holiday" and were seated with a former LAPD man and his wife in the dining room. The first night she told us, at length, how much she had had to work to convince her husband that this trip would not be anything like his much dreaded trip across the Pacific during the Korean war. Therefore we did not mention the Titanic or the purpose of our trip to them.

Upon docking my business partner and I (he sopke spanish) we chartered a car and headed north straight away for the studio.

We had ordered a chip of Titanic coal from the internet to carry with us to present to our host at the end of our tour as a token of thanks.

The tour was, at first, conducted in a rather dispassionat way until I told our host how I had, years before, compiled a video monatge from various previous films as well as illustrations I had made as a sort of design for what I felt a Titanic film should have. At this point our host warmed considerably. The jey point of my proposed narrative seemed to be an birds eye view of the sinking meant to convey the lonliness of the Titanics fate on a vast ocean with no one near.

We went into the vast hanger like facility where the huge tanks were. We found our way down a wooden stairway to the set where the Renault automobile was. We noticed the palm prints on the frosted windows but were told that we would have to see the movie to know what it meant.

Just then the radio of the walkie talkie our host was carrying crackled with an announcement of immenent flooding. The now famous screaming matches between the two studios regarding the delay of the release was still fresh as the re-filming of the gran staircase flooding had happened just a day or two before. And now, under the pressure of events the very set we were on was about to be flooded. Our host frantically called out that he was unsure of the way back up out of the tank!

We wondered if we would become the newest casualties of Titanic!

We found our way up and soon we were at the end of our tour in the sets for the boiler room. I decided that this was the time to present our humble chip of Titanic coal. Our host was amused..he was not disrespectful in any way..he told us, "We dived to Titanic before filming and we have Titanic items." We, of course, (my business partner and I) exchanged raised eyebrows. Our host then said, "Why don't you keep this and take some of this (he reached down and scooped up some fake coal bits) as a momento?" Of course we accepted this with delight.

That dinner as the ship was leaving Ensenda we decided to share what we had done all that day with our dining room mates..

No sooner had I put upon the table the real coal and the fake coal did the ship shudder and the lights of the dining room being to flutter.

Everyone was distracted, waiters stood still with heavy platters over then, the ship quivered, shook, the lights went on and off.

When this subsided the former LAPD man threw down his napkin and said to me, "How dare you bring THAT on MY ship!"

We left the dining room a and went up to the bows. We looked to the coast with our binoculars and saw through the haze what looked to be giant liner in distress.

She was down at her bows, proud and not forgotten, seemingly she called to us for help.

Or to reprimand us for daring to take any part of her to sea again.
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