The Secret Bootlegging Room at the Shanley Hotel
Back in the bar area where we had left our equipment, I began getting things ready. A minute or two later I heard Mike calling my name, and found that he had gone down into the secret room to set up a camcorder. Sal showed me how to navigate the cramped closet and safely get my feet onto the narrow stairs. I thought Mike must have found something interesting he wanted to show me. Instead, I found him in a bad state.
He told me he felt very upset, agitated, almost panicky, and suddenly had a pounding headache. The small dark room did feel very unpleasant—and even as I write this I realize what a gross understatement that is—and I saw it was really affecting Mike in a negative way.
"You should leave. This place is terrible and it’s really getting to you," I told him.
"I know. That’s why I called you down here so you could feel it, too," Mike said.
Despite the awful feeling in that room, I believe I smiled as I replied, "Thanks, I appreciate that."
Of course I understood his intentions, it just sounded kind of odd—"Hey, I feel really terrible, come on down so you can feel terrible, too!"
We got the camcorder up and running very quickly, then we headed for the stairs. As Mike was feeling the worst, I let him go first. However, once "out of the hole," he paused to talk with Sal, leaving me no room to get out. As I stood on the stairs, half in and half out, a wave of panic swept over me and I could have sworn someone was pulling on my legs, trying to pull me back into the room
I tried to ignore the feeling, tried brushing the "hands" off my legs, but the feeling not only persisted, it intensified. I said, "I have the feeling someone is grabbing my legs," but Mike wasn’t listening as he was speaking with Sal. I was about two seconds away from screaming at him to get out of the way (a phrase that would have included a choice obscenity) and shoving him as hard as I could, when he finally moved and I was able to pull out my legs. Thankfully, whatever had been grabbing at them stopped as soon as my legs were clear of that horrible secret room.