*SPOILER ALERT: The following blog post contains spoilers for Episode 2, 3 & 4! Before reading on, listen to The Tavern - Part I & II! Afterward, make sure to read this "Behind-the-Episode" blog for photos and extras!
With the first episode of The Night Owl Podcast, I realized Royal Legion Tattoo had spoiled me a little. It was either good fortune or fate that I’d stumbled upon a story that would conveniently fit together into a single contained episode that would also have a very satisfying resolution. With the Tavern, things turned out to be different. The pieces of the puzzle I was finding here weren’t fitting together quite like they had in the tattoo shop’s case. I began to grow a bit nervous and frustrated as to where this story was going to end up. How was I going to make this into an episode that would mirror what I’d accomplished with Episode 1?
The Tavern — 922 W. 12th St. Austin, Texas
Well, things were off to a bumpy start, but The Tavern has now expanded into a 3-part episode series! As I should have expected from my interviews on Episode 2, this case wasn’t going to be an easy one to crack. There was a very dark crime that was said to have been committed, the victim was a child, and she was said to be haunting the building. This already felt heavier than before.
To hear what unfolded as I brought friend and clairvoyant Sara to the Tavern, listen to this episode. There’s just too much that went down to repeat it all here. But I’m going to share with you some of the behind the scenes photos and anecdotes that occurred during our 1st investigation at The Tavern together on October 25th.
Outside The Tavern on October 25th, waiting for Sara and her husband Rene to arrive
When Sara first got there, she kept looking up at the upstairs window you see in the picture above. She informed me she was a bit confused about this location. She hadn’t received much and was getting a lot of smoke and fog.
This is the actual page from Sara’s notebook from her drawings on October 25th. (She asks that you excuse the work — she wants everyone to know she is not a professional artist. This process just helps her)
Above you can see the actual sketches Sara made during this first investigation. I’ll try to navigate you through some of the work. The top half of the page is what she sketched briefly the night before, after our phone call. The wavy lines represented the smoke and foggy haze she was getting. She added more details and drew in more of the male face while she was there getting more from her readings in the space. But the image of the male with the mustache is “Walter”, the man who supposedly is oppressing Emily. He’s the one who was kind of just watching and hanging out until we opened the crawlspace. Then he got a lot more interested in what we were doing and wouldn’t go away and let Sara talk with Emily. He’s also who Sara believes committed the horrible act. But there’s more that develops on this in Episode 4.
The images on the bottom have is what Sara sketched during the investigation. She carried the notebook around with her at all times and drew as she read or received stuff. It seems to help her process what’s coming through. It’s nice, too, for us because we then get visual references that help illustrate this tale! Thanks Sara!
In the bottom half you can see a larger image of Walter’s face. There’s also the drawing of Emily Sara drew as we had her trapped in the 2nd floor closet for a bit. The shadowy image of the woman turned away from us is important to note. This is the other spirit Sara alludes to at the end of this episode. Remember this because it’s going to play a big part in Episode 4! Another thing to take note of is the “W” “E” “M” letters written out to the right of Walter’s face. Sara and I didn’t put much of this together by the end of this night, but these three initials will come together and make sense by the end of this epic tale!
Emily’s closet on the 2nd Floor
Above is the closet on the 2nd floor that is rumored to have been Emily’s room. Wish I’d remembered to snap a pic of the inside of this closet but I forgot to. Sorry listeners/readers. But this is the closet by the waitressing station on the 2nd floor. I’m also kicking myself in the butt that I didn’t take a picture of the dumbwaiter. But just so you know, it is directly to the left of the waitressing station on the left side of this pic. It runs straight down into the kitchen below. And, I don’t mention this on the episode, but can you guess where it goes on the 3rd floor? The top of it touches the crawlspace. When I learned this I got a few chills. If you recall, Sara had a theory that the prankster was traveling from the 3rd floor to the 2nd and 1st floor through the wall. Seems like dumbwaiter shaft runs directly from the crawlspace, by this closet, and down into the kitchen where more prankster activity occurs.
The 3rd Floor/Attic Stairwell
Pictured above is the 3rd floor stairwell. Directly to the left where I’m standing as I take this picture, is the crawlspace door. It sits just at the top of the landing of this staircase. If you’re walking up these stairs, it’s on your right. This is where I was standing when I opened the crawlspace. And down there, on the 2nd step from the bottom, is where the male spirit was said to have appeared and lingered after opening the crawlspace.
The crawlspace where the body of Emily was supposedly found.
Pictured above is the crawlspace. This door is usually shut but we cracked it open so you can get a glimpse at what we saw when we first opened it. There are boxes and supplies stacked inside. It goes in pretty deep and you can’t really see all the way to the end unless you use a flashlight or phone light.
As you heard in this episode, Sara hadn’t given any attention to this space. As the night was coming to an end, I felt I needed to take her over to it and just open and see what she felt. That’s when the atmosphere of the night changed entirely. I don’t go into too much detail about this on the episode, but the whole night, which lasted nearly 3 hours, the vibe was very calm and positive. There was the male spirit who was just watching and not interacting. Then there was the prankster who wasn’t malevolent, but liked to playfully scare the staff.
As soon as I undid the clip on this crawlspace latch and cracked the door open, Sara’s hands came in unexpectedly behind mine and slammed the door closed again. It was so fast. And it kinda scared me. I stood with one foot on the landing and one foot on the top step of the stairwell. My back to the steps. Sara stood in front of me facing the crawlspace door. But she kept looking to the office which was down at the end of the hall on Sara’s right and over my shoulder at something behind me on the stairwell.
Sara informed me the man was there now. Behind me. And not happy. This is when everything changed and I began to question my own skepticism of the story surrounding this place.
As you know from listening to the episode, much of the story about Emily seemed to come to Sara at the very end of the night. And as I watched her work, I could tell, it was frustrating and difficult for her to push through the haziness surrounding this place to come to any real answers.
But in the end, it seemed the male spirit, who later told Sara his name was “Walter” was a dark, oppressive spirit pushing Emily around and holding her hostage there. Sara didn’t know everything yet, but we would return for a 2nd investigation to get to the bottom of this.
Before leaving, Sara’s husband Rene shared a photograph that he took with his phone with me. As you recall from the episode, this photo has been difficult to debunk for me. I was skeptical at first, but I am not any more. There’s more that will come regarding this photo in Episode 4. A lot more! But as promised, here it is!
First is the photo my wife took the night prior to our investigation from a very similar vantage point. The 2nd is the actual photo Rene took with the unexplained figure on the stairwell.
Photo my wife took with her nice camera the night before. Notice the crawlspace door straight ahead. Then the stairwell to the right of this door
Rene’s photograph — taken on his smartphone while he and Sara were alone briefly on the 3rd floor shortly after the incident where we opened the crawlspace.
An even closer look at the black mass and smokey face. We also notice something that resembles fingers of a hand clutching the angled roof.
In Rene’s photo, you can see directly to Sara’s right, near the stairwell, there’s a black mass or figure. Within this figure, a smokey image that resembles a face is looking back at us.
I studied this for a long time. That stairwell is very well lit. It was never dark both nights I was there. But there was a light switch on this wall and I wondered if that switch could turn off the light in the stairwell.
I have since confirmed, with my own eyes, the light in the stairwell that you can clearly see on in my wife’s photo does not turn off by itself. It’s on a switch that turns off every single light on the third floor. Bar manager Sam showed us. He flipped the switch and the entire attic went pitch black.
More of this story has developed, including a panicked phone call from General Manager Molly about a staff member reporting seeing something on this very stairwell, and describing something that resembles what we caught in the photograph.
Tune in January 29th for the shocking conclusion of this story.
Stay restless my fellow night owls,