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Seeing A Light

by on October 28, 2021

Seeing A Light

Untold Stories of Tonio

by Marco M. Pardi

All comments are welcome and will receive a reply. All previous posts are open for comment.

Maartje sat reading in the library of the home she shared with Tonio. A large home, appointed with original art, Persian rugs, artifacts from around the world, and many hundreds of books. One of the four bedrooms was crowded with well over $100,000.00 worth of audio-visual equipment. All protected by a detection system designed and installed by Tonio. When she marveled at the home, obviously more than a college professor’s salary could obtain, he said only, I have other talents that are in demand. Of the exotic detection system he said, Getting into a house is easy; getting out alive is not.

Maartje had several talents of her own. In a studio she and Tonio had set up in the home she used his Bolex MacroZoom movie camera to produce “ClayMation” films; his Bolex H16s were just too big. She would make an entire set, complete with characters, from modeling clay and then, setting the camera on single frame, shot a frame-altered a character-shot a frame-altered a character and so on until the finished product was a motion picture film in which the characters smoothly and naturally “came to life”. Tonio could not imagine the discipline needed for such an intensive task.

At other times Maartje created stunning oil paintings, usually of natural scenes. One, which hung in the living room, was a 3′ X 5′ rendition of a forest pool, the trees deeply dense and vibrant, each leaf and branch properly reflected in the water. When Tonio recovered from stunned silence he told her it made him think of what survivors of near death experiences often say, “Everything there was more real than it is here.” Even while watching their favorite PBS programs, Faulty Towers, To The Manor Born, and Benny Hill, Maartje would sit with her portfolio open on her lap and sketch pen-inked cartoons of their daily life complete with humorous dialogue that only insiders would truly understand.

Maartje’s artistic nature was well known in the community and she was on constant call to render stunning murals inside private homes and some businesses. But in her off time she loved to wander slowly through hardware stores looking at the parts and pieces, imagining what she could do with a yard full of them.

Maartje had wondered briefly if Tonio was in the burgeoning drug trade but quickly found he was utterly intolerant of any mind altering substances, even a cold beer. Then, there were the austere and very serious people who dropped by. By no means naive, she pegged two of them for Mossad. Her deep and extensive knowledge of audio-visual equipment, and her work history, seemed to clear her for sitting in on conversations which, while guarded, were clear to her in their meaning. She wanted in.

But Tonio had plans for the week-end. Among his books were volumes by Hans Holzer, a journalist turned paranormal investigator. In his travels Holzer had come across an array of photographs which appeared to show everyday scenes with the spirit or wraith of someone long or recently deceased clearly visible, and recognizable, in the scene. Also fascinating were photos taken by tourists inside European cathedrals. Some showed gauzy monks kneeling in prayer, but they appeared to be kneeling in the floor not on the floor. A little research found they were kneeling where the floor had been hundreds of years earlier.

Tonio, having gained notoriety in the developing field of Death & Dying (which he found ironic), could think of no good reason spirits would hang around a cemetery but he did describe a particularly vivid experience while spending the night in a Central European cemetery. (Maartje did not ask the obvious question.) So, along with another couple from the college they were going to spend the night in two local cemeteries for which Tonio had already obtained permission,

After dinner they loaded a variety of audio-visual equipment in Maartje’s car. Tonio’s new Italian sports car did not have room. Maartje and Tonio had gone several times to a firing range where she proved a fast learner and excellent shot but they brought no firearms. As Tonio said, What’s the use of shooting a dead guy? So, as night was falling they arrived at the first cemetery, finding the other couple waiting. Maartje squeezed the man’s arm. Just checking, she said. She had a disarming sense of humor and a distinctive laugh. Not usually one for pet names, she did often call Tonio Darlin’ or refer to him as the DEEVIL. Her Dutch language bled through on occasion.

Set up was a bit clumsy, however Maartje, tall and slender but muscular knew exactly what to do even in very limited light. Tonio assumed she could easily field strip and re-assemble a semi-automatic handgun in darkness, and he was later proved correct. She also proved a masterful learner in Kung Fu, Krav Maga, and knife fighting. But she struggled with learning the Japanese covert hand-hypnosis technique Tonio was teaching her.

With the audio equipment set up on power sources attached to the cars they settled in to take infra-red and regular film shots of various areas. But just then a strange sound began, and got louder. Laughing. Human laughing, at a low pitch and volume. No one spoke, but the sidelong glances indicated everyone had heard it. A while after it stopped everyone went back to photography, eventually moving into a long covered hallway open at each end. Briefly using flashlights they discovered that deposited in the walls on each side were crypts containing cremains. The names and dates were inscribed on each, with a bud vase attached by each name. Returning to absolute darkness they took more photos.

As the moonless night wore on they gathered together in the open for a coffee break. Just then, at around 1:30 a.m., they heard a horrible screaming coming from a neighborhood bordering the cemetery. All agreed it sounded like a vicious wife beating in progress. The car the other couple was using was equipped with a CB radio capable of calling the Sheriff’s department, which they did. Amazingly, two Deputy cars arrived quickly. The Deputies were unaware of why they were in the cemetery but, to Maartje’s surprise, they knew of Tonio and treated it as just another quirk of his. Still, it was unfortunate that despite their cruise through the neighborhood they were unable to find the source and take any action.

Having completed their sound and photo shoot at this site Maartje and the group drove to the other cemetery, a much older one with some ornate above ground tombs. After setting up their equipment they began filming and recording. But something was odd. There was very little to no ambient light yet they were able to easily see the few fresh graves standing out. As if they glowed. Indeed, each grave, even the older ones, had a concrete border surrounding it and the border seemed to glow.

They finished their work and their documentation shortly before dawn and went to their homes. Later that day they gathered and listened to the tapes, hearing the distinct laughing. They agreed there had been no place for someone to hide and play tricks. So, they took the audio tapes and the various films to a professional advertising studio where Maartje had done some work and, without much explanation, asked them to process all the material.

As this seemed to take longer than expected Maartje inquired into the delay. She was told the very best technicians on staff had looked and listened repeatedly, conducting every test they knew of, and had reached conclusions they logically rejected but knew to be true: The audio was indeed human speech, though at a frequency unknown to them; the photographs taken in complete darkness within the crematory crypt clearly and legibly showed the names on the crypts and showed the bud vases casting shadows consistent with a single, angular light source though no light was on; and, the concrete borders on the graves at the other cemetery (and a couple of fresh graves themselves) showed light which was not a reflection from a light source elsewhere. It seemed to come from within.

Weeks later Tonio, who was leaving the college, gave a good-bye presentation, showing just the photos, for a general audience. Included were the ones inside the crematorium crypt. After the presentation finished a little old lady trotted up to Tonio and declared she had an explanation for the light in the crypt. “It was a UFO! You know UFOs can come in all sizes and I’m pretty certain one slipped into the crypt to see what you all were doing.”

Standing next to him, Maartje felt that was as good an explanation as any.

Maartje knew she had a congenital heart condition for which there was no treatment. This would take her at an early age, and although she reminded Tonio of it from time to time they spoke of being together for what time they had whether they married or not. She had also come to feel that Tonio’s “consulting” work was something from which he might never return, or return in one piece. She decided that, whenever possible, she would accompany him, nurse him back to health, or cremate him if the time came. She got the first two, even moving thousands of miles over six years. Then things changed.

  1. Dana permalink

    Thanks for another Tonio and Maartje set of adventures. Their love is enduring. If only we could all be so fortunate.

    I hope your readers continue to enjoy what you share as much as I have.



  2. Thank you, Dana.


  3. Pam permalink

    Enjoyed this story segment, Marco. Always felt you were a Jason Bourne twin soul…please tell us more about the Japanese covert hand hypnosis.


    • Thanks, Pam. The technique employs a change in voice (cadence and pitch) while moving the hands in certain seemingly normal ways. Obviously, I can’t demonstrate in writing. However, subjects exposed to the technique report an overwhelming sense of calm and a very uncertain recollection of anything said during that time. Objectively, they answer questions fully and truthfully, at least from their perception.


      • Dana permalink

        I would like to be the subject of the hypnosis. I’m curious to know what you used it for, Marco.


        • Thanks, Dana. I must caution against confusing Tonio with me. That I happen to know of the technique is circumstantial. But I will say I very much doubt it would work on a person who has read about it, as in these comments. The person would be listening for the voice change and watching for the hand movements. Thus, it would no longer be covert.


          • Dana permalink

            Marco – sorry about that. Tonio and Maartje seem very real to me and the same happened when I read Rose’s stories about Grace.

            By the way, I also meant I would like to be a subject of the hypnosis not in the literal sense. It just sounds interesting. Several years ago I participated in some hypnotherapy sessions when I was an office manager where it was provided. I’m curious about the difference.between methods.


            • Understood. The Japanese technique is intended to render someone who is being evasive or dishonest into a cooperative, honest state without them realizing it and with no harm


  4. Ray Rivers permalink

    Great Halloween story – how appropriate for the timing.


  5. Vampirella permalink

    Cemeteries are some of the most peaceful places to be, by day or night. I quite enjoy rambling around in them, reading the markers, imagining the history of the people buried there. How they lived, and how they died.

    To my knowledge I’ve never had any verifiable experience with paranormal activity so I’m skeptical but open-minded. On a few occasions I’ve felt a dark entity or presence, but during those times I was dealing with some issues with personal safety and challenging circumstances. The heavy feeling could have been my own mind.

    However, on one occasion several years ago I was rooming in a boarding house. I was having an otherwise relaxing day in my room which was pleasant and bright, filled with natural light and overlooking trees. Yet I suddenly felt extremely frightened and felt heavy and dark, as though something or someone was there. The house was at least a century old, so perhaps something was occupying it.

    I experienced this same feeling once in the late 90s, and on both occasions my reaction was to flee. So I did quickly leave the boarding house and went to the local market. Oddly enough, I felt the same presence in the store. I was so rattled I was wandering around, unable to find what I needed despite having shopped there many times. I asked a manager to help me find a specific item and told him I was experiencing tremendous anxiety. He was kind and gentle, taking me around the store to find what I needed.

    On a few occasions I’ve also experienced electrical quirks, one that could not be easily explained. A nightlight in a grounded outlet in my bathroom went flying out of the wall not long after I turned it on. The force was incredible and I don’t think a surge could have done that. I was terrified, suddenly finding myself in the dark, hearing the plastic hit the floor.

    Maartje sounds like a phenomenal woman – one I surely would like to have known. Thanks for a really interesting story, filled with details that create clear mental images.



  6. Thanks, V. It’s jokingly said you meet the most interesting people in cemeteries, and your visits to them prove the saying.

    I don’t know how to explain the experiences you had in the living quarters and I wish I knew more.

    There’s a lot more to Maartje, and I’m hoping she will put in appearances (code) from time to time.


    • Vampirella permalink

      Thanks for replying, Marco. Cemetery dwellers don’t talk to me, and that’s another reason I quite enjoy their company.

      The dark feeling or presence I felt in the late 90s occurred when lying in bed next my husband who was deeply sleeping. It was a frightening, stifling feeling, very close, as though something was in the room. I thought it might pass so I continued to lie there, still, so I wouldn’t wake my husband.

      He suddenly sat straight up in bed, immediately transitioning from a deep sleep to wide awake. As he sat up, in a really frightened tone he said, “Something’s in here!”

      We got up, turned on a few lamps, and the feeling dissipated. Neither of us had experience, interest, or belief in the paranormal. I will never deny other’s experiences. But that was during a lot of undue stress as well. Anxiety can wreak havoc on the mind, and at the time I had never found effective ways to calm myself.

      As for Maartje’s appearances, I’ll look forward to reading what you alone share, and I mean that in the most respectful of ways.


      • Thank you, V. I can appreciate your experience, especially as your then husband expressed it. I was swimming with a friend in a lagoon in Aruba when I experienced the same thing. Long an experienced scuba diver, I knew not to get spooked at every little thing. But this was ominous.


  7. Marco, I’ve known about Maartje and her artistic abilities for many years now, but it is good to know that these were not her only talents. I am pleased that you have found a way in which you are comfortable in discussing her, her many skills, and the love the two of you shared.

    I have a nephew who did ClayMation films while he was in high school. Both creative and intelligent, he is now a Lieutenant Colonel in the Space Force. I can’t say enough how proud I am of him.

    I don’t visit cemeteries at night, but there was a time in my life when I was a regular visitor to a particular grave during the day, often bringing a lunch and spending time in quiet solitude. The young lady buried at my chosen sight was named Laura Lynn Blood, and she lived just three days long before I was ever alive. There was no real point in it, but I was drawn to the peace she afforded.

    Not long after we knew each other, my family and I became stationed at Castle AFB, CA. We lived there in a small apartment which was “occupied” by a disembodied spirit which took the form of a small white misty orb. It was seen most often in the room shared by my small children, but could sometimes be seen flitting from room to room. The temperature would drop any time she lingered in a room. The most unusual experience was one in which she stroked my cheek.

    When we moved out of the house, I made a point of telling her “goodbye”.


    • Thank you, Rose. I am venturing further into discussing Maartje though there are some things which, as you understand, will remain private.

      Maartje and I were sitting in the library reading one night when, at the far end of the room, a Boston Rocker began rocking on its own. Neither of us said anything to the other but just watched it. Then, a light like a long flourescent tube appeared in the rocker, moving back and forth with it. Again, we both saw it but we turned to each other and spoke of it only after it had stopped.

      For context, even the Real Estate company which sold me the house knew it was “haunted”. The seller practically threw me the keys as she hurried away from the house. Many people could not stay there, which was fine with us.


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