Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Harlequin Encounter in Kansas

Author’s note: This is the first of a two-part series about encounters with an entity known as the Harlequin. The entity began visiting Dan Mitchell of Wisconsin when he was five years old. He’s found he’s not alone.

The woman walking in the street seemed odd.

Laurie Smithmeyer of Topeka, Kan., and a friend visited nearby Lawrence (home of the University of Kansas) for lunch and shopping in early 2000.

“We both enjoy art and all types of cultural events so it was common for us to go hang out there, eat lunch and shop,” she said.

They ate at the Free State Brewery, although they didn’t partake in Free State’s microbrews, and walked south down Massachusetts Street enjoying a late spring day. Then they saw the woman.

“We were approximately in front of an old bank that had been remade into a restaurant named Teller’s when we saw her,” Smithmeyer said.

The person “seemed to be a female figure,” Smithmeyer said. The individual wore a short ruffled skirt, similar to a ballet tutu, and a vest that looked like a red, purple and black velvet bustier. The figure wore long gloves and tights; her hair a dark, unkempt, wild tangle.

“Her clothing was oddly theatrical and reminded me of a carnival or circus in a way,” Smithmeyer said. “I recall dark eyes which may have been makeup or something. I did not get a very good look at her face at all, just a glimpse from the side.”

The figure went toward a park bench that sat across the sidewalk from the entrance to Teller’s Restaurant.

“As we passed her on the sidewalk, I got the impression she was going to sit on the bench and we kept on walking,” Smithmeyer said. “As we got to the curb to cross the street, we both looked at each other and said, ‘Wow did you see that girl?’”

The women both turned around to look at her and she was gone.

“Gone from the bench, gone from the sidewalk, gone from the street,” Smithmeyer said. “She just disappeared. In the space of us taking three or four steps, on a bright sunny clear day, she had vanished. Not just from the bench but from the entire area.”

Only a few people wandered the streets, so Smithmeyer is certain the figure couldn’t have gotten lost in a crowd.

“The street is level with no changes in elevation or terrain that would make it hard to see her,” Smithmeyer said. “She was not on either side street. As far as we could see, she had disappeared.”

The women looked at each other and said, “Fey,” which means elf.

“That was the impression we were left with,” Smithmeyer said. “We have both studied myth and folklore and are familiar with stories of the Sidhe (the elves of Ireland) and that was basically our feeling about that figure; unworldly and very strange.”

Smithmeyer, who read the stories of Dan Mitchell’s Harlequin encounters at “From the Shadows,” thinks she and her friend saw something similar.

“Could this have been a harlequin-type apparition?” she asked. “I remember the impression I had of the figure was not entirely human. She … it was just so bizarre and scary, ethereal at the same time. It is really hard to describe. The closest that comes is a fairy. Extraterrestrial never crossed my mind.”

Smithmeyer said she’s familiar with alternative cultures and this entity was not one of those.

“This was way beyond anything a mere costume could be,” she said. “I have seen Goth people, street performance artists, and all kinds of role players and I am very familiar with that subculture, as is the friend that was with me. There was a quality of unearthliness about her that is hard to describe.”

Next week: The Harlequin visits a woman named Karin when she was a child.

Copyright 2010 by Jason Offutt

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s books on the paranormal, “Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us,” and “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri’s Most Spirited Spots,” at Jason’s blog,


Unknown said...

I cannot wait until next week...

Ted Fleming said...

I lived in Lawrence for some years until recently- her description of the area downtown/around Tellers is right on: there is almost no way to lose someone there.

I had at least one similar experience in the area, as well, though the story isn't nearly as fresh in my memory any more.

Anonymous said...

Facinating as usual. Brings to mind that Shakespearian quote from Hamlet; "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

I realize some would consider this thing of an evil spiritual realm, but it looks like a lot of people would consider this a type of cryptid too?

Teabag Stallone said...

Very interesting story. I found the location in google street view;

zinjak said...

wow this is crazy weird, because i just listened to the radio interview you had and the Harlequin was mentioned at the end of it ( i think it was called eerie radio) and it's the reason i decided to look you up and behold! the first article you have written about IS the harlequin. very cool.

Daniel Dissinger said...

Has anyone else seen this:
The same thing--in the UK?

Anonymous said...

Having been a witness to this thing for many years, Adrian Hicks' drawing and his description of the manner it walked really stuck out in my mind as the real deal. I'm convinced they are the same thing.

zinjak said...

this harlequin business is crazy...So Dan, do you think they are the exact same entity or do you think the Winchester being was just of the same species, for lack of a better term.

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure. From my own accounts it has simply been one being followed by varied and strange phenomenon. The truth is that I'm not really sure what this is, or why it seems to act in an almost non-sensical manner. So when I heard Hicks speaking and saw his drawing, there wasn't a doubt in my mind this was the same thing. Laurie Smithmeyer's account here is excellent in that it conveys the same strange traits I have seen over the years. The main thing I have noticed is that there is such awkwardness, and an inability for this thing to fit in and disguise itself among normal people. Wish I could answer your question though. I'm curious as well.

zinjak said...

if it is the exact same being in each case...well this guy gets around. the strange walk, like somebody whos' bones done fit quite right, is the link it seems. the more i see these accounts the more i think this thing is probably Fae in nature. Jason seems to have mentioned in an interview that this thing has appeared before your daughter, that still happening?

Anonymous said...

It seems to be happening to all of my kids, at least to some extent. My 4 year old daughter is the one that just came out with the best description of what she's seen. It doesn't happen on a daily or even weekly basis, but there are times she talks about a strange person in her room "who gets into her head." I intuitively understood what she meant because that seems like the mode of communication it used when I was a child. My teenage daughter has had similar occurences since 1997 or 1998. For whatever reason it seems to always hang out on the sidelines (sometimes for years)before it makes itself known to us. Whatever it is, it tends to masquerade itself as something different on many occassions. Several years ago I was convinced this was related to the UFO/Alien Abduction phenomenon, but there is something much more complex going on it appears.

zinjak said...

I think what I really have to ask is..when you have this kind of "supernatural" problem, how do you go about daily life when you have this thing following you for years? paying bills and dealing with your kids homework assignments and cars needing maintenance , do you just incorporate it in to "well this is just one of those things" ? I guess when it goes away for years at a time it does kinda help with that, but i can't even imagine having such a weird addition to problems of normal family life. has your wife had any experiences with it?

Anonymous said...

It doesn't interfere as much as one might think. Lately it has been more pronounced than in years passed. My wife had a very profound encounter in 2004 that terrified her to no end. She also witnessed another event on New Years Eve 2008, that really solidified her feelings on this as being undeniably real.

zinjak said...

fascinating, thanks for answering, didn't mean to put you through "1oo-questions" but this harlequin phenomenon intrigues me like nothing else since well moth man. when I heard about it i booked over to jasons' blog as fast as i could.

Marvin Rope said...

Unknown said...

Ooohhh, more fascinating stuff. I think the women have the right idea, I can't think of any being other than a Fae who would dress and act quite like this.

Dan, if you find the being's intrusion into your life frightening or troubling I suggest keeping pieces of cold iron around the house. Nothing dangerous since you have children, but small trinkets to keep under pillows and hang over windows and the like. If it IS a fae creature it should keep it away.

zinjak said...

oh of course...Iron. fae hate that stuff...iron crosses in particular keep them away real well...if this thing is fae and not an extraterrestrial, you should at least consider it.

Brendan said...

This is bizarre but I feel like I've seen other accounts of similar figures. This woman says one bought cigs from her in Missouri in the '70s: and .
No tutu, but large sunglasses, a fake-looking blonde wig, and several other details that make me wonder.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. There is a strange similarity between what we are seeing and the "Cigarette Lady" mentioned on that particular blog. The more I have been reading, the more it is starting to seem that sightings like this are becoming more frequent.

zinjak said...

my guess , Dan, is that you opened the can of worms. this has been going on for a long time..and you are probably not the first. your just the first to give a good enough account.