“David Bowie’s WHITE WITCH” and “The San Francisco WITCH KILLERS” #WeirdDarkness

David Bowie’s WHITE WITCH” and “The San Francisco WITCH KILLERS” #WeirdDarkness

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Listen to ““David Bowie’s WHITE WITCH” and “The San Francisco WITCH KILLERS” #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: David Bowie was no stranger to the occult – he even went so far as to have his swimming pool, which he believed to be possessed, exorcised not by a priest – but by a woman named Walli Elmlark who claimed to be a witch. (David Bowie’s White Witch) *** The gruesome true story of two people whose love caused their insanity to grow darker with each passing day, eventually sending them on a crusade to kill anything they deemed evil or immoral – but resulting in the murders of innocent people. (The San Francisco Witch Killers)

“The San Francisco Witch Killers” by Alyse Wax from The13thFloor.tv: https://tinyurl.com/ycyurbey
BOOK CHAPTER FROM PATREON: “Murderous Minds: Vol 4: 1980’s Witch Killers”:https://www.patreon.com/posts/chapter-04-of-4-25304574 – or buy the full book on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3J68cel)
FULL BOOK: “David Bowie – UFOs – Witchcraft – Cocaine – and Paranoia”: https://amzn.to/45ZucBu
“David Bowie’s White Witch” by Sean Casteel from the Conspiracy Journal: https://tinyurl.com/y2ht47pt

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DISCLAIMER: Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.


Witches have fueled the nightmares of children and adults alike since the myths of ancient civilizations. Powers beyond our imagining are a threat beyond our control, and when the fear of those possibilities builds an unstable foundation, the consequences can be lethal. America is no stranger to the frenzy of a witch hunt—the hysterical violence that seeps between the cracks of misguided spiritual beliefs and turns ordinary personal squabbles into deadly encounters. Witch hysteria, in a way, did not end in 1692 Salem Massachusetts. In 1981, a married couple embarked on a cross-country crusade. Starting in San Francisco, Suzan and Michael Bear Carson believed they were ridding the country of witches, one murder at a time.

I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.


Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.

Coming up in this episode…

David Bowie was no stranger to the occult – he even went so far as to have his swimming pool, which he believed to be possessed, exorcised not by a priest – but by a woman named Wallie Elmlark who claimed to be a witch. (David Bowie’s White Witch)

The gruesome true story of two people whose love caused their insanity to grow darker with each passing day, eventually sending them on a crusade to kill anything they deemed evil or immoral – but resulting in the murders of innocent people. (The 1980’s Witch Killers)

If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!


In the 1970s, James Carson was a family man with a Master’s degree living in Phoenix, Arizona. His daughter, Jenn, remembers him being a wonderful father and admits to being a daddy’s girl. But by the time Jenn was five years old, her mother noticed a significant change in James’ behavior. She became scared, and left one night with her daughter. The pair moved every six months and cut off ties with mutual acquaintances to avoid being tracked down by James.

But James didn’t seem interested in tracking down his former family. Instead, he met Suzan Barnes, a recently divorced woman with two teenaged sons. The two married and traveled through Europe for a year or two. When they returned to the United States, they took up residence in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Haight-Ashbury was the birthplace of hippie culture: drugs, art, mysticism, and all manner of counterculture activities. The Carsons were heavily involved in all of that.

For starters, James changed his name to Michael, and the pair adopted the surname of Bear. Suzan believed herself to be a “yogi and a mystic with knowledge of past, present, and future events.” The pair claimed to be “vegetarian Muslim warriors” who believed that “witchcraft, homosexuality, and abortion” were reasons enough to kill people. They believed their “higher power” called on them to kill these enemies for their own protection and for “the sake of the country’s future.”

Their first confirmed murder was in March 1981. It was their roommate, Keryn Barnes, an aspiring actress. While on a hitchhiking trip during a rainstorm, Suzan believed she “got orders” to kill Barnes, and every time she said it, thunder would clap. The couple killed Barnes upon their return home. Barnes was stabbed 13 times and her skull was crushed. The couple later admitted they used a frying pan on her head. Suzan believed Barnes, having faked a conversion to their brand of Muslimism, was actually a witch and was stealing her “yogic powers.” Before the body was found, Michael and Suzan fled the area.

The Bears next showed up at a Northern California marijuana farm, where they worked as farmhands and guards. Coworkers at the farm described the Bears as anarchists who advocated a revolution and believed a nuclear apocalypse was imminent. An ongoing fight with fellow farmhand, Clark Stephens, led to Michael shooting him twice in the head in May 1982. Michael would later say that Stephens was a “demon” who had sexually abused his wife. The Bears attempted to burn the body in the woods before leaving. Two weeks later, Stephens was reported missing, and investigators found his partially burned remains in the woods. The Bears were the prime suspects. Among the belongings they left behind was an anti-government manifesto written by the Bears, that included a list of celebrities and politicians that they wanted to assassinate, including Johnny Carson and then-president Ronald Regan.

A manhunt was on for the Bear-Carsons. Being anti-government types, they stayed off the grid and were difficult to track down. A break came in November 1982 when an acquaintance saw Michael hitchhiking. He was arrested, but due to a police error, he was freed before anyone had the chance to question him.

In March 1983, Jon Charles Hellyar picked up a hitchhiking couple around Bakersfield, California: the Bears. At some point during the ride north, Suzan decided Hellyar was a witch and needed to die. After over 300 miles together, an argument and physical altercation broke out amongst Hellyar and the Bears which caused Hellyar to stop the car. The three got out of the car, where the altercation continued. Suzan started stabbing Hellyar until Michael got control of his gun and shot Hellyar dead. This all happened on the side of the 101 freeway, in full sight of the heavy California traffic. A passerby called the police, and a brief high-speed chase ensued. Michael and Suzan Bear/Carson were caught and arrested.

Initially, the Bear/Carsons agreed to plead guilty to the three murders, in exchange for a televised press conference. At the press conference, they admitted to their murders, describing their victims as witches who needed to die. They also espoused their strange combination of hippie-spirituality and Muslim beliefs, claiming their murders were done according to the teachings of the Koran. Just before trial, the couple recanted their confessions and entered a plea of not guilty.

Eventually, Michael and Suzan were convicted on all three murder charges and each received sentences that totaled 75 years-to-life in prison. Dubbed the “San Francisco Witch Killers” in the press, the pair were suspects in at least a dozen other murders in the United States as well as in Europe, but there was never enough evidence to bring the pair to trial. In 2015, both convicts came up for parole. Michael canceled his parole hearing because, thirty years after his conviction, his beliefs had not changed and he refused to show remorse for the murders. Suzan, who similarly would not show remorse for what she did and refused to help her attorney prepare her case, was denied parole. She will next be eligible for parole in 2030.

Jenn Carson is relieved that her father will not be released. She believes both Michael and Suzan are still dangerous. When she was 19 years old (about a decade after her father had been arrested), she went to visit Michael in prison, her first face-to-face meeting with him since she was a child. “It was like looking into the eyes of someone with no soul,” Jenn said in a 2006 interview. She considers her dad to be “pure evil.”

If you’d like to go deeper into this story, patrons of Marlar House at the $10/mo level and highter today received the latest chapter of the upcoming audiobook, “Murderous Minds: Vol 4” which talks exclusively about this case. It’s almost a full half hour going more indepth into the minds and actions of Michael and Susan Bear Carson. I have a link to that in the show notes.


It’s fortunate for Davide Bowie that he didn’t live in the San Francisco area in the 1980s – otherwise he might have fallen victim himself to the murderous deeds of Michael and Suzan Bear Carson. You’ll hear why when Weird Darkness returns.



“Looking back, as far as I am concerned, it was one of the most exciting periods in modern history. It was the mid-1960s and society was becoming more liberal minded. And I was growing up in suburbia, eager to leave my childhood nest in New Jersey and head down the highway, even if the highway was a bus route that led to Manhattan’s Times Square.”
So says the eclectic Timothy Green Beckley, who once confessed he has had so many professions that even his own girlfriend doesn’t know what he does for a living.
“I was always more into the night life than a daylight routine, probably because I would spend midnight to dawn listening to the chatter of my transistor radio and the panel discussions hosted by the six-foot-seven Long John Nebel, who pioneered the concept of a radio talk show heavily influenced by the latest developments in the UFO and occult fields. Long John was on New York radio station WOR long before Art Bell made it big with Coast to Coast AM. Eventually I became a guest on Nebel’s show myself.”
It was while hanging out “after hours” in the bohemian hotspot known as Greenwich Village that Tim cut his teeth on rock music, listening to up-and-coming artists like Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter and, later, the likes of the New York Dolls with their glam dress and six inch platform shoes.
But this isn’t so much about Tim as it is another rogue personality, a charming young lady who was an important figure in that same time period and who had an impact on many that has lasted to this very day, though she passed from the scene almost four decades ago.
Can a woman who calls herself a witch also be a righteous, even saintly, person? Does she harness powers that are intended to lead to harmless, positive and beneficial results? If one were to look for evidence that such things are possible, then the life of White Witch Walli Elmlark would be a good place to start one’s search.
One of Walli’s most dedicated friends was the aforementioned Timothy Green Beckley, the CEO of the publishing company Inner Light/Global Communications. Tim has penned a memoir of his time spent with Walli called “David Bowie – UFOs – Witchcraft – Cocaine – and Paranoia, The Occult Saga of Wall Elmlark, The ‘Rock n’ Roll’ Witch of New York.” Obviously one can get the gist of what the book is about from the keywords of the title. But how Walli created a loving and compassionate life from that strange recipe is the real subject of Tim’s heartfelt tribute to her.
The book is available as a special, full color collector’s edition featuring photos by Helen Hovey and original art by Carol Ann Rodriguez. It’s almost as beautiful to look at as Walli was herself. It also includes Original Spells (the white magic kind) and a great deal of Wiccan Lore for the student and uneducated both.
Tim begins the book by sketching in some of Walli’s more sensational credits, such as the fact that she did spiritual work for David Bowie, who admitted that he owed his life to her. But more about that later.
Tim recounts his own rock and roll upbringing, starting as a fan of Little Richard and Chuck Berry.  As the rock music era progressed, Tim became a fixture backstage at places like The Academy of Music, where he met many major stars of the 60s and 70s. He also began to promote rock concerts himself, particularly with some early glam acts that never quite made it big.
At this same time, Tim founded one of the first, if not the very first, metaphysical centers in the country, called The New York School of Occult Arts and Sciences. It was located in a 2200 square foot loft on the second floor of an apartment building on 14th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, about six blocks from The Academy.
“We had lectures and workshops on UFOs, Tarot cards, Witchcraft, Prophecy, Astral Projection,” Tim explained, “as well as lessons in how to use the Ouija Board (safely!) And we held midnight séances every Saturday with the medium Kitty Steele, a former model from Michigan.”
There were several rock stars with an interest in the occult, including Doctor John the Night Tripper, who visited Tim’s school in full voodoo regalia to be photographed by budding shutterbug Helen Hovey, a friend of Beckley’s from their teenage years. Around that same time, Tim and Helen managed to wrangle a place on the guest list at The Academy of Music through a woman named Lila Schuman, who answered the phone and did typing for the venue.
“Somehow the conversation got around to the occult,” Tim writes, “and I remember helping Lila find a ring that she had lost somewhere in her apartment through ‘remote viewing.’ It had fallen behind a bureau, if I recall, and that is where I had psychically visualized it. She was most impressed, having dug it out from behind a rather heavy chest of drawers, pretty much where I said she would find it.”
Lila next wrote Tim a letter in which she said that Tim and his friend Helen should meet a particular female rock columnist who was making herself known backstage by giving spiritual advice to some of the more open-minded musicians who did not sneer at the super-normal matters that so fascinated Tim and his crowd of fellow believers.
The columnist was, of course, the titular rock and roll witch, Walli Elmlark. Tim begins immediately to defend her honor.
“Walli had been raised in a Jewish family but had found the tenets of witchcraft more to her liking,” Beckley writes. “She had become a member of the Wiccan faith, a form of paganism going far back into antiquity and predating Christianity by God knows how long. Walli was quick to point out that she was NOT a Satanist, nor did she wish harm onto others. She was a good witch, or ‘white witch,’ casting beneficial spells and using candles and gemstones for ‘self-empowerment.’
“In folklore,” Tim continues, “witches are often portrayed in negative ways, being malicious or sinister by nature. Many are depicted as archetypal ‘old crones,’ well past their prime, who are frequently scary and ‘rough around the edges,’ appearance-wise.”
By contrast, Walli was beautiful to look at.
Helen, Tim’s photographer friend, said that Walli “stood out in the crowd, even among the long-haired hipsters and mod, English-style dressers. She was a very imposing individual, with a very striking figure. Dressed in black, with dark makeup and silver jewelry and a green streak in her hair, Walli’s fashion sense was trailblazing; not really goth, but certainly cutting edge. You knew she was someone special, not just the average journalist with pen and paper out to get a good quote.”
Walli had already gained a reputation as a journalist by writing for the English publication “Melody Maker,” a music newspaper that provided the Beatles with some of their early media attention. In the U.S., Walli was a columnist for “Circus Magazine,” a glossy, full color newsstand periodical that appealed to a younger audience and concentrated on hard rock bands without straying over into politics, like “Rolling Stone.”
When Helen asked Walli to pose for some photos, Walli was at first rather shy. But when Helen set up her camera equipment, Walli seemed to be more at ease.
“It almost seemed after a while that we had known each other for a lifetime,” Helen told Tim. “She was by no means a diva, though she could have been with her famous friends. She was wise beyond her years and seemed to have a window into the future of rock and roll. She certainly had a keen ear for an up-and-coming performer.”
Helen said that Walli always had a lot of rockers going to and from her apartment, and not just to be interviewed. A lot of the musicians were eager to hear what she had to say as word of her witchcraft activities began to spread. Some of the stars wanted a psychic reading from her or advice about a good luck candle.
“Walli Elmlark knew David Bowie,” Tim writes. “He had been to her apartment. They were striking up a friendship, getting some sort of bond going. True, she wrote a very prestigious column for ‘Circus Magazine,’ but beyond the attention she could give the newly-arrived pop singer from Britain, whose career was just blossoming in the U.S., they seemed to have a lot in common on a personal level. Bowie was really interested in the same things Walli was. Witchcraft! Magick! UFOs!”
And Bowie was not an idle curiosity seeker. He had experiences of his own, had seen UFOs, believed in time travel and sought out other dimensions, all within a spiritual framework.
Walli introduced Tim to Bowie and the two gentlemen shook hands. But there was a large gathering of reporters there to question Bowie, so Tim wasn’t able to converse much with the rising superstar. Bowie later called Tim once while trying to track down Walli, who had the type of knowledge Bowie was looking to tap into.
Within a few years, Bowie had developed a cocaine habit that began to cause him serious psychological problems. He was living in Los Angeles (only a few houses from where the Charles Manson family had murdered Sharon Tate and her companions) and planning the follow-up to his “Young Americans” album, according to Marc Spitz, the author of “Bowie: A Biography.”
“Bowie would sit in the house with a pile of high-quality cocaine atop the glass table,” Spitz writes, “a sketch pad and a stack of books. ‘Psychic Self Defense,’ by Dion Fortune, was his favorite. Its author describes the book as a ‘safeguard for protecting yourself against paranormal malevolence.’ Using this and more arcane books on witchcraft, white magic and its malevolent counterpart, black magic, as rough guides to his own rapidly fragmenting psyche, Bowie began drawing protective pentagrams on every surface.”
Bowie would later say that he stayed up for weeks and was hallucinating 24 hours a day. An acquaintance of Bowie’s, the poet and songwriter Cherry Vanilla, hooked Bowie up with Walli in an effort to help the struggling pop star. Spitz describes Walli as a “Manhattan-based intellectual who taught classes at the New York School of Occult Arts and Sciences, then located on Fourteenth Street just north of Greenwich Village,” which, as we know, Tim owned and operated.
Meanwhile, Bowie and his then-wife Angie were living in their house in Los Angeles, which happened to have an indoor pool. In his drug-induced paranoia, Bowie felt Satan lived in the pool.
“With his own eyes,” Angie would later write, “David said he’d seen HIM rising up out of the water one night.”
Feeling demonic forces moving in, Bowie strongly believed that he needed an exorcism, and asked that his newfound friend, white witch Walli Elmlark, be called upon to lend her assistance to remove the evil from his home. A Greek Orthodox Church in Los Angeles said they would do the exorcism, and even had a priest available for such a service, but Bowie wanted no strangers involved.
“So there we stood,” Angie writes, “with just Walli’s instructions and a few hundred dollars’ worth of books, talismans and assorted items from Hollywood’s comprehensive selection of fine occult emporiums.”
Bowie began to recite an incantation surrounded by the items Walli had advised him to obtain.
“There’s no easy or elegant way to say this,” Angela writes, “so I’ll just say it straight. At a certain point in the ritual, the pool began to bubble….


When Weird Darkness returns, we return to the bubbling cauldron of David Bowie’s pool – and what happened afterwards.



Bowie began to recite an incantation surrounded by the items Walli had advised him to obtain.
“There’s no easy or elegant way to say this,” Angela writes, “so I’ll just say it straight. At a certain point in the ritual, the pool began to bubble….

It bubbled vigorously (perhaps ‘thrashed’ is a better term) in a manner inconsistent with any explanation involving air filters or the like.”
The couple watched in amazement. Angie tried to joke about it, saying to Bowie, “Well, dear, aren’t you clever! It seems to be working. Something’s making a move, don’t you think?” But she couldn’t keep up the humorous brave front for long.
“I was having trouble accepting what my eyes were seeing,” she writes. “On the bottom of the pool was a large shadow, or stain, which had not been there before the ritual began. It was in the shape of a beast of the underworld; it reminded me of those twisted, tormented gargoyles screaming silently from the spires of medieval cathedrals. It was ugly, shocking, and malevolent; it frightened me.”
Bowie insisted that he and Angie relocate as soon as possible. Subsequent tenants, according to the real estate agent in charge of the property, haven’t been able to remove the stain. Even though the pool has been painted over a number of times, the shadow always comes back.
Along with the spiritual help given by Walli to Bowie in his battle against the evil forces in his swimming pool, her spellcasting and positive affirmations made it easier for Bowie to beat his cocaine addiction.
A close confidant of Tim’s is the artist Carol Ann Rodriguez. She was in her 20s during the heyday of Tim’s New York School of Occult Arts and Sciences. Carol had been into the occult for some time and decided to attend a class at the school after seeing an ad in The Village Voice. Carol was in attendance for a lecture by Walli.
“I liked Walli’s wonderful way of explaining witchcraft and paganism as a positive way of life,” Carol says, “and decided to sign up for one of Walli’s classes which she held at her apartment uptown.”
In her classes, Walli lectured on the basics of her faith, called Wicca.
“Wicca is about love and worshipping,” she would say. “The only ‘don’t’ we practice is don’t harm others. Whatever deed you do could backfire on you and come back two or even three-fold.”
Walli emphasized that witches do not believe in heaven or hell.
“There is no god seated on a throne in the clouds,” according to Walli, “and no hell to descend to. There are low-level spirits, known as elementals or demons, which can attach themselves to humans who might have low self-esteem or who indulge in harmful activities. There is, however, a Great Mother, or the goddess Diana, as she has been named. She was formed out of an infinite void, creating an energy source which no religion can tell you how or when it originated.
“There is a reason for everything,” she went on. “The reason why may not always be apparent. Sometimes it takes years to see the reason something had to happen as it did, but there is always a reason.”
Tim’s book also offers Walli’s Wiccan views on a variety of other matters, such as her warnings against playing mind games, against feeling hatred and seeking vengeance, along with admonitions about our becoming givers and healers and understanding the importance of love.
“The world does a lot of talking about love and truth,” Walli said, “but in fact knows little about it. Love to us means thinking beyond ourselves to the other person. What might be best for me might not be best for him. His interests come first.”
Walli’s preaching a gospel of unselfish love is a far cry from the archetypal devil-worshipping witches gathered around a cauldron of evil magic. The artist Carol, for one, feels that Walli truly wanted to use her powers – and she did have them – in a positive way and to help others when she possibly could.
Walli was particularly drawn to Marc Bolan, the front man for the British rock band T. Rex. She believed he was Merlin the Wizard reincarnated as a rock star in order to spread a message of enlightenment alongside other music greats like Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie. The powers-that-be wanted to create positive change in the world via rock music, and Walli was part of that mission.
She even recorded a spoken word album in which she explained this belief system, produced by Robert Fripp of the band King Crimson. The album was never released and it is not known whether the original tapes still exist.
In this just-released book, Walli describes her association with numerous rock and rollers and counterculture celebrity types. She also befriended artist Vaughn Bode, an underground cartoonist who accidentally hung himself while performing what was claimed to be a spiritual form of autoerotic asphyxiation. And Freddy Prinze, who was possessed by the rebellious and often foul-mouthed comic Lenny Bruce. Bruce was repeatedly arrested in the 1960s for public obscenity when heavy-handed censorship made it impossible to say certain things while on stage.
Tim says that one of the things that intrigues him is that, even though Walli is no longer with us on this side of the veil, many of those she came in contact with still think highly of her.
“And when I tracked them down,” he says, “they were more than willing to relate spellbinding incidents that happened to them during their association with New York’s White Witch.”
“David Bowie – UFOs – Witchcraft – Cocaine – and Paranoia” also includes some simple spells from Walli’s Wiccan practices, like a spell to court a new love or rekindle an old one, a spell to protect an object and another to obtain money. It is by such spells that Walli qualifies as a genuine witch of the harmless – but very powerful – persuasion.
On a more personal level, Walli’s parents had never approved of her lifestyle or her belief in witchcraft. Whenever she visited home, she would return depressed. Walli had been married twice and had given birth to a son. Her parents would tell her she was an embarrassment to them and that her son would be better off without her.
Walli took her own life around 1980 with an overdose of barbiturates. Her friend Carol said the news reached Walli’s friends through a member of the family.
“I always thought it was suspicious,” Carol said, “that we hadn’t gotten word of this in any other way, nor did we see any notice in the papers. I wonder if perhaps they had her whisked away and maybe committed. My spirit guides would not confirm what we had been told.”


Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at darren@weirddarkness.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks I’ve narrated, visit the store for Weird Darkness t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, phone cases, and more merchandise, sign up for monthly contests, find other podcasts that I host, and find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.

“The 1980’s Witch Killers” by Alyse Wax from The13thFloor.tv. You can go deeper into this story by becoming a patron! Patrons can hear a full chapter of the audiobook “Murderous Minds: Volume 4” which talks solely about the events in this story much more in depth. The link for patrons is in the show notes.

“David Bowie’s White Witch” by Sean Casteel from the Conspiracy Journal. The book talked about in the story “”David Bowie – UFOs – Witchcraft – Cocaine – and Paranoia” can be found in the show notes.

WeirdDarkness® – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, Weird Darkness.

Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… Jonah 2:2 = He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”

And a final thought… “Staying positive doesn’t mean everything will turn out ok. Rather, it is knowing you will be ok no matter how things turn out.”

I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.



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