Dexter A. Prowley’s Ghosts of Abana: Ghosts of Love

[need an overview of Ghosts of Abana? Don’t miss the Foreword!]

Ghosts of Love

In this chapter, we will look at ghosts whose sole reason for returning to the living is their attachment to another individual. These types of ghosts are among the most common in existence, if not the most common. The registers of ghostly lore spill over with tales of dead lovers returning to be with their spouse or significant other, or to wreak vengeance upon those who caused their untimely separation from their beloved. Clearly, romantic attachments are powerful.

The Promenade Ghost

Identity: Edmund Dowd, wealthy banker. Died 1948.

Location: The Wall of Notable Citizens, along the DeJong Promenade, northern Mephistopolis

Demeanor: Dejected, rueful. Generally too lost in sorrow to engage observers.

Encounter potential:  ***

Harm potential:  *

Educational potential:  ***

Edmund Dowd was a prominent banker in post-World War II Abana. He seemed to have everything: a successful career, a beautiful wife, and a spectacular home. He was known as an influential man and wielded no small amount of influence in financial and political circles. However, he suffered from the insecurity of the inordinately fortunate and began to mistrust his own good luck. As a result, he managed to convince himself that his wife, Bridget, was unfaithful to him.

During the election year of 1948, Dowd was an important figure in the reelection campaign of Mayor James “Big Jim” Donaldson. He spent many an evening at political functions and rallies. As time passed, he noticed that he kept encountering his wife in the company of Archer McCourt, a handsome deputy mayor the press had anointed as Donaldson’s inevitable successor.

The adoring smile the green-eyed Bridget always wore when McCourt was present was enough to convince Dowd that McCourt was cuckolding him. He hired a private detective to follow his wife and gather what evidence he could.

He did not have to wait long for results. A scant two weeks after he was hired, the detective phoned Dowd and told him he had compromising photos of McCourt and Mrs. Dowd. Dowd told the detective to bring the prints to him and hung up the phone just as Mrs. Dowd returned home. Dowd surreptitiously told the servants to let the detective in when he arrived, then invited his wife on a walk. She acquiesced, and they strolled to the DeJong Promenade, which wanders above one of the more violent portions of the Mephisto River.

When they arrived at the six-foot tall granite slab that is the Wall of Notable Citizens, he maneuvered her toward it on the pretext of pointing out a distant relative whose name had recently been inscribed thereon. As she bent close to examine the name, a quick shove from her husband sent her plunging into the Mephisto to her death.

Upon his return home, Dowd found the detective he had hired waiting for him. Dowd immediately demanded the photos from him, intending to confront Archer McCourt with them. After the detective passed them over, Dowd saw that they were indeed compromising photos of McCourt–but the woman he was with was not Bridget.[1]

All color drained from his face as he ran back to the Promenade. He shouted Bridget’s name, hearing only an answering echo to drive home the reality of his guilt. When he reached the Wall of Notable Citizens, he was overcome by a paroxysm of guilt, and threw himself into the cold, churning river.

Edmund Dowd haunts the DeJong Promenade to this day. The best spot for catching a glimpse of him is by the Wall of Notable Citizens, where both he and his wife met their ends. On warm summer nights, a specter dressed in a dark, well-cut suit and holding a hat in his hand is said to suddenly materialize, walk briskly toward the wall, then hit its phantom head on the wall while muttering “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

To encounter this ghost, you might try to gain Dowd’s sympathy by standing near the wall and, in a loud voice, uttering disparaging remarks about Archer McCourt, unfaithful wives, or incompetent detectives. If you are able to contact Dowd, do not bring up the subject of his wife as he might turn either despondent or hostile. Instead, first try to discern if he is aware that he is deceased, and how he feels about being in that state. Then lead him into a conversation about what his life has been like since he died, and how he now perceives our world. This might allow you to eventually discuss what needs to happen on this plane in order for Dowd’s guilt to be eased and for his spirit finally to rest.

The Ghosts of WJMH

Identity: Kara “K.C.” Crittenden and Bobby Boyd, early 1980s disc jockeys at a rock and roll radio station.

Location: WJMH-FM, 550 W. Bernard, Studio C.

Demeanor: Cheerful, generally overly amorous to an embarrassing extent.

Encounter potential:  ** (*** if you follow the directions below)

Harm potential: none

Educational potential:  **

In 1981, WFGH hired a new late-night disk jockey named Kara Crittenden (who called herself “K.C.” on the air). Kara was young, energetic, and had a face that, as the vernacular goes, was constructed more for television than for radio. When her shift ended at 6 AM, she would always spend some time talking to the drive-time dj, Bobby Boyd, who was the third-highest rated radio personality in the city. Though possessing looks that were average at best, Bobby’s voice was said to be able to seduce any woman in Abana so long as she kept her eyes closed.

As Kara and Bobby came to know each other, they realized they shared a mutual attraction. Before long, the attraction became too powerful to be held back by the restraints of workplace propriety. Their passion finally exploded just as Bobby was about to go on the air one morning. Listeners experienced 30 seconds of dead air as Bobby and Kara shared their first kiss.

The two disk jockeys were better prepared for subsequent encounters. They developed a routine for their occasional intimate moments: at 6 AM, Kara would turn the airwaves over to Bobby, then slip secretly into a darkened studio that was in use only when musicians came to the station to play live. Bobby would program a three-song set of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Hey Jude,” and “American Pie,” then excuse himself on the pretext of getting coffee. He would sneak into the studio with Kara, and they would enjoy approximately 21 minutes of uninterrupted pleasure.

Their listeners were the first to catch on to the surreptitious goings-on, as Bobby and Kara could not help but make sly references to their trysts. Word of the affair eventually made its way up to the ears of station bosses, and the management (offended by the idea that the three songs listed above had become a sort of code for sexual activity throughout the city) issued an ultimatum: the two either needed to end the affair or one of them would be forced to leave the station.

The ultimatum was issued to Kara and Bobby at 6 AM, when they were both in the station and Bobby was supposed to be on the air. The jockeys’ response was quick and decisive. They locked themselves in Studio C and played nothing but “Unchained Melody” for 37 hours straight while whispering sweet nothings to each other over the music. According to one report, during the 23rd hour the couple engaged in activities usually reserved for the aforementioned three-song set, and at one point a stray foot hit a microphone switch and broadcast their passion to approximately 350,000 listeners.

Station management, who had watched ratings actually climb during this Righteous Brothers marathon due to sympathy with Kara and Bobby, were ready to give in to the lovesick disk jockey’s demands when, in a freak accident, lightning struck the station, blowing up various equipment and killing Kara and Bobby.

The studio has since been repaired and is currently in use. It is said to be haunted by Kara and Bobby’s spirits. Station personnel say that when either “Hey Jude,” Bohemian Rhapsody,” or “American Pie” is played, the studio becomes strangely warm and faint giggling can be heard coming from odd places. Witnesses also report to feeling “strangely embarrassed” when these songs are played, as if they are observing something inappropriate.

Additionally, on at least three occasions, “Unchained Melody” played mysteriously over the airwaves without any station personnel cuing it. On all three occasions, the song played on the anniversary of Bobby and Kara’s death.

This is especially notable since all of the station’s copies of “Unchained Melody” were destroyed and ordered never to be replaced in 1991 by Reuben Johanneson, the station owner, who hated Ghost.

Encountering the ghosts of Bobby and Kara is perhaps easier than contacting any other deceased being. Go to WFGH, 550 W. Bernard, and ask the secretary to use the phone. Call 555-WFGH and request any one of the three notorious songs. Then, intermingle with a station tour and do whatever you can to be near Studio C when the requested song is played. If you feel the presence of the spirits, you would be well advised not to speak to them, as the dead, like the living, tend to become rather upset when interrupted in the middle of certain personal activities.

Another alternative is to show up at the station on February 18 around 7:13 PM (the time of their death) and listen for “Unchained Melody.” If it plays, be on the look out both for the ghosts of Kara and Bobby–and also for Reuben Johanneson, who has been known to display a violent temper when that song is played.

The Haunted Portrait of Drusilla Cummings

Identity: Guilluame de Lorraine, artist, and Drusilla Cummings, socialite, notable figures in 1920s Abana.

Location: Abana Museum of Contemporary Art, Gallery 18J

Demeanor: Hostile. The ghost only manifests when he feels his ladylove’s honor is being threatened, and he does not take kindly to such threats.

Encounter potential:  * (**** if you are properly lascivious)

Harm potential:  **

Educational potential:  ***

Drusilla Cummings was renowned as the greatest beauty in Abana during the roaring ‘20s. In 1926, she started a torrid affair with Guilluame de Lorraine, one of Abana’s leading artists. They seemed an unlikely couple; De Lorraine was a short, burly creature whose features could charitably be described as brutish, while Drusilla was a tall, slender flapper with jet black hair cut in a bob and wide, dark eyes. Though seemingly physically incompatible, they were said to share an instant, volatile chemistry.

Shortly after their affair began, she asked him to paint her in the nude, and he happily agreed. According to rumor, for three straight weeks she posed for him from noon to three, then they made love from three to five, then went to dinner.

De Lorraine often said that fresh air was essential to artistic inspiration, so he always left the windows to his studio wide open. Unbeknownst to him, this gave a neighbor, Max Clompton, an unobstructed view of the green divan upon which Drusilla reclined. For three hours a day, Clompton enjoyed a clear view of Abana’s greatest attraction in all her glory–and then enjoyed a view of a different sort for the next two hours.

Eventually, Clompton grew too bold in his voyeurism, and Drusilla caught him gaping at her. She screamed and grabbed a nearby robe. In a rage, de Lorraine turned to the window, yelled some French expletives and drew the shade, cutting off Clompton’s view.

Clompton could not bear to have the sight of such beauty so abruptly removed, and though he had not understood a word de Lorraine had shouted, he was sure it had been insulting. Clompton rushed out of his apartment in a blind rage, broke into de Lorraine’s building and charged through the studio door.

De Lorraine was waiting for him, and a terrible fight ensued. Drusilla, trying to protect her lover, became involved in the fray. The violence escalated, eventually ending with de Lorraine and Drusilla dead on the studio floor and Clompton under arrest, fated to spend the rest of his life in prison.

The nearly finished portrait of Drusilla eventually made its way to the Abana Museum of Contemporary Art, where it hangs to this day, a eternal testament to Drusilla’s beauty and de Lorraine’s talent. It seems that the spirit of de Lorraine, and possibly that of Drusilla, traveled with it. Most of the time the spirits are docile, but if a spectator seems to be looking at the portrait with more lust than artistic appreciation, a threatening feeling descends upon the gallery. Witnesses claim that the colors on the painting rapidly fade until the only thing visible is Drusilla’s face, which takes on an angry, hostile expression. Anyone who has seen this happen has reported of a distinctive feeling that they should get out of the gallery immediately.

Your best chance of encountering these ghosts, then, lies in viewing the painting with someone whom you know to be predisposed to lasciviousness, such as a consumer of adult magazines or a construction worker. Be warned, though–the spirits are known to be hostile to such individuals, and there are no guarantees that they will not spiritually attack an individual in an attempt to exact retribution for the crime perpetrated by Max Clompton.[2]

The Invited Ghost

Identity: Nancy Beale, angry housewife of post-World War I Abana

Location: Cyane Center, 2506 N. Hopper Ave., Rillaway

Demeanor: Depends on the medium contacting her. In general, she is hostile to men and sympathetic to women.

Encounter potential:   ***

Harm potential:  * for women, **** for men

Educational potential:   ***

In 1917, Perry Beale, just back from World War I, married Nancy, his long-time sweetheart. They bought a house in Rillaway and dove into marital bliss. Sadly, their bliss was short lived. Nancy became sick and died of pneumonia only a year after their wedding day.

Perry was despondent. He isolated himself in the home they had shared for so brief a time, restlessly wandering from room to room, touching objects she had touched, looking for traces of her like remnants of hair or fingerprints. On those rare occasions when he sat still, he inevitably burst out in tears.

His friends and family were worried about Perry, and one of them, his Aunt Gertrude, recommended that he contact a spiritualist to try to communicate with Nancy and make his peace with her. Perry clung to the hope that he might have some contact with his beloved, and called on the medium immediately.

The séance went amazingly well. The medium announced she felt a presence as soon as the lights were turned low, and the spirit made herself known by moving curtains in the room and shaking the table. The medium then gave the spirit permission to use her to communicate with Perry, upon which the spirit took possession of the medium’s body.

The spirit was Nancy. Witnesses to the séance told of the touching sentiments Perry and Nancy expressed to each other, of the tones of pure love in their voices, and of how Perry looked like himself again for the first time since Nancy’s passing.

The witnesses hoped this contact would bring some sort of resolution to Perry, and would allow him to move on with his life. Those hopes fled as soon as the séance was over and Perry’s dolor returned–if anything, deeper than before.

Perry found temporary solace by submerging himself in spiritualism. He started holding séances weekly, then twice weekly. Spiritualists came for miles around to vie for his business. They topped each other with their claims of the volume and nature of contact with the other side they could provide.[3]

Finally, Stilton O. Bonney, the famed medium from across the lake, made the ultimate claim: he could bring Nancy’s spirit back permanently, to live again with Perry as his wife.

Perry didn’t blink over the exorbitant sum Bonney demanded, and he had Bonney perform the ceremony immediately. Neighbors reported a terrible racket coming from the house for nearly half an hour, followed by an eerie calm. Bonney left soon afterward, looking calm as he thumbed through an enormous stack of bills. Perry did not see him out.

In fact, Perry was not seen outside the house for over a year, and he allowed no visitors. All contact with mediums stopped. The door of the Beale house remained closed 24 hours a day. Though no one beside Perry ever entered the house, neighbors and passers-by reported hearing two distinct voices emanating from the house, one being Perry’s, the other being an unidentified, somewhat ethereal female voice.

Neighbors started talking about how wonderful it was that Perry and his love seemed to be reunited. Romantics across the city started making special trips to view the exterior of the Beale house and think about the eternal nature of romance.

The romantics took a significant blow when, 432 days after the final séance, the door of the Beale house opened at 1 AM and Perry Beale emerged. According to eyewitness accounts, he seemed very angry and stalked down the street, not making eye contact with anyone. He did not return for a day and a half. Neighbors, though, reported hearing sounds of someone moving in the house, along with the occasional crash of a shattered vase or dinner plate.

When Perry returned, he looked somewhat chastened and repentant as he practically ran back into his home. Neighbors hoped all was well, but in subsequent weeks they noticed that the voices coming from the house sounded louder and angrier. They continued hearing objects being thrown.

The fights became more and more frequent as time passed. Three years after the final séance, neighbors report hearing a voice of demonic force yelling “Get out!,” closely followed by Perry running from his home. He did not return for a week.

In subsequent years, Perry’s absences from his home grew longer, until finally, six and a half years after the final séance, he left for good. He walked out in the middle of the night, turned to his house, yelled “I should never have brought you back!” and was never seen again by the neighbors.

Reportedly, Perry moved across the lake, possibly to find Stilton Bonney and take his anger out on him. He only returned to Abana once, to attend the wedding of his favorite nephew. At the reception, Perry had too much to drink, and spoke of his life with Nancy.

“Missing her,” he is reported to have said, “was far more enjoyable than living with her.”

Nancy was doomed to remain in the house where she had once been so happy, and new residents of the house were doomed to live with her. She is said to be very unkind to married couples, especially husbands, while sharing a special affinity with single women.

The building is no longer a residence. It was converted to a women’s counseling center eleven years ago, and all the persecuted and suffering souls who enter comment on the strangely sympathetic spirit they feel as soon as they walk in.

To encounter Nancy’s spirit, just walk into the Cyane Center for Woman’s Mental Health in Rillaway. As noted, the greeting you receive from the spirit may depend on your gender and/or marital status. If you want a personal encounter with the spirit, try speaking aloud about the joys of lifelong marriage, or how you feel that love can last beyond the grave. This is almost guaranteed to bring a response, though be warned—it will not be kind.

Conclusion

Perhaps the most peculiar thing about the hauntings I have researched is that I have not once found the ghosts of an old couple who return to this world to be together and enjoy each other’s company. Inevitably, those who return from beyond the veil do so because their love, for some reason or another, ended poorly. Edmund Dowd only returns to condemn his rashness, and he has never been able to bring his wife back with him. Drusilla Cummings and Guilluame de Lorraine’s ghostly visits seem to be inspired more by their anger at Max Clompton than by their affection for each other. And the ghost of Nancy Beale, summoned from the depths of Perry Beale’s unhappiness, caused only more distress upon her return. Though Kara Crittenden and Bobby Boyd died while celebrating their love for each other, their ghostly activities seem to commemorate their death more than their love for each other (though I know some who have felt their presence when “American Pie” is playing would dispute that point).

I am not sure if all this means that the emotions of unhappy love affairs are stronger than those of happy ones, thus fixing the spirits to the scenes of those emotions, or rather if for one reason or another the existence of a happy relationship on this world makes it easier to transition to the next, while those who had troubles are doomed to dwell in them for at least a while longer.


[1] This was the beginning of the end for McCourt’s political career, and he remained bitter about it until the premature end of his life and beyond. See “Ghosts of Vengeance” for more details.

[2] My own experience, related in “The Portrait Séance”, perfectly illustrates to perils involved in encountering de Lorraine.

[3] Perry, an inveterate packrat, saved many of the solicitations he received, and they are now part of the permanent collection of the Abana Museum of Spiritual Sciences. His collection ran the gamut, from some of the most prominent psychics of the day to obvious charlatans who promised contact of a nature that even living people would have difficulty providing.

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