In the spirit of All Hallows Eve (a.k.a. Halloween) I thought it might be fitting to tell you a ghost story of ghoulish delight. Let’s check in with Marilyn….she will be the focus of our story today. A bit of background on Marilyn…she died a most unpleasant death. In the early 1800’s, she had braved the Atlantic and been a stow-a-way on a ship bound for the New World. Landing in New York harbour, she had found it difficult to find employment being just 14 years of age, and so began her life of a crime. Marilyn was growing to be quite a fetching young woman. Her curves were in all the right places, mens’ intentions on the other hand were not. By the age of 18 she was somewhat jaded and quite a successful pick-pocket.
Using her erstwhile charms while fleecing some fellow who was caught off guard and caught up in her feminine wiles became her signature. And then Marilyn met David. And her heart was lost to this noble young man who did not know she existed. David was an artist of unbelievable talent and had earned a few commissions since arriving from Ireland. It was tough in New York to eek out a living. He had a kind heart and a gentle nature and was oddly attractive in a rather forlorn manner I suppose.
Marilyn had come running around the corner and plowed right into David knocking him and his tools hither and yon.
She had stopped and assisted him, taking note immediately of his quiet demeanor and that he was not angry that she had been so clumsy. Marilyn could have lifted the man’s purse, and yet this time, she did not.
A brief conversation had ensued and she would learn that he was working on some waterscapes so to speak. Over the course of the next month, Marilyn had slipped down to the docks to watch this young man set up his station and paint what was before him. Once he had passed her by, and she had smiled at him and David had smiled back, yet there was no recognition on his part.
On a beautiful autumn day, Marilyn decided she must try to win this young man’s affections and so she adorned herself in her finest wear and made her way down to the dock. David sat perched in his usual place and she made her way toward him. Her gaze was focused on him and she was not aware of what was occurring off to the left of her. She paid no mind to the frantic calls from the men up on the deck of merchant vessel that was being unloaded.
“Cannot hold on!” several men screamed trying in vain to hang onto a crate that easily weighed 1,000 lbs. One of the ropes had given way that was supporting it as the crate was being lowered to the dock and the crate was now dangling precariously in the air. The other rope could not sustain the weight and began to give way. “Run! Clear the area!” was screamed loudly and to all. The seven men on the dock and the five on board the vessel let go of the ropes just as the rope snapped.
It was at this moment Marilyn became aware of the ruckus and turned to her left. The crate crashed to the docks about ten feet from where she stood and the massive rope swung with such force, catching her right across the throat and crushing her windpipe on contact. She was thrown onto the dock’s by the force and as she laid there now dying, the young man David was at her side trying to provide comfort in her final earthly moments.
Marilyn did not want to leave, even while her soul was being torn from the vessel she had housed, she wanted nothing more than to stay in his arms.
And it was in that moment of want that the lovely Marilyn was tied to this earthly plane. Doomed now to haunt the streets of the City over the next hundred or so years.
Of course, travel had afforded Marilyn the opportunity to see something of this world. And while her body had decayed she had found that with a good dose of plasma, the hands of time could be turned back remarkably so.
She had made her way to the West Coast now. Vancouver to be exact. Some of the ghosts in these parts had displayed a certain level of hostility toward her upon arrival. Well, at 178 years of age in ghost years, she was something of a veteran. As far as Marilyn was concerned it was every ghost for themselves.
She moved with haste toward the Mansion on Davie Street. Marilyn could not believe her good fortune to find this lovely home, abandoned…well, there had been a few undesirables that she had taken care of….but to find this lovely home just a few blocks from the beach! Cursing, she reached down and picked up her arm and re-attached it. Pausing for a moment she gazed at her reflection in a store window. Her ear was a bit off as well. She grimaced. The doctor that supplied this last plasma transfusion had provided a really poor quality product.
Marilyn’s favorite night of the year was arriving. She could walk amongst the living on All Hallows Eve. Zombies were all the rage this year and that was what she was dressing up as, so even if her ear did fall off, many would think it just a brilliant make up job. She smiled at the notion. Even with an infusion of poor plasma she could last for a few weeks in material form if she chose to. They were going to do a zombie walk along the seawall, then down Denman Street and finish up over at the park on Coal Harbour.
As the witching hour approached Marilyn left the Mansion and made her way down to the Bathhouse where everyone was congregating. Lantern at the ready, she smiled at the other participants and they smiled back complementing her on her costume. And then something odd began to happen. Everyone began to move away from her. Eyes widening in horror. What the hell was wrong with these people? Had they never seen a zombie before? She picked up her pace and now they began to scream. Oh, silly humans, she muttered and screamed as well. Now the living began to run. Marilyn was rather put off at this. Then she stopped having caught her reflection in a pane of glass. She was fading in and out. At times, she was whole and then only half of her would be showing.
The warnings had been coming for years. Plasma transfusions would eventually be of no benefit. Over the years she had needed a stronger dose each time. Now it would appear, no matter how strong the dose, Marilyn could no longer hold the human form. Well then, she mused. If she was going to go out, it would be with a bang. Time to rattle some chains. With an unearthly wail she ran after the humans dressed as zombies. She laughed manically as they cried and sobbed. Oh this was delightfully fun, she decided. With a thundering voice she wailed, “I am the ghost of English Bay…those who trespass upon this ground shall know my wrath! Particularly those who mimic me!” And she pointed a finger that faded on then off again at the crowd. Chasing them toward down toward the park in Coal Harbour she got in front of them now and the mass of people came to a stop.
Marilyn was laughing quite gaily now. “Seriously folks,” and she did her best Groucho Marx, “Go on and have good time and be back here next year or I’ll come lookin’ for you!”
Then off she went to freak out a few more party goers. A legend was born this night and Halloween down in the West End would never, ever be the same!
Happy Halloween everyone!