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A Ghost Story

October 15, 2014


NOTE: With the colorful leaves flying in an autumnal wind and rain, ’tis the season for a “fictional” ghost story.



The Dancing Ghost at the Wrecking Ball


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Although many people think that the Clarke-DuBrise House was initially owned by a Mr. DuBrise whose first name was Clarke, such was definitely not the case.  In 1868, Clinton Clarke had the three-story, Victorian home built near the corner of Poplar and Meredith Street.  However, only one generation of the Clarke family lived in the once highly fashionable house.  In 1884, the DuBrise family purchased the home; subsequent generations of the family resided at the tony address until 1943.  After being empty for two years, Major Aaron DuBrise, from afar, rented the property  again and again until the abode was in a horrible state of disrepair.  Major DuBrise never returned to his family’s home after October 29, 1943–the evening of the tragedy at Poplar and Meredith Street.  After the Major’s death in 1991, the house was left to the Lantern County Historical Society.  Unfortunately, the historical society decided that sufficient funds were not available to save the historic home.  Reluctantly, the project chairperson of the Lantern County Historical Society arranged for a wrecking company to demolish the home.


The day of demolition was a gray, humid, moderately windy autumn day.  Shortly before noon, a large crowd, including the local media, gathered on surrounding streets to watch the destruction.  As the final minutes of preparation ticked by, a light rain turned much heavier; nevertheless, the crowd grew in number and interest.  Finally, the foreman Vigo Moraglia gave the signal to his crew–despite the weather.  Jack was in charge of the first blow with the wrecking ball.  As soon as the ball hit the third story of the old mansion, a streak of lightning popped; and the loudest boom of thunder echoed through the city.  The heavy rain burst into a downpour; and bystanders rushed toward their cars, homes, and businesses.  Somewhat stunned by Mother Nature’s display and a most unusual sight, Jack waited for another signal to continue.  He pondered how very little had been salvageable from the dwelling:  Jack and Vigo had previously combed the premises only to find for removal two chandeliers, four fireplace mantles, and seven heavy oak doors.  After refurbishing, all of these items would go to the historical society’s museum.  Jack thought being able to save so little of the historic home was sad.  Then, he realized that Vigo was giving him a signal to continue.  As the demolition proceeded, only one bystander remained to witness the erasing of history–Mrs. Dorothea Clavell.


After years of being a well-known newspaper reporter, Dorothea Clavell shifted to being a columnist who wrote exclusively about the history of Lantern County.  Her prematurely white hair gave her an early air of gravitas.  In the wind and with the sudden lightning bolt, she closed her huge chartreuse umbrella and pulled her dark green hood over her head.  She wondered if the cameras of the two television stations had captured what she saw in the aura of the lightning streak.


Jack, too, had seen something at that moment.  As he continued to man the wrecking ball, he thought he was seeing a dancing –a dancing ghost.  He needed more coffee, he thought.


Due to the weather, Vigo let his crew leave early although Vigo never admitted to seeing anything unusual.  A few minutes away from the site, Jack turned off the windshield wipers on his truck; the rain stopped , and the sky lightened.  At home, he quickly showered, put on clean clothes,  and decided to treat himself to a good meal at Zena’s Cafe.  Jack wanted to shake the memory of what he had thought he had seen.


Zena, the hostess and owner, escorted Jack to his favorite table.  Declining a menu, he ordered the special and a big piece of pumpkin pie.


As soon as Jack finished his meal, a strange, young woman dressed in an old-fashioned, periwinkle blue, long dress glided into the booth, across from him.  She had a white rose in her left hand; her auburn hair was swept up into a bun of soft curls.  Her serious, watery gray eyes looked directly at Jack.  Quietly, but firmly, she asked:  “Why did you wreck my family’s beloved home?  Please, please tell me why you would do such a terrible thing.”


“Lady, it was just my job.  If I had not done it, another guy on the crew would have.  We were hired to do a job–that’s all.  Why are you dressed so old-fashioned?  You look as if you are from another era.”


“I own a vintage shop downtown.  I sell vintage clothing; I feel more comfortable wearing vintage clothing.”


Then, she left as quickly as she had arrived.  In her rush to leave the booth, one petal fell off the rose onto the table.  Somewhat in a daze, Jack picked up the petal, examined it, and stuck it into his pocket.  A few moments later, Jack was aware of a large piece of pumpkin pie on the table in front of him.


Next, sitting across from him was Zena, who commented:  “You look as if you have seen a ghost.  You better take a taste of that pumpkin pie.”


“Thanks, Zena.  I’m okay.  Do you know that young woman who was just sitting here?  She said she owns a vintage shop downtown.”


“There is no vintage shop in this area–none that I know of.  I did not see anyone sitting with you, Jack.  I just read in the newspaper about the Clarke-DuBrise House.  Dorothea’s column says that in 1943, Charlotte DuBrise and her fiancee were killed by the same bolt of lightning when they were running from the house to the gazebo, where, apparently, the young man had planned to propose because a spectacular ring in a lavender velvet box was found in his pocket.  Look how lovely this photo is.”


When Jack gazed at the photo, he knew who had visited his table.  He awkwardly placed several bills on the table, grabbed his piece of pie, and shakily said,  “I am going to the farm to visit my dad and ride my horse.”


Somewhat teasingly, Zena quipped:  “Now, you really look like you have seen a ghost.  What is the name of that horse of yours?  Slow down, Jack.”


Opening the door to exit, Jack replied,  “You know the name of my horse–Phantom.”



Enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie and your other favorite treats of the season!

Alice and Zoe


October 15, 2014, Wednesday



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One Comment
  1. I enjoyed this ghostly tale so much, Alice! Can your readers look forward to a Part 2?
    Love, Mary

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