“The House of the Red Candle”—A Murder Mystery by Martin Edwards

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The House of the Red Candle

Martin Edwards

To the end of his days, Charles Dickens forbade all talk about the slaying of Thaddeus Whiteacre. The macabre features of the tragedy—murder by an invisible hand; the stabbing of a bound man in a room both locked and barred; the vanishing without trace of a beautiful young woman—were meat and drink to any imaginative mind. Wilkie Collins reflected more than once that he might have woven a triple-decker novel of sensation from the events of that dreadful night, but he knew that publication was impossible. Dickens would treat any attempt to fabricate fiction from the crime as a betrayal, an act of treachery he could never forgive.

Dickens said it himself: The case must never be solved.

His logic was impeccable; so was his generosity of heart. Even after Dickens’s death, Collins honoured his friend’s wishes and kept the secret safe. But he also kept notes, and enough time has passed to permit the truth to be revealed. Upon the jottings in Collins’s private records is based this account of the murder at the House of the Red Candle.

* * *

A crowded tavern on the corner of a Greenwich alleyway, a stone’s throw from the river. At the bar, voices were raised in argument about a wager on a prizefight and a group of potbellied draymen carolled a bawdy song about a mermaid and a bosun. The air was thick with smoke and the stale stench of beer. Separate from the throng, two men sat at a table in the corner, quenching their thirsts.

The elder, a middle-sized man in his late thirties, rocked back and forth on his stool, his whole being seemingly taut with tension, barely suppressed. His companion, bespectacled and with a bulging forehead, fiddled with his extravagant turquoise shirt pin while stealing glances at his companion. Once or twice he was about to speak, but something in the other’s demeanour caused him to hold his tongue. At length he could contain his curiosity no longer.

‘Tell me one thing, my dear fellow. Why here?’

Charles Dickens swung to face his friend, yet when he spoke, he sounded as cautious as a poker player with a troublesome hand of cards. ‘Is the Rope and Anchor not to your taste, then, Wilkie?’

‘Well, it’s hardly as comfortable as the Cock Tavern. Besides, it’s uncommon enough for our nightly roamings to take us south of the river, and you gave the impression of coming here with a purpose.’ He winced as a couple of drunken slatterns shrieked with mocking laughter. The object of their scorn was a woman with a scarred cheek who crouched anxiously by the door, as if yearning for the arrival of a friendly face. ‘And the company is hardly select! All this way on an evening thick with fog! Frankly, I expected you to have rather more pleasurable company in mind.’

‘My dear Wilkie,’ Dickens said, baring his teeth in a wicked smile. ‘Who is to say that I have not?’

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Ghosts are what survive of love…what they’re really trying to prove is that love lasts forever…

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“Every ghost story begins with a love story, and usually more than one. Once they are untangled, you will always find eternal love, unbearable loss, and unconquerable fear.

Everywhere, every minute, people all over the world are desperately begging God and any other power they can think of to not take someone they love, their child, their husband or wife, mother or father or friend. And finally, at the end, don’t take me.

There is no spot on earth that is free from loss. On this street, or in this room, someone lay down or was put down and was no more. Someone held someone else for the last time here. Rivers and lakes and oceans are full of people who vanished beneath the surface and were never seen again. Wherever you are standing, wherever you call home, someone left the earth there.

Everyone we love dies and disappears.

Something more substantial than a memory must survive of all that love. It’s unthinkable that the dead are truly and completely gone. And if the dead are not completely gone, we, as every generation that came before, are compelled to look for whatever remains.

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What is death but the end of all we love? Ghosts are what survive of love. Real or unreal, they are a testament to love, and the hope that no matter what, love lasts.

The men and women of the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory were scientists. They never would have phrased it this way. But when all is said and done, as they tried to prove that death is not the end, what they were really trying to prove is that love lasts forever.

The problem was how to scientifically demonstrate that life and all the feelings that go with it survive death. A medium relaying messages of continuing love from a dead wife might be enough for an inconsolable widower, but it will never be enough for the scientific community, which demands not only more convincing evidence but also experiments that can be reliably repeated to produce consistent results. To move an idea out of the realm of belief and into the world of accepted fact, others must be able to verify your results. There are no shortcuts to this process, and no exceptions. Like those we pray to when death is imminent, the scientific method is immune to longing, hope, and pleas.”

7B9B371A-9356-4D86-84C8-51E6AE71249EStacy Horn, from the Preface to Unvelievable: Inveatigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parasychology Laboratory (HarperCollins 2009)

[Image: Still from the 2017 David Lowry film A Ghost Story, starring Casey Affleck (mentor-less.com).]

Who Is Indrid Cold, Aka. “The Grinning Man”? A Creepy Tale from 1930s West’s Virginia…

What’s on the Tube? “Demon House” … A Documentary of Indiana’s “House of 200 Demons”—Zak Bagans Filmed It, & Then He Tore It Down…⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

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The Text

“…then psychic medium Chris Fleming sends me a text. He’s heard I bought the house. He sends me a warning that I’ll never forget. He tells me there’s a 12-foot-tall ‘demon guardian’, just like the one from my dream at that house. And I better stay the hell away from it.” —Zak Bagans, Demon House

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Above: Text to Zak Bagans from psychic Chris Fleming, warning Bagans about the demonic infestation in the house in Gary, Indiana. Photo: Sanguine Woods (Demon House).


The Warning

In my opinion film-school graduate and 13-year veteran of demonology and ghost hunting, Zak Bagans, is among our greatest documentary filmmakers. The skill of his vision, authenticity, and artist’s eye for the truth can be seen in Ghost Adventures—the Travel Channel series Bagans created which has been on the air scaring the shit out of millions of viewers for almost 20 years. Bagans doesn’t play. He’s often foolish in his taunting of the demonic—he has learned to be, let’s say, more careful—more respectful—over the years. However, a few years ago, when he learned of the Haunted House in Gary, Indiana in the window of which a police officer caught on film a ghostly entity, Bagans wasted no time. He bought the house straight-up…over the phone. When you’re rich you can do things like that. But rich or poor: you’re regrets for having done so…will be very much the same.

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(Pinterest).

Below, after the trailer, are two articles to whet your interest in The Ammons “House of 200 Demons”—one that takes the phenomenon of demonology and related infestations seriously—and to be fair to the other side, one written for Skeptical Inquirer. I’ve also included Links to some other interesting articles and videos as well as where to buy/view Bagan’s documentary.

The film advises that Viewers Watch Demon House “at Your Own Risk”.

As always when dealing with dark things—evil things as some would call them—beings or phenomenon—whether or not you purport to believe in such things—it is prudent to exercise caution.

SW


The Photo

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A Poem a Day—#1: “The Dream of a Common Language” by Leigh Stein

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The Dream of a Common Language

after Adrienne Rich

On Wednesdays I take the train past Yankee Stadium,
to a place where it is never a given that I speak the language,
to a place where graffiti covers the mural they painted to hide
the graffiti, to a place where the children call me Miss Miss
Miss Miss Miss
and I find in one of their poems, a self-portrait,
the line I wish I was rish. The dream of a common language

is the language of one million dollars, of basketball, of plátanos.
Are the kids black? my boyfriend wants to know. Dominican.
It’s different. When asked to write down a question
they wish they could ask their mom or dad, one boy writes,
Paper or plastic? A girl in the back of the class wants to know
Why don’t I have lycene, translating the sound of the color

of my skin into her own language. The best poet
in sixth grade is the girl who is this year repeating
sixth grade. When I tell her teacher of her talent
she says, At least now we know she’s good
at something
. To speak their language, I study
the attendance list, practice the cadence of their names.

Yesterday I presented a black and white portrait of a black man,
his bald head turned away from us, a spotted moth resting
on one shoulder. I told them this is a man serving a life
sentence in Louisiana. Is this art? Without hesitation,
one girl said no, why would anybody
want to take a picture
of that.

—Leigh Stein

from Poem-a-Day, 365 Poems for Every Occasion, Abrams Image, 2015


Leigh Stein is the author of the poetry collection Dispatch from the Future (Melville House, 2012). She lives in Brooklyn and teaches poetry in New York City’s public schools. She has also written a memoir: Land of Enchantment; and a novel: The Fallback Plan. Stein is co-founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit literary organization Out of the Binders. For her advocacy work, she has been called a “leading feminist” by the Washington Post, and a “woman of influence” by New York Business Journal.