Saturday, November 4, 2017

Ghost Story #13: Tillie's Wraith

Detroit Free Press, April 15, 1888
On a rain-shot evening in early November such as tonight it's easy to think of Tillie Sparks and feel a tinge of regret for the seasons lost and passions allayed. Surely her grave in Woodmere Cemetery is unmarked. Unlike the pocked earth scarred and salved over by a century's worth of sediment turning in its natural course, top to bottom, over and under until all is returned to clay and loam.

Hers was an unfinished script. A life mulled over and expended upon the hourly chafed bed-springs of a flophouse nearby the whorish slumbers of Madames Flo Fleming and Carrie Dalton where she witnessed her life come full circum through the fire and rain of human afflictions. As sure as her grave is bereft of monument and memorial she was a lower-dreg courtesan. A harlot. A common prostitute. Her address spoke of such ill-behavior. That the law and press were in on the tawdry scheme proves that life is a bastard enterprise. As such, Tillie Sparks peddled her flesh for God-knows what return and the only persons concerned with her welfare were the Reaper and his insouciant scythe.

It's hard to know what sentiment lay beneath her skull cap into the brain and heart of her circuitry. What thoughts and puerile instinct to live, learn and love as kings and commoners do. Surely she wanted the full spectrum of what life offers but she was beneath the domain of human compassion because she sold her body to assuage the pulsing trigger seed which begets the egg its vitality. Certainly her eyes were dim behind that ebony skein which concealed the wicked filament of illicit behaviors and vexed her mercilessly so.

Though not as much as William Brown. One could make a million masks--truthful or libelous--and all would turn out Devilish for our design here. Perhaps he was upstanding and kind. Maybe his gracious charity gave Tillie Sparks hope where only the animus to subsist on nothingness resided previously. Something caused this supposed hard woman to become brittle and break before the altar of Cupid and he's the only pillar standing between her happiness and demise.

She had expected to meet William for a tryst or perhaps something more sentimental. Clearly William was not equally enamored. So when she stepped out onto Fort Street in lieu of their "date" and saw him embroiled in commerce with another woman she became unhinged with jealousy and hopeless disdain for her own existence. She followed the erstwhile acquaintances as they followed up their footfalls with the intimacy that only lovers know. Yes, I realize that I'm devolving rapidly into a pantomime of Danielle Steel but indulge me as I allow the torrid hobgoblin to entirely envelop my psyche.

When they alighted from the street to a known carnal roost Tillie set her mind towards a return to Eden. To eat the poison apple and die a martyr in preference to a slavish and unrequited love. She booked her own funeral in a room near to her rival and love, departed to exchange money with a pharmacist on a nearby street corner, once more returned to commence the fulfillment of her destiny with the aid of laudanum and entered death's eerie chamber as a slumbering suicide eagerly awaiting the expiration of breath which came more gradual than her desire. All while William passionately remade himself upon his mate's tilting womb. Whatever it was that made Josephine Day more desirable than Tillie ended there as well.

But Tillie could not rest. Or so said the patrons and matrons of the brothel at 84 Fort Street East. Her visage could be seen at the midnight hour escaping its nocturnal prison only to lose itself in shrieks of sorrow and weeping moans, as lost and meandering as the wind in her death as she was in the living sphere. Perhaps the police could have assuaged the suffering of each or so thought the unnerved tenants. Even a cursory glance at the two buttressing articles from the Detroit Free Press proved that the strumpet calls had merely begun in earnest with those two so-called entities of justice and truth and no help would be forthcoming neither then or presently.

Detroit Free Press, May 7, 1888

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