Monday, October 31, 2022

Mrs. Conan Doyle's Spooky Hand

 This All Hallow's Eve, that time when the mystic membrane between the living and the dead is said to be at its most permeable, I just can't stop thinking about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's second wife and her spooky, spooky hand.

I don't know if you've ever read Pheneas Speaks: A Striking Message from the Hereafter, Reported by Arthur Conan Doyle, M.D., LL.D. (which is a very real book) but it's chock-full of messages written by the hand of his wife when if was under the control of a ghost, a kind of possession as it were.

One of the earliest ghosts to take over Mrs. Conan Doyle's spooky hand was E. W. Hornung, four months after he died of a bout of flu that turned into pneumonia in France. Hornung was Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law, author of the Raffles series, and a had a real rift with Doyle over some W.W.1 business. But all was forgiven, at least by Hornung's ghost, who was suddenly all agreeable about spiritualism, which he hadn't been in life.

Personally, if I was a ghost, I don't think I'd be getting into the hand of my brother-in-law's wife just to tell the guy he was right about everything. In fact, on the other side of the equation, I don't think I'd trust some random ghost possessing some body part of my wife, even if he did get a ghostly character reference from a family member as the supposed Hornung did. And if a ghost can use someone's hand to write clear text, what other things could that hand be doing, say at night, in the same bed you are in?

Conan Doyle was a very trusting soul, that's all I'm saying.

You would kind of expect his first wife to slip into his second wife's hand and write him a note or two. It seems like she would be extremely motivated to do so, and also be readily hanging out with her son, who was the first to take control of the possessable hand. And even if she didn't, I'm sure there would be a lot of "Mom says . . ." coming through in the notes.

Getting back to E.W. Hornung -- that guy was even a writer! He gets the chance to pen some words from beyond the grave and he just writes stuff like, "It is so nice to be free from my asthma?" The supposed Hornung possessing the hand even communicated that he was doing literary work in the afterlife and that what he's writing there is "so much more vital. It really counts." But could he bother to put any of that great prose on the paper in front of Doyle's wife? Nope. Seems to me you'd want a little of your afterlife better works to make it back to the living.

"Pheneas" the ghost that eventually hogged all the hand possession time, has a name with Hebrew roots meaning "serpent's mouth or oracle," according to some sources. And if that doesn't sound like the start of a Blumhouse movie, I don't know what does. One of these days, perhaps Warner Brothers will work their way back from Ed and Lorraine Warren's exploits to those of Arthur and Jean Conan Doyle. (Side note: I got to spend an evening at a local college event where Ed and Lorraine were giving their slideshow presentation once. It was as creepy as you'd expect it to be.)

So my toast to you on this Halloween eve: Here's to your spouse's hand continuing to only work for the brain that's attached to it. And may your own stay yours as well, at least until you get the glass raised and a good drink past your lips!

No comments:

Post a Comment