Men watch out for Black Widows!

Black Widow inner image
You come home from work, perhaps your loving wife greets you with a kiss. The smell of the dinner your wife has prepared wafts from the kitchen. You exchange small talk and sit down for dinner. The food looks good and wholesome…but there’s a catch…your wife has only gone and laced it with arsenic…you have succumbed to a Black widow.

There are quite a number of them out there… Back in the mid 1860s, we encounter Lydia Sherman who was facing life with an unemployed husband and six dependent children. She found the idea of getting divorced as unappealing, her answer lay in poison a cheap and easy solution. So she served her husband a bowl of oatmeal gruel laced with arsenic. Following this, she gave arsenic-laced chocolate to her six children and calmly collected the insurance money.

On to pastures new Lydia found a wealthy farmer considerably older than her. She didn’t bide her time she poisoned his clam chowder a year later.
After hitting the marriage trail again she just couldn’t help but poison her third husband for good measure. Between 1864 and 1871, Lydia Sherman dispatched 10 people to an early grave. Dubbed “The Derby Poisoner,” “America’s Queen Poisoner,” or “Connecticut’s ‘Lucrezia Borgia’,” Lydia Sherman was accused of murder in 1871. She escaped the gallows because women were not sentenced to death at the time. Instead, she received the maximum penalty of life in prison.

Gesche Gottfried, seemingly a sweet attractive blond had men flocking to her doorstep, only to choose a loser alcoholic called Mittenberg, a handsome yet unsuitable man who she married in 1815.Their marriage proving a disaster Gesche took a lover, while deciding it was best to get shot of her husband. Having slipped arsenic into his beer, with no suspicians raised as to all and sundry he’d died alcohol poisoning, her next move was to induce her lover into marriage. He declined, due to her having two children, so she promptly poisoned them. When her parents raised objects to the marriage she cherished, of course they joined her list of victims. Due to his persistent refusal to marry her, Gesche poisoned her lover, however they did marry on his deathbed and Gesche was recipient of all of his fortune. She was finally brought to justice, the exact number of her victims is hard to define, but it could be up to 30.

Madeleine de Brinvilliers, a French aristocrat was reckless in the way she went about poisoning people, her Father and two brothers were among hher victims, her motives finacial. She attempted to poison her husband , having earlier taken on a cavalry officer lover. Her end was not so happy she was tortured, beheaded, and her body was burned at the stake in 1676.

Vera Renczi from Bucharest was a woman of rare beauty sent a grand total of sent two husbands, 32 lovers, and her own son to early graves.
What can we deduce? Most Black Widows are after their husband’s fortunes and are particularly interested in insurance money. Some are distrustful of men, driven by jealousy and paranoia. Another trait of a Black Widow is they have to be accomplished liars, to cover the tracks of their heinous crimes, especially if their murders are botched jobs, as in the case of Michele Williams who murdered her husband, successful businessman Greg, claiming she had been shot by an intruder, adding other unlikely stories in the mix, which only thrust more suspicion in her direction.

It is advisable that any Black Widow, plays the role of the grieving widow, something Michele failed to do, the next day going a restaurant for a celebratory big fry-up breakfast. It was later claimed Michele was a man-eater, who moved from one man to the next to get what she could, living the dream life. Under the pressure of the police Michele kept changing her story, coming up with ludicrous alternatives, for example that her husband had committed suicide and that she was simply try to hide this fact from her young daughter. In the end all fingers pointed to her and she was arrested. This compulsive liar continued to spin lie after lie, including saying she was pregnant with twins. It also turned out she was dating a toy boy Gene, a personal trainer. After angering judges, repeatedly changing her story, she finally was awarded a sturdy prison sentence.

In my book Flight of Destiny, one of my stories is called Black Widow. A woman Mercedes Shwartz, is a young woman whose marriage was short-lived. She lives in a remote luxurious house, on her own. She lures a man to house and then after they have had sex has his inexplicable urge to kill him. Suddenly luring unsuspecting men, having sex with them and murdering them becomes a ritual way of life for her.

http://francishpowellauthor.weebly.com/love-is-blind-blog-hop.html

banner

Follow Francis H Powell on Twitter

https://twitter.com/Dreamheadz

READ MORE ON Flight of Destiny,

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

Advertisements

Who was this St Valentine?

St Val

Everybody has their conceptions of Valentine’s day.  Maybe for those of a more pragmatic nature,  it is just a cynical marketing tool, the beneficiaries being among others, flower shops, shops that sell chocolate.  The card industry must welcome it with glee, every year when it comes around, restaurants must also relish it, all those romantic candle lit dinners. Young people of a certain age attach a significance to it. There are those bereft of partners, who dread it, when it comes around, as it only amplifies their loneliness

The origin of this much heralded day is shrouded by mystery. For some reason February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains elements of both Christian and ancient Roman traditions. One legend has it that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers compared to those equipped with wives and families, he took the extreme step of forbidding marriage for young men.

Valentine defied the emperor and continued secretly to marry those who chose the path of marriage. When his defiance was discovered it was decreed he should be put to death, accordingly the priest was eventually beheaded and then named a martyr by the Church .
Another legend contends that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one theory , an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his prison guard’s  daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is said that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that still prevails today.
Whichever legend you chose to believe among the many unsubstantiated, we are led to believe Valentine was sympathetic, heroic and in essence a true romantic.

Some believe the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in order to “Christianize” and counter balance the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, also to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written under duress in 1415 by a French man Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.

It was the English writer Chaucer who first linked St. Valentine’s Day with romance and was later followed by Shakespeare with references to the day in his works. . By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging handmade cards on Valentine’s Day had become common in England.

Whatever the history, which is of little concern to many Valentine’s day will always feature strongly in many people’s diaries.

http://francishpowellauthor.weebly.com/love-is-blind-blog-hop.html

banner

Follow Francis H Powell on Twitter

https://twitter.com/Dreamheadz

Why do we tell ghost stories at Christmas?

Christmas story reading

 

Christmas has a binding association with ghosts, going back in time just before Christmas 1642, for instance, shepherds were said to have seen ghostly civil war soldiers battling in the skies. Ghosts have long been in people’s minds. In The Egyptian Book of the Dead, departed people are shown to return, not merely looking as they did in life, but dressed in similar garments.

Christmas has different memories for different people. One memory I hold is there was always a “ghost story” on TV as well the fact that Charles Dickens also often featured. It seems a strange combination, “ghost stories” and” Christmas” so where does this union come from?
The answer is commonly assumed would probably be Victorian times. This period which is usually seen as being rather staid, prim and proper, but also was characterized by those who wanted their share of thrills.
Charles Dickens is heralded as perpetuating this desire to be captivated by chilling tales at Christmas. There is little evidence prior to Dickens that authors wrote ghost stories for Christmas in mind, but some have their own points of view.

The writer Peter Haining, in the introduction to his collection of festive chillers Christmas Spirits says about Dickens. “Yet despite the seeming timelessness of this tradition, it has to be admitted that the idea of creating ghosts stories especially for telling at Christmas goes back no further… than the time of Charles Dickens.”

Dig further back into the past quite a while before Dickens and you have a famous bard who might also lay claim to originating this fascination with spine chilling stories. One of William Shakespeare’s most famous works Hamlet can be considered as being a ghost story. He also includes many traits of Ghost Stories with his Winter’s Tale.
The tale which begins ‘There was a man dwelt by a churchyard…which leads us to believe it is going to be a ghost story. Winter tales were similar, if not identical to Christmas ghost stories.

Dickens writes in Telling Winter Stories, from The Christmas Tree in 1859, “There is probably a smell of roasted chesnuts and other good comfortable things all the time, for we are telling Winter Stories – Ghost Stories, or more shame for us – round the Christmas fire.” Shakespeare used the phrase in A Winter’s Tale, “A sad tale’s best for winter: I have one. Of sprites and goblins.” And a hundred years before that in 1589, in the Jew of Malta, Christopher Marlowe writes:
“Now I remember those old women’s words,
Who in my wealth would tell me winter’s tales,
And speak of spirits and ghosts that glide by night”

Shakespearian scholar Catherine Belsey writes of Shakespeare.
Among the terms in circulation in the period for far-fetched narratives and improbable fables, one favorite was “a winter’s tale.” In the long, cold evenings, when the soil had been tilled to the extent that climatic conditions permitted, the still predominantly agricultural community of early modern England would sit and while away the hours of darkness with fireside pastimes, among them old wives’ tales designed to enthrall young and old alike.

We can trace the telling of ghost stories as a popular winter craze to the 16th century and that it was an integral part of the Elizabethan Christmas festivities. A ‘winter’s tale’ has become synonymous with weird stories of the fantastic and phantasmagoric, however the tradition most likely goes back at least a century further…

While I used to cower behind the sofa watching a riveting ghost story on TV, prior to television, my ancestors would be gathered around a roaring fire, some might say much more atmospheric.
Inherent in Christmas are many ancient supernatural aspects. I remember while living Austria, being told of the ritual of Krampus, which is still followed in modern times in rural areas. While Saint Nicholas may bestow gifts to good boys and girls, ancient folklore in Europe’s Alpine region also tells of Krampus, a frightening beast-like creature who emerges during the Yule season, looking for naughty children to punish in horrible ways — or possibly to drag back to his lair in a sack. I heard stories of people dressed as Krampus running amok in Austrian villages.

joc33iwhjoyh5isg3y4z

The work of Henry James often features as a TV adaptation. James’s work helped bring back the tradition from obscurity, as the formed the basis of the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas, which was a yearly Christmas offering dating back to 1971.
M R James is recognized as the undisputed master of the Christmas Ghost story. His stories, were written to be read around Christmas to a select group of friends. His work encompassed the dual nature of the season – the cosiness of sitting round the fire, but at the same time the need to banish the dark.
Can you pass through Christmas without watching Scrooge, the antithesis of the Christmas spirit? Or curling up in front of a roaring fire, with a good ghost story in hand?

This article was part of a Festive blog hop, to read other articles by authors and bloggers, click

 

FOLLOW Francis H Powell, on Twitter

https://twitter.com/Dreamheadz

 

Francis H Powell, author of Flight of Destiny, 22 quirky short stories…

I enjoyed these tales as they gave me a fantastic break from my daily routine and I enjoyed remembering them and day dreaming about them afterwards. They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.

What you wouldn’t want for Christmas.

raleghexecute

 

What you wouldn’t want for Christmas.

I was doing some research on an explorer, adventurer, favorite courtier of Elizabeth 1 , poet, amongst other things, Sir Walter Raleigh, a man known to many British children who have studied the basics of British History, when I unearthed an interesting fact concerning what happened to the executed Sir Walter’s head, following its encounter with an axe.

Sir Walter who discovered and brought back tobacco and the potato, was implicated as a foe of King James I and imprisoned with a death sentence hanging over him. He was later freed and was sent on another expedition, which ended in failure.

At his execution in 1618 in the Tower of London, Sir Walter Raleigh asked to see the axe that was to behead him and said, “This is a sharp Medicine, but it is a Physician for all Diseases.” This leads us to think he still had a bit of a sense of humor, despite the fact that he was about to shortly parted from this world. It took the executioner two blows to remove his head, and then after it had been displayed to the crowd that had assembled for the event, it was placed in a red bag, covered with velvet, and presented to his wife. Imagine getting a knock on the door and then someone hands over the head of your dead husband. Apparently it was the custom that the head of the person executed would be presented to the widower.

Most people would freak out, however Lady Raleigh, once Elizabeth Throckmorton, lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, retained her love her doomed husband, never remarried, and somewhat bizarrely kept her husband’s head with her until the day she died, she lived to her eighties no less. She had his head embalmed and kept it by her side for the 29 years she outlived him. According to some stories, she kept the head in a glass case in her home, and curiosity seekers and family friends alike would travel to visit and pay their respects to the head.
Once she passed away, like mother like son, the head passed on to their son, Carew. That son continued the tradition of keeping the embalmed head, and when he passed away, the head was buried with him in Surrey.

 

 

FOLLOW Francis H Powell, on Twitter

https://twitter.com/Dreamheadz

 

Francis H Powell, author of Flight of Destiny, 22 quirky short stories…

I enjoyed these tales as they gave me a fantastic break from my daily routine and I enjoyed remembering them and day dreaming about them afterwards. They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.