Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Allisons and the Titanic by Lynn Hones


The story of the RMS Titanic still haunts people 36,500 sunrises after that horrific morning the numb survivors rowed the few lifeboats to their rescue ship, Carpathia. As a young child I watched A Night to Remember, the black and white 1958 film adaptation of Walter Lord's book of the same name. It fascinated me, scared me and woke me up to the reality of what exactly class distinction was all about.
I questioned my parents extensively about why the majority of the people who perished that dreadful night were the poor, and why they were kept locked in their doomed, third class level. As best they could, they explained class distinctions, and our own upper, middle and lower classes right here in America. However, because of the Titanic, those distinctions blurred some, and if the same event were to happen today, hopefully, class or financial stability would not come into the matter of who was worthy of life and who was not. Although some would argue that such distinctions still exist and life and death situations are still played out by financial reasoning.
Throughout the last century, it’s come to light that the third class was never barred or held at gunpoint from reaching the deck where the lifeboats were filling up. Regardless, the fact remains; those who suffered the worst were the poor. Fifty-three children died that night, fifty-two of them third-class passengers, one, being a first class passenger.
Which brings me to one of the stories that most fascinates me about the Titanic. It’s the story of the Allisons. Millionaires, Hudson and Bess Allison boarded the great ship in Southhamptom, after conducting business in Europe, for their trip back to Montreal. With them were their two children, Loraine, age two and Trevor, eleven months, along with a number of staff.
No one will ever really know the true story as to why Loraine Allison ended up being the only child in first or second-class to die, but the story is heartrending. The account most often told has the nurse of baby Trevor, Alice Cleaver, taking him to the boat deck and getting into a lifeboat without his mother or father’s knowledge. This led his mother, Bess, who was nervous by nature, to refuse a seat on a lifeboat until her son was found. Clinging to young Loraine, the frantic parents searched the tilting ship in an attempt to locate their baby.
How many of us in this situation would do the same thing? Could any of us get on board a lifeboat knowing one of our children was unaccounted for? However, the fact that Hudson would have to stay on the doomed ship no matter what, being that the call was for woman and children, couldn’t Bess have simply gotten herself and Loraine to safety and been assured by her husband that he would find Trevor?
Keep in mind, all these life and death decisions had to be made while a growing panic rose around them. Flares being fired, the alarm of other passengers running back and forth, perhaps even gunfire sounding in the air. Whatever had been the case, by the time they heard that the baby had gotten aboard a lifeboat with his nurse and was safe, it was too late to save themselves and their tiny daughter, Loraine. Accounts have them last seen standing on the deck, huddled together, smiling.
It’s haunting in the horror of it. To face death in such a terrifying situation is bad enough, but to face it with your child snuggled in your arms would be absolutely unimaginable.
In the end, little Loraine’s body, nor her mother’s, were ever found. Hudson Allison’s body was found and buried in the family cemetery.
Baby Trevor grew to be a handsome young man of eighteen before food poisoning finished off what the Titanic couldn’t. He was buried next to his father.
This is, pardon the pun, only the tip of the ice burg in detailing the life and tragic death of the Allison’s and the conjecture of what exactly happened to them that starry night. Follow my blog tour as I discuss other heartbreaking families and their last night of life on board the doomed pleasure palace, Titanic.

Blurb:


Beautiful Cornelia Bainesworth cared only about herself and her own life the night the Titanic went down. A curse brought on by a woman who witnessed her selfish behavior that evening destroys her, but it doesn’t stop there.
One hundred years later, the curse rears its ugly head in the life of small-town teenager Callie. As if the tragedy of her boyfriend’s death wasn’t enough, strange occurrences bring her to the brink of insanity. Callie’s search for answers is unsuccessful until a nerdy schoolmate takes up her cause and together they experience frightening apparitions, unexplained phenomena and chilling truths. These truths turn Callie’s life upside down and reveal a shocking ending to a story that began on the deck of a ship doomed the moment it saw light.

Excerpt:


Callie went to her window and stared out at the streetlight in front of their house. Lost in thought, she caught a quick movement, but ignored it. When she saw a small child peek out from behind a telephone pole and looking up into her window, however, she grew concerned.
“What the hell?” She watched the little figure’s head dart from behind the pole, look up at her and quickly retreat back. It seemed to either be playing games with her, or trying to hide.
“Hey, you? What are you doing up so late?”
The child gave no reply. She walked out of her room, down the stairs and opened the front door. I bet some neighbor kid walked out of their home and can’t find how to get back.
Stepping out on the porch, she wrapped her arms around herself. The air was still hot and muggy, but it was worry, not chill that had her hugging her body.
“Hey? Where are you? Come here.”
No movement, but she saw an arm still visible from around the pole. Gathering some bravado, she stepped off the porch and walked toward it.
“Hello. Don’t be afraid. Are you lost?”
The person stepped out from behind the pole.
Callie’s eyes had adjusted enough to see a boy with light hair and fair skin. His clothes, if that’s what they could be called, were rags. A gray suit, that had to be several years old, hung off his skeletal frame.
“Hi, honey. What are you doing out here so late?” Callie squatted and held out her arms for the boy, hoping to show him she meant no harm. His dirty, drawn face held the soul of an adult, although he couldn’t be older than three or four years.
“Tis late?”
“Yes, it’s two-thirty in the morning. Where do you live? Where are your mommy and daddy?”
“I don’t know,” he said shyly.
She caught the distinct brogue of the Irish in his speech. “You don’t know? Well, where do you think you live?”
He pointed down the road.
“Is it close by?”
He shook his sad little head. “No.”
“Okay, look, come with me. I’ll get my car and drive you home. Do you think you can find it if we drive and look for it?”
The waif nodded, yes.

Once in the car, she drove for about a mile. Every so often, she glanced at the boy to see if he recognized anything.
“Nothing looks familiar, huh?”
The child shivered.
“Are you cold, honey? Here, I’ll put the windows up.”
“Thank you kindly, ma’am.” He sat up, straightened his legs and looked out the window, obviously searching for something familiar. His thin hands were folded neatly in his lap, but rose occasionally to point the way. Callie realized he was leading them to the neighborhood where the Coopers lived, Bainesworth Manor. It butted up against a large field that turned into woods further back. On the other side of the street were miles of barren farmland, waiting patiently for the inevitable McMansion to be built. However, they drove past Bainesworth Manor and about a half mile down the road he spoke.
“Here it is,” he said timidly.
She pulled into a dark, park-like area barren of any homes. Her blood ran cold when, upon closer inspection, she noticed it was no park, but a cemetery. Not just any cemetery either, this was the kind of cemetery where skeletons wandered and witches made their brew. The kind where werewolves hid behind gravestones and hands reached up from the netherworld, searching around for the ankles of unsuspecting mortals stupid enough to be in a graveyard after dark. She pressed the gas pedal, but instead of moving, the car died.
“What?” Frantically, she turned the key and the engine turned over once and stopped. After several more tries she realized if she continued she’d simply flood the engine. She reached into her purse for her cell phone. In her panic, she’d forgotten her passenger and looked across at him.
“Sweetie, this is a graveyard. It’s not your home.” Unable to find her phone, she dumped the contents of her purse between the driver and the passenger seat.
“Dammit. This is not happening.” Without even glancing his way, she apologized for her use of foul language.
Resigned, she sat back in the seat and stared ahead. “Great, I guess we can walk to the Coopers.” She put all the items back into her purse. Slinging it over her shoulder, she grabbed a flashlight out of the glove box and stepped out of the car.
“Come on, honey. I know some people who live a bit down the road. We can wake them up and hope they won’t be too pissed off.” She glanced at the squirt. “I’m sorry, again. I mean angry.”
This cemetery was unknown to her, but from the looks of the dates she spotted as they walked, it had filled up long ago. The new one, where Blake was buried, was on the other side of town.
She glanced up at the full moon. “Queue the howling.”
Attempting a bravado she didn’t possess, she closed the door and moved away from the car. The moon cast enough light to see perfectly.
“I’m fine walkin’. My home is right there.”
“I don’t see any houses.”
He pointed into the cemetery.
“You live past the graveyard? Are you sure you don’t want me to walk with you?”
“If you be a wishin’ to.”
She smiled at him. “Come on, let’s get you home to your mother.” She put her hand reassuringly on his shoulder.
“Me mother is dead.”
“Who do you live with? Your daddy?”
“Never been knowin’ me dad.”
“Well, you must live with someone.”
“All the kind people. They don’t know me, but when I get to cryin’ someone will rise up and come to me.”
Large prickly gooseflesh covered her body from head to toe at that comment. Something wasn’t right. She’d suspected it the first time she’d laid eyes on the boy, but now, she knew for sure.
He began to walk. In the middle of the graves in a noticeably older area, he stopped and turned toward her. He seemed to grow paler, thinner, and sadder. He took a couple more steps, stopped and stared down.
“I be home now, mum.” His expression was heartrending, his large eyes rose and met hers.
“What?” She looked at him. “There’s nothing here but weeds.”
“I’m home. Tis my home ‘til the curse be lifted.”
Stunned at his words, Callie backed away. “What are you talking about?”
“The curse, ma’am. It’s stickin’ good.”
A wind picked up and, before her eyes, he metamorphosed into a mist, which swirled about for a moment before sinking into the ground.
A cold sweat broke out on her skin and a crippling fear stabbed roughly at her chest. An ugly, wintry fright came close to bringing her to her knees and impaled her to the spot. Paralyzed, she willed herself to breathe.
“How…why?” She gathered her courage and backed away, clutching her stomach, forcing the urge to vomit away.
“Dear, God, what just happened?”


 

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