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Benjamin Scarsbrook, Sr.

The ghost of Benjamin with Amy Bolton

Benjamin Scarsbrook was born to Silvanus Scarsbrook and Mary (Stokes) Scarsbrook in the year 1678. He had rich brown eyes and light brown hair with natural golden highlights. Later, Benjamin’s brother Jonathan Scarsbrook was born to Silvanus and Mary.

When Benjamin and Jonathan grew up, they lived at Scarsbrook Manor, their father’s house to which Benjamin was the heir.

            Benjamin married a woman named Rebecca Robinette, and they lived on the third floor of the manor house. At this time, Benjamin had grown to be a passionate, physically strong man.

            In 1701, Benjamin’s younger brother Jonathan married a woman named Amanda Prince, and she came to live with the family at Scarsbrook Manor.

            Benjamin and Amanda found themselves powerfully attracted to each other, and they met often in secret, though she never let him take his desires all the way.

            At their last secret meeting in the olive grove, he kissed her fiercely, and she indulged without complaint. He ran his hands all over her body, and she returned the more than friendly action. But then she stopped him and spoke with an effort, explaining that she loved his brother and meant to be faithful to him. She told him they were going to leave Scarsbrook Manor and get a home of their own.

            Tearfully, their affair was ended, unconsummated, despite Benjamin’s pleading.

            Soon after realizing that he could not have what he wanted, Benjamin found himself in a dark room, running his hands over a strong rope. To him, it was all or nothing. He could not live without his brother’s wife. He took the rope to the olive grove and climbed a tree, tying one end to a branch and the other around his neck. He jumped from the tree and was hanged to death at the age of twenty-three.

            To his dismay, Benjamin found himself changed. He was a spirit now, bound to the olive grove, still wanting what he could not have.

            In time, Benjamin realized that his wife had been with child before he had ended his life. She gave birth to a son, named after him, in 1702. Benjamin sadly watched his descendants over the centuries, as they were born, died, and their spirits moved on. None stayed bound to the estate save for him. He felt he’d been forgotten.

            During his imprisonment, Benjamin devised a plan to reincarnate himself through his descendants. He thought that if one would knowingly let him enter their body, he could steal it for himself.

            In the early twentieth century, Benjamin attempted to seduce his young descendant Martin Scarsbrook. He used devilish tricks and lies to try and get Martin to let him in, though he never specified what he meant by “in.” He made it clear to Martin that he was an old ghost. The more Martin believed in him, the stronger the phantom became. Unfortunately, he also revealed his weaknesses through his failed attempts to take Martin’s body. He revealed that the only power he had was the power that Martin gave him; that the only possessions he had were the possessions that Martin gave him. Martin realized also that Benjamin could only materialize at night, and he stopped visiting the grove alone. Benjamin would have to wait for another descendant.

            After a while, Martin had a daughter named Willamina, and, in 1969, Willamina, who lived away from the manor house, had a daughter named Amy Smith. Amy would come to visit from time to time. When Amy was twelve, Martin told her all of Benjamin’s secrets, but this did not stop the ghost from dreaming.

            In 1992, Martin died, and as usual, Benjamin sadly watched as his descendant’s spirit moved on without him. After this, hopelessness began to take hold of the ghost, as no one in the family came to live at the old house.

            Seven years later, however, Benjamin found the stage set for his next attempt. On June 29, Amy returned to Scarsbrook Manor alone. That night, he caught Amy lazily glaring out the window. She turned her head to look at the clock on the wall, and, as she did, Benjamin flashed into sight in the olive grove for just an instant, weakened by years of isolation. Apparently, she had seen him in the corner of her eye, because she gasped and her eyes darted back to the window intently, searching for him. He had grown too weak, however, to show himself again.

            The following night, Amy went outside, bottle in hand, and headed to the olive grove. She sat and waited under a tree, and she watched the sunset. Benjamin found the strength to communicate, though not very well. He convinced her that he was real, and he gained the strength to materialize faintly. Amy tried to scream, but only silence issued from her throat. Benjamin tried to comfort her by reaching out to touch her, but she repeated the silent scream and then fainted, laying there till dawn, when she woke and fled back into the house.

            That night, carrying a bottle opener and a beer, Amy again headed out to the olive grove. She wasted no time, explaining that her grandfather had warned her about the ghost and demanding that he show himself. Benjamin managed to probe her mind as she awaited his response. Just as she thought she was losing her mind, he assured her out loud that she was not.

            Amy told Benjamin that she realized if he meant her harm, he would have hurt her while she’d been unconscious. When Benjamin still failed to materialize, she threatened to go back in. Then he obliged her, and made it clear that she was confirming his reality for him. He explained that he had hung himself in 1701, when he was twenty-three; that his wife was with child; how he’d watched all his descendants born on the property. He explained how he’d seen them die on the property as well, and that none had lingered as he had. He explained that he would never hurt his descendants. He suggested that she would be the one who let him in. As they conversed, Benjamin began to fill with translucent color, becoming more alive.

            Amy quickly popped the cap off of the beer bottle with the dull side of the can opener, and she took a lingering gulp. Benjamin asked about the tool. Amy explained it to him, then threw it to the ground at his feet, suggesting he use it to get in. Then she marched back to the house to go to bed.

            Benjamin looked down at the can opener, and then he stared off after her. The tool she’d left had given him a way to follow her.

            As Amy slept that night, Benjamin entered her dreams. He showed her the man he had been. A man of passion, with warm flesh and strong arms. Arms that could hold any woman down wherever he wished it. He showed her the husband he had been. He let her see him treating his wife to all of his manly affection...in the very room in which she now slept. But there was something manic in the dream. Something that he could not have.

            He guided her dream to the olive grove, as it had been then. He let her see him, still a man, when he was last with his sister-in-law Amanda. He showed her the end of their unconsummated affair, the very tragedy that had led him to a dark room, contemplating a sturdy rope.

            Benjamin then changed the dream. Amy was in the same room in which she slept, as it had been in 1701. Benjamin came in and pushed her angrily onto the bed, demanding to know why she wouldn’t let him in. He forced himself onto her, and there was nothing but rage and pain on his face as it twisted in an effort not to sob. Amy struggled with him. She tried to push him away, but he was too strong for her.

            An image of Amy’s grandfather standing in the olive grove when she was a child appeared at the side of the bed then, speaking the words of warning again, that the ghost couldn’t do her any harm that she didn’t want him to, that his only power was the power she gave him, that his only possessions were the possessions she gave him…that he was in fact completely harmless, if those facts were heeded. The image, which had not been part of Benjamin’s dream creation, faded, and Amy looked the ghost in the eyes, demanding that he get off of her, insisting that he had no power over her.

            Benjamin smiled revealing the can opener she had tossed to his feet and asking furiously why she had mocked him. He cut into her arm six times with the sharp end of the metal object before, in a fit of wild laughter, he faded from sight, and Amy awoke with a horrified scream.

            As night fell over the old country house the following day, Amy simply sat at the small kitchen table and stared out the window, drinking her beer, staring at the olive grove. As she stared, Benjamin materialized as best he could in the olive grove. She smirked. He was still translucent.

            Benjamin projected his voice into the kitchen, then he faded away. Benjamin materialized again, as best he could, sitting in the chair across from her, at arms length from her. He called her his love, and she insisted he wasn’t in love with her, or he wouldn’t have hurt her. She asked how he got out of the olive grove. He sadly explained how the gift of the can opener had bound him to her, so that he could follow her. He convinced her that he didn’t mean to hurt her.

Amy decided that she was losing her mind, and Benjamin began to fade, pleading with her to acknowledge his existence. As he faded, Amy reached out and grabbed his arm, and Benjamin at last had the power to fully materialize. He had come this far before, but it had been rare, and the last step had always eluded him. No one had ever let him in.

            Amy allowed Benjamin to kiss her. She was confused about where things could go between a woman and a ghost. Benjamin promised her that if she let him in, he would no longer be a ghost. He would once again have flesh and blood. He convinced her that he wanted her, wanted to be with her. He made her understand what it meant to let him in. At long last, Benjamin had seduced one of his descendants. As he made love to Amy, he managed to push her spirit out of her body and enter it completely while she was lost in dreamlike euphoria.

            When he awoke the following evening (June 2), Benjamin experienced the sensations of the flesh anew. His plan had worked. Amy’s body was his. The change in gender, he realized, would take some getting used to, but he had always been open to new things. He looked to the olive grove through the kitchen window and he saw Amy’s spirit looking lost and afraid—just a ghost in the olive grove.


Sources: "The Ghost in the Olive Grove" and Glenn Slade Clark, Jr.
All content Copyright 2005 by Glenn Slade Clark, Jr.
Detail from "The Ghost in the Olive Grove" illustration by Molly Brimer
"Benjamin Scarsbrook, Sr." article by Thomas Awbrey