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Ariel Quigley - College Professor / Psychic Bernice Wise - Psychologist Mike & Michelle - Bernice's Children The Alphabetical Quigley Sisters - Ariel's Sisters Harrison, Alex, and Max - Bibi’s Children Alan Wise - Bernice's Ex-Husband Greg Mason - Police Sergeant  Detective Flanagan Ghostly Characters Who Reappear in My Books The Fat Man Dennis Walker Irene (These notes were written by Ariel Quigley.)

Ariel Quigley 

    So you can get a bit of a picture of me, I'm 32, single, female, 5' 9", weigh an appropriate 135 pounds, and can  run a six-minute mile if I absolutely have to. I have a full head of bronze-red hair and green eyes, and I dress  casually whenever I can get away with it. By profession I'm a part-time English professor and writer, though I have  some other talents that aren't ever likely to support me financially.       When I was a kid, my family called me "the psychic detective" because I once found my father's wallet after  my parents had turned the house upside down hunting for it-and then I learned I could find all kinds of other things.  My mother, who's Manx, says this talent comes from her side of the family, while my father, who's Irish, claims it for  his side. In either case, it seems to be part of my Celtic genetic makeup. But until recently, most of my detecting  experience lay in helping family members and friends find lost items such as glasses, keys, and rings, so I don't  advertise in the Yellow Pages.       Another thing I do is read Tarot cards, and people tell me I'm pretty good at it. On my 15th birthday, my three  younger sisters-Bibi, Catherine, and Deirdre, who were 10, 8, and 6 at the time-pooled their allowance money and  bought me a deck as a present. Then they clamored day after day to have me tell their fortunes and guilt-tripped me  into actually learning to read the cards. Over time I also learned there's more to the cards than just fortune telling, so  I use them now to uncover what's going on in my own subconscious and to help me make decisions.       But I don't make money from readings.   Another talent I have is I can occasionally talk to, or more accurately, listen to ghosts. In fact, what I usually try to  do with ghosts is help them move on, so a friend once labeled me a "ghost psychologist." Unfortunately, that label  isn't accepted by the American Psychology Association as a recognized psychology branch-and more to the point,  ghosts don't deal in hard currency.       What I do to put paychecks in my bank account is part-time teaching at George Mason University in  Virginia  and a little freelance writing and editing. Early on I realized if I was going to earn a living I needed something  practical, and my dad said, "Well, you know how to read and write pretty well. Maybe you should be an English  teacher." In such wise are the flagstones of our lives often laid.       Since my family had limited resources for sending me to college, I joined the Army to "be all I could be" right  out of high school, figuring my Uncle Sam would support me for a few years and then pay for my college. But first I  wound up being part of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, an experience I hadn't expected. Along with  everything else that happened during that conflict, I learned about something called "the desert experience." Many  spiritual texts talk about their leaders having to spend a period of time in the wilderness in order to reach  enlightenment. As we sat waiting in the desert for something to happen, and with nothing to do but contemplate our  own mortality, many of us had a subtle shift in consciousness and came to realize there are other dimensions  beyond the one we call "reality".       I started writing about that experience, and when the conflict was over and I returned stateside, I put together  a little book of my war poetry that actually got published and sometimes nets me a tiny royalties check. That little  volume also led to my teaching a creative writing class called "Accessing Your Psyche Through Poetry" at an  independent learning center in Alexandria, and in this class I can share some of my weird and wondrous talents.  (Top) 

Bernice Wise

    Bernice Wise is a 55-year-old Jungian psychologist who runs a private practice out of her sprawling 18th-  century Colonial-style home in Alexandria, Virginia. She's also a student in one of my evening poetry classes. In fact,  in the past year she'd signed up for the class two sessions in a row. From listening to her poetry in the classroom, I'd  been impressed with her sense of humor and her practical wisdom. She was also earthy and gregarious-just fun to  be around-and we were beginning to develop a friendship.      From earlier discussions during and after the creative writing classes I'd led, I realized Bernice was something  of a light-hearted Jewish philosopher. As she'd indicated in one of her poems, her frosted blond hair would have  been gray-streaked brown hair without the devoted effort of various pharmaceuticals, and her styling efforts were  generally lost to the first gust of wind. Her dress was usually more an invention than an ensemble--red socks and  Birkenstocks might vie for attention with a multi-colored shirt and a wrap-around denim skirt-and she loved 1960s-  style muumuus.     Her other talent, and possibly her greatest love, is creativity in the kitchen. Indeed, her kitchen is a bit like  Snoopy's doghouse, with every imaginable kitchen implement ever devised tucked into cabinets both above and  below counters on three walls, plus an island in the middle where she can both chop and cook. I thought the size of  her kitchen would have been more suitable for a restaurant than a private home. Her kitchen table could easily seat  a dozen or so people. Her pantry was huge and full to overflowing. And perhaps the best part of her desire to cook  was that she took me under her wing and fed me regularly, to the point where I was glad I jogged daily! (Top) 

Mike and Michelle 

Now 21, Bernice's twins, Mike and Michelle, are both in college at George Mason University where I teach. They  both do everything media related, from theater to computer graphics to television production to radio, so things are  always pretty lively when they're around. When they started college they asserted their independence by moving out  of the main house to another apartment over the property's old carriage house, though they're still in evidence much  of the time because they enjoy their mother's cooking.  As fraternal twins often do, Michelle has quite different physical features from Mike. Where his face is long and  thin, hers is rounder and softer. Mike has a fairly pronounced Semitic nose, a gift from his father's side of the family.  Michelle, on the other hand, has her mother's nose and lips. Yet there is something about the way they move that  suggests their twinship-a symmetry of sorts, as if they choreographed their moves, and often they were either totally  synchronized or echoing each other.  Mike was studying graphic design, while Michelle was in theater arts, though both of them were computer and  techno-savvy as well, so when I needed help looking for something on the internet, I knew where to go.   I first met Mike as a dishwasher at The Riviera when Bernice took me there for dinner. (Top) 

The Alphabetical Quigley Sisters

My sisters and I were the alphabetical Quigley sisters: Ariel (me), Bibi, Catherine, and Deidre. And each of us  had our own special talents. I talked to ghosts from an early age, sometimes had precognitive dreams, read Tarot  cards, and could find lost objects; Bibi could sense ghosts and smell something distinctive in their presence, like  maybe perfume, and also had the talent of manifesting anything she wanted; Catherine could cause anything to  grow in good health; and Deirdre could actually see ghosts and once even brought one home from college for  Christmas.  (Top)

Harrison, Alex, and Max

My sister Bibi was so far my only sibling who had any offspring. She had three little boys of kindergarten age:  Harrison, 5, and the twins, Alex and Max, age 4. Though they were all bright and precocious, Max was the only one  of the three who could actually communicate with ghosts, so it appeared he had the fey gene from our Celtic  heritage.  (Top) 

Alan Wise: Bernice's Ex

Alan, who looks a lot like a middle-aged Omar Sharif, works for the FBI and has been divorced from Bernice for  several years. She says there was some sadness over the divorce, but no anger, and he's still her best male friend.  In fact, she says they actually see each other more now than they did in the last years of the marriage, have dinner  regularly, enjoy sexual encounters occasionally, and avoid uncomfortable topics of conversation. In fact,  he spends  the night at least once a week if he isn't traveling. I've heard of ex-husbands who have regular visitation with their  children, but this was the first time I'd heard of an ex-husband who had visitation rights with his ex-wife. Go figure!  (Top) 

Sergeant Greg Mason

I met Sergeant Greg Mason at the scene of a crime in Alexandria where I was a witness, and I found him  attractive even though I was dating someone else at that point. He drove me from the crime scene to the police  station where I would give testimony to what I'd seen, and while he was driving, I had a chance to really look at him.  He seemed genuinely nice, maybe in his late thirties, at least six feet tall, with sandy hair, and I couldn't help noticing  his nice jaw line. He sort of reminded me of the late actor Jimmy Stewart, who had always been one of my favorites  because in the movie Harvey he talked to an invisible rabbit, something to which I could easily relate! I didn't expect  Sergeant Mason to talk to giant rabbits, but something about him just made me comfortable. (Top) 

Detective Flanagan

Detective Flanagan was in charge of the first murder case I was ever involved in, and he respected my input  enough that the first case wasn’t my last! (Top) 

Ghostly Characters Who Appear in My Books

The Fat Man

I’d met the Fat Man first in my childhood when he’d come to visit me while I was taking bubble baths. I realized  later that his appearances to me usually happened when I was totally relaxed and most open to spirit contact. He  was usually dressed in a greatcoat over a tuxedo, and he always wore a porkpie hat, and when my parents tried to  learn who might have died in the house we were living in, it turned out he was probably a guest who had died at a  party held by the previous owner.   As I grew older, the Fat Man made it a practice to visit me in my dreams and give me cryptic warnings whenever  I might be in danger. Though I believe it’s wise to try to send spirit visitors to the other side so they can continue with  their own personal evolution, sometimes they just like to hang out instead and become protective spirits for those  whom they regularly contact. (Top) 

Dennis Walker

I was engaged to Dennis for several months but was considering breaking the engagement. However, he died in  a freak accident before I could tell him, then came back and visited me a few times in spirit form before moving on.  Though I know he didn’t want me to worry about him or suffer because of his loss, I still felt slightly guilty about not  having resolved the reasons why I didn’t want to marry him, and for a while I had difficulty moving on myself. (Top) 

Irene

Irene was a ghost who lived in the old farmhouse my sister Bibi owned. Though Bibi only recognized Irene was  around when she smelled her perfume, her son Max could both see and communicate with Irene, who seemed to be  a protective spirit for Bibi’s family in much the way the Fat Man attempted to protect me. (Top) 

Main Characters