By Thomas D’Agostino
The secret of immortality. So many people have attempted to concoct a potion, spell, or some other way to live throughout eternity unscathed by the ravages of time. Impossible you say? Well, one man may have actually cheated the reaper and to this day, lives among the masses unchanged by the passing of the years. That man is Ephriam Gray.
Ephriam lived as a recluse in a large house in the center of Malden, Massachusetts during the early to mid 1800s with his male servant. The hired hand took care of all outside business and chores while Ephriam toiled through the late hours in a makeshift laboratory in his apartment. The neighbors constantly inquired as to the nature of Gray’s work and the foul odors that often emanated from the windows of his chambers. The servant slyly dodged the queries with a joke or passing comment of no real meaning.
For years the goings on inside those walls remained a mystery until one morning in 1850 when Gray’s manservant showed up at the police station claiming his employer had passed during the night. He went on to explain that Ephriam had, for many years, experimented in attempts to create an elixir that would grant him immortality. Although he had tested his attempts countless times, he expired before he could perfect the formula.
The servant gave explicit instructions for Gray’s body to be taken and buried immediately as there was no need for embalming or autopsy. The reason for this was the fact the Ephriam had imbibed many of his experiments and was sure that in the least, his corpse would remain forever as it was when he first passed. The explicit instructions were carried out to the letter and Gray’s body was quickly committed to a small crypt in the center of the town cemetery. The servant lived in the home for several more years before he too passed away.
The legends and tales of Ephriam’s experiments eventually reached the ears of a group of Harvard medical students that became tempted to see if the stories were true and his body was still preserved.
One dark evening in 1870 the throng crept out into the cemetery to the crypt where Ephriam lay in repose. Upon entering the burial chamber, they pried the lid off the coffin and stammered back in awe. The body of Ephriam Gray had not decayed even the slightest in the twenty years it lay in the casket. The students quickly resealed the coffin, returned to Cambridge, and swore among each other never to tell anyone of their discovery, for it was assured they would be expelled from medical school or worse, be charged with the crime of grave robbing.
In 1900, the advent of a new invention, the automobile made it necessary for the roads to be widened and better paved, thus came the need to relocate the cemetery. The crews began moving the bodies and stones to a new location without any occurrences until they came to the coffin of Ephriam Gray. When they hoisted the coffin, they found it to be unusually light. Upon opening the box, the bewildered gravediggers found it to be void of a tenant. Mr. Gray’s body had vanished. It was not long before the word got out around the region, causing the once medical students, now in their middle age to come forth and swear they never touched the body. All asserted to have taken extreme care in resealing the coffin and carefully placing it back in its original resting place, with Mr. Gray’s remains inside.
The whereabouts of Ephriam Gray’s body has never been determined. Could he have actually discovered the secret to immortality? Perhaps he walks to this day among the mortal souls as they meander through their aging life, moving on before anyone begins to wonder why they turn old and gray, yet Gray stays young and vibrant.
Tom D'Agostino may be reached at www.tomdagostino.com