Struggling to get a muse is a common problem for a writer. In ‘Shady Plot’, John Hallock is in a similar situation where he had no idea to write a ghost story which Jenkins -his publisher had asked him to write. He was sitting in his room looking for a plot. Usually he was full of ideas but this time he was left without any ideas- no beginning, no plot, and no climax.
After having spent a lot of time thinking about a plot he told himself that story writing is a ‘hell’. A female feeble voice responded to it- ‘yes’. It was a ghost, Helen of Troy from New York as she introduced herself and added that John is not going to write any ghost story here after telling that it was she who was helping him by giving ideas to write ghost stories. John was surprised to hear that and asked they reason for it.
She said that he had to discourage people from using Quija Board. Quija Board is a majic prank that people play. They use it to communicate with spirits or ghosts. John agreed to Helen’s plea and went to his office-lumber company where he discouraged his colleagues not to use Quija Board any more.
On returning home, he found that his wife Lavinia had been waiting for him. She wanted John to play Quija Board along with her a dozen friends. They started playing and it started showing ‘traitor’ and ‘ask Helen’. Lavinia was a persistent girl. John ran away from his angry wife and friends. Next morning he went on to write ghost story when Helen appeared. John accused Helen of bringing a lot of problem. Helen also said that she is on strike and she was unhappy that he played Quija Board with his wife and friends instead of discouraging them.
Lavinia had all the reasons to suspect that John had an affair with a woman named Helen. She decided to go for a divorce. John was in dilemma. He was between the devil and the sea. On the one side, his angry wife and the other side Helen who would shatter his family. However he took a risky decision to let his wife leave him. His cool reaction had an impact on Lavinia and she changed her mind. The story ends when John throws Quija board on fire and Helen became glad.
Unlike any other ghost, this ghost appeared to be a normal human being. The story unfolds the mythologies evolves around the Ouija board and women’s inclination to use it. In my opinion, women tend to be more attracted to the world of spirits and ghosts. There is also a psychological reason behind this- women are more emotional than men.
The title of the story is so apt that it talks about the importance of loyalty and fidelity which keep the knots of marriage strong and meaningful. A skeptic attitude, although it is from man or women will eventually lead to break-up, divorce or separation. A lot of misunderstanding also can happen as most of the time husband and wife are jealous of each other. Their possessiveness may also lead to a family crisis.