A drunken chat with a mysterious stranger telling a fanciful story, one that proved possible, after the university was gutted by fire and flame...
A Late Night Conversation
This is the case with the following tale, set at the University of Toronto, Canada.
In the 1870's, a student of the university named Allen Aylesworth was crossing the University Colleges campus one night, when he happened upon a thick set man, bearded, wearing a tall hat. Aylesworth greeted the man, commenting on the suddenly chilly weather, to which the other man explained that it was always cold around him.
The two fell into conversation and soon the other man introduced himself as Ivan Reznikoff. Being as it was quite cold, Aylesworth invited Reznikoff back to his rooms for some wine (which turned into a session of rum).
It was during this session that Aylesworth learnt the identity of the ghost that had been seen about the schools grounds, and in particular, the dark figure often seen near one of its stairways.
Reznikoff and Diabolos
Unfortunately another stone mason, a Greek man by the name of Paul Diabolos, was also in love with Susie, and soon trouble broke out between he and Reznikoff.
Arguments and small pranks played out between the two, but ultimately culminated in Diabolos carving a likeness of Reznikoff as one of the leering gargoyles that decorate the corner of the building. Diabolos always said that Reznikoff’s face was like that of a baboon, and as such the gargoyle held some of these features.
Reznikoff was understandably upset. Not only was this an offensive depiction of him, but a taunt at his work. Diabolos was the more talented of the two masons, and generally referred to Reznikoffs work as a drunkard with a chisel.
Betrayal and Murder
Reznikoff’s friends told him that he had better see to Susie. They would not tell him outright about her infidelity, but Reznikoff was to find out for himself before too long.
Just before the planned wedding Susie called it off, so she could become engaged to Diabolos. Furious, Reznikoff planned to do away with Diabolos, and soon the final fateful confrontation took place.
Reznikoff took to Diabolos with a three pronged masons axe. He caught up with his foe at the front of the building, took a swing but missed as Diabolos pulled a door latch, and fell inside. The prongs of the axe chipped a glancing hit in the heavy oak wooden doors.
Diabolos picked himself up and ran up the east wing stairs, into the still unfinished building. Reznikoff took up the chase. The two ran up several flights of temporarily constructed wooden stairs into the tower, where at the top Reznikoff felt the sharp bite of a blade and all went black.
Reznikoff finished his story saying that Diabolos had buried him under the stairs where his undiscovered body still lay. The other workmen assumed Reznikoff had fled after being disgraced, and was hiding in shame. Ever since he had been standing near the place where his body was hidden in the hopes someone may discover it and he could then be at rest.
The following morning Aylesworth woke up, and the mysterious stranger was gone. Surely he could not have spent the evening talking to a murdered mans ghost?
He chalked it all up to a rum fuelled dream and thought nothing more of it.
Ruins and Remains
One of the staff tripped on one of the east wing stairs, dropping the lamp and splashing flaming oil everywhere. Soon the nearby tapestries caught alight and the blaze was started.
Most of the east wing was gutted by the fire, and restoration efforts were begun to rebuild the iconic building. It was during this reconstruction that a cavity was found beneath the stairwell, and the human remains were discovered.
When news of this discovery spread, Allen Bristol Aylesworth, the student who met the mysterious stranger, and now a prominent lawyer, retold his story from that night so many years ago.
The remains are said to have been interred under an old maple tree in the University Colleges quadrangle. Allen Bristol Aylesworth went on to become a prominent Canadian Parliamentarian.
No one knows what happened to Diabolos and Susie, but chances are they were married and lived out a happy life, as is the way much too often for criminals whose deeds go undiscovered...
The marks from the masons axe still remain in the oak door, as do the two Gargoyles – Diabolos’ laughing in triumph behind the back of the baboon faced Reznikoff.