• Altruistic || An altruist in every sense of the word, Dray repays kindness with thoughtfulness-in-excess and engages the work and people he believes in with eager generosity. Possessing the practical sense to do something with his altruistic tendencies, even mundane, routine tasks are done with sincerity, as he can see the beauty and harmony that they create to help care for those in need. Dray donates his time and money to many different causes, though he is most committed to his work with troubled youth. Unfortunately this trait can be a double-edged sword, as in Dray's case it also comes with a willingness to let things slide and refuse the help of others to avoid burdening them, while his troubles mount unassisted.
• Honorable || With Dray, his 'yes' is always yes, and his 'no' is always no. He says what he means and he means what he says, so one never need worry he will not follow through on something he's committed himself to. His word is as good as gold and the people in his life know they can depend on him no matter what. Forthright and honest to a fault, he tells the truth, even if he knows it isn't what the person asking wants to hear. This garners him respect from those who value such a trait, but tends to turn off those who want their egos stroked or are fishing for compliments, as he will not entertain these. His dedication to truth is such that he will not lower himself to pay a disingenuous compliment, or flatter authority figures to get ahead.
• Hard-Working || Loyal to the ideologies and organizations he's dedicated himself to, there is no one who will work harder than Dray to ensure a job gets done. He is scrupulous to the point of perfectionism, and though he often procrastinates, he can always be relied on to get the task done on time. He takes his responsibilities personally, consistently going above and beyond, doing everything he can to exceed expectations and delight others, at work and at home. Anything short of meeting his obligations with 100% dedication fails his own expectations.
• Alcoholic || This addiction took root over time, beginning as a means of coping with the loss of his sister and the number of spirits constantly vying for his attention. What started out as the occasional sip from his grandmother's personal stash, escalated into heavy partying as a teen and young adult, until there wasn't a day without a drink. It wasn't until his near fatal accident that he came to accept he had a problem and worked to get control of it. He attends weekly AA meetings to check-in and maintain his sobriety.
• Prideful || For all his altruism, Dray harbors quite a bit of pride. This is not the sort of pride born from arrogance, or a belief in his superiority, but rather from his dignity and hard-won self-respect. He holds very tightly to his ideals and morals and as a result, can be judgmental of those whose ethics directly oppose his own. He doesn't usually realize he is doing this and when it is pointed out to him, he's quick to apologize, but it has a tendency to creep up while interacting with people who lack his same strict principles.
• Represses Feelings || Private and very sensitive, Dray internalizes his feelings a great deal. In the same way he protects the feelings of others, he also protects his own, and this lack of healthy emotional expression can lead to a lot of stress and frustration. Oftentimes it requires painting him into a corner to get him to open up on the emotional front. This isn't done in effort to frustrate those who care for him, but rather to spare them the burden of taking on his problems and emotions as well as their own. The times when he becomes most secretive, however, is when a particular emotion brings him personal shame or embarrassment.
Perhaps the most frequently used word to describe Dray is private. He is not a man who is easy to get to know, nor one who is quick to open up. Although generous and altruistic in nature, he tends to keep people at arm’s length, only reluctantly allowing them close enough to discern more than superficial details. For instance, most would be quick to agree that he is hardworking, fastidious, fair, dedicated to his job as Sergeant of NOPD, but almost none could provide information of a more intimate nature. Dray has perfected the art of being personable without getting personal, emanating warm and showing genuine interest in the needs of others, while neither revealing similar details about himself, nor asking for anything in return. This is largely due to what he is and the necessity of having to conceal this from almost everyone outside of his immediate family. Even before comprehending that the things he could see and hear were not mere figments of his imagination, he learned that speaking of them with those who could not see and hear them, was often regarded with disbelief, wariness, or ridicule.
Dray is cautious, weighing the potential consequences and outcomes of every decision he makes before he makes it. He leaves nothing to chance, not acting spontaneously if he can possibly help it, and he becomes frustrated in situations where there is no choice. In his youth, he was far less hesitant, prone to being bold and direct despite his age, but that all changed after his accident. This served as a wakeup call of sorts, as he viewed it as an opportunity to get his life in order and do things right going forward. As a result, he is a far more deliberate, thoughtful person these days. However, the addiction to alcohol that was at the center of his accident is still an ever-present concern for him, as he knows there is no such thing as a recovered alcoholic, only a sober one. There are still times where he is tempted to reach for that drink to soothe anxieties or quiet his mind. Like a seductive mistress, his addiction calls to him, encouraging him to lose himself in the bottom of a bottle when things seem too much.
Often this is brought on by guilt. To this day, he still blames himself for what happened to his sister and mother, despite the fact that there was little he could have done to alter the outcome of their fates. Sometimes this guilt transforms into depression, crippling in its intensity, but as with most things, Dray goes out of his way to keep his turmoil buried, tucked away so that it can’t hurt those he cares about. The irony is that his attempts to spare those closest to him his burdens, is frequently what causes the most pain. Many of his past relationships were ended by his partners due to his unwillingness to open up and their inability to penetrate his secretive layers. In many ways, he chooses to be lonely, but he also doesn’t believe most could handle his reality, as it is a reality that he still grapples with himself. The cross tattoo on his arm tells the story of a man who searched for answers in faith only to abandon such belief when it brought him no solace. Cynicism has replaced God in his heart, as there are far too many lost souls caught between the planes of existence for him to subscribe to the legitimacy of a loving creator.
While the spirits who communicate with him in hopes of some kind of resolution are at times suffocating in terms of sheer volume, he feels duty bound to them just the same, because if he doesn’t help them, who will? In this he finds purpose and direction for his giftings, even if he questions the validity of an omniscient deity. But no matter how many he manages to aid, he still struggles to accept that what he does is enough. He holds himself to unreasonably high standards and is unforgiving of his own flaws and shortcomings. In spite of his own inner demons and darkness, he strives to be upright and good, though he is always aware of those more destructive inclinations and how easy it would be to give into them. He has developed a rather strict standard of morality for himself and he holds firmly to that code, as he believes without it, there’d be nothing to stop him from succumbing to the temptations of depravity.
1721: The Beckham bloodline can be traced back to the Kingdom of Ashanti, now modern day Ghana, East Africa. The Ashanti people worshipped leopards as warrior gods and protectors of the tribe. Harming or killing one of the sacred animals was an offense punishable by death. Within the Ashanti, the existence of those who could don both human and animal form was common knowledge. These individuals were revered for their gifts and were all a part of the same clan within the tribe. They would attempt to defend it against invaders who would come to enslave them, but they would fail. Some would be taken to America by slave ship along with human members of their tribe, while others would perish in battle against weapons far superior to their animal form. Unlike many states at the time, Louisiana’s slave trade was governed by the French Code Noir and later by the Spanish equivalent, Código Negro. These codes gave slaves of the era unparallelled rights, forbidding owners from torturing them, separating married couples or children from their parents, and required them to instruct their slaves in the Catholic faith. These laws would help keep the family together, sparing them the sort of painful separation that was widespread at the time.
1915: Dray’s great grandfather, Romare Beckham was born. Ambitious and determined to succeed despite prevailing prejudice and the limitations of segregation, Romare would start his own plastering business called Beckham Plastering Company, catering to African-American clientele. While circumstances sought to limit the potential success of those of African descent, Romare refused to be a victim of those restrictions. He was smart and hardworking and his business grew as a result. In 1935, he would marry his wife, Lorelai, who would give birth to their first child, Darius, just four short years later. While providing for his family was always at the forefront of his mind, the purpose of his giftings as a guide, as well as the history of their family lineage, had been passed down and explained to him by his mother, just as it had been explained to her by her father. It would remain an important facet of who they were despite the evolving times.
1939-1957: In 1939, Darius Beckham, Dray’s maternal grandfather was born. He would inherit his father’s ambitious drive for success, working alongside Romare after school from the time he was in junior high. Romare paid him for his work and by the time he was a sophomore in high school, he purchased his first property, which he later developed and leveraged to pay his college tuition. Tragically, Romare would die of an unexpected heart attack at the age of forty-two. Darius, only twenty at the time, would take over the company. As restrictions against African-American run businesses were lifted, he took on larger projects, primarily focusing on home building and the occasional commercial project. He would become a recognized entrepreneur, philanthropist, and highly influential leader in the city, who over his lifetime would amass New Orleans’ most profitable minority-owned business empire.
January 1966 - October 1983: On January 25, 1966, Darius and his wife, Winifred, would welcome the first of three daughters into the world. Like her father and grandfather, Lashaya would begin to exhibit signs of being different early on, and while she was raised in the understanding of why she possessed these gifts, her rebellious nature made her reluctant to accept the unwanted responsibility. She would come to resent the sense of being duty-bound to loitering spirits and did everything in her power to avoid interaction with them. She would strive to be “normal”, keeping her family at arm’s length in order to ensure this. At age seventeen, she discovered she was pregnant and ran away to live with her boyfriend, Lyndall.
May 8, 1984 - 1985: Draymond Darius Beckham and Caia Euphemia Beckham were born at Touro Infirmary, a non-profit hospital in New Orleans. One baby would have been enough for any young couple to contend with, but twins were something Lashaya and Lyndall were entirely unprepared for. They fought with increasing frequency, Lyndall’s tendency to take off, leaving Lashaya at home to take care of two newborns, driving a wedge between them and, in 1985, Lyndall packed up his things and moved out. Too proud to turn to her family for help and determined to shield her children from the upbringing and genetic burden she’d escaped, Lashaya struggled to make ends meet, working several jobs while relying on neighbors to take care of Dray and Caia.
1990: At age five, Dray began to display signs of seeing spirit. This realization was devastating for Lashaya, who’d hoped her children would avoid the bondage of their family bloodline. Rather than explain the truth of what they were, however, she kept it a secret, assuring Dray that the things he saw were little more than figments of his imagination. Her hope was that through continual denial, eventually Dray might cease to see and hear the spirits attempting to communicate with him. However, all this served to do was make him feel more confused, isolated, and fearful, while the spirits looking to gain his attention revved up their efforts to be noticed.
1991: Tragically, like his father, Darius would die of an unexpected heart attack at age fifty-two. His wife, Winifred, would take over the business despite strong opinions about a woman’s ability to oversee such matters. Under her leadership, the business would continue to flourish. Lashaya would not attend the funeral, as word would not reach her until nearly a month after his passing. This would be a source of guilt for her going forward and she would sometimes attempt to utilize her gifts to make contact with him, growing frustrated when these efforts failed.
1993: At age nine, Dray became fascinated with hip-hop and breakdancing after observing local street dancers in the French Quarter. He would attempt to emulate their movements, unsuccessfully at first, often falling on his face and his pride. Eventually he was spotted there so often, the dancers began inviting him to take part, teaching him their moves and tricks.
1994: Lashaya, continuously tormented by her abilities and in search of a reprieve, began attending church. Through her study of the Bible, she came to believe the things she saw and heard were not of God, but of the devil. She rejected her gifts entirely and went out of her way to avoid interacting with spirit. She began to view herself as evil, afflicted due to her family’s past sins, which had now been passed down to her son. She prayed for forgiveness and asked God to take away both she and Dray’s curse.
December 1996: Returning home after an evening of dancing, twelve year old Dray was beckoned into his mother’s bedroom only to come upon a horrific scene. His twin sister lay lifeless on his mother’s bed, her spirit untethered from her body, urging him to run away. Before he had the opportunity, however, his mother launched toward him, proceeding to drag him into the bathroom where she already had the tub filled with water. She would attempt to drown him, but the terror of being forcibly held underwater by his own mother, would trigger his first shift into his dormant animal form. The shock of this would cause Lashaya to let go of him just long enough to allow his escape. He fled the house and after regaining control over himself, went to the police station. Lashaya would be arrested for her crime and Dray would be sent to live with his grandmother.
1997: Although human, Dray’s grandmother along with his mother’s youngest sister (guide), were able to explain the abilities his mother had denied the existence of his entire life. He found himself introduced to a magic and mysterious world, the revelation of which brought both clarity and anxiety. The combination of his newfound awareness along with the loss of his twin, left him feeling isolated and alone. Sensing his difficulty adjusting, his grandmother would take him along to a gathering among the House of Laurier coven, a group of witches the family had assisted for decades. He would meet Devika King, her sister Divya, and cousin Dante and the four would become fast friends, his grandmother eventually enrolling Dray at the same dance studio as Devika and Divya. Unfortunately, he would face the most difficult event of his life a few short months later when he was called to testify at his mother’s trial. Coached by his grandmother not to reveal anything that would implicate their family secrets, he had to omit truths on the stand, all while looking his mother in the eye. She would be declared not guilty by reason of insanity and placed in psychiatric care.
1999: Despite the instruction of his grandmother and aunt, Dray finds himself struggling to cope with everything he’s been through in addition to the constant harassment of spirits. His addiction to alcohol began slowly, little sips stolen from his grandmother’s limited selection, but this would evolve over time. By the time he was in high school, he was routinely attending parties where he’d drink copious amounts of whatever liquor was available. He also learned that his mature looks and serious demeanor was often enough to convince store clerks to look the other way, allowing him to purchase alcohol despite being underage.
2000-2004: After years of friendship and a longstanding albeit unspoken crush on one another, Dray and Devika began dating. Their relationship would be intense and passionate, boasting all of the hallmarks of first love. Complications arose, however, when Devika’s mother began to suspect their involvement with one another. It was her opinion at the time that her daughter should not be allowed to date, and especially not someone with Dray’s questionable family history. She would begin thwarting their efforts to see one another, frequently coming up with reasons why Devika couldn’t attend school sporting events, or refusing to let her go out when she suspected Dray might be present. While this would prove frustrating for the two of them, they would stubbornly cling to their feelings for one another. When Dray graduated two years before Devika, it made sneaking around much easier, as Lalita generally assumed things were over between them while he was attending community college. But it would only take bumping into one of her mother’s friends one time while out on a date for word to make its way back to her. Lalita would tighten the reins again, but Dray, determined to be with Devika no matter what, proposed to her shortly after she turned eighteen. To solidify their commitment to one another, the pair formed a familiar bond, believing this would prevent any further issues from her mother. Lalita would prove them both wrong, locking Devika up and refusing to let her leave until she was able to get her on a flight to India and shipped to live with relatives.
Late 2004 - 2005: Emotionally distraught after having Devika taken from him, Dray began working at Oz, diving headfirst into a hard partying lifestyle. While he and Devika would continue to stay in contact secretly, the distance and separation would put a strain on their relationship, just as Lalita hoped. In 2005, after a night of heavy drinking, Dray would get behind the wheel of his car and crash. Nearly killed, he would survive only to learn he had a long, difficult road ahead of him that included not only physical therapy, but rehab. Although still deeply in love with Devika and vice versa, he would break off the relationship shortly after being discharged from the hospital, recognizing the emotional turmoil of being separated from her would not aid in his sobriety.
2006 - 2015: Through determination and hard work, Dray would eventually make a full recovery and start seriously considering a career path. He would get a job in law enforcement, working his way up the ranks to become a homicide detective and eventually sergeant of the department. The job would enable him to utilize his giftings as a guide to solve murders. This would prove beneficial for him, giving him a sense of purpose and direction for his abilities and a focus for his life. Though he would date sporadically over the next several years, none of his relationships would ever last for an extended period of time, most ending with the accusation that he was too emotionally closed off to allow for progression. This would not change until 2013, when a murder trial would have him cross paths with an ambitious attorney named Chanise Wright. Forward and direct, she would ask him out, and single-handedly propel the relationship onward, so determined to have what she wanted she even went so far as to propose to him herself two years later.
Late 2015 - 2016: While it took him a little time to mull her question over, Dray eventually accepted Chanise’s proposal, determining they were alike enough in all the ways that mattered to make a permanent commitment to one another. Ultimately, it just made good sense. It was shortly following his acceptance that he would learn of Devika’s return to New Orleans. Learning she had officially moved back would prove harder to come to terms with than anticipated, as old feelings resurfaced of their own accord and the impulse to reach out would prove difficult to resist. Despite this, however, Dray remained steadfast and determined to marry Chanise, unwilling to call off their wedding due to lingering fondness for his first love. Unexpected health issues concerning his grandmother would prove a worthy distraction as he was forced to put Devika out of mind to tend to arrangements to put her into assisted living. Overseeing the family business in addition to his own job, would likewise prove time consuming, especially when coupled with Chanise’s encouragement that he quit his job in law enforcement in order to take over the home building business entirely. His refusal would spark their first real disagreement as a couple, as Dray would stubbornly dig his heels in and refuse to so much as consider the possibility of abandoning his job in law enforcement.