All Bedlam Courses Past (part two)

Pastel drawing of bird flying away from bonfire






All Bedlam Courses Past


Chapter One
The Peculiar Nature of Logical Science
(part two)



Ebrach moved off the walk. He picked up speed, and his gait, his breathing possibly, the rustle of his clothes, his scent…this, Kempf said to himself, very possible…

Alerted her. She turned to watch them approach.

“They’re worried they’ve put the shovel through,” she called out. “And we can’t tell…” She overrode some word of Ebrach’s. “If the markers are ahead or behind. You see what I mean?”

“A map, by any chance?” Ebrach asked of Kempf.

“Well, yes, there is a map. Hand-drawn affair. Ink, if I recall, faded bad. You’ll say none of this can be so very old, which is true. I doubt anyone at that time was thinking of posterity. But as to the graves, they are only crosses on a rough grid.”

“The path goes right along here,” the girl said. “You wouldn’t be walking on the plots, would you?”

There was more than one sort of impertinence in this. Kempf knew himself addressed, if not accused, and she had not said Mr. Kempf.

“The first asylum was only a sort of poorhouse, Miss Gremot. The inmates might have come from anywhere. Not that I can answer for it, but if the family hadn’t showed up to make claim…likely, most times, within the meaning of the act, there was no family… The county had to pay for the burial. You see what I mean.”

He was repeating her phrase. She said, “No.”

And since clearly to his judgment she fished, Kempf wasn’t rising. She presumed they had let these souls rest disregarded. They had, the Woolsaver staff. She was angling him to feel shamed into admitting it.

But that was not the story.

“I’d like to see the map. You’re saying it hasn’t got names. Or numbers.” She lowered her book, that in the tension of the exchange had pressed against her bodice. Kempf stopped noticing this, and noticed she had sketched the contents of the two graves opened, had indicated—most astonishing, most admirable—the pelvic bones that told one had been female, one male.

“But I don’t know why they’re in this sort of state. As though they’d only been dumped in the ground.”

“And that is just what I’ve explained to you.”

She gave silence, turned from Kempf and began trailing Ebrach, who seemed to find purpose in this yet-to-be-determined map, and was making along the footpath back. Kempf repeated the affront to himself. Puts her back to me and walks off. A reverie, of his speaking to W. A. Gremot, died stillborn, interrupted by one of the diggers plucking his sleeve.

“You see, that little shed’s where we been putting em. Ain’t no light inside.”

“No,” Kempf said. “Show me what dispositions Miss Gremot has made.”

“Show you what, now?”

“The shed’s interior.” Kempf added another thing, dryly censorious. “Mr. Chambliss.”







Pastel drawing of bird flying away from bonfireAll Bedlam Courses Past (part three)















(2023, Stephanie Foster)




Welcome! Questions?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: