All Bedlam Courses Past (part eight)

Posted by ractrose on 2 Feb 2023 in Fiction, Novels

Pastel drawing of bird flying away from bonfire






All Bedlam Courses Past


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



A skull on a broomstick-figure, wearing a stolen shift and pantaloons (from a clothesline never to be admitted) had joined the war memorial’s tableau on All Hallows’ Eve of 1879.

The county’s church sextons reported their dead undisturbed.

But the first skull being in custody, the second narrowed the field. The Vanguard’s Mr. Thacker, with a pocket full of nickels, found his informant in Dominionville.


A slump of burdened earth, caused, we assume, by last winter’s heavy snows, and estimated by the young scamps of the colored town to have been there “a time”, has left exposed—we know of no more delicate putting of the matter—human remains.

Hence the local vandals’ source of artistic media; and hence the county hospital’s embarrassment. The supervisor, Mr. Kempf, states that the board shall address the disaster, and begs the Vanguard do not.


Where there was a knot, she would put the sword to it. That was her way, and being adult Élucide did not apologize for assertions, a thing which ladies (so she’d been taught) repressed.

In exchange for reticence.

Her feeling was that Kempf, with the board behind him, wanted quiet removal. “Shad, do you know that Indian mound they were digging up?”

“You mean not too long back, professor up at the college. Think so. Think so.”

“Burials charted in situ,” she nodded, quoting. “I was just remembering Thacker’s article. I’ll stop and see him, find out who that was.”

“Sound like borrowing trouble to me.”

“Shad, you have to get people on board, people with a little specialization. That way, when someone decides you don’t belong where you are…” She playacted for him: “Certainly, madam, you must not rely on the authority of a person you mistrust. Will you permit Dr. Jones to visit you at your home?”

Shad laughed, and returned a face that charmed, the mischief in it, his open enjoyment of this. She drew her pencil from the spine of her book, and jotted Thacker, Professor who? on her list.

“Now look,” Shad said. “I got something to show you. I think they never done put half’em in a box.”

“They’d have knocked up fresh-cut pine, finished their work in a hurry. One would tend to imagine so.” Old Richard spoke, eased to his feet and making rheumatic progress. “In this wet ground, casket and winding sheet both, long gone to worms.”

“Might be.”

“Might not be.” He shrugged, and held out an open palm. Shad gave him the pitcher, but took another drink beforehand.







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















(2023, Stephanie Foster)




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