All Bedlam Courses Past (part fifty)

Posted by ractrose on 30 Jun 2023 in Fiction, Novels

Pastel drawing of bird flying away from bonfire






All Bedlam Courses Past


Chapter Three
An Object in Motion
(part fifty) 






Alongside the sober town coats and public-spirited gadflying, sat that Cookesville-wide impression of Rowan—of education, gentility, money. Restraint. The cold kind, maybe, a background-lurker’s, pocketing dropped pennies from the gutter.

Rowan had got a hard lesson from murdering a man.


“Hmm. Hmm. Hmm.”

Rutherford, bustling behind his desk. The Vanguard’s chief was (it happened), a director, too, of the Cookesville Commerce Bank, issuer of Rowan’s line of credit.

“Thacker, there may be a time for such a word.”

Thacker and Rutherford had composed a bit, a shorn preamble. A simple fable, about a young editor…

But no. Let us not allude. Murder has been done. The year is 1881. America is a civilized land.

Was Guiteau swarthy? Hard to tell from a print. Suit public opinion, regardless…

America is a civilized nation, not some Mediterranean cesspit of swarthy plotters.

Honor, the loaded word, needed touching on, but wouldn’t creep along Rowan’s spine, just yet…

To stoke the fear, that his enemy had learned something.

Men of philosophical differences, of varying party passions, do not, at this hour so near the dawn of a new century, resort to personal violence


Thacker broke reverie, peered ahead at a dust cloud. Drifting back to them, with a gust of hot manure…

“Oxen,” Sperling said. “Better put the whip on, get by that hay wagon. He’ll pull aside if you yell out in time.”

Gremot was up for the yelling. They trotted hard on the wagon’s rear. “Haul over! Goddamn, haul over!”

It was not the spot for hauling over. A runlet cut deep at the curve of the hill. Downpours flowed heavy here, the ditch hemming River Road as a hazard, sly under cover of arching grasses.

The hay was Gremot’s, sold to a Mississippi broker. But he did not, for that, forgive his driver.

While the boss stood akimbo firing questions, and Sperling, with two of the hands, floated options and shook heads, Thacker kept his seat. He was willing to help with chores of a farming nature, but wouldn’t have called it wise management to ask.

He asked, of himself, are we near enough that dawn? Does the reader stop to quibble? Yes, because he is a Cookesville reader. “Won’t be nineteen-hundred for good stretch yet.”







Pastel drawing of bird flying away from bonfireAll Bedlam Courses Past (part fifty-one)















(2023, Stephanie Foster)