Medical Professor- “What would you do in the case of a person eating poisonous mushrooms?”
Student- “Recommend a change of diet.”
It was just another busy day when two Black Coats barged into the Swan Inn. One of them held Alden by the collar of his sweater. They pushed through the hordes of patrons until they reached the bar where Walter and Uncle Obel watched the whole scene unfold.
“So ye finally decided t’leave yer house, did ya Bagley,” growled the Black Coat when he approached him at the bar, drinking his ale. Walter hadn’t even noticed Mr. Bagley sitting there the whole time. He was threadbare, unshaven, wearing an old black broad hat and a matching coat. He pretended he didn’t hear and hunched his shoulders over his drink. He must have recognized the voice. He was no stranger to them. The Black Coats knew him by name.
Mr. Bagley was always getting in trouble with the Black Coats. One time he was walking in the dead of night, drunk, singing at the top of his lungs. Another time he got into a fight at a card game, because he lost all his money, accusing a player for diddling. He challenge the man to fisticuffs. The Black Coats were called in and towed him away to the stockade for the night.
“Oi have yer son here with me. Oi’ve tried knocking at yer home, but as always, no one answers. Oi knew I’d find ye here, so ye can stop fakin ye didn’t hear me,” the Black Coat said.
Mr. Bagley swiveled around to face the Black Coats. “Kaarl, what brings ye here?”
“Found yer son, wanderin in the cemetery. Oi’ve told him many times te stay out. It ain’t a playground,” the Black Coat said, as he pushed Alden toward his father.
“What ye have to say fer yer self?” Mr. Bagley turned to Alden.
“I wasn’t playing. I was just visiting grandfather,” Alden said innocently.
“Why do ye have to be doin that? Ye mother and Oi have told ye not to,” Mr. Bagley chastised Alden. “Can’t ye see yer botherin these gentlemen? If they told ye ta stay out, better stay out. Fer ye own safety, ain’t that right officer?”
“That is right. The cemetery is no place for a boy,” said the Black Coat.
“Listen to ‘em, boy. Next time ye get caught they will take ye to the stockade,” said Mr. Bagley. “Ain’t that right, officer?”
“Well, we won’t go that far,” said Kaarl. “It’s just best he don’t go there at night.”
“Don’t worry officer. Oi’ll take it from here,” Mr. Bagley grabbed Alden by the shoulder and tipped his hat to the Black Coats. Kaarl nodded and with a worry look on his face left with his partner.
“Why do ye have te draw attention like that from the Black Coats,” Mr. Bagley scolded Alden. “There is enough trouble goin on here fer ye te be meddling in the cemetery.”
“I’m sorry, father,” Alden said.
“Yeah, well head back home and don’t tell ye mother about it. Heaven knows she has te much on her mind,” Mr. Bagley said. “She’s already hasslin me. Don’t need any more of that. Go on, son, go home.”
“Yes, father,” Alden was upset about the public admonition. Alden didn’t see Walter, standing in the doorway of the taproom that led to the back room. Alden left the taproom. Walter caught up with him in the streets. “Alden wait up,” shouted Walter.
Alden turns to face him.
“Alden, where have you been? Why are you going to the cemetery?”
“Can you meet me at the cemetery?” he was in haste. “We are not supposed to be out this late. I’ll tell you everything tomorrow, just meet me at the cemetery before seven.” He walked away in a hurry. Walter was confounded. Alden was acting furtive. It wasn’t the first time when he was up to something. He just hoped it wasn’t as dangerous as the crocotta was.
Two Black Coats approached Walter. “Ye shouldn’t be out this late at night, son,” said the Black Coat. “Do ye have a home to go to?”
“Yes-Yes, sir. I live at the Swan Inn,” said Walter.
“Ah, is Mr. Banny yer father?”
“No, sir. He is my Uncle.”
“Oi’ve known yer Uncle fer years. He is a good man, he is. Ye better go home, son. Don’t worry him further.”
“Yes, sir,” Walter obeyed and headed back to the Swan Inn. He would have to wait until tomorrow to get some answers from Alden.
The phenomenon’s had begun, Walter began to see the strange occurrences everyone talked about. The air had a funny static sensation. Things went floating about such as a bucket or a flower pot here and there. Signs were turned upside down, the animals had disappeared overnight and the clocks had ceased working, and even the horses and sheep were gone. The water from the hand pump was running sideways when someone began to pump it, as if it defied gravity. The birds were also gone and their absence made it more unhinged.
Walter, passed by a porch were a broom was sweeping by itself. When the wind blew, he could hear whispers. What astound him about the changes was the ghost rambling through the streets. Some folks were at times frighten of their sight or simply ignored their presence. Walter was astound with the phenomenon. He understood the reason outsiders came. It was a bizarre sight to witness, Walter wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen it.