Hiram slowly walked around Reez's grave in a counterclockwise circular path untill he had paused and sniffed five
distinct times before reaching where he had started.
Making an about face he sighed,lit his pipe with a nail popped
lucifer match,took a couple of puffs then said softly,"All things hidden shall be revealed." before retracing his steps while
humming what may or may not have been a tune.
As he came to the last point where he had sniffed he fixed his steely
bluish grey eyes on the ground,clamped down on the old pipes well chewed stem,puffed hard a couple of times filling his lungs
with the aromatic smoke before taking it out of his mouth with his left hand and hocking up a loogie which he then spit on
the place his eyes were locked on.
As the gobbet of sputim hit the sandy soil he passed his right hand slowly over
the area from right to left while saying "Verwijderen,Blootleggen,Onthullen'.
With a slithery hissing sound,,the
sand,,in perfect unison with his slowly moving hand,piled itself up to the left until a two foot hole about ten inches deep
revealed a mouldering rib cage and skull nestled amid jumbled arm and leg bones.
After doing the same four more times he stepped toward the center of the circle made by the five holes and stopped
a few feet from Reez's grave,puffed furiously yet briefly on his pipe then reached out to grasp the handle of the dagger which
appeared in his curved right hand and cut the palm of his left hand with it's long,oddly shiny silvery blade.
After letting the knife go away he took his pipe out of his mouth and watched the blood puddle in his lacerated
palm before spattering it on the sand covering Reez's corpse and saying in a gentle yet loud voice,"Reez old friend,are ya
A few heartbeats of expectation filled time passed as his palm filled back up.Hirams bushy left eyebrow shot
up and a puzzled 'mmm' came from his throat.
As he puffed on the pipe his brow dropped down into a concerned shape
equal with it's twin untill they both flattened out in a fashion that matched the more authoratative tone which the words,"Reez,can
I speak with you?" were delivered in.
Again,,fruitless expectation showed all over the blueish smoke wreathed face
whose eyes seemed to sparkle or glitter ever so slightly around their steely grey edges.
As those eyes suddenly flashed
brighter he slung the now full hands load of crimson fluid at the ground in front of him with a motion that left a finger
pointing downward while speaking in a boomingly quiet voice,"Raphael Ezekiel Zechariah,I request an audience." to which he
hurridly added "Please,sir."
Reez said,"Longtemps pas voir,mon ami." through a very wide translucent smile.
With a joyful
"Dank u,Vader!" Hiram did a little four step jig puffing smoke out like a little steam operated toy then stood stock still
and said over his left shoulder to the cadaverously thin bridgetender standing off to the the west with a large rucksack over
one shoulder,"Now,be as quick as ya can,Fella,and fish out that corpse satchel.That deputy will be here all too soon." right
before the faint yet quite distinct sound of crackling branches came from the south east.
Turning to look at the
thin man he softly said,"Belay that.Return to where you were and stand still."
As he did Hiram looked at Reez,crunched
on his pipe and said with a slight growl in his low toned voice,"This deputy is a bit more hard headed than I gauged.He should
have been wandering around south of here for at least another ten minutes.That wouldn't have happened if I had laid at least
one binder on him."
Reezes slightly consoling sounding comment of,"Maybe you became a little distracted.' got Hiram
to cut his eyes slightly at first before they softened and a slightly contrite "Yes.I suppose I may have." seemed to slip
from around his old pipes stem.
Then as the branch breaking noises got louder with literally twinkling eyes and
a michevious grin he said,"Well,,he has my undivided attention now.I'm gonna see if he will soil himself."
on the pipe as he raised his right arm toward the man off to the west,began moving it in a circular wiping motion that ended
coming down across his own face and body while saying,"Transparant.Onzichtbaar.Verborgen." as the deputy emerged out of the
peppertree tangles to the east to stand staring at the holes ringing Reez's grave.
Standing still he looked at his
watch,then without moving looked at the bone filled hole nearest him.
"Ah,ha and eureka.But it looks like five,,not one." he said in a matter of fact tone while he wrote in a little
blue notebook with a compass sticking out from it then began taking photos starting at a fairly thick branch that had a junction
of 4 branches varying in length from about 8 inches to a foot,,within three or four inches of each other,,two on one side
and two approximately opposite them on the other which was laying off to his left and panning to the right.
clicked off the final shot of the disturbed area which took in the fifth hole about six feet away from him he froze for a
fraction of a second at the sight of Hirams feet and lower legs framed in his viewfinder.
Clicking once more before
drawing his pistol as he removed the camera from his face and looked at thin air with a purely puzzled look on his face.
at the empty space in front of him the puzzled look became one of embarrasment which became stony as he slowly holstered his
pistol,returned his notepad to his pocket and took out a pack of cigarettes.
As he was lighting the cigarette he
looked startled a little by how bright the lighters blue and yellow flame appeared in the sudenly dimly lit woods.
a draw off he looked up and dropped his Zippo as the light level dropped to nothing.
"What the heck?" he muttered
up at the sky before bending down to feel around for his dropped lighter.
Locating it he stood up and let
out a squawk as the hand on his shoulder galvanized him into jumping forward and pulling his gun while spinning back around
to hear a deep powerful voice say "Hold!" which set his ears to ringing and a cold tingling wash completely over his body.
Hiram reached out and touched the immobile deputy between his glazed eyes with the middle finger of his
right hand,puffed on his pipe,said,"Relax.Fear not.Keep yourself at ease.No harm will be done to you.Do everything I tell
you to do." then shoved slightly and let his hand fall to his side.
The deputys body sort of waved backwards a bit then quivered all over as his eyes cleared and focused on Hirams
"Who are you?" he asked in a calm voice. "Hiram.Tell me your name.","Davis Kelly.","Davis Kelly,stand still
and don't speak."
Turning to the west Hiram said,"Onthullen." then stepped closer to Reezes grave to wave his hand
from right to left while intoning in a louder voice "Verwijderen.Blootleggen.Onthullen."
The sand noisely slithered
itself to the west side untill all had moved off of Reezes corpse forming a ridge about a foot and a half high.As soon as
it finished Hiram said,"Bring the corpse satchel and load Reez into it,Fella.Davis Kelly,,,be pleased to assist him,sir."
which set the thin man into motion and brought a smile to the deputy's face as Hiram continued with "Now help him load that
body into the bag and pay absolutely no attention to anything you hear untill I call your name."
As the deputy moved
to do that Hiram turned to Reez who was standing on his left."How did they get you and what kept you?"
"Ah,,that'sa tale unto itself,old friend."
Reez looked at the silver gray haired man then with a slight nod of his head towards him he asked,"May I?" which
got a startled "Eh?" from Hiram followed by a wary look which then narrowed into one of concentration that ended up with him
After a pause during which the sounds of the thin man and the deputy gathering and stowing his
remains skittered through the night darkened pepper tree wood Reez leaned forward until his non corporeal head intersected
Hirams solid flesh and bone cranium.
And Hiram knew that Reez had a very pleasent drive after leaving from Hirams cabin on the last day he felt the
sun on his skin.During that ride the mans eyes drank in the beauty painted across the collossal clouds filling the east coast
Florida darkening violet and purplish sky by the late afternoons slowly yet surely setting sun and his nose tasted the firm
breezes wafting the scent of orange blossoms,sulphur water from flow wells and pasture into the cab of the battered old '35
half ton Dodge truck as he wound through the groves,ranches,swamps and palmetto scrub on his way to Oslo Road.Once on it he
watched the clouds become dappled and lined with increasingly bright reddish oranges and goldish yellows until he was about
one hundred yards from the where Oslo intersected Fourty Third Avenue when his right rear tire popped with a sound like a
Muttering under his breath at the sudden jerking of the steering wheel,Reez slowed to a stop while pulling off
the side of the road as far as he could without getting too near the canal edge.Once stopped he switched off the motor,got
out,streched a bit while absorbing the exquisite peaceful quite surrounding him then lit a non filtered Camel with a zippo
as he walked around the to the back of the truck to look at the flat tire.
Smoking on his Camel Reez took his hat
off to wipe his forehead and face with his bandana and looked east past the intersection as an old jalopy pulled out of Williams
Garage and Filling Station onto Oslo amid a cloud of blue smoke and roaring engine sounds bellowing from straight pipe exhausts
and smiled a bit to himself.
Thinking to himself,'Oh Father,don't let this take long.If I'm late the old hag won't sell me the powders." Putting
his hat back on he flipped away the partially smoked cigarette and hurridly returned to the open cab door as he tucked the
Climbing in he cranked the engine and drove slowly untill he pulled into the shops pocked gravel and
asphalt drive,braked to a stop and looked where a bald man standing next to an old mack truck dressed in greasy blue coveralls
ceased vainly trying to wipe grease off his hands with an equally grimy shop rag and motioned Reez to park the truck parallel
to the corrugated steel buildings open bay door so his rear wheel right was on the smooth concrete apron about four feet from
Tossing the rag aside he grabbed a large orange roller jack and quickly slid it under the truck while asking
in a loud,confidence filled voice,"Do you have a spare?If not we have four that would fit.Hardly wore at all.Ten bucks each
and that includes changing them out."
Reez stepped out of the truck and said,"Yes,sir.I do have my own spare tire
yet no spare time so how much would it be just to change it?"
"Five dollars." , "That'll be fine then." The bald man smiled
wide and said,"Okey dokey,sir.I'll get ya fixed right up." then waved his arm toward the filling station side of the building
to continue in a cheerful voice with,"There's ice cold soft drinks and beer right inside there if'n ya want one."
at the thought of a cold beer Reez turned to head to the front door as a ten year old,dark green '46 F-150 came off Oslo from
the east and pulled up along the curb of the walkway in front of it.
The drivers door opened and a white man wearing glasses,a faded tan fishing cap,a muted red,white and blue almost
tartan like checkered short sleeve shirt and khaki pants got out,came around the front of the truck and paused while watching
Reez walk his way.
"Reez?Raphael Ezekiel Zechariah,,,is that you?"
Looking at the man for a moment Reez
realized who it was."Bright Raven!" he exclaimed and began walking happily towards the man approaching him in a like manner.
friend,it's me.What a pleasure it is to see you on such a beautiful day!" Sticking eagerly grasped right hands out the two
men furiously shook them and repeatedly slapped each other on the shoulder with their lefts while asking all those questions
people ask those they feel affection and friendship for after not seeing each other in a while.
After a moment or
three of talking over each other Reez asked "What brings you along here at such a fortuitious time,Bertrand?"
"I was going to take a run out Oslo to blow some soot out of Betsy's engine but changed my mind.I was stopping
to pick up a six pack and a tall boy for the ride back home."
"Well,,I am truly glad you did,mon ami.I myself am
on an errand of rather grave concern but a tire gave out the other side of Fourtythird.Now,hows your parents,brother and that
pretty wife and child of yours?" , "Ma,Pa Gunter and James are okay.The wife and girl are at home." ,
"That's right,,you live near the old Oslo cemetary,don't you?" , "Yes,sir.Just a few blocks away.Why?" , "I'm heading
over there later but I have to stop at a womans house on the way and I'm on a tight clock,LeRoy." , "Well,let me buy you a
beer while you wait on your tire change,old friend."
With that the man stepped to the door,opened it and gestured for Reez to enter.Reez said,"I could use a cold Busch."
while eagerly stepping through it into the cooler interior of the store.
Once inside he stopped,smiled at the young
blonde girl behind the register next to the door chattering into a phone who apparently paid their entrance no mind at all
then stood still as he looked around the cluttered store until his friend slid past him to head to the beer cooler in front
of the main window.Following him Reez got there in time to grab the bottle of Busch the man held out to him.
the man began as he pulled a six pack of tall boy Buschs out and set them down on the far end of the cooler,"What errand of
grave importance are you on?' , "I have a vile thing I need to get locked away at a particular hour." , "A vile thing?" ,
"Yes.One of the vilest."
Leaning over slightly as LeRoy pulled another bottle out of the chest cooler and slid the glass door closed he
half whispered,"Schlomos Eye."
The man stood up straight and looked at Reez questioningly."Schlomos Eye?Didn't you
say that had got lost?" , "It did.Hiram found where it was about thirty years back.If he had of been one night later the massacre
that would have happened at Lake Wilmington would have stunned the world." , "Wilmington?Oh,,you mean Blue Cypress?" , "Yes,,that's
it." , "How did it get there?" , "I don't know.That's a story I have yet to hear in full.Maybe Hiram will tell it to someone
He opened his beer on the coolers bottle opener then handed it to Reez while taking the one Reez had and
opening it.Taking a swallow he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and said "I don't know,,Hiram lives by the adage,'Through
lips not your own let your good deeds be known.' so unless it's vital or he writes it down he'll take it to his grave with
him,,whenever that may be."
Swallowing the mouthful he had taken from his own bottle Reez said emphatically "Yes,,that
is true.None the less he did tell me that there was actually an Ais shamans descendent thralled to it who had a bevy of fresh
jumbies and five old Os-hommes that luckily did not get fed." , "Really?How many fresh ones?" , "A bakers dozen." , "I know
Hiram is hell on wheels when he gets going,,but thirteen?Even for him,,that would be tough.Wouldn't it?"
Nodding his head he continued with "It was.He had some good help though.There was some yahoo from Zellwood passing
through Yeehaw on his way to Okeechobee to sell produce.They met at the Desert Inn.Hiram said the boy,,he called him Jack,,um,,Myers
or Byars maybe,,was down right mean yet was a crack shot who feared nothing and wanted to see everything.He was crowing at
the bar about having shot a loupgarou out there." , "A werewolf?" , "Yeah,,Hiram said his story actually checked out pretty
well and since the boys aura glowed,,his words,,'like Bright Raven,The Chief Shining Warriors did' he enlisted his help.According
to him that fellow never flinched nor hesitated and even swung a sabre as well as the best he'd seen."
With a low whistle Bertrand began walking to the register while saying,"That's high praise from him." Falling in
behind him Reez smiled wide and said softly,,"Yes,my friend.For both of you."
Getting to the register LeRoy placed
his six pack on the counter looked at Reez with an exagerrated look of exasperation on his face at the way the girl just kept
chattering away on the phone seemingly totally unaware of their presence.
After a few moments during which they both
quietly drank their beer the girl droned on about an odd customer who had come in earlier to get gas that "totally creeped
me out,Linda,Seriously,the man freaked me out.He was tall and wearing one of those hunters hats with the ear flaps pulled
down,a duster with the hood pulled up and a muffler over his face.And it was ninety six degrees!I was gonna poke fun at him
when he first came in to pay but he stank like a dead dog and his eyes gave me the heebie jeebies so I just stared at him
untill he laid a ten on the counter.He had only got seven dollars worth but I just grabbed a five and threw it at him.He walked
out and didn't even pick it up."..."No,he didn't say a word."..."I don't know but Steve said it looked like he could have
been animal control or carcass removal for the county or something like that since he had five old wood barrels that were
leaking what looked like blood and stank like dead bodies.He even said there was noises coming from one like maybe something
wasn't dead when he threw it in there."..."Eeeew,is right!The smell hung in the air for an hour or so.It was so disgusting
I thought I would vomit!"
Reez and Leroy were both so stunned by the girls words that she had to repeat "That'll be four twenty five." three
times before either of them realized she was no longer talking into the phone receiver now tucked into her shoulder.
himself into motion LeRoy handed her a five as Reez steeped closer and asked,,"Excuse me,jolie fleur,that man you were talking
about,what time did he come in here?" She looked at him warily,glanced at LeRoy and asked,"What did he call me?" which got
a quick reply of "Pretty flower.He's an incorrigable flirt." With that she smiled at Reez and said,"Around two thirty or so,mister."
while counting out change."Did you see which way he went when he left?" , "Sure did.He took off east.And allmost pulled out
in front of a grove goat when he did.The poor driver allmost went in the canal trying to miss him.What a jerk he was!"
to walk away with a look of concern on his face he said,"Merci, jolie dame." which got Bertrand another questioning look to
which he responded with "Thank you,pretty lady.I told you.He's a flirt." before picking up his six pack and following Reez
out the door.
Looking over at the man placing the flat tire in the spare stowage in between his trucks passenger door and front
wheel well Reez said,"I have to go quick now.It seems that maybe some one might have caught wind that I am going to lock down
Schlomo and I still need to get something before I can do that!" , "Like what?" his friend asked quietly.
told him,,the man smiled broadly and asked cheerfully,,"How much do you need?I have about a pound of that at the house." ,
"Really?I only need a few drams.But,,how did you get so much?" , "Ma got her mothers cousin to make up twenty five pounds
for me in trade for as many pineapples,tangerines and navels I could ship to her.Oh,,and she also wanted some dirt from the
Oslo cemetery.It seems she had heard of it as well.I shipped her about fifteen pounds of that and several cases of fruit.And,,I
will send her some more each year for the next three years."
Smiling wide in relief Reez smacked his friend
on the shoulder and said,"I'll happilly be in your debt,Bright Raven,if I could purchase some from you.I won't have to visit
that disgusting female if you do."
"I'll be pleased to give you what you need,Reez.Heck man,,I wouldn't even know
of it or it's value if it weren't for you." , "Why so much though?"
LeRoy's face got dark and he said grimly,"After
what happened with those mouldy muckers back home and what happened in New England I didn't want to take any chances,Ezekial.Not
with a wife and child around!I wanted more than enough to border the whole block and my property,salt the ground,lace the
concrete for the slab and to fill the blocks and make a dagger with that formula you showed me."
use the incantations from those scrolls as well?" , "Absolutely not!Like you showed me,,in this case,,chemistry works fine
in defending one's own against such.If it's such a simple thing a man can do with what God has provided why resort to calling
on those evil beings." , "Ahh,,I knew that logical mind of yours would see the truth.","More like it wouldn't quit nagging
at me until I locked those scrolls away."
The grease monkey stood up and started walking toward Reez while wiping his hands with a much cleaner rag while
saying,"It's all taken care of mister.I even plugged,patched and inflated your old one for you." Reez smiled while pulling
several bills from his pocket and said to the man,"Thank you kind sir.How much more do I owe you?"
The man waved
his hand dismissively while saying,"Nothing.I was sweating like a pig anyway and it didn't take but a few minutes so you just
go ahead and have a nice day,it's on me." Bertrand stepped forward and held the six pack of Busch out toward the man and asked,"A
cold beer sound good?" which got an exuberant,"Yessuh!" from the man as he snatched a bottle out of the carrier,quickly popped
the top off with a bottle opener that appeared in his hand like magic and took a few deep swallows.
As he did so
Reez asked him,"The young lady inside said there was a man doing carcase removal or something like that in here earlier today
and that you seen what he had in his truck.Did you?"
Bringing his beer down the man looked at Reez and exclaimed,"Oh
God yes!I smelled it too!It was so foul I actually upchucked a little after he pulled outta here!" , "What can you tell me
about it and him?" , "I can tell you that whatever he was,,he didn't work for no animal control nor carcase crew.None of those
folks would be using old ass wooden barrels.They leak too bad just like his were.Whatever he had going on,,it was all private."
, "You told the girl he was." , "Yep,sure did.She might have got scared if I told her that I thought he was some kind of axe
murderer or something."
"Had you ever seen him before?" , "Naw,,at least I don't think so.I didn't really get a look
at him.From the moment he pulled in here from west bound and pulled up to that pump right there I couldn't seem to take my
eyes off those barrels.I pumped his gas and told him he could pay inside.I didn't want to touch anything he did to be honest
"What can you tell me about those barrels?" Reez asked before taking a swig off his beer.The man started
to speak then decided to take a drink of his Busch before saying "Uh,,well,,they were really,really old.They looked like they
had been buried in a way,maybe.And they had what looked like old Spanish writing on them and the lids had names carved on
them,,uh,,Slim Scurvy,Pestilent Pete,Rotten Raul,Bobby Boil,Maggot Mark.I think.They were wrote funny.The letters didn't seem
right.Kind of like what you might see on a pirate map or something like that.I'm not sure of that,,but I am sure that it looked
like clotted blood oozing out from between the staves.'
Handing him a folded bill Reez said,"Thank you sir,you've been most informative." Then turned to LeRoy and said "We need
to go but we can't stay at your house long.If they are looking for me I wouldn't want them coming to your place." before he
headed off to his old truck.
Pressing down on the accelerator to stay close to his friends truck that he followed east on Oslo he went
through memories of the recent past to pinpoint how the Eye might have got word out to those in it's thrall untill he recalled
the attempt he made to give back Jonathans mental faculties.
He had peered intently into the thin faces deep set eyes as he spoke to their owner,,"Well,Jonathan,,I didn't expect
you to launch into an oration of the Gettysberg Address or anything like that,,but,,do you feel any changes within you?"
"What do you feel,Jonathan?"
He had sat
back in his chair with his hands on the top of his batterd green felt fedora as he ruminated with his eyes closed before opening
them up and saying to no one in particular,"Well,,perhaps there is another Eye.But,,Schlomo was said to have only did the
deed to one of his eyes."
"Jonathan,,have you met what's in that silver bowl before?"
"Was it the same thing used to make you as you are now?"
"And now,,an enigma wrapped
in a conundrum."
With that,,he had began to put away the items arrayed around in front of
him untill they were all removed and placed back into the trunk.He then took out a writing set,shut the lid back and began
to write a letter.
"When I get finished with this,,I want you to keep it safe and give it to Master Hiram
when he returns.It's about what just happened,,or rather what did not happen.Perhaps he knows why that might not work like
He had added a few more lines to his missive before he paused again and said to the still motionless
Jonathan,,"If you could think in a consistantly lucid fashion,,would you tell me?"
Reez exclaimed to the box laying on his truck seat next to him as he came out of his reverie."You weren't locked away!Five
questions asked.Five casks arrive.That's no coincidence."
After swatting at the box with his fedora he smooshed it back
on his head,got his truck back to going straight again then concentrated on turning off Oslo onto old Dixie and following
Bertrand to his house.