Thursday, November 1, 2012

Indian Field IV

                   “Ain’t right.  Wasn’t right.”  By the glow of the lamp, Carver Simons was raking the tidal mud.  All Jonah could see of the man was his white shirt and white eyes, as if had had become one of the ghosts with whom he claimed to have some intercourse.  Carver Simons swore his shack in Free Town was infested with ghouls; they moved objects across the table at the midnight hour, pitched clay glasses of water to the ground only to have them shatter, and in general senselessly knocked objects about to the consternation and fear of Carver Simons, his wife, and children.
            “They toss around our earthly possessions,” Carver Simmons continued, “as if they was playing dice, the dead against the quick.  And they speak that gibberish.”
            “What gibberish?” Jonah asked, shaking a clump of clams from the rake into a wooden bucket and then drawing out the implement again.
            “Mumbo-jumbo,” the man answered, his dark face perplexed and harrowed.  “Indian words.  ‘Cause that job we did for the Denton man back when. We is reaping the harvest for the white man’s desecration.”
            “No one speaks that tongue any more,” Jonah said, tipping the bucket of clams to glance at the contents by the lamp light.  “We’ll get a good 20 cents for these…  old lady Emmy was the last who spoke it fluid, but she died three, four winters ago.”
            “Well, I heard Emmy speak, and what I hear round abouts my house in Free Town damn near resembles it.  I tell ya, we’re loosin’ hold of things Jonah.  Been here too long on the Fork with them Dentons, Westminsters, the LeRoys.  They take and take and take till the coffer is empty and broken and ain’t fit to hold a copper penny.  What we got left?  A few shacks in Free Town… even less than that in Indian Field.  Who remembers anything?  And them bones.  Diggin’ up them bones!  We done filled the bucket to overflow and the bottom dropped out.”
            “Well,” Jonah said, exhaling deeply, resting on the rake.  “I’m Indian, and I ain’t heard no voices.”
            “You will.  You all will,” the man answered with gravity.  “My grandma was one of Denton’s slaves out on their island before the state set her free.  She told us stories about such doings.  It is tinkering with the departed.  Stirring up souls of heathen who ain’t got no store in Heaven so they haunt the earth, specially after you disturb their bones.  Them spirits’ll kill us all, I say.”
            “What about Denton?”  Jonah pressed.  “He ordered us to do it.  He as good as churned up the soil.  Won’t they kill him?”
            “We done took money.  Like Judas.  We could’ve walked away with the choice of good and evil which the Lord seen fit to give us.  But we done dug up a grave of one sets of men only to prepares another, our own.”
            “You’re talkin’ nonsense, Simons,” Jonah declared, slinging the rake across his shoulder.  “Common’, we got four buckets full and that is all we can carry…  I’ll say again Denton needs to worry some.  His house sits atop those bones.” 
            Carver Simons sighed and waved his hand.
            “He’s white man.  He’s even protected from the dead.  They’ll go after us, those with a brown hide and without a pot to piss in.”

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