01 Feb Grandpa’s Journal from the Great Depression: Part 3
I wish I had never started this.
I found out a lot about my grandfather in a short period of time.
Learning Cajun French, a language that none of our family has ever spoke; was hard enough.
To be honest, I didn’t want to learn any more about him.
The farther I went into the 1930s, when the Depression really began; the darker the entries became.
I called Lewis last night to get a few things settled before we published this latest sordid tale.
“Where exactly did you find these diaries at anyway?” I asked him.
My brother as usual, had a story to tell.
While shacking up with one of his friends in Fulton they had run short of booze one evening so Lewis had gotten the bright idea to run down to Grandpa’s old ranch.
Back when he was young, it had been his pride and joy. Somewhere near there he made some of the best shine in the state without any lawman being the wiser.
As he had grown up and left that life behind, the place had all been but forgotten. Just another rundown farmhouse in the hills of Genoa.
But Lewis knew that most of Granddad’s stash was kept there, and so like any drunken idiot might do he went in the middle of the night to dig it up.
“That’s where I found it, buried nearly six feet under like it was meant to be forgotten to the worms! When I saw it, the leather binding and the shaky handwriting I knew it had to be him Mark!” Lewis told me.
“When the hell did he write these?” I asked.
I told him they read more like memoirs when I translated them, a secret code that only Granddad learned.
All thoughts of stealing granddad’s booze had left his mind though and my brother didn’t care about the specifics.
Instead Lewis became certain that the secret to the old recipe he used for moonshine could be found within.
There was no question as to it being his diaries. But there was something hidden there more than any mash recipe.
It’s a truth I wish I could forget now.
June 11, 1928
There are things in this world that I still don’t understand.
I have often wondered if I was never meant to.
Looking back now, there are questions I wish I could have asked.
But would it have changed anything at all?
I think, if I am being completely honest with myself I can already answer that question.
Because like so many other things in my life that are blank pages I can fill the holes with a single reply.
That was what she called herself.
Standing at only four feet tall with the body of a girl but the spirit of a demon, my brothers and I knew immediately that this feral child could not be anything close to human.
Nathan was eager to shoot her after what she had done to our Pa.
Tim on the other hand was the voice of reason.
“The coroner will be here in the morn and we’ve got to figure out how to explain this to him or we’ll wind up in the lock house! Or worse! Strung up in the trees for murder!” he blabbered.
I was looking at the girl, this imp that had wandered into her lives.
That was what she had told me.
Now as I stared at the stains of blood around her neck and the naked girl wiped away her meal, I realized she was offering her help to us.
“What… are you?” I asked her.
“Do you ask that question when you pray?” she asked us in return.
“Enough with the games, or I’ll blow a hole so big through your chest, there won’t be enough of YOUR heart left to feed a possum,” Nathan said, cocking both hammers on the scatter gun.
“Both barrels bitch!” A look of malice on his face that almost said “Make a move, I dare you.”
“Child… do I need to show you what happens when you play with guns?”
“Leave him be! You want to tell us, give us something; am I right?” I asked as I forced Nathan to lower the side by side.
She opened her hand and we watched in wonder as a flower blossomed from her palm.
It looked like a white peony.
It grew into a sapling and we saw small lights sparkle around her skin.
“I have seen you struggle to live. To survive. Our worlds are not so different. When we falter, so does yours. When you succeed… so do we…” she explained softly as she closed it up and said, “I can make you grow. Make you great men. But you must give me something in return.”
Tim shook his head still dazzled by the lights.
“How can we be sure you ain’t lying? You just killed our Pa!!” he shouted trying not to cry.
“You didn’t need him anymore. You made that choice the minute you wanted to ransom the girls,” she hissed.
None of us liked it. But none of us were weeping for our Pa. I could still feel the burning from where he had whipped me.
“All right. Suppose we’ll listen….Suppose that we pay your price. What exactly are you offering?” I asked.
Nathan still kept his hand steady on Pa’s old shotgun.
“Prove to me your loyalty in the morning, then we talk,” Sargatanas ordered.
I didn’t have to guess what she meant. We needed to dispose of the bodies.
She skittered around the floor and found a place to nest for the night amid an old rug we kept when we used to have a dog.
I was kind enough to offer her a blanket, but it only caused my brothers to glare at me with apprehension.
That night we took turns in our bunk watching the door. Though she promised that her appetite was met none of us would have put it past her to kill us in our sleep.
When exhaustion did overcome me all I dreamt of was Pa’s scream. His dying curse to the world as those two girls helplessly watched.
The girls! I realized I had almost forgotten about them in the ruckus.
I shook Nathan awake and tried to convince him to help me go set them loose. With the coroner coming we couldn’t have any witnesses to claim what Sargatanas had done.
Instead he just turned over and mumbled in his sleep, leaving me to the dirty deed alone.
I grabbed my coat and slippers and moved down the stairs, creeping toward the kitchen where the girl slept.
Except when I stepped in the cold room she was nowhere to be seen.
The large china cabinet had been pushed over as though it were a cardboard box.
When I stepped out of the house to face the barn, an evil aura seemed to fill the air. I heard something near the barn and grabbed a lantern to see what the commotion was about.
I kicked open the door, my eyes catching the trail of blood and staring at one of the girls as she crawled across the floor.
One leg was entirely gone, the mass of blood and stray tissue a clear indication as to what happened.
She turned to beg me for help as Sargatanas grabbed her up by the air, the creature’s fangs now clearly visible.
I waved the lantern toward her and the strange feral child shrieked in fury.
“Move that light from my eyes child,” she barked.
I held my gaze on her, immediately realizing the flame was the source of her anxiety.
“You’re going to tell me exactly what the fuck you are right now. Or I’ll let you see even more of this light,” I warned her.
The girl let loose the sobbing child she had victimized and curled up behind a hay bale.
“You’re a bold one. I’ll give you this one, Jake. What do you want to know?” She teased. In the flickering shadow I was certain I saw a tail.
“You’re a demon?” I guessed.
“Country folk call us different things. Leprechauns. Fae. Djinn. It’s all the same story with different tweaks. All that matters is I speak your tongue because all language comes from our world. The old magicks are what made men great before they forgot when to pay their dues,” she hissed.
“Magic? You were allies with men?” I asked.
“I told you and your brothers once before. My world is dying the same as yours. Cause of men like your old Pa, who have forgotten the old ways. If I hadn’t been on the brink of starvation myself I wouldn’t even be here now,” she said.
I almost felt sorry for her. But every word she spoke seemed to hide a deeper malice.
“You’ll change that. Change the world by helping us?” I guessed.
“It will be a start,” she cooed.
I knew there was more she wasn’t telling me. But the offer of a better life for me and my brothers was enough that I couldn’t turn it away.
With no parents to care for us, we had to make a living any way that we knew how.
“Make this mess disappear, and then we’ll be as good as yours,” I promised her.
Sargatanas smiled and rubbed her grubby hands together.
I saw the dying girl’s frantic eyes widen as I backed away and looked across the barn toward where her sister’s torso was sitting propped against the barn door.
I didn’t need to stay to know what would happen next.
June 12, 1928
Morning came faster than I wanted it to. I had hoped to tell Nathan and Tim of my deal with the girl, but the coroner was there knocking before first light.
He was a tall spindly looking man with tufts of white hair sticking out of his mostly bald head.
He wore large framed glasses and a dark long suit. He carried a large briefcase and had two attendants with him that would prepare the bodies for removal once he finished his examination.
“May god bless this house,” he said in a strong thick accent. It sounded European.
He first examined Ma and determined that heat exhaustion was the cause of her passing, then moved toward the backyard where Pa laid out wide eyed from the attack.
I had run over in my head at least a hundred times what lie I planned to spill to the coroner about his injuries but when we approached the body again I was surprised to find that it didn’t seem as though he had sustained any injuries at all.
Heart attack, is what the coroner claimed. But I knew only magick could explain how this was covered up.
“You boys will likely be hearing from a orphanage soon… I know it won’t be easy to live this way… but in time you see that when God closes a door he also opens a window,” the man said as he checked his pocket watch and left with our Ma and Pa in his fancy hearse.
Tim spit at the ground as the car drove down the road.
“This is bull shit,” Nathan said as he waited for the girl to reappear.
But while we were left alone I told them everything. Neither of them liked it much.
“We’re trusting that fucker with our lives? And we don’t know what she wants in return! What if she guts us just like Pa?” Tim asked.
“Magick is the devil’s work, I don’t care what she may say! I would rather high tail it out of here,” Nathan agreed.
“If we run something worse than a devil might run after us. The law. They’ll find out about them girls and then where will be? Sitting down in Miller County Prison is where! I ain’t old enough to waste away in bars. I want to hear what she has to say,” I replied.
“We need a plan, something to keep us safe from her,” Nathan said.
“If I wanted you dead you already would be,” the girl chimed in.
She walked up from behind the house wearing a proper Sunday outfit like she had always been accustomed to wearing it.
It had to be the clothes of one of the children she had devoured the night before.
I’m not sure why but seeing her pale skin and perfect clean outfit was more unnerving than the bloody mess I had encountered before.
“You’re a lot of talk for a magick elf or whatever the hell you are. How about you put your money where your mouth is,” Tim growled.
Sargatanas laughed. She was having fun with this.
“There’s a place not far from here, where more magic than I can ever describe wells up,” the imp offered.
She took my brother’s hand and walked toward the rows of thick trees.
Everything in my body told me to run. But instead Tim and I found ourselves wandering through deep forest.
The feral fae kept Nathan close to her as we weaved cross brush and river to the deepest corners of the woods and she paused gesturing toward a ring of stones greater than the circumference of our old house.
In the middle was a field of peonies.
“This is the spot. Where our two worlds can become one again… if we work hard at it,” Sargatanas smiled thinly.
“You still ain’t makin’ sense girl. What the hell is this?” Nathan said.
But I already knew. The smell in the air and the gentle spring water we had found a few ridges back told this spot could only be for one purpose.
A still site.
“Boys,” I said grasping my brothers’ arms excitedly before she could speak.
“We’re gonna make some shine.”