Monday, August 16, 2010

"Amnon, Amnon!" (a short story)

“Amnon, Amnon!”
((A Shannon O’Day Story) (Late 1984 to1988))

Chapter One

It was the morning after Amnon had returned home from college; he had spent six-years away at Harvard gotten his law degree (now twenty-four years old, handsome, tall, dark eyes and square jaw, and broad shoulders, five foot eleven), and was hoping to get an early judge’s seat in Ramsey County, likened his father—now deceased, Judge Albert Finley, the elder, and he was out on the town with his younger sister Tamar—who had just turned eighteen (prom queen from Washington High School, a beauty and well developed since last he saw her), and was preparing for school, and Mrs. Finley, their mother—Eleanor Finley (madden name Hill, from a well to do family, from Summit Hill in St. Paul, nearby where she once lived in a large mansion—nearly connecting to her parents’ house, now a museum) all three had gone out celebrating his Law Degree, to the Blue Horse Restaurant and Bar, out on University Avenue. In a way, this was for Eleanor, a climacteric year, one son returns and one child leaves, but Tamar would not be far away, she’d be living on campus, at the University of Minnesota, but a few miles away, studying Psychology. The elder boy, Nathan, he was already a judge in Minnesota, twenty-eight years old, who had gotten into some trouble a few years back, called “The Black Sedan Case” in Minnesota, dealing with the death of Otis Wilde Mather, a negro from Ozark, Alabama, a friend to the O’Day family, in particular to a deceased man once known in the city as Shannon O’Day, a war hero of the Great War, so legend says.
During the whole evening, Tamar had hardly looked at her brother, had said only a few words to him, especially when he had demanded they dance together and him crushing his body against hers, like slamming a door into her face, and trying to persuade her to go out and have a night-cap after they took their mother home. He had smelled the heavy perfume she used, he liked it, but she remained quiet, pert near still, and she walked off the dance floor, not waiting for his approval. Amnon made no reply, and slacken his pace as she increased hers.
When they had gotten home, he kept her up for three hours talking of his affairs at Harvard, drinking glass after glass of wine, red dry wine, and how she had blossomed into a beauty, as they walked on through the mansion in the darkness, down the corridor to their bedrooms—he kept close to her like a puppy to his mother.
“Oh Amnon, Amnon stop!” she said, “stop thinking I’m one of your girlfriends at school, I’m your sister, everybody seems to know that but you.” He slid his arm around her neck, sliding it on and over her shoulder, pinned her against the wall, the light was dim above them, “It’s true,” he said to her, “I’m your brother,” and her quick reply was, “You’re dirty! Step back!”

It was now well into early hours of the morning, and the scent of her was still on him, transplanted into his pores, drifted steadily into his bedroom from hers, as if it was waves of flowers following him; he had rapped her, kind of rapped her, without much resistance beyond the shady side of “Amnon, Amnon, stop, please don’t”; whereupon, after it was over he retreated himself to tiptoe back to his bedroom, not necessary back, since he had not been there that evening—yet, but down to his room, around the corridor. From his bedroom window, he could see her bedroom—and there he stared for a moment looking at her laying there naked, as he had pulled her covers off for that very reason, in her bed still sleeping.
Tamer, mess about the kitchen nervously in the morning with her mother, as the servant waxed the living room table and chairs, dusting this and that, and the cook was making breakfast for Tamer and Eleanor, Amnon was still sleeping, it was 9:00 a.m., Saturday, they had slept in some.

Chapter Two
(The Deal)

In the meantime, Amnon, dashed about the city, talking to his father’s old friends, making connections, harassed the younger lawyers at the courthouse, in his old cold arrogant Finley fashion, and took a liking for Catherine O’Day, now thirty-seven years old, she owned Gus O’Day’s old Farm—farmhouse and cornfield and all, had also inherited $10,000-dollars from her father’s will, and Otis Wilde Mather left her a fish store down on Wabasha Street in the city, now dead, all those from the last generation now dead, all those I’ve just mentioned, I just mentioned were dead to include Mabel, she had quite a sum after adding it all up. And Catherine had known of Amnon from the parties Gus had in what she’d now call the old days, and when he had invited Old Judge Finley over, and his sons and wife for dinner. Shannon was seldom about. So it was an updated reunion for them both.
Tamer had went off to the University, but had made a deal with Amnon, that he should ask mother for a $5,000 advance, of his inherence, lest she tell her what he had done, raped her, kind of rapped her, but she’d make it sound more like ‘Raped’ not the second one. She gave him until the end of the semester, three months—this of course would ruin his career, and as cold as he was, so was she—it was a Finley to Finley genetic thing, I think. And Amnon had known the bad reputation his bother had got from the “Black Sedan Incident,” he nearly lost his judgeship: where the brute of a boxer had killed Otis—when in essence the was just supposed to scare him, which the case was still fermenting between the Courthouse and the Police Station, looking to get a second and more clearer statement from the accused, now out on bail on $10,000-dollars. And should the Finley’s name come up again, come out in anymore derogatory cases, it would for sure, stop his being appointed to any critical position, and do his brother harm—not to mention his family name. But he dare not go to his mother, lest he wanted to be taken completely out of the will—she was not of course an original Finley, rather a Hill, but being married to one for over fifty-years made her cold as ice or could be, and as for his brother, if he knew, he’d surely not assist him in a judgeship or job or anything, wanting to keep his distance.

He spent a lot of time with Catherine O’Day now, and at the Courthouse as an assistant for his bother, checking out cases, occasionally now and then going out with the guys for a drink—not his usual self, and spending more time courting Catherine, over ten years his senior. Actually, his mother was growing a little concerned, un-preventative in the sense of she was used to being, just the opposite—over protective.
“Mark my words mother, I have my reasons, I need to make my mark while I can, I’m nearly twenty-five,” as if he would store up the devilment in the mean time, only to display it sometime afterwards, whereupon once he got what he wanted, and got to where he wanted to go, he’d hold loose of it, and let his inners burst wherever it may. And then, anyone in the way would have hell to pay.
“Why, what is it that is driving you,” she asked him, knowing the first few days back he was so carefree, but that gay kind of look was gone, that happy go lucky look had disappeared for a serious one. And then worse turned to worse, Tamer was pregnant, and she wanted $10,000 to shut up.
“Well,” Amnon agreed, “If you want it, it will take longer,” and he got a reprieve out of that; meaning, five-thousand as agreed on before, which was in a week, and the other five in three more months, thereafter. Amnon leaned over the sofa at their mansion, and touched her arm “All this for one night’s pleasure?”
“I don’t see why you are so upset over it, it’s your child. I mean, it really is.”
“Oh,” he said “then I’ll just wait to see the birth certificate, before I give you the second $5000-dollars and if my name is on it, I won’t pay.”
She sat there rigidly, “You’ll pay until that child is eighteen years old, or until I get married.” She said indomitable.
“Is that so,” Amnon said, walking over to the piano, sitting down on the stool and starting to play, ‘Old Man River.’ Then commented, “Those psychology courses are really helping out I see!”

Chapter Three
(The Doormat)

The Child was born out of wedlock, and named Erskine Finley, in lack of knowing the father’s name, she told her mother she had gotten drunk and got Pregnant from some stranger at a college party. She ended up enjoying the grandchild, under not knowing the name of the father, for the following two years, during those days Amnon filled his destiny, and became a judge, and discovered pride once more, but not to any wild extent. And he made his payments as she had demanded $5000 every three months. Between his salary and playing the horses, living at home, it had worked out. Those days he drove a lesser valued car into town, and had less expensive habits, and gave up courting Miss O’Day, whom he was only courting anyhow for an escape route should he need one. Mrs. Finley, her growing belief what at last her youngest son had settled down, but something told her, it wouldn’t last. That he’d outwear this time and that old violent temper of his would flare up. Mrs. Finley being a true lack of optimistic outlook for young Amnon: Who even was quite fond of Erskine? She seemingly disillusioned herself by assisting him in every way she could to get him the best position at the courthouse, and in line for a future state legislative position. Yet is all, Amnon himself improved in his own ways, without perhaps even knowing, or wanting to, but through the snare he had created with Tamer, He had been so cleverly tricked, so he felt into this clandestine fatherhood dilemma. Tamer, herself was wondering how long before he’d grow out of wanting success at the price he was paying for it—monitory, and position. Mrs. Finley felt he needed a wife, but Tamer felt different, there went her support: perhaps Eleanor forgot: they both bled the same blood.

Then sowing-time over the following year—1988, Ronald Reagan was still president, Tamer had raised her support payments to $7000-per month. And she found herself with nothing to do, she had one year of college left, a free summer, and she was bored, and Amnon was taking interest in Miss O’Day again, and that bothered her. The summer was warm and hot, and she had gone into some kind of savage gloom over being a single mother. It was that summer, Mrs. Eleanor Finley pass on, had a heart attack. The family split up the $600,000-dollars equally, and only the mansion was left, and that had a 1.6 million dollar price tag on it. And Amnon was now engaged to Cantina O’Day. It was a sweet and sour summer for Tamer.

Chapter Four

Samuel Ingway a young lad of twelve years old, son to a foreman who works at a foundry on the East Side of town called Malibu Iron, had been down by the Mississippi River playing waking up tramps and hobos sleeping inside of the cave cliffs, right above the Robert Street Bridge, that crossed the River from St. Paul—he’d run up to them kick them here or there and run like hell; a car had been driven onto the first part of the bridge, going southwest, towards West St. Paul that is, and the car went out of control and had skidded and jumped over the side railing, and crashed rolled and crashed, halfway into the Mississippi River, and the man in the car was groaning, he was still alive, and he lay with his head on Samuel’s knees cussing, struggling to move his body, but he was pinned, and the boy just let him do as he wanted, with half opened eyes. The man looked up to the boy “Something busted in the brake line,” he mumbled—still half in a daze, “I’m not drunk or anything, I think it was… (and he went silent, as if he had a hunch….)” The boy held his knee up higher so his head would not drop back into the shallow water; he was liable to drawn otherwise.
“I hear the ambulance coming sir,” the boy said.
“You, who are you?” asked Amnon.
“Samuel, Samuel Ingway, I was just checking out the caves down here and I heard a crash and here I am. I can’t pull you out, you’re too heavy, I already tired,” said the boy, “but I’ll stay with you,” he said with a calm face, looking at the wet face from what had been in the water prior to his arrival.

“We better get him out of here,” said the first arriving police officer to the boy.
“Aint nobody else coming?” asked the boy.
“He you’re pay” asked the police officer, as they both struggled to pull him out and would have but couldn’t slide him completely out, his feet were crushed under a tone of iron and steel. So they both stopped, having him half way out: caught their breath.
“No,” said the boy, “He’s not my pa; he looks like a dead man to me,” added the boy.
“He sure does act like one,” said the police officer; and then he was.

Outline: 8-16-2010/No: 668

Peru, A Robber's Paradise

Peru, A Robber’s Paradise

I’ve now lived in Peru for ten years, and have come to conclude this is a robber’s paradise; it is the freest country in the world to rob and not worry about a penalty. This is not a joke, it is reality, all you got to do is live here a year or two and you’ll be convinced. The laws are there but not enforced, for some odd reason—the government wants to look good but not do the work, the Government expects you to act or not rob, without enforcing the law and the laws are laughed at. No one pays them any attention, and the robbers are half the police force and the Mayors are on the take nine out of ten anyhow, and it just goes up the pyramid of authority, to the top.
The underbelly of the country is not built strong enough to withstand the assault of the robbers. It pays to rob in this country that is why everyone does it. The police come if you call them, an hour, or day or three days after you call them, depending if they themselves are not busy robbing. They take bribes on the streets as open as someone selling donuts, or ice-cream, and the government advocates they take bribes so they don’t have to pay them but $300-dollars a month. No robber expects to go to jail, and if by some off beat chance he does, he’ll not spend more than a day in jail, unless it is some congressman he robs from, and even that is unlikely. They robbed the President’s neighbour, and that was that, they never even looked into the case other than putting it on T.V., to let the public know how safe they were: meaning if the neighbour of the president isn’t safe, surely you are not.
It is not that the country is not doing well, or can’t afford to pay, but if you pay the police more, you can’t rob more at the higher level, you see, each level has there robbers, especially the Mayors office and the construction going on in Peru, all the house will fall when another earthquake comes, and everybody know it. If you’re asking where the concern for the public is, or National pride, or humanitarian folks are, they’ll tell you: that’s America’s job, we’re poor here, and we got to make ends meet. But when it comes to fiesta time, or drinking or special interests, they’ve got the time and money. It is like many places, they put there money were their interests are, they have it they just will not let go of it.

Not One Hooting Owl Left

Not One Hooting Owl Left

(A Collection of four linking stories)

The Old Man
(Hullabaloo 1954)

(Part of the End) And so Shannon O’Day knew that very first morning of October, 1954 knew that Kent Peterson would be where he always was, in the wee hours of the morning, on that porch of his waiting for him to walk through the front gate to paint, and Shannon could no longer withstand, the moment and had simply come to that point that no longer could both breathe the same air in the same farmyard, in the same county, and same state, on the same day, and what he said pushed him over the forbidden line, the red line. And so lacking patience, and perseverance, to subdue his pride, to withstand his nagging, his persistence, he fell back on that right to defend it, the way he did in the war, the Great War, the one he earned a medal for killing his enemy, with his rifle, bayoneted, like Kent Peterson was to him now—the enemy. But the war was of course over—so he had claimed.
It began in the fall of 1953, or a year prior. Oh maybe not, perhaps it started in the summer of 1951, or even sooner, but it shaped itself into a hullabaloo between the two, when he was ordered to paint his house and barn, paint for fifteen days. It all stemmed from arrogance, intolerance and pride, and then destruction. It all started when they started to breathe the same Midwestern air, day after day after day, because he, Shannon O’Day, was not a contentious man, not like Kent, but he was defending his wimple rights, in the only way he knew how. So perhaps Kent made his own fate, destiny when he finally impinged on Shannon’s, if indeed he, or we can say that is what he did, provoking Shannon. This was all after Shannon’s wife left him, and Shannon had rented out a farm next to Kent Peterson, who was rich enough to have several Negro workers on his 400- acres of land. The problem was Gus, his brother was gone out of town, not around to help him out of this jam, he was down visiting Mabel’s parents in Fayetteville, North Carolina celebrating for a month their anniversary, their 35th anniversary.

(The Beginning) It was Shannon’s one and only horse. Not having much money, and trying to do what his brother did, that being: create a self-sufficient farm, an independent one, asking no favours of any man, paying his own way. He—the horse (called: Dan), had strayed off in fall, into the skeleton cornfields next to his farm, and there he was over by Kent Peterson’s place, and Shannon couldn’t feed him so he left him there; and lived the whole winter without him, let Old Man Peterson feed him, knowing he was feeding him. So Peterson fed the horse, knowing it was Shannon’s, the rest of fall, and through the winter—a long hard cold winter at that, and when spring came, Shannon went to get his barren horse, worthless horse, his twenty-dollar horse, but he was fat and healthy now.

(The Deal) According to Mr. Kent Peterson’s calculations, and the sheriff from Dakota Country, Sheriff Terry Fauna, who had asked a few other farmers what the horse was worth now, and they all agreed it was valued at $140-dollars, not the $20-dollars Shannon had paid, now that it was fed and exercised, and groomed. Thus, this was the price tag for Shannon to acquire his horse back, according to law.
Yes indeed, all this trouble over a twenty-dollar horse, that now would cost him $140-dollars because he wanted to fool or should I say trick, Mr. Peterson into feeding him, for a short fall—which ended up being—that and a long winter to boot.
“All right!” Shannon had said to Kent Peterson, to the sheriff, “I’ll work the fifteen days to get my horse back, peacefully, if that’s what all you folks want, and if that is what it takes, I guess I’ll have to do it, I went through the Great War, I can do this standing on my hands, I can withstand you all, likewise.”
And he, Shannon felt forlorn and defenceless he wished his brother Gus was back from down south, he could straighten things out, but he wasn’t.
‘If Gus was back,’ he thought, ‘he would have settled this issue with the horse, he knows the sheriff and Mr. Peterson,’ but he was too impatient. And so he agreed to work for Mr. Peterson the fifteen days, to get his horse back, lest he lose both the goat and the rope.

Shannon worked for Kent, on his farm, painted his house a two-story frame building, then his barn, all 440-square feet of it (and in-between painting he fed the pigs, milked the cows, brought the hay down from the hayloft: day, after day, after day. He had fifteen days to work off (nine days being spent on the house), and as he shifted from the house to the barn working from sunup to sundown, he watched the young men and girls from the city driving by drinking in their cars, and he’d stop painting the barn just to watch them: the couples, old people, children, dogs and cats they had inside their cars. The barn faced the highway, the cars all moving in two directions. He could even hear their radios on, playing music—loud music inside those passing cars. He followed each car with his eyes, with his night lantern to break the boredom of painting.

(The Barn) On the tenth day, he was still working on the barn, the day shifting to night, to dusk, he could hear the freight trains pass, which did almost at anytime throughout the evening, let alone the other passenger trains. So just by spending the evenings in this small barn, this barn of 440-square feet with only a little movement, he would hear maybe three or more trains before he’d quit work.
When his days and evenings were finished he’d walk past the old man, Kent on his way home, a two mile walk to his farm, as the old man sat in his dim rocking chair on his porch in the cool of the dark evening, an electric light on by his screened-in-door behind him to his right side, that led into the kitchen, where the bugs seemed to gather peacefully, with no restraints, worries or insecticide: no need to escape the death hand of fate, and Kent often wanting to talk to Shannon, for whatever reasons, but he never stopped long enough for the old man to get a syllable out, just kept right on walking, just like those bugs behind him, so he treated the old man, as if he wasn’t even there.

(Trains) By the time he got back to his farm, he grabbed a jug of whiskey out from under his kitchen cabinet, walked a mile to the train tracks, sat on the edge of an embankment, waited and watched for the trains to come and go, those coming from Chicago, to St. Paul, a few stopping in Stillwater Township first, about twelve miles away. The train itself, he liked to hear the four whistle blasts for a crossing, the headlights, the nosy engine, see the shadows of the engineer, and conductor, and fireman, and watch the slowing down of the coaches, the people in the late dining room car. The black waiters going back and forth with food for the rich: then the back lights of the train were gone as fast as they had appeared in a clap of an eye.
Between the long days of working for Peterson, and his hours of drinking after twilight, he became a fleshless, sleepless, foodless near mindless, empty man, a shell of a man, all over that twenty-dollar horse, that now was worth seven times that amount because he wanted to fool Mr. Peterson, in feeding him, for a short fall and long winter, because he couldn’t afford to do it. But Mr. Peterson, the old man, had fooled him, and fed him knowing quite well if he did, he’d get fifteen days of work out of Shannon.

(Frozen Anger) It was as if Shannon wanted to get mad, or madder each day he worked, and anger grew as often anger does when there is no release, when one doesn’t talk about the hurt under the anger, but he didn’t want to cause trouble, he knew he owed Mr. Peterson, and was determined to pay him back, even if he had to drain every ounce of blood out of himself. And he knew inside of his cup of anger, if it overflowed its rim, Kent’s life was at risk, and thus, it mustn’t reach that stage.

Day Fifteen

When he woke up, it was tomorrow morning, day fifteen.

(Rest of the Ending) It was 5:00 a.m., when Shannon got down to Kent Peterson’s farm a two mile hike from his, he was disturbed, as old man Peterson did notice, and Shannon being indifferent, he didn’t much care, said quietly, eating a biscuit, eating it steadily, standing on his porch, Shannon didn’t even notice him on his porch as he walked by, until he said,
“Looks like you had a hard night drinking,” never thinking he didn’t have time to plough and hoe, and get his ground ready for planting, on his farm, that perhaps that was on his mind as well, nor did he have a dinner, or breakfast, and his usual coffee, as the old man usually had simply slept away his afternoons.

(Shannon had taken from his army gear, the dull and rusty bayonet the one he had used in the army in the Great War, to scrape the old paint off the last wall of the barn and finished this last and fifteenth day of his penance, and bring home his horse; the bayonet almost as long as his forearm.)

“Now what?” asked Shannon, to the old man?

“You, you look like a zombie,” remarked the old man.
“I’m burnt out old man, shut you mouth and let me work my last day out.”
He then went over to the hedgerows and patches of woods to take a leak— concealed and undetected. But the old man followed him, was right behind him,
“You owe me one more day’s work Shannon, for feeding that horse of yours for the last fifteen-days,” still chewing on that biscuit.
Inflexible, was the old man, silent was Shannon, as he did his duty, and he thought: ‘Maybe if he worked today, and tomorrow that tomorrow wouldn’t be the last day either. Maybe there would never be a last day, period!’
He put his hand under his coat, his fingers around the handle of the bayonet, pulled it out slowly, his fingers already tightening and taking up the slack around the handle, ‘I’ll never satisfy him,’ he told himself, whispered out loud a second time, without thinking, and between the scream and the bayonet and its impact of the thrust for him to say to Kent, and for Kent to have reasoned with it: ‘I’m not killing you because of the fifteen days of work, that’s okay, I done reasoned that out, and not because you’re rich and have no limits, and sleep all afternoon in that hammock of yours, but because of that one additional day you added on.”

The case of Shannon O’Day never did reach the courts, it was said, (some years after the incident of Mr. Kent Peterson) someone paid the judge to dismiss it, and a check in the mail came from down south, for $10,000-dollars, delivered personally to the Judge Finley. And an eye witness showed up at the district attorney’s office, said, there was another man hiding in the woods, which had it in for old man Peterson, an old worker, and grabbed Shannon’s bayonet, and did him in. When Shannon was asked if he killed Peterson at the inquest, or not, he answered, “I rightly don’t know, I hadn’t had any sleep for days, or food, and when I woke up, I had a nightmare that I did, and the police was hauling me down to jail.”
Then the judge said, “We don’t put people in penitentiaries for nightmares, in this country of ours; inefficient evidence, case dismissed!”

Written 5-25 and 26, of May, 2009/ No: 406 xx
A Chapter story out of the MS “Not One Hooting Owl Left”

Chapter Two
Closed Out!
(Shannon O’Day, 1956-57)

When Gus O’Day and his wife had returned home, from Fayetteville, North Carolina, he heard about Shannon’s run in with the law, not to mention his reckless try at farming had ended, but “Thank God for that,” he told his friend Ronald Short, the county attorney.
Why in fact, Mr. Short was initially confused on the Kent Peterson murder he didn’t let it out, but the sheriff of Dakota Country, Sheriff Terry Fauna, never pursued the murderer, for his known inquisitive nature, he simply just let it go, again both Gus and Short were puzzled. It appeared it never needed the law to close out the case; it just did on its own, as if someone pulled the blinds down. Now instead of Shannon hanging out with Gus, because of his browbeating over wanting to know the details of the killing, what wasn’t brought out in court, wanting to know, what he didn’t know, or pretended he didn’t know, but he should have known, if indeed he did kill Kent, and he did of course kill Kent, but hanging out with Gus might bring things to light, and Shannon was alright with the results of the Court, so he started hanging out at Dickey’s Diner, he ate there before, he just didn’t hang out there, and now he was hanging out there, got to know Old Josh the cook quite well, and a few waitresses, and some young guy blind who played Ricky Nelson songs, and some little black lad who came in and tap-danced, called Zam Zam.
It was a Friday night, Shannon, he had left the Diner, leaned half one side of his body from head to toe, against the lamppost looking at the empty lots about, you would have thought he could of held his staring indefinitely. Then he stumbled on back to his apartment on Wabasha Street, by the World Theater, where he could do no harm to his-self or anyone else—to include innocent bystanders or perhaps all three.

This is when he changed course in his life, which was simply unavoidable—to be—a hazard if he hadn’t. He drank in Gus’ neighbor’s cornfields now, Mr. Orville Stanley (who had retired from the railroad, and had this hobby farm with his wife) Alice Stanley, their daughter, Nadine, and her daughter, Dana.
He knew them as well as anyone else knew them. So of 1956, he asks them without any troublesome interruption, if they wouldn’t mind him drinking among their corn stocks. And as time passed that summer, he’d drop a pint of moonshine whiskey into the old man’s mailbox and when they met and talked, he’d drop a pint into his hind pockets.
So now no one need bother to question Shannon over the murder and he didn’t get that browbeating from his brother, and the way he figured it: out of sight out of mind, or perhaps, what you don’t know, can’t hurt you, or possible, the concept of blood-kin being thicker than water, would not be tested under fire, as Mark Twain would have put it. And that was that, and that was all right with Shannon O’Day.
But it wasn’t the way Gus and that Country Attorney saw things, Mr. Ronald Short; and Gus was not to be as persistent as Mr. Short would be in the long run.
The next, Saturday, Mr. Short and the Sheriff Fauna, both friends, kind of friends, not bosom-buddies but lightly friends, had eaten at Dickey’s Diner, the sheriff believing, and telling Mr. Short in so many words: simple destiny was taking its expected course, and he shouldn’t get too reckless in taking advantage of destiny and poking his nose into the case anymore than he had already done, that Judge Finley, had made his decision, and he’d not take a likening should he take this to another level, other than curiosity.
Mr. Short knew, Finley had a short temper, and didn’t care to be questioned on his judgments, and in particular this matter of Shannon O’Day; and Finley had told his dear friend, Sheriff Fauna, not to let Short, get one whiff or light flash of the real picture.
Ronald Short did start to meddle into what Judge Finley thought was his business. Short feeling he wasn’t doing Finely no harm in the process but he was telling the Sheriff about his new investigation into the murder, and forgot that the Sheriff was a dear friend of Finley’s, more so than his.
“No,” he said to Fauna, “what baffles me is Henry Sears, the witness, the very one who saw some stranger kill Kent Peterson then runs deep into woods. And then after the court hearing, he up and leaves the state. I think Shannon had some money hidden, and paid Sears to lie?”

Judge Finley said to Sheriff Fauna, that following Monday morning, in the Dakota County Court hallway, “What in creation kind of County Attorney do we have here, a detective? Ask him if he has a license to snoop beyond the courthouse!”
So for that moment his trust and assurance in Ronald Short shined unsteadily, you could say. For that trying moment he told the sheriff, “Mr. Short could be the victim of pure circumstance, compounded…jest like any one else; if that darn boy don’t believe the old picture show, that he might slip in some alley, or be subject to some outrageous misfortune and coincidence that befall Mr. Peterson, and then we all can rest in peace. Matter-of-fact, if he says anything more about being a detective, burn his britches, and if that don’t work, well, the alley will do.”
Short still never had one second’s doubt that it had been Shannon who paid someone to lie for him, with the clear and simple color of money. But Shannon never had a nickel to his name at this time.
So all Ronald Short needed to do was find out where the money came from, or where the witness was, or work with Gus on Shannon’s guilt, and consciousness, realization to the killing. Anyone, either one would work. And this is exactly what he was determined to do, to pursue, and if need be, persuade, and he was not discreet, having the sheriff provide spies for him, thinking the sheriff was one of his respectable spies himself, with pride in his profession to catch the real killer, instead of chasing shadows, since any little child who could read the court files would have said, ‘hogwash’ to them, and would have known something was fixed.

In plain sight of half the city of St. Paul, evidently going home from the late picture show, nobody could locate Judge Finley to tell him about it. Anyhow, Ronald Short, had found somebody, someone he felt he could squeeze information out of, who called him, and said they had information he was seeking, and Short met this man, in an alley by the Diner, but there was someone behind hidden doors.
He never had anymore sense then to believe the sheriff was on his side, and he could tangle with the old Judge, and walk away as if nothing happened. Not to mention to try and question the witness, and assure him of no ill feelings, and he’d keep it a secret of his identity, but secrets are not secrets when two people know them, they are agreements.
Inside the Baptist church that Sunday morning, Short’s wife had the funeral, and of course Judge Finley and Sheriff Fauna were present, but not Shannon O’Day, nor his brother. They both even brought roses for his wife to lie at the coffin.

That was a lot of money, $10,000-dollars back in 1956. It could have paid for two small houses on the North End of St. Paul, matter of fact it did buy one, for the judge. And as far as the judge and the sheriff were concerned, the investigation was closed out. Forevermore; off the register.

Written 5-27-2009 xx No: 407

Chapter Three

The Judge’s Visit
‘Closed Out’ (1957)

Old Judge Finley told Gus in front of Sheriff Fauna, both visiting at Gus farm houe “Ronald Short could have become rich as a top attorney in Dakota County, provided he just didn’t die beforehand,” sitting in his kitchen on a white polished wooden chair one Sunday afternoon in 1957. The Sheriff chewing tobacco and the judge chewing a stick of gum, the judge looking about watching his wife bend over doing her chores.
“Life,” he said, “Your brother could have gotten life in prison” (thinking it was Gus who had sent him the $10,000-dollars from down south when he was visiting his wife’s kin, when it really was Otis Wilder Mather).
The judge and the sheriff were hungry for more money.
“How long has it been?” asked the Judge, “1954, wasn’t it?” said the Judge, as Gus was looking out the kitchen window at his cornfields.
Finley figured Gus was the only O’Day with that amount of money, or perhaps he borrowed it from his kin folks down in North Carolina, his wife’s parents, and he had influence to help Shannon. But as much as Shannon had hoped Gus would save the day, he never did. From 1954 to now, 1957, it’s been three years and we could open the case up again, implied the old the judge.
“Why would you do that?” asked Gus.
“What do you want me to do?” Asked Finley.
Gus didn’t know what to say.
“Okay,” Finley said, “what do I get if I don’t?”
Gus sat there a while leaning against the wall near laughing, thinking it was a joke. Then Finley, he told him: “I’ll take the same as before, $10,000-dollars. If that’s too high, I can take $5000-dollars in cash and the other in trade,” and looked at his wife “on an installment plan.”
The Sheriff sat there in a shadow, and just chewed his tobacco.
“Even if I had it, I’d not pay; the best you can do is getting him sentenced, and get twenty years yourself for blackmailing me.”
“Stop smirking around the bargains,” said the judge, “you’re the one who sent me the money right?”
“If I had ten-grand, I could have hired ten killers to kill you, not pay you nine times more than what it’s worth,” said Gus.
He didn’t even quite chewing his gum, “Then who?” said the judge.
“Well, well,” said Gus, Shannon really did kill that Mr. Peterson after all.”
“Let’s not haggle,” said the sheriff, “I know who it was!”
This time Finley stopped chewing long enough to listen.
“Who?” asked the judge?
“Who’s got $10,000-dollars to spare and give away to save a worthless drunk?” he remarked.
“Who?” repeated the judge?
“That there nigger friend of his, Otis Wilder…forgot his last name, but you kicked him out of the city once, and told him never to come back for burning my cornfields, will he’s too rich to kick out a second time.” And they all started laughing and passing along a jug of homemade wine.

No: 408/ 5-25-2009

The Sissy Lindbergh Affair (a Shannon O'Day Short Story)

The Sissy Lindbergh Affair
(A Shannon O’Day Short Story)(1952-‘82) Independent Story

Alon Or, came to St. Paul, from Jerusalem many years ago. He was old even then, it seemed too many folks who knew him, and he was always old, and he lived to be 101-years old, total. But he was young at heart, spry as a young sparrow with new wings. And he married at the ripe old age of seventy-two, and that was in 1952, had a child, a girl, with a women less than half his age, twenty-two years old. And as we all thought back then, he’s got to be rich, and his wife put all his possessions and property—not sure how much that was, into her name thinking he’d soon die, and she’d inherit it all—that’s how we all thought anyhow, but it wasn’t quite true to the bone marrow, I mean we never really knew if he was rich, and if she did what I just said we heard she did, I mean, it was hearsay. But even before all this, we in the local bars that Shannon O’Day and his brother Gus hung out at, the Conley Island Bar, on St. Peter Street, to be exact, we all know Sissy Lindbergh, she had lived up the block from a few of the fellows in the bar, over in the section of town called The North End, on Granite Street. And those of us who were fathers and grandfathers who had bred children grown up, and had a little in the bank, and land that was paid for, and a car, she could be a ruthless young woman, one our wives wanted us to avoid at all cost, she was after a gold mine for myself, and for those I hung around with we were young fathers getting old but not well off (from tales told about her, she didn’t care if they were white or black or fat or thin, or old, she avoided the young good looking boys, she said they only had one thing to offer, and that one thing, everybody had, and we laughed about that. But again I must say, nobody in the bar ever dated her, so again it was all hearsay and could have even been a play of hers to make us think so, that she was promiscuous—who’s to say?”.
But out of respect for Judge Finley, Sissy being his niece, by way of his sister, and out of consideration for his long, long arm—in stretching the law anywhichway he wanted to, we treated her with kindness, and actually that is how she got her job at the bar, it is as always, who you know. So when Alon Or, showed up one day, one fall, chilly day, we believed it was just an old timer coming in for a drink, and he’d leave, that his life was worn out, he looked it—and we didn’t think he’d take a liking for Sissy an underbred brat, but they hit it off the first night, like white on rice. We were all surprised, no—not quite surprised, maybe dumfounded, yes, we were dumfounded, and in eighteen months, she was found dead, with a life insurance policy of $20,000 dollars, and he had went back to Israel, Jerusalem, apparently dragging that money with him to buy a new café or synagogue or whatever. There was none of us, who felt sorry, or who was sorry, because of the short lived marriage, but the death bothered us, and old Judge Finley was in an unpardonable outrage over it all. I mean, on the day she died it was said—not said, but learned, and then said, among all of us, she actually was crazed over that old man, that hate ridden old man who never smiled but when she poked him in the ribs, buried her faster than an eagle can fly across those cornfields of Gus’. On the day after she died, it was learned also he had already bought his train ticket, and boat ticket back to his home country. It also was leaned—without surprise, learned beyond the Sissy’s grave, the final blow you might say, learned he was already married to some woman in a city called Tiberias, near the Sea of Galilee. I mean, whoever heard of a city called Tiberias, no one in Minnesota, I mean Jerusalem, was—seemingly was, nearly was, another planet to us, and Tiberias was speaking Greek to us. Anyway, how she died no one knew for certain, they said she got a tumor in her brain so we couldn’t blame him for her death, but taking that little girl over to that country, we thought was another planet, was unforgivable. And the judge hired a mediator to deal with the legal part of it, making a formal demand he return the child to its rightful heritage, being an American. And this went on for years, the old man lived to be 101-years old, so you can guess how old the child was when he died, in that city called Tiberias, he died in the early 1980s, and she was in her late twenties.
But back in 1955, doubtless the request had been thrown into the wastebasket, and forgotten by all concerned outside of the United States of America. But Sissy’s grandmother remained intact, in contact that is, with Alon and her granddaughter. It was learned through her that he was—until his death, a good father, and he had no real plan to do what he did—(that his daughter was his only daughter, his wife couldn’t have children) but did it all the same, he was just a cold fish coming into town—he made no defense, refused no request by Sissy’s mother, and the child got to know the grandmother with a kind of a free flow of letters back and froth across the Atlantic, and a phone call every Christmas. And so we said among ourselves, when Alicia, showed up one day at the Conley Island Bar, with her grandmother, we said with only a glance, and taking it to be true, without a word said—watching Alicia move slowly like her father, and those cat like eyes of Sissy’s, “Here comes the fun again Miss Sissy’s back…” and we all yelled and hollered and jumped up and kissed her, and hugged her almost to death, almost breaking those sweet little bones of hers: but now we were as old as Alon was when he had first walked through those doors, and Sissy was so sweet and tender in years like her mother was when she had worked here, and we were all hoping, no not hoping, more like wishing, we were young again and she was like her mother, because now we had that paid for car, and house and money in the bank, but who knows, she’d probably not like that same arrangement her mother liked, and to be frank, we never knew what her mother was really like.

No: 664 (Written: 8-6-2010)

Tick on a Clock (A Shannon O'Day Short Episodic Novel)

The Synergy Group Recommended Reading (April 2010) pertaining to topics on Behavioral and
Emotional Health, the book: The Path to Sobriety…” by Dr. Dennis L. Siluk

Tick on a Clock
An Episodic Novel, taken from the Shannon O’Day, Independent Sketches

A Short Novelette of Eight Short Stories
Volume IV
Dennis L. Siluk, Ed.D.
Andean Scholar and Three-Time Poet Laureate

Parts in English, Spanish, Illustrated

Table of Contents

1—Almost Light
((A Shannon O’Day/Otis Wilde Mather story) (1953))
No: 663 ((8-6-210) (Part two to, “Cornfield Burner”))

2—Otis Wilder Mather’s Revenge
1955 (or, the Rick Nigger of Minnesota) Written 5-25-2009 /No: 405 xx

3— Yesterday
((1956) (Let the Dead bury the Dead)) No: 449/written: 8-5-2009...

4—the Farm
1957(The Death of Gus O’Day) the missing chapter to the Novel “Cornfield Laughter”
Written 5-1-2009 (VH)

5—the Pawnshop
((1959) (Recollections of His Shannon’s Mother and Father—1910))
Written 2-28-2009 •• No: 409 (revised and reedited, 8-2009)

6—Day of the Dead Horses
((1964) (Recollections of WWI, and the Dead Horses—1916-1919))

No: 412 (6-9-2009); Reedited and revised slightly, 7-10-2010.

7—the Half Tramp
1969 ((First marriage: 1922 to Sally-Anne; and the big win—Otis Wilde Mather))

Written: 5-12-1009∙

8—the Bluff
(1946, second Marriage, to Margaret-Rose)

“The Bluff,” a chapter story taken out of the Manuscript:
“The Half Tramp” written 5-12-2009

9—Otis & Galloping Horses
(1977, Otis’ dilemma) a two part story

No: 660 (8-4-2010) Written: as a pre-story to “The Black Sedan”
Leading up to Otis demise “Galloping Horses,” No: 661/8-5-2010

10—The Black Sedan
((or “The Unlawful Death Case of Otis Wilde Mather) (1981-82))

The Three stories that comprise: “The Black Sedan” area as follows: “Countryside Boxer,”
written 11-16-2009/No: 516 (in Huancayo, Peru); “The Black Sedan” written 01-17-2009, in Lima, Peru, No: 517;
and “The Corncob Pipe,” written 1-18-2009, No: 518, also written in Lima, Peru

(This is an episodic novel, taken from the Shannon O’Day, independent sketches).

Almost Light
((A Shannon O’Day/Otis Wilde Mather story) (1953))

“Does a dog dream?” No, better yet, does a wolf dream? And if so what’s he dream about?” asked Shannon O’Day, to his pal Otis, laying in his brother’s cornfields in the still of the night, in —(1953).
“I knows a dog sleep with one eye open sometime,” said Otis, “and I done saw him spooked in his sleep, so I reckon he dreams some.” Otis knew Shannon wasn’t really talking about a dog—or referring to a wolf, not really, not genuinely, nor was he just talking to talk, he wasn’t a talker per se, not a loose talker anyhow.
“I like seeing Gus and Mabel sitting in their lounge chairs out there in their front yard, watching the fireflies, and swatting the mosquitoes, listening to the stray hounds in the far-off distance—running in the wild. I like hearing the frogs at night, and the noisy owls.” He said.
He knew, Otis knew he wasn’t talking about nature per se, he saw the whites in his eyes—with the light from the gas lantern, that told him something. He looked carefully, stopped all his movements to listen to Otis. He looked through the corn stocks, towards the cozy small porch attached to Gus’ farm house, it was empty, and evidently Gus and Mabel had gone to bed.
“Aint nobody around over there by your brother’s porch I see, except some mice I expect, I reckon they all went to bed,” said Otis, parroting Shannon, unsure why he was, as if reassuring Shannon that that is what he saw also, what he deciphered from the scene. “I don’t know for sure, but that’s what it sure looks like, I reckon.”
It was as if—as if though Shannon wanted to say something, as if he was waiting for the right moment, to say something to remind Otis of something else. And on the other hand, Otis was waiting for Shannon to explain what he was trying to say, by not saying it, or what he meant by not saying what he was waiting to say.
By sunrise, both woke up to see Mrs. Stanley (Alice Stanley, Gus’ neighbor), looking out the window as often she did. All night Shannon woke up at strange hours, intervals to see how things were, drawing his concentric looks at Otis, and the farm house, as if expecting something, something anytime that might befall the tranquil evening stars.

All that day—they drank in the cornfields (as they had drunken all that previous day, and half the day before), it was the third day that is, and they often spent two to three days in a drunken spree. When noon came on that third day they walked down to the country store, a café and store molded together, with just an entrance between each other, and one gas pump outside in front of the store, and bought a loaf of bread and a half pound of cheese, sliced and two quarters of Windsor Whiskey, and went back to the spot they had been drinking to watch the birds drop down into the stalks of corn and disappear with the crows, a few sluggishly walked the ground got lost and ended up at Shannon and Otis’ little corner of the field, and flapping their wings desperately to avoid direct contact, zoomed to a higher level, to perch on top of the stacks of corn and observe from a distance, drying out the inner parts of their wings as if yawning.
They made their sandwiches and ate; Otis looked at Shannon, and watched, realizing Shannon was tugging at some thoughts, something silent, darkness behind that something silent. Otis waited a moment before he asked, “What is it? (Curious on what that something was)”

Shannon now had expected Otis to ask, so he whirled himself upward from a lying position, as Otis moved forward to listen; overhead the crow and a sparrow, and another funny looking bird, like a redheaded Mohawk, perched gazing downward as if to write—like a scribe, the details of the confrontation, the day was getting hotter and brighter, Stanley’s window was empty.
“I was worried last night Mabel might come out drunk looking for you to rekindle a candle, for old time sake,” said Shannon suddenly.
Otis dropped his sandwich abruptly, a tear came to his eye, he turned his face—his teeth shinned, he could feel the hurt, surge inside of Shannon for his betrayal, taking advantage of his sister-in-law, some—nearly some three years prior. Thus, he got up, kicked the dirt—again he kicked it, “It’s easy to forgive, but hard to forget,” said Shannon.
Evidently there was a level of trust lost, and that needed to be worked on, still worked on after three years, or the relationship, buried—once and of all, so life could go on for all involved. Otis didn’t say a word, just a “Yep.” And evidently that meant, it was worth working on.

Otis Wilder Mather’s Revenge

(or, the Rick Nigger of Minnesota)

Otis Wilder Mather, had taken the $500-dollars Shannon O’Day had given him, back in the early 40s, invested it in Ozark. Alabama’s livestock and fish stores, and became rich, obliged to no man. Not that he didn’t owe a much obliged to someone. This was years later of course, Many a hard and wet and snowy and grey winter had come and gone in Minnesota, left between his visits to see Shannon O’Day, his truly one and only friend up in Minnesota. He even drove his brand new 1955 Ford sports car, Thunderbird; and owned his own meat market on Jackson Street and two more in Ozark, and one in Shanty Town, seven miles outside of Ozark, and of course those fish stores.
He no longer wore patched cotton overalls, rather tailored ones. They called him in Minnesota, ‘The rich nigger from Ozark.’
He’d walk the snowy streets in grey misty afternoons, passing over the Wabasha Bridge, looking down onto the Mississippi River, saying out loud to the Lord, “Eyes in a hurry Lord, cuz black folk dont even have a barn to live in nowadays, against the cold weather up yonder here (remembering those far-off days he had slept down inside the old Civil War sewer system, with dripping water from the perforated swollen wooden beams over head)” and folks saw he had very warm boots with fur on them, and a long coat, with fur on the lapels, and he’d hear them badmouthing him under their breaths, cussing him as he walked by, saying ‘nigger go home’ in the stormy winters, breathing in the cold mist, like them. They said these things, not because he was rich, because James Hill, who owned a railroad and lived on Summit Hill nearby, was rich, but because he was a negro, for his black skin being inside those warm garments, warmer than theirs, and their skin was white, and because Otis Wilder Mather was more devoted to work, and beef and cattle, and cows and calves and butcher shops than to humans—and those fish shops, even though he took care of his family well. They couldn’t believe a black man could obtain such wealth, cursing the fact that he did; his reprisal to the white race, his revenge, that hard boiled end of the stick, in every man’s soul that wants to slay the dragon, say back to those who belittled them at one time, say something that can’t be said in words, lest they hang you for it, but nonetheless be said in silent words, that should they try, they’d be tarred and feathered by their own doing, and their own kind: this is called getting even the only way, the best way, the one way he could get even, it was by success.
But he learned something from his one time accuser of wrong, Gus O’Day, that in slow incriminations over a long period of time, converted into wealth, that something’s were somewhat controllable and somewhat predictable, one being the love the white race had for beef. In addition to that, the love human males had for the cow, its milk and beef and the long subsequent years of their gestation of his products—and his personal love for those fish stores. This success was the only justice available to him for the wrongs man had done him in Minnesota, when they tired to convict him in 1950 for the burning of Gus O’Day’s cornfields, when it remained a mystery to the truth.
That was it. Prolongation—never stopping or hoping never giving in, hope no longer was deferred, he saw it in the white man’s eyes, ‘outrage!’ now the blow fell upon those who cursed and cussed him. The one who gave him the five-hundred dollars, he had dreamed when given that money, dreamt the imaginary purchase of a cow, and here he bought twelve-cows, and fed them a winter, then sold them plump, and for twice as much, and bought twenty-four cows and fed them another winter, for near fifteen years he did that, now he owned four meat markets, in Ozark, St. Paul, and Shanty Town, a few miles outside of Ozark, where the poor black folk lived—and a number of those small fish stores.


Gus O’Day had not always been a Minnesota corn farmer. But the time when he had not been, his neighbors, or even his brother Shannon could not remember, it was more than forty-five years ago, and it was such a short period of time in his life that only the old men at the County Old Folks Farm could recall it, and to be quite honest, in 1956 (several months before he’d die of a heart attack), it was hard for them to even recall it, and most of them did not, because in that time he was not yet even twenty-years old.
He was a young man then, working at a pawnshop (His Uncle Hawk Gordon O’Day owned it, down on Wabasha Street by the Lyceum Movie Theatre, across the street from the World Theatre. Hawk Gordon was a man of a small figure, with red hair, always having greasy looking hands and shirt and face, wiping his hands constantly onto the back of his trousers—), he worked there at his mother’s request and done so voluntarily when asked, he even tried to persuade his mother (Ella Teresa Cotton O’Day) to let him do it alone, which she refused because after his father departed (dropped them off there one day), left them to do, whatever they had to do to survive, he knew this part of his life—with his younger brother but ten-years old—was a mere formally, and a fragment in the span of a life time.
So Gus did what he felt he had to do back in those early days of his life. Years after (after the death of his mother, and his marriage to Mabel Foote, and taking in his younger brother, and buying his farm), years after that, he still said it was the only thing he could have done, or do; that is, to put up with the situation, and the drunkenness of his uncle in which he was convinced his uncle was taking advantage of his mother, of which she insisted he remain neutral, because he provided a backroom for them to live in, some food—, of which he called it room and board.
Actually he did not overlook it, several months after his mother had passed on—that following winter, having saved enough money in the past two years for a down payment on a small farm, he bought it, and left that part of St. Paul, and moved twenty-miles outside of the city in what was then a remote section of the outskirts. He left his uncle with a taste of his fists, the night he left, and just like they had appeared one night from nowhere, he left the whiskey soaked uncle, the sole owner—promptly, and dignified, with a bill of sale for the farm in his pants pocket and his name signed to it.

The following morning, Gus woke Shannon and Mabel up, sat in the kitchen, at their square wooden table, and Gus handed them a butcher’s knife, and said, “I killed Uncle Hawk Gordon, five hours ago.”
Mabel half awake, who had been sitting drinking coffee at the square wooden table first, before Gus arrived, perhaps had been sitting there for those hours Gus had been missing from the bedroom, who’s to say, looked at the nine-inch knife, looked it over, as Gus had swayed—unnoticeable swayed it to and fro: she looked at that knife in his hands with a flat affect, “Let’s not jump to conclusions it appears no one took you into consideration yet.” And with the morning paper to prove it, she looked high and low, page after page, turned on the radio, station to station, end to end, not a word of the murder or the murderer, and with that she calmed her husband down, claiming the wrong he did was so far undetected on his part, and perhaps better left alone—until it smelled like fish in Denmark.
I can remember the odd and surprised look that Shannon had on his face. I grabbed the evidence, and it did not take but ten-minutes to dispose of it into the forty-foot well outside near the creek.
“We are farmers now,” Mabel said, “not storekeepers anymore.” And it would have seemed to an onlooker she had become unshakable to the incident. Gus’ voice was near silent, almost numb, she added, “There’s not going to be any court-trial over that guy, that redheaded whiskey drinking pervert, that rummy!” She insisted.
Only those words were harsher than the words she’d use in 1956. But even then, she’d confess, he got what he deserved. That the justice system would not consider the torment he caused his fellow man, and Gus’ mother, you’d have to be rich, or famous, or know someone—someone who could understand, and empathize, and someone who could do something about such a person, and there was no one out there like that, not even Judge Finley would have protected Gus.
“We all know in this country,” she said back then, “we all know from birth to death that justice—if you want to call it that, demands the culprit be given his rights over the victim, and it is seldom the everlasting price, mentally if not physically—or ever would be considered by the injustice system presently in place.” And as far as she could see, Uncle Hawk had only his own life to pay for the life he tormented, thus, his death, spares those who would have come before him, had he not died.

“I had felt at the time I had to take Uncle Hawk Gordon’s life from him in order to stop him from using people the way he used us!” said Gus. “I didn’t know back then it would follow me to my grave. And that is what I am talking about—somewhat talking about, not about a dead man per se, that died forty-years ago, or his character per se, nor his morality or the sexual acts he made my mother perform, that I saw from the keyhole, but that she was defenseless and he justified it in forcing the issue with our survival, and basing it on her performance. Of course, he never knew this; he slept sound with his bottle of whiskey in his hands each night, as he did when I killed him. Perhaps he’ll carry that bottle to his grave, if only I could put it there.”
“Yes,” said Mabel, “I’ve tried to tell you this for years, she, your mother had no choice in the matter that she was just trying to do the best she could do, with what she had at the time, under the trying circumstances she found herself in. And your instincts and beliefs made his death inevitable, and caused no one any misery, and perhaps better for humanity’s sake.”

Gus had been sitting at the same kitchen table, in the same room he had sat in forty-years ago, where his brother Shannon had sat as a boy…took in that deep breath of disbelief, and everything was so quiet you could only hear the clock ticking on the wall, that seemed to go throughout the room, as if in a bell tower.
“Well Gus,” said his wife, “at least after forty-some years you’ve stopped talking about it, and now at sixty-six it surfaces.”
“That’s right,” Gus said, then corrected himself, “I thought about it everyday of my life, every time I looked at that wall, I even replaced the clock so I’d not have to hear the same ticking.”
His eyes no longer bright, his face thin, his hair starting to whiten, his heart weakened, “Come here,” said Mabel. “I want you over here for a moment. Ask your brother to come over, you’re feeling way down, over that perverted uncle of yours. Shannon seems to perk you up!”

They were outside now, standing on the wooden stairs, Gus stepped halfway down, his hand on his wife’s shoulder to keep his balance, his eyes half shut too weak to keep them open any wider.
“Justice was accomplished for once, if you can’t bear looking at it that way, don’t look at it at all,” Mabel said.
“Yes,” said Gus.
“Then what do you want?” or expect?”
“I can’t help it,” Gus said, and he couldn’t. Yet for him it was like it happened yesterday, not forty-years ago. Then he heard a voice, it was Shannon’s, “Stop! Over hear!” (The voice said.) And Gus looked to the right hand side of him. He could hardly see Shannon. There he stood, bending over the railing, much older looking than he was, barefoot on his porch steps, with a haunting and fierce look on his face; his skin pale, like buttermilk; his hands shaking, as if having palsy of age.
“Come,” said Shannon “I got some homemade corn whisky, let’s sit in the cornfields and get drunk!”
“Yup!” he agreed “let’s get out of here and get off these porch steps, let’s go!” And they did.
His eyes were now eager, content and more than willing to let the dead bury the dead, at least until tomorrow, which today would be yesterday, after they finished that bottle of corn liquor.

The Farm 1957

“Yes, brother,” said Gus O’Day to his younger and only brother Shannon, “a man sees too much if he lives too long: a lot of fellows in a lot of situations.”
He was chewing the fat, chitchatting in a kindly tone with his brother on the porch steps of his farm, Gus’ wife, Mabel, sitting on a rocker on the open air porch. It was a cool evening, and Shannon had spent a good portion of it out in the cornfields drinking rum and whisky alone, as often he did.
“All this farm life gets to yaw, makes yaw tired I think, up the nose with rules and regulations, and if you don’t produce—brother, the government gives yaw money, and if you do, and they don’t want you to, because you might sell whatever you’re producing, and that is what they don’t want you to do—I mean, the government don’t want you to raise more crops to sell in the first place, therefore, you can’t sell them to anyone then, and you end up storing them in some bin— and they rot away or you eat them or the rat eats them, and of course it is too much for any two persons to eat; in any case, the government steps in to regulate the flow of food, so prices go up or down whenever the government sneezes, and if you don’t sneeze with them, you’re out of luck for that season, so you call them up and say: when you folks down there in D.C., going to sneeze, and how long is the sneeze going to last, you never say why! Because, then, they hang up on yaw and you got to call back and say your sorry, for asking why.”
“Don’t know how you put up with it, but I love your cornfields brother, I love the crows, and the smell of dirt and the yellowish-green in the cornstalks, and listening to the trains go by on those metal tracks, and even when the breaks screech, and one car bumps into another, I love it all,” commented Shannon.
“Yup!” said Gus, “we done made a bowl of soup out of ourselves on this here farm alright, now all we are, is recipes for the government, if they want stew with corn we plant corn. If they want stew with carrots, we plant carrots; if they want…oh you know what I mean, whatever their fancy is we do, and we’ve even learned to smile about it, and when drunk laugh about it—if you give them the chance they’ll squeeze blood out of a turnip, or put that last straw on the back of a camel that will break him to his knees. It’s not all for one or one for all, like in the good ole days, it’s dog eat dog days nowadays”
“Man doesn’t need a backbone anymore, brother,” said Shannon.
((Gus asks for a swig of Shannon’s bottle of whisky, and he hands it to him, and Mabel says, ‘Slow with it, remember your heart, you’re no spring chicken anymore, Shannon’s ten-years younger than you, so take it easy.”)(That was in the summer of 1957.))
“She likes to bug me,” said Gus to Shannon, “but as you were going to say brother?”
“Yup!” said Shannon, “a young man don’t need a backbone anymore, it’s us old critters that have them, I don’t know how big of a wrench it will take to loosen mine up, no need for it nowadays.”
“I reckon Shannon you’d be right lonesome out here just by yourself,” said Gus.
“I don’t rightly know what you mean by that, why you saying—what you saying?” asked Shannon, looking at his brother, then at Mabel.
“Your older brother Shannon,” said Mabel “Gus, he’s picked out his headstone already, matter-of-fact, the other day he picked it out, says he’s goin’ to need it real soon.”
Mabel lit the lantern, it was becoming dark, moved it over a bit by the two brothers sitting on the steps, shoulder to shoulder.
“Can’t see the steps,” said Gus, “my eyes don’t work much anymore, too many shadows in them, I move too slow, breath too hard, get tired too quick.”
“I need to get up,” said Gus to Shannon. Shannon nodded his head up and down, toward his chest, “Yes” he said, but it wasn’t that he needed to relieve himself; it was he needed to get more air into his lungs, his stomach. And he stood up, and held tight onto the railing.
“Nonsense,” said Mabel, “just sit on back down, the strain is too much fer yaw!”
“Honor, and pride and discipline,” Gus told Shannon, “that’s the recipe for a man, and to please God, and for maturity, you make a plan and count the cost and follow it through, like I did Shannon with this farm and taking you in at the age of ten, and like you did somehow in the Great War, you made it back.”
“I know all that Gus, and trouble is the best teacher, it always comes back to haunt yaw!”
“You know I got to go, got to leave yaw, couldn’t do it without seeing yaw one more time though…” Gus told Shannon in an almost whisper.
Shannon knew what he meant, it was Gus who had raised Shannon per near, he was always patient, calm, with him and figured if he ever wanted to know about God, his brother must had been a carbon copy of Him. He was a good model, and always kind of put himself in the background, he had a servant’s heart, but he could be difficult and at times prejudice. —Gus didn’t need to tell Shannon twice, he saw him holding his chest, leaning on that rail that extended from the first step to the third, the top one. Gus asked Shannon to stand up by him. Mabel had laid her head back, Shannon stood up, Gus leaned toward him. And here was two men kissing each other on the cheeks, each hugging the other showing outright love, without shame. He said his last words to Shannon, “It will be a long time from now to then.”
Mabel lifted up the lantern to see why Shannon O’Day was crying, a tall, lean, old man had stopped breathing.

The Pawnshop
Recollections of Shannon O’Day’s Father
(1959, as told by Shannon O’Day to Otis Wilde Mather)

Although I had been born at the time, I was only ten-years old when Gus my brother who was my senior—by that many years, was also old enough and big enough to remember it all, for it all to makes sense anyhow, him being nineteen-years old at the time. That is, it was Gus and Sally O’Day, my cousin, my father’s brother, Uncle Marty. They both—Sally and Gus were nineteen—nineteen years old at the time, both born the same year as one another, 1890. My mother, Ella Teresa Cotton O’Day, her sister Emma Betty Cotton O’Day, married my father’s brother. But Gus just called her Sally and dropped the cousin thing—he said it sounded too boneheaded, well, so did I when I got born and thereafter became ten-years old, and was old enough to reason it out. We all lived in the same city, St. Paul, at the time. However, I still hadn’t gotten old enough yet to fully digest it all, so this is what Gus knew and Sally knew until I got into my teens, and big enough for them to tell me about it, to where I could understand the complexity of it. And so when I say—we, I mean, all three of us, and the city of St. Paul to boot.
One day, one fall day, my father drove up an alley with Sally and Gus in the back seat, with some merchandise to sell at this here pawnshop, one his brother owned, my Uncle Hawk Gordon O’Day—sole proprietor, down on Wabasha Street by the Lyceum Movie Theatre, across the street from the World Theatre. Hawk Gordon I remember drove this big yellow Cadillac. He had kept the yellow beast for twenty-years.
Hawk Gordon was a man of a small figure, with red hair, always having greasy looking hands and shirt and face, wiping his hands constantly onto the back of his pants—Gus said he thought he was working on an old clock the day we arrived, a short kind of fellow, thin, and an unfriendly looking chap, with deep embedded eyes, in square ogle sockets, sunken deep into the pits of his tiny head, with a fat smashed-in nose, like a wino, with big pore holes in them, his hair sticking out everywhichway.
After that meeting, Gus and pa carried all those items he had in the trunk, and front seat, and backseat and on the floors, into the pawnshop, and mom and Gus and I, moved into the backroom.
“I give you six months and you’ll be drinking and drunk out on the street again, and back here looking for another handout…” Hawk Gordon told my pa, looking him up and left.
That was around the year 1909 or was it 1910? The first time ma even had met Hawk Gordon. He was shrewd, and pa was working for nickels and dimes wherever he could, whenever he was sober, but after pa left, leaving that very same day—we were all kind of in a panic, although we all got a warm room to sleep in, that’s about all I can say, Uncle Haw, he was a piece of work that’s for sure, if you know what I mean.
Prior to this, pa was spending his earnings on a dash of food, and a horde of whiskey and gambling, he barely seen us boys, and mom was expected to do work at Hawk’s store, and did work at his store, and apartment above it, and on the side some sewing for neighbours, and cleaning of other houses—just about anything and everything to make ends meet.
So pa didn’t know at the time he would go up to Alaska to work and drop us off at Uncle Hawk’s pawnshop, he didn’t even know yet he would ever consider it seriously. But he did tell Gus, talked to Gus about it, said: “I’d like to go someday to Alaska, but I’m not sure what to do with your ma and you kids.” It wasn’t a question, rather a statement, and Gus said, he didn’t say a word, pa was half cockeyed.
It was a nice thought to keep in mind, and to ponder and which he did ponder on, evidently, on and on and on, deeper and deeper until he did what he pondered on, but with pa’s drinking and all, he was going to hell in a hand basket, quick. Mr. Gordon wasn’t all that wrong about pa; no flies on him.
Pa and Gus got to talking a lot, in those days, I suppose because pa only went to 8th grade in school, spent much of his younger years drinking and travelling, and Gus sounded smart, and told pa he was going to buy a farm, and he did buy a farm in years yet to come. Pa was born in 1874, so at this time he was all of twenty-six years old, but looked twenty-years older.
He, pa, started to sell vacuum cleaners on the side for awhile, he said he sold them before when he travelled, along with doing some swapping and trading, he was good at that kind of stuff.
Pa didn’t like the South, he told Gus many a-times, he said he hung around and played cards with some nigger folks, down in Huntsville, Alabama. And the white folk got wind of it, and told him to get his ass out of Alabama before they hung him, which would have been by the KKK, and so the next day, and so when the next day came, pa was gone. It was a poor Blackman’s farm house he played cards at—trifling farmers, and pa seemed to get along with them folk quite well.
I asked Gus “What made pa go to Alaska?”
“I don’t know,” Gus told me, “whatever it was, Sally’s father Marty went with him.” Then Gus elaborated, “I suppose they thought Alaska would be more profitable and a man could make lots of money. Or at least more than at Hawk Gordon’s pawnshop, and what they found in Alaska, the first winter was one horrid winter, and knew nothing about its environment, its wildlife.”
Between Gus and his thoughts, his talking to me was vague at best on pa, and Alaska—at first anyhow. Some hidden grief maybe under his thin hair, and skin and hard skull bone, because when mom passed on and I moved in with Gus and his wife, to live until I went to War, the Great War, he got an official letter from the State of Alaska. And all that information about pa’s death was in that envelope; it took those officials over five-years, or was it six? I can’t remember—to get him that information.
“Oh ay,” I remember saying, “let me in on the secret,” I told Gus as he chewed his fingernails wanted to open that envelope up, but not opening it up, because once he did, he’d know, and knowing he was dead—for sure dead, was worse than not knowing and thinking he was alive someplace in Alaska drinking away like he always did, laughing and poking jokes at things that were not funny, and slapping the behinds of pretty young waitresses.

Mother died, worked herself to death when I was thirteen or near thirteen, or perhaps I was fourteen, I rightly can’t remember now, it was that simple, it was that there was not enough of her to go around, just too small for any human female package to hold together under such restraining circumstances, to hold onto forever, so much, and too much, life to deal with, she was doomed from the beginning, from the day she met pa, too much hotchpotch in life for that small framed woman—thus likened to a firecracker, she fizzed out.
I can’t say for sure, no gratitude from Gordon, just for her being his, off and on, mistress after pa was found dead, eaten up by hungry wolves, something Gus knew, but had no proof of until he got that envelope that one day from the State of Alaska. And Gordon being a male and ma in his space and time, and lonely and hurting, and trying to feed two boys, forever in a kind of despair, because she knew, and Gordon knew, there would never be enough of her of any one woman to hold onto grief, and no other men would ever do. That was what he discovered in time; Marty, he died of a heart attack that same year, in Alaska too, and mom of double-pneumonia.

Otis Wilde Mather:

“An’ that there yellow Cadillac, what’ll happened to it Shannon?”

“Every year or so, someone wanted to buy it I recall. It was a wild yellow, like a canary yellow: when Hawk Gordon died, it was put in his will to bury it with him. Well, his children got wind of that, and said ‘no dice,’ and sold it; Judge Finley said it was okay to sell it—after that, one of the kids went into his backroom in the courthouse and said “I’ll give you that 20% after I sell it at the city auction next week.”

Day of the Dead Horses
((A Day in the battle for Verdun, WWI, 1916) (A Shannon O’Day story))

The War and the Machine Gun Nest

(It is 1964; Shannon O’Day’s daughter Cantina is twelve-years old. She is with him for the weekend. They are out at Como Park, sitting along the banks of Como Lake. He often talks about the Great War with her, the one he was in as a young lad, and she always listens, but it is often a repeat, but nonetheless she listens to him, and today, Saturday, he is talking to her about it again, they have cool-aid and hotdogs, sitting on an Indian type blanket in the grass:)

Says Shannon to his daughter, Cantina (whose real name is Catherine O’Day, but he has called, a nickname), “I came, I saw, and I concurred, in the Great War…” then paused to look deep into her eyes, to see if she was really attentive, listening, “I was a man alone, like an island in the middle of the sea, entire of itself, like a continent, or part of one, that is how I felt in the war, especially in this one day of battle I had, and I had two days that were special in that 300-day battle—oh, perhaps more, but two that haunt me, one of victory, one of tragedy, both during the Battle for Verdun, in 1916, let me tell you about the first one, I call it ‘The Day of the ‘Dead Horses.’” She nods her head yes, up and down slowly, she’s heard it before, each time though she gets something new out of it, something he was fearful before of releasing, so she has learned to not show discontent for him bringing it up for the umpteenth time, she knows when his dead, gone forever, these will be her private stockpile photos of his trying days war and battle, ones he only shared with her, and only her.
Cantina knew—ever since he had come back from his war—some forty years ago, as Shannon called it, World War One, there was a sense of duty that remained in him. As if he should have died, but survived for some reason.
She knows, but she can’t put it in words, verbal words that echo, she knows: He sees no hope for triumph in the long run for mankind, but finds he can live a full life in the hours God has left him, as those before him have, and those after him will—he even told her once: “When will all this useless suffering stop, suffering for the sake of suffering, suffering nothing just to show mankind what it looks like, feels like, and start suffering for a cause—the war I went to, there wasn’t a crisis over here in America, that’s called a cause, or a reason. We had to go across the Atlantic Ocean where they created a crisis, telling everyone, the cause or the reason, it was to stop the suffering of our friends, so we could suffer with them, because Germany couldn’t make us suffer over here, in America; so how do like those apples.”
She also knows—and, has told herself this in so many words (talking to herself, thinking but not saying thoughts to her second self), saying only those things that are pleasing to him, because, she knows, he doesn’t fear death or solitude, never has and he finds love is possible, but everything for him is so loosely netted—and it wouldn’t do no good to argue the point—why create hurdles. And those horse, those damn horses, and dead damned horses, he remembers them well—all to well, and all too often. And these are some of her thoughts as she is sitting on that Indian blanket out at Como Lake.
“What are you thinking?” asks Shannon to his daughter.
“The way you might be thinking.” She says back to her father, and it actually makes him smile, what daughter would try to understand a man like him, a good and fine daughter, that is who, he confirms this to his second self, ‘She doesn’t judge him,’ he tells himself, ‘How funny, everyone else does.’
And so on this day, in 1964, in the park, sitting on the Indian blanket, here is the story he tells Cantina, I shall tell it in my own words, as he tried to tell her in his, and so Shannon O’ Day started his story like this:

I was making my stand in a trench. I did not like this trench and when I saw it I thought it had a shape of a woman’s womb. But I had no choice this was the trench, and I selected it because it was as far away as a battlefield would allow it to be, away from the German artillery shells. But not as far away as the sound of automatic machine gun bullets could reach, banging away night and day, halting and then starting back up again, firing: our reactions at first were hesitant, uncertain, and then they’d fire again and again, to give my platoon of eleven men—me being number twelve, a nervous case of the jitters, and a light case of being shell-shocked.
There still was snow on the ground, frost for the most part, it had ruined the ground, made it muddy, chilled and hardened at night, when the sun sank, and when the horses came pulling wagons of supplies, jerking, and climbing, and staggering their way through the mud, and snow, hauling equipment, men pulling their bridles, and the rains pouring over their heads and shoulders, holding the horses by the mane, many had to be shot, and many got shot in the line of battle, and there they lay dead, where they fell, for the flies and the worms and the rats to feast on—hot guts pouring out of their stomach regions, warm blood burning and seeping into the soil.
The horses sometimes were used for barricades, if the battle took place within the timeframe allowed—and if the carcass were still plump, and not gutted by animals, and at times my men, as well as I, we shot over their bodies on occasions, their burnt hides, laying their with our hot muzzles on their dead flesh and firing at the enemy instead of within the trench, allowing at times for us to advance, knowing all that was behind us were empty trenches, in particular this one empty trench this day of battle, and so we used these dead horses, fifty shot in one day to advance from one point to another, giving, and this one day I had an idea, one that could take out that nest of machine-gunners, and give us some peace and quiet for awhile. Incidentally, did you know there were eight-million horses killed in World War One? (Catherine nods her head no.) I’ll bet you also didn’t know Germany and Great Britain each had a Calvary force of 100,000. (Catherine nods her head no, again.) Well in any case, this was the war to end all wars, but that was all bull, as we all know now. I mean we had WWII, and the Korean War, and now there’s something starting up in South East Asia again. Well before I get back into the story, I’ll just say, when we went over the top, we’d first chow down, go over the top and hit the deck and we never really expected to come back alive we figured the Germans would nail our coffin right there, we all figured we’d end up kicking the bucket, if you know what I mean? (And Catherine knew what he meant, by using all that war slang, especial, WWI slang, he used it so often in his war stories, she knew it by heart. Well, said Catherine “You’re not pushing up the daisies, correct?” trying to talk the same slang her pa was and he replied, “I’m not dead—right?” and then continued with his story :)
This day, this one early spring day—a humdinger of a day too, one of 300-days in the Battle for Verdun, in France, but a humdinger of a day nonetheless—an unusual day to say the least, once my eleven men had reached the enemy’s perimeter, now within pistol distance, there were several more horses laying dead thereabouts, we had succeeded in stealing foot by foot, to get to the edge of the enemy’s nest, and now behind those several horses we waited until night fall—I was so nervous I was almost a basket case—you know what I mean (“Almost going crazy” said Catherine.) yes, that’s it, and not knowing when the next shooting would start between them and us, and the enemy not knowing how close we really were, and how many had perished in the previous battle, which none had, we had ourselves a slight advantage, for the advance we were planning.
Of the twelve men, I included, we had reached the outer rim of the boarder where the enemy had their machineguns, two of my men were wounded—that ticked me off, Henry Sanchez and Elmer Boswell. Henry was from New Mexico a young lad of eighteen, and Elmer, was a man from Wisconsin, a son of a baker, he also was eighteen.
Henry had a leg wound, shot twice, in two places. And Elmer had an arm wound. All the men were very thirsty, and the wounds of the men were starting to stiffen, yet I, the only Corporal, and in charge was too close to victory to halt the operation—in the pink, as they say—it must go forward I told my men, wounds or not. Henry had told me his wound was very painful. And this brought on a severe annoyance to me—again it ticked me off, and I told the soldier, plainly told him, “You’ll have to endure the pain, or kick the bucket, because we’re not gong to stop now, and if you don’t shut up, I’ll put a sock in your mouth to boot, or if you have an aspirin, that might help, whatever you chose, make it quick, and if you can’t fight anymore, stay put, and if you can, continue to do as you were doing, but this is no longer debatable.”
It was no joke, reality, it was the mission first, not the men in particular, at this stage of the battle to be, and if nausea became deeper and deeper throughout the night for the two soldiers, they were considered no longer usable in battle and therefore, second in priority. That’s the way the Army thinks, the way we are taught, the only way to win a battle—what I didn’t want was a washout—I mean, I didn’t want to lose the advantage by retreating, giving up the ground we so dearly fought for.
I, along with the other nine capable men was spread out likened to the Little Dipper. Using the horses for cover, we simply waited; the horses were big like mounds linking the soldiers together like baseball bases, from one point to another, and we were ready and eager for the fight, to continue at our pace, we felt it was better than living night and day in those long trenches, cold and wet—rat infested trenches. I moved on my belly from one horse to the other checking my men to make sure they kept their steel helmets on, a few had bullet holes through them, a few had hammered them out, yet some of the edges were still unsmoothed.
When the shooting started at, 3:00 a.m., and all the helmets had been clapped, you could hear a few of those bullets banging against the helmets, and the heads inside of them swaying, the sounds were death sounds: mouth-draying sounds, spiting sounds, cracking sounds, mechanical sounds, machine-like sounds, desperation sounds, and then a final sounds—throaty voices saying, “No more, there are no more sounds from the nest!” Then when I looked inside the nest, they were all dead: all the Germans.
The dryness and fear I had in my mouth, and the agony in my gut, were on hold, as I looked in the nest among the bodies of the enemy, I had thrown in three grenades, men were laying flat on their faces, arms torn off, looking as if they were reaching—but reaching while unconnected to their bodies somehow, for more machinegun rounds I would expect.
I walked among the dead, I wondered, said to my second self my mind’s eye, or maybe my subconscious was talking to my awaken eye, who’s to say—maybe my subconscious was fed up, and just said—and I thought it when it said it: give it to him straight: ‘What were their last words inside their heads, their last thoughts, was it to one another, to the comrade next to them; to God, or their mothers or wives or perhaps children? Why am I not one of those dead?’
I said to Henry, as now he had taken and endured the pain, and simply held it at bay; he had ended up being part of the onslaught, now standing by my side I said, “It is better to die on your feet isn’t it, than on your belly? Rise and shine, we won the skirmish.”
Another man said in back of me, “Why should they die and not us?” He must have been reading my mind.
And of course, in days to come, that voice would die, in a trench, but I had no wisdom, or witty words for the older man, older than I by far, so I said not a word. But I was thinking—nonetheless, thinking, none of us kicked the bucket, none of us were pushing up daises, none of us got knocked off today, and in war you just live day to day: it’s early now, and soon would be first light, and I could take my men back to the General and tell him, if he didn’t already know, the machinegun nest was silenced, and we did it, and to give us all a three to seven day pass to Paris or someplace safe, and a good breakfast; and for Henry, the war was over, he’d go home, with or without the General’s blessings, and so was it for Elmer. And I’d get two replacements in a week or so.’
I looked around carefully, looked in back of me at the dead horses, in front of me at the machineguns, I looked at the mud where I had crawled, at the bodies I had killed, not one of my men died today, just two wounded, but this was a good day— so I felt, I knew there would be bad days also.

The Half Tramp
(The Years 1922-1932)

As told by: Mabel O’Day ((Widow to Gus O’Day, 1969) (Shannon O’Day had died in the Cornfields in 1967, as indicated in the sequel, “Cornfield Laughter”))

The Half Tramp

They—his mother and father had tried to instill it into their two boys, we all knew that in the family, I am speaking of fortitude, the heart and the will to endure, Gus and Shannon neither could answer them in logic or reason, or have explained back to them what they were trying to instill, but we all knew what they had instilled, what their mother and father had implanted, we always knew, and they had it, matter-of-fact, they had more than their share. And their mother knew—beyond her battered life—knew, beyond any doubt, and within their small lonely spot, forlorn spot on earth, which God and humanity gave them: she knew she needed to instill this before she was blotted out of this existence.
And it was this will, this fortitude that held him, helped Shannon O’Day, through those war years (the Great War), and it was that he was fleeing those memories because he was not going anyplace soon; he spent the following decade (between 1922 and 1932) as a half tramp, that is to say, somewhat of a casual tramp, between getting drunk in his brother’s cornfields outside of the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, and the bars and streets of the inner city, working part-time jobs as he could, in pert near every factory and foundry in the city, and a general laborer during a few summers working in the field of construction of building, buildings and houses. He even worked a spell in the South St. Paul, Stockyards, drifting from one job to another—for example, the hog kill, to the meat packing department, and to the Rose Room, where they burnt up the waste of the animals: drinking before and after his work hours, and finally getting fired from there. And back to the Gem Bar he’d go; now Ira Ingway owned it; where Sally-Anne, now his wife was bartender.

At twenty-five years old, in 1925, he could hardly bear to take a cold shower, feeling its needle like thrust of shooting out water on his sensitive skin; taking five aspirins to subdue his headaches and unsteady hands. But he could somehow afford to drink as much as he pleased in those trying years, particularly in the evenings, and on the weekends in his brother’s cornfields, or Gus’ neighbor’s. He did this of course with the knowledge of everyone knowing, because on Monday mornings, shrill cries of half drunken women followed him to his work which he had a hard time, at times a hard time, driving himself back even to the city, fourteen miles away, how he got to work from there, puzzled all of us. We all learned in time, he’d walk into work in some dreamless stupefaction of reeking alcohol from the previous night’s uproar, that was still pounding in his head—, in the afternoons it would die, and the recuperation process would start in full swing.

Ten-years of an insane desire to drink—Sally-Anne, made it through the first two; she had married him in 1922, and left him in 1924. In 1932, he still had that shrewdness, that luck and fortitude imported from Europe, by way of his mother and father, good Irish stock.

(It was his brother who had fetched him back—when their mother died, prior to his 14th Birthday, with a kind of abashed and thoughtful unshakability and brought him here, to our farm, and home in which he would live thereafter—until he went to France to join the military, to fight Germans. He had started drinking a little prior to this time with his brother, ten-years his senior, in those cornfields, not one in all those years had he failed to stop drinking, to my knowledge, not even during the war years I would guess.)

Of course all this drinking, required and took, and drained the character and strength of Shannon O’Day. At the Gem Bar, Ira Ingway, had bequeathed him credit, and a discount of 20% off all he consumed, if he agreed to patronize his establishment over the other bars—although an occasional stop at the Coney Island Bar, didn’t matter, and Sally-Anne, now married to Ira, didn’t care for that, but Ira had said, business is business, and since he was such a half tramp in drinking, she could keep an eye on him that way—better, so no harm would come to him. Such logic, but it worked. On the other hand, one could say, and many of us did say, Ira Ingway helped Shannon’s dig his hole. By and large, Shannon did drink there the majority of the times, and didn’t spend more than ten-minutes talking with his now ex-wife, Sally-Anne, per week, who was now of course much better off economically.
Sally-Anne, on the other hand lived in complete physical and mental ease and peace as she could devise with Ira Ingway and his bar. She would have had to agree, her life no longer required cash, it was all there for the taking, in the form of credit wherever she went: at the bakery, the butcher, the Emporium Department Store, you name it, and she had credit there.
She could have had servants, if she so desired, or wished to, but she never did, an old habit, a do it yourself thing.
So it would seem she had done right by her new marriage, and nobody blamed her for leaving Shannon, not even Shannon.
The question had come up among us, “Did Shannon think about Sally-Anne, thereafter?”
Shannon told me once, and he always added a little smartness to his dialogue, so I can’t say one way or the other where the truth lies, but he said, and he had a sense of humor of course in saying what he said, “Yes I think about Sally-Anne, when I take cold showers, and when I roll out of bed, in the middle of the night to get a drink of corn whisky, or when I drink out of the ordinary.” If this indeed was true, I was the only one he told. During these times he had a hard time distinguishing between reality and illusion, during those years.

Foolish Years—1930s

It was hard on Shannon when he got jolted by his wife, first wife, perhaps the bitterest thing he ever had to face, and it all came about of course because of his lifestyle, his drinking, and his thoughtlessness. Even now, years later, when I think about it, I want to cry, if not swear or kick him in the pants. Yes, even now after all this time and he is of course buried six-feet under. I’m old now, and when I look back I know there will be no satisfaction in telling this, but I will.
To tell the truth, I feel a little foolish bring this up, but during the summer of 1930, Shannon brought a nigger named Otis Wilder Mather over to the farm, Otis, he said was working at a ranch, where people rented out horses, Hilltop Stables, they called it. I guess his job was as a helper all-around, whatever that means. Shannon thought it something disgraceful that one of his friends, in this case, new friends should take a job like that. Otis had been working at the stables for a long spell, some three years trying to save enough money to bring back home to his ma and pa, down in Ozark, Alabama; he had told Shannon in front of me (half drunk) one afternoon after coming in from the cornfields with him—each with a bottle of whisky in hand, “I gots to work there cuz there aint no other work to be git.” He was a big nigger fellow, young, big as a lumbering jack, you know one of those tree climbers, and cutters, he was only twenty-years old, and Shannon was thirty.
And they just got to hanging around the farm drinking, and Gus didn’t say a word, but it got on my nerves. And I told him so, and he said, “Mabel, I’m not mowing people’s lawns anymore, nor am I going to sell newspapers like I did when I was ten-years old, and I’m not cleaning any cistern out either. So what can I do but get drunk!”
Well, Otis had moved in with Shannon, and here were two lazy birds, sprawling bodies, cockeyed drunk every morning, in his little hotel room on Wabasha Street. And if anybody had the luck of the devil, it was that nigger, and Shannon was smart enough to take a chance.
They both kept a peachy time I’ll say that, I don’t mean any of that funny stuff, just drinking, and joking. And they took off one weekend, jumped a boxcar in August, of 1930, and Shannon took all the money he had left, some $500-dollars I heard, and he bet it on a horse Otis had picked out. And I’ll be damned if he didn’t win $5000-dollars, enough for a house, two or three years of wages. Otis was a fine nigger, like Shannon tried to be a fine brother-in-law, neither one ever stole a thing, or would steal anything, just get drunk a whole lot, swear a little, like his brother Gus, my husband. Shannon even told me once, he said, “That young nigger taught me how to rub down a horse, and can you beat that Mabel?”
He’d get so excited about it he’d even explain it to me in detail, “You wrap a bandage on a horse’s leg, you see, and make sure it is smooth.” And I’d say, “Yaw,” waiting for the next whatever he was supposed to do to the horse and Shannon would say, “That’s it, there isn’t anymore.”
“Gee whiz,” I’d say, waiting for him to say something else.
Anyhow, it left him with a lot of time to hang around and listen to horse stories from Otis as they’d yap in the warm air in the cornfields. He gave that nigger $500-dollars, and the next day he was gone, said he was going back to Alabama, to be with his folk. And Shannon gave Gus $1000-dollars. If he had any sense he would have bought a house. “Gosh almighty,” I said to Gus, “your brother was sure nice to us,” and that paid the farm off.

The Bluff (1946)
(Margaret-Rose Ramsey and Shannon O’Day)

As told by: Mabel O’Day (Widow to Gus O’Day)

And so Otis Wilde Mather took off to Ozark, Alabama, and he’d wait sixteen-years before he’d return to Minnesota, whereupon, he’d meet Margaret-Rose Ramsey, Shannon O’Day’s second wife to be.

(Mabel O’Day :) If I recall right, Otis Wilde Mather, that there nigger he liked Minnesota, come up from Alabama one summer, the summer of 1946, after the second war, and Shannon and that nigger gulped down some wine in the cornfield together, like they used to, he was now thirty-six years old, and looking for work. Shannon was forty-six at the time, and still working part time here and there, actually he gave had given $500-dollars more to Gus from that money he had won at the horse races a while back in I think 1940 or 1941, when they hit the jackpot for $5000-dollars. A bad year for everyone else, so it seemed, but not for those two, and so Gus took that as investing money and when times were good, Gus gave him some investment money back, and he hired Shannon to work known and then, when he wasn’t working. But Gus just wouldn’t hire that there nigger friend of his, said his neighbors would hang him if he did. But Shannon didn’t give a hoot; you know how a fellow is that way. I had figured that out by now how Shannon was and he was stubborn. But he was a mighty polite nigger I have to say that; he was so tall I couldn’t even touch his shoulders I do believe. I’m not blaming Gus any, but that’s jes’ the way he was. I was friendlier I suppose with Otis than Gus was being my mother was raised in the South, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and father from Minnesota, mom and I kind of knew how to deal with color folk.
Otis and Shannon went to the Minnesota State Fair that year, and Gus and I tagged along, Shannon wanted to see the ‘Fat Man,’ he was 600-pounds of pure butter, and custard, if you know what I mean, ripples of fat like them there roller coasters, they have out there, I like the rollercoaster, and the merry-go-round, but never cared to see the fat man, what for, fat is fat, I got fat pigs on the farm if want to see fat…but I went along with it all, why not I told myself, it’s all fun. He even winked at me, and I blushed, but I didn’t tell Gus, had I, gosh Almighty, what then? I just thought, the nerve of this guy, and let it be at that. But gee-whiz, gosh Almighty, there I was.
Anyhow, the Minnesota State Fair, lasted ten-days, and Shannon and Otis, went back there after we had went there with him, by themselves, and met Margaret-Rose Ramsey there, brought her to meet me and Gus at our farm, and she wasn’t any mutt. What I wouldn’t have given for a stick of chewing gum, I had jes’ eaten some garlic bread, and Gus, he done smoked a twenty-five cent cigar.
Shannon introduced us to her, and we all knew Otis, and she told us her father was a manufacturer of wooden crates for vegetables and fruits, and their company named were: ‘Ramsey Crate Manufacturing Co.’
There was something in the way she dressed, in her designer style cloths, and I mean designer in the sense of creative; I bet it was all bought at the Golden Rule Department Store, or perhaps a personal tailor. And she had kind of pretty eyes, and the way she had looked at Gus, I didn’t like. She looked at me kind of strangely, as if I was out of place, or so I felt, and I guess that was because of my garlic breath, it did give an ore of dislodgment.
Shannon sat down on a chair by the kitchen table, she stood by his shoulder, Otis was there, and Gus and I; I couldn’t show her up for a boob, I knew that.
I suppose I made a fool of myself, sure I did, I said I came from Connecticut, and my father knew Mark Twain, because he lived there, died in 1910, but it all seemed to fit. Yet I still had my mother’s southern, Fayetteville, North Carolina slight of speech in me, that minor pronunciation, or blur accent, southern twang. Nevertheless, as I kept bragging, Gus and Otis, and Shannon all leaned over their chairs listening not believing what they were hearing, and what I was saying, and I could just imagine what they were thinking. And I don’t think Margaret-Rose was doing much believing in what I was saying. But I kept on a saying what I was saying—and Gus and Shannon were silent about the truth of it all, and Miss Margaret-Rose’s eyes were shinning and so I went whole hog and said he even helped Mark Twain, by giving him advice concerning some short stories, one on a frog. By gosh, what was I thinking?
As I look back, I guess what happened was: I got a-bragging in a way I never had before, and as she listened, and things dragged on, the story just kept coming out of me, a tall tale that is, and somehow we all got to laughing, and I felt better, of course she didn’t, because she thought I was making fun of her status. Otis was leaning against the stove at this time, and even he was laughing with those big white buck teeth of his, and big nostrils like a dragon. I could have kicked myself in the butt; my legs are not agile enough to do that though. If a person goes to hell for telling a fib, I’m going to go to the hottest spot they got I do fear.
After a while we sat there talking, like we had known each other for years and years, and I bluffed it through the afternoon, even if I sounded like a lame cow.

Bushel of Spoiled Eggs

As told by: Mabel O’Day (Widow to Gus O’Day)


There was something else eating at me, during those few years Shannon and Margaret-Rose dated and married, as she did in 1948, and had their first daughter in 1948—

Shannon broke a few, perhaps more than a few, pretty girls hearts in his day, he was a handsome man, in his youth. But he, himself came out of a bushel of spoiled eggs. I loved him as a brother-in-law, and still do, but a rotten egg is a rotten egg, however you look at it, or smell it: on the other hand, I guess I was left alone on that way of thinking, likened on a deserted island, no one else quite thought the way I did. He was no Rudolph Valentino you know, but you’d think he was, always carefree drinking, getting lucky. There I was small boobs as I am, but Gus loved them and me. And when Shannon come over to visit me and Gus and they’d go off into the cornfields, to drink, and leave Margaret-Rose with me cuz she didn’t drink much, she wasn’t saying much, she had changed overnight, so it appeared, and I guess I wasn’t saying much either that day. My guess was I really kind of knew. She wasn’t stuck on me because of the fib, about my father knowing Mark Twain and all that. I’ve learned there is a certain girl you meet and if you click, you best make some hay together cuz they’re gone forever and forever in some other world and trying to be close friends with them is impossible, you might jes’ as well fall off a house roof and die.
Why she fell for Shannon is beyond my understanding, but he played her music I suppose and after we had supper that day, Margaret-Rose had to leave at nine o’clock to catch a train to Chicago, to see her father, give him the news she was pregnant. Shannon simply went back to his cornfields with Gus and Otis and drank another bottle of watermelon wine, something he picked up in the war he said, over in France. I think that day was a mad, happy and sad day.
“I got to go to the train now Shannon,” said Margaret-Rose thinking he would follow her, but he didn’t. When she left, she was crying but Shannon didn’t see it. She never knew nothing I knew, and when they divorced I couldn’t believe she was all that busted up.

Margaret-Rose stayed in Chicago until after her baby girl was born. She wrote to me, and I wrote back to her, she asked how Shannon was, told me how the child was, that’s all she said. I suppose it was a chance to repair our friendship, a swell chance I got, but I was too busy too. Whatever kind of guy she was looking for, there wasn’t any such creature on God’s good earth. And me, trying to pass myself off as being a big bug, I never really cared to see her because of that; I was a little shameful about the way I acted.
And then after the child was six-months old, the train come in and she got off it, and Shannon met her and shook her hand, and she gave a little bow to me, and the baby cried like a baby does, “Gee,” I said, “what a lovely baby.” You know, like everyone does. “Did you ever see such a lovely baby Shannon?” She asked him.
What he said next I pert near fell over, or as if the train itself had run over me, what he said was “It looks like a raw oversized turkey.”
I wanted to go sit down after that, let Margaret-Rose deal with the hurt, and mend fences with Shannon if indeed that was their plan, but I said, “I bet if Shannon hadn’t a drink of booze today, he’d had said how lovely the child was.” But I knew Shannon, and that was another fib, not like the big Mark Twain one though.
He, Shannon said, “Those gosh darn eyes of her’s looks like they’re smashed into her forehead, what happened?”
“You’re a big fool Shannon—that’s what he is,” I said aloud, looking at Shannon and then Margaret-Rose.
“Did you find work Shannon?” asked Margaret-Rose.
“I don’t care anything for working or saving or shaving, I’m just a half tramp!”

Seven Months Later

Unfortunately I received one last letter, several months after that visit, where Margaret-Rose had written me, her mother, the child’s grandmother had taken the child out for a ride in the winter, while in Chicago, skidded on a road, and they both ended up in the hospital. The mother losing her motor function ability, and the child’s death; I told Shannon of the news, and it simply made him drink more, he never did make it to the funeral.

Otis (1977)

Otis Wilder Mather stood still within the deep cornfields on which one time he and Shannon O’Day drank. Flanked by the tall stocks of corn, as if walled in—the early morning sunlight fell lightly in faded thin like flashes, seeping through the gaps of the cornfield onto his exposed flesh, and upon the bamboo walking stick in his hand, and across the aging shape of his black face who paced to and fro, looking down— as if swimming in some unfathomable emotions, brooding and drooping eyes, childless, never married, Cantina’s new born child in Mabel’s house, Shannon’s brother Gus’ house, both long dead. Out of a window, of the neighbor’s house, peered old lady Stanley, Mrs. Alice Stanley (her husband now dead, died back around 1960, she now was in her mid 80s,her daughter Nadine now was near forty, Nadine’s daughter, pert near twenty-five), smothered with curiosity—she hadn’t seen Otis in nearly a year.
“Well, Cantina,” said Otis “too bad the baby isn’t white, you and the boy will be treated as if you belong in the stockyards.” And he chuckled.
She didn’t move any, just remained on the sofa with the newborn. Looking up at Otis, with a flat expression, with a youthful, no expression, a face gloomy, and sphinx-like, still worn, and tired looking, pale from giving birth but a few hours earlier.
Shannon was nearly a god to Otis, it now had been ten-years, ten long enduring years since his death in 1967, he was now himself, getting old, sixty-seven years old, he had been ten-years Shannon’s junior. He said loudly to Mabel, now owning several fish stores, between Minnesota and Alabama, “Sorry it wasn’t you.” He had always liked Mabel, although Gus never liked him.
“What kind of car is that?” asked Cantina.
“A car, just a car. A damned good car…why?” he remarked back to her, in a soft delicate way, his hand still holding the bamboo walking stick. “The car’s a Cadillac I guess,” he mentioned as if not wanting to mention it, or pretending he didn’t want to mention it.
“Oh,” said Cantina in a near un-hearable shallow whisper. “Yes, it looks like a brand-new car, a 1977 I bet?”
“Yes, that’s what it is.”
“Oh.” She said, as she glanced back out the window. No one could have guessed what she was thinking, but she watched him and watched him as he looked at the child, paced with his staff looked out the window into the cornfields—as if longing for those extended lost days, never to be rekindled.
“Here take this check, its $5000-dollars, do whatever you need to do to make your life better and your child’s, whatever his name is,” he said to Cantina, passing the check over to her in a frizzy like way, and walking out the doorway, as if in a trance, stepping down the few wooden steps onto the ground (leaning on his walking stick with more of his weight than he had before) with a crazy like look on his face, moving a lever in the bamboo upper part of the stick, which made a four inch blade extend outward from a hole in the end of the stick—a weapon as sharp as a razor, and took a bottle of whiskey out of the trunk of his car, and stood there holding the stick in one had and the bottle in the other, drinking and pushing the blade back into its little hidden compartment, its nest by way of the ground, looking into the cornfields: just waiting there, as the neighbor concluded it was who she thought it was, Otis Wilder Mather. The rich black man from Ozark, Alabama, that once was the bosom-buddy of Shannon O’Day, they were like white on rice, or one black pea and one white pea mixed together in a pod: and many a nights had they spent in the cornfields half cocked, and unable to walk. Otis remembered what Shannon had told him once, that life was no more than “A Tick on a clock,” that “to do what you’re going to do, or don’t do it at all, because waiting—if prepared is simply not worth the waste of the time thinking about it…” and then he added “and then life as we know it, is over” and so it was appearing to so, for him.

When Corporal Shannon O’Day was shipped over to France to fight the Germans, in those trenches, Otis then was only ten years old. Then when WWII, came along he didn’t go to that war either, he had something they called flat feet “I’m taking care of my family in Ozark looking after the things,” he’d tell folks who asked, and those who didn’t ask, but wanted to ask, and stared at Otis as if they were about to ask, Shannon O’Day would tell all of those “It aint none of your business why Otis is up here drinking with me in my brother’s cornfields and not in that stupid war those Europeans started over across the Atlantic again.” It’s how it was with Shannon O’Day, a thin, pale-ridden Irishman, with quizzical eyes, who looked about fifty when he was thirty, though it was known that he had married by the time he died a number of times, and only one daughter Catharine, born in 1947, two years after that war had ended and was never a grandfather as well, she was twenty-years old the time Shannon died, not thirty. Mrs. O’Day or Gus’ wife always knew better to stay out of Shannon’s drinking business, and he was just too lazy and idle, although Gus would try to help him out now and then, help him also with his drinking—a hopeless task at best, they said, everyone said knowing that his sole connection with life after the first war: that he didn’t give a hoot for much after that, but Gus’ farm that is where Shannon and Otis lay in the cornfields summer after summer, the first summer Otis was in St. Paul, he worked at the Hill Top Stables, and around 1945, Shannon borrowed him five-hundred dollars and Otis bought his first fish store down in Ozark, Alabama, that started him off, he never forgot it, fact that for years now Gus had allowed him to drink like crazy in the cornfields was due to Shannon getting mad if he’d not allow it, which Gus had purchased when Shannon was just ten years old, and raised him from then on, until the war that is. For a while in other years, Otis even lived with Shannon down in his apartment, the one he kept on Wabasha Street, away from Gertrude his wife at the time, who lived on Amenable Street, he had been living folks said—hearsay, in some caves, outer section of the sewer system, over by Rondo Street (a part, section made during the Civil War days, held up by old rotting timbers, wooden beams, some replaced with large stones and cement blocks, it kept him dry from the rainy days, and he could make a fire with no worrying about city code violations, or being spotted as a vagrant and put in jail, or being asphyxiate with smoke)—Rondo, being a street and district in St. Paul, know for the blacks; Otis, a bachelor in his decrepitude surroundings, no more than a open hole, less than a barn. So now it looked like he was doing fine in the financial area, aged somewhat, and seemingly a little sick, too much reminiscing, too many hardships to look back on, and that terrific ability to drink in the act of near dying.
Even the Stanley’s knew by observation, or heard by hearsay, much of what took place in those far-off days. That Gus and his kind, his crowd laughed at Shannon for taking Otis in as if he was a sparrow with a broken wing—and a nigger lover on top of it. And Otis knew it was not the first time they had laughed at him, calling Shannon: nigger lover, even Gus said that, I mean, he wasn’t called white trash, which would have been truer than nigger lover, I mean he just took a liking for Otis, and he did work: Shannon did work, once at a foundry and a few other places, just not steadily. They began to tell Shannon themselves down at the local downtown Conley Island Bar, the so called Group Gus hung out with, the likes Judge Finley,
“Tell that nigger friend of yours to stay down in Alabama where he belongs; you know which one, that war dodger!”
The drunker Shannon would get, the more redder his face got, the more angry he got, he then would look about the bar of white faces and bloodshot eyes and stained yellow teeth from smoking cigar after cigar, or cigarette after cigarette, behind the smoke, you could see where scorn prowled, and it was there from his extending square jaw bones to inside its marrow, and Gus knew Shannon’s blood was red hot, like a flaming sword ready to strike “I got to go on home now fellows, because I got a wife that wakes me up early to tend to those cornfields, I got to mosey on home now see you all later…” he’d say, and bring Shannon with him before he tore up the bar, bring him to his house on Albemarle Street if he could walk, or if not, to his apartment around the corner. Shannon usually got half cocked, but not all that drunk he was a professional drinker, I mean he could drink—seldom got sick like those armature drinkers—so he’d say, boast, pretending he was drunker, walking out of the bars, and if Judge Finley was there, he’d say to the old judge “Git out of my way fag, I like niggers better!” And Gus and the old Judge would just brush it off as if he was out of his mind.
“Niggers?” the judge would repeat; “You got a nigger lover for a brother Gus!” laughing now.
“Yes,” Gus would say. “I know, he looks after a big black one, but aint nothing I can do about it, he’s my brother.”
“Send them all back to the South, or to Africa!” the old judge always could be quoted as saying, as if it was his one and only phrase for the black race.
This was all true what Judge Finley said about Shannon O’Day, he did take care, watch over Otis like an older brother would, even when Gus tried to put him in jail for burning his fields, which he never burnt, and Shannon couldn’t say way, because had he told the truth, he would have exposed his brother’s wife to infidelity. So not knowing—even at the cost of belittlement, was better than telling him the truth, it was a matter of sorting out priorities, who got hurt the worse, or the levels of hurt, or where was the point of most damage.
But with Otis, there was this kind of devotion, not pride for prides sake, but devotion, for devotions sake, for Otis’ sake, it lifted him up from a depressing world that Shannon took his side—no matter what the cost was to him, he became much more than he ever expected to become because of Shannon’s outlook on him, not his own outlook—he couldn’t beat the white man to death physically, so he beat him to death with success. No one up in the Midwest in those early days would except him, permit him unabated to advance, it was an attitude among the whites: I aint going to give to no nigger—especially coming from down south, who avoided a war, the chance to settle down here among us good white folks, to seed money home to feed those little niggers back in Ozark, that was the way of thinking. “Aint no chance in hell, we’re going to do that,” old Judge Finley would confirm while half drunk in the bars, say it to himself or anyone listening, willing to listen—sober enough to decipher. Judge Finley had told Otis, a few decades back, nearly cussed him out in the courtroom, to head on out of town, and spend more time where he came from, than were he came to, meaning, Alabama and not Minnesota. Perhaps Finley’s mind—being a friend of Gus—knew nothing else would scare Otis away, yet the fact remained, Otis came back after years, and rekindled the friendship he once had with Shannon, oh, it wasn’t exactly as it was before, but between business and business he spent a whole lot of afternoons with Shannon drinking—of course no longer able to take drink after drink like he used to, and at this time he formed even a bond with Cantina, Shannon’s only daughter, otherwise known as Catherine. He watched her grow up, you could say. Even thought of himself as her uncle, for the time being, until she showed development, and after Shannon died, his heart would be quiet and proud he took such an interest in her, although after Mabel’s husband died, remembering her fling with him, he had never forgot it actually—he had a half lit flame for her, and she had a full lit flame for him. The only problem was, or so it seemed, was that humanity had created a curse for him, a black skinned curse, although times were changing, they were changing slowly in Minnesota.
“Your father was a fine proud man, a war hero,” he told Catherine, as if he was near god himself. And had he aimed to look like anyone white, it would have been Shannon O’Day.

“I know what they all say to one another,” he had told Cantina, a year later, after the child had been born. “I can just visualize it, live it all over for the boy: but I can fix it, not with money but I can fix it. Just like your father fixed things up for me. It has taken me thirty-five years, but I done it at last, I’m richer than a dog with a barn full of bones. Now that I think of it, I never did ask you, what did you named the boy?”
It had been a year since she had seen Otis, it was pert near the same month and day he had left, and now returned, but a year apart, the boy was walking, black as the ace of spades, and Cantina was as white as the empty space around the ace of spades.
While thinking, pacing between the kitchen and the living room, Mabel busy doing the dishes, and Cantina fumbling on the couch involved somehow with putting a new shirt on the boy, said “Otis Jr., his name is Otis Wilde O’Day Mather Jr.” In his head, in Otis’ head came a sound of screeching tires, until there was a sudden stop, “What?” he said.
He broke suddenly free, to think free. Thinking “How on God’s earth can this little boy grow up here, with a white woman, and how can Shannon O’Day’s daughter live with this scorn, a life time of scorn wherever they walk, this just wasn’t good enough for Shannon O’Day, not at all…” thoughts were galloping to and fro in his mind; and then Cantina look his way fumbled with the boy’s shirt, broke free of her attention span that she had on the boy: to ask, quite clearly ask, looking at Otis, lonely and droopy-eyed —ask explicable, beyond—and seemingly into his mind’s eye, “Just what is on your mind Otis?”
Suddenly she could see he was contemplating something, and the child knew something, he was looking at him with foresight, as if he realized that his father’s voice had entered a tomb.
“What’s the matter Otis,” she repeated; “The boy” he said, in a depressed, drunken astonishment, as if he had just figured it out. He seemed to watch an imaginary happening taking place—eyes towards the heavens, one he was going to duplicate.

Now it was getting toward twilight. His composure had completely changed, the boy was crying, and his mother was trying to breastfeed the boy, but he kept on crying no matter what. As it is often said, a child knows at six months old, knows his parent’s character to the point of controlling his parents, perhaps it is truer than fiction, but could it be controlled this evening was the unspoken question? Cantina’s face still puzzled on Otis’ previous behavior, and lack of candor: especially, his brooding, his sphinx-like face, now it was calm and collected “Do you want something to eat?” asked Mabel.
“I don’t want anything,” he remarked stern and straight, looking at the child, smiling at Catherine—but the child had some kind of foresight, intuition, something instinctive, as if its whole body knew what his brain couldn’t completely put together—a siren went off in his eyes—and it cried and cried, and moved and wanted to get away as if it was a little bird caught in the grips of a closing hand, closing fist.
“You should eat something,” she exclaimed.
This time he did not answer at all, staring down at the child—his walking stick in his hand, He turned the lever on the upper part of the bamboo, and the sun had completely been devoured by night now. “It wouldn’t be much longer, the child will be sleeping,” said Cantina, thinking the crying was driving Otis crazy. He couldn’t hear her, or the child’s cries, he couldn’t hear anything, or feel anything, no longer curious of what people might think now or then, but knowing how vengeful they could be in the future for his child. He could even hear what they were saying about him and his child and Shannon O’Day, his bosom-buddy, years in advance, the suggestion of believing afar into the fury man’s heart, their intent: Old Otis Wilde Mather with his hand tumbling at last he come to the conclusion, his child would not pay the same price for life he had paid: he screamed aloud like a madman, glancing at Cantina watching the child
“What are you thinking, going to do…!” she said.
“Nothing much! Nothing Much!” that’s what he screamed, as the four inch blade shot out of the end of his walking stick that no one seen—that he only felt it movement forward, thrust, its click into a solid and firm hold, and only he knew, could feel the extending weight at the end of his stick. His eyes were becoming indistinctly blurred, in the new born twilight. “Don’t worry any,” he said calmly, smoothly as everything became still, as if before a storm. He heard the galloping in his head again—“…horses: those damn horses again…” he complained, in a whisper, but he remained still. His hand firmly on the top of his walking stick, he stood up, faced the girl and child “Otis,” she said, as if thinking he was leaving.
“I’m here, I’m right here, don’t fret…” Otis said with a smile, a storm had started outside, and the lights went off. His left hand touched the child’s throat, “What are you doing?” asked Cantina in the dark.
Now he moved his right had swiftly with the end of the bamboo. He knew exactly in the dark where the child was, every inch of him, just as he knew every turn, every event in his life, every moment he and Shannon O’Day spent together. The room exploded with terror—but to Otis the horses in his head had now stopped galloping, and consequently, there was a wild relief.
“Otis!” the mother shouted; “Stop! Stop! Otis! Otis!”
But the tall thin, fuming figures crippled around the baboon couldn’t stop, against the frown and roar in the room, and the abrupt storm out side and Mabel frozen stiff in the archway of the kitchen. With the blade lifted, it opened up a wound around the neck of a glaring child’s eyes, without any cry, any sound, the mother passed out.

No: 660 (8-4-2010) Written: as a pre-story to “The Black Sedan”
Leading up to Otis demise••

Galloping Horses
(Part Two, to “Otis”)

To Otis, the shouts and screams were the loudest thing he had ever heard in his life, and they were now echoing in his head, and there were galloping horses in his head—again. The horses were pounding, and of course could not be heard outside of Otis’ head, and it continued to build, as he stood by his car, making not a sound. It was outrageous, unbelievable what he had just done. But it was too late to undo, to re-cross that bridge, to even re-build that bridge, the child, the infant was dead. He wanted to run. He figured he might. He had talked himself into doing so the night before. Thus, he expected to, and he expected everything to go as planned, and it did, except for the galloping horses inside his head. “Right after you do what you got to do to the infant, if it is born today, or tomorrow, you can run and escape back to Alabama,” he had told himself. “But you can’t run until you finish the plan.” He did that; he did all he had planned but run. His eyes were closed now, he was shaking, and he opened his trunk for a bottle of whiskey. He bent over to the outside foist, turned it on and washed his hands, and washed his hands, washed them for two hours straight. These were his vain attempts to calm down, clean that dirty sin. He knew the decaying corpse was still on the couch, he saw Mabel standing still in the kitchen doorway, her hands over her face, where Cantina was he didn’t know, he had been out by the car for a long time now, washing his hands for a long time, fell on the ground woke up (having had slept for four hours). He had prepared himself for the killing, and he knew he’d never forget this day, forget about what he did so if he was to be hung by the neck to die, so be it. His body and mind was empty, he was or had been waiting, thinking listening for the police, but they didn’t come. It was all too grotesque, nightmarish, and he wasn’t going to run.

The sound of the horse’s hoofs came steadily. He followed the sound as if it was in the air, and he was sweating. Then the galloping ceased. He stepped forward, his teeth grinding one on top of the other, nearly all of them. His lips dry, his hands sweaty half blind, a faint phosphorescent glare into the eyes of heaven—it was a dark heaven, it was 2:00 a.m., in the morning, he looked at the shape of the corn stalks—shadowy shapes like creatures of the night, perhaps it was just a possum, because there was an infant like cry, and he knew it couldn’t be the infant; after a time, he started slashing at his fingers, fingers to fingers, he found some silence. He walked backwards to the field. He was a large man, bumping everything on his way to the cornfield, drinking the bottle of whiskey gulp after gulf. At last he threw his bamboo walking stick over by a hollow stump, and fell suddenly beneath the corn stalks, crawling on his knuckles, faint in his head, the ground was damp; he snuffed at the dirt with his nostrils. Now he lay back glaring at the sky. He had never been so tired, so spent, so dark inside, he hooted like an owl, and passed out (Mabel, ended up looking for Otis—thinking, everything had gotten out of hand).
You can mark it, he never run.
“You can never tell what a man will do when in a pinch,” said Mabel, “what would Shannon do?” She sat on the top of her step that evening, in old trousers, and a collarless white blouse, smoking a cigarette. “He had no reason to run off,” she commented, “to run into those cornfields as if it was his sanctuary, as it was for Shannon.”
Cantina, her face lowered, beaten and worn, stained, shabby hair, “I got to say something,” she said, “but I just don’t know what!” And she wished she had not even spoken that.
“You’re better off without the child,” said Mabel, as if trying to protect Otis, “drinking makes you do strange things,” she added.

No: 661 (8-5-2010)

The Dark Sedan
((or “The Unlawful Death Case of Otis Wilde Mather)
(A Shannon O’Day, six part story))

A Countryside Boxer
((A Shannon O’Day Story) (Follow up to “Cornfield Burner!”))

Fall of 1979


In the corn growing farm business, Mrs. Mabel O’Day appeared to prosper (even after her husband and brother-in-law, Gus and Shannon O’Day passed on). That being, she soon eliminated all unneeded expenses, and presently she was out of the farming business, with a hired manager, Mr. Fitzgerald to run it. And we farm folk from that area, figured that we knew what the stepping-stone to the rise of her prosperity was due to. On the other hand we believed it was without a doubt—the evil that brought on Gus’ down fall—likened to the evil that brought on his brother Shannon’s down fall (both being the same evil), was due to, pure and simple, abuse of alcohol. All these lost hours and days, and years, have a bearing upon a man’s prosperity—we told one another—despite his hard labor, he needed a level and clear head, a healthy body; this he seldom had, if he ever had.
We saw Mabel O’Day every Sunday—those of us who went to church that is—saw Mabel behind the last pew in the church—fresh as a daisy—younger looking at seventy-nine than she was looking at forty-nine; having a rosy kind of rich coloring to her face.

Although Mabel was considered born plain, she somehow—now in her golden-years—brought with her that vast, calm impermeable loveliness. Listening with a slight smile to the corners of her mouth as the preacher preached, the collarless young preacher, of our local countryside church, who this one day gave a sermon on how life is but a flicker of light, from a bonfire—which was the Sunday before all this happened.
That’s why we seldom gossiped about her, when we saw her at the North St. Paul restaurants, or country store, or walking the concrete sidewalks of St. Paul.
We all doubted she was ever, had ever been close to anyone but Gus; for to do her justice we simply didn’t gossip about that—save her husband and Shannon O’Day we had enough to talk about. But there was still that vague, hazy, indefinable, if not intangible thing, a white and gray cloud over her head called Otis Wilde Mather, from Ozark, Alabama. Shannon O’Day’s close Negro friend, the very one Gus took no liking for. Tried to prosecute him for burning his cornfields down one year who had gotten drunk in the cornfields and somehow a fire started.
Certainly it was not his fault that the cornfields burnt to smithereens as it had come out in the court hearing, but we in the countryside felt that the idea of a Blackman visiting Mabel regularly, for a number of years now, almost habitually, something was fishy—that is to say, and I hate to say it, perhaps we were all missing something, perchance what it was, was that somewhere along the line, there had been some kind of adultery in the past with Otis and Mabel.
It seemed absurd at first, even perverted: we could have accepted it, had he not returned to making it more obvious, if not seemingly natural to do so, and now it seemed more logical to think so.
We didn’t try to guess or know her thoughts—not at all, those of us who saw her gaiety when with Otis, walking in the parks, sitting on the benches so close to one another, you couldn’t put an acorn between their thighs, and for hours on end—; hence, she was no longer fooling anyone. We simply said, “She’s not the woman she used to be,” whatever kind of woman or wife she was; now we really didn’t know. For here was a Negro man, with the deceased husband’s wife; a close and dear friend of ours, one of us you might say, and Otis an outsider and a nigger to boot. It was hard for us to make sense of.

Otis was very tall and very black, also very successful, who was from Alabama, who had moved on up to Minnesota a few times, and now it seemed he was more in Minnesota than Alabama, and perhaps thinking of staying on a long term basses in Minnesota, or perhaps even moving to Minnesota on a permanent bases and getting hitched with Mabel. He had never been married.
One afternoon he had just finished raking the front lawn at Mabel’s farm house, and started burning the fall leaves. He was smoking his corncob pipe. The very one Shannon O’Day had given him, when suddenly appeared a black sedan (Otis hadn’t notice the car), but he did the fellow walking towards him. The smell of the fire was rich, fresh and clean and the night part of twilight had just smothered the day part—and there was tranquility in the atmosphere, even the birds seemed to mellow down for the change over of day to night, and the rapid waters from the creek even reduced in sound.
The man approaching had no particular age, heavy boned and broad shoulders, big hands, boxer hands, a broken nose, and a cauliflower ear, a dark shirt on, and a black hat. His face was square and rough looking, he needed a shave. His face looked flat, to absolutely empty. His eyes bloodshot and he staggered just a slight. He seemed lipless, chewing tobacco. He looked up at Otis, about three inches—
“How much did the pipe cost you?” he asked.
“Nothing, it was a gift, why?” asked Otis.
“It must weight a ton for an old man like you to hold onto for any length of time?”
“It’s just a corncob pipe, it don’t weigh nothing!” Otis remarked.
“If it doesn’t then give it here, I’ve never smoked a nigger’s corncob pipe before!” the stranger told Otis.
Otis simply continued to look down at the stranger, still holding onto his pipe, then he heard an excruciating sound as if a bone, or bones cracked, a snap here and there, then Otis spit up and out of his mouth blood (it more like poured out), and with a half turn to his right—as the stranger now was walking back to his car, his back to Otis, never once looking back, he knew the damage he had done—Otis having been hit as if by an iron hammer, wobbled, his jaw and neck were broken, he fell onto the ground like boiler room explosion; and expired.

The Black Sedan



After Otis’ death (and the notifying of his brother: Banister Samuel Jackson Mather (born, 1942), Ozark, Alabama) Mabel built this invisible stone wall that seemed to encircle her—slowly and steadily enshrine her. But then it is always strange to what a simply community of farmers—their methods—what they will resort to in order to punish someone—anyone, dissimilar to them. It was as if there was some unseen force that seeped into the atmosphere and bombarded her; disabling her own level-headedness in business, as if she was working against her better judgment, the very thing that brought her, her prosperity. She fired Mr. Fitzgerald, the very one person, man that had he not picked up where Gus (her late husband) and Mabel herself left off and carried pert near the farm on his own shoulders, there would not have been a farm to farm. If anything, he showed high vision, and confidence and courage, where there was none to be found.
Her dream at first—after Gus’ death, and her brother-in-law’s death, Shannon O’Day—was not so high, it was no higher than a casual –common-day laborer’s. Just enough to get by on, eat, and pay for the gas to heat the farmhouse, and buy some feed for the chickens, and seed to plant with; because she didn’t hire Mr. Fitzgerald until the first months of 1968, after Shannon had died.
“She almost came to the point back in the late ‘60s, where she had to sell the farm,” I remember the sheriff had said that, he also told us folks she hadn’t paid her taxes, property taxes going on seven-years. And then we all said, “That damn midnight black nigger—Otis,” and then the last straw was seeing the nigger raking her leaves in the front yard, right out in the open for everyone to see, he must had been gloating, I mean what was next—god forbid!
And so Truman Quinn, got his son, Joe Quinn, the ex boxer, that couldn’t even read an 8th grade text book or the time on a clock properly, to throw a few punches his way. Oh, well, we never believed Otis would get killed over it all, our intentions were to intimidate him, drive him back to where he came from, Alabama. So when Joe hit him, Otis’ head spun to the right, like a dial flying off a speedometer, out of control—something snapped, and then cracked, Joe had broken his jaw and neck—Joe then turned about, came back to the car, we all left Otis there, right where he lay, all four of us in that black sedan of Finley’s, not even willing to see how he was, nor call an ambulance, or to notify his next of kin, we believed they lived in Alabama, and we didn’t want to become a suspect. Plus, it was a cold fall evening, we all wanted to get home, get settled in for the night. Mabel could do the proper thing.
We all assumed, Mrs. O’Day must have dragged that loose and heavy black body, inch by inch, foot by foot into her home, hoping he would open those dark eyes, and so did the sheriff.
“What in the hell happened?” asked the Sheriff to Mabel.
“I don’t know. I’m just telling you I found him this way, I just don’t know,” and she didn’t know, only four people knew, and three were in the car at the time, the sedan, the black sedan of Finley’s, and the other, the forth one was Joe, and had Otis lived, oh well, why speculate.
She had fired Mr. Fitzgerald, so he couldn’t say a word on the matter, and we four, shut-up about it—the burden was heavy enough, without projecting. Although we were afraid Joe would get drunk and spill the beans, start whispering something out loud about it, some night, and that something would float over to the sheriff’s office, and who knows where else, but it didn’t.
“You mean—” said the sheriff, “that as far as you know, you don’t know anything about this?”
She just nodded her head up and down, holding back, a flood of tears, so the sheriff said.
Up to that night I slept well, and so did Truman, and Joe and our Lawyer friend, George Finley Jr. (the son to the late Judge Finley). We all had been catching our forty winks or so—but now things appeared to be in disarray, you can bet I never slept a whole night through that year of 1979, I always felt I was on a pile of coals, hot coals.
In time we all did—or was able to—shut our eyes and mind to the issue of Otis’ death, as if we had washed our washtubs with Spick and Span (dirt free), and now we could all take a clean bath…
But that disappeared after Mabel died in 1981, at the age of eighty-one years old. She had done exactly what she had done a few decades previously, that being, when she dropped the lamp in the cornfields and burnt them all up; the very ones Otis got blamed for. She had fallen and smashed it on the floor this time, and the house went ablaze. She simply retired into a dim corner of the house, behind some of the junk in the pantry: junk Gus had left piled up before he passed on. Things for the car like bolts, and fitting, and so forth. She just kneeled there, touching those pieces as if sorting them out until the smoke and fire covered her like a foot inside a shoe, removing the last of life from her, tossing it—like a kick from a mule behind her, as if she never was.
That’s the way we all figured it was anyways. That’s how the sheriff saw it likewise. When he looking down on her, after the fire settled, chewing his tobacco as usual, checking his timepiece out as usual, and making out his report as required, the report read “No evidence of foul play,” likened to the report he made out pertaining to Otis Wilde Mather’s death.

No: 517 (11-17-2009)

“The Corncob Pipe.”
Winter of 1982


Joe Quinn stood there with his huge broad, hulk of a body, with his hard square large fists.
“What are you up to?” asked Sheriff Donavan.
“Paw left up in the night, gone fishing I suppose, and it got cold here in the house, and things so quiet, I couldn’t sleep none last night. I spent the whole night trying to fix this here boiler Sheriff, what brings you out this way?”
“Can’t get enough steam in that big old boiler haw?” remarked the Sheriff.
“By the time I shut my eyes last night I could hear the steam shutoff, and I woke up myself chilling like a freezing pigeon. Then after a spell, I couldn’t sleep again.”
“Did you relight that pilot-light underneath the boiler?” Asked the sheriff (smoking a corncob pipe that looked as if it was the very one old Otis Wilde Mather had on the night he was beat to death, that appeared to catch the eye of Joe).
Joe stepped back into a dim lit corner of the basement where the boiler was, where the sheriff had seen him through a window of the basement where a light was on—he came to pay them a visit, was hoping to find Otis alone, knowing these winter months his pa did a lot of night and early morning fishing on the frozen lakes (there in Minnesota), he’d drill a hole in the ice, sit in his icehouse, and drink his beer, fish with his friends, and to him that was heaven on earth.
The Sheriff had simply opened up the outside door, walked into the house, and down the steps to the basement where Joe was (kind of inviting himself in, knowing they usually didn’t keep the doors locked there in the countryside).
“Boy, your pa’s got a lot of junk down here, but I suppose one accumulates it after a life time of miscellaneous collecting everything and thinking one day you’ll going to use it (there were valves and rods and so forth, piled here and there).”
Then the sheriff kneeled down to check the pilot-light, a piece of round metal (like a small cylinder) with a hole in its center, which lit the boiler, and its heating pipes above it, and he lit it, then saw the water gauge to the boiler, a glass flask, brass on the top and bottom, showing the water level, which was perhaps less than ten-percent filled, meaning the boiler was pretty near dry.
“You’re going to blow this boiler sky high,” said the sheriff, if you don’t refill it with water, cold water, not hot water—hot water will make it crack in this cold. The pilot’s lit now. Once it’s filled gradually heat it, do you understand Joe?”
Joe didn’t want to wait—he just wanted to turn the attached knobs on the water pipes to the boiler, to get it going, operating. Then the sheriff told Joe, “That’s what you got to do, so are you going to fill this thing properly, or blow us up to kingdom come?”
Joe glanced once more at the boiler, then opened its iron trap door, into its round like enclosure, then spat on it, to see if it was hot, and of course it wasn’t hot. Then he glanced again at the corncob pipe, “That corncob pipe sure looks like I saw it before,” remarked Joe, with a frown, “didn’t it belong to that there Negro from Alabama?”
“You mean Otis Wilde Mather?”
“I tends to my own business, I don’t know a thing about what happened to him—ain’t no trouble of mine.”
The sheriff stood there eagle-eyed, chewing his tobacco, and looking at his watch, “Tell me what you know about the unlawful death of Otis Wilde Matter? I’m just trying to get enough facts so I can close this –reopened case, his family from Ozark, Alabama wants a new, and improved investigation, they said the last one was the worse one they had ever heard of—I mean read. And to be honest, we didn’t do much look into. It’s that brother of his Banister Samuel Jackson Mather doing the asking.”
Joe had waited until the sheriff had finished, then said—blinking his eyes slowly, and taking in a deep breath—surprisingly said, “Okay, okay, just fix the boiler before paw comes home, he’ll have a fit.”
But the sheriff had already started filling the boiler with water—having had already connected a hose attached to one of the pipes to the boiler, and to the sick, turning on the water, opening up the valves to the boiler, and watched the water level in the glass tube rise, filling the boiler up to a half-inch below the top, allowing a free flow of water throughout the boiler. Then he turned the water off, by turning the two knobs counterclockwise, tightening up the valves, so the water would not drain back out.
“What then?” the Sheriff said.
Joe didn’t answer. He stood large and faceless, too quite, a little cold.
“Yes, yes,” Joe said, “we did it. I hit him, paw told me to scare him, so I hit him, and I guess I hit him too hard.”
Now the sheriff turned on the furnace and it lit up boldly.
“You got anything else to say on the matter?” asked the sheriff.
“No,” said Joe, relieved.
“You do as I say, unless you want to spend the rest of your life in jail (Joe nodded his head up and down, indicating he understood; he was tired of it).
“Who else was in that black sedan of young Judge Finley’s, Mabel O’Day’s neighbor said she saw a black sedan that night parked out by the fence, behind that large old oak tree, suspicious like, but hadn’t come forward with the information, knowing it was old Judge Finley’s son’s car?”
Grimly Joe named all four men in the black sedan, to include his self.

For the Back of the Book

The Folklore of the Midwest is enriched by the eleven stories in this volume. The portrait of a Negro and white friendship, cruel insincerity, pure devoted genuineness, as only Dennis L. Siluk, three time poet laureate, can reveal this understated and dramatic interaction of such a relationship. Ranging from a novelette length, these tales bring to life, in majesty and dreadful conditions, a cherished gallery of characters, already know to the reader of Mr. Siluk’s books; in his best narrative voice. These are stories of Shannon O’Day, who survived a drunken father’s abandonment, along with WWI, but never escaped its influences; of his brother Gus, his farm life and those notorious cornfields; and his bosom-buddy, Otis Wilde Mather: from Ozark, Alabama trying to start a new life in Minnesota; and Mabel O’Day (whose infidelity once hidden, comes to life again); Cantina (or, Catherine) Shannon’s only daughter, and her new born; and Old Judge Finley with his ramping and raging of what is a long career in a tempestuous old man’s last years on earth—seeking his nieces child from abroad; all taking place in the heart of the breadbasket country, corn country, and the grim ending of this saga.

This is Dennis’ 44th book, 4th Volume of Natural Writings. He lives in Peru and Minnesota with his wife, Rosa; back picture is of the author meeting the President of Peru, Dr. Alan Garcia, in Lima, 5-15-2010 (whereupon, Garcia greets, and examines Dr. Siluk’s Poetic and cultural books on Peru).