God's Kingdom

God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher

Book: God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Howard Frank Mosher
corn, more Good & Plenties, flying from balcony to balcony. Some seemed aimed at Crazy himself. A three-ring binder struck his leg. A lunch box narrowly missed his head.
    The editor and Prof ran to Crazy’s side, held up their hands, and shouted at the mob to stop throwing things. Crazy continued to stand at the foul line, knees slightly bent, the ball cradled in his big hands just above his head. Then he lowered the ball and set it down on the line.
    In a blizzard of popcorn, hard and soft candies, peanuts and peanut shells, with his hands held up to his eyes like horse blinders, Crazy turned and walked across the gym floor toward the stairs at the far end of the court. Shielding his eyes, he glanced back over his shoulder once, as if checking to be sure that the ball was still where he left it.
    As Crazy continued toward the stairs, an empty pop bottle, bright and flashing, caught him flush on the left temple. All Jim could be sure of was that the flying glass bottle had come from somewhere behind him in the home balcony. Crazy sank to his knees as if to pray. Then he crumpled sideways onto the court.
    The gym fell deathly quiet.
    *   *   *
    Whoever threw the pop bottle that killed Jim’s cousin was never charged. Maybe the bottle was meant for the Landingites and slipped out of the thrower’s hand. No one ever came forward to testify, much less accept responsibility for the boy’s death. In an editorial in the Monitor entitled “The Stoning of Philmore Kinneson,” Jim’s father wrote that it was the feud itself that had killed Crazy, and the two towns should be prosecuted for murder.
    The entire Common seemed to turn out for Crazy Kinneson’s funeral. Donors came together to commission a granite tombstone in his memory, with a regulation-size, carved granite basketball on top. But Crazy’s story didn’t end there. One snowy evening several weeks after his death the defunct distillery caught fire again. This time it burned to the ground. That same night the Lake Kingdom House in the Landing, closed for the winter, went up in flames.
    â€œAt least they can’t lay these latest fires to Crazy’s door,” Jim told his father the next morning.
    â€œDon’t be too sure about that, James,” the editor said, and as usual, he was right. At first each village blamed its most recent fire on its rival. But the blackened ruins of the distillery and the old resort hotel were still smoking when a new rumor began to fly through the towns. Crazy’s ghost had returned to God’s Kingdom and set the fires.
    Jim’s father summed it up in a second editorial. “We needed a hero and a scapegoat,” he wrote. “Philmore Kinneson was unfortunate enough to be both, in life and in death.”

    Only in the Kingdom
    With the help of a red ox named Samson, Charles II and I built the Academy from pink, or “Scotch,” granite blocks quarried on Canada Mountain by stonecutters from New Canaan. Except for Samson, whose task it was to turn a bull wheel atop a platform reached by a series of inclined ramps, and thereby raise the one-ton granite blocks, we had very little assistance, but dozens and even scores of superintendents, and you may be sure that not one thing Charles or Samson or I did was right. At last the walls were erected. But imagine our astonishment, and the gleeful delight of the superintendents, when Samson refused to descend the ramps to terra firma. Sadly, we were constrained to butcher the poor beast on high, whereupon we held a great, free ox roast on the Common at which about half of our self-anointed superintendents declared that we had burned the beef, the other half that the meat was so bloody underdone they could not lay a lip over it.

    Mike the Moose appeared on the village green in the bottom of the ninth inning of the opening game of the Northern Vermont Town Team League between

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