The Dead Past
dark domain throw their evil upon our world. I must fight them for I am Crummler ! And the universal battle between chaos and order is never-ending. Stars have been born and died in the same breath while ..." He kept going, bopping and weaving between frenzy and exhilaration, but I didn't listen anymore. The occasional "Uh- huhs " and " yeahs " I muttered were enough to keep him happy.
    "Your folks are nice," he said.
    "Yes, they are."
    "The ghost was here again," he said. "Chasing me with the willow switches."
    "What did you do to him?"
    Crummler slunk low where he stood, grin gone. "I ran and locked the door and read the bible." His eyes flitted, intense features contorting from his usual amiable countenance into someone who was panic-stricken. "It banged on the windows and said that it hated me."
    No matter what weird fantasies and stories he came up with, Crummler was always vibrant and filled with manic passion. Now he stood before me a scared child.
    "It wouldn't tell me, but I think it's mad because I didn't keep its grave nice."
    "You keep all the graves nice. You keep the cemetery immaculate."
    "Yes, I do," he answered. "But not the Field."
    Every town has a Potter's Field, whether they admit to it or not. Felicity Grove's was at the southern tip of the cemetery, an overgrown area straight out of a gothic novel. The twisted brushline strangled itself, branches growing together locked in battle. Even Crummler couldn't do much with the landscape, though he tried. But he didn't like to cut down trees, even those dead and diseased, and so the place was destined to decay because too many people before him had let the field become dense and rotted.
    "Show me," I said.
    He led me to the place where the vagrants, aborted, mad, and the hanged were buried nearly a century before. These were unmarked graves, identified only by a number carved into stone near the bottom.
    There were willow switches laid against the marker. "Who is buried here?"
    "Nobody," he answered.
    "There must still be records."
    "They're nobody," he said. "They are all nobody." He pointed. "Unholy ground. It's where they used to put the criminals and abandoned babies they found. Pauper's funeral. The county pays. Now they give them real gravestones on the other side of the yard."
    "What's the most recent plot here in the Field?"
    "It was a long time ago, but I remember. Ten years, maybe. Or eleven. I wasn't that good at taking care of the place back then."
    That wasn't so long ago, I thought. Even so recent as ten years ago our town was burying its lost dead here without so much as a name.
    "It's better to let them stay buried, Jon," Crummier said. " Nobodies don't like to be moved around much." He shuddered and snapped his fingers, the wire burning again. He smiled brightly. "I sure didn't."

EIGHT
     
    Church bells pealed twelve, resonating sadly across the town square. Instead of being vitalized by the gorgeous afternoon, the lack of sleep was catching up with me, and I found myself sluggish and grim. My stitches were on fire. The time I'd spent with Katie had been overshadowed by memories of murder, and for the first time since my childhood, Crummler's rantings disturbed me. And I didn't know why.
    My stomach had been rumbling for a while before I noticed hunger pangs had set in. I stopped at the Maple Ridge Diner to get some lunch. The waitress came around to take my order and I let out a loud, raspy yawn. "Sorry. I don't mean to be rude."
    "That's okay, I know how you feel," she said. "Two girls are out sick and I've been here since the six AM rush. I'm ready for a siesta myself." She had a copy of today's Gazette under her arm. "In case you want to read something. Most guys do when they're eating alone." Apparently Merlin's turkey was no longer note-worthy news. The headline read: FALLEN TREE DAMAGES COUNTY CLERK'S DOGHOUSE. NO ONE HURT. "Good thing Chase was inside for the night!" says owner, Mitchell Luserke .
    I asked for a turkey on rye and tossed

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