A Faraway Song (Part 18)

One of Brown Suit's Rabbits

One of Brown Suit’s Rabbits

I closed my eyes so I could roll them without him seeing me do it, but that did not work.

“You don’t believe me, boy?  You think I am a mad man, some kind of crazy old-timer who believes in cryptic kids of evil you cannot see?  An unbalanced old man?”

“Kind of, yes.  This evil you describe, unseen and mysterious, it seems like a bunch of superstition to me.  What proof do you have that it exists?”

Brown Suit stood up as he replied.  “I have been here many years, more than you probably would believe, and I have seen it hunt down the people around here.  It took me awhile to understand it, how it thinks and what it wants, but I finally did figure it out.  Since then I have tried to protect this place and the people who live here, at least as much as I can.  Sometimes I have failed.”  He stopped talking then, a slight quiver in his jaw which he fixed by clamping his mouth shut.  After a moment he continued.  “I have failed occasionally, terribly, but only a few times.  I have done my best.”  I thought he might be crying as he finished, or about to, as his eyes were glistening but it was hard to be certain.  He turned his head away quickly and I left it alone, asking another question instead.

“What does it want?”

“It wants to feed, to eat people and consume their souls.”

“And rabbits have what to do with that exactly?”

“It’s easily distracted, so eager to feed that it will chase the most obvious thing that it gets a scent for, chase it down until it catches that thing.  I use rabbits to keep it sated as much as I can”

“And then what?  It’s full so it doesn’t go after the people around here?”  I could hear the derision in my voice as I spoke those words and so could Brown Suit.

“See, you are not willing to believe, just as I suspected!  Yes, it feeds on life energy, any life energy.  And yes, rabbits serve that purpose, to fulfill that need so it doesn’t hunt humans.  Laugh all you want to but I am right about it, right about what it wants and how to distract it.”  He sat back down again.

“Based on what?  How do you know you are right?”

“I’ve kept it at bay, for the most part anyway.  That’s all you need to know.”

I waited a minute before replying, taking a long drink of water as I thought through what he had said.  Draining the glass I set it down and spoke.

“You said the mine was dangerous but then went thirty miles away to release that rabbit.  Is the mine dangerous because the presence you think exists is there?  And if so, then again, why go all that way, in the opposite direction, to feed it the rabbit?”

“The mine is dangerous for many reasons, but yes the evil presence is one of them.  It travels through, in a cycle around this area.  I’ve figured out that cycle and I go to the place it will be.”

A bad thought struck me as he spoke and I confronted him with it.  “Is that why you told me the lie about where the mine was?  Did you, I mean, were you trying to get me to go there so this thing could, well, eat me?”  I tried to say it indignantly but I caught a small amount of fear in my own voice.  I mean, if he really believed in this presence and had told me information that might send me toward it, was he actually trying to get me killed?  Brown Suit stayed silent, just looking back at me.  I shrugged off my thought, burying it under my own disbelief in his whole story.

In my mind I was putting a check mark next to the “crazy” box for Brown Suit but still hoped to get some more information out if him.  I tried a different topic.

“Why won’t you tell me your name?”

He stayed silent.

“Ok, how about this one.  Why is it that no one hardly ever moves into or out of Clyde Forks?”

He blinked slowly and shook his head, like he was waking up from some kind of trance.  I thought he was going to stay silent but he spoke.

“I suppose because they like the place.”

“But no one moving in or out?  That seems really strange.  And why have there never been any children here?”

“There have been.  Every place has children.”

“Well, not many that I could tell.  You know there is an old woman, lives up around the corner there off Clyde Forks Road.  She showed me a bunch of pictures and hardly any of them had children in them.  Doesn’t that seem strange to you?”

“I know who you are talking about.  She’s a bit lonely I think, probably talked your ear off and more than likely told you what you wanted to hear.  As for her pictures, well, it’s true that there have never been many children around here.”

“But why?”

“Good question.”

“Damn it!”  I slammed my hand down on the table as I spoke.  “You say you know about this place and then give me cryptic answers, stories about unseen evil and silence when you don’t want to answer a question!  Are you going to help me or not?”

“I’m trying to help you, but you are not getting my message.  The help you need is to understand that this place is not for you.  You need to leave and go away.  Our mysteries are not for you to understand.”

I shook my head, frustrated and mad.  I decided to keep trying.

“I heard a child around here that night, the one where I came over here and spoke to you and you got so mad.  Do you remember?”

“I remember you coming over and talking nonsense.”

“I know what I heard and there is no place near here where it could have carried from as you suggested.  That child is here, in Clyde Forks.  Why are you denying it?  And why is it being hidden?”

Brown Suit rubbed his forehead before replying.  “Children are precious and must be taken very good care of.  Surely you agree?”

“Of course.  And are you admitting that there is a child here?”

“I’m simply telling you that children are very precious.  Now, are we done?”

“I don’t think so.  Tell me about this child.”

He stood up and went over to the door, opening it quickly without having to shake the handle.  “We are done.”


…to be continued

A Faraway Song (Part 17)

I drove slowly over there, thinking about how I was going to approach him if he was home.  I had quite a few questions for him running through my mind and I realized that asking them could easily elicit  a hostile response.  Brown Suit had not seemed that friendly even at the best of times. My interrogating him about the strange things in Clyde Forks, and more specifically about his own behavior, was probably not going to improve his mood.  Still, I felt that I needed to do it.

As I turned onto Cemetery Road I slowed down even more, my thoughts switching to the mention of an Otto Clements who had been reported as living on this road.  It seemed probable that he still lived there and I was hoping to find his name on one of the mailboxes that lined the road.  That, however, turned out to be yet another odd thing about the place, as not one of them had even an address on the side.  I had not noticed it before but all of those mailboxes looked the same, the standard model you might imagine and either black or green in color.  Only one had any kind of identifying mark on it, a faded sticker of a Canadian flag attached to Shotgun’s box.  As I pulled up at the end of the road, off to the side of Brown Suit’s driveway, he opened his side door and stood there looking at me.  I walked over and put on my friendliest face.

“Hello!  I was hoping that you would be home.  Do you have a few minutes to talk?”

He was not wearing his fedora and his hair looked slightly disheveled.  He scratched at his long scar as he replied.

“About what, boy?”

“Well, you asked me before if I liked history and this place, well, I have questions about it that I thought you might be able to help me with.  You seem to know a lot about things around here.”  I thought appealing to his vanity might work.  I waited as he stared at me, still scratching at his scar.  Finally he turned around and walked inside, calling, “Fine, come in,” over his shoulder.  Once we were seated at the table, again with glasses of water, he spoke.

“What is it that you want to know?”

I took a deep breath before starting, wondering how far I would get before he became angry and threw me out.

“Does someone live here with you?”

“Why do you care?” he growled back, his voice as always sounding right inside my ear.

“I’m just wondering I guess, it’s just a getting to know you kind of a question.”

“What’s your next one?”

Strike one for me I thought before going on.  “You told me that the mine was thirty miles away.  I found out that was not true and that it really is just a few miles from your house here.  Why lie to me about that?”

“I thought it was obvious that you shouldn’t go there but you weren’t listening.  I was trying to protect you.”

“From what?” I replied.

“Danger naturally.”  Brown Suit was answering calmly now, his voice softer than when we started.

“I went there you know, with the reverend, and nothing happened.  I’m here, all safe and sound.”

“That doesn’t mean you weren’t in danger.”

“Again, from what?”

He just looked back at me with a face that was serious and also sympathetic, like I was too stupid to understand what I was facing.  He stayed silent so I continued.

“You know, I followed you one day, out toward Mississippi Mills.  Past it a bit, onto that dirt road.”  I paused, figuring that would get some kind of reaction but Brown Suit just sat there with that same look on his face.  “And then you walked back into the woods and released that rabbit.  What was that all about? What is your whole rabbit collection in your backyard here all about?”

He leaned forward, elbows on the table, before speaking.  “You had no business following me around, boy.  What I do is not your concern, or wasn’t any of your concern anyway until you decided to stick your nose into it.  You want answers?  Do you want to understand something about this place? Do you really want to learn something?”  His face had darkened as he spoke, eyes seeming to glow in the deep recesses of his face.  He repeated himself. “Do you really want to understand?”

I nodded but that was apparently not enough, as Brown Suit continued to look at me silently, a demanding scowl on his face.  I spoke softly.  “Yes.”

“Fine then.  Maybe this time you will listen to me and stop this little adventure you are on.”  Leaning back into the chair he drank some of his water, then slowly and deliberately set the glass back down.  His facial features were still tense as he resumed speaking.  “Let’s begin with rabbits, which you seem to know little about.  I’m sure you think that rabbits are soft and fuzzy little animals, cute but a little skittish?”

“Well, yeah, sure,” I replied.

“Rabbits are also known as Fear Callers by Native Americans.  I suspect you didn’t know that and don’t know why, do you?”

I shook my head in reply and he continued.

“Rabbits, even when they are just sitting there looking at you, even when they may seem perfectly normal, are incredibly afraid.  It is their natural condition.  They are so afraid, so timid and scared, that they actually project that fear outward, like a call into the wilderness, a call that attracts predators.  It draws in those who want to eat them.”

“That’s creepy and weird.”

“Maybe, but it is also very useful.  They can be used to attract predators toward them and also draw them away from other prey at the same time.  Plus, they are relatively stupid animals and easy to catch, so not only do they attract hungry hunters but those animals also end up eating them almost every time.  It makes for satisfied predators.  Do you understand me so far?”

“Yes, I get it.  What does that have to do with anything around here?”

“To understand that you need to be willing to believe in evil.  Do you?”

“What kind if evil?  Cultural? Religious?”

“I mean real evil, unnamed and unseen, the kind that exists in this world but which we never want to face, never want to deal with.  The kind that is simply part of nature and hunts us all.”


…to be continued