The “BED OF PROCRUSTES” or “PROCRUSTEAN BED” has become proverbial for arbitrarily – and perhaps ruthlessly – forcing someone or something to fit into an unnatural scheme or pattern.
Penny Ramsey grew up on a story about a body that was buried under the Oak Tree in her front yard. There was nothing remarkable about the tree; it was big and twisted and lost it’s leaves at about the same time every year.
One Spring when Penny was 12 had carved her name and her boyfriend’s name into one of the Gobbler Sawtooth’ s upper branches
Then when she was 16 she fell out of it trying to scrape their names off.
Given that was the most exciting thing that had happened anywhere near the Gobbler Sawtooth in years it was probably best that Penny did all she could to keep the story about the body under the tree alive.
The Body Under The Tree
Kyle Greene was the city of Camargo’s ‘ Landscape Guy’. The way it worked was if you could afford to pay someone other then a high school guy to mow your lawn and rake your leaves you called Kyle Greene and he’d do it.
He’d show up in his Ford pickup truck with the gun rack in the rear window and he’d fire up his lawn mower and zip it around your yard and have the entire job done in half the time of his younger counterparts.
Then if you could talk him into it he’d probably fix those leaky faucets and cracked windows and replace your window screens too.
Kyle wasn’t an overly ambitious worker and on top of the gasoline smell and cut grass smell you could catch a whiff of whatever it was that made Kyle’s eyes turn red.
Most people thought he was a loser.
But what you thought didn’t mean that Kyle didn’t take a certain amount of pride in his work-because he did. He understood the yards and the people who lived in the houses he worked on from time to time better then he understood himself.
So years ago when he was younger and he accidentally ran his mower into Mrs. Bronson’s Gobbler Sawtooth Kyle was more then embarrassed.
He was furious.
No way should he have hit that tree, he was going just the right speed and was sailing around the corner of the house just like always when all of the sudden that tree was right there in the middle of the path instead of next to it.
He killed the mower and jumped off and the next thing he knows Mrs. Bronson- all one million and a half years old of her is charging down the front steps and she’s yelling- not shrieking or sounding old lady like but bellowing – ” Good God Kyle Greene, what the Hell is the matter with you?”
” I’m sorry Mrs. Bronson…look, the tree is fine. It’s not even marked. Go ahead and take a look “
Mrs. Bronson inspected the tree and when she stood back up she told Kyle ” This isn’t just any tree you know. My sister is buried under it. “
Then she checked the tree one more time and went back into her house and Kyle stood there under the tree for a very long time before he got back to work.
It took a few more years but Kyle finally got Mrs. Bronson to talk about her sister whose name was Lacy Grayford.
Lacy smoked and drank and stole and ran away from home at least a half dozen times before she was 13. If something was missing or dead or injured Lacy Grayford was the reason why- it’s not an exaggeration it was the truth.
Then the summer Lacy turned 17, little Amanda Pearce was found floating face down in the duck pond at Veterans Park.
The police went to the Grayford home and after they left both Officers recalled seeing Lacy leaning against the Oak Tree in the side yard talking to her father as they drove off.
They were the last two people to see Lacy Grayford alive.
Mrs. Bronson, who was known as Isabel Grayford in those days, woke up the next morning to find the ground under the Oak Tree- or the Gobbler Sawtooth (as her Mother called it) turned up and her father was sitting on the back steps with the shovel laying to his left.
His head was in his lap and the knife he used to take his own life was at his feet.
Isabel grew up and old in her family’s home and she passed away while walking down the same steps her Father had died on all those years ago.
That’s the house Penny Ramsey grew up in- and she’d sit under the Gobbler Sawtooth and tell stories about Lacy the Psycho and Mrs. Bronson who insisted there was a body buried in her yard. She’d insist- much to the secret delight of most people- at places like Church Functions and Weddings and Baby Showers and Christmas Parties.
Amused yes…who wouldn’t be? Keep in mind though that Mrs. Bronson left this Earth with a worse reputation then her sister Lacy
Penny didn’t see it that way.
Penny Ramsey understood why Mrs. Bronson told those stories when she did.
If she hadn’t had Lacy and Isabel to talk about Penny would have been an average teenager with average looks who watched too much TV, wore the wrong clothes and listened to the wrong music and she would have never had much to say for herself.
But in the small town of Camargo Penny was the girl who had a body buried in her yard and weird as it was- that made her somebody.
It was just before the 4th of July that Penny decided to look for Lacy Grayford.
She was tired of the stories and she was bored of the same old type of attention. So Penny decided to be more then the girl who had a body buried in her yard. She decided to be the cool chick that found the skeleton of Lacy Grayford in her yard.
Penny stood there for a minute and tried to decide where to start digging. She looked up at the house and from where she was standing she could see the windows and the walkway.
She guessed Mr Grayford probably wanted a little privacy for what he needed to do all those years ago- and in a way so did Penny so she walked around the tree and she started to dig.
And she dug and dug and after awhile she went from feeling sore to feeling stupid.
Penny Ramsey was pretty sure she wasn’t going to find a body, and she was also very sure that when word got around that she had dug a six foot deep hole in her yard to find the bones of a murderer she was going to fill the slot of town Looney so completely that they’d set the Looney Standard by Penny Ramsey.
With a pile of dirt Penny went from being somebody to being something else all together and she gripped her shovel and she started to sweat.
That’s how Amanda Tully from school found Penny in the yard that day.
Penny was sweating and pale and shaking and Amanda couldn’t tell if Penny was crying or laughing but that sound she was making was just wrong- she sounded like a cat with something caught in it’s throat.
” Penny…look at this mess, what are you doing? Are you crazy? “
Penny looked up from her shovel and down into the hole under the Gobbler Sawtooth and she shrugged before she swung at Amanda, ” It looks that way.”