by Anita Marie Moscoso
Inspired by The Soul Food Cafe Writing Prompt:
It’s a pale gray house set off a dusty road in a dead town called Ninebones Cross.
Of course Nine Bones had a real name and of course it’s a real town, but I’ll bet a lot of people wish it wasn’t…
Ninebones used to be called Calaway and back in 1897 when Seattle became the Gateway to Gold some of the more adventurous Stampeders would take the dark roads out of Seattle and head into the town of Calaway to ‘ increase their odds ‘ of getting rich.
The person they all went to discuss this prospect with was a woman named Calabar Felonway.
Calabar Felonway- that’s what she was called, not Cally, not Miss Felonway, not Ma’am…she was called Calabar Felonway and she used to give advice, for a price, on how to find what your heart desired.
Of course the Stampeders all desired the same thing- and after awhile Calabar Felonway got a little short tempered with the men and women who showed up at her door by moonlight to ask for advice.” Gold ” they’d say there in Calabar Felonway’s Parlor, ” I want to find lots of gold. ”
” Of course you do ” Calabar Felonway would say in her dusty voice in her dusty Parlor by the moonlight trying to make it’s way through her dusty windows.
” You’ll help me then. ” they’d all say.
” No, I won’t help you. What I provide here is a service, it’s a deal my friend, and there is a contract involved and a fee. So I ask you, shall we proceed? ”
” Yes. ” they’d all say with the same desperate edge to their voice and the same empty look in their eyes.
” Fine, ” Calabar would say and she’d motion for them to follow her into her kitchen and then she’d tell them to take a seat at the table
.They never sat though, they’d just stand there and say, ” I don’t want to sit , just tell me what I have to do.”
They all did what they were told. It’s funny though how they were able to do that when none of them listened.
The cost for advice from Calabar Felonway was a bottle of rum, a fresh kill (as long as it was warm blooded and didn’t come from the Sea) and for that very small price she’d make you rich, she’d make someone fall in love with you, Calabar Felonway would give you what your heart desired.
That’s what she told Dyer Frost one late evening, and after he paid the fee she whispered into Dyer’s ear where he would find the gold and the future that was in store for him.
She threw that part in for free.
He got up and said, ” I’m going to be rich. I am going to be a very rich and happy man ”
” Yes you are. ”
Then as Dyer went back over the words Calabar Felonway had hissed into his ear he found to his horror he couldn’t remember the specifics.
The directions to the vein of gold that would make him that man he saw in his head, the happy rich man, were gone.
Next he could feel the pictures of his wonderful future framed in pure gold being pulled- thread by golden thread- from his head.
Before they were gone he said in terror, ” It’s going…God help me I’m losing it all.”
” Now that I have your attention I”ll tell you how this works,” she told him. “I have to draw you a map and you have to keep it with you at all times. If you lose sight of it even for a minute you’ll forget everything. You’ll even forgot you have a map and you’ll be just like the rest of those sad desperate fools scratching in those mines for gold like those mice scratching away in my pantry over there for food.
So that’s the deal Mr Frost, you can’t lose site of my map even for a second.”
” It’s a deal,” he said.
” It’s a burden, ” she told him.But of course he didn’t hear that.
They never did.
Dyer Frost went out to the edge of Calaway to get his map.
When Calabar Felonway had told him she’d leave it for him hanging from the Dancing Tree where Ninebones Cross and the blood drained from his face she laughed- she laughed for a very long time and then she said ” Come now, you didn’t think this was going to be pleasant did you?
“Dyer guessed not and as he turned to leave she said, ” Oh and by the way I’d get there before sunrise if I were you. ”
He didn’t ask why, they never did.
He did make it too the Dancing Tree before sunrise- he ran all the way which was funny because he ran straight passed his horse that was tethered right outside of Calabar Felonway’s house.
There was his map, hanging as promised from the Dancing Tree where Ninebones Cross- the same Dancing Tree where men, women and children met their deaths at the end of a rope.
The same tree where everyone in town knows nine bones buried by betrayal and treachery are caught in the roots of that twisted oak tree.
When the wind blew through the leaves of the Dancing Tree you could hear whispering- that was the story and it was true. It was enough to age a person but during Dyer Frost’s day the only visitors to the Dancing Tree weren’t exactly empathetic to the sounds of Souls in Torment.
They were to busy being consumed by their own when they reached for that map.
Dyer’s Map like all the others were inked and illustrated in a skilled hand. Dyer’s map like all the others-
were tattooed onto the backs of the dead.