The War Monument

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Cluttered Graves

Jessie watched as the ghost sidled up to the old war monument. "Ya might want ta look away, ma'am." He drawled, unbuttoning his trowsers, "Ah feel the need ta express mah disdain fer the d**ned Yankees."

"You're gonna start something, Sarg." Jessie complained as the skinny old ghost sent a stream of ectoplasm onto the front of the marble statue. Sure enough, out popped Cpl. Leeds, complete with his service revolver. He fired it point blank into the Sargent's chest.

"Heh, heh. Won't do you no good, ya d**ned fool yankee." The Sarg. finished up and redid his pants. "I's already dead."

"I blew a whole clean through you."Smirked the corporal.

"Aw, hell, that ain't nuthin'." Drawled the southerner,"I piddled on yer fancy boots."

Jessie walked away from the statue, shaking her head sadly.The verterans were stirring now, rising up from the manicured lawn covering their graves. Final resting place! She scoffed, These old men would never rest.
They'd been dead for over 140 years, and there they were, fighting the same war that had gotten them killed.

The living were no better, she mused as she made her way to the old spanish graves. The shot that started WW1 was just an extenuation of the hatred in old Sarjevo, as was the ethnic cleansing by the serbs in that part of the world.

When would we ever learn? Jessie found the older graves, ignoring the gun shots from the civil war soldiers as she looked for the grave of Alfredo Villanuevo.This part of the cemetary was overgrown, with scrub oak growing unchecked in the sandy soil and weeds choking the rusty back fence. Many of the tombstones were broken or missing. The salty air made her thirsty, but she resisted the urge to take a sip of the spiced wine hidden in her backpack. That was an offering for the plant, when she found it.

Jessie used a flashlight to check the map she'd copied from courthouse records. Carefully, she shielded the light from the western part of the cemetary, lest she be seen by passing cars; although few took this lonely highway late at night. Marked with a simple wooden cross, the grave should be on the hillside at the back of the cemetary. The bright moon helped Jessie see the windswept graveyard, and she was not long in finding the grave. The wooden cross was gone, but the flower gave him away.

Alfredo Villanuevo was a rancher in these parts back in the 1500's. He was, by all accounts, a brave and generous man. Jessie smiled as the wildflower growing over his remains gave proof to the local legend; this flower was rare, and only graced the resting place of such a man. Delicate white blossoms growing clustered at the end of a thin stalk, it glowed with magic, bleeding a misty white cloud of energy. Swaying in the salty breeze, the flower traced a thin streak of phosphorescent light to mark its path, leaving an after-image painted in the black night air.

Just what the customer ordered. Jessie shifted the weight of her backpack to her left hand and dropped it onto the soil next to the grave, then opened it up. Pulling out supplies, she carefully laid them out.

She had to work fast now. The full moon had reached it's zenith, the best time for gathering this flower. Unfortunately, it left her bathed in the bright moonlight, and fully visable to anyone driving along the coastal highway. All she needed was a vandalism charge.

First, she chanted a blessing, then calmed herself and opened her mind to the influences around her. There, she could feel the dim consiousness of the plant; such magical creatures often had a spirit of their own.

Jessie asked permission of the plant to take it's flower, and poured a libation of wine at the base of the plant in payment.The dry, cracked dirt sucked at the moisture greedily, and she could almost hear the plant's sigh of pleasure. The plant desired more, and Jessie poured out a second helping of the rich wine. Sated, the plant accepted her request.

Taking a silver knife, she cut off the bloom.

A tiny cry of pain rent the night air, and Jessie felt a pang of guilt. She carefully annointed the severed stalk of the plant with a soothing oil, and placed her treasure in a silken bag.

Jessie walked through the cemetary, the manna within the white flower warm in her coat pocket, filling her with a kind of quiet joy. It would be used in a potion which would help her client concieve a child; a purpose for which she felt the plant would have approved.

Skirting the warring soldiers, Jessie headed for the motorcycle that she'd parked just on the other side of the wrought-iron fence. As she quit the graveyard, and rode down the coastal highway toward town,the soldiers fired off their cannon, creating a din that only a few living souls could hear. They'd keep it up, fighting the old war, until dawn.

A graveyard

copyright 2001, by susie76306

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