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Dead Men Dwarf at Winsor Ruins
By Parker Chamberlain
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2012 Parker Chamberlain
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLoons Treasure Hunt
Uncle Guy was outside waiting for us at his house on the South side of Winsor Plantation, which is now Alcorn State University. His house was located in the middle of a cornfield. The university provided him with a home, as he worked for the university as a crop inspector for the Agra-Business department. We arrived in the back of a 1954 Chevy pickup truck. Cousin Loon was a stringy looking eleven year old with buck shots of hair that were a quick reminder of her temperament. Loon was the sister of James Banks Jr., lovingly called Old Mann, his brother, Will Banks was nicknamed Winky. These were my childhood playmates that formed a large part of my country escapades, drawn to a backdrop of river towns, beginning with Port Vicksburg, Port Gibson, Lorman, Port Rodney and Fayette, Mississippi. My hometown of Vicksburg taught me city living and other late twentieth century ways, merging with an eighteenth century mist of social oppression and social change
Loon, Old Mann, Winky, my sister V (who we called Nasa) and I (given name Parker, but called Bredear) were piled in the truck telling jokes and poking fun for thirty-five miles to Uncle Guy's house. As we banged and clattered down the potholes, Loon's buck shots were making a swishing sound as the wind passed through her hair, giving her the look of Medusa, the fable Greek goddess, to look at her would turn you to stone.
We spent many moments teasing Loon calling her Stone face. We arrived with chattering teeth and vibrating lips from the potted, potholed, gravel road, the truck came to a smooth stop, Gramp's door cracked open and we hopped out. The smell of fresh cooked bacon, eggs and the aroma of corn and sweet onion filled the moist morning air.
Two blue tick hounds named "You Know" and "I Know" greeted us with growling and howling as we approached the front steps, we were soon reminded that strangers must not go into the house until invited.
They took great joy at nipping at our heels and toes, if we attempted to enter Uncle Guy's house without escort. We all peered at the shotgun house with a large white picket fence, red, white and blue windmills lazily spinning in the wind and four large birdhouses swaying on long poles.
We received warm hugs as we approached the steps by Aunt Nunny Lee, a narrow wisp of a woman with big, round green Cajun eyes. Skinny as a rail, she welcomed each one of us children into her living room. It was a place of beautiful shelves of angels, Aunt Jamima ceramics, and nursery rhyme ceramics. Little Jack Horner, eating cherry pie, Pus in Boots, Little Boy Blue, Hey diddle, diddle the Cat and the Fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon, and may others filling each corner of the room. In the center of the room was a black Ben Franklin wood burning stove, well maintained and quiet for mid June.
There was a cool breeze blowing through the back door past the McCormick wood range carrying with it the smell of fresh fried bacon, and other goodies that had flooded our senses before our entry.
We were anxious to get outside to play and find the barn to see what adventures were waiting to be found or what treasures were hidden in the woods and forest beyond the boundaries of the tree line and corn fields.
"You guys want breakfast?" asked Uncle Guy.
With big smiles we spoke all at once, "yeah, we're starved!" We all headed for the kitchen table, set in a red and white checkerboard square tablecloth. Breakfast was Deep South grits, eggs, bacon, biscuits, coffee, buttered toast and fresh cut roasted corn.
"While you fellas are out playing, stay away from the Winsor Crossing, don't get on the old bridge and don't go near the plantation ruins. There have been some strange happenings going on down there, sink holes and animals disappearing.
I lost four cows and three pigs to those ruins. So, stay away! You can play anywhere else but watch for snakes, 'cause this is Copper Head and Rattlesnake country," exclaimed Uncle Guy.
As we all laughed Old Mann said with his snaggle tooth grin, "we be snake killa's!" Loon danced on her stick legs a two step gig with her buck shots and tiny red barrettes jiggling looking like a pixie, she cried out, "we be snake killa's!"
Winky followed Loon's two step gig exclaiming, "we be treasure hunta's and snake killa's!" Round and round they danced until everyone laughed at the sight. They looked like two skinny little monkeys dancing.
Belly whopping laughter erupted and we ran out the back door towards Big Red, the barn, our favorite meeting place to plan our treasure hunts. From the top of the barn, we had the perfect view of any person approaching Big Red.
1 Loon said, "Winsa is supposed to have Dead Man Gold hid by the Lod Winsa himself. My Pappy says he killed ten black slaves to protect his treasure until he come back to claim it. Pappy says Lod Winsa said, 'in the blood of all you does you swear to protect all my holdings in life and death to use the demon power in creation any means necessary until I Lod Winsa call you back and release you.' 'Ye-sa Lod Winsa,' the slaves replied. With ten shots, all ten were laid clockwise around the treasure and each sprinkled with white devil dust so the ten souls belong to him and all his kin."
Nasa asked, "Loon, is you crazy?! You expect us to go up against dust devils and the likes to find this treasure?"
Winky's eyes were as big as marbles and shaking from fear, his voice whispering, "two years ago, me and Pappy was looking for Unca Guy's cows and stumbled on to the old grave of dead Bon Jim, Lod Winsa, the master in charge of all slaves. We found his name carved in the Dwarf Tree on the south forty acres of the plantation. Pappy looked around and found nine broken swords stuck in the ground with only the handles sticking up in a circle."
Winky's eyes had grown to the size of balloons now and his voice sunk lower, "Pappy started to dig at the first sword, he got ten shovels of dirt moved, and then all of a sudden there was whistling and howling at high speed through the air as though being hurled by a million rock slingers. The Dwarf Tree itself climbs, twisted clockwise at the base which was eight feet thick, the limbs cracked and popped twisting upward and it began to lean all the way over the grave site. Pappy looked at me and said 'we's found it and no matter what you see or hear don't pay it no mind; the evil spirits are just trying to scare us away.' Pappy looked back in the hole he was digging and screamed, 'O Lod, there's a zillion spiders and snakes down here!' He hopped sideways out of the hole, I looked behind me and there was a big 2,000 pound Black Angus bull with blood red eyes and blood dripping from his mouth with fire surrounding him. Pappy's feet was spinning, so was mine and we ran so fast the soles of our shoes came off."
There was loud roaring laughter from Loon, Nasa, Bredear and Winky. Old Mann was belly laughing and rolling on the barn floor.
In defense Winky said, "Pappy was running so fast he jumped three barbwire fences. We looked back and the black bull disappeared and there was no stopping Pappy or me from running like crazy. When we got across the field and stopped to catch our breath Pappy said, '"look, we saw a swarm of little white balls of light the size of golf balls moving in a circle around the Devil Tree." Pappy and I hobbled toward home with swollen feet, scared as rabbits. Pappy said, "boy them spirits is bad, they are more powerful than anything I ever seen. We need us a fire and brimstone preacher! Yeah boy, we need Reverend Jo Henry Brown and his helper John P. Lee. They know how spirits think and have devil dust that they can't cross and they have some magic potions that will help get the dead man's gold!'"
Winky said, "You know Loon, Pappy died before he could go back so it's up to us to go and get the gold. We need Jo Henry and John P. Lee."
Chapter TwoHoly Men Witches Brew & Spit Fire
Loon rolled her eyes in a circle and said, "All us need is the Bible, Holy water, a sack of devil dust, some Cat Balou and Chigga powder, and eight skinny black elbows, a digging, sure enough."
Nasa asked Loon, "Is you crazy? The devil don't give a cat's tail about no Holy water. We need a fire and brimstone Holy man. Reverend Jo ain't gonna come today or tomorrow so's what in the heck ya'll fretting for. The only way to get rid of them haunts and evil spirits today is ghost powder and witch brew. The Holy Bible, a whole slew of crosses, a keg of prayer water and a gallon of corn whiskey to pour on the graves to keep them drunk until we gets the gold."
Loon said, "We's got to pray up a storm and chew a half cut of a day's work tobacco for spittin' them spirits away and dash the Holy water all around in a circle of that Devil Tree and stick fifteen of them crosses outside the Holy water circle and ten crosses round them graves with the swords to hold them spirits in the graves. Then pour salt around each grave so's they can't get out to scare the dickens out of us."
"Loon, where the heck you going to get tobacco?" asked Winky.
Loon reached in her skinny little v-neck blouse and retrieved a full cut of a day's work of tobacco and her round eyes rolled sideways with a snaggle tooth smile and said, "Grand Pappy won't miss it." With a skinny leg, gig hop she reached under her dress and produced the salt box from the breakfast table and with half a frog leap hip hop she crossed the barn floor and opened the tool shed. She grabbed two shovels, two large cotton sacks, two pick axes, a keg of corn whiskey, two gallons of Holy water and a bag of devil dust with a cross bone and skull with three X's.
Old Mann yelled, "Loon, where the heck did you get all this stuff? You know Grand Pappy is going to kill you if he finds out about his missing tobacco!"
Loon danced a double gig looking like a black long legged spider monkey. "We's gonna be rich! We's snake killa's, ghost killa's, and holy rollies." Everyone joined in the singing, "snake killa's, ghost killa's, ooh la la, snake killa's, ghost killa's, ooh la la." Loon was gig hopping in a circle and it was a sight to see. Loon yelled, "Come on ya'll! Let's demon stomp and devil stomp to keep them spirits in the ground!"
Winky locked his arm in Loon's and they looked like two spider monkeys dancing in a circle. Old Mann joined in, then Nasa all chanting, "snake killa's, ghost killa's, ooh la la, holy rollies, holy rollies, ooh la la, holy rollas, holy rollas-ooh-la-la. Snake killa's, ghost killa's, ooh la la. Ghost dust, ghost dust, ooh la la, devil dust, devil dust, oh my gosh, dead men, dead men, ooh la la, holy rollas, holy rollas stay in the squash!"
BreDear jumped in, "Hey! How ya'll going to get God to okay this holiness?" You could hear a pin drop when I said that, the gig stopped. Every eye, as big as spittoons, looked dumbafied. There was mumbling and whispering among the group.
"Yeah Loon, what if God don't throw in with this hunt for treasure?" Nasa asked.
"Then we's going to pray up a storm until he throws in," responded Loon. "Now on ya knees sinnas." Loon reached under her dress and brought out a blue royal Masonic Bible, Prince Hall Edition. "Ya'll sinnas form a circle," Loon directed.
We all went to our knees, and chanted long and loud, "yes, Lod hear our prayers, we's a calling you Lod to help us this day. Lod, we's poor children and need you to help run these ghosts and devils straight to Hell. We's begging Lod to help the Holy Spirit to wrap around us right here and right now. We's your humble servants Lod and we wants to be rich, humble, servants Lod. We's going to give to build a church for them poor people who don't know you Lod. We's going to give a whole lot back for your glory Lod."
BreDear prayed, "Lord, Please hear our prayer. Knock and the door shall be opened, seek and ye shall find, ask and it shall be given to you now, Lod." All of a sudden we heard the sound of distant thunder. Loon opened one eye, eyeball rolling around in a circle saying, "He answered, Lod, Lod, he answered." Distant
Chapter ThreeBig Black Oreo's
thunder clapped three more times, then two and then slow distant rolling thunder.
Loon flew into a hop leaping frenzy and looked like a spider monkey hopping from tree to tree. Winky locked arms and got into to the frenzy head bobbing, going around and around on pixie stick legs. Old Mann with skinny legs flying, shoe leather flopping, coverall hanging by one strap, locked arms and joined the frenzy. "Good Lod have mercy, good Lod have mercy! We called you on that royal telephone, good Lod so have mercy," we chanted. We danced and then Nasa jumped in the fling and joined us.
BreDear asks Loon, "What makes you think he answered you?"
The dancing stopped and you could hear a pin drop.
Loon replies, "there ain't a cloud in the sky so what else could it be?" She chants, "Thank you Lod, oh thank you Lod. Lod hears us, yes sir he sure did hear us so let's go." We set off on the adventure, Loon with Bible in hand, and Winky with shovel in one hand, cotton sack over his right shoulder. Nasa grabbed the Holy water and the keg of corn whiskey. BreDear took the salt and the sack of thirty crosses. We headed out the back of the barn and across the sun lit meadow along the pig trail into the woods across from the bubbling brook, up the rolling hills and in the valley into the black forest. One hour later we emerged at the Winsor Crossing Rail road. The big black bridge was a stone's throw away and Loon was eyeing the bridge nervously. "Well we's here but let's have a snack before we cross," she suggested.
She removed the sack and Winky opened it. It contained a box of saltines, a roll of red summer sausage, a package of cinnamon rolls, four tins of red kippers, four pints of jungle juice and a half pack of Oreo cookies. Loon laid out a little blanket of napkins and on each napkin she put six crackers, and broke a quarter piece of summer sausage for each and one cinnamon roll. Also, she placed three kippers and one pint of juice. She prayed, "Lod bless these vittles and these drinks on Jesus name as quick as we can eat them, amen." We ate lunch quickly and quietly, looking forlornly at the bridge. We were apprehensive, yet determined. We wrapped
Chapter FourThe Corner Stone
up lunch and repacked the sacks and began to cross the bridge at Winsor Crossing. As we crossed the bridge, its broken board brought fear of slipping through to mind. The combined weight of our walking made the bridge ripple like a snake in motion. We quickly crossed the old bridge; we could see the white tips of Winsor in the distant skyline. Swarmed by black crows squawking lazily about it as though they were saying "go back, go back." The midday sun was warm against our faces as we headed across the black bridge. The tracks were narrow and worn from the steam engines that passed them over for the last hundred years. Loon was leading the pack with her stick legs and buck shots waving happily in the wind as we marched to our tune of, "snake killa's, ghost killa's, snake killa's, ghost killa's, snake killa's, ghost killa's, here we come."
Over the meadow and across three barbwire fences, on the horizon I could see the sixteen white granite Roman Columns of Winsor Ruins gutted mansion and the black giant dwarfs that potted the plantation. These trees were beautiful green giants with low slung limbs that from a distance looked like hundreds of human arms, low to the ground protecting the massive eight hundred to one thousand year old trunks. Invisible from a distance, as we grew closer the trees became frightful, menacing giants giving off the smell of rotting flesh, caused by the leafy fauna that surrounds the base of the trees, as it decays producing a horrible stench. The plantation owner also hung runaway slaves caught stealing on the limbs of these giant trees until the body rotted away and fell to the ground. Thus, enforcing the trees named, "Dead men Dwarf." We looked across the field and noticed a heard of dairy cows pasturing away in between the fences.
We were approaching the Great Masonic Grave Yard of Winsor Monastery that had fallen in ruins from neglect and old age. Loon strode up to its cornerstone marker dated 1770 to Reverend Chamberlain and the congregation, inscribed; "The blessed bring chaos to order through divine prayer," engraved in stone the great Masonic Compass and Eastern Star Pinnacle, the Double Headed Eagle of the Sublime Prince, and the bottom symbol Order Knights Templars. Loon asked, "Okay Winky, where in thunder is that tree you and Pappy was digging from, huh?"
Winky looked around and eased his head around the side of the church looking south. He backed up to the church corner and leaned back on the stone as he raised his right arm to the horizon and counted as he stepped forward, "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen," he looked down. He was standing at Lord Winsor's wife's crypt grave. It was black granite marked with a gold tip pyramid and the structure was engraved with an Eastern Star pinnacle and White Shrine and the Crown of Amananth, and a large winged gargoyle facing east, with its wings and fangs displaying a horrible menacing look. Winky rotated east following the gargoyle's glance, counting one hundred steps, we followed like mesmerized soldiers. We passed from the grave yard step by step and stone by stone. We weaved and walked across the black brook into the slaves' quarters. We passed the slaves graveyard into the Black Valley where we were suddenly aware of the disappearing sun light. On his one hundred and fiftieth step, we were standing in front of the largest, black dwarf tree we had ever seen. Peaking through the limbs, we could see its trunk was nine feet across and smelling of rotten flesh and dripping with thick, yellow-red goop.
Excerpted from Dead Men Dwarf at Winsor Ruins by Parker Chamberlain Copyright © 2012 by Parker Chamberlain. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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