Well, Charley had a vase. That seems enough for an indictment, right? But wait….a bitter lawman’s laugh

That old queer.

His fault, most of what had happened to the youth of our area in that decade. Sin, and the Devils Magick had stolen all of them away into the mouth of the international conspiracy itself. It is a hungry thing, never enough can feed it, that’s a “truism” with few challenges from any reputable scholars, including Jews and Christians–.Fags kill, fags are death, anyone knows it and those who don’t better be prepared for what those devils can lead you to.

The Kinderhagen kids had no idea what hit them, and I tried to save them from those hippies who settled here, but in those days, our hands were tied. Purely Satanic bondage, the law simply didn’t protect those kids from what they became.

They were in the Cub Scouts, 4H and a bunch of other programs, and Burt Ferguson was the leader of the Scouts in those days. He. like myself knew the dangers of those hippies, and their cults,and drugs and sexing all the time, so Charley was on the radar most of the time, and when he wasn’t we had him on near lock-down, driving by his place a few times every day.

In those times when the troubles came to the college in Madison, we had a close eye on him too with the help of the National Guard. These queers need to be followed, that’s for sure, and its troubling how they came to lead the nation these days. That’s because people stopped following them, or those who did sometimes got in trouble for it–the fags had infiltrated the institutions that our blood built on this soil, and we simply couldn’t keep track of them all.

Well anyways, Charley was quite the character, regardless. If you looked past the devil in him, sometimes you saw the ghost of what his dear mother would have wanted him to be. My father knew her, and so did my wife’e kin, as they had come over here around the Great War or thereabouts, carpet bagging out of Philadelphia, if my memory serves me right.

Father was a bricklayer when he wasn’t farming, mother was a mother, like it was back then. And in those days, the Irish troubles weren’t something we were familiar with around here, though we kept a close eye on them. The Catholics in those days were good Catholics for the most part, the women kept their hair covered–that was their tradition back then–and the men stayed with their own kind, mostly paid their bar tabs, and taxes. That’s what Dada always said anyways–“Those Irish can be gotten along with, as long as they pay their tabs.”

Well–their” ticks,” is what he actually said, but these days its “tabs” and so forth–language around here changes just like anywhere else.

So you go from the donkey’s ears to the tail, and that’s where Shenanigans popped out I am sure. His pop couldn’t tame him no matter what, though I recall that when he came back from Europe he was the talk of the town, with some people around here considering him a gentleman of sorts.That was a far cry from what I remembered, with hos father occasionally whuppin’ him properly, and the whole town nearly heard it.

Geez, I am a bit off track–you asked about the vase, right? The Chinaman’s vase? Well, Charley had a vase. But none of us quite knew how to go about determining if it was that vase.

In these parts, Charley was the only expert appraiser of those sorts of things, and we only had his word to go on! Even the folks up at the college called on him–the professors all came to him about those old treasures. He was downright admired by those people!

That’s the thing about Charley–damned Catch-22.

That old queer had a network of other old queers, and they all worked together to ruin the youth of this town. Your guess is as good as mine about the damned thing, but one thing is certain: around the time that story came out about the Kinderhagen kids, those queers were also blowing up buildings in Madison, and worse. We had a hard enough time around here keeping the kids involved in our local family town matters, but they were drifting off at all times into the city.

So we had the law on our side–we had the word of some good lawmen around here. That’s why we have the drug war, you know. People like him, and their international groups of evil-doer’s are never satisfied luring just one of him away–nope, sure enough they want the whole town now.

“What was in that vase when you found it?” I asked, curious just to get him on record about it, but also I had most of the answer already.

Well, know one knows for sure, because its gone now, isn’t it? And that’s the way things happen sometimes.

“Well only you would know–that’s why I came all the way out here, for your opinion. You know how it went, and I trust your judgement–were there not drugs in that vase?

Well….the truth is that we didn’t know that either–we didn’t even have a drug laboratory, you know how it is in these small towns–people talk, and that’s what it is.

“But the trial said the vase was found at Charley’s house, empty.”

Well, don’t let that fool yah! Because we had eye witnesses to the stuff those folk were up too–and our witness said it was drugs. The judge took them at their word. And my dad was sure as the day is long that drugs is what was in there.

“And they were convicted on that–the word of your dad, and those eye witnesses?”

Your damned straight they were, as it should have been.

“Well, I thank you for your time. You have been quite helpful, filling in some blanks–for his son, it will mean a lot.”

Well, like I said, things change around here, you know. We are not all just farmers, and so on–we let others in to our community–we even have some of the good gays living up the hill from town hall now. They mind their business, and we mind ours, the way its always been. No flags or parades–no bombs like Old SHenanigans and his lot. Hell, truth is they leave us alone, we leave them alone. The way it’s always been.

“Right. I can see that you are a man of your word.”

That’s the way it has always been. A man’s word is his bond, and his ticket into the after-life.

“Can I ask you one last question? It’s sort of a funny ting, and I think it would be great to get you on record about it. You know, you wanted to go on record about it.”

I sure did–its one of those thongs the young folks don’t understand a bout the law these days, so you go right ahead. Your dad had a sense of humor too, I remember that, so go ahead.

“Do you think Charley made it into heaven?”

He stopped cold, as if he didn’t understand the question. His notoriously dark eyes eyes seemed to get even darker for just a flicker of time. And he burst out laughing. A high pitched old man laugh, sort of like a squealing witch.

When he finally stopped, after fits of recurring laughter, he said:

If there’s one thing I am sure of? Its that Charley gets watered at least once a week, by folks around here who piss on his grave. I can tell you that, no doubt.

And he was smiling that old people type of smile, and then doubling over slightly as he chuckled.

You really got me on that one, kid. You are just like your dad. That’s a good one, honestly. So if you’re asking me if the afterlife and Charley’s grave are the same thing? That would be even more funny, but I can damned straight tell you no one will be watering my grave.

“Well, thanks for your time. And I must say, I have never seen you laugh before! The truth is most of us thought you had an iron jaw.”

Well, why do you think they called me that?

“I think that’s a story for another time, but I would love to hear it sometime.”

Well sometime I will tell you then.

I was packing my pen and notebook as he said it, my back turned. “I would love to hear it, when I can find the time,” and I was shaking hs hand and out the door.

Everyone knew about the circuses, and bear wrestling, and donkey fights and so on–I didn’t want to stick around to hear that old story again.

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