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Writer's Corner- New Brunswick

Out Of The Swamp
By Fran Dincorn

   The full moon filtered light between the gnarled trees of the swamp, and turned the green slime on the water iridescent. The water began to move in waves as something crawled from its depths. The thing emerged onto drier land and stood erect. Then it reached back into the water and retrieved the axe, so important to its mission.

    Dark eyes stared into the night, then it moved on, slime dripping from clothes that were long ago in rags. The axe slung across its shoulder, dripped also. It would soon drip with blood.

    The thing resembling a large man, moved off in the direction of Welsford, and only stopped for a moment when it reached a house on the outskirts of town. The windows were boarded up, and the veranda was rotting away. A mail box was outside the fence, on it was the name, Tucker.

    Retired Deputy Chief Paul Raymond sat in his small cubicle with his feet up on his desk. A group of folders sat on his lap. He stared intently at the one on top. It was definitely puzzling, and would not be an easy task solving the case. That's why he had the folders. Raymond was officially retired, but he had no family, and found it impossible to keep busy. So he begged the department to give him something to do. He ended up with a three by six cubicle, and the dead files.

   Raymond was a big man, six even, and two hundred pounds. He had brown hair and grey eyes. Everyone found him to be fearless and very likeable. He worked completely on his own and his job was to solve the unsolvable crimes. The ones he had in his lap now were connected in some way. They were all bloody horrible crimes with no witnesses (unless you could call four hysterical kids witnesses), and no apparent motives. He went over them all beginning again with the first.

December 24, 1976

    William and Anita Clark were married for thirty-five years. Their world consisted of each other. Their family was grown and gone. Each evening they spent playing gin rummy for matches, and Christmas eve was no different. They had a three foot Christmas tree on a table, and their presents to each other were sitting beneath it, along with a few gifts from family.

   They admired it for awhile, and then William got the cards from the dresser drawer and sat down at the card table. "Come on Anita, might as well play a little rummy." William had snow white hair and snapping blue eyes that twinkled constantly. He smiled at his wife and asked her if she felt lucky tonight.

   I think you're going to get a trimming for a change", she said "I feel it in my bones." She sat her small frame down across from William and picked up the cards. They played cards for half an hour, William winning most of the hands. Suddenly there was a loud bang on the door. William jumped up. "What the hell was that?" he said taking a step toward the door. "Don't go," Anita spoke up frightened. There were three more very loud bangs, and the door splintered and swung open. Anita screamed and ran to her husband. They stared at the man in the doorway. He was huge, at least six feet, very stocky, with deep set dark eyes that seemed to glow, but worst of all he carried a double bit axe.

   The man walked toward them, and petrified they could not move. William bent over to protect his wife when the axe fell. Blood flew in all directions from a deep wound in his head. Anita never had a chance to scream, as she was next, and one stroke was all it took to finish her.

Red footprints were left behind as far as the door, then nothing.

December 24, 1977

    Pete and Linda Jackson had been married for two years, and they were very happy tonight. Not only was it Christmas eve, but today Linda found out that she was pregnant for the first time. Pete was ecstatic when he found out. Together they trimmed the big Christmas tree, and sang carols while they waited for their best friends, Max Walton, and his wife of three months, Jerry. Linda was very fond of Jerry and couldn't wait until she got there.

    Max and Jerry arrived at seven, and together they celebrated the great event. Pete made drinks, and they sat and talked for a long while. At about ten o'clock Pete suggested a game of bridge, as it was their custom to play once a week, and tonight was their regular night. All agreed, and they settled down to their game.

    At midnight Linda thought she heard sounds from outside. She cocked her ear and said, "listen, do you hear that?" Everyone stopped what they were doing and listened, but no one heard anything, and they resumed their game. A few minutes latter they all heard the footsteps on the front porch. "Hey," said Pete "we're going to have more company. "He went to the door and opened it. "Linda, call the police, there's a lunatic on the loose." He slammed the door. No sooner did he close it when it opened again with a crash.

    A gigantic man that wore jeans, and a plaid shirt was standing there with a double bit axe in his hand. He moved toward them and Pete was the first to go down. He never heard Linda scream and faint as he was dead instantly.

    Max and Jerry ran for the back door, but they never got out of the room, as the man moved faster then they could. He hit Jerry across the back, and the axe went deep. She screamed and staggered forward. Max was driven against the wall by her weight. He put up a hand to ward off the blow, but the axe severed his arm and drove into his chest. The monster turned and walked toward the door leaving a trail of blood behind. His footprints left red marks on the floor.

    When the police arrived they found Linda huddled in a corner, blood was everywhere. Bloody footprints went to the door, but they ended there. A massive search was made, but to no avail.

   Linda was taken to the hospital where she lost her baby, and remained in the doctors care for quite some time after. She gave the police a vague description of the killer, but there was nothing helpful in her statement. The case remained unsolved.

December 24, 1978

   In a three room tar-paper shack in Welsford, a mother and father were giving last minute instructions to their eldest daughter, Mary, who was fifteen years old. Susan Shay, and her husband Ed were leaving to go to town for Christmas gifts for their four children. They didn't like to leave them alone, but had no choice as they didn't want the children to see what Santa was bringing them. They told Mary to watch the younger children, Molly four, Janice eight, and Sara who was ten. "Don't let them play with matches, their mother told Mary, and keep the wood stove going as it is very cold tonight." "Remember no cards." "The devil will come if you play cards on Christmas eve.

   Mary said she would do all she was told, and kissed her mother good-bye, as did the rest of the children. Her father patted her head. "I'll get the car warmed up Susan, don't be long."

    Mary spent her time amusing the younger girls, but it was no easy task as there wasn't much to do in the small house. Toys were scarce as there was very little money to spend on such things. So thinking, what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them, Mary got an old pack of cards, and told the other children that they could play snap if they promised not to tell mother or father about it. Naturally they agreed, as they were bored to death waiting for Christmas.

    Time passed slowly for the children, and Molly was tired of playing snap. She whined, "when is mommy coming back?" and Mary told her "soon." She let her deal the cards to keep her quiet. Janice thought she heard something outside and went to the window to see if it was her father's car. It wasn't, "I see a shadow out there," cried Janice. "Come see Mary." Mary got up to see what Janice was talking about. "Is it mommy?" Molly called to them. Mary saw a shadow of a man, but couldn't make out who it was. He was big and he carried something in his hands. "It's the devil," said Janice in a whisper. Just then there was a bang on the door. Mary ran to the table and gathered up the cards. There was another bang on the door, and Mary threw the cards in the stove and slammed the cover back down. Mother was right, the devil will come if you play cards on Christmas eve she thought. The door opened with a crash and the children screamed and cried. They cowered behind the table holding each other tightly. In the doorway was a man who looked like the devil himself. His dark eyes were on fire from the glow of the lights inside. He looked at the children for a minute, and then turned and walked away. Mary ran to the door and locked it. They stayed huddled together until their parents came. They then told them the whole story.

   Susan and Ed called the police and told them there had been a prowler. The police found no footprints in the snow outside, so decided it was the children's overactive imagination. They filed the report away with the rest of the unsolved cases.

   Deputy Chief Raymond noted similarities in all the cases. There was an axe involved in each case. They were all playing cards at the time of the killings. There was never any footprints outside the homes, just inside. That was strange. How did he get away unless upward. No one saw any sort of vehicle outside at the time.

   Raymond got up and called to Mark Springer in the outer office. Mark was a rookie on the force, and always eager to help. He carried his five foot ten frame straight, like a soldier, and his brown, wavy hair was neat at all times. He came into Raymond's office and waited for him to speak. "Can you tell me anything about an axe murder from the files, dating back before 1976,11 Raymond asked. "I'd have to look that up sir. Do you want me to check and see if I can find out anything?" "Yes, if you have time, I'd appreciate it." "I'll get right on it," said Mark.

    Mark came back a few minutes later with a folder in his hand. "This may be what you wanted." He handed the folder to Raymond with a smile of satisfaction on his face. "Thank you Mark, Raymond told the rookie, that is all I wanted, for now anyway."

    Raymond opened the file and read the contents. It told him more than he bargained for, and he knew just what his next move would be. It was all there, the axe, the senseless killing, and the killer.

From the police files dated December 24, 1974:

   The police were summoned to 121 Carney Road in Welsford, a small back-wood community, by neighbors who were terrified of a man they called crazy Tucker.

   Tucker was running up and down the road, covered with blood, and babbling that God told him to kill his sinful, forty year old son, who wasted his time on cards and liquor.

    When the police got there Tucker was incoherent. They never found the body or the murder weapon. A thorough search of the grounds and woods was made to no avail. Tucker never told the police or doctors what he had done with the body of his son. He ranted and raved about the sins of wasting time on cards and drink, and only quieted down when the doctor tranquilized him. He remained in the asylum seeing no one until Deputy Raymond came to visit.

    The asylum, better known as the Provincial Hospital, was located in Saint John, forty miles from Welsford. Raymond stood in front of its vast dreary front and stared at the barred windows. He had a feeling that the answer to the unsolved crimes laid in waiting inside this building. He entered into a world apart from the real world, and found the office where Doctor Keith Brooks awaited his visiter.

    Dr. Brooks stood and shook hands with Raymond. "I guess you want to see Tucker right away?" he said. "I'll take you to him." "We withheld his medication today, knowing you wanted to talk to him."

    Deputy Raymond thanked the doctor, and followed him out of the office, and into the elevator where the doctor pressed the button for the sixth floor. "Has he said anything at all about his son?" questioned Raymond. "No, nothing as to here he buried him, but maybe he will tell you something."

   "Dr. Brooks took out his keys and unlocked the door to Tucker's room. He was in a room by himself as he was considered criminally insane, and dangerous.

   "May I question him alone? asked Deputy Raymond, he may tell me something if you are not with me."

   "Yes, said Dr. Brooks, but I will be nearby in case he gets violent."

    When Deputy Raymond entered the small room he was surprised to see that Tucker was a big man, over six feet tall, and well built. His hair was very thin and dull brown. His eyes were as bright as stars as he looked at Raymond and the doctor. The doctor introduced Raymond to Tucker, then he left the room and closed the door, although he didn't re lock it.

    Raymond sat down across from Tucker and smiled at him. "How are they treating you in here, Mr. Tucker?" "Who are you, and what do you want with me?" Tucker answered in a suspicious voice.

   "I'm trying to find your son, do you think you can help me out?" Raymond waited and held his breath, not knowing how Tucker would act at the mention of his son.

   "He'll sin no more, no sir'ee, I saw to that. He was the devil's spawn, but I stopped his evil ways." Tucker raised his voice as he spoke, and Raymond thought he had better agree with him to keep him calm.

   "Where is he now?" Raymond asked casually. "Can I see him just to make sure he is dead?"

   "You'll never find him where I put him. He sank deep." Tucker chuckled as he talked.

   "Did you dump him in a lake?" Raymond asked. "No, I wouldn't be that stupid. I'll tell you if you don't tell any one else."

   "I promise, I won't tell," said Raymond.

   "Well, Okay, he's in the swamp. Right in the deep, watery part, but don't you go and tell. He's in hell and he's going to stay there."

   "Is that the swamp that is behind your house?" asked Raymond.

   "Where else?" said Tucker, pleased with himself.

   "Thank you very much Mr. Tucker. I will come and visit you again if you like?"

   "Fine, fine," said Tucker, and drifted off into his fantasy world. Probably thinking about his son. Raymond left the room, very pleased at what he learned, and the doctor locked the door, and asked, "well, did you find out what you wanted to know?"

   "Yes, I think I did. I want to thank you doctor for letting me see Mr. Tucker. Now maybe we can solve a few crimes that has been plaguing us for years."

December 24,1982

    Since Paul Raymond solved the axe murder crimes, he became somewhat of a celebrity. People showed him more respect now, and asked his opinion more often.

   The day he took the eight police officers into Tucker's swamp, and dragged for the body of Tucker's son, they were not as sure of his opinion. They found him there, right where Tucker said he was. Bones covered with rags. The axe was there too. It was tested for blood, and found to be the murder weapon in all cases.

   They buried the remains in the church yard with a proper service. The axe was stored now with the other murder weapons. A relic of horror of the past.

   While Raymond sat in his small office at police headquarters, two hoboes huddled together behind the church, just outside of town. The full moon showed them a sight that their eyes could not believe. From the edge of the graveyard a huge man crawled from a grave, marked Tucker, 1974.

THE END

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