Note: Originally Published 10-1-06
This is kind of old news, but, heck, you might just enjoy it anyway…
A few weeks ago I returned to my hometown of Beardstown, IL. The Beardstown Houston Memorial Public Library found it in their hearts to invite me along with several other local authors to take part in a short talk and book signing, and I could not have been more excited to touch base with old friends and promote my latest short story collection, The Imagination’s Provocation: Volume II.
The signing was to be held on Sunday, September 17th, and so my lovely wife and I drove down to B-town Saturday afternoon so we could visit with my parents and try out the new Mexican restaurant. (New to my wife and me, at least. Pretty good food, by the way.)
After dinner we returned to Mom and Dad’s house and were discussing what I should talk about during my allotted time the following day. Many, many ideas were being thrown out faster than a cat with its tail on fire when my wife, let’s just call her Kristen (because it’s her name), asked us what was the day’s date.
“September 16th,” we answered.
At that moment Kristen reminded me that one of my stories took place on a critical date-you guessed it-September 16th!
I freaked out.
Now, you’re saying to yourself, “So what? It’s just a happy coincidence, like when you make sure you don’t have anything in your pockets before you do laundry and find a twenty dollar bill.”
I would agree with you normally, as we’re both fairly agreeable people, but you need to know a bit more information before you dismiss that date so readily.
You see, growing up, there existed many a legend in my hometown of Beardstown. One such legend claimed that if you went out to a certain cemetery at a certain time of night, there stood an old Civil War statue what would wave its arms and its eyes would glow red. Me being the brave soul that I am never tempted fate as I’m fairly certain seeing something like that would turn my thick and lustrous dark brown hair stark white.
However, those small town myths stuck to me and when I began writing the short story entitled “The Legend of Josiah Mibb,” found in my latest short story collection The Imagination’s Provocation: Volume II, that supposed Civil War statue served as the basis of my disturbing tale.
I can feel your curiosity through my keyboard, so let me give you the gist of “The Legend of Josiah Mibb.” In it, a small town has been dishonored for over a century because their soldiers who took part in the Civil War revolted against their commanding officer, Josiah Mibb, doing horrible, terrible things to him. The town was so ashamed, they erected a statue in Mibb’s honor, but it did little to ease their humiliation. It did nothing to settle Mibb’s anger, either, as once a year, even to this very day, the statue of Josiah Mibb comes to life and if you’re caught near it, you will soon find yourself dismembered, just as he was by the mutinous soldiers.
A young man and his wife return to town to visit the his parents, and when his wife learns of this tale and that the very date the statue was due to come to life was on the very day they were visiting, well, her inquisitiveness could not be satisfied unless she tempted fate and visited the statue.
As all husbands must, her husband gave in against his better judgment and they found themselves confronted with the statue at the very time it was to come to life. What happens next, you ask? Well, you’ll have to buy the book to find the answer to that, my friends, but let me tell you this: The legend of Josiah Mibb is not all that it seems, as our young husband and wife discover.
But, back to the original purpose of this growing-by-the-second-entry, the date in which the statue of Josiah Mibb was to come to life proved to be the exact date Kristen and I sat in my parents’ house-September 16th! And, much like the wife in my short story, Kristen insisted we try to find the real Civil War statue my story was based upon.
I reluctantly gave in, and so, faster than you can say, “Boy, maybe we shouldn’t tempt a possibly haunted statue,” Kristen, Mom, Dad, even Carlee: The Foley Mascot, and I loaded into the Rendezvous.
Keep in mind that I didn’t even know the location of this statue! I thought it was in one, but my mom thought it was in another, so we went with what Mom thought. We drove across town and got on Chandlerville Road, pulled into the cemetery just outside of town, and, within no time at all, there we saw it!
We parked in front of it and my wife and I both experienced an extremely surreal moment. The dang thing looked exactly as we had imagined it! Weird, weird, weird, WEIRD! The statue was surrounded by many Civil War era headstones and, upon closely inspecting each and every one of them, I was greatly relieved to find not one had a name in common with any characters from my story. My wife, on the other hand, was just a tad disappointed that the coincidences had apparently ceased.
Thank the stars the statue’s eyes didn’t start glowing red like in my story. I would’ve thrown in the towel had that happened, for sure.