Tuckford Bunny Press
© 2024 William Frank | Tuckford Bunny Press | Selden, NY | Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication or website may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.

The Grave Listeners

Buy Now Buy Now
$17.50, 134 pages
A tale maudit set in a time when medicine was part superstition and partly an appeal to ancient authorities, and the prospect of being buried alive was frightfully more common. In that horrible situation, your only hope was that a Grave Listener sitting at your grave would be there to hear your cries for help. In an old, poor village, on a cemetery on a hill, a loutish Grave Listener, an impish five-year-old boy and his little stuffed Bunny are up against a strange plague, a soigné stranger, and a frightened, vengeful village. It will be a depraved little journey, with all its Witchcraft, savagery and comedies of human nature, that tumbles to a towering end. Below is a small sample from the first chapter… a
1 VOLUSHKA
In an old, poor village, surrounded by a Witching forest, was a cemetery on a hill. It was early Autumn and at the opposite end of the village, almost all the villagers were hard at work clearing a gap in the trees, collecting the black wood for their winter hearths, for repairing roofs, making Judas Cradles and building new Gallows. By clearing a gap, they could also expand their planting fields for the next season into the meadow beyond, giving room to sow in the Spring the giant Uphegia plants that were so important to their survival. The plants grew quickly to heights of 15-20 feet, and the bread-like fruit that hung in clusters from top to bottom provided a starchy, nutritious meal that kept hardy for months, in both hot and cold seasons. The little white blossoms that ran up and down the stalk would be ground into medicines that assuaged headaches, cured hysteria, kept the maggots from a wound; the flowers also made a parfum that blessed a marriage, protected the dead and warded off Witches. Crowning the top of each plant was an enormous cream-colored bell blossom that weighed as much as two pecks of flour and floated in its flocculence on the thick but yielding stalks. The men and the older boys worked away in the wood while the women collected the first fruits and the open white blossoms from last Spring’s seeding. The older girls watched over the young children playing in the maze of the Uphegia, in the shadows of its broad, black leaves. After lunch, the men would climb to the top of the stalks and tap at the cream-colored crowns to knock them to the ground so that the children could play underneath them, pretending they were houses in their own little bell blossom village. Not working in the forest and the fields was Volushka, the Grave Listener. He dozed in his stupefying drunkenness against a headstone, in the cool sunlight in the cemetery on the hill. Cake crumbs and blossom wine dozed with him on his enormous belly. On his head was a listening horn that he pulled down over his eyes to shield them from the sunlight (a horn that would in later centuries be used as the horn on Victrola phonographs). Arranged in patchwork all over his body and on his belt were the tools of his trade: a mallet, a flask of alcohol, a spade, candles, a ring of garlic, horseshoe, jack-club, hammer, knife, crucifix, Uphegia garland, extra flask of alcohol, a half-eaten, blood-soaked cloth, silver keys and three silver bells. Beside him was a quiver which held long sections of thin metal tubing as well as the stop plate that would be fixed to the lid of the coffin into which the tubes, when assembled, would be inserted. The tubes would stick out of the ground and the horn, when not a hat, would attach to the top so that Volushka could listen for the sound of the poor soul who may have been buried alive. He just finished listening for five days for the corpse of Father Josep who had a mysterious seizure and danced in delirious convulsions into a bog where he drowned. Without a village priest nagging at him to respect the dead or sermonizing about turpitude, life in the cemetery was a beautiful, never- ending bounty of peace. Volushka snored in the lazy graveyard under the croaking call of the crows. Benzi ran up the hill to meet him. He was a little five-year-old boy with impossibly black hair and especially black eyes. He wore the hand-me-down black coat, bowtie and short pants that seven generations of his family’s boys wore, and he waved a small butterfly net as he ran around the graves. When he came upon Volushka, he tickled him with his net. When he got no response, he kicked him in his side. “What the — Ow! What the Hell is wrong with you?” “I thought you were dead.” “You don’t go around kicking the dead! That’s the fastest way to get eaten! I don’t have time for you today, what the Hell do you want?” “Doctor Klaschke needs you.” “So, you came to catch me?” Benzi waved his butterfly net. “It’s for butterflies. And ghosts. It wouldn’t be good for you.” “Have you ever seen a ghost?” “No, but I’ve seen a giant slob.” “You’re about to see a punch in the face!” “Well, it’s a butterfly net, it’s not for slobs with a drinking problem!” Volushka put out his hands as if to strangle him and then instead said quietly, “If you catch a butterfly, it loses all its color. That’s how you make ghosts. And to get their color back, they feed on rotten little boys.” “You’re also lazy.” “You pain in the ass, you’re lazy, and a slob, and just as stupid as those imbeciles down there! What the Hell do you or anybody else know about it? I’m everybody’s good-for-nothing until one of their precious loved ones dies, then it’s all, ‘Volushka, please help us’ and ‘Volushka, can you please save her?’ But they’re not precious enough for these people to come up here in the dead of night, in the rain and snow, beset on all sides by ghosts and werewolves, Witches and vampires! How many times have I been attacked by some crazed soul crawling out of the ground who thinks I’m a devil or a meal or otherwise tries to drag me for companionship into the grave? You think anyone can do it? Would you know what to do if you were to meet a Vrykolakas? And what would you idiots know about lazy? I work days and nights! I can’t afford to go to sleep and miss the sound of someone stirring in the grave! I don’t have their luxuries of being cowardly and stupid! They know what it takes? I’m up here preparing, gathering my strength!” “You looked like you were gathering your fat.” “I have half a mind to slap you in the head!” “And I have a full mind to punch you in the nose!” “If you were my kid, I’d raise you right and drown you in a well.” “I’d drown myself. And you smell like shit.” “You rotten — get out of here and don’t come back!" “Ok, but Doctor Klaschke wants you.” “Why?” “My mother’s on his table.”
Tuckford Bunny Press
© 2024 William Frank | Tuckford Bunny Press | Selden, NY | Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication or website may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.
A tale maudit set in a time when medicine was part superstition and partly an appeal to ancient authorities, and the prospect of being buried alive was frightfully more common. In that horrible situation, your only hope was that a Grave Listener sitting at your grave would be there to hear your cries for help. In an old, poor village, on a cemetery on a hill, a loutish Grave Listener, an impish five-year-old boy and his little stuffed Bunny are up against a strange plague, a soigné stranger, and a frightened, vengeful village. It will be a depraved little journey, with all its Witchcraft, savagery and comedies of human nature, that tumbles to a towering end. Below is a small sample from the first chapter… a
$17.50, 134 pages
The Grave Listeners
1 VOLUSHKA
Buy Now Buy Now
In an old, poor village, surrounded by a Witching forest, was a cemetery on a hill. It was early Autumn and at the opposite end of the village, almost all the villagers were hard at work clearing a gap in the trees, collecting the black wood for their winter hearths, for repairing roofs, making Judas Cradles and building new Gallows. By clearing a gap, they could also expand their planting fields for the next season into the meadow beyond, giving room to sow in the Spring the giant Uphegia plants that were so important to their survival. The plants grew quickly to heights of 15-20 feet, and the bread-like fruit that hung in clusters from top to bottom provided a starchy, nutritious meal that kept hardy for months, in both hot and cold seasons. The little white blossoms that ran up and down the stalk would be ground into medicines that assuaged headaches, cured hysteria, kept the maggots from a wound; the flowers also made a parfum that blessed a marriage, protected the dead and warded off Witches. Crowning the top of each plant was an enormous cream-colored bell blossom that weighed as much as two pecks of flour and floated in its flocculence on the thick but yielding stalks. The men and the older boys worked away in the wood while the women collected the first fruits and the open white blossoms from last Spring’s seeding. The older girls watched over the young children playing in the maze of the Uphegia, in the shadows of its broad, black leaves. After lunch, the men would climb to the top of the stalks and tap at the cream-colored crowns to knock them to the ground so that the children could play underneath them, pretending they were houses in their own little bell blossom village. Not working in the forest and the fields was Volushka, the Grave Listener. He dozed in his stupefying drunkenness against a headstone, in the cool sunlight in the cemetery on the hill. Cake crumbs and blossom wine dozed with him on his enormous belly. On his head was a listening horn that he pulled down over his eyes to shield them from the sunlight (a horn that would in later centuries be used as the horn on Victrola phonographs). Arranged in patchwork all over his body and on his belt were the tools of his trade: a mallet, a flask of alcohol, a spade, candles, a ring of garlic, horseshoe, jack-club, hammer, knife, crucifix, Uphegia garland, extra flask of alcohol, a half-eaten, blood- soaked cloth, silver keys and three silver bells. Beside him was a quiver which held long sections of thin metal tubing as well as the stop plate that would be fixed to the lid of the coffin into which the tubes, when assembled, would be inserted. The tubes would stick out of the ground and the horn, when not a hat, would attach to the top so that Volushka could listen for the sound of the poor soul who may have been buried alive. He just finished listening for five days for the corpse of Father Josep who had a mysterious seizure and danced in delirious convulsions into a bog where he drowned. Without a village priest nagging at him to respect the dead or sermonizing about turpitude, life in the cemetery was a beautiful, never-ending bounty of peace. Volushka snored in the lazy graveyard under the croaking call of the crows. Benzi ran up the hill to meet him. He was a little five-year-old boy with impossibly black hair and especially black eyes. He wore the hand- me-down black coat, bowtie and short pants that seven generations of his family’s boys wore, and he waved a small butterfly net as he ran around the graves. When he came upon Volushka, he tickled him with his net. When he got no response, he kicked him in his side. “What the — Ow! What the Hell is wrong with you?” “I thought you were dead.” “You don’t go around kicking the dead! That’s the fastest way to get eaten! I don’t have time for you today, what the Hell do you want?” “Doctor Klaschke needs you.” “So, you came to catch me?” Benzi waved his butterfly net. “It’s for butterflies. And ghosts. It wouldn’t be good for you.” “Have you ever seen a ghost?” “No, but I’ve seen a giant slob.” “You’re about to see a punch in the face!” “Well, it’s a butterfly net, it’s not for slobs with a drinking problem!” Volushka put out his hands as if to strangle him and then instead said quietly, “If you catch a butterfly, it loses all its color. That’s how you make ghosts. And to get their color back, they feed on rotten little boys.” “You’re also lazy.” “You pain in the ass, you’re lazy, and a slob, and just as stupid as those imbeciles down there! What the Hell do you or anybody else know about it? I’m everybody’s good-for-nothing until one of their precious loved ones dies, then it’s all, ‘Volushka, please help us’ and ‘Volushka, can you please save her?’ But they’re not precious enough for these people to come up here in the dead of night, in the rain and snow, beset on all sides by ghosts and werewolves, Witches and vampires! How many times have I been attacked by some crazed soul crawling out of the ground who thinks I’m a devil or a meal or otherwise tries to drag me for companionship into the grave? You think anyone can do it? Would you know what to do if you were to meet a Vrykolakas? And what would you idiots know about lazy? I work days and nights! I can’t afford to go to sleep and miss the sound of someone stirring in the grave! I don’t have their luxuries of being cowardly and stupid! They know what it takes? I’m up here preparing, gathering my strength!” “You looked like you were gathering your fat.” “I have half a mind to slap you in the head!” “And I have a full mind to punch you in the nose!” “If you were my kid, I’d raise you right and drown you in a well.” “I’d drown myself. And you smell like shit.” “You rotten — get out of here and don’t come back!" “Ok, but Doctor Klaschke wants you.” “Why?” “My mother’s on his table.”