Prologue by the Author: There really are no accounts of Shannon O’Day as a young boy, and so the author—me—, I have decided to provide one for the reader, although it is not the most pleasing of his youthful days, therefore I advise the young reader (s) not to read the following story—it would be—if it was a movie— ‘R Rated’ for horror, although nowadays, maybe it is better I recommend the opposite, let the young reader, read it, and the grownups be Restricted, or bypass it: it would appear nowadays, they have been better equipped with stronger stomachs, and cooler nerves than us old folks: thus, more mentally able to endure it, from my observations anyhow:
As told by Mabel O’Day (1929)
Perhaps this wouldn’t have happened had Shannon O’Day had adults with him, or advising him at the time, or his brother Gus, ten-years his senior, had he been with him, or simply had peers with him, but he didn’t, so that’s all speculation anyhow. The truth being, it might have taken place no matter what, knowing Shannon O’Day, who did per near what he always wanted to do anyway.
He had this new friend, Guy August, with him, a new kid from a nearby farm by Gus’ farm—a mile north of Gus’ farm, the same age as him: sixteen.
It was an evening in fall, I am talking about, near evening that is, there was a cursed wind “The damn thing blasted about the whole meadows: howling like long-range voices of drowning cats, all the way from the St. Croix River, over there by Stillwater Township, some twelve miles away, an evil wind!”
I had been married to Gus going on a year or so, not long, it must have been 1929 he talked to me about it; anyhow, the account took place in 1916.
Guy and Shannon caught in this wind storm of sorts and Guy had heard of a strange cave that was haunted, and he said they were pretty close to, so he figured, and why not look for it, visit it, stay the night. They had been ten-miles or so north of Guy’s farmhouse. I can’t remember precisely, but thereabouts Gus told me. It was a weekend. The cave was said to be pretty well closed in, a small entrance, not all that large inside either, with a deep, deep abyss, that lead to the river nearby. Shannon knew of it, but never had visited it, nor cared to. But Guy liked fossils, and those kinds of things, and figured perhaps there was some hidden treasure in there, something well preserved for the taking.
“Well,” Shannon told me, “we arrived at the shallow entrance of the cave, about a mile off shore from the River; Guy was excited, I really didn’t care one way or the other, actually I was kind of hungry, and all we had was beef jerky, and not much of that. Guy was an odd kind of kid, liked gadgets, fixed his car up with all these gadgets, lights here and there, it looked like the inside of a plane, but his car didn’t run, he was working on the motor, and between that and this, and whatever else he was into, he was getting his license to drive I know, and fossils as I’ve already mentioned: God knows what was on his mind when he went inside that cave. Anyhow as I was saying, he was excited, and I really didn’t care, but he had made up his mind to stay and explore the cave, to sleep in it overnight if possible, he had a flashlight. I aimed to sleep outside the cave by moonlight, on the ground, it was a full moon, a green twilight, and early stars, and no evening voices: built a fire from some long branches by the nearby woods, I figured if I need one I could use it as a torch. I liked Guy an awful lot so I stayed, but I really didn’t care to. He would have stayed had I left, and I knew that. So as I said, I stayed. Although thinking back perhaps I should have tried to persuade him to leave, but that’s all hindsight.
“Guy said to me, ‘I wish you’d explore inside the cave with me,’ and I said, ‘I’d rather not.”’
It was Gus who arrived at dawn to find Shannon walking aimlessly as if in shock in the skirt of the woods, perhaps a hundred yards from the cave entrance, the boy, Guy dead, nude to a skeleton, unrecognizable, frightfully mutilated; Shannon, a slight mad; a month later Shannon would tell of the account, to the best of his recollection, to the Sheriff and a Court of Inquiry.
Chapter Two of Two
Into the Mustardseed Sun (The present, 1966)
Shannon O’Day is in his bed in his apartment in St. Paul,
There was a knock on the door, Shannon tossed over his covers to one side of the bed, tossed himself forward, heard a voice, a voice from the past: looked out the window saw into the mustardseed sun, pungent it was, his eyelids flickered like a runaway blinking stoplight: squinting and trying to adjust to the morning tilt of the sun, it was to him like unfermented wine; inside his room it appeared to be olive brown from the rays of the sun: “Youall a-wake in there?” said the familiar voice.
“I got some news fer you Shannon!”
Slowly Shannon found his feet, and pushed them over and onto the floor—they were not doing what he told them to do by themselves, move, therefore he had to push them some—the linen on the bed looked like claw tracks of hawks—he looked out the window again, it was a clutching sky, in his slant, he put on his slippers, grabbed his robe, it was 10:00 a.m., he slept late nowadays, took a cavernous swing onto his sixty-six year old feet of his: then he pulled him self up from a bent over position, and out of bed he flopped
“Sounds like Otis Wilder Mather?” answered
“Yessum, it be me all right, let me in.”
“Dear God, it is…!” said Shannon, stirred by his voice to the door, unbolting the door, then opening it ever so gently, “Otis Wilde Mather, what the heck are you doing in town, thought you were down in Ozark?”
“Jes’ thought I’d stop on by have a drink with Youall, and give you the good news, Edward Morrill, committed suicide in prison.”
“You disrupted my dream, for that quack, I was dreaming of wishbones of wild geese…”
“What in tar nation youall trying to say,” said Otis?
“I guess I’m not all that sorry about that guy, and perhaps not all that surprised. How did you find out? I mean he done raped my cousin Dana, not sure how he got those extra years, but…glad he did. ”
“My third cousin done called me up and told me. He’s in fer life.”
“Hum…m, sounds a bit suspicious to me, like he was keeping an eye on him for you.”
“I heard you talking in your sleep some, getting those damn nightmares again, or whatever Youall call dhem things—nowadays?”
“Nightmares is good enough Otis: shellshock is what they used to call them, just plain old nightmares is what I call them, or recollections; sit on down here a spell and let’s chew the fat some, I got us some good old corn whisky, if you got the time? This old body of mine burns and raves in the morning and evenings, it’s like the wind blowing my bones out of a hill. Living old, is a lot of work,” and he chuckled.
“Yessum, jes’ like de old days dhat waht I like ‘bout yaw-all
(Shannon O’Day was the cause Edward Morrill had been sentence to five-years in prison for his affair with a minor, Dana Stanley, during the fall of 1958, and it was now December, 1961. He had served a little over two years, with good behavior, he was to get out in another year 1963, September, and was going up for a board hearing and hopefully be placed on parole, thus, at this point and time he had a parole hearing come September of 1962, one year from this date, and he had told his roommate, he was going to kill the person who put him in this prison when he got out, and the person he told (kidding or not), was Otis Wilde Mather’s third cousin, and when his name came up: Shannon O’Day’s, Oscar Lewis Charleston, had written Otis concerning this in a slight manner saying , to come and visit him and he’d explain, saying it was urgent. And he did just that, and gave Otis the unkind information of his roommate, or so called, inmate friend, and Otis gave Oscar enough chewing tobacco to last him the whole year out. But now something needed to be done to stop this potential hazard in the making.
And Otis’ plan was two fold: get him a new sentence, another five or ten years would do, or do him in. Whichever one was favorable, under whatever circumstances prevailed, in accordance to the time period; and the less people that knew, the better off, to include Shannon O’Day himself.)