Book Awards E-MAIL US

Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.
Among the Remembered Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death
Pluto Wars

Greg Chandler
"Bee's Tree"
"Local Folk"
"Roland's Feast"
"Pond Story "

Doug Childers
"The Baptism"

Gene Cox
The Sunset Lounge

Clarke Crutchfield
"The Break-In"
"The Canceled Party"
"The Imaginary Bullet"

Jason DeBoer
"The Execution of the Sun"

Deanna Francis Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Dennis Must

Charlie Onion
"Love Among the Jellyfish"
Pluto Wars
"Feast of the Manfestation"

Chris Orlet
"Romantic Comedy"

Daniel Rosenblum
"A Full Donkey"

Deanna Frances Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Andrew L. Wilson
"Fat Cake and Double Talk"


Pluto Wars
Charlie Onion & Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.

Editor's Note: This is a sequel to Reginald Blisterkunst's Among the Remembered Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death, which was originally serialized in WAG. Readers who prefer to begin at the beginning may read the first book by clicking here.

Part Five

The Garden of Bones

For April, it's surprisingly warm, and I pass a gloved hand over my forehead before driving the shovel's tip into the dark soil. It slides smoothly for a moment and then clicks hard against something hidden. I try to work the shovel tip around it, but it's large and I finally get down on my hands and knees and pull up whole handfuls of soil until a stack of mottled yellow bones gleams below me. One, I must admit, seems to be a shoulder. Another, an elbow. But of course, looks are deceiving.

Later, after turning the soil over so that the rich, wet soil underneath is turned over to dry in the sun and await new plantings, I carry the bones upstairs to the bathroom and inspect them. While I'm scrubbing the mud out of what looks like the cracked cap of a femur, Woody appears downstairs and calls up.

—Up here, I say, still scrubbing nonchalantly. In the bathroom. Come up.

Clump, clump, clump he comes, obliging; momentarily, he appears in the doorway and gawks.

—That's not Cindy, is it?

—Probably not, I say, setting the femur down and taking up the elbow. I found them out in the back yard and they look quite old. You've seen her recently, haven't you?

—What? he says, not hearing. He sticks a finger out gingerly and nudges the shoulder.

—Don't worry, I say. It's dead.

—Do you think they're human?

—Doubtful, I say, holding the shoulder to my lips and blowing dirt off with a short blast of breath.

—Good God, man! How can you even touch them?

—It's nice, actually, I say, massaging the curving bone. They really weren't that deep underground, by the by. You should see what you turn up in your own yard.

—I'll pass. He stares a moment longer and shakes his head. Look, anyway, I came over to tell you I talked to McCratchett and he wants to see some of your work.


—Anytime. Here's his number.

—Mind if I use your phone?

—Mi casa, su casa.

I leave the bones to dry on the sink and follow Woody next door. McCratchett picks up on the first ring, sounding paranoid.

—How did you get this number?

—Woody Arbunkle gave it to me, I say.

—He did, eh? How do you know him?

—We were roommates in college, I say. He was the best man at my wedding. I live next door to him now.

—Uh huh, the man says, wary. So you're married.

—Not exactly, I say. Trial separation.

—Good. Don't like family men working on the staff. Too dangerous.

—Is it? I shoot my eyebrows up at Woody, but since he can't hear the other end of the conversation, he merely offers a confused look.

Can be, McCratchett says. Can be very dangerous. But I need to see some of your work first.

—I'd be glad to bring something to—

—Good, he says. See you in fifteen minutes.


I change my shirt and pick out a few book reviews I'd gotten published in small literary reviews. Then I drive across town and end up getting lost in an alley full of broken vodka bottles. Finally, I stop to ask directions from an old lady pushing a shopping cart full of aluminum cans. When she hears me say WAG she shrugs and points over her shoulder. I follow her gesture and find, at the end of it, a small white building with a rusting sign on the front door announcing, in crazy letters, the auspicious offices of WAG magazine. I thank the old lady and climb out of the car.

I bang on the door for two minutes before McCratchett appears and pulls me inside.


—Yes, I say.

—Follow me, he says.

He glances up and down the alley and locks the door behind him. I follow him through a length of dark, musty hallways and we emerge in a cluster of small rooms.

—Here we are, he says, after walking into the closest room. Let's get the formalities out of the way, shall we? I'm Bob McCratchett.

—Charlie Onion, I say.

We shake hands and after he draws his hand away, he glances at it and notices a film of dirt.

—Digging for something?

—A garden, I say, brushing my hands over my jeans. Sorry.

He smiles, nods benignly.

—Vegetables or flowers?

—Haven't decided yet, I say.

Another nod and then a moment of dead, uncomfortable silence.

—Found some bones, actually, I say, to fill the void.

—Bones? he says, alert.

—Yes, um, bones.

—And you live next door to Arbunkle?

I nod my head.

—I used to be an archaeology major, I say, trying to make light of it. Brought back a lot of memories, you know, brushing the dirt back, seeing a tip of white, brushing some more. Quite enjoyable, really, burrowing underground, you know.

McCratchett scowls and swings himself heavily forward until his elbows rest on his desk top.

—There's been four unsolved murders in your block alone in the last two years. I'd suggest you call the police.

—Oh really? I smile, for lack of something better to do. I'll do that. I will.

He scowls at me, suspicious, and then demands to see some examples of my work. I hand over the book reviews and he scowls at them unfavorably.

—Too academic, he says.

I start to protest but he holds up a hand.

—Just look at a few back issues to get the feel for our voice, he says. Welcome aboard.

He stands up and we shake hands again.

—I'm putting you on the Dick Watch, he says.

—I beg your pardon?

—I said, I'm putting you on the Dick Watch. You know, our column on Dick Armando. Venerable anchor of Channel Blip News? You know?

Oh, of course. Dick Armando. Sounds like something obscene in Portuguese, haha. That should be quite enjoyable.

He gives me a flash of what I swear looks like a smirk and then he nods at the door.

—I'd call the cops pronto pronto, by the by. If for no other reason than that you don't want to be held liable for murder, should the bones turn out to be—

—I will, I promise, skirting out of the office before he can finish.

—But don't take any crap off them, he calls after me. Call me if you need a lawyer.


I drive home in a growing panic. The bones are still sitting on the bathroom sink, drying nicely in a swath of sunlight, and I quickly gather them up and carry them back out to the yard. After dumping them on top of the fresh soil and fretting over their fresh appearance—how, after all, am I to explain my having washed them?—I walk next door to Woody's house and use his phone to call the police.

Momentarily, a female cop appears on my porch, smacking gum like she's chewing firecrackers.

—What's the problem, sir?

—I—I've found some bones.

—Oh really.

Her radio squawks and without looking away from me she reaches down to her belt and turns the volume knob down.

—And what sort of bones would these be, sir?

—I don't know, I say. That's why I called you. In case, you know...

—I understand. Another moment of firecracker-chewing and then she says, gleefully, well, let's see the guy.

I step aside to let her enter and as I close the door I notice a few members of the Bare-Ass Rooster Secret Society are congregating on the corner and staring copward. I swing the door shut and lock it quickly, which causes the cop to spin around to me, suspicious.

—This way, I say, with an accommodating smile.

I lead her down the hallway, through the kitchen and out the back door.

The bones, gleaming white against the dark soil, seem to shout guilty guilty to the cop as she leans over them. Hungry ghost bones, they seem.

—And you found them like this? she says, incredulous.

—Not exactly, I admit. Actually, I washed them.

—Wo, Joe, she says, straightening up. You what?

—Washed them, I say, smiling.

A stream of perspiration meanders down my forehead and then suddenly shoots free past the eyebrow and plummets cheekward.

—Why would you do that, sir?

—I used to be an archaeology major, I say. I didn't think they might be...

Again without looking away, she reaches down to her belt and brings her radio close to her mouth.

—This is 423 requesting back-up at—she glances at her notepad and reads out my address. And, she adds, you might want to send the lieutenant around with a Crime Investigations truck.

—Ten-Four copy, someone says back over the radio, and she slips the radio back onto her belt.

—New to the neighborhood?

—Yes, I say. I used to teach at the university, you see, then my wife and I separated and I moved here to—

—Do you know that we have four unsolved murders in this block alone?

—Yes, I've heard that.

She smacks the gum for a moment, studying me.

—None of the city's safe, of course, she says. But I'd say you moved into the butt crack of the worst neighborhood we have, to tell you the truth.

—Oh really. How awful.

She looks around the yard and across the fence to the vacant lot behind us.

—But at least you don't have an alley.

—No, I say. Thank goodness.

—You wouldn't believe the things that go on in the alleys of this city. Homos and prostitutes and all.

Another bead of sweat slides down the contours of my cheek.

Sometimes, she says, we chase them for the fun of it. You know, if it's a slow night. And there they are, running like rabbits all over the place, you know, and us just creeping behind them, following them every step with the spotlight and shouting, hey, is that all you got, mister? I'd be ashamed if that's all I had to show for my manhood, haha. Stiff like that, you know. I mean, stuff like that. Did you hear me? I said stiff when I meant to say—

—Stuff, I say. Yes, I manage. Quite.

—I'm sorry, she says, after she stops laughing. I never introduced myself. I'm Cindy Claire.

—Cindy's my wife's name.

—Really? Is she a cop too?

—No, I say. She's a—

Before I can say harpy, a man in a gleaming white shirt and dark, crisp trousers walks around the corner of the house. His shirt is so glowing-white and his skin so awe-inspiringly bronzed that, as the man walks through the glorious sunbeams shooting through the yard like tilted heavenly columns, he is like unto a dark god, striding.

I gape, mesmerized, and then the man stops and rears backwards at the sight of me.


—Yes? I manage. Do I know you?

—It's me, he says, advancing once again with his hand stuck out towards me. Lieutenant Duty. I helped you and Arbunkle find the couple who killed that man Blister back when—

—Good lord, I sputter, as the bronze god is replaced, upon closer inspection, by the visage of the butterscotch-sucking homicide detective who helped get Woody off the Blister murder charges. Even now, as the light dissipates like a killed spotlight, the sickly sweet aroma of butterscotch wafts over me.

—You've got quite a tan, I say.

—Ah, it's nothing. Just back from a cruise, he says, self-deprecatingly. Weren't you going abroad yourself?

I mumble something incoherent and look away.

—I see, Duty says. Quite. Well then, who've we dug up this time?

—Right here, sir, Officer Cindy says, beckoning.

She passes her hands over the gleaming bones like she's a game show hostess.

—He washed them first, sir, she mutters Dutywards.

He cocks an eyebrow and glances at me.

—I'd be disappointed if he didn't, he says.

Not the Blue Ones. Not Yet.

Fall'n cherub: We're having problems with the hoverers, sir.

Blister: Eh?

Fall'n cherub: They won't start, sir.

Blister: They won't—damn it all to hell. Did they charge them up like I told them to?

Fall'n cherub: I don't believe so, sir. Should we try an alternative?

Blister: Christ shmist. Trying to run a goddamn cataclysm and the bastards don't even....Damn idiots....Let's see. What are we going to....We really need these things listed on a menu, you know? All right, here we go: get a few of those bubblehead things instead. The little gray ones. Not the blue ones. Not yet.

Fall'n cherub: Very good, sir.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10



About the Authors

The late Reginald Blisterkunst was a college professor whose areas of expertise were Milton and the Metaphysical Poets. Among the Remembered Saints, his first novel, was also serialized on the WAG Web site.

Charlie Onion is a frequent WAG contributor.


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