Edgar Wilde and the Mystery of the Artifacts – Chapter 1
Edgar Wilde and his girlfriend, Shelby Emerson, wove their way through the field of gravestones.
“I don’t understand, Edgar. Where could Corinthian have gone?”
Edgar glanced at Shelby, instinctively squeezing her hand tighter. He still carried a painful, vivid memory of the cemetery curator dragging her down granite stairs, binding her to an ancient torture device as he railed on about some sort of magic book — a Lost Grimoire.
“Do you really care?”
“It’s just so odd that he’s disappeared like this,” Shelby said. “I know he treated us bad, but I can’t help but worry about him a little. I mean, what if he’s dead, lying in a ditch somewhere?”
“I’m just glad he’s gone,” Edgar said. “As far as what’s happened to him? It hasn’t exactly been weighing on my mind.”
They continued in silence across St. Edmund Cemetery to a small wooden shed located behind the Cemetery Administration Building. The main building had been Corinthian Harknell’s living quarters for decades. Someone new lived there now — a rickety old man with a bristly white beard was now tending the plots, and Edgar hadn’t had the heart or curiosity to introduce himself. Until now.
From inside the shed, Edgar could hear heavy objects being moved around. He wondered how the man could muster the strength.
“Amos Jones?” Edgar knocked on the open door.
“Who’s theyahh?” a frail rasp echoed back. “Ye’s on private property!”
“It’s Edgar Wilde, sir. You sent the note.”
A weathered brown face peaked out of the door.
“Edgah,” he smacked. “You’s the sleuth, aintcha; the boy who knows what’s what in this town. You knew Harknell, I hear.”
“He let you run ragged over this cemetery at night, draggin’ tour groups all ovah Creation.”
“Well, it ain’t doin’ the souls any good here, don’tcha know. Ain’t no final rest when people are tramplin’ the dirt above ya. I don’t reckon it. No sir, I surely don’t.”
“It’s just a bit of harmless tourism, sir. Others do it. It’s good for the town.”
“Yeah, that Stelton woman come by here already, tryin’ to get intah my sweet graces. Called you out, too. Says yer a bunch of trouble. That true?”
Edgar had wondered recently if anything would change once a new curator took over Corinthian’s job. He was starting to realize which way the winds were blowing. The cemetery tours he ran were his only source of extra cash and it sounded like Mr. Jones was not in favor of them.
“I suppose it’s possible that I’m a bit of trouble,” he finally replied. “But not when it comes to my tours. The groups I bring in treat this historic cemetery with the greatest respect — as do I.”
The old man’s one good eye gave him a head-to-toe, then nodded. “S’okay, I suppose. You dress somethin’ fine with yer suit an’ all; ain’t no beatnik. And that Stelton woman is stuffed with guff anyway, if you ask me.” He turned to Shelby. “You vouch for him?”
Shelby blushed at the unexpected responsibility thrust upon her, then nodded as innocently as she could.
“Okay, then. Good enough.”
“Don’t laugh!” Edgar whispered to Shelby as they watched the old head disappear back into the shed.
“Oh my god, where did they dig that guy up from?” Shelby giggled.
“Comin’?” the weathered voice finally barked from inside. “Got tea and crumpets gettin’ stale.”
When Edgar’s eyes adjusted to the dim light the wooden slats were letting slip through, he noted the absence of the promised refreshments.
“I’s just kiddin’ about that,” the old man laughed without looking up to see the two disappointed faces.
“No crumpets?” Shelby said.
“I do got somethin’ heyah, though. Somethin’ wicked strange, if you ask me. Thought you could shed some light.”
Edgar stared at the odd item on the dirt floor in front of them.
“Where’d you find this?” Edgar knelt down.
“Right here on the property. Looks old. I been around since Adam, don’tcha know, but I ain’t seen nothin’ like it before. Figure could be important or valuable. May even get me on Antiques Roadshow. I ain’t got no retirement, so here’s hopin’.”
“I suppose I could check it out. I don’t recognize it, either,” Edgar held it up for a closer inspection. “Can I take it for a few days?”
“I don’t reckon that’ll do,” the man crossed his skeletal arms and began pacing. “No sir. Don’t want it to leave my side. Tell you, though, if you got a Polaroid you could snap a shot.”
“I can do better than that,” Shelby laughed, whipping out her cellphone. “And I don’t mean to be rude, but Polaroids really sorta belong in the antiques pile as well!”
“I still like ta watch ’em develop,” Amos said. “Like watching’ ghosts show up. Somethin’ wondrous in it, don’tcha know.”
“Okay, I’ve got it,” Shelby said. “This thing didn’t come from a coffin, right?”
“No, ma’am. Comes from the sunny side of the ground. No need to be spooked.”
“Thanks, Amos,” Edgar said. “I’ll try to dig up some dirt on this for you soon.”
“Ain’t no rush,” Amos said. “Have yourselves a nice day now.”
“Are you really going to help that guy?” Shelby asked as they strolled back through the rows of slate and granite. “He’s really a little scary!”
“Yeah, why not?” Edgar replied. “He’s just ancient. And I’m actually really curious to find out what this thing is. I have an online network that’s good with this kind of stuff. We’ll post it on the web when we get back to the house and see if anyone recognizes it. Come on!”
“Okay, but this had better not draw us into another one of your spooky mysteries!”
“What?” Edgar laughed. “What could be spooky about an old object found in a cemetery?”