Church Grim

Running Water

Thirteen handwritten copies of the following poem were found among the personal effects of Earl Vickers Junior. It describes events along Wabasha Street, beginning near City Hall. Oddly, construction for that building would not begin until ten years after his death.

The drunkard ran. He ran like Hell, for 'twas Hell that followed him. \ He had no need to wonder why, for he was no stranger to sin,\ but the creature sat on the courthouse steps, right where he had been.\ His conscience quivered in resonance with its cacophonous din.

He quickened his pace down Wabasha Street, making for the bridge.\ Fending off thoughts of those marble steps and trying not to cringe.\ Guilty men gone free rank high on the cops' shit list,\ but their search had been unreasonable and his case... dismissed.

He'd thumbed his nose at all of them in unabridged hubris.\ "You've escaped the law," they yelled. "You won't escape justice!"\ He had not known what they'd meant, but he sure as Hell knew now.\ He wished to God there was a way he could take it back somehow.

Its breath was hot against his neck. Its jaws snapped in his ear.\ But his feet kept moving on their own, innervated by fear.\ His lungs burned like Perdition, despite the cold night air,\ as the bridge stretched out before him and he sank into despair.

The river rushed below him, promising a swift release.\ He craved that guiltless solace only known by the deceased,\ but his hunter lagged behind him, as if held back by a leash.\ Its red eyes flashed as it pawed the ground and bared its sickle teeth.

Hope returned triumphant, talked his soul down off the ledge.\ His feet lurched into motion, propelled on with new courage.\ The night wind shook the bridge with a rhythm to beat the band,\ but by grim resolve, the drunkard drew closer to his promised land.

The hound did not pursue him, but held fast on the north shore,\ howling its frustration 'til the drunk could hear no more.\ Rapturously, he kissed the pavement on the bridge's southern side,\ not caring by what miracle the hound had been denied.

Every night for years thereafter, he'd light his candles and pray\ to whatever saints or devils had helped him get away,\ but he never ventured north again, - not until his dying day,\ when his funeral processed to the haunting tones of an anguished, canine bay.

- Earl Vickers Jr, Date Unknown