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PREVIEW: Jack in the Box

September 13, 2018

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The Grave of Barnaby Jones

Friday, November 4, 2016

   Walking into the graveyard, Jake and Sara giggled drunkenly at their bravery. Weaving through the stone pathways around the darkened place of rest, guided only by the vaguest memories and moonlight, they sought out the section of the graveyard that was the oldest. Rumor had it that if you found the grave of Barnaby Jones and poured him a glass of whiskey, you'd get good luck for a year.
     Thus the bottle of Jack's finest that the two were sipping from, and the glass clutched in Sara's elegant hand. The oldest section of the graveyard, they found, was actually walled off, with a great lock sealing the gate into the area as well as a plaque bearing the warning "Do Not Enter". This, of course, did little to hinder them, as Jake found a tree close to the wall to climb, helping Sara up along the way, and catching her as he hopped down and held out his arms for her. They stumbled, laughing as he caught her, bumping into a statue of a weeping angel set over a grave overgrown with hemlock.

     Turning to regard the angel, Jake smiled and patted him on the shoulder. "Sorry about that, but hey, thanks for catching us before we fell!"

     The angel, of course, said nothing and continued to sit there still as the statue it was. The interior of the older section of the graveyard was far darker than the exterior, thanks to the bare limbs of trees growing up from several places and branching out, forming interlocking branches that blocked the moonlight from filtering down to light up the path. Not that there really was one for the interior.

     Just graves and tombstones, and statues of angels. A mausoleum sat near the center, covered in a tangle of flowering vines.

     "No Baranaby's grave is supposed to be the one with two cherubs holding a flowerpot over it." Sara slurred, looking at Jake for confirmation.

     Jake nodded. "Old Mr. Jones had a way with children, so they say. He donated his entire fortune to several charities that help out sick kids."

     "It's a shame he died..." Sara replied morosely, looking around the graveyard for the cherubs.

     "Well when you drink as much as he did, it's bound to happen." Jake said matter-of-factly. "He was a notorious drunkard, and loved to frequent the many bars in town."

     "So what're you gonna wish for?" Sara asked, stumbling forward, leaning over a tombstone to look out over the darkened graveyard.

     "It's not like that babe, you don't wish for something. You just pour him a drink and he gives you good luck."

     "Oh," Sara said. Looking back at Jake, who was taking a swig from his bottle, she blinked wearily at him. "I don't see any cherubs."

     "Well they're probably behind the mausoleum," Jake said, shambling forward and taking Sara by the hand, guiding her off towards the mausoleum. "It's blocking half the damned graveyard, stupid thing."

     "Any idea who's in it?" Sara asked, grabbing the bottle from Jake and taking a sip.

     "No idea, didn't even know it was here."

     "Wonder what it's story is..." Sara grumbled, only to shriek as a hand emerged from the darkness, taking a grip on the bottle with rakishly thin fingers, pulling it from her grasp.

     "Ah," the stranger sighed, "a drink, for me? How thoughtful...."

     Sitting against a tombstone was a man dressed in old clothes, all sewn together to form a cloak and hood. His face was gaunt, his eyes bleary and watery. He was leaning against the grave, half covered in moss. His skin was gray, the color of ancient stone, his head bereft of hair. Looking up with sunken eyes at the two drunks, he pressed the bottle to his gray lips and took a long swig, before lowering the bottle and passing it back to them.

     "Thanks," the man said, not as raspy as before. "I needed that."

     "Well, we didn't exactly offer it old man!" Jake growled, stepping between him and Sara.

     The man stood up, his bones and joints popping as he moved. "No harm, no foul. I just needed a drink is all. Been a while since I've had one, you know?"

     "Come on Jake, it's not like he tried to rob us," Sara said, putting a hand on her belligerent husband's shoulder.

     "I apologize, I just couldn't resist. I think I may have something of a problem... at least that's what everyone tells me."

     "Well... alright," Jake said, calming down as he looked back at Sara. "What are you doing in here?"

     The man spread his arms wide. "This is where I lay my bones to rest every night. Not a quieter spot in town, at least until you two showed up. Probably looking for the grave of Barnaby Jones, am I right?"

    Jake smiled. "Yeah, how'd you know."

     The man merely smiled back. "That's what everyone comes here for. Real popular guy, that Barnaby Jones. Let me show you to his grave..."

     The man moved with an uneven gait, as if he were as drunk as Sara and Jake. Following behind him, Jake couldn't help but notice roots and vines falling from within his cloak to the earth he trod upon, dirt being shed with every movement. It seemed the man had been sitting there for quite some time! He finally stopped on the other side of the mausoleum, standing in front of two stone cherubs holding a flower pot with a rosebush growing in it.

     The man waved his arm with a flourish. "Here we are! The resting place for Barnaby Jones. Now, if you are here about the legend of sharing a drink with the old geezer, I'd be happy to join you."

     "No, I think you've had enough of our whiskey as is," Jake said, trying to remain friendly. "Now thank you for showing us the grave, but kindly go on your way."

     "Go on my way? Where am I to go? And you have plenty of drink, why not just share a glass with Barnaby and me... remember how charitable the old man was, he'd probably look kindly upon you if you did."

     Sara grabbed Jake by the collar, leaning into his back. "Let's just let him have a drink with us, what harm could come of it?"

     Grumbling, Jake took a swig from the bottle before taking the glass and filling it up. He looked over at the old man, who was staring at the glass of whiskey with hungry eyes. "So since you're the expert here, how do we do this."

     Licking his lips, the old man looked from the glass to Jake and back again. "Well, you offer a drink in honor of Barnaby and then pour it into the pot with the rosebush. If he accepts it, then a flower will bloom."

     "Really? I've never heard that part of the legend." Sara said, taking the bottle and pulling a swig from it.

     "Not a common fact, miss... not many get this far when coming to pay Barnaby a visit."

     "Alright, well here you go," Jake said, offering the bottle to the old man, who happily snatched it from him. Jake raised the glass high in the air, offering a toast. The old man raised the bottle as well, his face solemn and dirty.

     "This is to Barnaby Jones, who we wish nothing but the best for. Let his spirit never wander and let his bones lay in peace." Jake said, moving forward to clink the glass to the bottle.

     "Do you really mean that," the old man asked, his sunken eyes studying Jake.

     "Why not? He helped so many kids out while he was alive, he's earned a drink I'd say."

     The old man stood silently as he watched Jake pour the glass into the pot, slowly tipping more and more fluid into it. Quickly, the old man took a swig from the bottle before setting it down in the grass.

     Both Sara and Jake were watching the rose bush, waiting to see if a flower would bloom as he finished pouring the glass. Just as the old man said, a flower bud began to peel open and blossom, opening up beneath the night sky.

     "Hey, you were right old... man?" Jake said, smiling before he noticed that the old man was gone, the whiskey bottle resting in the grass. Stumbling over, he scooped it up and wiped the dirt from the lip of the bottle, before his eyes went wide. "Sara, come look at this!"

     "What? Sara slurred, stumbling over to Jake's side. Her eyes too, went wide at the sight of the marker before them.

      A plain white stone marker, with a plaque and a picture engraved upon it.

 

TO BARNABY JONES

BELOVED HUSBAND, DEVOTED FATHER

HEALER OF CHILDREN

MAY HE REST IN PEACE

 

     Beneath the plaque was an engraved picture of the man, the same man that had led them to the grave. To the grave of Barnaby Jones.

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