The collective memory of a place, such as Cross, can be a strange and many-faceted creature. For instance, take Major John Black. He is, to this day, regarded as a vile and vicious man. When he returned home from the War of the Rebellion in 1865, he was short-tempered and bitter. He owned a large farm near the northern border of town, and he made damn certain no one uninvited ever stopped in.
He was unusually adept at throwing, and his skill at hitting a person with a fair-sized stone was a thing of legend before 1866 had ended. The Major was often seen riding a great black mare along the borders of his property, ensuring his privacy. Where the man obtained his funds was a mystery, and there were many who whispered that he earned his money from illicit activities in Boston.
That is the memory of Cross as a place.
Let me put the truth here.
Major John Black was the sole survivor of a small cavalry unit, a man who watched a group of Mississippi militiamen cut down and butcher his soldiers. John killed the enemy to a man that day in early 1862. As the war progressed, John collected soldiers who had seen too much. Men for whom war had been too much.
John secreted them away in his new unit, and when the war ended, most of those men were too damaged to return to their homes and their lives.
So, John took them home with him.
They worked his farm and bought from myself and the Coffins when necessary. A great many of them even worked in my orchards when it was time to harvest.
There is a cemetery on my property, and in it lie the bodies of those men and John himself. Suicides one and all.
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