It forms a large part of who we are and who we wish to be. Not surprisingly, it often plays a significant role in the life of a town. Cross, while it is different than most New England towns, does not escape this basic human need for love.
Often, the idea of love is attached to a place. In Cross, one such place is the Armoury. According to local legend, a pair of young lovers – much in the vein of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – run away to be together. Their families will not condone the relationship, so rather than be separated from one another, and to refuse to disrupt their families’ wishes, the young couple goes into the Armoury and commit suicide by drinking poison together.
That is the idea of love in Cross.
Here is the reality of the place they have romanticized.
The Armoury was, in fact, an armory prior to, during, and after the American War of Independence. It continued to serve as such until the end of the War of the Rebellion. At that time, there were some women and men who became increasingly depressed. Some of the town elders, in their wisdom, agreed to let a charlatan try and treat this melancholia with isolation.
Isolate them he did. He brought them to the armory, chained them to the walls, gagged them, and locked them in. The man promptly took his money and left the town.
It wasn’t until my return nearly a year later that I was informed as to what had occurred, and when I asked how the patients were, no one could tell me.
The patients had died of starvation. I suspect it had taken them days.
It took me five years to track the man down, and three days to get him back to Cross.
He only lived for another week.
A shame, really, I wanted it to last longer.
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