Some habits are hard to break.
Lt. Colonel Harris Ewing was a man exceptionally skilled in the art of death. He was dangerous with any weapon put in his hands, and on more than one occasion, he was perfectly happy to use only his hands. It was no surprise then that he was displeased when it was time for him to retire. He returned home to Cross in 1934 shortly after some unpleasantness which he did not disclose.
Harris was a solitary man and one who frequented the old GAR post only when in need of the company of other soldiers. He rarely left Cross, and usually only to Boston or Worcester. After these trips, he was congenial, stopping by the post to buy all present a drink.
This evening was one such occasion, and I happened to be in the post. I accepted his drink though I did not partake. The man had the stink of death on him, and not a good death either.
He was a meticulous man, and his uniform – which he always wore to the post – was impeccable. It was with some surprise that I saw his fingernails were dirty. Harris saw me, smiled, and offered up a conspiratorial wink.
Harris drank more than usual, and the longer he drank, the freer his tongue became. He spoke of assassinations where he had gouged out throats and pushed in eyes, and more than once, he slipped from the past tense to the present. During a lull in the conversation in the post, I heard him confess that the deaths of innocents pleased him the most.
When I asked him what he meant, he gave me a wink again and said he would tell me more outside, should I so desire.
We stepped out of doors, and he told me how he liked to travel into Boston’s Chinatown, to seek out those walking alone, and then taking them when no one was around. He confessed that earlier in the day, he had killed two boys and a girl, none of them over the age of ten.
I didn’t react well to the news, and I suspect they’ll find Harris sometime in the spring, or they won’t.
I didn’t leave much of him to find.
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