Hair Rising, Heir Raising, Erasing
Josiah by his imaginary piano/organ/organic instrument, playing beautifully and powerfully, is a pure vision. The youngest son of Abraham Wilton-Cough symbolises all the children who had to endure the will of their parents as their own. If they do not do so, they end up beaten up badly.
Yet Josiah has the power to make his father face the music beyond his grave: A tune played that returned to your ears, like the strike of a ruler on your hands, it is sharp and hurt enough to make you ponder: were you right to impose your own will on your child?
The nightmare part of the story highlights what became of Josiah. He is a ghost hence a restless soul. He loves and is loved, followed by a herd of other ghosts, he is commending in his own right. Buried at cross roads, with a simple slate marking his grave, hanged for murder, Josiah Wilton-Cough stands as a formidable and terrifying character with a dramatic past. He has reasons to be angry with almost the world, and in particular his father.
The bullied child becoming a pauper with his mother had to learn to use his fists for their protection on the streets of Wilton Town. Fallen on hard times, it is the friendship of prostitutes that make them get by to survive. Over the years, well acquainted with street laws, Josiah offers his protection to the prostitutes of the town. It is while saving one of them that he kills her assailant. This precipitated his arrest and murder conviction. After his hanging, the desolate Angela lives once more on the streets, where she dies miserably on the steps of a church during a cold winter.
The tragic story of the pathetic life of his youngest son who had kept looking after his mother until his death affects Abraham Wilton-Cough greatly. As a father, he realises that his own guilt goes much deeper than just his incapacity of understanding and appreciating the sensitivity and talent of his child. He had deprived Josiah of his proper love and care. He had even stripped his son from the affection and attention of his mother by throwing him far from the family home in a boarding school. His intentions were clear: toughen up the little boy.
From the fear that Angela would spoil Josiah into pursuing his dreams of becoming an artist, a pianist, Abraham cut them from his fortune in his cool headed, cold hearted last will. He leaves everything to his eldest who he had raise to be like him. His partiality is a blow hard to digest in the mist of his family for it is the one that breaks it apart.
Meeting the ghostly Josiah in the wood clearing he haunts, Abraham Wilton-Cough faces the results and consequences his strong convictions and actions had upon others. If he wanted his youngest to be tough, he is. He had to be, forced by circumstances beyond his power.
Josiah’s character bestows strength grown from a miserable life in the streets protecting his mother and receiving the charity of a morsel of bread given by the escort girls living on the pavement. From being on the receiving end of charity to becoming one who the hopeless can turn to for protection and a home, giving them respect, paying back their helping hands with all his might, Josiah developed into Jo.
Either way, Jo or Josiah has the charisma that draws crowds to him. Let it be his talent to play the piano so dramatically well, let it be his great capacity to love women and understand their plight like no others can, he is a surrounded character just like his mother. Beyond his grave, he is still loved, remembered and respected as the resident ghost of the woods. Despite his hanging, all defend his memory, and all respect his voice.
From a wee child who impressed the ladies at the tea parties of his mother, who compared him to what they knew, the church organist, to become a dreaded ghost that haunts the wood by Wilton Town with his impressive music, Josiah still plays his own tune whatever is thrown at him.
From the nightmare back to his own dying reality, Abraham changes his tune regarding his youngest. From a destroyer of his dreams, he corrects the situation to become his ‘beyond the grave supporter’, giving the acceptance of his uniqueness, Josiah needs and lacks.
Josiah Wilton-Cough in quotes:
Slamming closed his fists upon his clavier, the ghost gave an incendiary glance at his father as he said sternly, -I have no father. Mine passed away, dead and buried, he is best forgotten. He was a miserable man who made a point of ignoring my mum and I’s mere existences. It past the point of no return. It was sealed with his grave. What is left are only memories of a dreadful individual who should rot in his tomb undisturbed for the peace and sake of everyone else.’
Devastated, lonely, Abraham Wilton-Cough walked towards his grave lost in his sad thoughts when he saw his son’s ghost Josiah followed by his ghostly girls upon the same wild path heading towards his mother’s pauper’s ditch. Moving sideways to let the ghosts past, the skeleton stood there silently hoping not to be recognised, nor noticed for he remembered what Mrs Bates had said about the dead being dismantled. His wishes were not granted as he saw the imposing figure of Jo stopping right by him and asking, -Do I know you from somewhere, skeleton? Lift your skull a little so I can see you properly under the moonlight.
Frightened Abraham obeyed taking a good glance at his son as he replied, keeping his hat close to his chest,
-You do know me, Josiah. I am your father, the one that is very sorry for everything he did or almost.
Smiling cruelly to him, Jo crossed his strong muscled shadowy arms upon his chest, repeating like if he was tasting the very word within his lips,
-Almost… What could you possibly not be sorry for my dear father?’
In Abraham’s words:
-Let me tell you that the very first time I held you in my arms and saw the same blue eyes as Angela staring at me, I was far from sorry for my actions then, I was very proud of the result of one to say the least.’
The Compendium of Characters
- Book Dedication
- This comprehensive nomenclature will be ordered by the chronology of the published books and within it by the alphabetical order of the characters. Following the ‘Who’s Who’ of characters, you will find a ‘What’s what’ section, a list of created or combined words with their meanings. There are a fair few occasions where I applied this poetic license to fit closely to the heartbeat of the story or a particular individual within it. The last sections are the peep-holes to the future publications relating to those stories, spin-offs, prequels or next instalments to look forward to. It will offer the tangible glimpse of what is coming next or what happened before.
- Published the 21st of October 2014, this short story was born like many of my stories within the midst of a nightmare. I remember still vividly hearing some chilling noises, some eerie music, sad laughter, stuck in the darkness of a long box. I pushed the door open to realise that I was in my coffin. A cowardly glance outside revealed a hilly cemetery, a moonlight night and other corpses rising from their graves, some dragging others to do so. I was freaked enough at the sight to lay back in the safe darkness, thinking that it must be a bad dream and that it will all pass. But someone saw me, someone recognised me, called my name out loud and opened my coffin lid wide open. In front of that half decomposed cadaver, my heart seemed to fail to beat any longer. I closed my eyes of fright and I woke up in my bed safe and well. I was not exposed in a coffin, exhibited to other dead people, I was in my bedroom with for only witness, my black cat Mystic blinking her yellow eyes at me peacefully from the other pillow.
- It-666’s story can not be told in one sentence not even in one book. It has a fateful spin to it which will last for as long as it is meant to last. It is determined.
- Illegitimate daughter of Abraham Wilton Cough and Amelia Bates, Abigail was not conceived out of love. She is a pure mistake, simply made by her respective parents out of drunkenness. Despite her controversial conception, even unborn she is a blessing to all. To her guilt ridden father, the mere fact that she is the growingly visible result of his action within the belly of the Widow Bates caused his nagging unrest and prophetic nightmare on his death bed. Her unseen presence pushes the proud Abraham first to admit that he did commit mistakes during his lifetime. With her mother playing the spiritual guide to the departing soul of Abraham, they help him to go from admission to making amends, passing by the acknowledgement of his errors.
- We meet Abraham Wilton-Cough as a skeleton in the feverish nightmare he is having on his death bed. Our Anti-Hero rise from his coffin to reluctantly follow the Widow Bates on a journey to discover what happened to his heirs.
- Her shrieking voice is the dreaded and familiar one which guides Abraham Wilton-Cough during the night of the rising dead. Born Elroy, the widow Bates has the privilege to be Abraham’s impoverished neighbour. Always in the now and know, Amelia is his perfect guide.
- Angela is the beautiful yet suffering wife of Abraham Wilton-Cough. Present by his death bed, she hold his hand until his last breath. She is the recipient of his last orders, the soldier that can execute his last wills, which starts with burning the ones he had written previously with a lawyer and friend, with a cold and calculating heart: The very will which would have seen her become totally destitute and dying on the church steps of Wilton Town’s church a very bitter winter night, the 23 rd of January 1866.
- Private Harry Bates is the quintessence of absent characters. Talked about, missed, grieved, his lack of presence, nonetheless affects the other characters in many ways. Like a missing link the life of Harry Bates can explain and shed light about the lives of others and their behaviours. Let’s take the example of the always well informed Amelia Bates to illustrate the point. She has developed that trait of her character because of the military career of her husband. Harry is the determining factor behind a self taught Amelia who reads the newspaper to know if he is still alive, which part of the world he is located, which battles he faced, their results and consequences on the world and people, and trying desperately to guess when would he possibly be able to come back.
- Briefly mentioned, she is the character which presents Angela to Abraham in one of her tea parties, warning him to not fall in love with the Italian shop keeper’s daughter. Aunt Josephine is the would be keeper of old generations and old fashions yet to still be in fashion herself and for her parties not to be obsolete, she has to invite the new generation which brings life to the old town and the like of Angela. Angela is like a mirror of herself in her younger years, an up and coming socialite to be watched.
- Josiah by his imaginary piano/organ/organic instrument, playing beautifully and powerfully, is a pure vision. The youngest son of Abraham Wilton-Cough symbolises all the children who had to endure the will of their parents as their own. If they do not do so, they end up beaten up badly.
- Noah M Wilton is the revered character, founder of Wilton Town, ancestor of Abraham Wilton-Cough. We hear about him first, mentioned proudly by Abraham who boast to be the eleventh removed from him. Larger than life, Noah takes shape and form in a formidable statue in the delirious dying dream of Wilton-Cough. As Abraham catches his breath at the base of the colossal brass effigy of his ancestor, he regains stock of who he is, who he came from but also the courage to face his own future, hence the judgement for his mistakes.
- The character of Father Odell looks after his parish like a shepherd after his flock. Ready listener of their ailments and tribulations, he offers to them the comfort of an educated comprehension, wraps their shoulders by his understanding and instead of letting them face their worst nightmare alone, he leads them to forgiving solutions to their dilemmas.
- Father of Abraham Wilton-Cough, Terah is just mentioned by him with great pride. This character is not elaborated in this story. From the association of two powerful families, the Wiltons and the Coughs, Terah is a member of the third generation. His important wealth handed down to his son made him own half of Wilton Town. Still not enough, Abraham endeavoured to increase his fortune by creating the first bank of the town.
- Doctor Vincent Valdi is another character barely mentioned in the story. At the bedside of the dying Abraham Wilton-Cough, he is monitoring his last hours, unable to save him.
- What can I say about Zach? The first time you encounter him you will not like him a tad. I wrote him with his sheer stupidity aligned with his false cleverness. Zachary Wilton-Cough is a character as daunting as a sponge which was left to absorb vitriol until it is so poisonous, your guts instinct are to just leave it there and ran away without dealing with it or squeeze it out of the bullshit it is full of.
- Wilton Town is a whimsical place with a far-West feel to it. Created out of the sheer wilderness of a large, dark and strange forest by the broad axe of Noah M Wilton, it represents all the hope of a better future that people do carry with them. However it didn’t quite synthesise itself on the ground, despite Noah and his followers’s best will and efforts. The hard working and generous Noah provided them with the free land, built the houses, designed a small town out of the treasure of their surrounding seas of trees.