In the latter half o’ 1876, year o’ Gordon’s lunar ‘clipse, a feller by th’ name o’ Chess lost it some. Chess lived by the river, in a nice cottage with his wife ‘nd two sons. Years b’fore meetin’ ‘is wife he lived alone by th’ river, not ‘n a cottage but a tent, an’ was quite peaceful there. Chess was a fisherm’n y’see. Ever’day at three clock he’d g’out on ‘is boat, and well y’ kno’. Very vast a river it was, wide ‘n’ deep enough t’ warran’ a boat. One day in July o’ ‘76, as I said, Chess set out on that boat, onu the river, no more than ten metres from the mud cove that traced back t’ th’ cottage. Chess dipped his rod ‘n the water ‘nd waited, no bait, never baited his fishin’ rod once in ‘is life. Itsagift ‘e says. And around the secon’ hour there’bouts, Chess became awful fixated on th’ water, never had he done such a thing, he only ever watched the line. But today his gaze drifted to the water, it was flowin’ somethin’ peculiar. Watchin’ it flow it resembled somethin’ Chess’d never quite seen manifest in th’ body o’ nature, remindin’ him of a homemade clock he once saw as a boy, the clockwork ‘sposed, Chess could see all its intric’cies, the river was like that and may I say gave Chess chills. Chess was so startled by the river’s behaviours that he got this awful loud ringin’ in ‘is ears, a grindin’ noise. And a beatin’ feelin’ inside the bridge from ‘is nose to ‘is brain. A beatin’, a pumpin’, a terrible gushin’ feelin’. So distressed as ‘e was, Chess winced ‘nd cl’cked ‘is jaw inu place, and in that doin’, Chess gon’ droppin’ his fishin’ rod inu th’ water. He sprung forward, grabbin’ it so, but just as it slipped from ‘is fengers it disappeared inu the river’s snake-like-blackness. Skippin’ the middleman it was, from han’ to river bed as sure as th’ wind.
Later that night Chess lay in bed with his wife, and thought that th’ ringin’ he was given reminded him of th’ pain he felt after fallin’ from ‘is horse as a teenager. O that foul beast, over top slung back and forth, over top he fell, forward, hits the ground an’ th’ spine aches, hits th’ ground an’ th’ ear ache ceases. The followin’ mornin’ Chess had idle hands ‘nd stared at ‘is boat on th’ shore and oars in th’ mud, and real hasty like the ringin’ came back. Puttin’ himself to use, Chess did some yard work that needed doin’. And fed the horses. And that night he enjoyed dinner and went to bed like a church mouse and hugged his wife as she too slept, on the porch earlier he smoked and looked at the tree by the river and with that thought about th’ fishin’ rod, lost in th’ river deep, decidin’ that he’d make one o’ them sundials out o’ old wood ‘nd shave it down ‘nd sell it for money, for a new rod. And so he slept soundly, dreamin’ the usual business of curious shapes ‘nd patterns ‘nd the darn’d rat chewin’ on ‘is own tail.
The next mornin’ he woke up at ‘bout four clock, real sprite like. Before any birds made a sound, just before the mornin’ sang. Chess set off inu the woods to the left of ‘is cottage with a side arm in the form of a messenger’s, with as many ammunitions as Chess liked. Walkin’, runnin’, joggin’, saunter, excited, tired, appr’ensive, found; Good lord! Good god! Great scott! Comin’ across a campfire dampened some in the woods, women sleeping ‘roun it. Sisters. He clicked the sidearm and woke one of ‘em up, she screamed and Chess shot her, click again, slump back, blood sprinklin’ on the bed o’ the woods, waftin’ the fire’s final flames with the wind fall of a woman fallin’, dead. The other’n woke up then, startin’ to run, Chess allowed it, settin’ down on one knee, Chess tracked her across the treeline and set her down. Violent like.
Gettin’ back to ‘is cottage by five, Chess wen’ in ‘n’ greeted his wife at the stove. With a shootin’ iron he shot ‘er in the ear and face. Rumble from the room ‘cross the hall, Chess en’ered and shot both of ‘is boys dead. And after that he spread some fire wood on the beds and corners, where the wood was real likely to catch, and set the house alight. No screams from the burnin’, Chess checked to make sure he didn’t leave nothin’ special. After that he set off down the road, leavin’ the horses tied to th’ tree. He thought of shootin’ one and lettin’ the other go but decided best not. The dirt road Chess walked was one adjacent to the river and so it stayed with him. The flow never ceased and yet it wasn’t because it was, so complete like, or least Chess thought any ways. Chess walked until wood became mud, and river ‘nd marsh flowed equal. He encountered a hole for crayfish ‘nd stared down for a long time, so long that day became night, and after this, the further he looked down, deeper ‘nd deeper into the shallow pit, the more Chess became engulfed in an even darker night, goin’ in his ears with a black fluid so thick ‘n’ rent, one could only pre-vision that it came from the inner sanctum of the river. Passin’ through some land smothered completely by reed ‘n’ mist, he encountered a tree withered by storm. And became terrible anxious about what might fall out o’ th’ tree, p’raps a shoe, or the rusted anchor from an old ship, a mini brother anchor to th’ chief, somethin’ that had sat in the tree for millenia, stuck so wholly that on this sorrowful night, wind moved so slight, to the left, matter inched away, one bit an’ the next, a tree branch would fall and the anchor or shoe would be set free, upon Chess’ head. So he walked through the night lookin’ up. The moon his seasick guide t’heaven.
Past the marsh now, Chess encoun’ered a small farm, no guard out front, and a single worker in the field, a young fella pickin’ for or’nges. Nighttime pickin’. Stranger’s business. Chess took a shot at him with his shootin’ iron and missed, hittin’ an or’nge, cuttin’ it ‘n two. The young fella ran, and Chess continued walkin’. By three clock in th’ mornin’, Chess came to some town of no descriptions. Walkin’ across the en’erway, he encoun’ered no thing an’ no body. Exception for a big white house to the left, the lights were on. Chess walked past th’ arrow prong walls, upright ‘nd frightenin’, and with that Chess’ toes hurt with a kind o’ pain a kin t’ fallin’ down th’ stairs, that rush of pain ‘n’ despair. Chess went ‘roun’ th’ outside o’ th’ house lookin’ in the windows, he could see an old feller at the fireplace smoking a see-gar. He thought that takin’ a shot at the old feller from outside his house weren’t fair. So Chess walked ‘roun’ the back ‘nd found one o’ th’ patio doors open, a tease, bastard. Chess walked out inu a fine hall overlooked by an upstairs balc’ny, an’ pain’ins of The Darn’d Fool on the wall, all over, this is all over he thought, this is the end o’ time, the end of a million men, dead an’ gone ina hole, ina pit, like hell, hell walkin’. Walkin’ ‘round to th’ fireplace feller, Chess unsheathed his messenger’s and turnin’ the corner, pointed it at the sullen fool. The chap looked at him with a blank expression, like a dog, and Chess’ cheeks turn’ red from th’ heat, the ringin’ came back in a slow wave. “Yessir?” the feller said and with that Chess blasted him ‘n th’ legs. On the floor the old feller made not a sound lessen a distan’ whimper. Chess stepped on the feller’s ankle so he couldn’t crawl. The fool ceased an’ laid still. Chess went inu th’ games room that followed. Two old women lay terrified on a velvet rug. Chess told one to stay put and the other to stand by the bookcase over yonder. After settin’ her there, Chess took out his shootin’ iron and blasted her somethin’ fierce, lettin’ the spine an’ all grace the books. Strung backwards by the blast, slumps forward like a dead fish, skull hits velvet rug, woman screams with the fear of what’s ‘is name, the fear of a thousand wind chimes crashin’, and the devil, laughin’. The second lady trembled as Chess rubbed his eye, coughin’ from the build up o’ smoke in the room. He told her that he was only here for the money, and that if she laid down real still, and didn’t move until she heard th’ door shut, she’d live. And after she set herself down tight, on the velvet rug. Chess pointed his shootin’ iron at her head but thought why not and left her there, livin’. The p’lice were at the door at this point, yabberin’ ‘n’ bangin’ ‘n’ threatentin’ somethin’ mean.
Chess ran up th’ stairs, into what he thought was the old feller’s office. Seein’ red curtains hangin’ useless, ‘nd tastin’ the opportunity, Chess took out some matches an’ started lightin’. The flames started small and slowly got more and more severe, And then once the whole curtain was engulfed, it simply ceased, like a bird, like a moment, the fire stopped. Not by magic, the curtain was ruined, but the fire just went away. And so Chess set his messenger’s and his six shooter down on the old fool’s desk, ‘nd, walkin’ down some stairs, awful sick, gave himself up to th’ police. On his way out o’ the house he said sorry for the trouble and when they asked him why he did it, while after, he cleared ‘is throat, awkward like. The sun come up at this point and by three in the aft’rnoon, they had him in the gallows ready t’hang. When one o’ them pastors told ‘im to renounce the devil he asked that he have all his things given to th’ state, his horses shot, and that his body, once hanged, be set to rest in the river by his cottage. How I know this is. I was at the hangin’ you see. I got talkin’ to an elder darlin’ there, she told me the story an’ we both agreed that it was such a sadness. And I read even later, in one o’ them review papers that when they got to his cottage, which was nothin’ but smoke and sticks by then mind you, they found that one of his horses had died o’ no water, and the other had broken free from its reins. And escaped.