by Dawn De Braal
a glass of porter
Uncle Jack's body was found in a peat bog by a local farmer, thirteen years after he'd gone missing. Irish authorities contacted my grandmother to let her know of the gruesome discovery. The detective noted that Uncle Jack's body was in "remarkable" condition for being buried so long, but neglected to mention that Uncle Jack's head looked as if it had been run through a mangle iron and had been made flat. Grandma was insistent on having an open casket ceremony and would not take no for an answer.
We waited months before the authorities were finished with the investigation for the body to return to us. The investigation resulted in no answers. Uncle Jack was shipped back to the United States thirteen years to the day he disappeared in Ireland searching his ancestral background. With the discovery of his body, part of the mystery solved as to where he had been all these years but not how and why he ended up in the swamp.
I barely remembered my uncle. I was six-years-old when he left on his trip. Standing there with my immediate family before the casket reminiscing, faint memories of baseball tossing, head rubbing “noogies,” and an indomitable laugh, came back to me. Uncle Jack, the teller of tall tales and the carrier of butterscotch hard candies in his pocket where ever he went. I wondered, when they uncovered his body, had they found those sweet candies in his pocket?
The entire family stared in awe, admiring the shape of Uncle Jack's head which appeared to have been elongated due to the weight of the peat. The faint smell of "swamp" permeating the funeral home, was undeniable. Mr. Gooding, the funeral home director, asked to close the casket before our guests arrived. It took some convincing, but finally, Grandma conceded. The lid on Uncle Jack's coffin, was closed. My less adventurous Uncle Ned told the story of a farmer who was digging in the bog in Ireland when he discovered Uncle Jack's' body. Upon further investigation, it was mentioned that several holes had been drilled into Uncle Jacks' head! There had been many bodies found in those bogs with the same condition.
I have never been able to get that thought out of my mind those drilling holes. Had Uncle Jack been murdered? Had he gone mad after having some medical procedure done and confused, wandered out into the bog to his demise? Had someone been mining Uncle Jack for those tall tales? A mystery to be sure, but he was home again and that was all that mattered to Grandma.
About the author
Dawn De Braal lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two rat terriers and a cat. She loves is telling a good story and is fast learning that they can also be written.