Division 47: Whistling Dixie

By Joann Sears

Copy write 2016

Chapter Seven

The Old Quarter Savannah City

The man gibbered struggled and begged, as the monstrosity dragged him down a dozen empty lanes He knew they were getting further and further away from the main city thoroughfares.

"Please down kill me! Please! I'm sorry," he wept. Harold turned into a secluded alley and threw the desperate man into a rubbish strewn corner.

"You are a typical bully a right coward underneath," he spat contemptuously at his captive. "I've seen boys half your age and younger stand bravely against cannon-fire on the fields of battle." he kicked at the snivelling man. "You are a disgrace to the men that fought and died for you."

"Please I'm Sorry I won't ever touch another girl, I promise! I promise!"

"Well! You are right about that!"

"No! No! Don't skin me."

"I don't take the flesh of Dixie but I am hungry." The terrified Hoodlum shank back against the wall as if seeking protection from it." Harold leaned down and yanked him forward then bared his left arm. His eyes lit up as he saw the vein. He could hear the man's blood coursing through it. He drew a small knife from his coat and sliced through the epidermis, to the life giving liquid within,

The man groaned in pain and tried to struggle. Harold backhanded him hard across the temple initiating instant unconsciousness. Once his victim was still he could more easily suck the nutrient-rich warmth. It slid down his throat thick and smooth although Harold tasted a strangeness within it. He growled softly "Druggie!" Of course the narcotic had no effect on him - the only drug he craved was the sweet ruby red.

Savannah City Hospital

Tony became aware of a deep throbbing in his right shoulder. He groaned and tried to open his eyes but the light was too bright. He squinted against it for a few seconds until it was more bearable then he opened his eyes fully. He tried to sit up then inhaled fast as a sharp pain flashed fire down his arm he decided against trying to sit up a second time. But as he did took in his surrounding he realized he was in a hospital. The memory of the morning flooded in to his mind

"Oh God!" he moaned "Olive Oyl's going to kill me."

"Not this time!" he recognised his brother's voice and tried to turn his head. "Lie still! The Medics have only just finished stitching you up!" His brother was scowling "Don't you ever do as you're told? I'm damn sure I said don't wander off. But Oh No! You have to play the gallant hero!" Tony flushed crimson and tried to change the subject.

"How did you find me?"

"We heard gunfire and then a semi-naked girl ran screaming out of the Alley."

Another memory burst into Tony's head. Oliver frowned as his already pale brother seem to blanch even more. He suddenly regretted bawling his brother out. Tony had suffered a very serious injury and was only an hour out of surgery. "Tony are you okay?" Normally Oliver addressed his younger sibling as Anthony when at work or by his real name when they were alone but in his moment of concern. He needed to reach him quickly "Tony?" Oliver started to panic as his words didn't seem to be reaching the injured man, in the bed. He was about to yell for a Doctor when Tony clutched as his arm. "Ollie I saw him! He saved my life!"

"Saw who? Who saved you?"

"He did! Him! Old Whistler!"

"What? What? You saw the Vampire?"

"He's not a Vampire He's a,"

"He's What."

"Ollie He's a SCARECROW!" Comprehension dawned on Tony as he suddenly realized just what he'd met. Oliver blinked

"Pardon? He's a what?"

"A Scarecrow Oliver!"

"Anthony I think the Morphine is messing with your mind?"

"Oliver I know what I saw, Old Whistler is a Scarecrow!" His brother frowned then stood up.

"I need to talk to Doctor Pearson and see when you can be released. You stay here and do as the doctors tell you or so help me I'll ground you for the next eighty years." Tony blinked as his brother made the bizarre threat. Then Rhys slid in and sat grinning by his bed.

"You did again! Oliver thought that by forcing you to accompany him all day he'd put the breaks on your amazing crime solving skills. Instead you up and save the Mayor's daughter." Tony blinked

"I did what?"

"The girl! She is the Mayor's daughter She'd been snatched from her school half an hour before." Rhys' grin widened "You're going to get a medal by all accounts." He gave a low chuckle Tony did not "Rhys I didn't save her!"

"You didn't?"

"No! Old Whistler saved both of us." Rhys gaped, his mouth flopped open

"Old Whistler?" Tony nodded

"Rhys you've got to warn someone. He took one of the gang with him." His partner shrugged.

"Good!" It was Tony's turn to be surprised then Rhys added "I hope he gets skinned alive and that it hurts like hell! The creep deserves everything Old Whistler does to him to him. The Mayor's girl is only thirteen years old." Quite suddenly Tony didn't feel so sorry for the hoodlum who'd tried to kill him. Aloud to his partner he said

"So that explains why Olive Oyl is in such a stinking mood!" Rhys shook his head "Are you kidding Oliver is over the moon You're technically one of his men. Imagine how good this is going to look back at the FBI? Our boss is going to bask in the glory of this for months to come. Especially if you get a medal."

"I don't deserve a medal."

"Actually you kind of do. You didn't know Old Whistler was in the Alley when you went charging in there without back up or even a weapon, to help the girl."

"I guess that's true?"

"Of course it is. All she kept talking about when she was in the Ambulance was the brave blond man who ran into rescue her." It occurred to Tony that perhaps the child hadn't actually seen Harold. But

a large chunk of him didn't feel right about taking credit for the Scarecrow's actions. Rhys patted his good arm

"Suck it up Man! There is no way Oliver is going to let you go all modest and turn down the honour and neither is the FBI for that matter." He took a gulp from a polystyrene cup he was holding before adding. "This is too big a deal to be brushed under the carpet. Crime prevention and growing Gangster intimidation has been a problem in this country for too long. The Government needs to be seen as acting against these Mafia style mobsters and your actions do precisely that." Tony sniffed and nodded to his cup.

"Is that coffee?" Rhys could see Tony was embarrassed by the subject of his heroism so willingly let the conversation drift.

"That's what the Vending machine promised but frankly Coffee isn't a word I'd use to describe this watery muck."

"Stop taunting me Brute and give me a sip!"

Savannah City Old Quarter

Two patrol cars pulled up in Ellis Square. Four police officers alighted and moved to break up the gawking, whispering crowd. The three men and one female pushed and prodded their way to the front of the assemblage but then they also stopped and stared. At the centre of the muttering throng was a naked man tied to a street lamp. He was moaning in pain and shaking with cold and fright. The senior policemen moved closer and peered at his bleeding back. The blood was seeping from some very specific slashes. Then the beat-cop saw the words cut into the flesh.

"Child Rapist!" The officer gulped to swallow the bile that rose in his throat He knew who the bound man was, the whole town knew. He and two others that had already been apprehended, had kidnapped and tried to rape the Mayor's daughter. Only the timely appearance of an FBI man had prevented the child from being defiled and murdered. Her saviour had in fact been badly hurt. He was in hospital and the poor girl he'd saved was under sedation. The police office turned to his comrades.

"Cut him down - read him his rights then cuff the bast*rd."

Kalb Farm: Former site of an Indian School

Sheriff Hobbs drove the two important Amerinds out to the old abandoned farm. very few people ever went there. It hadn't been occupied or tilled for a hundred years. Hobbs shivered as he got out of his car a thin mist hung over the site giving credence to the legend, that the place was haunted. Near the gate half a wall blackened and decayed loomed menacingly out of the fog.

"The graves is up yonder under the trees," the lawman pointed "I'll wait for youse here. This ain't no place for us white folks to tread." Chief Winter Crow raised an eyebrow at his Shaman Adrian Salmon Leaps. The other man gave a low shrug of his shoulders and then the pair set off in the indicated direction. Sheriff Hobbs got back into his car locked the doors turned up his stereo and then opened his newspaper. He hoped the Apaches didn't take to long. "Dis in't no place ter be hangin aroond," he said aloud to himself.

The two Amerinds soon came upon the graves. Despite the passage of time the crosses seemed clean and the graves looked cared for. Winter Crow counted them, there were seventeen. The exact number of children missing from their tribe. "Someone has been here recently," Adrian remarked. Winter Crow could see why he assumed such. Each one of the small cross was adorned with a small garland of fresh Autumn leaves and hanging from them was a small heart shaped candy. "Who would do this?" Adrian wondered. Winter Crow knew

"The Great Harold Spirit! He could not save them in this life so he cares for them in death." Adrian's eyes were drawn to some trampled down grass. He let his glance follow it into the trees.

"He has left a trail for us to follow!" Winter Crow saw it too.

"We will not speak of this to the Sheriff. It is not for his eyes or ears."

"What about the FBI?"

"They will have to be told because we will need their help to bring our brother home."

Sheriff Hobbs jumped as someone rapped on his window. He looked up from his paper and released the breath he was holding. Quickly he unlocked the car and the two Amerinds slid in.

"It is as we hoped," Winter Crow said smoothly "All seventeen of our lost children lie under the hill."

"So I'm guessing The Bureau of Native American Affairs will be taking it from here?"

"Yes!" I will contact them as soon as we get back to our lodgings.," Winter Crow replied "Hopefully they will have an Exhumation Crew out here by the end of the week."

"That'll be fine. I'll be leaving you to deal with it all from here on." Again the Chief gave him a polite affirmative. The Sheriff dropped them back at the Trailer Park fifteen minutes later. Their arrival coincided with the team returning from the hospital. Winter Crow was smiling So was Salmon Leaps. Oliver waited until they were all seated in the bar before he acquainted the Amerinds with the mornings events then looking boldly at teh Native American Chief asked

"Were you aware at all that this spirit has the appearance of Scarecrow?"

"No!" He is always described as a wildman of the forest but I suppose to an innocent young boy who'd never seen one. a scarecrow could appear as a woodsman." George leaned forward his eyes suddenly excited.

"Boss? A Scarecrow? Old Whistler is a Scarecrow?" Oliver then related his discussion with his brother. Tony was as yet still in the hospital. He was not being released until the doctors were satisfied, he'd recovered from the shooting and the emergency surgery he'd undergone. George's excitement seemed to grow as he heard of Tony's encounter.

"Boss this is big - I mean really big! We maybe looking for a spirit as old as time itself."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean as far back as the Ancient Celts the image we know as a scarecrow was spoken of in their songs and stories. I'm pretty sure we've all heard that Old Halloween Warning."

"Warning?" Tangle queried.

"Don't go into the Cornfield after dark on Halloween.

For the Pumpkin King will suck your blood.

And steal your face away!"

Martin quoted the old doggerel rhyme he'd learned from his Grandfather as a child

"Crikey!" Jon exclaimed "That exactly describes Old Whistler!" Percy Tony's half mechanical pet/toy peeked its head out of his jumper and made a soft squeaking sound. Shukr raised his head and sniffed at his little companion. They comforted each other when they were separated from Tony. Winter Crow again spoke, commanding their attention.

"Harold has been caring for the Graves of the Lost,"

"What?" virtually all the others said it at the same moment.

"How can you know that?" Oliver quelled the astonishment of his regular squad.

"The graves are clean and weeded," Adrian answered the question "And!"

"And?"

"Every marker has fresh flowers on it and candies for the children." Tangle saw tears in the Chief's eyes. She most of all understood what this meant to him. Her background as a Wiccan and Wind Singer made her more spiritual than the rest of the team. She was glad to know that despite being separated from their homeland and cut off from the Happy Hunting Grounds. The souls of the lost infants had not been abandoned to wander in Limbo, forgotten and alone. Adrian then spoke of the trail he's spotted leading off into the woods

Harold was relaxing in his cave he had a new book and a glass of fresh blood

at his side Outside it was growing dark but he was content. His eyes fell on the Birthday Banner he'd put up the day before and he inwardly mused. That on the morrow he would pack it away for another year. A sudden noise behind him made him leap up. For the first time ever real fear coursed through him but then as he turned to view the intruder, it faded to be replaced with puzzlement. An old memory reared up. Before him stood a familiar face a little older perhaps but the same face.

"Geronimo? No this is impossible You went to the Happy Hunting Grounds a century ago." Winter Crow couldn't help the sheer thrill of love that filled him. At last the Heavenly Saviour stood before him. He was what his Great Grandsire had always insisted. He was the Manitu!" Harold was both fearful and puzzled he repeated. "Geronimo?" Winter Crow found his voice.

"Geronimo was one of my revered Ancestors." Harold nodded

"You have come for the babies in the hill? I have tried to keep them safe! I knew one day someone would come."

"Yes we have come for our lost children but we have also come for you. We have been searching for a hundred years Harold. It is time for you to come home too." Oliver had softly entered He stood to one side watching what was in fact a very touching scene. The old Scarecrow smiled though the lips of another.

"I cannot I am not what you think. I am a monster! A Vampire."

"No Harold you are wrong. Yes there were measures you had to take to survive but they are not sins and you are no monster. You are our god." Oliver now felt it was time he entered the conversation.

"Times have moved on Harold and so has Science. A new more permanent skin is being grown for you. One that although synthetic will serve you better than the flesh you have been forced to take."

"It is more than skin I need. I told you I am a vampire I need blood regularly." Oliver gave a low chuckle and let his eye rove around the cavern.

"Don't tell that with all these books you have never heard of blood banks" The Scarecrow seemed to be taken a back.

"I could have legal blood? For Free?"

"Yes!" The Scarecrow seemed to waver but then he remembered

"I cannot leave there is no one to care for my animals." Salmon Leaps taking a diabolical liberty, patted the old straw arm of his god.

"We would not expect you to leave them behind. We haven't just prepared a place for you," Harold's fake face split into a smile.

"I could bring my Clucks and Grunters Woolleys and moo-ers?"

"Yes and your horse," Winter Crow promised. He was also noting the furnishings and possessions his God owned. "And all of this," he waved a hand around. Oliver eyed the Birthday banner.

"You mark the passage of years?"

"Yes! I was never sure of the exact day of my first awakening or Birth as you would call it but every year there is a day that celebrates my kind."

"Halloween?" The scarecrow nodded.

"Its not much of a birthday but its how I reckon my age."

"And next year you will have all that you have missed and more," Winter Crow imperiously decreed.

Epilogue

A month later Oliver surrounded by his team in full FBI Dress Uniforms. Tony his arm in a sling and Jon in his wheelchair all waited in formation as a long line of hearses. All paid for by the Federal Government, drove slowly up an aisle of silent waiting Amerinds. Each one stood in the regalia of their tribe, their heads bowed in reverence as the procession of white coffins passed by. When they reached the head of the aisle the cars parked and honoured family members lifted the lost out and laid them gently on beaded ceremonial mats.

Chief Winter Crow Adrian Salmon Leaps and a tall shuffling man walked slowly along the rows of the lost. The Shaman was calling out names. Not the enforced Christian names of the accursed school - no the names being read out were the original names of the seventeen lost children.

As they reached a coffin the Shaman tapped it with a ornate wand then Harold would lean down and lay his hand on the enclosed body. The FBI team had been briefed. Harold was a God to these people, he had been caring for his children for a hundred and thirty years. Now before they were formally buried and their spirits finally freed to the Happy hunting Grounds they were receiving one final blessing from their tribal saviour. Tony blinked back the tears that sprang to his eyes as he viewed the poignant scene. A sniff to his right told him he wasn't the only one holding back their emotions. The funeral ceremony was long and for the most part conducted in the native language of the Apache but not one of the FBI men or the tribe fidgetted during it. The air was one of solemnity but with an undercurrant of joy as the lost were finally returned to their tribe and homeland, as for Harold, he finally had the family and love he deserved.

Later - after the ceremony Tony and his brother went to view the scarecrow's new home. The hogan didn't differ much from the other tribal homes except that it over looked a paddock and pens that now housed Harold's menagerie. Although his pigs didn't seem to like their more conventional food. Tony smiled as he was formally introduced to the God that had saved his life. Harold looked different now he had a real body and a face of his own. The Scarecrow shook his hand

"You are a credit to the brethren who sired you. Son of Dixie."

"And so are you Harold," He took the medal he'd been given by the mayor Savannah City four days earlier and pinned onto the chest of the new man.

"This belongs to you!"

"Thank you!" Harold said solemnly then to the surprise of everyone he raised his hand in an unexpected manner and splitting his finger into a very correct salute added

"Live Long and Prosper Anthony Marlowe." A gasp circled the nearby onlookers then Oliver laughed

"Well who'd have guessed it? Harold here is a Trekkie!" And there in love and happiness we take our leave, knowing Harold is finally safe.

And should we reach that glorious place where waits the sparklin' crown. For everyone who for the right, his soldier's life lay down,
God grant to us the privilege upon that happy day of clasping hands with those who fell while wearin' of the Grey.

Fin