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Meeting Joey Ripley (standard:fantasy, 2450 words)
Author: CyranoAdded: Aug 12 2007Views/Reads: 1819/1089Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This started out a true story...I'm not sure where the fantasy set in...if it did.

Joey Ripley 

Entering the cemetery under the gated wooden arch I dally among the
scattering of graves, while the sun, shredding its first fingers of 
winter light through the branches of the magnificent Redwoods, warms my 
balding scalp.  Sure enough, it's a scene of wild serenity. 

The first thing to strike me is the youthfulness of these dead pioneers.
Dying, it seems, happened a lot between the ages of thirty and fifty, 
though looking at the headstone of one,  John Statler, born 1840 died 
1912, there were clear exceptions. 

“Who'ya  lookin' for, mister?” The question is asked. 

I turn and witness a boy staring up at me, hands deeply set into the
pockets of his shabby overalls, drained of their blueness, with one 
buckle strap hanging loosely off his shoulder.  One leg of his overalls 
is shorter than the other, revealing a brown unlaced brogan boot. 

“I'm not looking for anyone, lad.” I reply. 

His hat, pushed onto the back of his head, hides most of his straw
textured hair and the candy-striped cotton shirt has no collar, just 
three buttons, much like the vests my grandfather wore. 

“I just figure anyone looking at graves this early on a mornin' has to
be looking for someone special. Thought maybe I could help.” 

I feel drawn by his eye contact, wild blue eyes, but dull; the eyes of a
caged lion; there, but not quite alive. 

“You mean...” I pause to look around, “ know all the folks buried

“Mostly... that there is Frank Liberty,” he nods in the direction,
“...died 1910. Next to him, Mathew Parker, six years old when he was 
hit by a runaway wagon.” 

I feel a sudden urge to brush away the frost and dead twigs to check out
his accuracy, but don't. 

“Do you live here in town?” I ask. 

“Used to, mister; my dad ran the livery yard, that is until Jake
Springer shot him dead.” He says, not looking up from the ground. 

I almost choke. Should I laugh? If that's a joke it isn't very funny. 

“Really,” I say, acting surprised, just to encourage him. 

Perhaps this kid loves to check out us tourists, tell us a story and
earn a few bucks. He remains still, looking down, his arms quietly at 
his side. 

“Aren't you cold? Sure is nippy out this morning.” 

“I've been colder, mister.” He says, turning to walk away. 

“Wait... is your dad buried here?” I ask, intrigued by him. 

He pauses and without speaking raises his arm, pointing. I feel an icy
chill at my back. Graves make me cry when I know who's in them. I step 
closer, looking at the inscription chiseled into the headstone. 

‘Jack Ripley. Died of gunshot wounds. February 13. 1856.' 

“This is your dad?” I ask. My face etched with confusion. 

“Yep.” He says, taking a hand from a ‘dog-eared' pocket, and pointing to
another place. This time very directly.  “Jake Springer is over there.” 

“Do you want to show me?” 

“Sure,” he mutters. 

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