Something was wrong with Clement Morecote. Something terrible.
On the outskirts of Saginaw, Michigan, the old man lived in an old house on the top of a hill. It was a once remarkable house, and he was a once remarkable man. There was little to be said about the hill. Surrounded by woods, except for a clearing on the east side, and with a poorly maintained road that no longer allowed approach by horse or carriage, the way was mostly overgrown and nearly impassible. Morecote Manor was constructed from wood and stone taken from the immediate surroundings: mostly oak and elm with decorative work being done in maple. There was an obvious disdain for the cheaper white pines that had made Clement his fortune. Limestone quarried locally at the Bay Port mines gave the house a fortress-like appearance. Lake Superior red sandstone trimmed the edges. The house was an imposing structure, much like the man who claimed to have built it, though both had lived better days.
Walter Jacobs was a doctor. He was not a good doctor, but a doctor nonetheless. He killed as many patients as he saved, but he meant well and he did what he could. He loved to make house-calls and while he mostly tried to stay mostly sober, people knew if you wanted his best work, it was best to get to the good doctor early in the day. “I love alcohol and alcohol loves me!” was a confession he often made to his priest. He knew drink was bad for him, knew it was rotting his insides and destroying his liver, but take away a man’s hope and you also take away his cares. Walter had little hope.
A man with nothing to lose, no longer cares when he loses.
Emmet Dunnick imagined god spoke to him as an equal. Emmet never listened, nor replied. He wasn’t looking to be confidant or confessor to the divine. Besides, Emmet knew there was little to be gained from such unburdening; forgiveness was fleeting and fickle. As far as Emmet was concerned, god did indeed have much to answer for, he just refused to be the one to grant him absolution.
One word, then another. That’s all Montgomery Stevens asked out of life. Montgomery had been a successful shop owner (selling mostly books, newspapers, and various sundries), but was now comfortably retired with a military pension. This allowed him time for his poetry, but he was a failed poet. If he’d been dependent on his writing to survive he would have starved years prior. Every day Montgomery wrote, and most days he completed at least one poem.
Montgomery remained unpublished.
Angels and saints warred with demons and devils in the head of Silas Strayhorn; always in conflict, seldom silent, and only at rest when he slept or passed out drunk, a chorus of voices compelling him to action.
Silas was a man of great needs and questionable tastes. He toiled from sunup to sundown. No menial task or manual labor was below him. Poorly educated and prone to maladies of the mind, Silas found comfort in liquor, immoral women, and religion. The god of Abraham was his god. Born and raised in an orphanage outside of Iowa City, Iowa, Silas moved to New Hampton in 1889 at the age of thirty-four. There he was a day-laborer for anyone who required his services as a well-digger or dairy-hand. He also performed lumberjacking, basic carpentry, stone hauling, animal husbandry, and harvesting.