The Swamp Road Chronicles®



Dear Swamp Road Chronicles,

Thank you for the opportunity to tell someone about my personal experiences associated with Swamp Road Sally.  I have needed to share this with someone for a very long time now.


I've always known about Swamp Road Sally; as I was growing up, my parents, aunts and uncles would often share stories among themselves of their experiences on Swamp Road.  No Christmas dinner, Easter luncheon or after-funeral gathering would be complete without some re-telling of a Swamp Road Sally encounter.


As I understand the story, the basic facts are that in 1901 Sally's mother apparently went mad and killed her entire family with an axe.  She then hanged herself.  The body of one of her children was never found, though she was presumed to have died by exposure or drowning in the swamp surrounding the family's home.  That missing child was Sally Blackstone.


I was familiar with the narrow lane that went back to where the remains of the old Blackstone homestead lay in the weeds.  I knew the quiet serenity to be found there.  I had sometimes gone there when in need of solitude.  Lying on my back looking up into the endless sky, watching the white puffy clouds drift away gave me peace.


One sunny afternoon while sitting and gazing into the water, listening to the droning of nearby bees on flowering spearmint and watching the minnows, frogs and dragonflies pursuing their occupations, I noticed something unusual slightly protruding from the sloping stream-side soil a few feet down the bank toward the water.  Ivory-colored, smooth and round, I thought it might be a bone or even a skull.  Curious, I edged down the bank and dug around the object to uncover what it was.


To my surprise and delight I found a very old, stained porcelain doll's head.  Her surface was crazed with hundreds of tiny cracks in the ceramic glaze, but her green eyes, always open, were beautiful.  She had four snow-white teeth visible through her slightly parted, faintly pink lips.  Her pleasant expression and soft brown porcelain hair maintained a sweet, delicate loveliness despite an apparent extended time buried in the dirt.  I was enchanted.


Knowing the sad history of the Blackstone children who had resided at this lonely spot, I wondered if this could have been a toy of theirs, perhaps even Sally's.  It appeared to me to be of an appropriate style and age, but I'm no expert.  I took the doll's head home with me.  I started to tell you that taking it home had been a mistake, but it's not that simple.  No, it's not that simple at all.


At my kitchen sink, I carefully cleaned the doll's head; I gently brushed the years of grime away with soap and warm water.  The cleaner she grew, the more beautiful she appeared.  She had a truly lovely face.  The child who owned her would have loved her deeply.  "How did she end up in the dirt?", I wondered.


I imagined several scenarios: perhaps the family had been suddenly evicted by weather or landlord.  Perhaps she had been hidden away 'til she could be retrieved later.  Perhaps grieving parents had buried the doll out of respect for a child no longer alive to play with it.  I also wondered if Sally had been sleeping with her doll and someone had it wrenched from her little hands on the night she disappeared.  Every imagined possibility left me feeling sad; I couldn't think of any happy reason for a child to part with such a remarkable companion.


During lunch at work, I told a friend about my find.  She said that there might be a serial number impressed on the back of the doll's head that could identify the maker and date of the doll's creation.  When I got home I eagerly checked.  Yes! It was hard to see, but there was indeed a serial number to be found there.  With my strongest dollar store reading glasses I could make out: L 1/2 Made in Germany; 15 1/2 171 6.  Using this information, and trips to the library to inquire of doll collector books, I was able to discover that she had been made in Germany by a company called Kestner about 1900.  The death of Sally's family and her disappearance occurred in 1901.  Though there was no proof, I somehow knew I had discovered the remains of Swamp Road Sally's doll.


I kept the doll's head (I had begun to call her 'Lacey') in a nook at the upper right hand corner of my ancient roll-top desk.  As I worked there I would glance at her from time to time and she seemed to be sympathetic when I was harried, and reassuring when I was feeling inadequate, in short, over a period of several months, she became my friend and confidant.  I could talk to her about anything and she never appeared to judge me.  In a world where everyone seemed to be uncaring and self-absorbed she was my comforter.  I began to look forward to going home after work to see her.  I began to spend evenings at home much more than I had previously done.  My friends would call and invite me to go to the theater with them or to dinner, but I increasingly excused myself from every invitation and eventually, the invitations ceased.  I was quite content to spend quiet evenings at home with Lacey.


It seems strange to me that I haven't thought to mention it until now, but during those many months I have been describing, I had been engaged to a lovely young woman.  Her name escapes me right now.  We were to be married in the spring but she felt that I was drifting away from her.  She said I didn't call her as much, and I had ceased sending her notes or flowers or other tokens of my affection.  She had become concerned about the direction of our relationship and pleaded to know the cause.  She suspected another woman had seized my attention.  Looking back, I know now that she was right, in a way.


I tried to explain as, truthfully as I could, how I simply found great satisfaction in staying at home in the evenings.  I assured her that I still loved her, and I did, I guess.  She could be demanding, though, wanting me to call her, and take her out to dinner and constantly be showing her proofs of my affection.  It all became very tiring.  I couldn't understand the allure of going out when one had everything one needed in one's flat.  One afternoon after a rather emotional call (on her part, at least) she said she had endured enough and needed a man who wanted to spend time with her.  I never did tell her about Lacey, I don't think she would have understood.  Frankly, her breaking off our relationship came as quite a relief to me.  I felt somehow unburdened.  I smiled to myself and as I glanced up at Lacey, she seemed to be smiling too.


My life had entered into a kind of “Golden Age”.  My world was peaceful, with no demands upon my time, except my job at the bank, of course.  Even at the bank, however, my thoughts were always at home with Lacey.  Though the hours away from her dragged slowly by, I was always cheered by the sure knowledge that she would be there waiting, patiently, for my return.  I was happy and satisfied with my life and for the first time, really, I was satisfied with myself as well.  The world seemed warm and friendly and calm.  Life was very, very good.


Oh, if I had the words to describe the bliss of the many hours spent with Lacey when we talked about art and music and literature.  True, I did most of the talking, but Lacey was such an attentive listener she seemed as much a participant in the discussion as I was.  The hours would fly by; I was always surprised to find how early it had become late.  Such was my joy.  There were times when I could sense that she disagreed with me on a topic and even, sometimes, I think she became a little put-out with me, though those times were rare.  She is a strong-willed woman with a mind of her own.


One day I was detained at the bank with some urgent paperwork that had to be carefully completed; the State's Bank Auditor was coming the next day to review the bank's books.  I had no choice but to work late.  When I finally arrived home Lacey expressed great displeasure with me and demanded to know where I had been, I explained, but she glared at me for the rest of the evening. When she's unhappy, I'm unhappy.


Sometimes, when I was working at my computer, Lacey would suggest that it was time to take a break.  "Why not explore some of the websites on the internet that might be interesting?", she suggested.  At first we watched videos about kittens being cute, then gradually, we moved to videos of people doing stupid things and getting hurt.  Car crashes and bomb victims were soon replaced by videos of suicides and then beheadings.  Such things, at first, made me uneasy, but Lacey really seemed to enjoy them, and I wanted her to be happy.


It is not very difficult to uncover sites on the “Dark Web” that depict horrible things being done to innocent people and animals as well.  Every perversion, every sadistic and twisted fantasy is available to be seen and heard in the dark corners of the web, if you look for them.  We had begun to watch such videos and I enjoyed it.  Somehow, the migration, as it were, into those evil and barbaric places seemed 'normal'.  Lacey expressed her delight and support every step we moved further down into that realm of evil; I was, however, oblivious to my moral descent.


It has now gotten to the point where we cruise Swamp Road and other remote country lanes looking for…

Sorry, Lacey is calling me from the next room; I'll try to share more another time.


As submitted 10-31-2021 by Anonymous.


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