Monday, December 24, 2012

Signs of Life at Christmas?

Excerpt from a letter by Master James Carlson to his older sister, Perchance:

“…and is my custom, I found myself walking the grounds on Christmas Eve, thinking of Holidays past and the joy that was ours every Christmas morning as children. It seems so long ago, but, of course, it was but a few years ago.

“As I passed by Janus House – you know its deserted, dear Per, don’t you? – I was reminded of a tale that Da once told us on a wintry Christmas Eve, one that concerned the sprawling mansion’s former owner…or does he in fact still own it? Anyway, it went something like this.

“Sgt. Janus was called to the house of an old miser who lived on the outskirts of some little town somewhere, as the skinflint was supposedly troubled with ghosts.

“’You of course remember the story of another, ahh, elderly gentleman visited by spirits at this same time of year?’ he asked the codger.

“The man passed his rheumy eyes over the famous Spirit-Breaker and coughed. ‘Just get on with it, young man,’ he spat. ‘I’m paying you to clear this house of what ails it, not remind me of musty old tales of fiction.’

“Janus smiled and turned to his task. After searching the entire house he came to the conclusion that the man was not being visited by the dead, but rather by a few very living rodents. This he told the gentleman and waited for the explosion of denial that was sure to come. But none did. The old man simply stared at the sergeant and then exhaled slowly.

“’Then what am I to do of it?’ asked the miser.

“’My suggestion would be to bedevil this house’s rats no more and move along to your final destination,’ replied Janus with a twinkle in his eye.

“And with that the old man vanished in a puff of ancient cigar smoke and a jingle of dusty coins. Sgt. Janus made for the door, his work done. Save for paying his clients, of course.

“A piece of cheese, good and stout, left by the wainscoting and he was off. The next day, Christmas, the man’s family found his empty shell of a body in the master bedroom, a few crumbs of cheese littered here and there on the carpet, and, strangely, the clear tracks of hooves on the roof.

“Well, Per, let me burden you no more with old wives’ tales and allow me to wish you the very best of the Season and to your husband and my dear nieces.

“Oh, and by the by, I also saw a light on in a window of Janus House. I wonder what that could possibly mean…?”

All content (c)Jim Beard 2012 Please read the entire SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER book by picking up a copy on AMAZON.COM


  1. Elegantly concise--I marvel at not only your command of a wide range of narrative voices but the variety of angles from which you approach Sgt. Janus's adventures (the "clients" in this case were scarcely in a position to fulfill Janus's usual stipulation--barring the additional services of someone like John Dolittle, M.D.!)

  2. Many thanks for the kind words. Part of the Janus set-up was for me to gain an appreciation for first-person narrative, among other things. I'm glad to hear that its going over well with readers.