For the story I’m working on, I invented a new Harpe, neither Big, nor Little, but Just-Right. There’s much to argue for him not being a Harpe–after all no one’s heard of Just-Right Harpe. On the other hand–his skull does end up on a stick on the side of the road as a warning, of sorts.
And, though I don’t really touch on it in the story, I like it because the person who sticks that skull on a stick is Zilpha Murrell, who, when she’s done with it, tosses it to the dog, but her son comes up with it instead. And then the skull, supposedly, whispers advice on how to be a good criminal to him.
Now I’m imagining an alternate history where bandits’ skulls get passed around like important oracles. A Harpe skull to John Murrell. And what did ever happen to John Murrell’s head? They never did find it. Maybe when Frank and Jesse James came to Nashville, one of them ended up with it.
Though, if I had to make a real guess–who would have enough clout and enough interest in the dead–to pull off stealing a dude’s skull, you know I’d be putting my money on Ben Allen.