Just-Right Harpe

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.

4 thoughts on “Just-Right Harpe

  1. I love the idea of skulls as oracles — sort of a criminal hard drive, a confederate that you don’t have to share the loot with. One of my earliest memories of being fascinated with American Indian history came from an article on the excavation of a mound where the Adena had created clay eyeballs and shell irises for a skull. It was both fascinating and freaky to a little kid.

  2. Or someone could mess with Just-Right Harpe’s spirit by making a deal with him to get him back his head in exchange for ____. I’m thinking of what Rhaederle did with the ancient enemy’s head in Heir of Sea and Fire.

  3. Here’s the skull I was talking about….from a 1972 National Geographic. (The Internet, I say again, is magical…who could have predicted that I could sit at a table and retrieve a dimly remembered image from childhood?)

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