Scarecrows and Devils

📅 Published on June 30, 2020

“Scarecrows and Devils”

Written by Kevin David Anderson
Edited by N/A
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.50/10. From 8 votes.
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“I know where them bodies are,” the boy said.

Sheriff Burke eyed the skinny fifteen-year-old sitting in one of the two wooden chairs on the other side of his desk. He knew the kid. Knew him well enough to notice he was wearing his Sunday best, loose-fitting hand-me-downs that hung like clothes on a scarecrow. But still, in these parts anyway, dapper enough for God.

Burke reached for his cup of hot coffee. “And what bodies are those, Seth?”

The boy pulled a Bible from under his arm and set it on the desk. “The ones you and Deputy Wayne been lookin’ fur.” Seth took a quick look around. “Where is the Deputy, anyhow?”

Burke followed the boy’s gaze around the tiny police station. It was a place anyone could take in at a glance. Two desks and a small dispatch area, decked out in equipment circa 1967, made up the brunt of the station’s innards. Toward the rear of the one-room station was a long window hidden behind worn drapes the color of dried blood, and two iron-barred holding cells. An orange discoloration peppered the bars and locks—locks so old Burke wasn’t even sure if they worked. Not that it mattered much in a quiet, mostly forgotten place like Thankful, Alabama.

“I usually hold down the fort solo on Sundays. Catch up on paperwork and all. Now go on,” Burke said, sitting back, his chair creaking under the strain. “What bodies are ya talkin’ about?”

The boy glanced down at his hands then said, “Evans Parker, and that teacher, Ms. Conroy.”

Burke leaned forward a bit, caressing his cup. “I don’t know what you’ve heard, Seth, but them are just missin’ persons.”

The boy looked up at Burke. “Don’t play games, Sheriff. What I’m talkin’ about is just between you, me”—Seth slapped his hand on the Bible—“and God.”

Burke did his best to show no reaction, but he looked at the thick book. The holy doctrine looked older than he and the boy put together. Flecks of aged paper splintered off as Seth’s pressed down on its cracked leather cover.

The boy slid his hand off the Bible and into his lap. “You don’t call the state police or them government folks for no missin’ persons. As God is my shepherd, I know ya don’t.”

Burke rotated the handle of his cup around to his other hand. Steam gently rose above the rim. “If you got somethin’ to git off your chest—out with it.”

The boy leaned in, and Burke thought the kid’s eyes had suddenly turned the color of night beetles—the kind that swarmed around the porch light in the summer. “There was blood, wasn’t there?” Seth said. “All over Evan Parker’s garage and Ms. Conray’s kitchen.” A grin played on his mouth. “Butcha didn’t find no bodies, did ya?”

In a place like Thankful, it was harder than Chinese arithmetic to keep any kind of secret, let alone one like what he and Wayne were trying to keep regarding the crime scenes. He’d kept a tight lip, but wasn’t sure about Wayne.

The sheriff had bumped into his deputy more than once at Milly’s Tavern—impressing the liquored-up locals with some embellished tale of life on the beat. The facts about the blood at both scenes—in pools on the floors and in Jackson Pollock splatters on the walls—would have made one terrific barroom story. Be a miracle if Wayne had managed to keep his mouth shut.

Burke lowered his cup onto the desk like a dragonfly touching down on a Cahaba Lily. “You want to tell me how you know about that?”

“Because I know who kilt’em.”

“Was it you, Seth?”

Seth smiled and looked down at his hands again. “No, Sheriff. It weren’t me.”

“Well, son, you have my attention.”

“It was my cousin, Haley.”

Burke sighed. “Seth, I know how close you and your cousin were. I’m sure her death hit ya pretty hard, and when we find the son-bitch that run her down like a dog in the street, I’ll personally hold the bastard so you and your kin can get some justice. But till that day comes, Seth, you got to git on.”

The boy sniffled, but his eyes remained dry. “I loved her like a sister. If we weren’t blood we might of… I don’t know.” Seth looked up, his eyes glassy. “Fact is, I always knew she were special. Just didn’t know how much till she called me one night.”

“What night?”

“The night that teacher, Ms. Conroy disappeared.”

Burke sat back deep into his chair and folded his arms across his chest.

“See she was in an awful panic,” Seth said. “Needed my help real bad, but wouldn’t say what fur. She told me to come over to Ms. Conroy’s, ‘Go round back,’ she says. ‘Don’t let nobody see ya. So I does as she say.”

“What happened, Seth?”

“Well, I goes round and she’s at the back door holding open the screen. In the moonlight, I could see her hands were covered with somthin’ dark and drippin’. Her overalls and cheeks were smeared with it too. I wasn’t but two steps up that porch before I could smell the blood. Awful powerful.”

The boy paused and Burke wondered if it was for effect or whether he was actually reliving the moment.

“Seth, why was Haley covered in blood?”

“Why do you think?” Seth dipped his head forward. A strand of greasy black hair fell across his forehead, making his face look more sinister than his age normally allowed. “Because she had just slit that sow from chin to birthin’ hole, that’s why. I walked in that kitchen and nearly got sick on myself, swear to God. If I hadn’t slipped on a heap of gizzards, I surely would have. The fall onto my ass left me starin’ up at Haley and that big knife she was caressin’ like it was the baby Jesus. That sight kind of helped me focus, and I forgot all about being nauseous.”

Burke studied the young man.

Seth brushed the strand of hair back. “I think right then I was going to scream, or maybe I did. Don’t know fur sure, but she shushed me and said ‘I need to show you somethin’. I sat there in a pile of that teacher’s insides and watched Haley walk over to the body. It was face to the floor and she stepped over it, then hunkered down on the big dead woman’s back.  She reached forward, pulled the head up by the hair and run the blade hard across the forehead. Fast like. Then she yanked that teacher’s scalp clean off. I remember saying, ‘What the hell, Haley,’ or some such thing. She just shook her head and pointed with the knife down at the woman’s skull. ‘Do ya see ’em,’ she said. I didn’t at first, but then I did.”

“See what?” Burke said.

“Horns,” Seth answered. “Tiny little horns. About an inch high, maybe two, comin’ right outta her skull. They must have been sticking out through the top of her head but with all that hair, who would know? Haley let the head fall, and it hit the wooded floorboard with a smack that sent blood into my eyes. By the time I’d wiped it away, Haley had yanked the woman’s pants down, showing me the teacher’s backside. She cut the undergarment down the middle and encouraged me to come closer. The stench was worse than the one that hit me when I walked in. Ms. Conroy had sort of let go with everything, ya know.”

“I get it.” Burke nodded. “Go on.”

“Jeez, Haley just stuck her hand in there and pushed it all aside. I know I gagged hard then. When I come up Haley was pullin’ somethin’ out. It was attached just above the woman’s bottom, about a roll of quarters thick and near two-foot long.”

“What was it?”

“A tail. I swear on my grandmother’s grave, it was a tail. Must have been tucked deep down, hidden in her backside.”

Burke smirked and a slight chuckle escaped his lips.

Seth held up his right hand like a Boy Scout. “God is my witness, I swear it, Sheriff. It was a tail. The tip was shaped like a big Indian arro’ head.” Seth brought his hand down, leaned forward and lowered his voice. “Conroy, that teacher, she been schoolin’ third graders for almost twenty years and nobody knew, except my cousin. Nobody ever suspected that she were a devil. A real, from the depths of hell, devil.” Seth sat back, closed his thin lips firmly, and to Burke they looked like someone had laid a nightcrawler across the boy’s face, both ends wiggling up the sides of his cheeks.

“A devil?” Burke shook his head. “Son, have you gone crazy?”

“No sir, but there are times I wish I had. Ya see, Haley told me the whole thing right there in that kitchen she’d turned into a slaughterhouse. There are devils all around us, sent up from hell—not doing anything wrong, just waitin’.”

“Fur what, Seth. Waitin’ fur what?”

Seth eyes narrowed. “The final battle. The one between God and the serpent. Hell is sending up its soldiers in preparation, gettin’ them in position fur the war. The last war.”

Burke shook his head. “Seth—”

“Haley had the sight. A gift from God—so she could see’em. She says it were like havin’ x-ray vision. And she knew what God needed her ta do.”

The Sheriff took a deep breath. “So if she has got this gift from God, what did she need you fur?”

Seth smiled. “Well you remember how big that Conroy woman was. Near 300 pounds, if she’s an ounce. Haley couldn’t move her by herself. Now, that Evans Parker fellow, hell, he was only 140 soakin’ wet, and she said she took care of him, no problem. But Ms. Conroy—well, she hadn’t thinked ahead.”

“So you helped her move the body?”

“Sure enough. Like I said, Sheriff, I loved her like a sister, and I love God too. So when ya think on it, what choice did I have?”

Burke’s brow furrowed. You had a dozen choices you little shit. Call me, for one. “Where did you move the body?”

Seth hung his head. Was it shame on the kid’s face? Or simply the expression one wears when remembering how messy moving a gutted 300-pound corpse could be. “Ya know where Thankful Church Road bends, out by Jim Holsey’s place?”


“Ever since Mrs. Holsey died, God rest her soul, Jim sort of let her big old garden overgrow. It’s just weeds now, but the scarecrow they made some ten years ago is still there. We buried all that we could carry of Ms. Conroy under that scarecrow. It’s where Haley also hid Parker’s body. I think more are buried there, because of all the piles of upturned earth, but I never asked her about it.” Seth turned his face as if he didn’t want the sheriff to look at it anymore. “I didn’t really get a chance to ask her. Not really. She were run down two days later.”

“Seth, you better not be horsin’ around here. If what you’re sayin’ is true, you’re in a world of trouble, son.”

Seth wiped away a tear. “How do ya figure, Sheriff?”

“Well, for starters, how about two counts of aidin’ and abettin’ after the fact, and one count of accessory to murder.”

“Sheriff, ain’t you been listenin’? There were no murders. They’s devils. Killin’ devils is God’s work. Ain’t no murder about it. No, sir.”

“Seth, I hope to God that on some level you know how much horse shit you’re spewin’. Damn, son. Ain’t no devils in Thankful.”

The boy’s eyes, glassy but focused, met Burke’s. “I need you to believe me, Sheriff.”

“Hell, I believe you believe it.” Burke sat his still full cup on the desk. “Now let’s you and me take a little ride out to Holsey’s place—”

“I don’t think you understand, Sheriff Burke.” Seth jumped up and put a hand on the Bible. “I didn’t come here to make a confession.”

Burke got to his feet, not as fast as the boy, but steady and watchful.

Seth flipped open the leather cover, reached in and pulled something black and metallic out of the hollowed-out pages. The kid aimed the old revolver at Burke’s chest. “I come here today to kill me a devil.”

Burke looked back and forth from the Bible’s pages, hollowed out in the shape of a gun, to the black short barrel pointed at his chest. It was a small revolver, the kind most hunters carried for that final shot when the one that brought the animal down had failed to kill. “Oh Christ, son, what the—”

“Ya see, when Haley died, it were passed to me. The gift. I gots the sight now. And I can see those horns under your scalp.” Seth pointed to Burke’s head with the revolver, then slowly down to his groin.

Burke’s mouth went dry, and his testicles retracted.

“Your tail ain’t as long as that Ms. Conroy’s, but I can sees it all the same. You’re tryin’ to hide it by wrappin’ it round your thigh, but it don’t work against someone who got the sight.”

“Seth, you’re crazy. I don’t have a tail. Jesus H. Christ.” Burke still had his hand near his cup, and he slowly looped two fingers inside the handle. “I’ll drop my pants right now and show ya if you want—just don’t do anythin’ stupid.”

“Sorry, Sheriff. I know my duty, and you’re one devil that won’t be around for the final battle.” Seth pulled the hammer back. It made a rusty click.

“Now hold on—” As quick as a gator snatches a meal from the water’s edge, Burke scooped up the coffee mug and thrust the scolding hot liquid into Seth’s face. The boy screamed, tottered. Burke was quick. He leaned over the desk and clamped his beefy hand around the back of Seth’s neck, and slammed his face into the desk.

Blood inked the desk blotter. He let the boy’s unconscious body fall back into the chair.

“Crazy, son-bitch,” Burke said, wiping his forehead. He could tell by the cracking sound when the face hit the desk that he’d broken the boy’s nose, and by the way one of his cheeks sagged, Burke figured that wasn’t all that was broke.

He moved around to where Seth was slumped. Bending down, he picked the boy up in his arms and carried him to the back of the station. Pushing open one of the iron gates with his foot, he moved into a holding cell. With all the gentleness he could muster for a boy who had just thrust a gun in his face, Burke lay Seth on a canvas cot.

He returned to his desk and stared at the revolver. The trigger guard was dripping coffee. The hammer was still cocked, a haunting reminder of how close he’d come to meeting his maker. “Crazy, son-bitch.”

He used a pencil to lift the gun by the trigger guard. He returned the handgun to its hollowed-out spot in the Bible. Flipping the pencil around, he used the rubber end to close the book’s heavy leather-bound cover.

He exchanged the pencil for an old cracked ruler and he pushed the Bible toward the edge of the desk like a man sweeping refuse out of his garage. It fell over the edge, tumbling end over end into an aluminum wastebasket, where it lay with crumpled paper, a moldy banana peel and pencil shavings.

Burke shook his head. “Son-bitch.” He walked back to the cell, stepped inside and closed the iron bars behind him. How many of them were there? It seemed like every time he got rid of one, another took its place. And always teens. What the hell is God’s preoccupation with making champions out of teenagers?

It didn’t matter.  When the final battle comes, Burke would be there to do his part, and no child champion of God was gonna have a say in it. Whether Burke had to run them down in the street like dogs or squeeze the life out of them with his bare hands, he’d do whatever it took to see the rightful lord and master walk the earth again.

Burke knelt beside the unconscious boy. He felt his eyes turn blood red and the horns beneath his scalp tingled with excitement. Then he placed his devil hands around the boy’s throat.

Rating: 9.50/10. From 8 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Kevin David Anderson
Edited by N/A
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Kevin David Anderson

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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