Teague O’Kane and the Corpse – A Retelling

In a little village not so far from here lived a young man called Richard Hall. Now Richard was what young folk would call a bit of a ‘stud.’ He was a good looking chap, and he worked out a lot so he had what young ladies call a ‘buff’ body. He also had a very good job, running his own company. So you understand he was quite a catch for the ladies. Or the not so ladylike. Maybe we better just call them young females. But anyhow, he was quite a catch, and let’s just say, rather than using his efforts to fight them off, he just took them all to bed, and not always one at a time! Richard just had to smile and they all came running!

Anyway, one Saturday night, Richard was making his usual struggle out of the pub, the Bull’s Head in Repton. Eventually he managed to disentangle himself from the girl he’d pulled that night and he stumbled out of the door into the cold night. By now it was one in the morning, and the moon was out in its full form, but often disappearing behind the clouds that flitted across it. Richard pulled his collar up to keep out the chill and he began to walk home.

He hadn’t got very far when he heard someone calling his name. He ignored it to start with, thinking it was someone calling him to go back to the pub. Yet he heard it again, and then appeared a body to go with the voice from a driveway he was walking past. A huge man stepped in Richard’s path. He said, “I am David Horton, Keri’s father. Now you have gotten my little girl pregnant. I want your womanising ways to stop now, and you marry the girl and be a husband to her and father to the baby!”

Well, Richard looked at Keri’s father, and seeing he was much bigger than him, became alarmed. More alarmed when it sunk it what the man had said – Keri was pregnant. Now why did the ugliest girl he’d been with have to be the one that got pregnant? Never mind that, what to do? Richard thought quickly; although David could probably knock him out with one blow, Richard was fast. So he replied

“I’m sorry Mr Horton, all due respect to you, but the silly girl shouldn’t have forgotten to take her Pill now should she? It’s not my responsibility, I’m a young man, just twenty six, and I’m not marrying anybody, let alone your daughter!”

Now, predictably, David let out a roar of anger, and lunged at Richard. He sidestepped, and stuck a leg out, which the huge man fell over and hit his head on the pavement. Richard, convinced the man was simply unconscious, legged it before the bloke got his hands on him.

A while down the road, breathing hard, Richard sat down a while on a low wall by the road. He heard voices coming from the direction in which he was headed, and then he saw some figures which became clearer as they got closer. They appeared to be carrying something, but Richard couldn’t make out what.

“Hey,” said one of the voices, “there’s Richard Hall, he’s a strong bloke, I’m sure he’ll carry our burden for us.”

Now Richard didn’t like the sound of that. He’d had a heavy night drinking, he’d managed to get it together enough to avoid Keri’s dad, and now he just wanted to go to bed. So he lay on the floor in front of the wall, so the people would think he was asleep and leave him alone.

However, it was not to be. The footsteps continued to approach Richard, and they came across him lying on the floor. Then they stopped and surrounded him, and he felt a heavy weight being put onto his back. Richard raised his head to protest, but the figures seemed to melt away into the night. Richard tried to move and roll whatever it was off his back, when suddenly he felt a grip on his shoulders, and a voice hissed in his ear

“Take me to Stapenhill Cemetery, and there lay me down!”

Understandably Richard was very shocked, wondering what sort of a person would want to be taken to a cemetery, when he realised that the weight on his back was not breathing. He felt an icy chill run down his spine. But, manly as he was, he was not spooked, and he said

“That’s miles away in the opposite direction; you’ll make do with Newhall cemetery on my way home!”

So off Richard went, homeward bound with a little errand to do on the way. He walked and walked in the cold night air, the smell of the rotting body invading his senses, making him want to retch. The further he went, the wearier he got, with this great weight on his back. It certainly was a heavy burden. But eventually Richard reached Newhall cemetery and crept in through the gates. He began to walk towards the nearest grave, and grabbing the spade conveniently leaning against its headstone, he began to dig. After a few shovels, Richard felt something hard against the spade. Then a hand shot up from the dirt, grabbed the spade and snatched it from his grip. An arm, a shoulder, and a head followed the hand. The body that came up gave off an even worse stench than the one he was carrying, it being dead longer, and the flesh rotting from the bones. The body emerging from the grave gave a twisted grin and said

“Take your corpse elsewhere boy, this grave is mine! Be off with ya!”

Richard was so scared that he tore from the graveyard as fast as his muscly legs would take him.

By the time he slowed down he was nearing home. Again he felt those bony fingers digging into his shoulders and the voice came again“Take me to Stapenhill cemetery and there lay me down!!”

“Piss off!” said Richard “We’re even further away than we were before. Forget it. There’ll be room enough for you in Swadlincote cemetery!”

So off they went again, and presently they arrived at their destination. But Richard had not even set foot through the gates when he saw an eerie sight. It was almost like a blue fog hanging over the graves. Richard edged closer, and realised that the ‘fog’ was in fact something much more sinister. Sat on every headstone was the ghost of the occupant of the grave, their gruesome faces just visible in the blue fog. They all began to wail and float into the air and towards Richard, and frightened to death, the poor lad was off again, back through Swadlincote and away. The corpse, a little bored by this time, said

“Lad, just take me to Stapenhill and have done with it.”

Richard simply nodded, too tired to argue anymore.

Ten miles down the road, and the words ‘Stapenhill Cemetery’ came into focus in Richard’s eyes. He put a final spurt on to be rid of his burden. He entered through the gates, and there, right in front of him, was a newly dug grave.

“Sorted!” Richard said, rubbing his hands together. Then he felt the corpse loosening its grip, sliding down his back and into the ready prepared grave. Richard saw there was a coffin already in the grave, which snapped shut as soon as its new owner fell in with an audible ‘plop!’ By some strange coincidence there was a spade still left by the grave, stuck into the pile of earth that had been dug from the grave. So our boy began to fill the hole in, and when it was done, he smoothed the earth down and made it tidy. Taking a deep breath he leaned on the spade and made ready to go. Then the clouds scudded away from the moon for a moment and lit upon the headstone already at the grave.

The name was “David Horton.” Richard was frozen to the spot. God he must have killed the guy when he tripped him up! He had banged his head pretty hard! The next morning Richard woke up, still aching and not feeling refreshed at all. Then the events of the night before came rushing back to him. He’d run all the way home and not stopped until he was in the house and the door was locked behind him. He’d lain trembling with fear and guilt until he eventually fell into a fitful sleep.

Richard decided what he had to do. He got up and washed, then dressed himself, and made his way down to the local police station. He marched up to the desk and said

“I’ve come to confess to the murder of David Horton.”

The receptionist pushed her glasses back up her nose and said, peering over the top of her glasses;

“I’m sorry, there’s been some confusion. David Horton is dead, but he wasn’t murdered, he got knocked down in a hit and run last night!”

So Richard left, confused, and went on his way. But he didn’t go home – oh no! He went to the house of David Horton and knocked on the door, but of course David didn’t answer it, but Keri herself did, a little bump showing already through her ragged clothes. She looked at Richard inquiringly through her limp hair. He said

“Keri, I’ve come to ask you to be my wife! I got you pregnant and I am going to take responsibility!”

Keri, delighted at the prospect of marrying the best looking bloke in the county, jumped at the chance! And they were married!!! And along came a little baby girl, all blonde hair, blue eyes and giggles! But Richard never did see his little girl because by this point he’d run off with Keri’s sister!

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