"The Third Coach"
from They Return at Evening
by H.R. Wakefield
They Return at Evening is a collection of ghost stories by H.R.
Wakefield. It's his first such collection, published in 1928. I'll be
posting reactions to stories individually.
[in the flattest deadpan voice] Oh boy. Yet another frame story. [end deadpan]
A golfer who routinely plays on a green neighboring a lunatic asylum befriends one of the doctors. Because apparently there is no such thing as doctor-patient confidentially, ethics, etc., the doctor treats his golfing buddy to a little light reading-- the strange and very slightly supernatural tale of one inmate's prior life, which he feels compelled to write and rewrite.
Well, it was weird. It felt like a long way to go for not much of a wow. Of course, my view of this story is undoubtedly influenced by the fact that I'm getting a little tired of this author's particular hangups-- to the point that I barely bothered to take any notes at all, on this one. There was the same misogyny... ("My mother was a good-tempered slut... Apart from her good temper and her thirst [for alcohol], there is nothing to record concerning her.") ...Also the same grimy layer of crime, hatred, violence, filth, and general crud that seems to encrust the world in most, if not all, of these stories.
-- Alienist. It's an old-fashioned word for psychiatrist or psychologist.
-- "He surveys me quizzingly yet wearily through a pair of rainbow eyes." What are "rainbow eyes"?
-- "'There are drinks and Gold-flakes.'" Are those anything like potato chips, do you think?
-- So. If we are to believe the doctor and accept that the clergyman really was just a normal, kindly clergyman before his accident... That means that everything we read in his "memoir" was just "made up"? Fabricated out of thin air? And so nothing remotely supernatural even happened at all? ...Or what? What's the alternative? That he... wasn't just a clergyman, even though evidently someone must've recognized/identified him... And how would you explain his head injury, if his version of the story were the right one? It doesn't make sense. Not even ghost-story sense! Meh, not impressed.