The Ballad of the Wayfaring Stranger and the Dead Man’s Whore by

In a small, quiet house near a large, quiet graveyard, the Dead Man’s Whore puts out her red lantern.
–Sean Demory - The Ballad of the Wayfaring Stranger and the Dead Man's Whore - c.2012

via Metafilter

Inspired by classic American murder ballads and folk songs such as In the pines and Knoxville Girl this tells the story of a girl, taken by a haint. There isn’t much point in me recapping the plot. There is little enough story to it, but what there is, is well told. Demory’s short story is atmospheric and wonderfully dark. Once you start you’ll keep reading all the way to the end, or at least I felt that I couldn’t start.

It really does feel like a folk tale. Nothing is explained or elaborated on, you’re supposed to know all about haints and what they get up to. But don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with the folklore, that’s just back story, not know will not interfere with your enjoyment.

Like in a folktale the characterisation isn’t too important. The feel of the story is what is vital here. But we still get a sense of how tough “the girl” is. She does what she has to, what more can anyone do.

Probably a better story for the middle of winter than today’s sunshine :)

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2 Responses

  1. Sean Demory says:

    So glad you enjoyed the story! I was concerned, once I finished it, that it was so idiosyncratic and so regional that it wouldn't necessarily strike home unless one were the descendant of rural residents of the Deep South. It seems that it has its own momentum, though, and people have been gracious enough to step in and go downstream.

    I'd like to think that not knowing is an entryway into the story, myself. That's the hope, at least.

    Thanks so much!

    • Fence says:

      Hi Sean,

      thanks for commenting. I'm sure there are plenty of references that I missed, because I'm unfamiliar with the culture, but I like jumping in headfirst :)
      Fence´s last blog post ..To the lighthouse