The Evolution of the Series (7) Devilry
In several of the stories, mention is made of "The Irish Wilderness."
This is an actual place, an area in the eastern Ozarks where an Irish Catholic settlement was started by a priest shortly
before the Civil War. I live near there. Largely due to the predation of irregular troops called "bushwhackers,"
the inhabitants abandoned their homesteads. It has been known as the wilderness ever since. They weren't the only victims.
After the war, the mayhem continued in the form of vigilantes and people carrying out vendettas. I decided to feature this
tradition of violence and blood feud in this seventh tale, appropriately title "Devilry."
No. The bushwhackers and border ruffians don't still run wild in
the hills today. The "Baldknobbers" featured in Branson skits and alluded to in "The Shepherd of the Hills"
are long gone. However, the lore still exists, as does suspicion of, and even hatred toward, the outsider, the "other."
I suppose it exists everywhere to some extent. Sheriff Shug Shively would explain it by saying that all of us are "positively
inclined toward evil.
set out to write Devilry with a single thought in mind: what a person is "sure of" is more important to him than
what is true. And thereby tragedy ensues, and evil is excused.
Brief vignettes from the Civil War and post-war era are interspersed within the narrative.
They are not there for decoration.