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When the bones of a skeleton are accidentally unearthed during routine repairs to a barbed wire fence on his uncle's farm, an eight year old boy's eerie dreams and frightening visions explode into reality and entangle him in an unsolved murder that haunted his mother's family for generations. He is forced, regardless of his reluctance, to participate in solving the mystery and consequently launched into a life-long avocation of investigating crimes that involve the restless dead.

Mystery / Horror
JR McGarrity
Age Rating:


My brother and I were separated most of the time as children so we didn’t really grow up together. I lived with my mother and her family and he lived with our father mostly and his mother. It wasn’t like some divorce settlement thing or anything like that. We were given the choice I think, who wanted to live with who, or maybe my mother just took me because I was the baby and the girl. I don’t remember. I was so young. Maybe I never really knew for sure. My brother would say something like “time fades everything left in the sun. It’s not the sun you know; it’s the time in the sun...” Not exactly sure what that means. He just said stuff like that.

He would also say that the two of us were very different “human beans” because we were raised up different. My mother’s side of the family however, would dispute that. They would say that my brother was always “different”... even from the time he was little.

And he would agree with that, I think. I don’t think he would challenge it anyway. And I think he would probably also go on to say “therein lies the rub”, and then further expand upon that by saying it was a misquotation. But basically, my brother would agree that the reason that my momma’s side of the family considered him to be different, was because... he was.

“I’m not a necromancer,” he told me once, “nor do I play one on TV.” Although, he did insinuate sometimes that “they” had made a TV show about him- only, “they” had insisted that a well-known actress portray the main character.

It is something that troubled him- his gift or his curse depending upon your point of view I suppose- mostly because he had come to the realization over time and through his bizarre contact with... the “dead”... there I said it and it was weird... where he was going to end up if he didn’t end up where he wanted to... or at least if he didn’t end up in a place he wanted to be.

And I wish I could ask him sometimes if he has. I suppose I could. And that creeps me out honestly- even more than if I didn’t now believe I could. I wish now that I had actually just believed more the things that he said then, when there was still time in the light.

The only vocation that my brother ever wanted to swear himself to in his lifetime was to write. He had a few professional accomplishments. He was something of a literary scholar, an armchair scholar really, but that was mostly something that he acquired along his path to becoming and being a writer. And because he was a scholar he was in some ways a purist.... or maybe an artist- I’m not sure which- maybe both. That means, I think, that what mattered to my brother was the writing and not the success that writing might bring him. Or maybe that is just an excuse. Those were his sentiments... not mine so much.

For reasons that may become apparent on the pages that follow and in the chapters, he chose to write horror. I think that is what may be the trouble that found him in these pages and chapters- that he wanted to write horror and ultimately found himself up writing about his life... or perhaps vice versa... the other way around... again.

I would, on occasion be my brother’s audience of one. I suppose that is not unusual for the sister of an author. He was at times not certain that his effort to inscribe had managed to accomplish logic and was intelligible. It was almost that he felt like his attempt to describe the arcane and occult wriggled out of his brain in a jumbled and dyslexic scrawl.

Dyslexic he was not.

I would suggest to the reader that if perhaps if you have difficulty experiencing horror in this, my brother’s autobiographical fiction, then read it aloud, some evening when you are alone, in bed perhaps with only a reading lamp and pillow to protect you.

I did not attempt to edit these pages or find someone to do it for me.

I chose to leave my brother’s struggle with literary conventions and conceits and devices and tropes, whether he was actually writing a life story or a living nightmare, as I found it; out of respect for one thing... but also out of fear. I did not want to become haunted by it.

My only real contribution to this novel- if that is what it is- is the title. I originally discovered a couple of potential titles typed on the first page of his manuscript.

PAST IS PROLOGUE, which is a quote from William Shakespeare’s play, THE TEMPEST, was the first potential title my brother left.

Like I said, my older and only brother was a bit of a scholar. I think he read everything Shakespeare wrote, even the things that The Bard was not particularity famous for.

And a second title, FOOTPRINT OF A GHOST, was a line from the chapter in the book where my brother finds himself intoxicated on LSD and trapped in an old mercury mine with an angry ghost that kept cursing non-stop in Spanish.

Since there are some plays and books with a title as well as an alternate title like Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT or WHAT YOU WILL, or Agatha Christie’s TEN LITTLE INDIANS also known as AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, or THE STRANGER by Albert Camus alternately titled THE OUTSIDER; I thought it possible that my brother may have been considering giving his novel a title and an alternate title: PAST IS PROLOGUE or FOOTPRINT OF A GHOST.

However, after considering how many times my brother seemed to grapple with "the boy" in the story, which was obviously him, and referring in the third person a number of the times to "the boy" before finally acknowledging that "the boy" was him and then commencing to tell the story in the first person, I thought about calling the novel THE BOY.

Grappling with that one literary decision in this tome he left, made me just wish now, sort of I suppose, that I didn’t have to see him with eyes that he had to look through... for all of his life... if that makes any sense.

Obviously I decided on FOOTPRINT ON A GHOST.

I like the image.

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