Pa beat Mule to death in autumn, for copper and gold were the leaves. Ah remember because it was the fallen leaves, slippery with morning dew, that made it possible to drag Mule's carcass over to the old water tower. His back had been brutally beaten. Ah suspected a broken spine.
Ah took the long-handled shovel and began digging, mah attention being diverted at times from the business of burial by Mule's cold stare. He was dead and the dead must be buried, everyone knows that, yet his eyes seemed to beg for mercy as if it were ah who had beaten the life out of the poor brute and not Pa.
Mah spade upturned darker earth and, without any other warning, there upon the blade of mah shovel lay what looked like the skeleton of a small dog.
Squatting aside the grave and loosing the rust-coloured earth from the fanning bones, ah discovered a child's tiny skull. Next, a rotting radius and ulna connected to a brittle little hand—and by the time ah had exhumed mah brother's earthly remains, lifting out all his bones intact and laying them out on a soft floor of fallen, golden foliage, ah was sobbing noiselessly, mah eyes streaming.
Ah buried Mule's carcass and laid mah brother's skeleton out in an old cutlery drawer ah found on the heap. Ah built a simple sliding lid for it, and taking the box with me into the swampland, ah propped it against the inside back wall of mah sanctum.
He remained there—mah treasured companion—for a good three months, that is, until the day that she spooked the Turk's nag into the swamp and the townsfolk found mah haven and destroyed it. But that all comes later. Ah love you, little brother! And ah'm coming home!