A Novel


  1. Photo Gallery
  2. "On Finding a Fountain in a Secluded Part of a Forest" by John Bryant
  3. "Senatchwine's Grave" by John Bryant
  4. Matson's Aetiology of Negro Creek
  5. Outtake from Chapter 7
  6. Outtake from Chapter 11
  7. An Abandoned Interstate for an Abandoned Steel Mill
  8. A Letter from the Tip-Top Bakers
  9. Short History of Senachwine's Grave by Nehemiah Matson
  10. The Discarded Chapter Epigraphs

1. Photo Gallery


2. "On Finding a Fountain in a Secluded Part of a Forest"

(An excerpt from this poem by John Bryant is quoted in chapter 7.)

Three hundred years are scarcely gone,
Since, to the New World's virgin shore,
Crowds of rude men were pressing on,
To range its boundless regions o'er.

Some bore the sword in bloody hands,
And sacked its helpless towns for spoil;
Some searched for gold the river's sands,
Or trenched the mountains stubborn soil.

And some with higher purpose sought,
Through forests wild, and wastes uncouth,
Sought with long toil, yet found it not---
The fountain of eternal youth.

They said in some green valley, where
The foot of man had never trod,
There gushed a fountain bright, and fair,
Up from the ever verdant sod.

There they who drank should never know
Age, with its weakness, pain and gloom,
And from its brink the old should go
With youth's light step and radiant bloom.

Is not this fount so pure and sweet,
Whose stainless current ripples o'er
The fringe of blossoms at my feet,
The same those pilgrims sought of yore?

How brightly leap, 'mid glittering sands,
The living waters from below;
O let me dip these lean, brown hands,
Drink deep, and bathe this wrinkled brow.

And feel, through every shrunken vein,
The warm, red stream flow swift and free---
Feel waking in my heart again,
Youth's brightest hopes, youth's wildest glee.

'Tis vain; for still the life-blood plays
With sluggish course through all my frame:
The mirror of the pool betrays
My wrinkled visage still the same.

And the sad spirit questions still---
Must this warm frame---these limbs, that yield
To each light motion of the will---
Lie with the dull clods of the field?

Has nature no renewing power
To drive the frost of age away?
Has earth no fount, or herb, or flower,
Which man may taste and live for aye?

Alas! for that unchanging state
Of youth and strength, in vain we yearn;
And only after death's dark gate
Is reached and passed, can youth return.

--John Howard Bryant (1855)

3. "Senatchwine's Grave" by John Bryant

(An excerpt from this poem by John Bryant appears is quoted in Chapter 14.)

Note: Twelve or fifteen years since, Senatchwine was an eminent chief of the tribe of Pottawatomies, in Illinois, enjoying more influence and a greater reputation for talents than any other. The Indian traders, who knew him well, say he was a truly great man and orator and warrior. He died at an advanced age, in the year 1830, and was buried by a small stream which bears his name, and which runs through the south-eastern part of Bureau County. His hunting grounds are in that vicinity. The circumstance alluded to in the line, And here the silken blue-grass springs, is familiar to the western people, who have a proverbial saying that the blue-grass springs up wherever an Indian foot has stepped. Though this may not be literally true, yet it is certain that the blue-grass is always found growing where the Indians have encamped, though it might have been only for a few days. This kind of grass makes a soft rich turf, thick with blades, in which respect it is very different from the common coarse grass of the prairies.

He sleeps beneath the spreading shade,
Where woods and wide savannahs meet,
Where sloping hills around have made
A quiet valley, green and sweet.

A stream that bears his name and flows
In glimmering gushes from the west,
Makes a light murmur as it goes
Beside his lonely place of rest.

And here the silken blue-grass springs,
Low bending with the morning dew;
The red-bird in the thicket sings,
And blossoms nod of various hue.

Oh, spare his rest! oh, level not
The trees whose boughs above it play,
Nor break the turf that clothes the spot,
Nor clog the rivulet's winding way.

For he was of unblenching eye,
Honored in youth, revered in age,
Of princely port and bearing high,
And brave, and eloquent, and sage.

Ah! scorn not that a tawny skin
Wrapped his strong limbs and ample breast:
A noble soul was throned within,
As the pale Saxon e'er possessed.

Beyond the broad Atlantic deep,
In mausoleums rich and vast,
Earth's early kings and heroes sleep,
Waiting the angel's trumpet blast.

As proud in form and mien was he
Who sleeps beneath this verdant sod,
And shadowed forth as gloriously
The image of the eternal God.

Theirs is the monumental pile,
With lofty titles graved on stone,
The vaulted roof, the fretted aisle---
He sleeps unhonored and alone.

A scene he loved around him lies,
These blooming plains outspreading far,
River, and vale, and boundless skies,
With sun, and cloud, and shining star.

He knew each pathway through the wood,
Each dell unwarmed by sunshine's gleam,
Where the brown pheasant led her brood,
Or wild deer came to drink the stream.

Oft hath he gazed from yonder height,
When pausing 'mid the chase alone,
On the fair realms beneath his sight,
And proudly called them all his own.

Then leave him still this little nook,
Ye who have grasped his wide domain,
The trees, the flowers, the grass, the brook,
Nor stir his slumbering dust again.

--John Howard Bryant (1855)

4. Matson's Aetiology of Negro Creek

"It was mid winter, three months after the massacre of the Illinois Indians, when La Salle, with twelve companions, returned from Canada to look after his little colony on the Illinois River. As the travelers urged their canoes down the swollen stream, their eyes were directed to Starved Rock, where they expected to find Tonti within his fortification. But no palisades were there--no smoke ascended from its summit, nor signs of human habitation could be seen. Passing down the rapid current for about two miles, they were surprised to find that the great town of the West had disappeared. The large meadow, only a few months before covered with lodges and swarming with human beings, was now a lonely waste, a representative of death and desolation. On the charred poles which had formed the frame-work of lodges, were many human heads, partly robbed of flesh by birds of prey. Gangs of wolves led at their approach, and flocks of buzzards raised from their hideous repast, and flew away to distant trees. Even the burying ground showed marks of the vindictive malice of the conquerors, they having made war on the dead as well as the living. Graves had been opened and bones taken out and piled up in heaps, or broken into fragments and scattered over the prairie. The scaffolds which contained the dead bodies, had been torn down and their contents thrown hither and thither on the prairie. Everywhere the blackened ground was strewn with blackened bodies and broken bones of the unfortunate Illinoians. The caches had been broken open, the corn taken out and burned by the victors.

"In the midst of these ruins the conquerors had erected an altar to the god of war, and the poles surrounding it were capped with heads of victims whose long hair and ghastly features were sickening to look upon. The stench arising from putrefaction was so offensive, and the scene so horrifying, that La Salle and his party turned away from it, and encamped for the night on the opposite side of the river. During the long winter night, the loneliness was increased by the howling of wolves, and buzzards winging their flight back and forth through the dark domain.

"On the following morning La Salle returned to the ruined town, and examined the skulls of many of the victims, to see if he could find among them the remains of Tonti and his party, but they all proved to have been the heads of Indians.

"On the bank of the river were planted six posts, painted red, and on each of these was a figure of a man drawn in white. La Salle believed these figures represented six white men, prisoners in the hands of Indians, it being the number of Tonti's party.

"La Salle and his companions again boarded their canoes and started down the river, hoping to learn something in relation to the fate of their comrades, but nothing was discovered.

"As the travelers passed down the river, they saw an island where the squaws and pappooses had taken refuge, many human figures standing erect but motionless. With great caution they landed from their canoes to examine these figures, and found them to be partly consumed bodies of squaws, who had been bound to stakes and then burned. Fires had been made at their feet, consuming the flesh off their legs and crisping their bodies, but leaving the remains bound to the stakes, standing erect as though in life; poles were stuck into the marshes and pappooses placed thereon, while others were hanging by the neck from limbs of trees, with the flesh partly eaten off their bodies by birds of prey. Among these remains no warriors were found, as they had fled at the approach of the enemy, leaving the squaws and pappooses to their fate. The sight of these dead bodies was so revolting to look upon, that the French turned away from them, not knowing at what moment they too would fall victims to the savage Iroquois.

"A few years after this event, according to tradition, Father Zenobe, with others of his countrymen, visited this island and found here a large piece of ground strewn with human bones.

"In the summer of 1829 a black man named Adams built a cabin opposite the upper end of the island at the mouth of Negro Creek. In the following spring Mr. Adams discovered many human bones sticking out of the bank on the island, where the dirt had been washed away by the floods. The same thing was noticed by John Clark, Amos Leonard and other early settlers. It appears the bones were covered up by overflowing of the island, and afterward brought to light by washing away of the bank."

--From: "A Scene of Horror" by Nehemiah Matson in French and Indians of Illinois River (Princeton, Ill.: Republican Job Printing, 1874).

5. Outtake from Chapter 7

Do schoolteachers still require children to memorize poems? What happens to those poems the students had to memorize, Gray's "Elegy", and Longfellow's "Hiawatha"? Is there a place in the mind where they go? Are they stored as stanzas, sentences, or mere words? Durney thought they must be stored in the mind as words, because sometimes the words returned to consciousness, a single word or maybe as much as a phrase, but rarely an entire sentence or stanza, certainly not the complete poem.

Those poems, after he had memorized them, remained active in his mind for a time, but then they went away, and when they did go away it was like what happens when gangs go away: the gangsters cede the field, or they're sent to prison, or they're killed off, but they never disappear entirely; they can always come back in one way or another.

Because gangs have gangsters, and when gangs return, they do so as those poems do when they return to consciousness, in parts, a few words or a sentence, a trusted lieutenant or an ungovernable trigger-man.

That's how Todd Menocken came to control the rackets in Hall and Selby townships.

During War II, while Durney and other young men from Durney's gang were away fighting, Carl Shelton expanded his vice operations from neighboring La Salle County into Bureau. When Durney returned from the War, he found that he had lost most of his former territory, and with the help of Lory Price he launched a full-scale gang war against Shelton. Todd Menocken, younger even than Durney, was one of Carl Shelton's best triggers.

Carl finally left the county after a bloody fourth of July at an abandoned canal bridge northwest of Tiskilwa. Carl withrew to La Salle County, but a decade later Todd returned, with a remnant of Carl's old gang, setting up gambling rooms at Spring Valley, on the border between Bureau and La Salle. From Spring Valley, Todd slowly made inroads, first into Marquette and De Pue, and then turning inland.

6. Outtake from Chapter 11

Two years ago, I was all-star, all-state; everyone said I was all-American. What happened? And how did it happen so quickly? Two years ago my problems had simple solutions: take 3 fabric-softener dryer sheets and stuff them into one end of a paper towel roll. Exhale through the other end of the paper towel roll. Your mom will never know you're smoking pot in your bedroom, and she'll even supply the tools with which to deceive her. Stars and vice forever.

7. An Abandoned Interstate for an Abandoned Steel Mill

A failed steel mill at Hennepin. Both the Hennepin Canal and Intestate-180 shared a common goal: to connect Hennepin with the Mississippi River at Rock Island; and both projects became de facto failures within 15 years. The reasons for failure, however, were completely different. In the case of Interstate-180, it failed because the steel mill failed, and the steel mill failed because of the impossible demands made upon it by its unionized employees, and the union had been key in securing the federal government's support for the project. The authors of Blueprint for a Failure wrote, "Laughlin Steel remains a textbook example of why Public-Private Partnerships fail, because of the intolerable restraints they place on capital. In the case of Laughlin Steel, the Interstate project was secured only with the backing of the labor union lobby in Washington. In return for building the Interstate, the Federal Government required Laughlin Steel to enter into unsustainable agreements with the labor unions." Or at least that was the conclusion of the report's authors. Whatever the reason, the steel mill did indeed close not long after opening, and Interstate-180 became a kind of ultra-deluxe country road.

Blueprint for a Failure: Laughlin Steel and Pork Barrel Enterprise noted that Interstate-180 was, in many respects, a second, failed attempt to make Hennepin into a great manufacturing town--the first attempt being the very expensive Illinois and Mississippi Canal, more commonly known as the Hennepin Canal after the canal's eastern terminus. Its western terminus was Rock Island on the Mississippi River. Its promoters believed the Hennepin Canal would funnel all the commerce and wealth of the upper Mississippi Valley through Illinois.

8. A Letter from the Tip-Top Bakers

Hello Fans--

We hope you are enjoying the exciting adventures of Ultraglis on the Internet. Cisco stopped by the Ranch House to visit his old friend Durney McKusker, and was surprised to learn how many people Durney and his friends had killed in the last few episodes. Wow, those guys and gals down there in Bureau County sure know how to administer justice! They even taught Cisco a thing-or-two.

Now, if you boys and girls want to grow up big and strong--like Cisco--you need lots of nourishing food every day. NEW TIP-TOP BREAD is so good for you! And now in every loaf you get double the calcium for strong bones and teeth. More delicious tasting too!

Look for the red, star-end wrapper, and be sure not to miss next week's episode of Ultraglis, starring one of the Ultraglis beauties, Ellen West.

Yours for better health,

The Tip-Top Bakers.

9. Short History of Senachwine's Grave by Nehemiah Matson

"In the summer of 1831, Senachwine died and was buried on a high bluff, overlooking the village and surrounding country where his grave is still to be seen. A wooden monument was placed over his grave, and by its side was planted a high pole, on which for many years waved a black flag. Two years after Senachwine’s death, his band left for the west and are now living in western Kansas.

"Four years later, twenty-three warriors with their heads decorated with turkey feathers, and their faces painted in various colors, encamped on the site of Senachwine’s village, while their ponies fed on the nearby prairie. These warriors were sons and grandsons of Senachwine, and had traveled about five hundred miles to visit his grave. With their faces blackened and their heads covered with blankets, they knelt around the grave, invoking the Great Spirit to protect the remains of the departed chief. For many hours they remained in this position, while their wails and lamentations were heard far away. After the mourning came the dance of the dead, which an eyewitness described as very effecting. The warriors divested themselves of their clothing, and smeared their bodies with red paint, while on their cheeks and foreheads were many figures representing the sun, moon, and stars. Their clothing, rifles, tomahawks, and scalping knives were placed by the side of the pole that stood at the head of the grave. The warriors were now ready to commence the dance and, joining hands, danced in a circle around the grave, singing and chanting all the while. At intervals they would stop dancing, the leader repeat a few words, when all would yell at the top of their voices; after which they would cry for a moment, and then continue the dance as before. When these ceremonies were ended the warriors mounted their ponies and left for their home in the far west.

"A few days after the ceremonies, some person opened Senachwine’s grave and robbed it of all its valuables, consisting of rifle, tomahawk, medals, &c, which were buried with him. The bones were also taken out and scattered around the grave, and bunches of long gray hair still adhered to the skull, giving it a ghastly appearance. Some days afterward a party of Indians belonging to Shaubena’s band gathered up Senachwine’s bones, reburied them, and placed the wooden monument over his grave.

"During the summer of 1835 James Taliaferro built a dwelling on the site of Senachwine’s village, where Taliaferro now lives. Mr. Taliaferro was present at the reburial of Senachawine’s remains, and says that Indians from the west at different times made a pilgrimage to the grave. He also says that the pole stood at the head of the grave for many years, as well as the beaten path around it made by the dancing of warriors."

--"Ceremonies Over Senachwine's Grave" by Nehemiah Matson in French and Indians of Illinois River (Princeton, Ill.: Republican Job Printing, 1874).

10. The Discarded Chapter Epigraphs

Chapter 1

and what I want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death?

---Buffalo Bill's

Chapter 2

The lakes of the Illinois floodplain are clearly former sections of the river, but they have not the curved outlines of typical oxbow lakes.

---The Geography of the Middle Illinois Valley

Chapter 3

The only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime may be committed here.

---The Copper Beeches

Chapter 4

In the cities of the East, Black Hawk attracted much attention and won compliments from every side. He told the legislators that the day would come when the courts of justice and prisons of the white men would be powerless to protect society from the criminals that the white man's civilization fostered and developed.

---The Making of Illinois

Chapter 5

Now the bees behind my eyes sing "beware,"
But my bee-
Wants in there.
Beware of me.

---The Bees

Chapter 6

The past is not for living in; it is a well of conclusions from which we draw in order to act.

---Ways of Seeing

Chapter 7

What makes you
Gold-flecked? You
Talk backwards
Like I do.


Chapter 8

Necessarily, personal assessment plays a key part in this process because the predictor variables in each equation are themselves predicted. Hence they carry their own degree of error.

---Communications in Agriculture: The American Farm Press

Chapter 9

Nothing can be sold, but such things as can be carried away.

---Autobiography of Black Hawk

Chapter 10

On the wet road between the chafing grass
Below him sees dismantled washing-floors,
Snatches of tramline running to the wood,
An industry already comatose,
Yet sparsely living.

---Who Stands, the Crux Left of the Watershed

Chapter 11

I never got the message that's washed up on the sand;
I wake up in some strange place, and the bottle's in my hand.
Take off my clothes and take me in;
I'm sick and lonely, so in need of shelter.

Don't let me be misunderstood again,
So drowned in drink I nearly fell head over heels
To kiss the captain's daughter,
And now I can't complain about a thing.

---Lake of Vinegar

Chapter 12

You have everything:
Give your hands
So they know how to maim,
So it knows how to pray.

You were right;
You were right:
My sweetheart
Scares me.

---Like a Dog

Chapter 13

        no sooner was I fairly found
Pledged to the plain, after a pace or two,
Than, pausing to throw backward a last view
O'er the safe road, 't was gone; grey plain all round:
Nothing but plain to the horizon's bound.
I might go on; nought else remained to do.

--Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

Chapter 14

Catching butterflies,
Line drives,
Watching TV.
Had seven good years
Til I noticed they were looking at me;
I didn't like what they'd see.

---Free to Go

Chapter 15

The past perfect is dead.

---The Massacre at Fort Dearborn

Chapter 16

Drunk on nothing,
Drunk, all night.
Mad at nothing,
Close your eyes.
You could run on iron lungs,
It would not keep you clean.
Run on iron lungs,
It would not keep you sons of bitches clean.
You think that they don't shatter you,
You think that til they go.
You think that they don't comfort you,
Now, go home.
Stop, you ruined all my memories.
You ruined all my memories.

---Close Your Eyes

Chapter 17

It's not the kind of thing you'd want to run from.
No matter what it might have been,
I don't ever wanna go back there again.
And the things I can remember
Are the same things that I don't want to believe,
And in my eyes
Will always be
The things that weren't meant for me to see.

---Oak Ridges

Chapter 18

Looking towards the setting sun, there lay, stretched out before my view, a vast expanse of level ground; unbroken, save by one thin line of trees, which scarcely amounted to a scratch upon the great blank; until it met the glowing sky, wherin it seemed to dip: mingling with its rich colours, and mellowing in its distant blue. There it lay, a tranquil sea or lake without water, if such a simile be admissible, with the day going down upon it: a few birds wheeling here and there: and solitude and silence reigning paramount around.

--American Notes

Chapter 19

Yeah, I'm the King of Spain;
I'm smiling to myself;
I'm laughing out aloud;
I'll never cry again.
Yeah, I'm the King of Spain;
I'm smiling to myself;
They play my favorite song;
I'll never cry again.

---King of Spain

Chapter 20

Riding on a wet night
Beneath the refineries' glow,
Out where the great, black rivers flow.

---State Trooper

Chapter 21

No, No,
He don't know,
As laughed and he smiled at his own private horrorshow.


Chapter 22

The dipstick is a long rod that goes deep into your engine to check the oil level. It's usually easy to get to, and should have an orange handle. If it's possible to wait a few minutes for the oil to settle, do it. If you can't it's not a huge issue, you'll still get a fairly accurate reading. With the hood safely propped, pull the dipstick out and wipe the end clean with a towel or rag. Re-insert the dipstick into the engine, making sure it goes all the way in. Now pull it out, but don't turn it upside down to look at it, this makes the oil run upward and ruins your reading.

--Check Your Oil! Handle Your Dipstick With Style

Chapter 23

Organized crime, both outfit-connected and non-outfit, exists in most Illinois communities, though in differing degrees. It persists and prospers because it caters to the desires of citizens for illegal goods and services. It persists and prospers because it is not unacceptable to the power structure in these communities. It persists and prospers because it has corrupted a sufficient number of influential politicians and criminal justice system officials to maintain its protected status. There is little doubt that a continuing conspiracy exists between racketeers, certain politicians and some business, labor and governmental officials to maintain the organized rackets and otherwise extract unearned dollars from both willing victims and unknowing or helpless customers and electorates.

---A Study of Organized Crime in Illinois

Chapter 24

After dark, Police Chief Spaulding noticed a Cadillac with three young men sitting inside parked on the road between Tiskilwa and Bureau Junction. The chief ordered the young men, all of whom were about age 21, to follow him north back to Elmville. Instead the men took off to the west. During the attempted getaway, the men fired several times at the pursuing officers. While speeding down the road, the fleeing men smashed into a lumber wagon being driven by Sam Sack. The trio then fled into the nearby cornfields.

---Speakeasy: Prohibition in the Illinois Valley

Chapter 27

The heart is deceitful above all things: who can know it?


Chapter 28

Below the incandescent stars
below the incandescent fruit,
the strange experience of beauty;
its existence is too much;
it tears one to pieces
and each fresh wave of consciousness
is poison.


Chapter 29

"Picking periwinkles from the cracks"
or killing prey with the concentric crushing rigor of the python,
it hovers forward "spider fashion
on its arms" misleadingly like lace;
its "ghostly pallor changing
to the green metallic tinge of an anemone-starred pool."

---An Octopus

Chapter 30

You're gonna wanna keep in touch with your silence;
Remember shy person hell.
I won't waste your time with lies,
But there's not much truth to tell.

---Vitamins V

Chapter 33

Oh, I'll see you when your troubles are like mine;
Oh, I'll see you when your troubles are like mine;
Oh, I'll see you when you haven't got a dime.

--Hello Stranger

Chapter 34

To the extent that I wear skirts
And cheap nylon slips, I've gone native.
I wanted to know the exact dimensions of hell;
Does this sound simple?

Fuck you.

Are you for sale?
Does "fuck you" sound simple enough?
This was the only part that turned me on:
That he was candy all over.

---The Sprawl

Chapter 35

As a scarce resource, knowledge can be bought and sold in various ways in a market economy. The hiring of agents is essentially the purchase of the agent's knowledge to guide one's decisions. It is not just in complex modern economies that the knowledge provided by agents of various sorts is necessary. Under primitive pioneering conditions in the American west, agents were at least equally important. Wagon trains heading west needed to be led by someone who already knew the west--its routes, its peoples, the requirements, the dangers, and the trading posts that the newcomers would encounter on their journey. Such wagon train leaders were signed up to contracts by the pioneers in the east before they set out into the unknown wilderness.

---Basic Economics