The Exhumation, стр. 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Exhumation

By David Hatton

© 2020

Edited by Julia Gibbs

Front Cover by Ivan Zanchetta

 

Also by David Hatton

The Return (2018)

The Medium (2019)

The Catfish (2020)

 

 

Available on Amazon

 

 

For those who continue to fight today for equality

“Character is like a tree and reputation is like a shadow.

The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

 

-          Abraham Lincoln (1842)

Disclaimer

 

The theories in this book are simply that… theories. They’ve been well researched and well documented for years, therefore this is in no way an ‘exposé of Lincoln’; certainly no more than Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code claims to harbour the secrets of Jesus Christ’s descendants.

The author has tried to keep as close to the Lincoln story as possible, with some elements dramatized. This book is a work of fiction and shouldn’t be used for anything other than entertainment.

If you’d like to read more about Lincoln’s life and the theories explored in the novel, you can read any of the following texts which were studied as part of the research for the story:

Lincoln Unmasked by Thomas Dilorenzo (2006), Three Rivers Press

Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men by Jeffrey Hummel (1996), Open Court Publishing

Abraham Lincoln: His Dark Side Exposed by Jack White (2015), Lulu

The attractions described in this book are very real and are well worth a visit, however don’t expect to find every artefact described in this book there… you might be a tad disappointed.

Equally, this book covers a very different time to one we live in now, and attitudes have changed, therefore you may find some language which may not be appropriate today but falls under the context of the periods explored.

Enjoy…

Prologue

 

7th November 1876 – Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield Illinois

 

The screeching of a file cutting through a steel chain broke a silence, which was deadly as the inhabitants beneath. Four gangsters huddled together; despite their nefarious backgrounds, they were lacking in experience when it came to lock picking, but they hadn’t considered this potential barrier whilst plotting the most controversial heist in American history.

Despite their desultory appearance, they had formed a detailed plan in the Hub Saloon in Chicago with an air of effervescence. The saloon served only its regulars, who pulled up a stool at the mahogany bar if they wanted a chin-wag with the bartender, or hid away in a dusty dark corner with a tired, dehydrated dog for company. It was the perfect place to conceive the extraordinary scheme, congregating around a barrel, lit by shimmering candlelight. The swinging of the saloon doors alerted them to any eavesdroppers, offering them enough time to hide away the map of Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Neither of them managed to drift off on the supposed sleeper train to the state capital of Springfield. A mixture of fear of getting caught, as well as the excitement of a lucrative reward for the scheme, ricocheted round their minds like a disobedient ball at an amateur tennis match. This had never even been attempted before, never mind achieved, and their anxiety levels were at an overwhelming scale.

‘I thought you said he was a professional?’ Terrence Mullen asked his dodgy friend. His question was directed to his partner-in-crime, Jack Hughes, over the hiring of their new recruit. Mullen’s thick black hair was slicked back and a bushy moustache cuddled his top lip. Despite the sodden surroundings, he was dressed formally, as he always was, in a grey suit, white shirt and black bowtie. The bottom of his trousers were drenched in mud as he trekked across the marshy path.

‘If anyone asks, I’m grieving,’ he said as he picked out his attire for the heist. Grief doesn’t have a schedule, he considered as he tackled the predicted questions regarding his late night trip to a cemetery.

Hughes had arrived slightly more prepared in big black boots and a long black overcoat. He had short black hair and what looked like a badger hanging from his chin, which even the most resilient of beard combs would have struggled to contain.

They’d hired Lewis Swegles as his résumé offered a more diverse range of skills required for this unfamiliar scheme. Swegles had picked them up from their retrospective houses in his vehicle, driven by their getaway driver, Billy Brown. Throughout their plotting, they’d been impressed by Swegles until he suddenly became stuck with something as simple as picking a lock; a chore which would have been menial in most criminal circles.

 ‘Hey, why don’t you try and find an expert in exhumations?’ Jack replied with a look of dismay. ‘Believe it or not, there isn’t much call for this type of work in this town.’

‘What’s his background anyway?’ Mullen whispered.

‘He used to be an undertaker, apparently,’ Hughes replied with a sceptical stare.

‘Then he’s used to putting bodies in the ground, not pulling them out.’ He spat on the floor and exhaled. ‘We can’t screw this up. You know that Big Jim will kill us if he doesn’t receive his goods.’

James Kennelly, otherwise known as Big Jim, was an Irish crime leader, whose business was usually restricted to counterfeiting. The goods in question were worth a ransom of $200,000. They could also be exchanged for the freedom of his partner in crime, Benjamin Boyd, who was locked away in an Illinois State Penitentiary jail cell. It was a very lucrative bargaining chip and they certainly weren’t leaving the cemetery empty handed.

Entering the graveyard itself was far from a challenge; it was open twenty-four hours a day to the public. On any given Monday evening, they would have swanned in undetected as the graveyard was unmanned overnight and all natural light had put the