The Mudman Code
Dear reader I must ask you to suspend your disbelief as I relate my tale of times past when the world was a simpler place and Garston was on the verge of greatness.
Our story begins in the New Hayes Hospital for the Terminally Bewildered,
I was working there temporarily, filling in time before I was due to emigrate to Birmingham,my visa had been lost in the post and I had had to make another application. However that is another story.;it was just after midnight when old Mr Keegan was brought in, he was in a very muddled state,his face a mixture of fear and anticipation . As he was wheeled to his room I noticed that his possessions consisted one old burlap sack ,a Tupperware box and very little else. I was given the task of cleaning him and getting into bed, all the while he clutched the burlap sack to his chest ,afraid that it might get stolen or lost.
I got him some cocoa ,in which there was a sleeping draught ,and sat with him while he relaxed and gave himself up to a much needed sleep. There was very little information about him in the paperwork, apparently he had been a local character who slept in doorways and any other place that might offer him shelter from the elements, he relied on the good nature of the shopkeepers who used to let him have spoiled fruit and out of date pies and sandwiches to sustain.him.
He could be found bathing himself down Garston shore but most of his time was spent in the reference section at the local library.
He never engaged anyone in conversation ,but those who were in earshot could often hear him muttering , ?That bloody nun.. if only?.? He was never found to be without his plastic box or burlap sack, and now, here he was beside me,gently snoring ,the sack freed from the grip of his sleep loosened hand.
What did that burlap enfold? My curiosity got the better of me and I leaned over and gently lifted the sack away from him; it was heavy. I struggled to undo the string that held it closed, the knots were expertly tied, was he a sailor perhaps..
Opening the sack I saw a small brass bound box, beautifully made, it was Sapele mahogany with brass corners and an escutcheon on the top which bore the legend ?Presented to Bro. K.Keegan Esq, Mode Humanus, from the Grateful People of Garston ,in the year of Grace MCMX1? 1911, it was now 1999,how old was this man, and what did the box contain?
It was held closed by a wonderfully fashioned padlock, finished in silver plate.
I had?nt yet taken his old clothes down to the incinerator and quickly rummaged through his pockets in search of the key. It seemed to take an age to find ,there was so much rubbish and bits of crumpled paper in every pocket , I eventually found it secreted in his lapel, he had obviously sewn it there many years before. But why all the secrecy, could the contents of the box answer that question?