First, an official shout out to my fellow OxfordMississippi.com writer, Kevin Frye, for actually being a member of the trivia team that all other trivia teams have grown to loathe, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” (See the last Faulkner write up to understand this reference.)
Because I am a dedicated journalist, I am finishing this series the way I said I would, despite the fact that I am being haunted by Faulkner. That was not unintentional hyperbole or a misprint. This weekend, I moved into a new house on North Lamar. It is the culmination of all things real estate: location, location, location. I now find myself single-handedly combating gas prices and walking, running, or biking to the square multiple times a day. Sunday, I found myself at Faulkner’s grave in search of the 4th site that I made reference to in the first article of this series. My apparently unreliable research claimed that this 4th site on the Faulkner lot contained a headstone for “E.T.” which was rumored to be Faulkner’s dog. Alas, there is no such thing. Twenty-one steps from the graveyard’s landmark lie only William, Estelle, and her son Malcolm. Oh yeah, and Faulkner’s ghost.
Their graves were covered in coins, and a seemingly new lighter. Earlier in the day, I discovered that I had nothing to light my new candles with. So, for the sake of frugality, I took the one on Faulkner’s grave. On the way home, in a fit of pyromania, I was flicking the lighter over and over again, only to burn myself. I thought nothing of it until my lighter-lit candle was overturned and nearly burned my new house down.
This new house came furnished with a great desk that contained a copy of a letter written by none other than Faulkner himself. It was upon this discovery that I almost forfeited this series, in the name of dispelling the ghost. The letter, which I believe to be a complete representation of all Faulkner correspondence, said this (complete with the typos within the letter):
J.E. Lewison Co., Oxford, Miss.
City. 31 January, 1941
I’m not going to sign these checks anymore than I ever signed the checks and notes you have filled out and sent to me in the past. Attached is my own check for ten. I will send more on the account when I can. I make no promise as to when that will be.
I tried last summer to explain to you about $1600.00 additional 1937 income tax which I was trying to pay, two years after my Hollywood income had cease and wehn for two years my income had been reduced about 95%, but naturally I did not expect you to listen to it much, since J.E. Neilson cant be anymote interested in Wm Faulkner’s hard luck stories than Wm Faulkner can be interested in J.E. Neilson’s. But that’s the situation. I am trying not to meet the last $853.00 payment, for which demand (also with threats) was made Dec. 20. So if I were going to give anyone a series of signed checks, I would give them to the grocers and fuel people who in their kindness have supplied myself and my dependents with food and heat during this time, and to whom I owe a lot more than even Estelle et al managed to get into you for.
If this dont suit you, the only alternative I can think of is, in the old Miltonic phrase, sue and be damned. If you decide on that step, be assured that I shall do my bet to see that the people who have fed me and my family will be protected, and after Uncle Sam gets through with his meat-cutting, J.E. Neilson can have what is left. You may even get an autographed book. That will be worth a damn sigh more than my autograph on a check dated ten months from now.
You can now find the Faulkner gravesite occupied by William, Estelle, Malcolm, maybe a dog, and certainly a black lighter.