‘FEAR OF THE DARK’
“A DISTINCTIVE CURIOSITY”
BY DAVID INGALLS
Willard was there, having a cigarette and a beer, on the
afternoon they wheeled it in. He swiveled on his barstool and
turned to watch the commotion as his grandson Dennis tugged
on the thing’s hitch and Dennis’s friend Paul pushed from the
rear. The lumbering carriage’s huge spoked wheels clacked
and rattled as they cleared the threshold of the tavern’s
It was all wood and chipped black paint, dust, iron and leaded
glass. Its four gigantic wheels were suspended by creaking leaf
springs and squealing axles, upon which sat a long coach body
and a high, uncomfortable-looking coachman’s seat. The
rectangular, box-like rear had long plate glass windows on
either side, was topped with ornate railings of iron trim and
was crowned with a tarnished silver mourning lantern. Within
the glass windows of the compartment — which was roughly
the length of a man — ebony tassels and curtains of moth-
eaten black velvet bobbed and shifted as the vehicle was
pushed and pulled along.
It was a horse-drawn hearse, and one that, by all appearances,
had seen its last cadaver nearly a century before.
“Where in hell are you going with that thing?” Willard asked,
but he wasn’t really surprised by Dennis’s bringing another
piece of junk into the tavern. The kid was a collector.
“Oh,” Dennis replied, “about another ten feet.” And another ten
feet it was, and then Dennis and the old hearse came to a stop.
“Hold right there, Paul,” he told his friend, whose freckled face
appeared from behind the tail end of the coach.
“Right there?” Willard asked. “In the middle of the goddamn
floor?” By then all the other folks in the bar — the usual scant
mid-afternoon crowd of Daphne Ederson, 67-year-old
drinking matron, Patsy Reed, bartender, and Roy, the tavern’s
burly cook — were paying rapt attention to the situation
unraveling before them.
“Yeah, right here,” Dennis said, his voice sounding distant and
dreamlike in the shadowy tavern. “Fits kinda nice with the
decor, don’t you think?” He motioned around himself,
indicating the antique clocks and sleds and saws and
telephones and mirrors and snowshoes and paintings and
tonic advertisements that adorned the tavern walls. Dennis’s
fondness for things outdated was evident upon taking a drink
in his tavern, and he took pride in each and every one of his
“You’d never even believe the price,” he added, as if it would
persuade his grandfather to share in his enthusiasm. “The
guy’s barn burned down and he didn’t have anywhere else to
keep it, so he let it go for 800 bucks.”
Willard rolled his eyes and placed his hand over his heart in
mock attack. “Fool and his money...” he muttered. He looked at
Paul. “And you just let him write the check? Couldn’t stop him,
no matter how hard you tried, I s’pose?”
Paul shrugged sheepishly, his face flushed red.
"Aw, c’mon. It’s got character,” Dennis said. “It’s quite the
distinctive curiosity, if you ask me. Plus it’ll be good for
business — people around town’ll talk and come here just to
see it, and maybe stick around for eggs or a burger or a beer
Read the rest of David Ingall’s
“A Distinctive Curiosity” along with
19 other eerie tales in the ebook
Fear of the Dark: An Anthology of
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Short stories featured in this anthology and excerpts featured on this website are © their respective author. Horror Bound logo © Michael Brennan.
ABOUT HORROR BOUND
TABLE OF CONTENTS / ABOUT FEAR OF THE DARK’S AUTHORS
EXCERPTS FROM THE ANTHOLOGY
> INTRODUCTION BY PAUL KANE
> “A DISTINCTIVE CURIOSITY” BY DAVID INGALLS (excerpt)
> “NOCTURNAL VISIONS” BY MARK LESLIE (excerpt)
> “FOR FEAR OF LITTLE MEN” BY SANDRA M. ODELL (excerpt)
INTERVIEWS WITH THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE ANTHOLOGY
> MARIA GRAZIA CAVICCHIOLI, Co-Editor/Founder, Horror Bound
> JASON ROLFE, Co-Editor/Former Associate Editor, Horror Bound
> CHRISTOPHER FOWLER, Author, “The Man In the Rain”
> PAUL KANE, Author, “Keeper of the Light”
> LISA MANNETTI, Author, “Spy Glass Hill”
> AARON POLSON, Author, “Keeping the Dead”
You can find David Ingall’s full short story
“A Distinctive Curiosity” in our anthology, Fear
of the Dark - now available as an ebook!
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