Showing posts with label Sanders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sanders. Show all posts

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Jim Limey's Confession

"Jim Limey's Confession" by Scott Loring Sanders. Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. May 2011.

I'm a sucker for historical stories. This one is a special case, taking the form of a deathbed statement the main character made to his granddaughter in 1993.

One issue with historical stories is making the setting believable, leaving out anachronisms and making us suspend disbelief about the time and place of the tale. This story has a special concern because we have to believe in the voice of a southern African-American, talking about his youth in the early twentieth century. It is very believable, to my eye/ear.

The day after Daddy went in the ground, it was time for me to get to work. I was the man of the family then and it was yp to me to take over the business. I'd been gong around with Daddy some anyway, so I knew most everything there was to know about it. I hitched Miss Annabelle to the wagon, loaded up the barrels of lime, then headed to town.


The family business was making lime out of seashells and then using them to clean the outhouses of the white folks. Life isn't easy for a black man in the south in the 1930s, but the focus of the story is a horrific crime and a satisfyingly horrific revenge - and a reminder that there are other uses for lime than making a privy smell better.

I wonder if Mr. Sanders has read Avram Davidson's "The Necessity of His Condition," one of my favorite crime stories? There is a strong plot connection in the sense that if you read them one after the other you would have a good idea of what was going to happen at the end of the second. No matter, if Davidson did inspire Sanders it was a legitimate use of the source material, and a terrific story.