The Fateful Undertaking of Leonine Crick



Illustration By Rose Perez

Poem By Nick Gibbs

Leonine Crick

hitting on middle age

like a wrathful child

with a stick

whacking it hard

against a wall.


Thickset, ruddy-hued

not so tall

as the coffin-lids

that betokened his call

arrayed in shades

of polished pinewood and yew

in the rose-scented parlour room

where was his wont

to receive sad visitors

when such visitors were due.


Much money to be made

in the passing of loved ones

from an uncertain world

to a placard grave

And fiendish Crick

knew all the tricks –


He knew to pad

the mourner’s bill

when caught at

moments vulnerable.

He knew the many

means to skimp

and the practised feather touch

of well-feigned consolation

when talking of the sick

was sure to keep his

gestures light and sympathetic.


The quiet Pennsylvanian town

where ere the voting population aged

and birth-rates edged forever down.

Here Crick the crooked thought it best

to settle his mordant line of business

and pluck the gold daily

from township pockets

with a bright and unctuous office smile

and at night, by private toil and spade

double up on profits made.


Ten years long his business ran

bilking bills with bodies

planted in the sodden ground

disinterred in the smallest hours

witnessed sole by cawing crows

and so and forth

his story goes

until we touch upon it here.


Gentle reader, beware my words

and hearken to my pleas,

trammel days bygone for me

unbesmirched by warbling

wifi phablet laptop nor

pocket ready phone.


Dead stillness lies here all around

letters sent, received

curled on yellow paper

stamped and sealed with wax

and passed along by hand –


Only here the likes of Crick

might bake his fortune

from the worm-boiled earth

far from prying eyes

and safely undisturbed.


Many the bauble ring

did Crick scoop clean

from greenish finger

stiff and locked with rigor

twould often take much vigour

to loosen up the knuckle joint –

or oathful hack with reddened cleaver

and listen for the bony crack.


In such ways and with

such means did Crick

make up the gap betwixt

his working costs to cover

and his avaricious needs

that were many and unsavoury.


Oh, had his father come aware –

dead and gone these past ten years

long grass now only

below the crab apple tree

where Crick fittingly buried

the sour old man

in full military dress coat

down to his very spats

– no mean feat

the last one that –

in the yard

behind the outhouse.


How father would have raged

screamed and shouted loud

at the calumny his son had wrought

upon the Crick funeral home

would have died thrice again of shame

to rue the grubby stain

left upon a fine old name.


But dead he was and gone alas

of mother too bereft

no counter in this life left

to Crick’s predilection for excess

no moral brake on Crick

for Crick’s name sake.


Until the narrative advent

of the Eldritch clan

– long line of bronze-toned

twenty-something men

in rough and homespun linen

who filed in dour unison

into Crick’s reception room.


Like a river in springtime

might divide and flow

around a stubborn fallen rock

so did they find room enough

to bring the old crone forward.


Some strange and heavy

shawl she wore,

wrapt round her shrinking frame.

Bangles gleamed on wrists and arms.

Thick rings adorned

her parchment hands

coiled like golden serpents

over bones stretched old and white.


Next softly glowing rubies red

and sapphires fiery bright

nestled pinkish amethyst

and milk-white loops of pearl

misted like her rheumy eyes…


Crick caught all this and more

in the fleeting glimpse he saw

before chance moment died

and thinking of the profit rake,

he licked his lips in awe.


Her time was creeping ever near

croaked drily Mother Eldritch

in forsaken undertaker’s

stooped and eager ear.

String of children old enough

now to do without her sense

with wives their own to chide them

and clean beneath their beds.


Her day was done

what use now

to linger on?

Why, rest assured

she’d die within the year

and last desire be hers

to plant her body here.


Crick most eagerly accepted and

papers were produced and signed.

Rolled notes handed over

to be sharply licked and counted

then slipped to register

with well-oiled snap and click.


Deal done and contract shaken

hands upon, the old lady

went upon her shuffling way.

Then with final sullen glare

her children left him to it

and Crick stumbled into sunshine

of a May day fine and fair.


A lady of her scratchy word

was Mrs Eldritch; sure enough

her return to the house

in it’s sober summer garb

was a more sombre affair

and sullen young men

were sullen young pallbearers

the crone a mere weight

on the brawn of their shoulders.


Crick clicked fingers

and browbeaten apprentices

scampered from their lairs

like knots of frightened mice

to take their burden from them

and put it quick on ice.


Ceremony was held in course

but not of course before

Crick had privy to weigh

the treasure chest of jewels

that lay scattered on her breast

and peace required to assay

the ornaments a-jangle

on her wizened limbs.


A fortune, he reckoned

noting it in a little book

with neat and ink-beaked pen

for one middle-age man

with no friends to speak of

nor indeed friends to speak to-

Sell up retire

creak a folding chair

verandered somewhere in the sun.

Spend the leisured hours gained

on self and self alone.


That night, he pledged

silent in his parlour

he would do the dastard

deed that must be done

by starlight’s glint

in one long shift

unseen to anyone

scuffling dark in muted flicker

of stiffled candle wick.

He’d dig the old girl up

and fall hungry on her corpse

bearing his bag of black felt

to capture all therein to coin

and muffle up their stony call.


Midnight found him too

a man of word and honour bound

digging deep and plunging down

till blade rang dull on pinewood hull

and upward rocked the box lid slow

with protest nails rude ripped away

and body on display

wrapt one night longer

in her strange and heavy shawl.


Crick’s cankered heart

leaped at the grisly sight

paled in silver blue

those precious stones

slithered bag ward

with little in the way of fuss.

– this will take mere moments –

thusly ran his thoughts til

he struck upon her knobbly hands

that yielded not

their gilded metal secrets.


Out then with a muttered curse

came the machete blade

ready for it’s ugly work

and steely flash thunked down

with unexpected sound enough

to rattle off the sleeping trees

and crash them free of crows.


Sudden then a breeze blew up

and swirled around the opened grave

where lay the Eldritch elder

in her final ageless slumber

dead to this world tho

not yet fled to the next.


Crick’s scalp crawled on contact

with the first chill front of wind.

His eyes rolled in their sockets back.

His gaunt jaw grunted then grew slack

and like a dropt potato sack

slumped Crick stricken to the ground

there to lay his body

next the one he’d found;

the undertaker

much against his will

ere embarked upon

his final undertaking –


Twas a much invigorated

Eldritch matron crawled

forth from that vapoured hole

dusting with disgust her shawl

and prim as prim can be.


With hands deft and strong

no longer gnarled and knobbly

and not so old at all,

she stopped to scoop Crick’s bag

and heft it in her fleshen hand

then with a light and girlish laugh

rolled his body over

and dropped his body down.


Working in silence

earth she piled upon it

then with spade in youthful hand

patted careful all around

until the grave was flat again.

Left she nothing out of place

no, not a single grassy blade.


The marker for her maiden

grave she took

crooked cheerful

under her elbow

and skipped a-whistling

on her hearty Eldritch way.


No-one to spare

a thought for Crick

nor cared enough to ask.

No loved ones wept nor mourned

his sudden disappearance.


In fact the chance is good

you might find him there today,

at the very edge of the wood

beneath a green-grown mossy grave.

His stiff and frozen screaming face

biting deep in clay.





Nick Gibbs©

!!** Click Here & Subscribe To Nick Gibb’s Blog **!!


Published by Dead Donovan

SlasherMonster Magazine

16 thoughts on “The Fateful Undertaking of Leonine Crick

  1. The descriptive words in this outstanding poem left me captivated. In my mind’s eye, I could easily visualize Leonine Crick and how he’d lick his lips thinking of the treasures he’d unearth. When I first read Nick’s writings a year ago, I was held riveted. I still feel the same way. Bravo Nick. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is so good! I especially love these lines “twould often take much vigour / to loosen up the knuckle joint / or oathful hack with reddened cleaver / and listen for the bony crack.” Very creepy and evocative!

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Yep, you’ve put your finger on it exactly: I was trying to emulate the old-style horror comics of the 50s and 60s. Lots of gruesome fun to be had with squelchy noises and lurid blood spatter…

          Liked by 2 people

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