This is the entry I made long ago about Bunting Miles’ tombstone, which does, indeed, still live in our living room, propped up against the NEW fireplace. It’s an interesting story. We have since learned that he was probably a laborer, a black man living in a portion of Norfolk that used to be called something else. We have not been (quite) able to track relatives. He is welcome right where he is, if he traveled with the stone. We’ve had some odd, ghost-like goings-on near where the stone has been placed for years…anyway, here’s what I wrote a few years back:
|deep_bluze (deep_bluze) wrote,
@ 2004–03–05 08:41:00
|Current music:||Bauhaus – 1979-1983 – Volume II|
I own a tombstone. It isn’t MY tombstone, but it does live in my living room (perhaps not so well named), propped against the fireplace in the main living room where all our most precious, gaudy, and should-be-living-in-a-Victorian Whorehouse furniture, gold gilt, dark velvets, old wood are kept. And Bunting. Bunting Miles, to be precise.
Years back, my good friend Richard Rowand came to visit. Richard was then editor of a sci-fi mag called STARSHORE – four glorious, full-color national distribution issues, one of which carried “A Candle in the Sun,” My first really big sale, the story that was reprinted in Karl Wagner’s Year’s Best Horror (despite his threat never to print anything with a vampire in it) and later became This is My Blood, my first critically acclaimed work (that no mass-market place will touch, despite the great PW review). But that’s neither here nor there.
Richard came to visit me in a house I’d just bought at the time (long gone down the drain of bad marriage and bankruptcy). He brought a house-warming gift. Sort of.
He brought me a concrete tombstone. It is so old the material threatens to crumble slowly away. It is marked, simply, Bunting Miles – who died in 1867 ( or it could be 1857, I will put up a picture, eventually). I have searched the net. I have contacted the freaking MORMONS who have a great database for this. I have consulted libraries, the 1870 census, have discussed it at length over food and wine and whiskey and I cannot find a trace of this man. I do not know who he is, where he came from. I have his tombstone. Every year I put lilies on it and drink a glass of cognac while I’m watching them wilt.
The tombstone came in a load of fill dirt. The fill dirt was delivered to Richard’s neighbor, and when he went to spread it, there was the stone. The dirt came from either Portsmouth VA or North Carolina. It was delivered to Virginia Beach. The neighbor, knowing Richard was “Strange,” brought it to him. Richard’s wife, who is NOT strange, consigned it to his garage, and later on, just wanted it gone. Thus it passed to the next strangest acquaintance up the chain. Me.
The fact is, it probably leaped and bounded its way to the top of the strange pile, because I kept it. I have tried to find its original home.
I’ve had it suggested that this was the marker of a freed black slave, or a native American. I have had it suggested the fill dirt actually came from the ballast in the bottom of a cargo ship and could be European. Many scenarios have been offered. At one point I was nearly certain I’d nailed it down to a freedman who worked a farm in Virginia who actually worked for an ancestor of mine, but that fizzled.
I intend, when time permits (soon I hope) to put a link from www.deepblues.net called the Hunting Bunting page with all pertinent info in pace. I’d love to bring him home.
If not, there’s probably a book in the hunt somewhere…