The Legend of the Santa Lucia Cemetery
Author: Larry Harrington
Copyright © 2016 by Larry Harrington
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, with the exception of short quotes used in reviews, without permission from the author.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
The Legend of the Santa Lucia Cemetery
Down on the far south east side of New Orleans, next to the swamps, lays an abandoned cemetery. It was abandoned after the Civil War reconstruction.
The local authorities say the reason for the abandonment is purely superstition. But nobody dares enter the cemetery.
The legend centers on Mr. Tyrone Nelson and Ms. Flora Shelby. These two were born on the same day. When they were growing up, they were childhood sweethearts, inseparable. It was assumed that when the time came, they would be married.
Tyrone was the son of a successful banker. Flora was the daughter of a poor tailor.
Tyrone and Flora attended primer, middle, and high schools together.
After graduation from high school, Tyrone left for the north east to attend an Ivy League school.
Flora went to work in a book store.
When Tyrone returned from school, he went to see his parents to ask for Flora’s hand in marriage.
Tyrone’s parents denied him the marriage, stating that Flora was of too low society. They told him that he needed to marry the daughter of someone of high society. Someone whose family could help Tyrone’s father’s bank grow, and who would help Tyrone, himself, after he took over the bank from his father.
Tyrone was devastated. Flora was the only woman he had ever loved. Now, to find he could not marry her.
Tyrone knew these members of the high society that his father wanted him to consort with.
The fathers were honest now, but they had been gangsters, black marketers, bootleggers, and ones who owned construction companies during the south reconstruction, using substandard materials, and over-charging for work performed. Yes, Tyrone knew these members of high society very well.
Yes, and Tyrone’s father was a member of this high society. His father had owned a small bank prior to the civil war. The Confederate government had sent his father Confederate bank notes to replace the Yankee bank notes.
His father had issued the Confederate bank notes per instructions, but kept the Yankee bank notes, reporting to the Confederate government that they were hijacked during shipment. This made Tyrone’s father a very rich man after the war was over.
At a time when Confederate currency was valueless, the Yankee money of Tyrone’s father allowed him to control the financial markets in New Orleans.
Tyrone also knew the sons and daughters of these members of high society. They were nothing more than a bunch of big snobs.
The sons were nothing more than a bunch of idlers who hung around the houses of their parents, waiting to get their allowances so they could go to the clubs and hang around with their high society idling buddies.
The daughters were even worse. All they knew was to chase men with money. Or men that stood to inherit money. They had been pursuing Tyrone since he was in primer school. They were loud, pushy, and snobbish towards their other classmates.
Tyrone couldn’t stand any of them.
Heartbroken from his parent’s decision, Tyrone went to see Flora. He told her of what his parents had said and that he could not deny their wishes. Tyrone also told Flora that she was the only one that he wanted to marry. If she could only wait until his parents passed away, he would marry her.
Flora told Tyrone that he was the only one that she had ever wanted to marry and if she had to wait an eternity, she would wait.
It did seem like an eternity, for both of them.
Tyrone remained with his parents. Once a week he went down to the clubs to visit these people with whom he had grown up. Between the parents and the children, most had squandered away the fortunes that the parents had made. There were always one or two of the men that wanted to talk with Tyrone about a loan. Tyrone would tell them to come to the bank and he would set them up with a banker. To which they would reply, “No. I need a personal loan.” Meaning they had no collateral and no way to repay the loan.
The women still tried to cuddle up to Tyrone. Now saddled with children to raise, and a more or less broke husband who wouldn’t even work, they were looking for Tyrone or anybody else who could take them away from the life they were living.
Some of the couples did get divorces. The women were no longer able to put up with their broke, drunk and abusive husbands.
Once a week, Tyrone and Flora would meet for dinner, profess their love for each other and vow to wait. Each week the time seemed to grow longer between their meetings. Each week, they wondered if their betrothed would indeed wait. Each week they wondered if they themselves could continue to wait.
Shortly after Tyrone’s fiftieth birthday, his father passed away. Tyrone inherited the bank and the family fortune. Tyrone considered marrying Flora without his mother’s permission, but decided not to. She had taken the passing of Tyron’s father very hard and was in failing health.
It was six months after Tyrone turned fifty three when his mother passed away. There followed a thirty day period of mourning.
One morning, Tyrone walked into the bookstore where Flora worked, found her, put a bouquet of flowers in her hands, took a ring box out of his pocket, opened it to show her the ring, got down on one knee, and asked Flora, “Will you marry me?”
Even though Flora had been dreaming of this for years, she broke down and started crying. Tyrone couldn’t help himself, he also started crying, crying with happiness and hugging Flora.
When the two finally got their wits about them, they begin to plan the wedding. They wanted the wedding soon but they still needed time for planning it. They chose the date of their birthdays.
The next five months were busy. Selecting groomsmen, bridesmaids, clothes, invitations, place settings, rehearsals, and all that goes with a wedding.
The invitation list was long. Tyrone invited all of his high society friends. Including the parents, sons, and daughters. He wanted all of these losers to see his happiness.
Flora invited some friends, relatives, the owner of the book store and his wife, as well as some regular clientele of the book store.
The day finally arrived.
Tyrone led the wedding party to the church. He was driving a two-wheeled shay with a high spirited black stallion pulling.
Tyrone was trotting down a narrow cobblestone road, approaching the church when a cat darted out of a ditch and ran under the hooves of the stallion.
The stallion shied, turned sideways in the road, throwing Tyrone from the carriage, and breaking his neck.
Flora ran from the rear of the wedding party, and took Tyrone in her arms.
Tyrone told her, “I will always love you” and died in her arms.
Flora started crying and said to Tyrone’s lifeless body, “I told you I would wait to eternity if I had to. Now please wait for me.”
There was a week of mourning, and then they buried Tyrone in the Santa Lucia cemetery next to his parents. Everybody saw that there was an empty burial plot next to Tyrone.
Time passed and the activities of men and women continued.
First, the wife of the owner of the book store passed away, and then the owner himself passed away. They had no children. The owner left the book store to Flora.
Flora never married. She tended the book store and once a month she went to the cemetery to clean Tyrone’s grave and place a bouquet of flowers upon it.
Flora passed away one week shy of her seventy-eighth birthday. In her will, she had only one request. To be buried in her wedding dress. People from far and wide came to the funeral. Many were strangers who had heard of her tragedy.
On her birthday, she was laid to rest in the empty plot next to Tyrone. Together at last.
Travelers passing the Santa Lucia cemetery that evening reported that heat lightening was steadily passing between the clouds with large bangs. There seemed to be a large bonfire in the cemetery itself, and they could hear music and people singing. It seemed like a large party.
Those not superstitious said that the bonfire was swamp gas and the supposed music and singing was merely wind passing through the trees.
When the cemetery caretakers entered the next morning, they crossed their heart and entered slowly.
They could see where a large bonfire had been burned. Every coffin lid had been uncovered.
In one corner of the cemetery, a makeshift altar had been constructed. In one chair sat the skeleton of Tyrone Nelson, dressed in his wedding suit, including top hat, and in the chair next to him sat the body of Flora Shelby dressed in her wedding dress.
The cemetery crew cleaned everything up, reburied Tyrone and Flora. They reburied all of the coffins, and then when they left the cemetery they put a lock and chain around the gate and swore never to enter again.
Legend has it that every year at midnight on the birthday of Tyrone and Flora, the dead rise and celebrate the wedding of Tyrone and Flora.
Legend also has it that anyone entering the cemetery will become a musician who plays at Tyrone and Flora’s wedding anniversary.
No one has been known to enter the cemetery since the lock was placed on the gate.
No one has been known to enter the cemetery, but some known grave robbers have disappeared. No one will enter to found out if the grave robbers are in the Santa Lucia cemetery.
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