And for a kiss she shows him the place where Lovecraft is buried, the quiet place she comes when she only wants to be alone, no company but her thoughts and the considerate, sleeping bodies underground. The Phillips family obelisk and then his own little headstone; she takes a plastic cigarette lighter from the front pocket of her jeans and holds the flame close to the ground so that Adrian can read the marker: August 20, 1890 — March 15, 1937, "I am Providence," and she shows him all the offerings that odd pilgrims leave behind. A handful of pencils and one rusty screw, two nickels, a small rubber octopus, and a handwritten letter folded neat and weighted with a rock so the wind won’t blow it away. The letter begins "Dear Howard," but she doesn’t read any farther, nothing there written for her, and then Adrian tries to kiss her again.
"No, wait. You haven’t seen the tree," she says, wriggling free of Adrian Mobley’s skinny arms, dragging him roughly away from the obelisk; two steps, three, and they’re both swallowed by the shadow of an enormous, ancient beech, this tree that must have been old when her great grandfather was a boy. Its sprawling branches are still shaggy with autumnpainted leaves, its roots like the scabby knuckles of some skybound giant, clutching at the earth for fear that he will fall and tumble forever towards the stars.
"Yeah, so it’s a tree," Adrian mumbles, not understanding, not even trying to understand, and now she knows that it was a mistake to bring him here.
"People have carved things," she says and strikes the lighter again, holds the flickering blueorange flame so that Adrian can see all the pocket-knife graffiti worked into the smooth, pale bark of the tree. The unpronounceable names of dark, fictitious gods and entire passages from Lovecraft, razor steel for ink to tattoo these occult wounds and lonely messages to a dead man, and she runs an index finger across a scar in the shape of a tentacle-headed fish.
The photos are behind the cut:
A photo I found online (by Brett Rutherford), showing the tree in winter. View fron the road in front of the Phillips plot, looking east. HPL's small marker is half-obscured behind the Phillips obelisk.
From my second visit to HPL's grave, in July '04.
Photo from 20 August 2006. The tree is gone.
View to southeast, showing crater. HPL's marker is just out of frame, near the Byron Whitford monument.
Close up of the muddy hole where the tree once stood. View to the southeast.
View to the northwest, from the opposite side of the crater. Note damaged obelisk in foreground.
More tree graffiti.
Also, here's a link to the page where I found the topmost photo. Spooky and I took the others. And, you know, I think I'm just too tired to bother cross-posting this thing to Blogger and MySpace, neither of which are ever as cooperative (with me) as LJ, so this is an exclusive.