Undead and Unforgiven

By: MaryJanice Davidson

Author’s Note


Cow Town in Hastings, Minnesota, is a thing. It’s named for a part of the town that was once all farmland and cow paths. We were lucky enough to live there for a few years when our children were small. Our first night in the new house we went to sleep with the gentle lowing of bovines in the background, which aggravated my city-boy husband beyond belief. “Shut up! Damned cows!” I laughed until I snored.

I have nothing against Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, Minnesota; my son was born there! It’s one of the few hospitals in the Twin Cities area I’m familiar with, so I use it whenever a character needs to be hospitalized. It’s why Marc worked there, Jessica had cancer there, the Antichrist volunteered there, and Tim Andersson (you’ll meet him in the prologue) died there. Again: great place; they took excellent care of me, and also my baby, who was so fat and sweet tempered, the resident used to lug him around with her on rounds. (This was fine with me: More sleep, please! Also more pudding. Thank you.)

The midnight blue Armani suit Tina wears to the meeting in Hell costs $1,250 and it is glorious.

Unlike Marc, I don’t have anything against Kristen Stewart. It’s just I really, really liked Ravenna, the wicked queen, from Snow White and the Huntsman. I had little to no interest in what Snow White was doing, but couldn’t look away from the queen. (Also, I knew how it would end, so there was no need to root for Snow Stewart.)

Cinnamon Churros vodka is a thing. Thanks, Smirnoff!

Betsy is not alone in thinking The Lego Movie sucked. It did. Terrible. I’ve said it before, when the monstrosity known as the Transformers franchise took over, and I’m saying it again now: never see movies based on toys or games. Lego, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Battleship, Ouija, Barbie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles . . . no. Stop the madness. There is one—one—exception: the Toy Story franchise. Hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Forepaugh’s is a real restaurant in St. Paul and several people are convinced it’s haunted. The food is divine, though the story behind the resident ghost is sad: she killed herself after she found out she was pregnant by her married boss. Try the deconstructed banana cream pie.

The Griggs Mansion, just up the street from Betsy’s mansion, is considered to be the most haunted house in St. Paul. It has creeped any number of people out, including skeptical journalists, and I have to say, the pattern of owners has been pretty interesting. They move in, redo the place, then move out within a year or two. The last owners had to keep dropping the price to unload the thing (in 2012), because potential buyers were horrified of the thought of spending a single night there, never mind living there for a decade or so.

Sinclair’s buddy Lawrence Taliaferro was a legit fella and pretty cool, too. Born in 1794, he was an army officer from Virginia who served as an Indian officer at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, and had an interesting part to play in the Dred Scott slavery legal battle some years later.

His job was to mediate between the traders, the Native Americans, and the United States. Shockingly, all three entities were seldom on the same page, but he worked hard and did his best to look out for everyone’s best interests.

The Native Americans called him “No-Sugar-in-Your-Mouth,” a reference to how he dealt fairly with them and never made a promise he couldn’t keep. He had an almost impossible job but didn’t shirk, and for a while things were pretty peaceful. Toward the end of his time there, he helped draft the 1837 treaty, negotiating what he felt would be fair terms for all involved. The U.S. government, however, decided “signed treaty” meant “thing we don’t actually have to do” and failed to hold up their end. The Native Americans were ruined, Taliaferro even more disillusioned (like that was possible), and he resigned in disgust not long after.

He probably thought, once away from Fort Snelling, that life would settle down, but that’s because he had no idea who Dred Scott was. A Virginian by birth, Taliaferro owned a slave named Harriet Robinson, who was in love with another slave, Dred Scott. Not only did he give them permission to marry, he officiated. (He was a justice of the peace in the territories.) They’re in love, that’s great, he probably thought. What’s the worst that can happen? It certainly won’t lead to a landmark Supreme Court decision that hastens the Civil War, right?

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