Reaper Groom (murder mystery)

This piece was sparked originally by the current prompt at Totally Optional Prompts. This week Mike McCulley suggested one “write a mystery… There might be a shocking crime, a dreadful criminal, a breathtaking getaway, or a lost opportunity.”

I’ve always been fascinated by who-done-it’s, so I was inspired to write this piece with a ‘retro’ kind of feel. BE WARNED: It, and the accompanying collage I created for it, are both somewhat graphic — in a noir-tongue-in-cheek kind of way.

A mysterious black velvet cape and a wedding dress, were the first two visuals offered by my muse, so I realized this work also fit prompt #12, supplied by Juliet over at Read Write Poem — so, ‘kill two birds’ as they say… except the socially awkward, seemingly milquetoast villain of this tale killed a few more than two ‘birds’.

UPDATE: 2/8/08 — As I look at this piece, it also fits perfectly with this week’s Writer’s Island prompt, “Changed”. Here is a shy, bashful, mild-mannered church organist ‘changed’ into a murdering menace — by loneliness and rejection.



••• To hear “Reaper Groom” read by author — CLICK HERE •••



Reaper Groom

backlit by a lightening flash
a figure scurried ‘cross the yard
between the gravestones he did dash
head down low, and running hard

dressed in cape of velvet black
he seemed to vanish from our sight
but then we saw him double back
he would not escape tonight

elusive as a demon’s shadow
ghost-like — he could disappear
but no more, this scourge of sorrow
finally, we were drawing near

surround and capture, was the plan
the hounds had tracked him to this place
this had to be our wanted man
though none had seen his evil face

we were sworn to bring him down
bloodthirsty was this man — and cruel
he’d caused such horror in our town
if he escaped, we’d look the fool

the target of our townsfolk’s hate
he must be caught – this beast of doom
he’d killed so many brides to date
we knew him as the “Reaper Groom”

he took the lives of countless bride
murdered them by dark of night
once betrothed they couldn’t hide
death was sure to be their plight

marriage took an awful blow
as one by one our maidens fled
our bachelors’ ire began to grow
there were no wives to share their bed

this had to stop — no maids for men
it wasn’t natural, wasn’t right
this curse would never be again
it would end, right here, tonight

we had him cornered in our net
he’d not escape our clutch this time
he owed this town an awful debt
he’d pay quite dearly for his crime

we closed in slowly, with great care
we’d make sure he couldn’t run
we deftly caught him in our snare
and gathered round him, every one

we took him roughly in this place
and chained him to a stony block
and brought a torch to light his face
then gasped, and staggered back in shock

this couldn’t be, not this poor fool
this shy man of timid smile
we sought a monstrous evil ghoul
this was bashful lonely Lyle

Lyle played organ every Sunday
and lead the hymns, as we would sing
our fiend escaped, we’d get him one day
and when we did, for sure he’d swing

it wasn’t Lyle, it was another
Lyle was not the type, you see
Lyle lived with his aging mother
so we’d set lonely Lyle free

but Lyle spoke up in quiet voice
don’t turn me lose, I forbid it
you see you really have no choice
cause I’m your man, that’s right, I did it

sentenced to hanging at his trial
Lyle was shortly going to die
looking sadly stern at Lyle
the judge inquired of him why

had he slain all this beauty
made so many family’s cry
he felt an answer was his duty
so this was Lyle’s cold reply

for many years I’d been denied
until my soul was heavy laden
god knows how often I had tried
to win the love of a fair young maiden

I was so consumed with bitter grief
that, though I’ve caused much pain and strife
this was my only true relief
to take from them their pulse of life

as mama’s words rang in my head
I’d cut out their precious part
there’s more than one way, mama said
to steal a lovely lady’s heart

rob kistner © 2008


collage above entitled: “Thief of Hearts” — by: rob kistner © 2008

• • •



~ by Image&VerseToo on February 5, 2008.

38 Responses to “Reaper Groom (murder mystery)

  1. Yeah, that’s some story and you did well to keep the momentum going through so many verses and a great ending!

  2. excellent engrossing narrative

  3. Yes great narrative, great momentum, Andy’s right. Well done, Rob.

  4. It has that pace for a murder mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

  5. Bravo, Rob! I’d love to see you submit this; it deserves a MUCH wider audience.

    And the picture’s fantastic. Incredible.

  6. STG –

    Thank you… the pace seemed to come together as I did the final editing. The original work was quite a bit longer.

    I’m pleased you enjoyed the ending. The concept of creating a ‘play on words’ based on the phrase, often used to describe winning a lady’s heart, came early in the writing.

    From there it became a labor of love generating the narrative that would take you full speed the the ‘punch line’.

    This was fun to write, especially since my intention was to be tongue-in-cheek.

  7. Jo –

    Thank you very much… 😉

  8. Gautami –

    You are most kind — thank you! 😉

    I’m pleased you enjoyed this piece.

  9. Susan –

    Thank you for the very kind words! 😉

    Any thoughts where I might submit this piece? In all the years I’ve written poetry, I have never done that.

    Thank you for complimenting the image — I really enjoy creating collages. They are like very dense, mysterious stories unto themselves. I get to satisfy my writing muse and my artist muse in one work.

  10. Juliet –

    Thank you!

  11. This was excellent Rob, I am glad I didnt miss this one …the mystery and the black cape, loved the title too. Very nicely done…that last line is scary!

  12. Great story – the rhyme pulls me forward in a smooth and rapid movement…

  13. damn… that was fine!!!! i live for poems like this,, that just carry me away!!!!!

  14. “Creep-a-licious.” The story and pace held me throughout though there seem to be some misapplied stresses that throw the rhythm off. Stress seems to be the hardest thing to master. The collage looks to be quite something, I’d both like and wouldn’t like to be able to zoom in.

  15. UL –

    Thank you… 😉

    What I enjoyed about the last line, when my muse delivered it, is that it can be very frightening — and at the same time, darkly humorous.

  16. Tumblewords –

    Thank you, I’m pleased you were drawn in… 😉

  17. Paisley –

    You are so kind — thanks! 😉

  18. Richard –

    I appreciate the gracious words.

    The collage in actual dimensions, is 18″ H x 28″ W — and it is quite engaging. There are things you don’t immediately see at this smaller size. The entire background, for example, is B&W detailed sketch of an old chapel in a graveyard. It suddenly jumps out at you when viewing it in it’s high resolution, full size.

    Emphasis depends entirely on how you read the piece. I am currently recording a spoken word version, complete with music bed. I should have it up by tomorrow. You will see that I will be able to read it in a very cohesive, flowing manner.

    Check back Saturday afternoon. 😉

  19. I love the naration, the painted scene and the plentiful picture words. What a beautiful piece of work!

  20. Quite an experience. Words picure and sound. Simply brilliant.

  21. I became engrossed in this one. Excellently done.

  22. Are you sure you haven’t had a career as an announcer? Your deep baritone would make you a perfect narrator for film and television.

    A wonderful multimedia presentation and storytelling. I’m very impressed!

  23. This is utterly powerful and mesmerising! Loved the whole experience!

    Smiles and Light

  24. Very powerful throughout – and I loved the ending.

  25. Hi Rob, I know I’ve already commented on this wonderful piece but I’ve just listned to you reading it too. Wow! You’d go down well on the performance poetry circuit in the UK! Love it.

  26. I listened to the audio version first – great reading, sound effects, ending and atmosphere. I loved the mixture of noir and comedy.

  27. Ratana Ong –

    Thank you very much… 😉

  28. Keith –

    I’m pleased you enjoyed it… 😉

  29. Anthony –

    You are most kind… 😉

  30. Maria –

    Thank you… 😉

    In the 1980’s, I was the radio ‘voice’ for American Honda Motorcycles. That was fun!

  31. Gemma –

    Glad this work engaged you… 😉

    It was a joy to create.

  32. Cricket51 –

    Thank you, and I’m glad the ending ‘worked’ for you… 😉

  33. STG –

    Thank you! I’d love to visit the UK, especially London. I have friends i London and Manchester. I’ve never been and have always had that trip on my life’s ‘to-do’ list.

    Well, before I die… I hope! 😉

  34. Watermaid –

    Thank you – a bit of dark humor is fun sometimes… 😉

  35. Rob, I am so sorry to be so needy–I thought I had it right today (I did learn how to do links within my own posts, but nothing is working here). My WI post link to my name leads to my DASHBOARD. I will learn to do this! Forgive me, I am old and half-brained.

    Your poem and story are super, and the collage is magnificent! One day the old performer in me will come out and I will record something.

  36. What a treat for all of us, Rob!

    After gracing us with your verses and images that I so admire and that inspired me personally, now you graced us with your voice. What an innovative to share us your words, to share us your verse, to share us your gift. It’s good to hear the voice behind all these great pieces. Now we could summon a real voice whenever we read your works.

    This piece is compelling. Though there is a sad story behind the taking of lives, it’s still not enough to excuse the wrong deeds. I like how you made your reader keep on guessing until the revelation and the sad uncovering of truth in the end.

    Thank you, Rob, for the treat and for sharing with us your gift.

    Check out my series poem: Changes.

    Happy Valentines to you and your family.

    I wish you well.

    ~ Jeques

  37. Hi Rob – It is me Lynne. You and Kathy had been so, so much on my mind. Could Kathy call or e-mail me

  38. Hi Lynne –

    I will have her do so… 😉

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