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Pickle Me This

December 15, 2006

The Ledbetter Serial Arsonist

Before we left Toronto, I had promised postcards home— to Caroline, my friends and even to my mother. But there were no postcards of Ledbetter in existence. You could buy postcards in Ledbetter, at the old train depot museum, but they were actually postcards of the Grantville Town Hall and the Grantville Floral Clock. They used to sell Ledbetter postcards some years ago, I learned from the woman in the conductor’s cap who staffed the museum. But then the postcards ran out and they never restocked, and so many buildings had burnt down by then anyway.
“Have you heard about our arsonist?” the woman asked me.
She led me over to the display in the corner which told the story of serial arsonist Randall Hicks who had destroyed over fifty buildings in Ledbetter over a more than twenty-year spree— from garages and sheds to the Town Hall and Public Library. Hicks was an accountant and a careful arsonist. Only one person was ever injured in one of his fires; a clear case of wrong place at the wrong time, he had been robbing a store Hicks had targeted. And no one had ever managed to catch Randall Hicks either. He’d turned himself in in 1966, one day after his father died, saying he would have done this years ago if it weren’t for the shame it would have brought his dad.
“And that’s why we don’t have postcards anymore,” the woman told me, so I picked up five of the Grantville Floral Clock.

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