"The bloody bastard is dead!" It seemed that word had made its way around town before the last breath had left the great man's body. Many had suffered terribly during his tenure. Careers were destroyed, marriages torn asunder, and lives had been lost - although it was difficult to lay the blame solely at his door.
Nevertheless his death brought about a great sense of relief. Relief, which in some quarters was tempered with grudging admiration. As more than one person was heard to remark, "He was a charismatic motherfucker." And fuck he did. Anyone of the female persuasion that came his way... mothers, daughters, grandmothers, grandmothers, granddaughters, sisters, wives, widows and mistresses... all were fair game. So many of the townspeople had his look that there were those who despaired of ever ridding the town of his taint, and it was whispered, but never spoken aloud, that a purge might be necessary.
Those thoughts were quickly pushed aside by the matter of the funeral. The man, the great man's last erquests, croaked into the ear of his favourite priest, was that his body be cremated and the ashes spread in the lush green glade where so many had fallen under his spell. He bequeathed his large collection of musical instruments, his true passion, to the town. Strangely, he was emphatic that no music be played at his funeral.
The priest, sensing what was in the air, begged his god for fogiveness and left town that very afternoon.
The mortician and his assistant retrieved the body, which they in turn passed over to the conductor of the local chamber ensemble, an odd looking young man who had been a prominent member of the great man's inner circle. There was some speculation as to what happened to the body after that, but it is known for sure that it made its way into the hands of the doctor.
The instruments were gathered by the head fo the choir, a pretty young nun who walked with a peculiar limp. She and several young men from the town carted the whole lot to that lush green glade and stacked them in a teetering pile.
The body, stripped of its clothes and jewelry, arrived a short time later. A crowd gathered as he lay there pale and naked in the dim moonlight. The doctor and the butcher were amongh the last to arrive. Before they got to work, the doctor looked from the body to the crowd and said, "You're sure this is what needs to be done?"
He took the hisses and catcalls as an affirmative and concealing a smile, nodded to the butcher and prepared to disarticulate the body. the pile of instruments was doused with moonshine and set alight. The fire erupted into the night with a crackling, keening shriek as strings snapped, wood popped and skins broke. A large cast-iron cauldron was filled and set up over the fire.
The assembly's attention turned to the body. The butcher cut the throat and drained the blood into several large jugs . The innkeeper's wife took the jugs and set about mixing the blood with wine and honey. The barber shaved the head and removed the nails from the fingers and toes. When the barber's work was done, the butcher cut off the head, hands, and feet. The tanner approached and with the butcher's help flayed the skin from the corpse. The doctor had the delicate task of removing the muscles and veins. The arms and legs were severed and disarticulated at the joints. Finally, the organs were removed and set aside for the innkeeper's wife.
A group of washerwomen arrived in a solemn procession with buckets of lye as the cauldron rocked and bubbled. The butcher's assistant collected the head, hands, arms, legs, feet, and what was left of the torso and threw them into the pot. The washerwomen, their faces covered with perfumed rags, stirred the retching roiling stew until the skin sloughed off and the bones settled to the bottom of the pot. The grim crew worked through the night. By dawn the great man's veins had been stretched between the birch and willow trees, his muscles and sinews pulled taut, and his skin drawn-out and hung to dry.