When I was a mere toddler, my great-uncle used to tell me stories about "Rawhead and Bloodybones", two "terrible bugbears" (as Webster so ably and succinctly puts it) who raised hell back in the old country. Great-Uncle Jack never really described their appearance to me; he just told tales about the terrible twosome eating priests and children and villages, while letting me invent their appearances for myself. Rawhead never bothered me much -- I kept picturing some guy with a ball of uncooked hamburger for a head. This was about two decades before "Aqua Teen Hunger Force", and the Meatwad character hasn't made the memory of Rawhead any more terrifying. (Come to think of it, Clive Barker wrote a story years ago about Rawhead called "Rawhead Rex", but again, it didn't scare me much at all)

("ANYWAY!" groans the audience. Fine, fine...)

Bloodybones, on the other hand, was another matter entirely. In my mind, Bloodybones was a skeleton, with all the flesh on its body freshly torn off, leaving only clumps of skin, lots of blood, and two crystal-blue eyes sitting in the sockets. In my nightmares, Bloodybones' bones were even scored with jagged claw marks, which was not the kind of detail you'd want a kid to come up with. You'd expect a skeleton to dance around to jaunty xylophone music, wouldn't you? No, in my dreams, Bloodybones walked slowly, even mournfully, up the stairs to my room, dripping blood all over the stairway. He'd walk into my room, sit at the foot of my bed, and whisper, "Someday, you'll be like me."

And then I'd always wake up.

Great-Uncle Jack died on a hunting trip when I was 15. The rangers said they thought he had a heart attack one night, then got eaten by a pack of wandering coyotes or wild dogs who found his body. They identified him by his dental records. My Great-Aunt Ellen decided she wanted him cremated, and no one in the family ever even saw what his body looked like.

But I've always known.

Blood"y*bones` (), n.

A terrible bugbear.


© Webster 1913.

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