Saturday, November 26, 2022

Quote of the Week: The Great Unknown

There is, it must be said, no more - and no less - tangible proof for this scenario as for any other. No hiker, rafter, or patrolling park ranger at that Grand Canyon has ever found a pile of bones, a few scraps of black clothing, or a crumbling white skull with a bullet hole in the temple to indicate the author's final resting place. As Bierce himself promised, his bones have never been found. It is entirely possible that, as he told reporters in El Paso, he simply crawled off into the mountains of Mexico to die, or that, as others have suggested, he sickened with fever or asthma or heart disease and lay down unrecognized in some adobe hut to cough away his life among dark-skinned strangers. In the end, as he intended, his fate is unknown. And yet, if one were to make an educated guess, the notion that Bierce killed himself, purposely and with malice aforethought, is hard to resist. Experienced homicide detectives, when faced with a seemingly insoluble case, typically go back to the simplest explanation,. Given the utter lack of eyewitnesses and the eternally missing body, logic argues that Bierce died alone, as he would have wanted, and unobserved, as he apparently took great pains to ensure. That being the case, he probably did not die in Mexico. More than that, no one can say.

 - Roy Morris, Jr., Ambrose Bierce: Alone in Bad Company, p.263

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