A couple of months ago, the book blog and news aggregator Lit Hub published a humorously macabre story about the sudden, violent death of one of the peahens kept at the old O’Connor farm in Andalusia. The article title mistakenly describes Mary Grace as a peacock, but the one male of the group, Manley Pointer, also died this year under circumstances any mystery writer would find suspicious.
In late December, she noticed Manley Pointer was ailing. “He was sluggish and not eating. He’s a peacock, so we’re used to seeing him strutting around, and we noticed he was sitting down a lot.” On January 8, April Moon Carlson, the operations and visitors service manager, arrived in the morning to see Manley struggling. As a friend drove them to the vet, Manley Pointer died in her arms. He was 6 years old….
But the aviary did not serve as much protection for Mary Grace, the second of Andalusia’s peacocks to die this year. One morning, Wylie noted, the peacocks’ caretaker came in to see an unusual number of feathers scattered all over the pen, and a hole in the wiring. “Mary Grace had been savagely murdered,” Wylie said. “I saw [sic] ‘murdered’ because the creature, we think a weasel, didn’t eat her. There were body parts all over. The creature ate her face. That’s one of the characteristics of a weasel, is it eats the face. ”
The lone remaining peacock, Joy/Hulga, escaped with her life but not, Wylie suspects, without some trauma. “Of course, she must have witnessed all that.” Wylie said. “I just can’t imagine. It does have a Flannery flair to it.”
Indeed, the Abbess of Andalusia would probably have found something grimly funny about peafowl murder. No doubt it would have generated a story about an uneducated backwoods man stumbling across a peacock, being overcome by its suggestively symbolic beauty, and murdering it to prevent the Holy Ghost from gaining any further purchase within his soul.
Or so I like to think.
The article also goes on at some length about the Andalusia farm and its transformation into a site for literary pilgrimages:
For a time, Andalusia was abandoned. The farmhouse laid empty, the pasture emptied of cows and dairy equipment. It wasn’t uncommon for local teenagers and literary pilgrims to sneak past the “No Trespassing” gate to take a look at the grounds. When Mississippi police found the body of Confederacy of Dunces novelist John Kennedy Toole after his suicide, they found evidence that one of his last stops had been to Milledgeville to see Andalusia….
Andalusia opened as a museum in 2003. Peacocks returned to the property in 2009, a gift from Col. Charles Ennis of Milledgeville. They lived in the aviary to protect from predators, and served as a major attraction to visitors and the children of Milledgeville.
Who’s up for a road trip?