Recollections Concerning The Late Lyle Burnley
rating: +13+x

A Trimalchio who fancied himself a Hadrian. Good breeding is taught from birth, or not at all. Money can purchase neither class nor, for all of Mr. Alan Burnley's desperation, immortality.

-W. Audrey Ashbless (Personal correspondence to Tehliarian the Weaver, 1978)


WHEREAS during his life, Mr. Lyle Burnley was a respected scholar of the study of heresies, making advances both theoretical and practical in the field.

APPRECIATING that, even lacking a formal doctorate, Mr. Burnley provided invaluable advice, mentorship, and companionship to the foremost minds of the academic research of heresies.

RECOGNIZING the invaluable role of Mr. Burnley's research, undertaken at great physical and mental risk, in formalizing the sixth category of heresies, which has radically altered the landscape of heresiographical studies.

ACKNOWLEDGING that, prior to his passing, Mr. Burnley made numerous charitable donations to the alumni fund, which has allowed the renovation of several specialty libraries as well as the full stocking of the departmental lounge and bar.

BE IT RESOLVED that the Lyons College Heresiographical Collection shall be renamed the Lyle Burnley Collection.

BE IT RESOLVED that Mr. Burnley be awarded a posthumous doctorate from Lyons College in recognition of numerous and invaluable contributions he has made to the fields of knowledge in which he partook.

- Faculty of Lyons College Center For Heresiographical Research (Resolution 241, passed 8-5, 1978)


As for Burnley, I think he had it in him to become one of the all-time great haruspices. He certainly had the materials at hand - an entire room of that accursed place peopled solely with exotic birds. But what birds! False Cardinals, Haft-Hafts, even a Ravelwood Snipe. Alas, he preferred to exterior beauty to inward utility.

In the late, late hours, Joaquim and I would sometimes joke about stealing the damn things and prying the secrets of that place from them. Even in the privacy of our apartment, even in our often inebriated state, we always knew to keep our voices down.

- Laura McIntyre (Memoirs of an Organ-Grinder, 1981)


Uncle Lulu? Well, I don't want to speak ill, but to hear Uncle Cyrus tell it, he was always a prideful man. He said the farm was beneath him, and that he would never return when he left. And he was true to his word; not once did he come to the farm. We always had to go see him in that awful house he lived in. The Manor1, he called it.

He never did come down. Even when Daddy was dying, everyone at his bedside, Lulu kept perched up in that mansion he had. None of the family spoke to him much afterwards.

Me, though? I have my dignity, but I am not given to pride as much. After that, whenever the mortgage came due, there was always a check from Lulu in the mail the next day. And I never did take exception to cashing it.

- Elmer Alan, Jr. (Forensic Inquiry Into The Burnley Manor, 1983)


The man raised bullshit to an artform - I mean that as no slight against him. His deployment of exaggeration, omission, and outright fabrication was always masterful. When he spoke, you could hear the ironic smile in the phrases, sense a wink in the cadence. As if you and he were in on a private joke together.

I recall one evening, I believe it must have been at Batbayar's home, '67 or '68. Lyle claimed to have inspired Russolo to craft a thaumaturgical variant of his infernal noise contraptions some time in the 1920's. Everyone was spellbound at his description of technicolor melodies blooming and dying in the air.

Being unable to hold my alcohol, I made a passing remark about how three nights previous, he had claimed to have spent the whole of the '20's at a monastery in the Gansu province. Starting with the study of rare manuscripts and climaxing with him fending off an assault from the Daoist sorcerers of the Ma clique. Left unmentioned, of course, the fact that he would have been little more than a child at the time in either case.

A hush fell over the party, and for a moment, everyone simply stared at me. There were more than a few glares. Lyle laughed and made some offhand joke. The atmosphere lightened and the story resumed. Even so, my face burned. I had never felt such shame at having told the truth, as if I had raised some pedantic point of order.

Afterwards, Gulnisa took me aside. "What's the harm in letting him speak?" she asked, "It is his way."

- J.N. Vishwakarma (Personal correspondence to Anna-Lynn Reed, 1987)


That fucker? So thoughtful, so kind, so friendly, at least superficially. That's all he was - surface. Wide as an ocean, shallow as a puddle. No one knew more about heresies then him, but everything else was affectation. A clever facade to hide an insatiable hunger. For approval, for knowledge, for control.

If he could get his hands on a single balance sheet of Cavalcanti, and you were the price, he would not hesitate. Not for a second. History, affection, respect. None of it meant a God damned thing to him.

I have not seen him here yet. But when I do, we'll find out if shades can bleed.

- Spirit of Rui Shimura, speaking via Altantsetseg (Seance recorded in Chamanismes Jaunes De Mongolie Intérieure Sous Dengisme by F. Michel Duperré, 1990)


Foley stood in the doorframe, swaying slightly. Even in his inebriated state, the man seemed to occupy every inch of space in the room. Jacob felt like a child once more, unaware of the infraction he had committed but bound to be punished for it anyway. He didn't try to protest, only steeled himself for the tongue-lashing.

Instead, he felt Foley embrace him, thick arms wrapped around his slender frame. The kiss was so unexpected and pure, like the remembered bite of amaro as Foley's gaze had first lingered on him. Foley enveloped Jacob as the night wrapped about them both.

- Albert de Plancy (The Gods of Haran and Gozan, 1993)


A trailblazer and an indispensable asset to the Library's collection of rare books. Just like those before him, he has been overtaken and dispensed with. Such, ever, of mortals.

- Wulfhera Coulke, Archivist, North-By-Northwest Wing (Marginalia in Heresies Without Orthodoxies: An Investigation Into The Zomian Witch-Cults by Lyle Burnley, c. 1998)


I have seen many men and women die in my time. Quickly, slowly, quietly, screaming. I do not know that ever saw anyone die as poorly as he did.

I stayed with him in those long weeks until the end, in order to ensure that the terms of the contract were fulfilled. Even as the disease was eating at every part of him, he pored over books for something, anything, to forestall it. It approached the level of a frenzy, twenty hour days, mouthing forgotten tongues and scribbling notes in the margins of dog-eared journals. Ghost-eating rituals, macrobiotic diets, consciousness transference, anything that offered a glimmer of a possibility of a chance. For the most part, he ignored me, and I was content to simply observe.

One day, perhaps a week before the end, I think that it hit him that he wasn't going to find a way out. No more hat tricks, no more narrow escapes. Just oblivion, if he was fortunate. The end of a story that was his to author.

It was at that point that I stopped being a part of the background, and became something useful to him. He asked me about myself, tried to engage me in conversation, told me stories about his life. While I will admit that he was quite charming, I did not rise to my position by being easily flattered. I was familiar with people like him, and knew well his reputation.

After the twelfth curt, single sentence reply, he seemed to understand. He visibly deflated, slumping forward on the mat. At that moment, I was struck by how impossibly old he looked.

The next day, he was dead.

Afterwards, I collected his body, as agreed to. I have handled numerous cadavers in the course of my duties, but none felt quite as corpselike2 as his. An odd word, I know, but I am unsure that any other would do.

- Lucy Kohere, Esq. (Written correspondence, recipient unknown, 2007.)

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License