Mayor Mitby Sather, a defrocked mess sergeant, is thinking of running for higher office: governor or senator or president or something.

  • The de facto ruler of all aspects of village life, Saint Birdie Twine, is busily enjoying holy visions, which culminate from a ritual that closely resembles auto-erotic stimulation.
  • Obediah Twine, who married into the family business, The Church of the Flowing Blood of Christ, and proclaimed himself bishop, really wants to be the Pope. But first, since he isn’t Catholic, he will have to perform a miracle or some special feat to make God really sit up and take notice. In the mean-time, he occupies his time by missionarying among the heathens (with particular emphasis on young and attractive female heathens) up in the hills.
  • Leona B. Grundy, fifth grade teacher, really loves children--the children who populate her favorite books, that is--not the students in her class. She has devised a truly unique method of disciplining her charges, which works just fine--right up until it doesn’t.
  • Hjalmar Kelliher, town constable and jailor, wants only to retire now that he has a wife and seven daughters to support him.
  • Merrilee Mattson has turned to Saint Birdie Twine for absolution of her great sin, namely the lust she feels for her new husband, but she begins to regret filing rape charges against him--again.
  • Miss Sympathy Gayle is approaching forty and is still a virgin, a situation she will soon rectify--with the able assistance of her best friend.

Only three of the villagers comprehend the danger:

  • Molly Herkimer, restaurateur, entrepreneur and widow, realizes she has to get out of town, but is reluctant to leave without the cache of silver dollars she has hidden under the floorboards in her kitchen.
  • Widow Molly Herkimer’s husband is not the moon; he’s the invisible man, and he’s taking no chances.
  • Onie Mattson would like to leave but, unfortunately, he’s in jail again on a charge of rape, brought by his young wife at the insistence of Saint Birdie Twine.

Meanwhile, up in the hills, the Nimi’ipuu:

  • Kiyiyah, leader of the Spirit Lake Band;
  • Peopeo, tiwata a t (medicine woman) of the band; and
  • The children of Peopeo, who haven’t yet been given their names but affectionately called Running Nose and Sleepy Head,

>wait patiently for the Lake That No-Longer Remembers Its Name to exorcize the devils from the valley.

Others appear in flashbacks to round out the characters listed above and to explain certain idiosyncrasies of the village.

  • Chief of Police Charlie Swope has been incapacitated by two .45 caliber slugs from a Derringer pistol, leaving Hjalmar Kelliher in charge.
  • An unnamed former mayor who pulled the trigger of that Derringer pistol.
  • The unnamed daughter of that unnamed mayor, in defense of whose honor Charlie Swope had been incapacitated.
  • Cyrus Grundy, farmer and amateur economist, knows all there is to know about farming; more importantly, he knows what he knows, and that’s all there is to that.
  • Colonel Righteous T. Culpepper, of an undetermined occupation. He won the hand of Mrs. Culpepper in a poker game, then lost his only daughter, Snowbird Elizabeth Culpepper, trying to fill an inside straight.
  • Mrs. Righteous T. Culpepper, formerly in service in the mining camps, now services only the Colonel, but she does occasionally reminisce.