Lying on his back, his leg raw and pulsating with a pain that was overwhelmed only by the trauma of what had just happened, McIntosh coughed up blood and mucus. Face down on the flood beside his mattress, he placed the butt the stump of his wrist beside his face and tried roll himself onto his back. He pushed with his stump and pulled his shoulder backwards, but he had to build momentum. After a few more tries he shoved and swung his arm and landed flat on his back, breathless from the exertion. Then the sound of footsteps came again and the basement door opened with a gentle assurance before Fay again appeared at McIntosh’s side.
Mindful of McIntosh’s injured leg, Joseph stepped into the box and rolled his guest onto his shoulder, then carried him up to the kitchen. Sitting him in a chair, Fay took a cloth and ran it under the tap, rang it out and then washed McIntosh’s face clean.
“You made a terrible mess up yourself, Eli.”
“What are you like? Hold still… ”
And with that, Joseph Fay took a plate of pancakes that where warming in the oven and placed them in front of McIntosh. Then he took jams and spreads and arrayed them in front of his guest as if he was a child. Tucking a bib into McIntosh’s collar, Joseph hummed some indiscernible tune as he fed his guest. It reminded him of Lina. She loved pancakes. He had forgotten. And that pushed him back into a fury.
“See this fork, Eli.”
“See this puppy engraved on it… ”
“This was her favourite. It used always make her smile. Without fail.”
“It’s… it’s beautiful… ”
“NO!! SHE was beautiful! Lina was beautiful in a way you’ll never understand!”
“Joe, I’m so… ”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP!! SHUT THE FUCK UP!! SHUT UP!! SHUT!! UP!!”
McIntosh was helpless as Fay stood, stomped over the a cupboard, and rifled through it without a word. When he had found what he was looking for he returned to McIntosh and knelt beside him. Then he lifted the stump of his guest’s leg on to his own knee. As it lay there he pulled off the top of the salt cellar and then poured the contents of it into the open gash on McIntosh’s shin. Holding his stump tight with his hand, Fay basked as McIntosh kicked struggled, unable to coordinate his body. Out of nowhere Fay threw up a punch and caught McIntosh in the cheek, adding to his suffering. Then, when McIntosh began to slip into shock, Joseph took the fork he had been feed his guest with and raked it alone the open wound. Again and again he shredded the flesh into the wound, driving the salt deeper in between the opened strands of muscle. Then the choking screams waned and McIntosh went limp.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey