The days while McIntosh was healing in his box were long for Joseph Fay. He had once been a hard bodied and able to lift twice the weight he now could. He was reaching sixty years of age and his hair and moustache were more white than the black he had seduced Ola with. Every night he kept watch over his daughter’s killer and every night he tormented himself with the guilt of not strangling him in his sleep. Every day he fought the urge to end McIntosh’s life. Praying to his beloved wife to give him strength. She had always been stronger then him. She would have been even more vicious with McIntosh that her husband. But Fay knew that the duty fell to him to fulfil. He would carry out the sentence that natural justice set up McIntosh and he would not flinch from it. The fortieth anniversary of Lina’s death loomed and as it neared Joseph Fay felt a pain of his own that even McIntosh’s suffering could not compare to. All the days and years and hurt and doubt and rage of life that had passed since that day all rose up like soldiers hidden in a forest and opened fire on Fay’s heart. He longed to be with Ola and Lina and hold them both, He wished for it as soon as McIntosh was dead. The very moment that he slipped out of his grasp. But first a father and a husband must be a father and a husband and do what must be done. First he would live as long a life as he could and keep McIntosh alive for as long as he could. There was likely only another decade left. If even.
Many times, Joseph Fay went to town to stock his cupboards. When he returned he would keep his house tidy. He would polish the picture frames that held images of his girls. And of course he would tend to McIntosh. It was a lonely place, but he felt Ola and Lina there with him often. Still his love for them was as strong as it had been when they were alive. Still he could often smell his wife’s perfume on the air and hear his daughter’s laughter at dusk. His books were his only leisure. And when night fell and all was as it should be, he would reach for his collection of works and spend the darkened hours lost in tales.
The books reminded him of his own father who would sit each night and disappear into worlds of words that he himself only breached as a man. Joseph Fay was always fascinated by his father’s dedication and often watched him grumble smothered laughs to himself as he sat motionless but for the occasional turning of a page for hours on end. It seemed to young Joseph then that there was a magic in the books that he was unaware of. Many of the volumes were off limits to him, being a grubby child who always bore the grime of climbing trees and exploring the woods. But that was a long time ago. Fay’s father was dead before Lina was even born and there, in Park Castle, with McIntosh’s brittle frame laid out in the box in the basement, Fay read and remember and drank himself toward another day.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey