Of Love and Death – Written By Stephen Fahey. Part 17

book 1

We drove all night and once we reached Donegal Winnie found a country laneway and slept on the back seat. I curled up at her feet and felt the love I had longed for since her parents had corrupted her. She looked like a statue from the history books, perfect in form, calm and sure. I watched over her and when a car came near I barked and woke her, then she did something I never thought I’d see her do.

“Miss, please step out of the vehicle.”

“Yes, Garda.”

“Have you any identification?”

“No, Garda.”

“What are doing sleeping here?”

“I was tired and took a nap. What time is it?”

As she spoke she slowly slid her hand behind her back.

“It’s ten past… ”

BOOBOOM! BOOM!

The Garda had no chance. Two bullets had entered his chest and one had burst open his neck. As he fell the car that he’d driven up in backed away and spat dirt and stones at our truck. Winnie stepped around and in front of the window that I was looking through from inside the truck and raised her gun again.

BOOM! BOOBOOM! BOOBOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The car veered to the side of the lane and slowed while Winnie walked towards it. With its windscreen pockmarked by Winnie’s precision, it stopped and as it did she stepped around to the driver’s window.

BOOM!

Turning and walking back to me I didn’t see anger or fear in her eyes. She was calm. She was at peace. I was terrified.

“Good boy.”

She leaned in through the window and rubbed my head again which calmed me a little but I’d never seen the woman that I loved murder anyone before.

“I had to, boy, don’t worry. We need to go now anyway. Sit tight.”

She sat back, closed the door as if nothing unusual had happened, then pulled backed out of the laneway, bumping the Garda car into a ditch at the side of the road. I was still in a state of disbelief, bobbing from side to side as she turned the truck and then drove on to the coast.

“I hope you have you sea legs, boy.”

I didn’t. Passage for cash on a crab boat came with tiny quarters – a single bed where we both slept. I was not “of the sea”, as Winnie and I were constantly reminded whenever a crewmember saw me vomiting, which was often. Very often. Constant. But after three days I was able and after a week the boat harboured on St. Lawrence Island in the north Bering Sea. We stepped onshore at Savoonga village with the captain’s blessing. Winnie immediately walked to the harbourmaster’s office, sat down outside it and waited. It was cold, but hope and love kept us warm. After a half hour or so I heard a voice.

“You ready?”

A mountain of a man stood above us. Winnie nodded and stood while I eyed the conspicuous mammoth. He just turned and walked away through the hard winds and ocean spray and we followed him like children. Another boat ride brought us north to a village called Gambell. There the giant led us to his cabin and Winnie sat with him while I slept by his fireplace. I was so tired that I could hardly keep my eyes open. All of the travel and worry for Winnie’s safety had me strained beyond my limits. But as I dozed off I heard some of their conversation.

“We’ve still got sites D through J and all the accounts in Lagos.”

“What about Antwerp and Warsaw?”

“We lost Antwerp to the Chileans but Poland is still solid.”

“And our people in Victoria?”

“They’re under fire from local law but we can still get ships in and out.”

“I won’t forget your loyalty, Torgeir.”

“Thanks, Boss.”

“What time are wheels up?”

That was the last thing that I heard before I awoke to Winnie rubbing my back with her feet. I opened my eyes to her sat reading a book in a chair next to me. Her feet were silken and they glided along my coat with a slow and smooth reassurance. It was of course delectable. I had always been a tactile person when I was human but once I had four legs that sense of touch became infinitely more powerful. And especially when it was Winnie stroking me.

We stayed in that cabin for almost a week. A storm came and went and was then followed by another storm. The cabin rattled with the wind and the snow tried to bury us, but Winnie was unafraid so I was too. It was a helpless feeling being a dog in a human world but I was determined to stay with my love. She was my whole world. Dog or man, alive or otherwise, she was my woman.

We boarded a rickety postal plane in Gambell and flew to the Canadian coast where we were picked up by a man called Philips. Tall, dark, quiet and armed to the teeth, he was a militia man who had worked for the Dean family’s organisation for years and he drove us into Victoria. Situated at the end of an island tucked into a bay, the city was a perfect haven for anyone on the lamb. It was also busy but small enough to control while Winne and I hid there. The Deans had houses and men and money there and the militia that Philips led was a small and well trained army at Winnie’s disposal. The first thing that she did was eat. It had been a rocky few weeks and she hadn’t eaten well since before we left Ireland. But once we reached Victoria Winnie ordered a mound of food and together she and I worked our way through it. I never liked Chinese food as a human but as a dog is was a different affair altogether. After an hour or so of stuffing ourselves I slept and she plotted with a bottle of Green Spot L. Barton special reserve.

The air in Victoria was crisp. It was autumn and Winnie was as stern and sharp as the season that bruised the land outside our windows. I watched as she gave orders and worked at her laptop. She was in her element, a calm marvel of orchestration. The phone never seemed to stop ringing. People were constantly in and out of the house. Day’s bled into weeks. And for that whole period of time I lay at Winnie’s feet under her desk. She calmed me and I seemed to calm her in a strange love. Then, one day a meeting was arranged and Winnie chose a church as the location.

We walked through one of the many parks and gardens in the city that morning and it was a beautiful, bright day. There are many modern buildings in Victoria but some are colonial and the mix is balanced to perfection. It is almost a dreamlike place to stroll, like some imagined grace of stone and greenery. Winnie was calm but pensive while I was delighted to have her all to myself and outside. Her guards kept their distance so as not to arouse suspicion and that suited me just fine. My love laughed at me as I chased pigeons and squirrels when she let me off my leash. But all too soon she called me and clipped the leash back onto my collar, then led me from the park to a church. That church.

We entered and she hushed me and tied me to pew then walked up one of the side aisles to meet with that man. She hadn’t tied the leash tight so when an argument broke out I bit the knot, freed myself and bolted for the man in the grey suit. It was a purely animalistic moment. And if I’m honest it felt incredible. I felt powerful and lawless in a way that no human can experience or understand. He and Winnie had both stood up from their seats as they shouted at one another and as I neared him he raised an arm as if to strike her, so I leapt and caught his raised wrist and let the weight of my body swing him around and pulled him down to the ground in one motion. Once he was on the floor I spun around to his feet and stood between him and Winnie with all the hair on my back standing on end and my teeth bared. Winnie just folded her arms and chuckled.

“You were saying.”

“I… I don’t need the docks! They’re yours! I only need the farm in Alberta.”

“Done. Go.”

He scuttled off on all fours and ran out of the church once he had made it to his feet. At once, Winnie rolled me over and rubbed my belly and cooed to me. Belly rubs when you’re a dog are like great sex to a human. It was as close to making love to Winnie as was possible for me then and the intimate affection that she showered on me was breath-taking. After far too short a time my love led me from the church and brought me to a butcher’s shop where she bought slices to smoked ham and hand-fed them to me one after the other. Oh, the pleasure!

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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