Of Love and Death – Written By Stephen Fahey. Part 8

book 1

Again the Garda were no use to me. Again I posted flyers and stalked social media to no avail. Again I trawled every building I could find for miles. And again I feared the worst. Then I snapped. It was all too much. Too similar to not be fate. I was meant to suffer. I wasn’t due a fair share of life. And so I took myself to fighting. I went to the bars and tussled with who’d ever have it. I drank and swung wild fists like a false demon, hoping only to sleep a rest that such a wretch as I surly was never meant to have. The love that Winnie and Sila gave me was clearly a fluke. Even Ola’s love seemed some sweet accident. It was all a bitter fucking lie. All of it, from birth to death. Nothing was good anymore. Nothing was ok. Everything was just a blur of rage and whiskey. Then one morning, or afternoon, I can’t remember, a letter came.

It wasn’t a letter per se, just an empty envelope. At first I was elated. Then furious. I’d assumed it was from one of my girls so when it was empty I couldn’t understand and my anger took over. I threw whatever was to hand at the walls and kicked furniture back and forth, bloodying myself without even noticing that I was standing barefoot on broken glass. There was a great stew of filth around the house then, weeks of living alone without purpose had left me in a sty. When I exhausted myself I stood and walked to the fireplace to burn the envelope, but as I went to toss it into the flames I noticed that a corner at the back of the envelope had something sticking out of it. I almost missed it. In desperation I picked at it. It was tucked in tight as if it was a part of the envelope so I couldn’t get it out. I held it to the light and saw a wedge of paper enclosed inside the makings of the envelope and eventually I took a knife to it. There, when finally loosed from its confines, was a sliver of paper with two words scrawled on it, “still alive”.

I nearly collapsed. It was Sila’s handwriting. Not knowing what to do I ran outside into the darkness and screamed hers and Winnie’s names but only the wind and rain answered me back. Then I felt a sharp pain in my neck.

*

“My name is… are you listening?!… wake him!”

Fire scourged the skin on my back and shoulders and I opened my eyes to the sight of Sila and Winnie gagged and bound to chairs in front of me, then the voice continued, “… my name is Gerry Clipper. I have been employed by Mrs. Dean to acquire specific information about her holdings.”

“Si… la!?”

“Shut him up.”

Hands came from behind me and forced a gag into my mouth, then another blast of fire on my shoulders made me scream though the salty cloth.

“Now… as I was saying… I will be obtaining my information from Ms. Dean, or “Winnie” as you know her. You will say. You will do nothing. You are still alive only to aid me in my extraction of this information from Ms. Dean. Any attempt by you to interfere with this process will be met with severe punishment. Nod if you understand.”

I stared at him and he just smiled back at me. He couldn’t have even been forty. A short, thin man in a pinstriped suit. He looked like a cheap gangster from old black and white movies but his eyes shone as if a demon lived inside of him. He never blinked while I stared at him. I didn’t know where we were or how I’d gotten there but he was damn sure of himself. I nodded and looked at Sila and only then noticed that she wasn’t conscious. Then I looked to Winnie, her eyes were wide with terror and gushing with tears. It was a pain nobody should ever feel. Like a nightmare that is real in body and soul. I darted a look at Sila and back again and Winnie shook her head and I knew, my baby was dead. My little girl. My sweet child. Dead at the hands of that sick bastard. It didn’t seem real. I couldn’t be. Looking around the room I saw a wet, cobblestoned floor, a pair of vertical wooden beams like in a barn to either side of me, low hanging lights with circular tops above us and darkness and shadow all around us where the light couldn’t reach.

“This whore you love, Mr. Fay, this false creature, may have told you about her past… nod if she has… good, that will save us some time. Now, we’ve already exhausted your daughter, a spry youth if I do say so, but not too smart. So, it falls on you to convince Ms. Dean to talk to us. Nod if you will cooperate.”

I looked at Winnie and she looked at me with the same fear that Ola had when she was in labour with Sila. It shook me to the very centre of my soul. Both of the only two women had I ever loved with the same mortal fear in their eyes and me with no means to help them. My spirit sank into my feet and down and out onto the floor in front of me. I looked at our captor and with dread in every inch of me I nodded once. Winnie thrashed and screamed through her gag but Clipper stepped to her side and a vicious anger took me as he punched her across her face. I fought my binds like Satan was in me and trying to escape but Clipper just stepped back behind Winnie and straightened his suit jacket and cuffs and continued, “Now. James. May I call you James?”

Hovering over my chair in rage with slobber spraying from my gag and nose I thrashed in hatred but it was useless and when more fire burst across my shoulders and pushed me outside of myself I caught my breath. Then, in sour disgust, I nodded. Winnie shook her head and snapped herself up to concentrate but she was clearly still dazed.

“Good, James. Now, my employer wants to know just how many people the whore has told about her family’ s business. You were close. Obviously she told you. And for that I have to kill you. So you might as well tell us who else she’s spoken to. It won’t make a difference to you, other than the fact that we won’t have to torture her like we did your little bitch.”

Without even thinking I surged again and fought the excruciating word with the last ounces of my strength. Sila was everything to me and just hearing about her being hurt sent me into wild spasms of rage. The feeling of my binds cutting into me didn’t even register. I could just feel the wetness of the blood on my hands. As I tore myself apart with guilt Clipper walked over to Sila and lifted her head. Her soft hair was matted to her face so her ran his finger along her hairline and swept it aside revealing an empty socket where an eye had been. I froze. My baby’s eye had been taken. My beautiful, happy child was disfigured by some fucking monster and I wasn’t there to protect her. I had failed her.

I mumbled something and held eye contact with my daughter’s killer until he waved his hand and released Sila’s head as hands came from behind me and undid my gag.

“She never spoke to a soul but me, Sir.”

“I don’t believe you, James.”

“I won’t lie to you, Sir. You’ve already taken everything I loved in life and… ”

“No, James. I haven’t. Not yet. I still have this meek darling daughter of yours to finish.”

My eyes flashed wide.

“Oh, you assumed she was dead? Well she’s still alive, barely. It wouldn’t take more than a few slaps to finish her off, even a nasty fright.”

“Do anything you want to me, Sir. You don’t need to hurt her any more. We don’t need to waste anymore of your time. I’m sure you have more important things to do than be here with us.”

“Hmmm… indeed, James.”

“You’re clearly well informed. Are you aware of my past?”

“Indeed I am, James.”

“So you know that I won’t jeopardise my daughter’s life for anyone or anything?”

“It would appear so.”

“Well then, you know that I am not lying when I tell you that the Dean affairs a are private matter to which none but Winnie and I am privy. Sila doesn’t even know Winnie’s real name.”

“So she said herself when I was cutting off her fingers. But of course, I couldn’t be sure until now. You understand, James.”

Dying inside I smiled, “… of course. But now you know. You seem like a civilised man. Educated. Sophisticated. Surely a resolution to your arrangement with Mrs. Dean would be best expedited by letting Sila go. She’ll only slow us down.”

“Ok,” he smiled and stepped backward into the shadows. Then he approached with a dagger and plunged it into my little girls throat between her neck and shoulder. Staring at me to watch my pain he swirled the handle that was buried to the hilt and moaned in a sick celebratory excitement.

I said nothing. I just stared at him while Winnie turned her head away and wept inconsolably. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t Sila. Or Winnie. It wasn’t me seeing those things. I wasn’t there. Nor was Clipper. He wasn’t real. Just a nightmare I was living.

“Sir. You lower yourself.”

His eyes all but rolled out of his skull. He wanted me to suffer all the more for his vile glare but I had robbed him of it – for her. I died inside in that very moment but it was worth it. I knew that he was going kill me and Winnie. There was no way he would let us go, not after incriminating Winnie’s mother and himself. With a nod from Clipper the hands from behind me took me by the ears and our captor stepped over to behind Winnie. The fucking scumbag grabbed her by the chin and forehead and sneered, “watch now, Ms. Dean. We’ll make him sing first, then you can answer my questions.”

A sudden pain burst my right ear and my right shoulder became drenched. The hands behind me cut down half way down my ear and then pulled the rest away in a jerking motion. I screamed while Clipper made Winnie watch. He didn’t speak that I could hear but he looked at my left ear and nodded and the thing same happened again. I couldn’t think of anything but my girls. Poor Winnie, forced to watch, helpless to do anything. She knew that she was going die too. It’s such a horrible feeling. And my sweet little Sila, slumped over in the chair beside her. She was covered in blood. Her head down. He feet splayed from the struggle. It wasn’t right. She’d never done anything to merit such a punishment. She was only ever sweet and loving and kind.

That night I lost both ears, all of my fingers and an eye. I had many bones broken including all my front teeth being pulled with a claw hammer. But I warned Winnie not to tell them anything. I screamed out that I wouldn’t be used by them and out of undying love my Winnie never said a word. The last thing I remember is a wire passing down over my face from behind and those ghostly hands tightening it around my throat. With my hands bound behind my back I held on as long as I could but it was hopeless. I blacked out to the sound of Winnie screaming and then I awoke here.”

“Indeed. You’ll be wanting to see Sila so.”

“What? Yes! What?”

“And Ola?”

“What? Who? Where am I?”

“Your wife, Ola? She is here too. She is with the child.”

“I… eh… of course… ”

“First might I recommend cleaning yourself up? The washrooms are that way. Your family will meet you over there.”

“Eh… thank you.”

“Move along.”

Bewildered, I staggered to where the man had pointed and found a long room with white discs on the floor along one side. I knew to stand on one, somehow, and as I did it hummed and in a breath I was whole and clean again. No blood, no broken limbs or missing fingers. No pain. In fact I was so excited to see Sila again that I forgot about Ola, until of course I left the cleaning room and saw them both waiting for me.

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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