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The Merlin Factor. Chapter One. 1/2
Topic Started: Dec 16 2015, 09:01 PM (104 Views)
crow
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The Merlin Factor. Chapter One.

Confusion. Canada: Gabriola Island, British Columbia, 1989.


The pain was unbearable. I shook my head and fought back the tears as I tried - as I had tried for so very long - to hide my helplessness. To be a man.

"I... I can't do this any more, Marie." I swallowed, fighting for control. "I just can't..."
She stared up at me, hating me, her eyes black in her olive face, old before her time. "Why don' you jus' get on yo' boat then? Go away. Away! This is MY house! Salaud! Bastard!"

I found it hard to breathe, as if something was crushing my chest. I glanced around the little room, seeing nothing. Nothing but pain. The house was at the end of a dead-end road, almost lost in the woods of this little gulf-island. Like my life, I knew. A dead-end. But still I could not leave...

She screamed, suddenly, driving her knee into my groin, missing the target, but striking instead the trigger that released the too-tightly-wound spring of my own helpless fury. She crashed back against the wall as my hands flew to her throat, squeezing, choking. Blind with emotion gone wild, I released her neck and drove a fist clear through the panelling of the wall, an animal roar spraying her with spittle. It should have stopped her, but it didn't...

She kicked me again, fingernails raking at my eyes. I drove the other fist through the wall, beside her head, screaming, screaming... "STOP IT!"
I backed away, shaking uncontrollably. I recognized this scene all too well, was all too familiar with the surreal movie-like enactment going on before me, as if my body was not my body any more, but had been taken over, somehow, by some violent demon, intent upon the total destruction of everything I had worked so hard to build. The love that would not, could not work. The impossibility of reason. The ragged edge of madness. With the last, fading vestiges of control, I ran from the room, off into the night. Running from this nightmare. I did not return until the next day...

Before I reached the open door, I knew. There was nothing inside. A vacuum. Dead space. The shabby furniture slumped, lifeless, against shattered walls, but everything that had given this place the illusion of permanence was gone. The woman I had struggled so hard to love, the dog I had shared my life with for three times as many years as I had been with the woman. Even the cat. Gone.

I picked up the telephone. Disconnected. I searched for my wallet. Gone. All gone...

An age later, a purple and white police car appeared in the driveway and two very serious men in blue walked into the house. "You are charged with..."
As the bits and pieces of the nightmare fell into place, life as I had known it crumbled into dust around me. Imagine the worst nightmare you can imagine. Then double it. Then double it again. Then make it last not for a small part of one night, but for a year and a half. This was my life.

I became very ill. Terminally depressed. I gazed longingly up at the rafters of the sad little house that had become my prison, and at the noose fashioned from cheap, blue polypropylene line; no sense wasting good cordage on something so pitiful as suicide...

The dog came back. Suddenly she was simply there. Looking like death, and feeling just like me. She had been taken, by the woman, to punish me. Hidden from me by people nearby, for fully a year, for everyone's hand was against me for my terrible crimes. My friends were now my enemies. My beloved dog, stolen, hidden, and unloved, already in advanced old-age, had become a mangy, almost lifeless wreck. She stood limply beside me now, as I considered if she was perhaps a ghost come back to haunt me. Pathetic. Her beauty gone. Almost hairless and dried-up like a Mummy.

I cried at the sight, but reached out anyway... "Oh, Loupe. My dear, sweet Loupe..."
She sagged against my leg, real, but only just. We cried together at the injustice of it all, and stayed close together for protection.
Cleo, the cat, suddenly showed up too, from God knows where. The three of us, together again. The Club. She looked better than ever, for cats are professional survivors. Unlike men and dogs.

She reminded us to eat, and I staggered to my feet, dizzy from lack of love. Weak. Close to death...
Loupe came back for me. She replaced the noose as the object of my affections, and building her up again became my reason for living. God, but she had been beautiful, once. Half German Shepherd, half Coyote. Smarter than some people. Cleo didn't much care either way. Sure, she loved me, as only cats can love: When and where it pleases them. But it was too late for Loupe. She recovered dramatically, given food and love, but her heart was too broken to ever be whole again, and she was, after all, eighteen years of age. Vestiges of her once-great beauty returned, and I hugged her close to me, endlessly. But I felt her pain, always, as I am sure she felt mine. We had been too badly damaged. And we knew it. She wanted something from me. Something I could not yet give her, in my selfishness, for I needed her so much. So she stayed close, almost unable to walk, her hind legs buckling and dragging behind her. Oh how I felt her pain!

And there came a day when she begged me, with her deep, liquid brown eyes, clouded now with milky blindness, to put an end to this. And my heart swelled and shook.
She lay down by the axe, where I once had chopped wood for warmth, looked back at me, then to the axe. I cringed and wept. No! I could not do this thing! Oh God, no! She would not leave that axe. For she had seen me, once, use it to kill a turkey, and now she remembered what it could do. She would not move from it.
Cleo sat beside Loupe's nose, tail wrapped tight around her, licking with her sandpaper tongue. The dog did not move. Her eyes did not blink. They held mine transfixed. And the time arrived when I knew I had no choice. I kneeled beside her, speaking softly, reassuring her that my aim would be true. Begging her to feel no pain. To forgive those times I had neglected her needs, and for not finding her in time to heal her broken heart. That I loved her...
She licked me once, and closed those liquid eyes. They would never see this world again.

I hurled the axe from a cliff during the night, as death swept through me, stripping away all I had ever known and loved. All but Cleo. She acted as much like a dog as she could manage, and it was enough to see me through. And time passed.

Gradually, I judged, people became sufficiently impressed that I had not run off, tail between my legs, to accept that I was, after all, a human being. For I was. It had been important, then, that I should remain through such despair and social ostracism, to show that even those worst of Canadian Criminals - the wife-abusers - were also human beings with feelings and hearts.

I could not run, for that would only prove my guilt. It would have been better, I sometimes thought, to have killed Marie, than to have left marks upon her neck. At least in the eyes of the fools around me. For a murderer commands a certain respect. To the abuser, nothing at all is accorded, save vicious, unthinking, unknowing hatred. I let them all go, all these foolish sheep, forcing my head erect, once more, banishing them to their small, ignorant lives, and prepared the boat for sea. This, I soon found, was too big a task to accomplish, and so I simply did the best I could, finally setting out unprepared.

A gale blew, the evening when life swept me up again and cried out: "Come, young fool! Leave the fucking morons! LIVE, dammit!"

At five minutes past midnight, the twenty third of August, nineteen ninety, checking that Cleo was safely aboard, I severed the lines that held the boat safe from adventure, letting the mooring sink into the black waters of the past. As the bow blew off downwind, I heaved upon the jib-halyard, raising the tan-bark yankee jib into the howling wind, accelerating out of Degnen Bay into the roiling current of Gabriola Passage, narrowly missing the light, the reef and whatever floating logs I could not see, turning off downwind, heading south, into the unknown.

*****

"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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