"Fire By Proxy"

                                                                  by David R Moenich

 

   Copyright 2017 David R Moenich

 

-All Rights Reserved-

 

Description: Fiction...Period Piece. BOOK 1 of a Trilogy, entitled, "Water Of The Rain". Suspense; Thriller; Mystery; Drama; Character Study; Romance; Horror; Humor.

 

Setting: 1800s Scotland

 



CHAPTER I

 

Frosted dew adorned the bleak moors at sunrise. Deep fog claimed the position of nemesis, disregarding all out-look for a bright day to become evident. There seemed a harbinger of ill intention, within the wicked chill about the air. Not a whisper within the thickets beyond the courtyard.

 

An estate in disrepair, quickly succumbing to decay, was such I bequeathed as home. Once a residence of nobility, it was now becoming somewhat reluctantly it seemed a habitation of compromised integrity. Such, thought I, was being evidenced by the mediocrity of those individuals dwelling within this manor. The unconcealed remained deeply hidden within those walls stained of a certain iniquity.

 

This dwelling, brimming royally with such an unrighteous ambiance, truly reflected those abiding within. Levity was all but naught; solemnity it seemed was constant. Each taskmaster, inept with their duties performed poorly...servants, they were...yet each of them were delusional within their self-achievement realized to them alone. To me, such was evident.

 

The servants loathed one another equally, bringing me some secret form of joy. Their respect for me was of minimum value for it was not genuine. I found them, however, amusing yet perplexing. At times I felt I lived within a sanitarium for those in mental anguish. Yet, still I wondered whose sanity was in jeopardy...theirs or mine. Was I their master or were they the masters of me? Perhaps, I was the servant after all.

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

Master Alston, I was referred to...however, that title meant little to me. Master...but naught even mastering my own indiscretions and faults, I assumed my dubbing....for better or for worthless. I feared my upbringing inadequate, placing the blame of my irrational attitude towards life as a quandary placed upon my person at birth and thereafter. It was in the fall of my life. Many leaves had withered and dropped from my branches, yet I provoked hopes of fresh buds of regeneration. I felt, however, as a shite in dying ardor.

 

Lost in my perhaps irrational thoughts and my increasing anxiety concerning the day's journey ahead of me, my mind drifted as I peered through the third floor bay window overlooking the stables. Memories plagued me...some trite, some intense. All such irrevocable remembrances were but opaque within my mind...as mysterious and irreversible as was the purple and green hue arising from the marsh nearby. All seemed appropriately toxic to both mind as well as to ambiance. Strategies of the heart, I feared, plunge deeply into a cavernous gorge of despair without remorse. Death cannot respond concerning its own demise.

 

 

CHAPTER III

 

The Canine was at my side within the master bedroom, as I packed my saddle pouches. Her name was Wolf. I named her such because she was just that...a wolf. Her coat was as black as pitch, however, she had a horizontal, white stripe running just above her eyes giving her a look of brows. Wolf began to whimper in anticipation of our excursion. She knew wherever I traveled she was to accompany me. Snare, the Siamese feline seemed unconcerned...she traveled alone wherever she went. 'Twas difficult to decipher which of the beasts I should fear the most.

 

Their relationship with each other was rather mutual...neither of them caring much for the other yet neither of them wishing to be the first to cause conflict. Wolf was an abandoned pup I adopted upon happening across her along a river bed. She was wet and cold as she shivered...bereft within helplessness, unsure of what might be her next reality. I picked her up, placing her beneath my cloak, taking her home with me. There, I supplied her with fresh cow's milk, and I fed her the most choice cuts of lamb and cattle my estate had to offer. In response to that, she grew into a two-hundred pound, magnificent animal.

 

Snare, the feline simply appeared at my front doorstep one evening as I was coming home. She followed me into the manor...and remained there, never leaving that inner sanctum as I suppose she insisted that was now her own domain.  Her travels were simply exploring the interior of the mansion. Surely, she must have caught, tortured, and eaten many rodents and other pests within her regimen of purveying the parameters of the many rooms available to her.

 

'Twas a post sent to me from my Uncle Monroe which jousted me into a position of obligation to comply with his insistence of immediacy concerning my requested presence before him. Knowing he refused to parley with anyone unable to accept his demands, I felt compelled to accommodate his odd request. He was my father's brother...just as staunch and straight-forward and intolerant of refusals directed toward his wishes as was my father. Living within the twilight of his memories, Uncle Monroe seemed to expect everyone to do as he would command before speaking a word from his lips. He was still alert and efficient yet naught within a sense of totality. His prose written to me included these sentences..."I must give you a key...a key of silver. Do not delay."

 

CHAPTER IV

 

Wolf followed me to the kitchen on the first floor; Snare cared naught as she preened herself. Caitlin was our cook. She was as ill-tempered as she was beguiling of sorts. It was related to me she was deaf, though I believed otherwise as even the slightest of noises cocked her head. She could be a boiling kettle, at times..."wildebeests refuse the tether". Seeing as she was much like unto such a creature, I named her "Wilda". I called her such, always, hoping her ire would flare to disprove her hearing was indeed intact, and her facade ended. Flaming red hair, and crystal, light, blue eyes were her forte. Her complexion was of that of a fresh fall of snow...not sickly within appearance by any means yet in a fashion of false purity exhibited by her foul countenance.

 

Seeking nourishment for my journey, I spied only salted pork and apples as suitable. There was a small basket of burnt muffins centered on the kitchen table which I promptly threw out from the back door. Although Caitlin was pleasant to behold, she lacked ability. I often wondered just how mentally-endowed she was. Though her appearance was supple, there was naught but a wisp of cranial activity able to be deciphered within her.

 

I had previously retrieved all I believed necessary for my excursion...including my pistol, dagger, a flask of rye, and a small bottle of laudanum. I also included several cigars, as well as a certain gift for my Uncle Monroe hoping to smooth any graft of rebuke from him within our meeting. Testy he was, yet I sensed his assumption of reality within my own makeup concerning civility.

 

Franchon, our maid stood in the vestibule awaiting my departure. Too eagerly, I presumed, she wished me a day of grace and a speedy return yet I knew within her seemingly dark heart she hoped none of such. I imagined her as mere bones of iniquity. She fancied herself as French and she spoke with such an accent...however, she was of Welsh lineage. Her speech was always extremely loud to the point of her mimicking a stuck piglet.

 

I told Franchon of my intentions, mentioning I should return before nightfall. She replied, "OUI!". Rolling my eyes, I picked up my tam and walking stick along with my rifle. Wolf and me exited, as I said silently, to Franchon and myself, "Parle-tu posato!?"

 

CHAPTER V

 

I was apprehensive , uncertain as we stepped out onto the muck of the wet earth. Wolf was elated and sure of herself it seemed. Syd, the stable overseer, directly brought Chessie to me. She was my mare of dependability. Syd handed me the reins and I nodded to him. He was a very elderly gentleman, if he could be considered imbued with such a personage as a gentle man. Just a bit over four feet in height, he was a wiry sort. His unredeemable qualities were well beyond the pale, as he was capable of becoming as unpleasant as a badger when being prodded or provoked. 

 

Displeasing to the eye and ear was Syd. His most reliable features were his constant odor of dung...and his personally well-crafted unlikable attitude. Yet, somehow, I perceived a moot genius within this loathsome creature. Beneath the facade of complacency and total abandonment of etiquette something ruled his conduct and actions, I thought. He personified resentment within his countenance.

 

There seemed a certain cunning and knowledge abiding within Syd's seemingly distanced thoughts. I frequently mused concerning his formidability opposed to his sanctity, for surely he must have been concerted  for reasons unknown except unto hisself. As oddly as he presented his existence with such a crass demeanor, he was capable of wiining an individual's begrudged compliance and favor at a glance...perhaps. out of irritation; perhaps, out of fear...never out of respect did they comply.

 

When young, Syd was a jockey. Winning few horse races run, it seemed his mind must have revolved within his past. Rarely speaking audibly, mumbling to himself was his decided form of communication...intelligible as his feeble mind cared to produce. He, excelled, however, within his equine responsibilities...and in naught else. I mounted Chessie, informing Syd I should be arriving back to the estate before dusk.

Syd needed not speak; words were naught within his  pleasure.

 

 

CHAPTER VI

 

As I kept the mare's gait at a walk while leaving the estate, I perceived the jaunt ahead of me an undesirable task. Hoping to return to the shelter of my manor before dusk, I agonized at such a task as was handed me by my Uncle Monroe. 'Twas a quest for my enlightenment concerning peculiar circumstances as yet unrevealed. The five mile trek before me offered sufficient ticks of the clock to imagine all but the best of outcomes. And what key?...what silver key would be of import to me, I wondered.

 

Several dirt paths, over-grown with weeds were available for my travel...nothing more. My bearings were derived by the mere compass within my mind. We...Wolf, Chessie and me came upon a meadow I recalled quite fondly. Abounding in heather...as fragrant as a special Spring. A certain Spring entered my mind. This was the meadow in which I had first kissed my betrothed. Coincidences being rare, one had reared...my betrothed, later becoming my bride, was named Heather. Heather or Thistle?, I mused, as she was absent from my life at present.

 

Approaching the pond at the bottom of the meadow, I dismounted. Withdrawing an apple form my satchel, I offered it to Chessie who eagerly accepted the fruit from my hand. Wolf and Chessie drank from the pond, however, I declined such....instead I took a sip of laudanum chasing it down with rye. Out of courtesy, I relieved myself downstream from where they were drinking. I lit my pipe, my mind drifting.

 

My thoughts focused upon the individuals inhabiting my estate. Had I been a philosopher or a doctor of the mind 'twould such have blessed me a tad of understanding concerning their idiosyncratic behaviours?  Lunatics all, I presumed, forfeiting further contemplation. Proceeding onward with my biased analysis and conclusion, still I found such inbred figments of humanity unworthy of existence. Then, I stopped and pondered...was it the bottles and the pipe leading me to such declarations of judgement? Or was it my perception of myself I poured out upon the ground concerning my lineal persuasion? 

 

CHAPTER VII

 

Heather was a sweet remembrance, growing into a panic of sorts within my soul from losing her. She lent stability and reason to the estate, through her some times flippant though cautious demeanor. Her wit and charm were surpassed by her elegant poise and her loveliness of appearance. She graced our home with an ambiance of light and splendor by her mere presence. Heather was an aura of hope and assurance pervading any environment she invaded.

Odd it seems I won her hand. Aye, married we were. Being somewhat roguish, yet timid within Heather’s presence, I fumbled clumsily throughout our courtship. We were married for several years…still to this day we were wed. Her absence made my heart moan and grieve, as I hoped for relief within some just fashion. My insistence of denial she had abandoned me waxed and waned as a shameless moon hung in a midnight sky lacking stars.

I remember well, the morn Syd drew our carriage round to the front stoop of our mansion. The household was still and quiet...somber in atmosphere as if Heather's departure was causing a forlorn and uneasy feeling throughout every room of the estate. A single tear dropped from Heather's chin, as we stood in the vestibule. Without a word she took me to her breast and kissed me gently. I felt her upper lip quiver. Heather whispered but one word to me..."Love."

I walked her to the coach, knowing she was within well-intentioned hands. Syd thought highly of my wife or so it seemed. He showed Heather naught but respect. To me, that was suspicious at best. Heather's more than ample auburn hair was in curls and braids...she looked a queen. She was to arrive by coach at Ayr on the western coast of Scotland. Once there, she was to board a parcel ship, naught much more than a schooner or frigate. A sailing ship quite suitable for her purposes and capable of proper navigation.

I opened the door to the coach, helping her safely inside. Kissing her hand...then, her cheek,...then, her lips. I was at a lack of words. I looked down: I looked up. Heather looked directly into me eyes...into my soul, as she said, "I must." She was to traverse the ocean to America. Her destination was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was to have naught such a long stay. Visiting her ailing mother, Eileen, was her objective and determined effort. I thought of the old woman...Heather's mum. Knowing well, contempt regardless of reason contaminates the soul...it can be contagious, infectious...festering, and often lethal...I reasoned within myself love and hate must remain unbridled, as such emotions lack ability to dwell harmoniously in tandem...one will strangle or stifle the other beyond redemption. Conscience outweighs the iniquity of indiscretion, however, leading to repentance of a sort within most but the absolute wicked individuals. The vile are the evil,  regardless of how you arrange the letters of each word...the meaning is congruently identical.

 

CHAPTER VIII

It was my intention to skirt the forest’s perimeter on my way to appear before Uncle Monroe. The Caledonian Forest, it was…positioned above the Allt Rudah. The great, ancient establishment of pines presented an atmosphere consisting of friendly enchantment yet yielded a foreboding element within its attitude. This particular troupe of trees had well-founded and established its domain as one of dominance over the elements of weather as well as conquering the passage of time. Primeval in nature, 'twas a temperate rain forest offering all which could be expected of such.

Noticing a path of sorts through the forest I had never seen before, I sharply tugged Chessie’s reigns to the left. We headed west through the vast, captive menagerie of flora and foliage. The floor of the forest was dry, brittle…crisp…certainly, a carpet of mirth were the fallen pine needles, as the sweet yet curt aroma sensually lulled me.

Streams of white sunlight shown down through the canopy above, in a preordained array displayed within a brilliance of design. A bewildered-looking fawn appeared within our path. Seeing naught but a doe nor stag nearby, I dismounted Chessie. Wolf, contemplating he had found his next meal within the fawn slowly began advancing. I shouted at Wolf, “Wolf!…Naught!”. Reluctantly, Wolf obeyed. Reaching into my satchel, I retrieved an apple.

Stealthily, and within an assuring and unassuming manner, I approached the frightened, baby beast. ‘twas a stag fawn, as I eventually discovered. The babe of a deer eagerly accepted my offering. After partaking of the fare it gently nuzzled my leg. I remounted Chessie. The fawn was at my heel. It was apparent I had inadvertently adopted the creature.

I looked down at the fawn, saying, “Be well, be safe.”. It looked up at me as though I had smitten it. It reared on its hind legs, while making a sound I had never heard from a deer. We resumed our trek….four beleaguered travelers now, as we had acquired a new addition to our most odd congregation of personalities. ‘twas it kismet, karma or sheer misguided destiny earned by the lot of us…each deserving and sharing the fate of the other?

I looked down at the fawn, saying, “Be well, be safe.”. It looked up at me as though I had smitten it. It reared on its hind legs, while making a sound I had never heard from a deer. We resumed our trek….four beleaguered travelers now, as we had acquired a new addition to our most odd congregation of personalities. ‘twas it kismet, karma or sheer misguided destiny earned by the lot of us…each deserving and sharing the fate of the other?

 Wolf was always to the right of me. The fawn stayed at my left, nipping at my boot and stirrup frequently. The thought of spurring it crossed my mind several times, though I refrained from such. A slight gust of wind blew through the treetops, causing a pinecone to drop from above. The cone rebounded from Chessie’s head. Within seeming indignation at such an assault, Chessie snorted and whinnied as she shook her head side to side.

Having observed such, Wolf lowered her head and emitted a sound resembling a chuckle or so I imagined. After all, I had been smoking my pipe whilst we plodded along. ‘twas a strange form of tobacco given to me by a colleague…a fellow-writer. His prose was of excellent value and import yet he seemed a bit strange at times concerning personal issues, values, and morals. I judged him naught, as my own iniquities ran deep in other aspects of attempt at survival of reality and the dealings thereof. My friend, Silas, traveled frequently to places obscure. The smoking mixture he bestowed on me as gifting on his behalf was a generous portion from Columbia within South America.

CHAPTER IX:

Something was amiss within the walls of timbers surrounding our flanks. There was a heaviness within the air, as sounds began intruding upon our tranquility. With naught but 100 yards to render us free of the forest, calamity was about to pursue and claim our spirit of contentment. Whatever was approaching us lacked a semblance of anything humankind. Nervously, I pulled up on Chessie’s reins pent upon rationalizing the situation. We stopped. We remained silent.

The entire forest was mute, except for the anomaly’s declarations of superiority, and rightful ownership which we were supposedly trespassing upon…such were threatening screeches of indignant yet pitiful notes as that of a wounded creature having the misfortune of being snared within a trapper’s cruel device of slow death.

The ground beneath us trembled slightly. A sound of cracking tree limbs began. I looked at Wolf; he looked at me. The hair on his back was standing vertical. Attempting to howl... his defiance was but as a whimper. I drew my revolver, firing 3 shots in the direction of whatever was drawing nearer. I shouted, “Go! Now!”, as I spurred Chessie. Off we went, faster than lightning yet created! 

 

CHAPTER X:

We reached the clearing which lead to a downhill slope toward the spring and creek below. I pulled up sharply on the mare’s reins. I shouted, “Hold!”. My fear somehow turned into curiosity as well as anger…I wanted to see the beast leading us into retreat. I whispered, “Be still.” My comrades within direst of straights obeyed, not to their liking.

It emerged from the forest…all three-foot nothing of itself. I dismounted, as the creature advanced. A piece of shortbread to be made here, thought I. I looked down at it; it looked up at me. With that it screeched, leaping up and down and from side to side. I politely requested of the bugger, “Could you please refrain from displaying such a rude, brackish attitude?!”. I knew it could not understand me yet it sensed my meaning. With that, the little bastard knocked over a 30-foot tall tree with one slight push of its hand. I tried to appear unimpressed yet I about soiled my undergarments.

Within a soothing voice, I asked it, “Don’t you realize your race is supposedly extinct, you bloody, Cro-Magnon pygmy at best?” I perceived the creature’s reluctance to parley with my rhetoric, as it bared it’s sharply, pointed teeth to me. Under my breath, I said, “Okay.” Shrugging my shoulders, I looked at my troops…I shouted to them, “Take it down!”

I violently and drastically stomped on its left foot with the heel of my boot. Wolf followed suit and began attempting to chew its right foot from its leg. Fawn, which was now his name bequeathed by me due to my lack of originality concerning names for animals, was gnawing at its derriere. Chessie, I named simply because she was chestnut in color. Heather must have named Snare the Siamese feline. Chess joined the fray…she gave the beast an upward swing of her head, nosing it directly in its groin, sending it airborne five feet down the embankment outside of the forest proper.

We rushed to discover the intentional damage we rendered unto our adversary. Convinced I would cause our foe more injury, upon this next confrontation between us, I paused. This anomaly, prostrate before me was naught of victory in any fashion for humanity. I tried to hold back tears. What is defeat if it costs you more than you can forebear? Cradling the creature to my chest, I held onto Chessie’s mane wondering what had we accomplished.

I felt an instinct betraying my initial intentions throughout me. I noticed this creature was of female gender as it bore breasts…such caused even more regret within me. Once she revived, I provided her sips of rye. Her vile stench revolted me, as her bathing habits were most likely non-existent. I offered her an apple she eagerly accepted. A tear fell from her eye; I wiped it dry. I named her Cro. Placing her upon the mare’s saddle, I led Chessie by her reins as we walked down toward the water below us.

 

CHAPTER XI

Clear, clean, white water gushed from the hillside spring emptying into a small lagoon of sorts Gathering at the edge of the oasis, we quenched our thirst. There, I renamed Cro. Maggie was to be her name hence forward. Feeling compelled to baptize the beast into cleanliness, I booted her into the water. To my surprise she began to swim….quite graceful were her movements. Arriving upon the shore, she shook her body as a canine often does when wetted. Wiping the liquid stench from my brow, I winced, taking a drink of rye whilst stomping the ground with one foot. Following suite, Maggie stomped the ground as well, causing a splash of muddy water to corrupt my entire face.

Looking at her sternly I said, “You are a parade of the ultimate arse!” With that, Maggie kicked my legs out from underneath me and I fell squarely upon the turf. Knowing naught what to say or do, I withdrew my bottle of laudanum from my vest pocket, and relished that swig. My composure restored standing to my feet, I looked down at Maggie. Perplexedly, I questioned her, “Are you a bitch of complex, ancient wisdom or are you quite simply a bitch of pulchritudinous ignorance?” Maggie stormed off within a tantrum toward the nearby thicket, howling as she went. Assuming I’d seen the total withdrawal of her presence was a dull delusion on my behalf.

I took up Chessie’s reins while mounting. Glancing at Wolf and Fawn, I nodded my head to the side, saying, “We will go.” It seemed a lapse of time had evaded me, as dusk was approaching rapidly. Yet a mile and a stroll to realize our destination. Assuming Fawn’s eventual departure was deft within my reasoning. We were what we had become…together…yet, perhaps, apart within our instinctive perceptions.

 

CHAPTER XII

Heather stumbled into my mind again, as she had built up a penchant of appearing to me in such a fashion…most assuredly of my own device. Thought I, “Certain individuals never return to one…and some entities refuse returning unto themselves.” The broken crest of a wave, watered by love, turned its riptide downward causing a whirlpool of possible deception created from some unknown passion of dysfunction. Nevertheless, regret and remorse console but naught.

 

Yet it seemed a dream of misconception, belonging naught within its stance…the lingering aroma of a rose withered swift within its glory. My loss was less than contagious…a feeling felt only by me. Some produce the petal, and some will grow the thorn. And never through intention was I cast down within her presence...always glowing, naught to jeering…her love for me had always been within a propensity of care. And still I dreamt of doves on wing…so pleasant was her love. My heart was dark…shade had fallen. Answers to my pleas remained silent. Only shadows of a fashion remained, of what was before.

 

A rustling within the underbrush startled me, and brought me forthright back into reality. Something leaped upon Wolf’s back causing him dismay. That something was white; that something was Snare… my Siamese cat. Wolf adjusted herself, allowing the feline to ride upon her back. Rolling my eyes, I shouted, “Shite! What brought you out here?!” No answer lest a smile of sorts. I was beginning to feel as shepherd of the non-represented…perhaps, of the misrepresented misfits of fauna. Time was out to care. I shrugged my shoulders, lighting my pipe...an odd but pleasing mixture it was, I mused to myself.

 

Chapter XIII

Betwixt and between the laudanum, rye, and smoke I pondered had I fallen into a slumber of sorts by the waters. Certainly, I should have been alert through it all yet the hours had passed too quickly. Darkness was falling, as I approached what appeared to be a path of ancient design comprised of the texture of kidney pudding.

 

I opted to choose it, noticing lack of options. Supposing it lead to the location of Uncle Monroe’s cottage, we proceeded down the lane of earthen porridge. I had only visited my uncle once before. I became quite uncertain of my bearings concerning proper direction toward my goal. A tad of panic became a lecher unto me. Throwing such off, with a toast to my queen, I saluted the evening sky with a downing of rye.

 

The moon shining brighter than the sun and stars, ‘twas full to it’s waxing…enticing, yet cruel within its domineering decree of shadows cast for all. And so we journeyed onward…tired and spent but yet to fall.

 

Light ahead, I spotted, as I drew into my nostrils the scent of burning logs of spruce. My uncle’s domain was less than within walking proximity of our position. I patted Chessie on her neck and looked at my following of creatures and said aloud, “What is uncle to think?” They responded naught as they must have assumed I knew what I was about. So should it have been within tales and fables of yore and lore.

 

We plodded toward my uncle’s cottage slowly and deliberately. All I could recall was urgency on the behalf of Uncle Monroe for me to receive a silver key…a silver key to what…for what?!

 

Chapter XIV

And so Heather came to me but again...to my spirit and naught else. To lose such grief would bring a sigh of relief from my lips. Yet day and night, pain found its way to me, nestling and settling within my uncomfortable moments of doubt and darkness. What is to be lost by a loss? Philanthropic intentions toward the malevolent breeds contempt within the benevolent, renting their love into hatred through carnality of spirit.

Repentance of a beast might solemnly denounce release of insurance within redemption…and all it rallies is self-contempt within its path, inclining such a rue to forward all of us toward hell of our fashion.

Overdriven of mind, heart, and spirit might seem overwhelming to the soul until sanctification solidifies within its intended fashion. The deeper I delve into, and dwell within such conviction of purpose, the lighter and the darker maximize their reason for being. Bearing fruit from a rotting vine holds but subtle blessing of rebuke.

Life's centrifuge of cascading humility purges curd from the milk, and  maggots from the flesh. Leeches of our own design drain that which is wholesome and nourishes, scattering our bones as worthless, dry twigs of despair at a deadly cost to those who dare love us.

Racing within sophism, my mind was relentless within its task of devouring my pride and prestige of the character remaining intact within me. Laudanum, rye, and the pipe should set this proper, thought I. And yet the damnable desire to escape was truly outside of my grasp... slippery...beyond my reach or control.

Sophism is a blinding torch of darkness, deceiving the weak into lower depths. Casting a stone of perpetual harm might rebound, penetrating one’s solitude of pleasure and dignity. And who is to enjoy the benefit of defamation of a living soul?

 

Bastardizing well devised intentions might bastardize one’s self. Judging is naught for judges of mankind who remain flesh, sinews, blood, and bones. Censorious is the like manner of manure-minded hypocrites of “self-worth”, denunciating the hearth of goodness for the pleasure of inducing pain from their treacherous furnace of wickedness.

 

And so with such thoughts, I dismounted Chessie, approaching Uncle Monroe’s cottage. I turned to my following and softy said to them, “All is well…patience for a bit.” A feeling of calm it was, seeing trust within their eyes. Their eagerness and anticipation was a joy to cherish. I ingested the remainder of my rye and laudanum, as I hoped for the best of possible outcomes.

Bitches and bastards of who knew what, our “quaint” congregation gathered round my uncle’s entrance “Lord, please bless this task before me.”, I whispered. Knocking several times upon the oaken door, I heard the latch slide. Telling myself I must be gracious and kind, the door opened with a screech of rusting iron.

“Alvin!”,  he said to me, “So nice to see you after such a spell apart!”. “Uncle, my name is Alston, your nephew.”, I explained. As he hugged me, he retorted, “Yes, Alan… come in ,my son.

His embrace was genuine; his manner was unique. His breath smelled of ale as he spoke. He grinned, saying, “You must stay the night. ‘Tis too dangerous to travel through the dark of such a night. Stay a fortnight if you so wish. We have much to discuss.

 

And what is this entourage of mongrels you have at your fore?” Wolf bared her teeth and let out a guttural response of indignation. Uncle Monroe then disapprovingly muttered,  “Do you own this montage?” Sternly, I replied, “I own but not a one of such souls…I am but a steward of what and who surrounds me within this temporary situation of life.”

 

Uncle Monroe’s voice became a bit brash, reminding me he was my father’s brother after all…demanding and distaining were their calling cards. Testing me, he was; he wished to temper my metal. Uncle asked of me, “And who is this mutt, this hound you call your own?”, pointing at Wolf, “And who incorporates a dog within their life?”

 

I turned to Wolf, saying,“Up.” Wolf came to my chest, as I patted her head. Once again she bared her teeth and growled toward my uncle. I said to Wolf, “Naught.”

 

Glaring at my uncle I told him, “This is but a wolf; she is my friend.” He turned his head aside, saying, “Come in, Alphonse.” Such I did. Uncle Monroe told me, “Are you prepared to sup?…I’ve mutton stew and bread of corn.

 

“I shall not dine until my animals have had their fill.”, said I. “Uncle, is there a place to purchase provisions nearby?”, I asked. “Indeed, and the proprietor to visit is a friend of mine going by the name of Cameron. Simply follow the path you rode in on and there his shop shall be located, my uncle replied, “He’s a bit of a crotch although reasonably dishonest.”

 

I requested, “Uncle, watch after Snare, the feline. Do not let her wander. Keep her inside?”. His reply was “Yes, Alex, yes, I will do such. As for the remainder of your flock, the deer must reside in my stable with your mare. The dog, the feline,…and you… may rest under this roof.  Also, your friendly deer is a stag, a buck…, a doe?…naught. And you will find grain, oats, and hay plentiful within my barn as well as a water trough clean and pleasant. Your animals will share that barn with Sam and Clara, my goats….besides the snakes, bats, and the occasional owl or so. The rats aren’t a problem, as the owls tend to such.”

 

“Sounds wonderfully perfect, Uncle Monroe”, I muttered under my breath. Before departing, I turned to my uncle saying, “Throw the mutton to the pigs of naught. Prepare for a feast. Fire the hearth.” My uncle looked at Wolf and me, saying, “And get that mutt out of here!” Wolf was unpleased; so was I.

 

Off we went…to the shop of Cameron’s…Chessie, Wolf, and me.

Wolf and me entered the rickety, wooden shop of  Cameron. “Good evening, sir.”, I proclaimed, “Are you  obliged to do business?” He stated with a low tone,...”Get that mutt out of my shop!. Now!” He was pointing his index finger at me, shaking it in my face. I turned to Wolf; Wolf turned to me. I said calmly to Wolf, “This is not right, is it?” “Up!” I shouted. Wolf put her paws upon the counter, staring the proprietor down with her steely, blue eyes, snarling viciously whilst baring her fangs. I replied, “No, “your majesty”, ‘tis you who shall remove my friend from your establishment. Point that finger at me one more time and you will not have a finger to point at anyone ever again.”

 “Now, sir,”, I said reservedly, “We will leave you in peace or we will leave you in pieces…you decide, jackal. Fill my order. I shall pay adequately and fairly. Cameron’s attitude changed instantly and within drastic form. From my vest pocket, I withdrew a list of items required by me. Tossing that paper onto his counter, I plunged into it my dagger. I said to him, calmly, “Do not touch my blade lest it touches you.”

"I'll require a cart to tow behind my mare.", said I. Cameron apologizing, said to me, "I have no cart, sir." "I asked , "What is that I see outside of your storefront window? It looks like a cart to me." "That is *my* cart, sir." "Pack my order properly and load that cart you professed to have naught. I shall return your cart within tomorrow's noon. I will pay you handsomely."

Off we went…to the shop of Cameron’s…Chessie, Wolf, and me.

Wolf and me entered the rickety, wooden shop of  Cameron. “Good evening, sir.”, I proclaimed, “Are you  obliged to do business?” He stated with a low tone,...”Get that mutt out of my shop!. Now!” He was pointing his index finger at me, shaking it in my face. I turned to Wolf; Wolf turned to me. I said calmly to Wolf, “This is not right, is it?” “Up!” I shouted. Wolf put her paws upon the counter, staring the proprietor down with her steely, blue eyes, snarling viciously whilst baring her fangs. I replied, “No, “your majesty”, ‘tis you who shall remove my friend from your establishment. Point that finger at me one more time and you will not have a finger to point at anyone ever again.”

 “Now, sir,”, I said reservedly, “We will leave you in peace or we will leave you in pieces…you decide, jackal. Fill my order. I shall pay adequately and fairly. Cameron’s attitude changed instantly and within drastic form. From my vest pocket, I withdrew a list of items required by me. Tossing that paper onto his counter, I plunged into it my dagger. I said to him, calmly, “Do not touch my blade lest it touches you.”

"I'll require a cart to tow behind my mare.", said I. Cameron apologizing, said to me, "I have no cart, sir." "I asked , "What is that I see outside of your storefront window? It looks like a cart to me." "That is *my* cart, sir." "Pack my order properly and load that cart you professed to have naught. I shall return your cart within tomorrow's noon. I will pay you handsomely."

Cameron replied, "I believe a constable should be present." I retorted, "I believe constipation of your mouth would serve you well at this time, and I think your mother was a harlot...a whore of  sorts, living within shameless piety." Looking down at Wolf, I asked her, "What do you think, Wolf?" Wolf looked up, growling within anticipation of a kill. Staring Cameron down, whilst retrieving my loaded flintlock and aiming it at his crotch, I questioned him, "Is this the day and way you wish to end?"

In a huff, Cameron, said, "Well, I never...". I replied, "I thought naught. And you'll never get the chance to do such if you don't change your attitude. "What did I do to you to make you so angry, sir", he asked sheepishly. "You insulted my friend; apologize to her...NOW!" "I will not apologize to a dog!," he indignantly stated. I replied, "This is naught a dog but a wolf, sir. Apologize to her or she shall sup on you!"

Cameron bent over, doing his best to repent to Wolf. He stretched out his hand to stroke her head. "Do not defile my friend with your touch should you prefer to keep your hand intact.", said I. I said to Cameron, "Enough,...you need not grovel any longer. Now get this transaction completed as I wish to leave here soon. "Find your respect, sir, within those you love...those depending upon the fondness you offer them within unconditional honor and respect."  With that I booted him in his arse ,... he became prostrate upon the floor. Wolf licked Cameron's face. I reasoned, within my mind, if Wolf can forgive,...so  can I forgive.

So I lifted the poor, beleaguered fellow to his feet. Then Cameron said to me, "You are but shite!" Within instinct, I struck him squarely upon his face, causing him unconsciousness. Wolf looked at me, groaning softly. I looked at Wolf, shrugged my shoulders, and said to her..."This happens, sometimes." Her eyes looked back at me ,uncertain within her belief.

Wolf, said, I, "Wake him." So she urinated on Cameron's face and brought him back to life, truly uncaring about the preservation of his life.

“What do I owe you, sir?”, I politely inquired. “Two pounds, seven”, he replied. I threw a handful of gold coins upon his counter. “That covers it and more.”, said I. Timidly he replied, “You shall here from the constable concerning your rude, ungentlemanly-like behaviour.” “Oh, fear of fears.”, said I, in a demeaning tone.

I turned to Wolf, saying to her, “Remember his scent; remember this place.” Cameron retorted, “You are but a silly man talking with a dog.” I turned to Wolf again, telling her, “He called you a dog, Wolf. What should we do?”. Wolf went into a mode of frantic and fuming insanity, breaking glass and tearing down shelves within Cameron’s shop. Wolf, returning to me for approval looked up at me. I kneeled down, patted her sides, and simply said, “Good girl…he is for shite…no need to kill him…yet…there’s an hour for that later….timing is a gift.”.

Looking at Cameron, I asked, “Is my cart prepared?”. “Yes, sir,”, he replied. “Then our business here is completed. We shall be leaving now. I shall return your cart at noontime.” Scolding me, Cameron said,”Remember, the constable shall hear of this!”

Glibly, I replied, “Does your constable wish to perish as well?” Cameron replied, “You make no sense.” I retorted, “Oh, yes, we make perfect sense.” Cameron asked, “What do you mean…“we”?” “Take a look to my side, lass.” Fuming, Cameron exclaimed, “You call me female?!”

“I call you as I perceive you. Roll your dice to snake-eyes again, should you dare.”, said I. Wolf and me approached the door to exit. Glancing back at Cameron, I said to him, “Oh, I wish to leave you a tip…you’ll find it on the floor.” He looked down finding nothing, as I threw my dagger at him, slicing off the tip of his right ear being my exact intention. I softly said to Cameron, “Sleep warm, and remember Wolf roams nightly and she knows where you live.” “You are beyond impudent, you bloody bastard!”, shouted Cameron. “Who is bleeding, sir?”, I asked him, as I gently closed his storefront door.

Chapter XV 

Whilst hitching the cart to Chessie, the town constable approached me. “Son, are you a thief or a vagrant?” Within a most “sincere” and pleasant voice, I replied, “Neither, sir. I am upstanding within all virtue, I assure you.” “Where do you reside?”, demanded the constable. “On land, my “highness”, as do you.”

 Sternly, the constable retorted, “Your wit is not appreciated nor contagious, lad!” “Constable, I am staying with my Uncle Monroe Johnston but for a single night, this being that…you must know of him, do you naught?”

 “Go about your task. I know where to seek you...should need be. And be sure to take that mangy mutt with you when you leave my town!”  I tried concealing my grimace as I seethed beneath my breath; Wolf did likewise. Tightening Chessie’s cinch to the last eyelet of the loop, I stood up. Staring directly into the constable’s eyes, I stated to him, “’twas but my pleasure, sir…I’m most pleased we know where to find you…should need be. May your rest be assured within this very evening”.

Chapter XVI

 

The cart having been packed to almost overflowing, Wolf, Chessie, and me proceeded on our way back to Uncle Monroe’s residence. His cottage was built into a hillside. The roof was but earthen bearing a chimney protruding from its peak. Logs of timber at the front fortified his structure.

 

It took but several minutes returning there. His door was open. I entered. “How was your exchange, Alfred?”, he asked of me. Rolling my eyes, I replied, “Quite pleasant, uncle.” “Please, allow me to unload the cart and feed, water, and tend those souls of mine”, I replied, “…we shall have many hours remaining for us after finishing.”

 

“Where is Fawn?”, asked I. His reply was, “How should I know such?” Asking my uncle yet another question, “And where is Snare?” He replied, “By the hearth.” “What do you provide your goats?, I asked. “Anything suitable.”, he replied.

 

“This evening they dine on mutton.”, said I, lifting the  pot of stew from the fireplace.” “In which case what shall we sup upon, Alvin?” The hearth is heated,…prepare a spit.”, said I, “I shant be but brief.” Uncle Monroe huffed within disbelief, shaking his head within a negative fashion.

 

I proceeded to the cart, returning quickly with a leg of lamb, handing it to my uncle. Placing 3 bottles of bourbon upon his mantel, I returned to my tasks. Outside, I unwrapped the second leg of lamb I had purchased, placing it upon the ground for Wolf to devour. Such she accomplished, and I dared not stroke her at this time of indulgence.

 

The stable was but in disaster…about to collapse. Yet, the water was clean, filtered by a spring…and the food offered for livestock was lacking mold and perversion. Fawn was there, laying with Sam and Clara, the goats. Odd, thought I. After unsaddling Chessie and releasing her from the cart, I led her to fresh water, oats and hay. I placed the kettle of mutton where the goats could find such.

 

Returning to Uncle Monroe’s home, there was still much to be unpacked from the cart. Wolf was nowhere to be found. I called out her name. Off in the distance, I heard her howl; I knew she would return in the morrow if she could.

 

Opening his door I was surprised seeing a leg of lamb roasting on the spit. Uncle Monroe said to me, “You should complete your work, as we must talk.” “I’m all but finished, uncle…in more ways than one…and I can see you enjoy bourbon as half of a full bottle has vanished.” He looked at me slyly, saying, “I never did trust felines…too thirsty, they are. Don’t you know?”

 

Chapter XVII

                                     <To Be Continued>



 

 

              

 

                                                                               

 

                                       

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                            

 

 

                                                             

                                                             

 

                               

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