"Fire By Proxy"

                                                         {Dusk Till Dawn; Last To Least}

                                                                by David R Moenich

 

   Copyright 2017 David R Moenich

 

-All Rights Reserved-

 

Description: Fiction...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

Reflecting upon the imprtance

 

                                                       

 

 

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