The Devil & Georges Servan Aballaird – Part Six

Posted: June 1, 2015 in Short stories, starts & writing, The Devil & Georges Servan Aballaird
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Herakles & Theseus look on

In a quiet lane, between Dowell’s and Haworth’s I reckoned, not far from home, my old friend Martin Foy stood before me with his head in his hands.
“Martin? Why are ye weepin’?”
He gave no reply. A little bird standing out on top of a naked bush caught my eye. A little orange, black and white stonechat. It gave a little whistle followed by three tapping noises and flew off in a little burr of blurring wings. It wasn’t the slightest bit concerned with our affairs, offered no hint that it even noticed our presence. Why was Martin ignoring me?
“Look at me, will ye. I’ve not seen ye this past… and you standin’ aloof there.”
He dropped his hands to his sides and looked at me with tears dripping from his eyes. I had never seen him like this before.
“Ah, Harley! Yer like me own brother, ye know that. And yer mine still, for all yer misery.”
“What? What misery? What are ye talkin’ about? Why are ye crying, Martin?”
I tried to stretch out my arm to grip his shoulder but found that my hands were tied with a cord through an iron ring in the wall near where I stood. What was this then?
“Wha – why am I tied…,” but Martin interrupted.
“Do ye really not know? Tis enough to make the good Lord weep were he to…” He trailed off and staggered away from me. What was he talking about? Smoke hung in the air and I could hear voices around about.
“Oh no! Not your dog! Not Spot! But we…” The fire at the mill had been days… weeks ago… Hadn’t it? I shook my head.
“No, Har’. Not Spot,” he replied.
“Ah, I knew it. None would be so bold to make that assertion; that the Indomitable Spot had met his match.”
I felt so confused. I tried a smile, but the scowl Martin gave me in return showed he was having none of it and the smile flickered and died from my face.
“Well, go on then, Martin. Explain what has happened. And why are my hands tied?”
“Your own eyes can see, Harley. Or are your senses still gone? See for yourself.” And he waved an arm carelessly in the direction of the street.
“What, Martin?” He had me at a loss. “Fill in this sketch, will ye. The picture is unclear to me.”
“Unclear to ye?” he shouted. “I’ll explain, Harley Goff, shall I? But you’re as mad as a hell-fiend if you don’t know yourself what’s happened.”
More dark hints to excite my suspicions, but not a clue showed itself to me. I shook my head again and looked about.
Martin turned on me and barked, “Are ye drunk, are ye, Harley? Or are ye really mad?”
“I don’t think I’m mad, Martin. But I…” The cord dug into my wrists as I pulled it taught. The iron ring gave a dull rattle and Martin shouted even louder.
“Did ye not see the corpse of ye child, Harley? Did ye not see what was left? Meg, Harley! Did ye not see Meg!”
These phrases meant nothing to me, but everything at the same time, and when I pictured my beloved Meg and our little cinnamon babe it was like someone had suddenly and simultaneously stabbed me in the guts with an icy dagger and stomped on my head.
I tried to speak but words would not form, my thoughts a chaotic scribble of writhing nonsense when I closed my eyes, so all I managed was a strangled, staring groan.
What was Martin saying to me? The corpse of my child? How could that be?
“Some unnatural war has come upon yer wife and child, my son.”
He paced away a few steps and then stopped and said, “And some god, but none I know. That fallen one; he’s the one’s to blame.”
War? What was he talking about now? “Who…” I felt like I was spinning. Had some plague or pestilence come to my home and taken my family?
From some several yards distant Martin hissed in reply, “You, Harley!”
His eyes were red with crying below his heavy, heavy brow and as he stared with a hatred I had never seen in the man he growled, “You and the Devil!”

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