I Will Visit With You by B. B. Wright

Sail Boat in Mist OneToday, I have finally returned. I thought it had only been three years since I was last here but my neighbors, John and Ruth, just told me it’s been eight. They said they had pictures to prove it.

My askance expression must have been the reason that they pressed their point so vehemently. Ruffling their feathers was definitely not in my agenda nor, I must add, was perusing photos I knew too well.

Still, John’s Type A personality pressed the issue forward as he entered his cottage returning in short time with the photo album. He thrust it in my direction. I backed away. Or should I say, rolled away. Not wanting to be rude nor in need of their pity, I mustered a smile and, in the most pleasant way I knew how, suggested that I would gladly look at their photos upon my return from the beach. Though, in all honesty, I possessed no such intention.

More crow-like than human John and Ruth looked down their beaks at me. It was as if they could read my true intention. I would have sworn at that very moment if they had been party to a murder of crows they would have poked my eyes out. Grasping the wheels on either side of my wheelchair I slowly maneuvered onto the flat stone pathway. Still smiling of course, I glanced back and gave them a begrudging but cheery wave and hastily escaped toward the beach, my crutches rattling at my back.

At the path’s end I stopped and locked the wheels. Lifting my legs one at a time I dropped my sandaled feet onto the pristine, plump white sand. Before me, the fresh water of Lake Huron stretched out in either direction and touched the horizon like one vast ocean.

The refreshing coolness of the onshore breeze washed over me. I was mesmerized by the lazy to and fro pendulum of the lapping waves upon the shore, sweeping in and then out again.

But, I know there is a witch beneath the Lake’s rolling surface. She can turn waves from minutes to hours when the gales come slashing. Today, at this moment, she is kind.

Pushing myself up and onto my crutches I take time to catch my breath. The ha-ha-ha-ha of seagulls overhead floods my mind with memories. Thirty meters in front of me, the dock stretches lonely into the water. Punching my walking aids into the sand, I will myself forward. Aft of me, deep, wavy lines through the sand bear witness to my journey.

My boat is shrouded in mist. At the helm, the gossamer image of my friend Tom waves me on; tattooed on his face, as always, was his huge, welcoming smile. Busy at the stern, wearing his Greek fisherman’s hat—he was sensitive about his baldness—Jock glances over his shoulder and nods.

They are no more.

Sadness clouds my very being, my eyes bubble with tears. I think of all the memories I have and all the things we did back then.

Keow the seagulls call. Keow.

My eyes bubble with tears. My mind floods with memories.

The sweet gentle sound of water lapping against the boat’s hull is a gesture from God to my ears. I stop. My heartbeat knits into the tapestry of surrounding, soothing sounds. And, I let them wash through me.

El Niño is responsible for the unseasonably warm weather this time of year, the strongest in fifty years. It occurs when the Trade winds stop moving. Perhaps that is why the Lake is busy with all size of tankers this day.

Ensconced on the deck of my boat—our boat, I sighed in great relief. Much effort was expended by me, a feat worthwhile indeed.

Slurp. Slurp. The boat bobs in the water. And, like a small child in his mother’s arms, I found solace in her cradled rocking.

Why we didn’t turn back that day when the first wave broke over the railing, I do not know. When the rigging screamed out in distress it was too late. The storm was upon us; the witch beneath us was angry and she swallowed us whole.

I do not remember more. I don’t want to remember more.

Memories of my chums lie deep within me; as I breathe so do they.

Why me? Why should I have lived and they not? This is my guilt.

I can only hope the one verse from Amazing Grace, don’t ask me how I remember it,  is true, namely:

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

As time goes by and until the evening tide comes in, I will visit with you, my dear friends, by this dock in the bay watching ships roll by and away again.

Merry Christmas dear friends, I can feel your warmth wrapping around me. Your home-fire, my succor, is a beacon to lead me safely home again.

Advertisements

Part Fifteen of Angel Maker: The Phone Call by B. B. Wright

200-phone
Angel Maker

A Short Story by B. B. Wright

An Inspector Alexander Collier Mystery

Inspector Alexander Collier Mysteries will often provide a choice for the reader. If you want to obtain a greater understanding and/or a ‘feel’ for the period follow the embedded links (high-lighted and underlined) sometimes found in the text of the story. From time to time, I may return to a part of the story to add the link(s).

Part Fifteen
The Phone Call

Kindertransport—the transport of Jewish children out of Nazi occupied Europe—was underway. The first arrivals had disembarked in Harwich on December second. Blindly, Collier and his wife, Lila, had gone with the hope that their son and his fiancé would be among them. But, their hopes had been quickly dashed.

Now, two days before Christmas, Collier still had no word about his son and he was beginning to fear the worst.

He took another file from the top of a stack of files beside him and opened it; like all the others it contained paperwork that could have waited until after Christmas. Ephemeral diversions, they represented a feeble attempt of respite from the emotional turmoil that brewed beneath his carefully crafted calm exterior.

It was 4 p.m. This close to Christmas, Collier would have normally packed up and gone home. But these were not normal times. He had two murders to solve: Rebecca Grynberg and the man in the wardrobe steamer trunk. The week preceding Christmas and the week following New Year were generally set aside for staff  holidays. This year was the exception. During this period, all would follow a schedule of staggered hours designed by he and Sergeant Snowden.

Copies of the fingerprints found on the trunk—promised last month by Detective Inspector Ellis Smyth of Scotland Yard—had still not arrived. After several attempts to obtain them, Collier felt he was being stonewalled and it puzzled him. The lead suspect in that case, Robert McTavish, had disappeared. Corporal Dubin and he had discovered remnants of a well-used make-up kit exclusively associated with thespians in a trash can in the maintenance room of the cinema. Putting together the information from the baggage handler at the train station with this new revelation they quickly concluded that Robert McTavish had been a cleverly contrived disguise. Fingerprints found on the kit were too smudged to be useful.

Collier lit his pipe and sat back in his chair. Was his suspect, he mused, likely to have a repertoire of disguises similar to the actor Lon Chaney—the man of a thousand faces? That, he concluded, was too much to expect.

Collier had already accepted that the Meintner family had gone into hiding with Queenie. Fearful for the lives of their two children, Otto and Lise, time pressed hard against him to find them. Growing self-doubts and feelings of helplessness were beginning to ooze in.

He glanced at the electoral map of Bournemouth. The residents in the northern district had all been accounted for and fingerprinted. But there were no matches to the fingerprints on the Winchester bottle found under Rebecca’s hospital bed.

Collier purged the smoke through his nostrils. He had hoped for the impossible. Catching a break this early and this easily would have painted his Christmas with some color instead of the grey and black of growing depression.

His ruminations were interrupted by the phone ringing on his desk.

“Inspector Collier here,” he said, placing his pipe in the ashtray.

“It’s nice to hear your voice again, Inspector.”

“Captain Hall?” The words stumbled out of his mouth as he attempted to speak through the large lump that had formed in his throat. “My… son…?”

“It’s imperative that we talk, Inspector…Today…and not over the phone.” She insisted. “Richard and Elsa are safe…for the moment.”

“For the moment?” he finally managed to blurt out. “What the hell does that mean “for the moment”?”

Captain Hall did not reply.

“Well, Captain? Loss for words?”

Clearing her throat, she continued. “Have you come across the name: Werner Gruener?”

Collier reflected long and hard before answering. “I can’t say I have. What does he have to do with Richard?”

“Nothing, that is, until two weeks ago when Mrs Elizabeth Stoddard put a direct call through to… ”

“Queenie?” Collier interjected.

“We have much to talk about, Inspector…Much.”