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The churches bell tolled at four pm. This was also the time the ramble of dirty miners wandered into town for their evening sup. The previous hours were filled with the shrieking of chickens as their necks were wrung, then plucked before for frying. Augustus pondered his own demise,  it wouldn't be in the courtyard gallows, no. It would be in this tiny cell, strung up by his own fabricated cord, the last of which was only an hour away. He had resigned himself to his own passing, and the hours of crying and supplication had turned to accepting his fate.

The grubby hoard began trudging through the street, amassing in front of the Plucked Chook,  where their evening ritual of feasting and drinking would begin. Augustus envied their freedom,  a freedom he once enjoyed. His paintings of the ugly children would cease. And he would leave this world knowing he'd left his mark, with this grotesque collection of work. His only lament was not being able to finish his masterpiece, of the now destroyed landscape,  he'd spent so many years toiling over.

The laughter and bawdy rumblings from across the street, made Augustus grin. He knew of those days when he was young, and he, himself partook of such revelry. He bit at his nails and spat them over his shoulder, as his nervousness returned. It wouldn't be long now, and his wretched existence would cease. His slight grin faded into a somber stare at the black stone floor, and he began to silently weep.

An hour later the squeak of the gaol door above ment his last meal was on its way, along with the coveted cloth serviette he needed to facilitate his passing. He thought he would eat slowly, savouring every bite, before the time came to finish his earthly mission. Instead of the portly matron, a new face was standing before his cell, a handsome woman about his age, with a kind look and a gentle smile. She passed the chook feast through the meal slot and then stood with her hands grasping one another. She introduced herself as Olga, and backed up to sit on the visitors bench. Augustus was thankful to have a visit from anyone, and he began to eat his final meal with contemplation after a briefly mumbled prayer.

She spoke to him with a compassionate voice, and told how she too, had recently been incarcerated. She told him how she had passed by his cell window, and was moved by his laments. She told how her daughter had gone missing at the hands of a devious elitist, who she had scarred before being put away for assault. She then inquired how Augustus had landed in the clink. Augustus paused from eating and wiped his greasy mouth. He told her how his favourite landscape had been destroyed by an elite scoundrel and in a fit of rage, how he had bludgeoned him to death, with his painting stool. She asked if he'd painted anything she may have seen, and he introduced himself as the painter of Ugly Children Augustus Wilson Pettigrew. Olgas mouth dropped, she had heard his name while being told of Ainsley Templeton's murder. This was the man who snatched the vengeance from her hands. At first she was enraged, then realised that this man had removed the most hated person in her life. She told him how she too, had attacked Ainsley, permanently scarring his face with a knitting needle. She bowed her head and then thanked him for dispatching the evil bastard. Augustus nodded in agreement, and they both began to laugh, each endearing one to another. Him for her attempted murder, and permanent scaring, and her for his finishing off the rascal. Their common enemy defeated, they now gloated in their righteous indignation. Augustus grinned at Olga, who smiled back, and they both giggled slightly. 

He thought he might postpone his exit if Olga would continue to visit him. He asked if she would come visit him the following day,  and she smiled in agreement, offering to bring a Brimly Hall meat pie, figuring he was tiring of the chicken. He laughed and said "Yes!" Then his heart was filled by the compassion of this fellow assaulter. She arose curtsied, and went back up the stairs, turning once to glimpse the champion who eliminated her evil opponent. 

Augustus returned to his meal, and stared at the serviette,  smiled, and proclaimed his newfound endurance. "Winner Winner,  Chicken Dinner" he thought, as he savoured the meal, and pondered what the Brimly Hall meat pie was like. Olga had brightened his day

And the possibilities however dim, wouldn't be faced alone with a friend like her.

Submitted: February 06, 2022

© Copyright 2023 dewey green. All rights reserved.


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