Let me tell you a story of a family living in the town of Gale. The town gained its name for the
weather that always seemed so dark and oppressive. The family that this story surrounds is of a hunter, his wife, and his son and the experiences and dark truths that come undone in the wake of the
Henry, the prideful head of the house set the food on the table from the game he shot in the woods, but on those certain days where he had caught not a thing they all went to bed with empty bellies. Game had become scarce and his wife, Iris began to look for vegetables in her garden to sell, but it seemed as if that wasn’t enough for them to live on. Rembri, their son was the apple of their eyes and he filled their lives with joy and serenity. They lived as any other family would, but tension began to grow between husband and wife, for Henry’s ego has been shot and his pride had been bruised.
“Iris! You can’t keep on taking care of the family. I am the father and that is my job, not yours!” He could feel his pride swelling up inside of him.
“Please, we have no food. Rembri is starving and you no longer have any quivers to shoot with. Please let me take care of us.”
“No.” He shot out of the house leaving my wife in tears and our son playing in the front.
“Rembri come inside. Come my boy and eat.” Iris the good wife laid a small chunk of meet and bread on a platter for her son.
“Mummy, where is da going?”
“He just needs to have some alone time darling, he’ll be back soon. I promise.” She gave him her most winning fake smile. He believed it and kept on gobbling down his supper and waiting for his father to come home. While Henry prowled around town, minding his own business and blowing out steam he went to the brewery he knew the best to drink and forget. He sat at one of the termite eaten tables matching with a chair looking as if it would crumble if sat upon. The pub’s air was thick with smoke and smelled of piss and beer. Men with booming voices spoke in loud tones not caring who heard them except one pair who sat close to Henry. They spoke in hushed tones, but to anyone else it would have seemed they were talking loudly if they weren’t in the pub.
“Did you hear about that dog in the sack?” The man with dark colored eyes asked the other. The other shook his head and Dark Eyes leaned in closer taking a quick sweep of around the pub to see if any ears were ease dropping. “The dog was in a hap sack, stitched wit hemp. The dog inside was no longer a’dog, it was more like somethin’ you’d see in yo nightmares. The pup’s arms and legs were torn off his blood soaked body. Its jaw was hangin’ open and wouldn’t close, it was broken. The pup had no eyes eitha, it was like starin’ into two black holes.” He looked at the man with big eyes, his eyes had fear written all over them.
“Yousa lyin’” he slurred his words from the alcohol that had already begun to take over.
“I cross ma heart, sir.”
Henry didn’t care to hear if the man believed him or not. The story of the dog in the sack turned his belly into an unpleasant feeling. He ran out leaving his whiskey on the table for grabs. He ran under the sky with no stars and the faint light of the moon guiding him home. He was looking in every direction making sure no one was following him. The shadows made him jumps as the wind howled in his ears. He finally reached his door, taking one breath of relief he ran in. With no greeting and no word of what he was doing, he grabbed his bow and dagger and ran out the door. Iris ran out after him calling for him to come home, “Henry, come back! Don’t go! Come back, please my love come back to me.” but he continued to run as if the devil was on his heels. She turned back to see Rembri standing in the doorway crying out his blue eyes.
“Hush now darling, daddy is coming home soon. He had to go and do something. He’ll be back.” But he didn’t come back. Weeks passed and Iris began to become antsy and started asking around town. No one knew a thing. She went into the outskirts of the woods to look for her love. There she found him covered in dirt and blood. He was sitting upright, leaning against a tree with his cloak gently laid across him as if it was a blanket keeping him warm from the chilly air. She could feel the sobs beginning to rip through her as she pulled the cloth away. What she found was cuts long and deep going down his chest. She could still see the blood trickling down his torso from the open wounds. A krisses elk’s horn handle protruded from his chest with a blade waving down to a sharp point hiding in his vital organs. His face was bruised and puffed up, blood trickled down his nose and the corner of his purple lips. He was hardly recognizable, but to Iris she could still see the man she fell in love with. He began to cough out blood and he began to blink trying to open his eyelids that swelled his eyes shut. His hand shook as he raised it to his wife’s face trying to bring her closer to his lips. He uttered one word, “James.” That name killed every bit of sanity and peace remaining inside of her. She wailed as her husband’s hand dropped to his side and his eyes clouded over with death. Her cries echoed in the treetops scaring the crows away from their slumber. Darkness surrounded them, but it wasn’t only the feeling of night but of her fear. Her head snapped up from the sound of twigs being cracked. Her heart pounded, praying to God that whoever took her husband would leave her be. The sound of footsteps grew louder and dread began to creep over every inch of her trembling frame.
Her prayers came true.
Rembri came running up and she quickly began to clean her husband and throw the cloak back over him to hide the gruesome sight from her son, but he had already seen his body. The body of his beloved father. Anger grew in him like fire and he wanted to avenge his father’s death. Iris took her son’s hand, but he yanked it out of her own and grabbed his father’s bow and quivers and grabbed his mother’s hand letting her lead him away, but he kept looking back and stared at the dagger protruding from his father’s stomach. He took in every detail and burned it into his memory. He wasn’t going to forget, he wasn’t going to let somebody just kill his father and get away with it. No, he will find that man and kill him even if it took his entire lifetime. He thought of torture mechanisms and planned out the death of the man as he and his mother walked home. Once home, he quickly kissed his mother and ran off into the breaking dawn.
“Rembri, come back! Don’t go! Come back, please my boy come back to me.” She called out after him and begged him to come home, but he continued to run like his father did not too long ago. Months passed and Iris drowned in her sadness, waiting and hoping her son would come back home and she felt the ache of her broken heart. She felt the shadows take over her at night, scaring off her joy and bringing in the fear and pain.
It had been months since Rembri had been home. He was looking for the man that killed his father. He sat in a brewery, the same brewery where his father sat before slaughtered in the woods. He was drinking the last few sips of his mug and was getting ready to leave when he saw something that caught his eye: a kriss dagger with an elk’s horn handle. He called for the wench to fetch him another mug as he stared at the owner. He was a lanky fellow with dark hair that fell to his shoulders. He spoke to nobody, but stared at the bottom of his empty mug. His eyebrows knit together in thought. He slammed the mug down and all eyes turned on him, Rembri chuckled under his breath. He was who Rembri was looking for all this time and now he had him in arm’s reach. He could kill him now, but no he didn’t want to make his death quick and sweet. He wanted to make the son of a bitch die slowly. His target stormed out of the pub, obviously aggravated. The sky over head was clear and the stars twinkled brightly against its personal back ground. The full moon was bright and awaited to watch the events of the eerie night. Rembri followed the man with the scars etched across his face into the fog rolling in from the depths of the woods.
Iris was crouching over her garden finally learning how to live with heartache. She looked up and saw Rembri walking towards her, but it wasn’t her boy that she knew so well. His stagger was different; he walked with a bounce in his step mixed with a slight limp. His clothes hung down his body in rags and caked with mud and some other substance that stained dark. He walked towards her with five o’ clock shadow covering his jaw and lower cheeks, just below the cheek bone. His lips cracked into a smile that spread from ear to ear showing off slightly stained red teeth, he smiled with an evil innocence. Like his smile, his eyes glowed a sadistic joy. He carried his father’s bow proudly and in the other hand he held a sack darkened brown. “Mummy, I have a present for you.” He smiled at her and she rushed to him, pulling him inside to clean him up. His malnutrition was hard to miss. His hair was tangled, his ribs showed through his rags, but his eyes burned with gleeful fire through the tangle of knots that was his hair. She set the table for him to eat. He laid the hapsack down on the ground beside his favorite chair.
“Boy, where have you been?” Iris asked with worry clearly heard in her voice.
“Oh, just here and there mum.”
“You had me worried sick.” She exclaimed as she slid into the chair opposite of him.
“What have you been up to since you left your poor ol’ mum?” She asked.
“Things.” He kept on giving her vague answers. “Mum, I have a present for you.” He smiled wide again and picked up the sack and dropped it on the table between them. “Open it, mum.” He smiled, but something wasn’t right. It made her shiver and she wondered if there was a breeze blowing in.
She slowly untied the strings from the top of the sack and pulled the sides down around the round object sitting inside of it. A gasp escaped from her parted lips, “what have you done?”…
“Mum, I killed that son of a bitch who killed da. Mum, I found him in a pub on the other side of town and I followed him in the woods. Oh, mum I shot him in the leg to keep him from running. I got him good too, da would’ve been proud, don’t yah think? I cut the back tendons of his ankles and watched him crawl around trying to reach him. I walked around him in a circle like a cat stalking its wounded prey.”
“What have you done?” Iris whispered as she cradled the head to her bosom.
“Mum, I wish you were there with me to watch as I descended upon him like a vulture, you would’ve been proud of your boy. As I cut into him I could feel his warm blood spraying across my face, staining my teeth for I have never smiled a greater smile in my life. I heard his screams that soon turned to garbled attempts of mercy, his pathetic begging had me laughing in his face, I let him have it like he had let da have it. I listened to his orchestra of screaming echoing all around me in the depths of the forest.”
“What have you done?! My God, Rembri. You killed my baby!” Iris screamed out as she held the head closer to her and looking into its dead eyes. Her tears falling down its face as if the dead was crying instead. She fell to the ground holding herself and rocking back and forth. “You killed my baby. You killed James.”
“Mum!What happened? What’s wrong? Mum speak to me!”
“You killed my baby. You killed James.”
“Mum! Who is that? Who are you talking about?”
“James. Rembri, you killed my baby. You killed your brother."
© Copyright 2016 Penelope Garenther. All rights reserved.