BURNT NIGHT

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
7 years ago... one festival... a fire...
Kevin Franzen and his fiancée Evelyn Strauss go to Dalur, a quiet village in the Faroe Islands in Europe for a peaceful holiday. But instead, the revlation they come across takes their breath away...

Submitted: October 20, 2013

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Submitted: October 20, 2013

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1

It was a fortnight ago that I visited Faroe Islands in Europe. The place had a small village in it called Dalur which meant ‘valley’ in Faroese. It was situated in a valley and was a very small place in itself.

Dalur had a church which was built in 1957 and was, incidentally, the only church to have ever been built there. The weather was cool and tranquil, being in a valley and the scenery was breath-taking. There were not too many structures providing lodging, but we managed to stay up at an inn.

I visited Faroe with my business partner Evelyn Strauss. My name is Kevin Franzen and I am a twenty seven year old businessman running a tourism and culture promoting multi-national company, with the largest shares being held by me and my fiancée Evelyn, called ‘Blue Midnight Tourism and Culture Promotion Company’ – BMTCP Co.

Our marriage was due in December, which was four months hence and we needed some time off together. We had decided to remove ourselves far from USA, Chicago, and find our solace in a remote place embraced by Nature. Thus we ended up in Dalur, in the Faroe Islands, where we found a shocking revelation instead of the serenity we were looking for.

 

2

“Eve, come on get ready. We’ll go out for dinner.” I called out to Eve as I unpacked my suitcase.

Dalur looked beautiful at night under the glow of the myriad stars and the lamps that burned at each doorstep. Evelyn and I walked on the starlit roads and reached a small café. It had an electric light. The café was called ‘Twilight’ and it was a cozy looking structure.

We sat at a table and ordered a roast. “Kevin, what are we going to do here in Dalur? I took a map of the place on the way and there is literally nothing here.” Evelyn made a childish face. She was twenty five years old but behaved mostly like a five year old. But when situation called for, she was more matured than most of the people I knew.

“We’ll go by the lake tomorrow and hire a canoe from a local. And there’s a library here. You can read all the mysteries you want.” I smiled at her twinkling green eyes as she brushed her blonde curls off her face.

“Atta boy! Did I ever mention that I love you?” She winked at me.

We finished our dinner and paid the bill. It was surprisingly cheap. As I got up to leave, my eyes fell on a picture on the café wall. It depicted a merry making that was taking place at a fair. Fireworks burst against the backdrop of a starlit sky and children gathered at stalls selling candies, toys and at others holding various game shows and performances.

“Where did the festival take place?” I asked still eyeing the picture.

The café manager followed my line of sight to look at the picture and his face was instantly taken over by an expression that revealed neither sorrow nor joy. “Oh, that…” he paused and spoke again, “that is the Moon Festival which used to take place in August.”

“In August?!” Eve sprang up in surprise as she heard nothing but the last two words of the sentence. “It’s August now! When will the festival begin?”

The manager looked at her with the same expression. After a long pause, he said, “it won’t.”

Eve’s elated face instantly lost its glow. “But why?” She whined like a kid which made me smirk.

“It stopped taking place seven years ago. We don’t celebrate the Moon Festival anymore. The sponsor doesn’t sponsor it any longer.” The manager spoke fast. Before Eve could bring forth another whining question, the manager spoke again. “It’s almost closing time. Please excuse me; I have to tidy up this place. Have a good night dear sir and gentle lady.” With that as an ultimatum, I dragged Eve out of the place and went back to our inn.

 

3

Before the morning sun could gently touch my visage, Eve had crawled up on me. On opening my eyes, I stared back at an appalling expression she was sporting. It scared the wits out of me and I hit my skull hard against the head-board of the bed. Through the pain, I feared what was about to come out of her mouth.

“I’m curious! Let’s dig this thing up!” She said almost rehearsed out of a script. This is the moment I had feared since last night, but somehow managed to delay by putting Eve to sleep with boring business-talk.

I sat up looking spooked and found that Eve was already dressed up and ready to go out. “Wh-where? I mean, what are we going to dig up?” I prayed hard to Lord so that the answer would not be the one I feared.

Eve batted her eyelashes dramatically and said, “Why, the secret of the Moon Festival of course!”

I crawled out from under her body and got out of bed. “There is no secret. The festival used to take place because there was a sponsor. Now, no sponsor and thus, no festival.” I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth.

Eve sulked and threw herself on the bed. “No! No! No! No! No! I don’t believe it! There must be something else to it! Let’s find out together.”

 

4

And so we set out, like a detective couple, spoiling all our plans of canoeing together and all because of something so conspicuous. I almost hated Eve for ruining my perfect plans for a perfectly sunny day and had to burn my rage along with four cigarettes in a row.

“We are not gonna find anything Eve! Let’s go hire a canoe and leave for the lake. I have brought my camera and we can have a photo shoot. You get to be my model!” I stuck my teeth out like a fool. Even though the idea was lucrative to her, the Moon Festival managed to bury it.

“No Kevin. I’m curious and you will find out for me why the sponsor stopped sponsoring the festival. I can LITERALLY smell something weird.” She patted my back.

I wondered how much more I would have to slog for her after our wedding. I shuddered at the idea.

As we passed through the streets of Dalur, we found a few merchants and pedestrians to be the only ones out on the road. It was an awfully empty village. An old man sat at the steps of a rundown abode and Eve ran across the road to him. I ran after her.

The old man was sitting with his eyes closed and startled as Eve called out to him. “Sir, I need to speak to you.”

I scoffed at Eve for not being polite and apologized to the man for startling him. He seemed overly pleased to see us.

“Are you tourists here?” He asked us while scanning us top to bottom three times.

“Uh, yes.” I said as politely as possible. “We are sorry to disturb you sir. You see, my fiancée here is hung up on something meaningless and –“

Before I could finish my sentence, Evelyn spoke up. “Hello sir!” She beamed an exultant smile at him, which he surprisingly returned, and I started feeling claustrophobic amidst two Eves; as if one wasn’t enough to drive me crazy. She continued. “My name is Evelyn Strauss. How long have you been living here?”

The man gestured us to sit down beside him and we obeyed. “It’s not much that I get to converse with people.” He clapped his hands childishly and it gave me goose bumps as Eve followed after him. I immediately wanted to leave the place and return to sanity. “Anyway, my name is Antonio Travis and I have been living here since birth.”

Evelyn’s eyes lit up at his answer and she showed me a thumb up sign which I stared at blankly. “So, you must know about the Moon Festival!”

The old man’s eyes lit up just like Eve’s and this time, the sight made me nauseous. “Ah! The Moon Festival! Of course I know about it. I had so much fun in it when I was a boy. My mother used to sell honey there and there were all kinds of shows and stalls. We used to wait all year round for August! Right from the last week of July, the village folks used to be busy decorating the place, putting up stalls and making huge banners and posters. People from all over the village, even other towns and villages, used to gather in Dalur.

“As a boy, I used to help my mother put up her stall as well as the other ones. The game stalls were loved by children, but the main attraction was the magic show—” He suddenly paused and his expression changed.

“What happened, Mr. Travis?” Eve looked concerned and I couldn’t help joining her.

“The magic show…” he continued. “It was the most fascinating thing we had ever seen. Every year, there were new tricks waiting for us and as a child, I used to go with my friends. People from all over the Island came to the Dalur Moon Festival largely for that magic show.

“The performer was one among our people. Vivian Derozio, the best magician in the whole island, and perhaps one of the best in Europe. He studied in London and was only seven at the time everyone realized that he was destined for greatness.

“I was fourteen when he was seven and he performed better than most adults. When he was eighteen, he went to study in London on a scholarship in one of the best schools of magic. He did shows around the world but always came back during the first week of August to do the magic show at the festival.”

We listened carefully and couldn’t help be amazed. A place like Dalur produced such a great man like Vivian Derozio. I wished to see him. “Is he out of Dalur at the moment? Where is he now?” I asked out of plain curiosity.

The old man closed his eyes and lowered his head. “Seven years ago, a fire broke out at the Moon Festival. It was a horrible night. The festival used to last for five days. That was on the third day.

“The fire started at the magic stall during one of Vivian’s performances. Panic struck everywhere and there was a stampede. All but one survived the fire at the magic stall…” He kept quiet for a moment. “Vivian Derozio. After the fire was brought under control, we found him burnt to death on the stage where he was performing a trick that required him to be chained up…”

We sat quietly for a moment, letting the chill that had set down our spines subside.

“That was the last we saw of the festival…”

 

5

Eve and I walked back to our inn in silence. On the way, we ran into a few scary looking people who were coming towards us from an alley. For a moment, I got scared and squeezed Eve’s hand tightly. But they walked past us.

Curious, Eve ran into the alley and I had to go after her to make sure she was okay. “Eve, come back!” I shouted but she paid no heed.

Coming out of the alley, we found ourselves in front of the ‘Twilight Café’. The furniture was over-turned, lying scattered on the floor and some even strewn outside the café. Pictures lay broken on the ground and it appeared as if a storm had passed through.

Eve’s eyes had widened and her hands were covering her mouth in utter shock. I closed my blue gray eyes and ran a hand through my sandy blonde hair, thinking. Immediately after, I spotted the café manager coming out. He looked surprised to see us.

“What happened here?” I asked.

“Nothing.” He replied.

Eve pulled at my shirt. She stepped forward, regaining her composure. “Those thugs… are they the ones responsible?” She asked. Her mature self had taken over.

The café manager nodded. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to clean up.” He left without further adieu. The scene vested in me a feeling of déjà-vu.

“Let’s go Kevin…” Eve left without a moment’s delay. And this time, I didn’t have to drag Eve away…

 

6

Back at our inn, we greeted the inn-keeper and were going upstairs when Eve’s voice made me halt.

She was referring to the inn-keeper. “The man who owns the ‘Twilight Café’… what’s his name?”

The inn-keeper adjusted his glasses. He was a nice man who went by the name Harold Stone. “You must be referring to Nicholas Weldon.”

Eve took a step forward. I followed her. “Do you know anything about goons attacking him? I mean, do you have any idea why goons would want to attack him and wreck his café?” she said as her eyes glinted gravely.

The inn-keeper Harold put his hand on his chin. Then suddenly his eyes widened. “Don’t tell me they are still after him!”

“Well, that was a long time ago, seven years I think that I first heard about it.”

Seven years… I thought. That was the last time the festival took place. This had started taking all the wrong turns.

Harold continued. “Vivian was a good friend of mine.” Eve and I both looked at him in surprise. “Nicholas had, nearly thirty three years ago, lent money to Vivian. He was only seventeen then, Vivian, I remember. We were of the same age and my father had gifted me a dog for my birthday. So, I can recall.” He smiled at the pleasant memory.

“Anyway,” he went on, “Vivian’s family was in quite a fix when the crops didn’t turn up right. His father was a farmer, you see. They were on the verge of selling all the property they owned. So, he borrowed money from Nicholas, promising to pay him within a year.” He put down his glasses.

I asked, “What happened after that?”

Harold looked at me and rubbed his eyes. “He failed to pay, of course. Nicholas was enraged. Meanwhile, he had borrowed a huge amount from… let’s just say, the wrong people. And he had failed to pay them back. He thus left Dalur and was always on the run.

“Vivian then went to London and earned a lot of money from the magic shows around the world. He told me he had looked for Nicholas many times but he was never at home. Nicholas’s family was brought down to the streets. They had to sell almost everything they owned in order to stay alive.

“Seven years ago, by dint of luck, Nicholas and Vivian were in Dalur at the same time, during the Moon Festival. He repaid his debts and that was the first time Vivian told me about it.” He put on his glasses again.

I exhaled and looked at Evelyn who was strongly beguiled by the story. “But the damage had already been done?” I asked Harold.

He sighed. “Yes, and Nicholas swore to take revenge. And that was the night Vivian died… and I see the thugs are still after him. It seems he couldn’t repay his debts completely.”

I frowned. And that was the night Vivian died…

 

7

Eve was back to her childish self in the morning. “Kevin! I told you there was something behind this!” She slapped me hard on the back and muttered a curse under my breath.

“Yes, yes, I know. Go on now. It’s your turn to take a bath.”

Eve jumped out of bed and rushed into the bathroom. She woke me up at three A.M in the morning to tell me that she had decided to drop by Vivian’s house; so much for our peaceful holiday.

Luckily, the weather was pleasant enough to make me less grouchy. Vivian’s house was situated near the lake and as I reached it, the thought of a romantic canoeing going down the drain couldn’t help but make me shudder with repressed rage.

The house was a small one and the occupants were a middle aged man of around forty four called Augustine Derozio and a woman of about thirty seven called Michelle Sasson with her twelve year old daughter Rosaline Sasson. The man and the woman were Vivian’s bachelor brother and married sister, who was visiting her brother in Dalur. Their parents had died and the brother lived alone.

“Yes, may I help you?” The beautiful Michelle asked us politely.

We revealed what we were looking for, some information about Vivian. We had to lie to them about us being reporters covering a story on great men from small parts of the world. She smiled sadly but was pleased to know that even outsiders were interested in her dear brother. We saw a picture of Vivian in the living room. He was a very handsome man with rich brown hair and honey coloured deep-set eyes. His smile was so vital that it could serve to infuse life in the dead; too bad it failed to resurrect him…

“We were very sorry to discover how your brother died…” Eve said after about half an hour of hearing praises and stories about Vivian which concluded with his sad death. I had to pretend I was writing them down, all the while giving frosty looks to Eve for making me go through this sheer non-sense. Only the hope of her realizing the futility of this search kept me going. She paused to sip at her tea and finally asked. “Can you think of anyone Vivian might have had a dispute with?”

Augustine, Vivian’s brother, frowned. “A dispute? Not one that I can think of…”

I leaned forward. “Well, did anyone have a grudge against your family? Bad enough to cut off relations or turn violent?” I couldn’t believe I was dancing to Evelyn’s tunes. I cursed myself. We are beating around the bush, I thought to myself.

Michelle thought hard. “Umm… I once had a fight with a shop-keeper while bargaining and… Augustine’s teacher used to hate him for being the naughtiest boy in class. Then, Vivian once stole mangoes from the neighbour’s orchard and he turned aggressive… that’s all I can think of at the moment.” She smiled at herself.

I laughed an evil laugh on the inside, thoroughly enjoying Eve’s perturbed look at Michelle’s words. I was on the verge of enjoying a scene in my head where I was pointing at Eve, who was wearing a fool’s outfit, and laughing my ass off, when Augustine cut in.

“There’s one more thing. It’s the man who makes fireworks.” He gazed at us mysteriously.

The word fire whacked me back to my senses. Something didn’t sound right. “What about him?” I asked as I saw Eve clenching her fists through the corner of my eye.

Augustine continued. “Once when my father was ill, the fireworks man, his name is Mr. Thomson, came to us and asked dad to look after his son for the afternoon. Dad and Mr. Thomson were on great terms and Mr. Thomson was widowed.

“My dad was down with a fever at that time and he had fallen asleep. Little Jamie went outside the house to play beside the lake. And he fell… and drowned.

“Mr. Thomson blamed my dad for his son’s death and in a way it was justified. Neither Mr. Thomson nor my dad could ever forgive himself. He cursed dad by saying that his children would die just like Mr. Thomson’s did.” He lowered his head. “And in a way, his curse was effective…”

I closed my eyes. And in a way, his curse was effective…

 

8

Eve and I visited Mr. Thomson, the man who makes fireworks. He shook with anger the very instant he heard the family name Derozio and shooed us out. “Screw the Derozios! Never come here again if you want to live! God punished them. They deserved it. Now go away!”

We ran as fast as we could, as he came out chasing us with a wooden stick in his hand, and I dropped my camera on the way. “Jesus! What a fine mess you have gotten me into!” I shouted at Eve and she sulked.

“Now, now, Kevin! You have to admit that this is getting interesting. Even you can’t keep away from this.” She shouted back at me with her fists tightly fixed to her waist.

I hated to admit that she was partly right as I stopped to catch my breath. There was one thing that I had kept from Eve though. When we were in Vivian’s house, Michelle took us to have a look at his room. It looked untouched and I had secretly gone through the drawers. There, I had found a letter addressed to a ‘Sammy’. I had pocketed it.

We went back to our inn and on the way I spotted a huge mansion at a slightly higher ground. The sight of the gates had filled me with awe and I had to stop for a minute to take it all in.

Back at our inn, Harold Stone was dozing off at the reception desk. We were the only tourists staying up there besides a Japanese man who always wore a grin on his face, left at six A.M sharp in the morning and returned at dot ten o’clock at night every day. This was our third day in Dalur.

I approached the inn-keeper Harold before Eve could and asked him, “What can you tell me about ‘Sammy’?”

Harold looked surprised and clue-less. “Sammy? That doesn’t ring a bell, I’m afraid.” He twitched his mouth.

Before I could ask another question, he gestured me to wait. He reached for the shelves inside the reception desk and brought out a burnt torch.

“You see,” he looked at me in the eye, “Vivian was dear friend to me. At the night of the accident, we all helped bring the fire under control. When we were taking a good look at the burnt stall, I found this. It seems to be the cause of the fire.

“I picked it up and kept it with me. But I had forgotten all about it till I was cleaning today and came across this torch again.” He handed me the burnt torch and I manipulated it to find anything significant. There was just a logo on it towards the bottom end which was left untouched by the flames. The initials on the logo were ‘F.I’.

“What can you tell me about this logo?” I handed the torch to him.

He adjusted his glasses and crinkled his nose as he examined it. “Well, two things.” He looked back at me.

“Go on.” Eve said.

“First, this logo is for the company ‘Flicker Industries Pvt. Ltd.’ which is owned by the richest and most influential family, Gordon household, in Dalur. They are into manufacturing and export of woodenware. And second, all the fireworks in Dalur use F.I wood for manufacture.”

Eve and I looked at each other. “The Gordon family…” I thought hard. “The mansion downtown… by any chance is it where they live?”

Harold’s eyes lit up and Eve looked at me in surprise and adoration. “Why, yes! They are the richest family in Dalur.”

“Who owns the company?” I asked.

“Samuel Gordon. He lives in that house with his wife Sophie and two kids.”

Something clicked in my mind. Samuel… Sammy… “Thank you very much. You have been of great help.”

 

9

Both Eve and I couldn’t sleep at night. This thing was getting far more complex and I wondered if we were doing the right thing by delving deeper and deeper into the matter.

“For one thing, Eve, both the fireworks man Mr. Thomson and the café manager Nicholas, have motives for murder.”

Eve looked at me astounded. Her childish, yet gorgeous, face was taken over by a soft motherly glow. She snuggled close to me. “So, you are thinking about it too?” She looked at me.

It is true. Her habit of turning everything into a Conan Doyle or Christie plot ticked me off; but I loved her nevertheless. This time, however, my instincts were telling me to follow her instincts. So I did, and I kissed her before watching her fall asleep in my arms.

 

10

The next day, we went to the Gordon residence. Guards escorted us upstairs when we told them that we had come all the way from USA, Chicago, to take in the scenic beauty of Dalur and visit the much famed Gordon family. We decided to stay away from the reporter story in case they asked for our i.ds.

“Sit down.” A grim looking Samuel Gordon stepped forward with his hands behind his back. He was around fifty eight-sixty years old and streaks of white hair adorned his head.

Small talk became business talk and then about the places we came from. When finally we reached the topic of the festival, his eyes twitched and he said, “I have something important to attend to. Please come again. It was nice to meet you.”

I immediately understood that he was keeping something from us. “Was it an accident?” I finally asked.

He paused. “It’s getting late. The guards will see you to the gate.” With that, he left.

 

11

It was our second last day in Dalur. None of the much needed peace was attained by us, but somehow the adventure seemed more comforting. We had to find out today what actually happened at the Moon Festival.

We tried seeing the fireworks man Mr. Thomson one last time. This time, I approached him directly. “What happened at the festival that night?”

He smirked when he saw us. “You two again? I thought I had told you to stay away.”

I didn’t budge an inch. “I repeat; what happened at the Moon Festival seven years back? Was the fire just a mere accident?”

He moved his frail body forward. “Do you want to know what happened to Vivian?”

I nodded.

“Justice; that happened to me. Punishment; that happened to the son of a bitch Castiell!” Castiell was Vivian’s father.

“And injustice was what happened to Vivian!” Eve interrupted. With that, she dragged me away and I let myself be dragged. I was quivering with rage.

Nicholas was sitting at the café reception desk when we approached him. Eve didn’t waste a second. “How did Vivian die?”

Nicholas was taken aback for a moment. “He died in a fire.” He put it flat.

“You wanted him to die, didn’t you?” She was on the verge of tears.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, miss. But I’m busy here. So, if you’ll excuse me.”

“You are busy?! The café is fucking empty! How much longer are you planning to lie? You killed him, didn’t you? Poor Vivian… How it must have hurt him to be burnt alive!” Evelyn broke into tears.

I squeezed her hand. “We know about the money you lent him…” I said gently.

Nicholas’s eyes widened. “How did you…?” Then he cleared his throat. “Yes, I hated him. I hated him enough to kill him. But I didn’t… He died in an accident. That is all I know.” He turned away from us.

I pulled a crying Eve out of the café. Now I knew what I had to do.

 

12

Samuel Gordon sat in his room when I entered with Eve. “You said you forgot something here?” He asked while he gazed blankly out of the window.

“Yes sir; I forgot to ask you something.” I confronted him.

He turned to me in surprise. “I thought our conversation was over. I do not want to talk about that festival.”

“You know it wasn’t an accident. Vivian was killed, murdered ruthlessly. And you know who did it.” I raised my voice.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” He said coldly.

“Mr. Gordon, Vivian was your friend. You’ve got to help him get justice. Tell us who did it.”

“It was an accident. Now, if you are done, I’d like you to leave.” Samuel got up to leave the room.

I had to take out my trump card now. The letter was in my pocket and I reached for it. “This is a letter that Vivian wrote to you on the third day of the festival.” I saw Samuel halt and Eve’s bemused look rested coldly on my face. I continued. “Dear Sammy,

“I went to see you today at your house after thirty two years. It’s been a long time, isn’t it mate? I still remember the time we played hide and seek with my mom. It was the best day of my life.

“Sammy, we are both grownups now. We have learnt to take our decisions on our own. And you have decided to cut me off completely from your life. But Sammy, you were my first and only friend and I can never forget you…

“I will be leaving as usual after this festival, which has only two more days to go, and I won’t be back before a year. I know we’ve got our differences, Sammy. But mate, what do you say? Let us forget our differences for tonight and perform together…

Yours truly and forever,

Vivie.”

When I finished the letter, I found tears rolling quietly down Samuel’s cheeks. Eve looked flabbergasted and her face gave off the thousand questions she wanted to ask. But I could hear only one which Samuel asked. “Together...?”

I stood speech less for a moment, waiting for Samuel to speak. He slowly started walking away again and before I could open my mouth, he dropped a trail of words behind. “Please excuse me. I have to be at my office. It was nice meeting you.”

 

13

 

It was our last day in Dalur. We had finished packing up as our flight was due in the evening. Eve was forlorn since our last meeting with Samuel Gordon; and as much as I hated to admit it, I was no less down in the dumps. We decided to check out of our inn in the morning and enjoy ourselves, perhaps go canoeing or stop by at the library. I picked up our bags and led Evelyn down the stairs. Harold wore his usual cheerful face upon seeing us and wished us a happy journey when we handed him the key to our room. I had booked a cab that would take us to the nearest available airport outside Dalur which would wait for us till afternoon outside the inn. It was time for us to leave.

“Kevin, put the suitcases in the cab. I’ll wait for us here.” Eve said as she rested her hand on the reception desk.

“Ok.” I went out.

After putting in the suitcases, I asked the cab driver to wait for us there till we returned and went in to fetch Eve. “Eve, let’s go.” When I entered the lobby, I found her talking over the phone at the reception desk.

“Yes, he’s here.” Eve spoke and handed me the phone. I frowned and took the receiver.

“Hello?” I said.

On the other end of the telephone, a man’s voice sounded. “Hello? Mr. Franzen?”

“Yes, speaking.”

“I am calling from the local Dalur police station. We’ll need you to drop by once, sir.”

“What’s the matter?” I was alarmed.

“The case regarding the festival fire, sir; we have a confession from the culprit. It wasn’t an accident and the guilty party confessed. We’ll need you to come by once, at his personal request.”

My limbs froze. I couldn’t believe my ears and all I managed to do was pass a ghastly look to Eve. She was scared at my expression. “Who is it?” I managed to ask.

“He left a letter for you, sir. He asked me to give it you. It has the answers to all your questions.”

“We’ll be there in a minute.” Without wasting a moment longer, I took the directions of the police station from Harold and pulled Eve away.

The station was small. The policemen were few. Eve and I stepped in. She was aware of the situation as I had told her everything on the way.

“This is the letter he left, sir.” A pot bellied police man looked at me with his tiny bead-like eyes as he handed me the letter.

I opened it with shaky hands. It read:

“Do not for a second think that I confessed due to the meddling of two strangers with large dangling noses that they love to poke around everywhere. I have been carrying this around for seven years now. But the truth is, not for a mere seven seconds in a row did I feel the much-needed peace. It’s time I faced myself and atoned for my sins. Thus, I confess.

“Ever since we were kids, we had just the two of us… no other kid would play with us. All of them were afraid of my father. Vivian was the only one who stayed with me.

“I was sent off to London to study when I was sixteen. Vivie had cried the most for me. Two years later, he showed up at my school. I was overjoyed to see him. We learnt magic together.

“But he was so much better than me. All the teachers loved him. He was their favourite student… they said he was destined for greatness. And we grew apart.

“I was jealous of him. They made him the school President and he spent lesser and lesser time with me. I wanted to be great like him. I wanted to perform like him… but I was never as talented as him.

“We stopped talking. Vivian showed up at school functions with his insolent followers behind him. And I lagged behind… Seven years ago, on the morning of the third day of the Moon Festival, which I used to sponsor, he showed up at my doorstep. It was thirty two years after which he had showed up at my house!

“I knew he was there to boast about his work, his talent, and all the money he was making and the great friends that he had… But God was I wrong! I couldn’t take it and I told him off from the gate.

“He went away without a word.  That night, I went to the festival and I saw the crowd at his stall. Vivie was the star of the show. I was blinded by jealousy. And… I set the stall on fire. But I never wanted to kill him! I just wanted to ruin his show. But he died… and I could never forgive myself.

“Seven years hence, I still regret my actions. I know I was a fool, blinded by jealousy. I know Vivie was never proud and I know that all he wanted that morning was to make amends. But I was too naïve to admit it. And I paid dearly for my ego.

“In case you are wondering why I am saying this to you, just know that it is not for your peace of mind that I am writing this letter. It is more for me and the person that I have become. I hope that Vivian can forgive me, where ever he is… and may his soul rest in peace…

S. Gordon.

 

14

Evelyn and I had boarded our flights and had flown back to Chicago. Eve rested her head on my shoulder throughout our flight and I held her tightly in my arms. I, Kevin Franzen and my lovely fiancée Evelyn Strauss had gone to Dalur, a small village in the Faroe Islands of Europe in search of solace. Instead, we found a story that set us off to thinking that we were about to uncover a sinister Arthur Conan Doyle murder mystery, but in turn we unraveled a story of forgotten friendship, jealousy and betrayal.

We couldn’t revive the festival, we couldn’t bring Vivian back to life and we couldn’t even restore broken relationships. But somewhere down the line, we finally managed to clear the smoke of that burnt night…

 

-- THE END --


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