The Brittle Sea – Historical Fiction
March 15, 1931
The sidewalk on 42nd wasn’t especially crowded for an early spring Sunday in New York. The well-dressed old man walked freely between passing pedestrians, jauntily swinging his cane, the cane he told everyone he needed for the war wound he had never received. He whistled a soft tune to himself, something from a bygone part of his life. Life, to him, was good and he was more than happy at what he had achieved over the years since he had become a widower, freed from his servitude.
Hah! A widower! She made my life intolerable!
He was suddenly surprised at how much vehemence the thought of her brought to his now ordered life.
Again, that anger, but then he remembered the good times. Anger, he told himself, was not for him. That was all in the past.
It was then, at the very instant the old man was beginning to forgive her for making him angry that a young woman stepped out in front of him. She was wearing a non-descript dirty and threadbare blue farmer’s bib-overall, a dirty old cap and her left arm was in a sling. He noticed, looking her up and down, familiar scuffed red shoes… those familiar scuffed red shoes. He was surprised and stopped walking, amazed at the sudden familiarity of her small, sweet face. He opened his mouth to speak, maybe even daring to be impolite and ask if she was related to… but he never had the chance to speak. The girl pulled a small pistol from the sling with her free arm and levelled it at him. It was then, too late, that he knew who she was.
“Maggie.” The words formed on her lips and she smiled, clumsily cocking and firing the pistol, twice… three times.
The old man groaned, stumbled forward but stopped his fall with his cane, gripping it tightly with both hands. He suddenly thought of her once more, leaned forward on his cane and looked up at his assailant. “You have her eyes,” he said to her, coughing blood that spattered the young woman’s dirty clothing. He smiled at her, lost his grip on his cane and fell forward, hitting the sidewalk heavily.
The young woman screamed, and tears rolled down her frightened eyes. Before she knew it, she was pulling back on the trigger to cock the gun again, levelling it this time to her right-temple. The gun belched loudly once more.
A knot of female pedestrians, caught in the tableau of hate and death unfolding before them, screamed their hysteria as one. They watched in horror as the girl staggered left, then right and then keeled forward, dropping to the floor heavily.
New York rain suddenly splattered the sidewalk, hissing across the concrete and spreading onto the pools of blood forming around both victim and assailant, the blood mixing in death where in life the family blood had become tainted and poisoned, fuelled with jealousy, hate and revenge.
The old man’s eyes met the young woman’s as they lay a few feet apart. There was no hate now. No fear. A family of sorts was at last united as death seemed to take both the living, and those who deserved less, into its bosom. In a seeming final act of contrition, New York’s rain washed the blood away and the sins of a family were also washed into the gutter where it belonged.
Copyright Tom Kane © 2020
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The Brittle Sea is book one in The Brittle Saga trilogy. Click on the Preview button below to read a free sample.
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