I have done many things in my life of which I am not proud; it would be pointless to go into them here and now. Perhaps they will all be revealed when I am gone, but suffice to say that I had long answered to a certain master of men and have done his dark bidding, which quite often entailed the destruction of not a few individuals. In return, I had been rewarded with creature comforts and had seen the world. But I had never truly been a happy man – until I met Miriam. Miriam changed everything.
She was not well in her own mind; I see that plainly now, but for the first year of our marriage it was not clear and I suffered many a day and night in confusion over it. You see, Miriam was not always herself and she could become easily lost, both in space and in spirit. But I loved her, oh Lord how I loved her, and we made a semblance of a life together despite her illness and my being a very, very bad man. I kept her hidden away from the prying eyes of the world and, so I thought, from my master.
One day, after a particularly onerous night of Miriam’s wanderings, I spoke a word to my master, after receiving his orders, the likes of which he was greatly unfamiliar:
And then I left his presence and wandered myself for a time and then returned to my home and found there my beautiful, lost wife dead. This is what may transpire when a very bad man tells his very bad master “no.”
That was ten years hence. Since that deeply evil day I have endeavored to be a good man. Oh, I know that the stain on my soul can never be fully removed, but I have tried to staunch its spread and lighten its dark ichor with deeds I, perhaps foolishly, deem good. The Lord knows I’ve tried, if he hasn’t abandoned me all together – and I comfort myself in thinking that Miriam, wherever she may now wander, also knows I’ve tried.
So then I found myself looking into the queerly crystal eyes of a man I did not know and heard him tell me that my wife was searching for me from Beyond, and that she was lost. It played well with me superficially, the words like a topical balm all pleasing and cool to the touch, but I looked at Mount Airy’s famous Sgt. Janus and, with the cries and moans of the victims of the flood all around me, asked him what it was that I should do about it. And Sgt. Janus asked me in return to come directly with him to his home and talk to Miriam, to help her find her way.
Standing in the filthy waters which pooled around my ankles and my muscles screaming from my exertions, I spoke a word to the sergeant the likes of which he may or may not have been greatly unfamiliar:
TO BE CONTINUED in Part 3.
All contents © Jim Beard 2012
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