Chapter 10 – Dockin’ On Heaven’s Moor

Chapter Ten – “Dockin’ On Heaven’s Moor”

March 16, 1974 – An island in upper New York Bay

Eli stabbed the ground with the shovel. He did it harder than he meant to. Self-control was slipping away, he knew. He also didn’t care.

Braden had done most of the digging work and surprisingly delicately. Eli wanted—or needed—to do some of the final shaping of the hole in the ground. He wasn’t sure why. Braden had taken over downing the Kentucky bourbon for him as the music played.

They had agreed on the music selection without debate largely because they had all gone to the movies together to see that film that the song came from.

It had been one of the few occasions where all three of them had gotten along without a major or even minor disagreement. They had gotten pizza and beer after the movie and gotten caught in the rain. They laughed and sang on the way home, scaring many people scurrying under umbrellas. That other people thought they didn’t have the sense to get out of the downpour was half the fun.

Eli opened the bag he brought with him and carefully laid the first of five costumes near her feet in the casket. He repeated the process four more times, leaving the impression that when she awoke, she would have the option of selecting any of them as she had in life.

Of course he knew that was all symbolic.

When he finished arranging, he touched the side of her face and squeezed her hand one last time. Then he took the bottle from Braden and stepped away so the Minnesotan could say his goodbyes to Maya’s corpse as well.

The bottle was mostly empty. The larger man had uncharacteristically drank quickly. Eli could see the whiskey’s effects taking hold of Braden, but he didn’t judge.

He walked away pondering vaguely why he went through the motions of customs that made no difference. It couldn’t bring her back. She was dead. She couldn’t feel his touch, see the clothes he placed in the casket, hear whatever it was he was going to say before closing it. There was no bringing her back.

The way she had died was too horrible to contemplate, and yet he forced himself to do so. They had—no–he had been playing a game of cat and mouse with Roarke and Roarke had delivered a direct message that this was not a game that Schneider would actually want to play if he also wanted to have friendships. If he was to defeat Roarke at his game he had to be able to imagine the unthinkable. Roarke could imagine it, even do it or have it done, and somehow the man managed to continue without a second thought about it, without guilt.

Eli would have to do the same now. There was little else he could do that actually mattered. This exercise, burying the dead flesh of the only woman he really loved, maybe the only person he really loved, was just to somehow set his brain aright, to prevent it from wondering too much about unimportant questions with regards to afterlives, supernatural rewards and punishments, and the limits of the great deadly game he was now immersed in.

He had hardly noticed that Braden had started speaking to the corpse and only caught the tail end of it. Mostly, the big man was crying and repeating himself.

“Stand fast…therefore in the…liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free…”

The big man took a drink and a deep breath before continuing.

“…and be not entangled again with… the… yoke of bondage.”

Eli marveled for a second. He saw Braden’s dependence on some invisible hand in the sky as a weakness that could be—as it often was—exploited.

And yet, even drunk, mourning and clearly haven gotten very little sleep, the man somehow chose words that were appropriate to the occasion but to the location as well, perhaps even the entire reason they had embarked on the enterprise to take on Roarke to begin with.

Eli doubted Braden was conscious of much of any of that.


©2011 Christopher C. Knall


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