The shadow. Short story.

A thin mist lay over the golden hues of sleeping giants. Trees but a row of misty visions with great arms and grey cast trunks they lined the drive up from the house to the road.

From her window the grey world of autumn fixed her eye on a slightly moving shadow. Not whole or defined it moved behind the shadowy trees. In and out then vapor only it fell to earth.  For some time she watched the scene until at length her eyes grew dim and watered. Transfixed with fear she was slowly loosing reality.

She, Madame Du Bari, had read of the haunted driveway that linked her to the village. A winding wounded snake of a dusty road deep in the  bosom  of the French countryside. She had not believed any of it,  until now.

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Armond Du Bari was an eminent lawyer in the town of Mullhouse near Montieliard in the area of Dijon.  His family had lived in Montiveix for over 400 years. Montiveix was itself an old house in 1603 when Armonds ancestor had purchased the said property from the King. It had served ,it was said, as a royal hunting lodge  at one time in its existence and Armond loved the place. He had been the 14th generation to own the small estate.

His wife, of high middle class banking family, from Paris high society had no such love of the countryside around the place but was fine with the interior of her rooms and the proud wife of a good man.

The winter approached, it  held no joy and only the Christmas celebrations held her interest.  Although her car sat idle she had no wish to go out on  a morning so damp and so sat reading the newspapers that her maid had left for her. Alisia was a mere 16 when first her employment had started .Her mother had used the services of Armond Du Bari and had sought work for her daughter. At 18 now she had settled in to a fine house and proved able to do her best.

Scene now set for the events to unravel. We walk into a room looking south down a line of Elm trees with many  flat meadow like fields around it. Madame is sitting reading .The crackle of paper as she turns the pages is the only sound we hear.  Only the maid is in the house working in the kitchens and Madame stops. Silent, the lady stands and the news paper  like a snow fall descends to the floor. She is close to the window now watching. We have no way of ever knowing what alerted her to watch but yes a lurking shadow can almost be seen clear in the advancing mist. As if watching a strong light in a dark cellar and suddenly it goes out and we will still see the image of that light for several seconds afterwards. Well! my dears, this shadow, that Madame is watching intently falls into that same self image.

It is six thirty on the hall clock. It chimes twice. Armond parks his car as always outside the car port as his wifes car is undercover. He enters and is greeted by the maid who takes his overcoat and gloves and allows the free movement as her master as he races into kiss his dear wife. She is set at the window still; her face a torment of terror. He cant get her to respond. The lady is helped into an armchair and a doctor is called.

At her bedside Doctor Oberje is puzzled. Madame is calm but frozen .Her eyes fixed across to the window she says over and over ,”It is him. It is him.”

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We leave them at this stage to travel back in time.

It is May month the blossoms fill the air with sweet scents .It is Paris  and the party life of 1963 is in full swing. The well to do girls are drunk and swinging in dances with well to do drugged and dunk French pop stars. All is fun, all is night, and across the car parked lane a man creeps out of the undergrowth. He is dirty and his clothing torn.

He begs for help and some of the boys take him up to the party and call him a tramp, call him a creep and so in as it goes on. The man tries to escape but it is then that a drugged and raged bully throws the beaten man in the swimming pool to clean him off. That man could not swim and no one helped him as he drown. Only when the laughter at his antics  faded did they begin to see what was the mistake as minds cleared and reality hit even the cruel and wonton.

In the clear light of morning they  came to see it as murder and took the body into the park woods and buried it well. Two girls stood watching in silence one used the shovel to help rid themselves of blame.

Two days later police released the dead mans identity as missing. 48 year old Merchant Banker Charles Mermont. He had been attacked as he left work that evening. Three men had been refused loans for a business  venture had threatened him in front of a row of  bank staff at the counters. The hunt was on for his whereabouts.

1963 had turned slowly into now and she, Madame Mercedes Du Bari, knew why she was being sought by some shadowy figure that called her and no other. Her past had caught up with her at last.

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At a loss to know why his dear wife was lost to her self Armond sat vigil that night at her bedside. His thoughts of madness in her family had entered his mind reluctantly. His four years with her had been smooth and family like and he could not bare to face the truth that his wife had gone mentally adrift.

He employed a mind specialist at great cost but it proved only that his wifes mind was gone from her. Over time she was placed in a mental ward for observation. At first she was visited every evening by her husband but slowly his visits became rare. Then one night in November 2019 she died. Her face had lost all anguish and her smile was on her lips. Like release in fact they all thought.  They did not see the shadow at the window, none of them. But I did. I stood silently in the shadows. My name was, Charles; and justice is done. I am being called back, im sure.

 

Yours hoping you like my short tale. Be good be true for we all must pay in the end.

Copyright Kevin James Parr Bt.

 

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