Deserted. short story

Cold black the night.Curtains ,shutters all shut tight as the watch man goes by as curfew is called. The hour of 9 stokes at night deep winter the visitor who will stay over unwanted by human need. The bell clanging in the north wind blasts the town streets empty as the watchman walks the dutiful strides around he becomes aware of the lady in the narrows between the castle wall and row of dwellings. He calls out his Curfew hour loud and clear but the form remains facing him as his steps approach  the form remains.

The night is silent but as day break appears over the castle turrets the watchman is found mumbling and gibbering about nothing anyone could deal with. He was unable to stand his breath not drunkard nor any evidence that he had had a drop of drink in him. The man a time honoured servant of the Governors watch. He was taken off to the doctors office and all ran back to normal day work. In fact no one felt the need even to know what had transpired as all too busy with life in general to bother of anothers needs.

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It was later in the day that Doctor Alberto Demarco sat with his sleeping watchman after drugging him out of crazy nonsense at last. He was puzzled as to two things his patient had let out. The woman in white and the place that the watchman said he came by her.

The night was fast coming in but he knew this watch must be taken by another. He left the mam sleeping and went to alert that town guard. On his way back his mind turned to the alleyway down the cobbled street towards the gates to the postern end of town. He paced slowly down to the narrow between the garderobe tower and the row of servants cottages on the town wall. For some time he examined the walls. Stone after stone but no hidden walkways or escapes did he locate. But as he turned about there to his face she stood. . He shocked and terrified of the closeness of her eyes to his fell backwards in swoon . The second watchman raised his burning torch over him. He was quite dead. The scare had caused his heart to stop.  Just who she was had not been thought of.

Years went by the events forgotten but for one retied old town watchman he knew why and who she was. It seems many years before a man had left his wife with child and returned to the army until as his duty had been as doctor to the regiment. War with Padua had taken his unit over the lines where he had been captured. For some year and a week the doctor had been forced to deal with the enemy injured.  One moonless night he managed to spook the horses and so vanish down the hill to safety.

He however did not return to his girlfriend and was offered a job near Rome where he married a butchers daughter called  Julia. His life took him to  a new house and his own practice in the town of  Grossetto near the coast.

We go back in time to a lonely pregnant woman and her fate as unmarried mother taken in by the Church. Her baby girl christened Sofia taken for adoption but sold by the nuns to an Arab trader. The mother put to work in laundry washing blankets and cloth all day every day slipping on soapy floors between each tank of hot water .Ankles burned by flames from under the tanks that fired the water to near scalding hot. Red and shrilled her fingers and after six years of hard labour in order to pay for her keep she perished and died aged 23.

We move now to the child. Traded aged 7 to a Persian silk trader she traveled the old silk roads on camel trains helping the traders family as slave. This led to her visiting England in 1837 and London gave her all the chances to break away and hide as a prostitute by night a silk dealer by day after stealing the cloth from traders without them knowing. She had watched and taken note of how measurements can increase or decrease depending on buying or selling . Her time in a Traders train had given her an edge in business. In London city fine Chinese silks had a market among the well to do titled women and men that peacock walked, avoiding puddles and lakes of mud, from one theater or knocking shop to another. In this trade she prospered. Then caught read handed thieving silk she was hanged in the city stock yard after being so judged in court.Her body buried in Saint Clements fields and that would have been the end of my tale , if not for the silk road.

Our girl had in her mouth a coin between her teeth and had been taken down by her lover pimp half dead. The coffin filled with builders bricks and she brought around by nursing went on to leave the city and take ship with her savings as a Lady in silks and Satins. The Captain took her on board and they sailed to Italy her birth place. Over ten years she discovered what had happened to her mother and swore vengeance on her father who had a deserter had caused all her sorrow for now she was suffering venereal diseases from past clients. She knew she had but little time so went her way to find the man she blamed. For two years she went from town to town but no one had heard of a doctor called Peri his real name. Then one day in the hot sunshine she had a fall over a stone in the cobbled street of the same town that Doctor Alberto and his family lived. She was taken into his surgery and given a daft to sleep then her ankle pulled back into joint.

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He had no idea who she was but he was amazed and told her he had loved a girl once in his youth that looked so much like her, that moment started her investigation.  She paid his bill and left . Over the next week or so she pieced it all together whilst watching him from her rented room window. She watch his wife and children, now grown, visit them. They had what her mother had wished for with him. But then her plotting and anguish caught up with her. Heart broken but  before she died  swore to avenge her mother in front of the nurse and her husband,  the town watchman.

 

This concludes my investigation but there is often no smoke with out fire,  is there?

copyright Kevin Parr Bt 2020

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