Secret Set Building 2

Set building is progressing easily for my Secret feature. I stopped selecting pieces when I got to over 2000 words. I did a light edit as I chose them, then another when reading them out loud. At this point I’m merely interested in the sound & flow of each individual piece, though in the back of my mind is what the sequence of the pieces will be.

 

The next step was to print them out for a more hands-on edit. Editing on screen is one thing, having a hard-copy is more intense & productive. Once again I read the pieces aloud, cutting lines that don’t add to clarity, or make things too clear 🙂 I generally remove things that sound good but aren’t really a part of the piece. I also listen for verbal stumbling points.

 

This read is my first chance to get a sense of how long the reading will be. I’m also looking at the flow of the entire set – is there a theme that I wasn’t aware of? I decide which piece will open & which will close the set. I will keep it in two distinct sections though – the 2008 material will be kept together, then the fresher Rules of Monks.

I will not be going into explanations of which Rule prompted the various pieces. The pieces are not explorations or comments on the Rules themselves but a sort of lens though which I’ve filtered my thoughts. In this read through I also decide which pieces to cut so the set doesn’t seem endless to me as I perform it 🙂 Of course listeners always want more.

this is a piece that may end up in the set 

Snapped & Slapped

some people

are just asking for a slap

you know what I mean

so I snapped & slapped 

it was so fast

I hardly felt it

but it worked

it shut them up

for a few scant moments of bliss

of silence

there wasn’t even an echo

of the slap

my hand hardly felt it all

you know what I mean

if it doesn’t hurt me

it surely didn’t hurt them

other than a bit of humiliation

in front of the others

I know to be slapped

is a social thing

if we were alone

I doubt if a slap would have happened

but with an audience

what else could I do

boundaries have to be established

so I slapped

I would do it again

only harder the next time

you know what I mean

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January
Thursday January 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – featuring ‘Yes The Poet’ https://www.facebook.com/events/577900226377507/ 

Sunday –  January 26 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) – 1:30https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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Blood of the Lamb

Unreliable 

 

your story changes

each time you tell it

so is it no wonder

no one is sure just what happened

 

not that you cry wolf

but the wolf mutates 

first it didn’t snarl

then you weren’t afraid of the snarl

subtle elaborations

 

no one doubts

that you met the wolf

but it’s no longer clear

what happened next

except that you survived

without even a bite mark on you

 

though perhaps 

the next time you tell the story

you will reveal the scar

from the bite 

that you said didn’t happen 

because you couldn’t tell everything

you didn’t expect it to be believed

you needed to trust us

before going any deeper

into what really happened

 

so it went from seeing the wolf

in the general area

to meeting said wolf

and declining further contact

to never having been in touch

with the wolf before you saw him

to having sex with the wolf

but not enjoying it enough

 

or 

 

well we’re not sure

except we don’t doubt

you met the wolf

or that the wolf

was caught with the blood of lambs

in his fur

none of blood was yours

but you knew some of those lambs

 

what will come next

as your story changes

that you escaped is clear

but what are you hiding

from yourself

This is another piece partly triggered by the serial killer coverage, in particular the number of gay men who came forward before, during & after the hunt. Those who tried to bring police attention to the notion of a serial killer were not taken seriously by the authorities – they were merely paranoid alarmists.

When it became clear these men weren’t being paranoid alarmists the press was quickly on the scent of witnesses. The killer, as it turns out, was known as a randy daddy in the community. Several had had first-hand experience & were eager to tell their stories. The press, as usual, took them at their word. Surely no one would claim to have slept with the killer just to get some TV time?

One man ended up interviewed at different times during the investigation. Interviewed by different networks & various media. His story became more revealing as more was revealed about the killer. He was, to me, literally the fictional unreliable narrator. He was caught in a paradox of wanting to talk yet not wanting to be judged at the same time. He was no ‘innocent’ victim.

 

It’s unfortunate we live in a media culture where the disposable are so eager for acknowledgment they jump at any opportunity for being seen. Because the early whistleblowers were marginalized they weren’t seen as credible but as attention seekers. Even now with some time between the conviction & today there are some who feel those faggots got what they deserved. What are they hiding from themselves?

 


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FairVista Enters the Picture 

Nibbling away at the edits for Perfect. Reading my own comments from 2014 is proving valuable too. Naming things, people, places is a fun thing but one has to do research to make sure they don’t exist. FairVista is one of those names I ‘created’ for the deluxe mall where the 2nd James Photos is located. 

I used info I already had about corporate leasing in some shopping malls – breaking even isn’t good enough which is why, sometimes, your favorite coffee shop closes. How high end is FairVista? Cup of coffee starts at $10.50, but it is good china 🙂

Stumbling Around and #NaNoWriMo sample.04

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Alter Picture Later

In going over the 2014 samples & discover I fall prey to spellcheck typos – the ones where ‘later’ has morphed into ‘alter’ – ‘definitely’ becomes ‘defiantly.’ Copy edits will be my downfall 🙂 

I haven’t read these ‘samples’ in over 5 years so I’m a  happy to see how quickly I’ve been drawn back into the world of Dan Jamison. I also see that I’ll have my edit work cut out for me 🙂 Cyrtys is a character I loved creating & writing for – partly for his personality & also for the way he represents the unreal business of reality of TV.

Introducing Cyrtys

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The Luge vs. Picture Perfect

As expected the luge to 2020 has taken over so I haven’t done a lot of Picture work this past week. Decking the halls has always usurped the last week of NaNo for me in the past. Once I get that out of the way I can do some ‘serious’ editing work.

You check out another sample here:

#NaNoWriMo 2014 Cascade & Sample.02

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Cirque de Picture Perfect 

Looking back to my 2014 blogs about writing Picture Perfect – Cirque de #NaNoWriMo 2014 – http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Uo – follow the link to see where it all started 🙂

My writing process hasn’t changed that much – write – walk & think – write more. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year though to give me time to think of edits. One of things I’ve heard is you put your first draft away for a few years then go back to it. Which is what I’ve done – 5 years to be exact.

Much of that first draft has never been looked at since it was written so it needs lots of edits. Lots of typos, wrong words filled in by spell check, ‘x’ where names should be. In the edit process I’ll be keeping notes of names, connections. I have collected all the written sections in a file & have seen that I was organized enough those years to keep a running plot outline of what was in each section. How much will remain is to be seen as I start the work.

In the mean time I’ll be reposting each of my original NaNoWriMo blog posts from 2014/15/16 – with some editing to remove things no longer relevant.

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Picture Perfect Coming Soon

Lining up the 78 sections into a Picture Perfect file to start the editing & stitching together of the sections. I have almost 190,000 words to deal with that written as part of Nanowrimo in 2014/15/16. My next step will be to look at each section & write up a brief summary of what is in it. 

I have my characters, their backstories, motivations & events fairly clear in my mind but will be discovering how much of that is on the actual page 🙂 Some portions had been lightly edited for blogging here as I was writing them but things changed by the time I got to the end of story arc in 2016 so changes are to be expected. I’ll resist making those changes until I’ve skimmed through all sections. 

I also wrote out of sequence so I’ll have make sure my timing is right. I also let myself follow tangents some of which will remain as they are seeds for my hero’s next adventures. I also stopped worrying about creating a publishable work, which allowed me to make some diversions that weren’t necessarily pushing the story line, nor were they seeds for future story lines. Something I learned from American Horror Story.

I’m not planning to blog chapter until 2020 – editing on the luge to the new year can’t be difficult but not impossible. Unlike Coal Dusters I imposed no restrictions on language or explicitness not am I doing chapter titles – I’m not even sure I’ll be doing chapters anyway. In City of Valleys I did it by seasons & days of the week, so that may happen with Picture Perfect as well.

Here’s the opening that sets up the main plot & two of the main characters –

“You’re not listening to me.” Sanjay took the remote from Dan and muted the TV.

“I was.” Dan grabbed the remote. “You said my sister had a good point.”

“But you are going to ignore her?” Sanjay tried to get the remote back before Dan could turn the sound back on.

“Some thing don’t change.” Dan  blocked Sanjay’s hand, looked him in the eyes and kissed him. “If I had listened to her, we would not be together. You know that that.”

“So you keep telling me.” Sanjay pushed Dan away from him, got up from the couch and stood in front of the TV.

“Sanj, If you want to distract me you’ll have to drop your drawers.”

“We’re talking a lot of money, Dan. A lot of money.”

“I’m not paying for you to drop them. Now, step away from the TV. I was watching something.”

“You’re always watching something when I want to talk to you. You’ve recorded this anyway, so you can go back to it.”

“You asked me to clear things off the recorder, remember. Now that I’m trying to, you want to talk me.” Dan hit pause. “You’re the reason I don’t think we need a cat.”

“What?”

“Cats ignore you till you are trying to do something and they are all over you.”

“You wish.”

“This is nearly over anyway. Ten minutes.” Dan unpaused. “Step aside?”

He pressed the back button to rewatch what he’d missed talking to Sanjay.

“What’s it about anyway?” Sanjay sat beside him.

“Missing kids on the east coast.”

“I should have known.”

“Yeah, everything is homework for … hey! That’s me!” Dan hit the pause button.

It was a photo of two boys on the front steps of a house. Arms over each other shoulders, grinning at the camera.

“You sure aren’t missing.” Sanjay said.

“Yeah yeah I know. It’s the other boy Timmy Dunlop. I guess.”

“Guess? I thought you were watching this.”

“You mean, trying to watch. My Dad took this picture. I remember it. It’s been years since I’ve seen it though.”

“Yeah, right. How many photographs have you seen?”

“Enough, but some you remember. I had a crush on Timmy. We played doctor a couple of times. When we moved I kept hoping to hear from him but nothing.”

“I guess you know why now.” Sanjay stretched. “I’m heading for bed. I leave you to your homework.”

Any reality show dealing with crime was considered Dan’s homework. He saw things in photographs that most didn’t see. His eyes had been trained to discover and recognized what might appear ordinary to the untrained eye.

He went back to the beginning of the program ‘Canada Cold,’ that looked at cold cases across Canada. He’d worked such cases with the RCMP and that had tweaked his interested in them. This episode was about a the disappearance of several children in the Maritimes in the mid-80’s. Dan had no recollection of it at all. His family had moved when he was eleven, the same summer of these disappearances.

As he watched he jotted down the names and locations of the children. None struck a chord with him expect Timmy’s. The place name were familiar, Stellerton, Digby, Wolfville in Nova Scotia; Small Town & Port Something in New Brunswick. His Dad had been an itinerant photographer, “Photos By James”, who travelled from school to school, taking class pictures and individual portraits. For the summer’s he would take the family with him, spending a day or two, or up to a week in various small towns. 

Dan pulled himself out his reflective daze, replayed the ending of the show again and wrote down the number one was to call if they had any information. He’d call once he had found those photos his Dad took of him and Timmy. Stellerton had been one of the longer stays and one of the last as he recalled. 

They’d been there long enough for him to renew his friendship with some of the boys he’d palled around with the previous summer. They left pretty quickly. He remembered being pretty pissed because the Happy Hippo Carnival had just set up and he wanted to so badly to go it. 

Moving to Toronto wasn’t as important to him then as seeing the side shows. Even his sister was somewhat disappointed because she was seeing some guy their mother didn’t approve of. He figured that was why they were really moving away and for years blamed her for ruining his childhood.

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Chapter LXVII: Lillian Gets A Surprise

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter LXVII

Lillian

Gets A

Surprise

The Saturday of the unveiling was a windy overcast day. Rain threatened but never happened. Steven had been buried in the family plot at Hardwood Hill Cemetery. The bagpipes could be heard as she and Clara walked up the path to the family plot.

“Mama was a Presbyterian you know, and never converted, so when they wouldn’t bury her on Catholic soil our father didn’t want to be buried anywhere but her side. I know Steven felt the same way.” Clara leaned on Lillian for support.

There were several others already at the site. The Nova Scotia flag covered the small stone monument. It bellowed in the breeze.

“Good day Miss O’Dowell, Miss McTavish, I mean, Mrs. O’Dowell.” The custodian greeted them.

“Thank you Mr. Crookshank.” Clara shook his hand and nodded to other men there.

“He will be sorely missed.” Gus shook both their hands.

They stood in the wind for a moment listening the the piper. Clara signalled for him to stop.

“Lillian would you give me a hand?” Clara indicated to Lillian to stand opposite her by the grave stone. 

Once Lillian had taken the edge of the flag in her hand Clara leaned and undid the string that was holding it. They lifted it together and Lillian, expecting Clara to hold it, let go of her side once it was clear. Clara let go of her’s at the same time and the flag was blown away by the breeze to get stuck in upper branches of a near by oak tree.

“Oh my!” Lillian said and started to get it.

“Leave it for now, dear.” Clara said putting an arm around Lillian’s shoulder.

The monument was pink-grey marble column, the top edge had an inlay of black onyx carved to look like lumps of coal. It was topped with miner’s lamp made of brass. 

Clara read the inscription, “ ‘Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends. John xv:13’ ” Then she began to weep. The bagpiper began to play.

Lillian squeezed Clara’s hand and they walked down the path. Followed by the others and the bagpiper.

 

The silence back at the O’Dowell house was a relief to Lillian. She’d said all she had to say and longed to be on her way. It was worse than those last days at school before summer vacation. Clara had taken to her room and Lillian brought up a supper tray for her.

“Lillian you must understand how hard this is for me. To lose Steven and now to lose you so soon after.” she patted Lillian’s hand. “I know I’m beginning to sound same as an hysterical old woman but …”

“I will be back Clara.” Lillian hoped she sounded reassuring.

“Yes, but not till Christmas. Oh, do see if you can take some time to visit while you are at college.”

“Yes, yes.” Lillian said. “Once I know what my classes are and what work I’ll have before me I’ll know what time I have to spare.”

“This house has been so empty without you or Steven to share it with.”

“You’ll get used it so quickly you won’t want any intruders other than a cat or two.”

She went down to the kitchen

“Don’t awaken Miss Clara, Aileen.” she said. “I think it best if I slip away with less fuss than I arrived.”

“Yes miss. Am I to send the things in your room along to you?”

“No. They’ll be there for me when I return. Knowing my favorite blue shoes are here is sure to bring me back. I’d like you to have these.”

She gave Aileen the pair of stocking she had bought for the wedding. One less memento of a time she hoped to forget. 

 

She planned to leave Monday morning. Being here had become unbearable for her now that her escape from the island was assured. 

“I can’t quite believe you are going.” Mrs. Franklin said as they waited on the boarding house porch for the cab to take Lillian’s luggage to the train station.

“I am so grateful for everything you’ve done for me Rose.”

“Thank you, Lillian, you’ve been a joy to … “ she began to tear up.

“I’d like you to have this.”

“Oh  …” Mrs. Franklin pulled the tissue paper off what turns out to be an ornate carved ivory fan. “It is beautiful. The roses look so real.”

“I realize it isn’t that practical. Much like me, I suppose, I was brought up to be pretty but not practical. Life here has taught me to be practical.

“It was a gift from my father. He bought it for me on one his trips to the continent. I don’t want to have too many impractical memories.”

The cab pulled up. Once her luggage was safe at the train station she had the driver take her to the cemetery. She had given herself time to go back Steven’s grave. The day was sunny but the wind was strong around the grave.

As she knelt the wind pulled off her hat and her hair came loose. She laughed to herself thinking that Steven always did appreciate her hair.

“Steven,” she said softly, “forgive me for what I am doing. Even if you had lived I would never have been content here on this rock with you. Never.” 

“Lillian?” a man’s voice came from behind her. “Lillian McTavish!” The man repeated louder.

She stood, shivering, and turned around. The sun was in her eyes.

“Steven!” Had she brought him back to life? 

“It is you, Lillian! I thought it was a ghost.” He took her in his arms. She tried to push him away. 

“David Henderson? No, it can’t be. It can’t be.” She stumbled back away from him.

“It is.”

“How? Why?”

“When news of your death reached me in India I was devastated. I had hoped to return to Boston one day to be with you. I should never have let my family pressure me into leaving you. Never. It was torment I shall never want to experience again.

“I could hardly sit through the memorial service your uncle conducted in Boston. It wasn’t right to me. I had to see your grave to … be near you one last time.” Tears streaked his face. “To find you alive! How is that possible.”

“My uncle was … mistaken.” Lillian stared hard at David. He looked much she remembered. Older and less naive.

“He said at the memorial that you had been interred here with the other flu victims. I now see why the custodian was so puzzled when I asked about Lillian McTavish’s resting place earlier. He said that if you were here today it might be up here at the O’Dowell plot.”

A nearby church rang eleven.

“I … don’t know what to say David.”

“Tell me that my affections might still be returned.”

She started to walk down to the street. “Much had happened in the past year David. I can’t say what my affections are for anyone.”

“I understand that Lillian. I do honestly.” he stopped her and took both of her hands in his. “We can become reacquainted.”

He let go of her hands, put his around his waist pulled to him and kissed her. 

The wind wrapped her hair around them for a moment. They broke free and she quickly plated her hair and secured it under her hat. Was this Steven’s answer to her prayer for forgiveness?

“David I’ll be direct.”

“As you always were.”

They got into the cab that she had waiting for her. “Train station please.” Lillian said.

“I’m staying the The Royal.” David said.

“That may be, but my train leaves at noon. I intend to be on it.” Lillian’s thoughts were reeling with this unexpected, undreamed of event. Regardless of it she was determined to leave. “I can’t make any decision or plans as long as I am here.”

“I know that Lillian, but please hear me out. After my father’s death I inherited the firm and have increased its holdings in India considerably. When I first met you I was a young man with possibilities, now I am man of property.”

“I can see that. I presume you know that I was compromised by James Dunham.” She saw no reason to hold anything back from David.

“Compromised?”

“Yes. Do I have to explain that for you? That’s why I ended up here. I had a child by him. It was still born.”
“Lillian,” he clutched her hand and brought it to his lips.

“Do you still want to be become reacquainted with me?”

“How could you doubt it?” He said softly.

“You are free to come with me. I am not promising anything.”

“Yes. yes. Thank you. Drop me at the Royal and then take Miss McTavish to the train station.” The cab pulled up at the Royal. He jumped out. “It won’t take me long to pack my things and I’ll meet you at the station.”

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Listen

Listen Closely

did you hear that

 

I heard something

while you were talking

a whisper hiding in your words

it was a sinister shush

but when you are silent

all I hear

is my own breath

 

can you hear breathing

down your neck

waiting for that something

you must hear it

it doesn’t come from you

that much I know

that’s why I have to listen closely

hear what it has to say

it comes from behind me

not from you

but with your words

 

sometimes

it moves a curtain

in a room 

where there is no curtain

 

shh did you hear that

 

you must have

it was so loud

like a book falling of the table

onto a cushion

like the soul

leaving the body

at the last breath

no don’t stop breathing

I can’t stand the silence

 

did you hear that

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Chapter LVIX – Birk In Shackles

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter LVII

Birk

In

Shackles

Birk and Clancy came back to the Nelson’s with their fish. 

“What is it?” his mother asked. “I can tell by the look on yer faces that something happened.”

“That Miss Lillian caught me and Clancy horsing around. We was bare naked.” He blushed as he told her.

“Why did you do that with her there?” Maddy asked.

“We didn’t know she was there.” Clancy said.

“That stretch of Blue Lake empty most of the time. Even more so this time of the year.” Birk said. “It was warm enough and we wanted to cool down.”

“We had been in for a swim when she came up over the path and spotted us.” Clancy said.

“Started in screaming at us. Calling us Godless and then ran off as if she had seen something awful.”

“Guess a naked, hairy, thing such as yourself might scare a young Catholic gal.” Birk’s mother started to laugh. “She’s been through enough as it is without seeing you two.”

“She wasn’t scared.” Clancy said. “She was in a true rage about how about it wasn’t right for men to be together the way we was. Playing around as if we were kids in the sun.”

“We got dressed as quick as we could but she was gone before we could …”

“Could what?” his mother asked. 

“I don’t know.” Clancy said. “Explain.”

“She didn’t want to hear anything from us once she’d made her mind up. So, we come back here with the fish.” Birk put the fish into a wash basin.

“That’ll teach you.” His mother hit him with her wooden spoon. “You aren’t children anymore. Stop behaving that way.”

“Yes Ma.” Birk flinched.

“And you Clancy Sinclair. I figured you being a bit older would have enough sense. Neither of you are children anymore. You are men. Keep that in mind. It’s not as if the lake is the miner’s wash up room. Now is it?”

“Yes ma’am.” Clancy said.

 

Birk and Clancy were in the back orchard gathering dead wood when Maddy came out to them.

“There’s policemen at the house come looking for you two.”

“What!” Birk said wiping sweat of his brow.

“Ma says to come directly.”

“We’re coming.” He pulled on his shirt.

“What you think it is?” He asked Clancy.

“Fishing out of season? Maybe this is what that priest’s niece said she’d get us in trouble.”

Birk shook his head. “You think she’d do something that mean? I figured she’d go to her uncle, the way she went on about the scriptures.”

“Perhaps’n he got the the police after us then. I wouldn’t put that past him.”

When they got to the house there were three constables waiting for them.

“Birk Nelson? Clancy Sinclair?” The tallest of them asked sharply.

“Yes.” They each answered.

The other two constables stepped forward and grabbed them roughly by the arms.

“You will come with us. Peaceably.”

“What is this about?” Birk’s mother said.

“These bastards know well enough what they’ve done. Ma’am. I can’t want to speak of it in front of children.”

“Maddy you go up to your room.” She stood at the bottom of the stairs till Maddy was in her room. “Now shut your door.”

Birk and Clancy glanced at each other but kept still.

“We done nothing wrong, officers.” Clancy said. ‘Cept get caught by the female with our drawers off to take a swim.”

“That’s not how she tells it.” The tall officer spoke directly into Birk’s face. “Putting your disgusting hands on the good Catholic girl. You got your nerve.”

“We didn’t touch her.” Birk tried to pull away.

“You’ll regret what you did.” One policeman pushed Birk’s face to the wall and shackled his arms behind him.

Birk struggled to get free.

“Keep that up boy. Resisting will only take use more force to keep you in line.”

The officers did the same to Clancy.

They pushed Birk and Clancy along the street. There was another pair of constables waiting at the corner.

“They give you any trouble?” One them asked.

“Not enough. Sarg.” The one with Birk said.

“They fess up?”

“What do you think?”

“You two take the tall one to the ferry. While we have a word with this one.”

The two officers pushed Clancy onto the boat.

“Now. So its Blackie’s son is it?” Sarg said pushing his face close to Birk’s. “Your Da’s a mighty superior man.”

“How’s that?” Birk asked.

“Engineer, that’s how. Working when the other’s isn’t. He was too busy to teach you the difference between right and wrong though. I know what you did to that Boston gal. Filthy Christers like you aren’t above the law. Now you are going to find that out.”

“We didn’t do nothing to her.” Birk had barely finished when the Sarg punched him hard in the face.

“You saying that girl is a liar. Her with her uncle a priest.” He punched Birk again sending him staggering.

“She’s …”  Birk’s mouth was full of blood.

“She’s got us now to defend her honour now. So don’t think you can play innocent.”

Sarg shoved Birk toward the boat, kicking him in the hip. “Keep moving.”

Birk struggled to get his hands out of the handcuffs. 

“Keep still boyo.” Sarg whacked Birk across the ear with the palm of his hand. “Resisting arrest and tryin’ to escape is all we need. Keep that up and there’ll be no need for a trial.”

“The sight of him is making me sick.” Sarg said to the other two officers. “Take him over there out of my sight.”

The officers shoved Birk past Clancy to the other side of the ferry. In passing Birk saw that Clancy’s nose was busted and bleeding over the front of his torn shirt. He sat on a bench and glared out over the water.

The constables escorted Birk and Clancy to the police station in New Waterford and put them each in their own cell in the holding rooms and left them.

“What you think she’s gone and told them?” Clancy asked quietly.

“I don’t know. She didn’t come near enough for us to even talk to her. Maybe she saw more than we know.”

“Saw more? What more, us sporting in the water. She was too far away to see much o’that anyway.”

“She called us things I don’ understand half of what she said about us being unwholesome. Being forna – something?”

“She’s more educated than sensible, if you ask me Birk. I don’t know what she was trying to say except she didn’t much approve that we were having a good time while she was being unhappy about her husband dying like he did in the mines.”

“The constable said that we interfered with her. That means we … put our hands on her.” Birk reddened.

“That was what she meant. That we had forced our attentions on her, on her body.”

“What! She never even came that close to us. Why would she say that?”
“To get us here. She promised to make us as unhappy as she is.”

The door opened and Lillian came in followed by two of the policemen, Father Patrick and Clara O’Dowell.

Birk grabbed the bars of his cell. “Tell them Miss, that we didn’t interfere with you in anyway. Tell them!”

“Interfered?” Lillian asked.

“That’s right ma’am.” The constable that had bloodied Birk’s nose said. “These are the boys you said attempted to have their way with you when you was at the lake.”

“I see you’ve already taken into your hands to punish them.” Clara said. 

“No ma’am.” Another of the officers grinned. “They was tossed around by the waters as we brought them over.”

“I regret you have been mislead constables. I said nothing of that sort of anyone. They did my person no harm but what I saw will be forever burned into my memory.”

“But you said they were naked.” The constable said.

Birk backed away from the bars.

“You see.” She gloated. “He knows what they were doing.”

Clancy explained, again, about the pissing on his hands. Birk showed them his damaged palms and fingers. He kept his eyes on Lillian’s face hoping her looks would make more sense to him than her words. The words were angry with that undercurrent he’d heard in his sister’s voices when they found something that they didn’t approve of, like the time they came across a dead dog out back of their house.

His eyes went from face to face as they talked more to each other than to him and Clancy. They were trying to find out exactly what it was that got Lillian so distressed.

“Buggery?” Father Patrick glared at him then Clara. “Forgive me for saying such a thing in your presence, Miss O’Dowell.”

Birk didn’t know what the priest was talking about. He felt even more lost as Father Patrick became red-faced as he began to quote scripture. 

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