A Life Rekindled

 

A David Blaine Story (Continuation of Blaine's Odyssey)

By Atonia Walpole

 

"We here, as yet, each day

Are blest with dear recall; as yet, can say

We hold in some soul loved continuance

Of shape and voice and glance.

 

"But what has been will be--

First memory, then oblivion's swallowing sea;

Like men foregone, shall we merge into those

Whose story no one knows.

"For which of us could hope

To show in life that world-awakening scope

Granted the few whose memory none lets die,

But all men magnify?"

(From 'The To Be Forgotten' by Thomas Hardy)
 

Chapter 1

Christine pulled her sweater tighter around her arms. It was early morning and she was on the stone porch of the guest cottage at Trevor Blaine’s farm. The mist was still floating about the river in the distance, the cows were moving about finding their grazing spots, and all was green. She inhaled deeply the coolish, not-yet-quite-morning air as the distant sun sought to whisk away the remaining misty fog.

She could be living anywhere; she had the means to do so. It was this place, this country…Blaine’s country, that held her. Some vestige of his spirit remained here. She couldn’t let it go.

“Christine, will this be enough, do you think?” Lyssa was going to spend three nights with Billy Wright and Willy. She allowed it from time to time. It really wasn’t fair to the children that they’d been stripped apart but she understood it. Willy was Billy’s son.

“Let me see what you  have there.” Christine opened the pink backpack to see what the girl had packed. “Only one pair of shoes? What if your feet get wet?”

Lyssa made a face. “If they do, Uncle Billy can buy me some dry ones.”

Christine smiled and hugged her. “I do love you, little one.”

Lyssa looked up at her with her serious face. “I do love you, too. When I come home it will be my birthday.”

“Oh, I know this. There might be a cake if Fish remembers to bake it and if she does not, then I will attempt it.”

“Oh, Fish always knows when it’s my birthday.” She kept her arm around Christine. “I’ll bet my daddy knows up there in heaven.”

Christine’s eyes stung. “I know he does.” She bit back the tears that were always near the surface. “If you are ready, I will walk with you up to the house.”

 

He stoked the fire in the snuggery, so named by him. It was the old kitchen before the back side of the cottage had been knocked down and expanded to accommodate modern conveniences. The cottage held a cool dampness if not warmed by a fire. It was nestled in a green valley in the middle of 60 acres of land, not owned by him…at least not yet. The cottage was remotely located with a five mile drive to the door, another 10 miles to the village. Only one other occupant lived there and they lived in a cottage next door, an elderly couple who had maintained his cottage as a holiday let until it became too much for them. Colin McKinney, owner of the fishing boat, was some relation to them and he was the one who directed Davey Reardon to the cottage when he found out he was looking to buy.

Colin had accompanied him out on his first look at the cottage and because of him and whatever it was he told his relations, they offered the cottage at a price well below its value.

Davey went back to the table and closed his eyes a moment before turning the card over. It was a simple card but one chosen carefully. He’d debated on this for awhile and in the end his better judgment was forgotten and he went with his heart instead. Taking up the black charcoal pencil, he carefully drew two stick figures and before the lure of wanting to add more could take hold, he placed the card in an envelope and sealed it. Picking up a black pen, he wrote her name in block letters. The ache in his heart threatened to become liquid. In the same block letters he addressed the cover envelope and stamped it.

 

Trevor picked up the mail and tossed it on his desk. A particular envelope stood out and he pulled it from the pile of leaflets and farm news. Ireland?  Whom did he know in Ireland? He opened the envelope and found another addressed simply to Lyssa Blaine. He was of a mind to open it but tapping it on his palm, he didn’t. She could be very possessive about her things and likely this would cause a row. Better not to have a row. Instead he examined the cover envelope…Kerry. No return address, a mystery he hoped her letter would solve. Holding her envelope against a lamp, he couldn’t see anything inside but a card of some sort. Meanwhile he had other things to occupy his thoughts.

Christine washed up her breakfast dishes. Toomes was down gathering up the laundry. She hesitated outside the kitchen for a minute before squaring her shoulders and coming in as far as the scrubbed oak table. “Miss Christine, I wonder if I might have a word?”

Christine wiped her hands. “Do we need a pot of tea for this?” She’d become used to the English ways.

“Well, I…shall I make it?”

With a  pot between then and the first sips taken, Toomes opened up. “You see, Miss, it’s that I have a feelin’ that I’m not…well, that I’m not needed as much as I used to be when Himself was here. I’ve watched you with Lyssa and she’s as happy as a bee in the garden.”

“She does appear to be happy, Toomes, but beneath it all is a wound that has not healed.”

“Yes, but I think it is you who can heal that wound. She’s become yours. It’s not like it was when Himself would go away for awhile and come back. I was always there to take charge of Lyssa, from her bath to taking her back and forth to her school and lessons.”

“What is it you wish to say, Toomes? I am well aware that things are not as they were.”

“I think I should look for another post. It breaks my heart to do. I’ve been with the child for a long time but it’s not right, you see, for me to be gatherin’ pay for a job not done and one that’s been passed to another.”

Christine sighed and took a sip of tea. “I am between worlds. Can you possibly understand what I mean? I cannot let go of him, cannot move on to a world where he does not exist. I keep thinking one day…I’m sorry, I should not say such things to you.”

Toomes patted her hand. “Well, Miss, we all wish, don’t we. There’s no harm in that but the facts are the facts. I’ll be puttin’ my notice in. He left me a tidy little nest egg and if I don’t find another post that suits, I may think about retiring meself.”

“There is no hurry, you know.”

“I do know that and thank you for listen’ to me.”

 

Davey sat at another scrubbed table watching Mrs. McKinney’s bent back over the ironing board. “I could have done that.”

“Oh, ye couldna. Yer not a man that has done for himself, are ye?”

He smiled. “No, I cannot honestly say that I have.”

“Did ye have a woman then? Did she leave ye or die?”

“I have been widowed,” he replied honestly. He didn’t like to talk about himself and moved to an open hutch, picking up a delicate teacup and saucer. “This is lovely.”

“Aye, ‘tis. Was a gift from a granddaughter long ago before she went to America. It’s Belleek, ye know.”

“Is that where your family is now?”

“I woulda thought Colin had told ye. Aye, all gone but for a few that’s taken themselves off hither and thither. Colin is the only one that comes around.” She stacked his pillow cases and sheets in a nice pile and began on his shirts. His dryer was not operating and he’d come over to use hers. She’d taken it upon herself to see to him. “Ye’ve an assortment of foreign clothes, Davey.”

“Yes,” he answered and didn’t elaborate. Not all of them had been bought for him but all of that now lived on a dark and misty plane where he seldom visited anymore.

“And who’s cleanin’ the cottage for ye?” She turned with an arched brow.

“I am. I can clean after myself.”

She laughed. “Ye know what I think, Davey boy? Ye’ve been spoilt. I’ll give it a lick and a promise now and again.” She wouldn’t have done it for just anybody. Her days of cleaning up after others was past. There was only her and her husband now, and a few sheep to tend to was enough for him.  Her husband told her how Davey had helped him fix the hinges on the shed door. He didn’t half know what he was doing but he was trying all the same and he might be able to do a hinge himself now that he’d been taught what to do. And if thoughts were deeds they might have come down a little more on the cost of the cottage as it had set empty for nearly a year.

Early Sunday morning Billy was up with his cup reading the paper. Lyssa came sleepily out of Willy’s room where she had a narrow bed.

“You’re up early, Princess.”

She climbed up in his lap for a cuddle. “It’s my birthday.”

“Is it?” Billy slapped his forehead. “How could I forget such an important day?”

She smiled. “You didn’t forget.”

“You’re right, I didn’t. There’s a box hidden around here somewhere with your name on it.”

She cuddled against him. “My daddy’s not here.”

Billy closed his eyes. “He’s here in spirit, little love.”

He made pancakes for their breakfast and hers had a candle in it. Willy wanted one too and Lyssa said it was all right so he got to blow out his candle too. Later he packed them into his car and drove to Yorkshire for the dinner celebration.

Fish put eight candles on the cake. “I can’t believe the little tyke is eight years old.”

Toomes finished her cup and went to the sink. “I’ve put in my notice, put in with Miss Christine.”

“Ah, then, you never…why so soon?”

“It’s been nearly a year and you know that as well as I. Miss Christine looks after the girl as well as I ever could. She loves her, you know.”

“I know and don’t I see it in her face.”

Billy arrived with the children. Lyssa came running into the farmhouse with her new tablet. “I can take pictures and download music and play games.”

Trevor laughed. “You’ll have to show me how you do all that. You’ve got a piece of mail.”

“Me, for me?”

Trevor handed her the mysterious card. Fish and Toomes gathered to see who it was from. Christine hung back for some reason only she knew.

Lyssa opened the card, looking at the picture first and smiling and then she turned it over. Her face went white and she held it to her little chest.

“What is it?  Who’s it from?” Trevor asked, but Toomes had a glance at it before Lyssa covered it up. She stepped back and moistened her lips.

“It’s…it’s an angel card. I didn’t know angels could write.”

“Let me see it,” Trevor said.

“No, no, nobody can see it but me!” She ran to her room and closed the door.

“What was that all about?” Fish asked.

Toomes cleared her throat. “I’m not sayin’ that I believe such things coming through from the other side, but I saw the figures on the card, stick figures like…like Himself used to draw. It was a way they had of communicating with one another…little notes and…things.”

Christine went to Lyssa’s door. “May I come in?”

“Yes.” She sat on the side of her bed, clutching the card.

“What have you got, Lyssa?”

Lyssa slowly showed it to her. “It’s from my daddy. He’s an angel now and he sent this from heaven.”

A tall man figure was handing a small girl figure a heart. “If he sent this to you, then he truly is an angel.” Christine kissed her and hugged her. There were tears in her eyes. How could it be?

Trevor knocked on the door. “I must go," Christine said. “I will go and talk to them. When you are ready, poppet, there are presents and cake to eat. Fish has made your favorite spaghetti bolognaise.  You will come out when you are ready.”

Lyssa nodded.

“Where’s the card?” Trevor asked.

“It’s hers and right now it has her heart. Do not try and take it. She will show you when she is ready. It is from David…I know it.”

Trevor looked around at Billy. “You know about these stick figures?”

Billy nodded, not knowing exactly what he felt at the moment. “I…I do know. They used to give each other notes of stick figures. This started before she could write. He kept them all in his desk. All gone now.”

“You realize what this means?” Trevor said, not fully believing it himself. “He’s alive.”

“Then why hasn’t he let us know?” Billy cried. “Where’s he been all this time? Damn him!” Billy turned away to cry.

Trevor looked at all four of them. “Not a word, not a word of this is to leave this room, understood? I have to believe that if he thought he could come to us, he would. Billy?”

Billy had his handkerchief out, wiping his face. “I understand and you’re right. I just wish I knew…”

“He’s made contact and I believe he will again. We have to be patient.” Patient and Trevor were strangers at the best of times.

“You’re not going to Brennan with this, I hope.”

“Billy, the last person in the world who ever needs to know anything else about David is Brennan.”

When Christine came up to the house for the car to take Lyssa to school she saw Trevor coming towards them with a bag slung over his shoulder. “I’m bumming a ride.”

Christine smiled. “Where to?”

“Let’s drop the little lady off first.”

Later he turned to her. “I’d like a ride to Manchester, to the airport. I’ll be gone for a day or two…any longer and I’ll call you.”

“Trevor, what is it you are going to do?”

“I’m going to find him, Christine. Find him and find out what the hell is going on with him.”

She pulled out into the traffic. “If you find him and if it’s not out of the question to say to him, because I do not know what his circumstances are, tell him he has only to ask me. That is all…he knows the rest.”

Chapter 2

Davey waited on the dock. There was a question about whether they were going to try and go out today. The sky was holding dark clouds  out over the Atlantic. Some of the other fishermen were milling around, waiting with him. Colin finally came out. “There’s a storm moving in. We might get a day…might not. Is it worth it, do ye think, to spend the fuel?”

One of the older men spoke. “How long is the blow supposed to last, Colin?”

“Three days, they say. I looked at the radar and it's massive. I have me doubts whether t’would be worth it.”

“Well then, that’s it,” The fishermen began picking up their bags. “No rain t’morrow, we’ll be here.”

Davey hoisted his over his shoulder and walked back to the small car he owned. He wasn’t altogether sorry. The money was needed but he could make do. He’d lived here for six months, the longest he’d been anywhere since David’s death. The rain began before he reached the town center. He made a few stops for supplies then headed up towards the valley.

 

The plane landed in a storm and according to the pilot they just made it before the worst of it. Trevor was wet and blown about by the time he made it into the terminal. Transportation and a place to stay for a couple of nights were on his agenda. He rented a small car and drove into the town center, looking for a hotel.

Davey stopped alongside the single lane road leading to the cottage and opened the door. The rain pelted in. “Come on, you,” he said to the young, bedraggled-looking cat. The cat blinked a few times and jumped in the car. “Are you lost, abandoned or forgotten?” The cat didn’t reply. He began furiously licking himself.

“We will have a fire shortly. I think you will like that.”

He built a fire in the pot bellied stove and thought about turning on the central heating. The cat disappeared into the cottage. Davey put away his shopping and put the kettle on for a cup of instant coffee. He thought about what he’d said to the cat. He no longer felt lost. He’d found his feet here and put down some tentative roots. As for being abandoned…no, he wasn’t. He was the abandoner. Forgotten? He hoped not but things change, time moves on, people move on. He’d moved on. The rain beat down on the glass panels on the ceiling of the kitchen. It was not a day to fish and he wasn’t sure he wanted to be alone with his thoughts for they did come to him at such times.

The cat came out from the snuggery and spoke.

“Yes, I hear you, cat, but I did not know you were coming. You must make do as I do.” He poured some milk in a dish and set it down on the floor. The cat sniffed at it and sat down to lap it up.

The next morning he was back at the dock. He was late because his car wouldn’t start. Mr. McKinney had come to his rescue and sprayed a magical substance on his carburetor and he was able to get to the dock an hour late, however the boat was still in her berth. He sat in the car with the windshield wipers going for a moment then turned around. A last minute thought was for the cat. He stopped in the town center for cat food and other cat things he would need.

Trevor left the small restaurant where he’d had breakfast and headed back up the street to where his car was parked. He stopped at the corner, pulling his collar up and happened to glance in the shop. A man was coming out and his heart nearly stopped. “David.”

Davey dropped one of the bags he was carrying and stared at Trevor. He moved, picking up the bag and started to run away.

“Oh, no, you don’t!” Trevor caught him.

Davey looked straight ahead, holding a bag in each hand.

“David, you’re going to talk to me.”

Davey nodded and then turned to look at him. His lips trembled and his face started to come apart.

“My car’s just over there.  Come on, come with me.” He didn’t resist and Trevor led him to his car, still with a hand on his arm. He had tried to run from him.

In the car Davey dropped his head, letting the tears flow down his cheeks into his beard. “Why did you come?”

“I had to. After Lyssa got the card…we knew you were alive. So…are you living here now?”

Davey wiped his face on the sleeve of his jacket. “Yes, I live here.”

“Where?”

“I have a cottage in the valley.” He turned and looked at Trevor. “Lyssa is all right?”

“Seems to be. She talks about you. She thought she’d received an angel card…since you’re an angel now…living up in heaven.”

He was quiet for a moment, searching Trevor’s face. “Follow me home if you will.”

“Sure, I’ll follow you.”

He looked towards the window with the rain dripping down. “There wasn’t any work today because of the rain. A massive storm.”

“Yeah, I know.  My plane just made it in yesterday.” He looked at the bags David was gathering in his hands. “Got a cat?”

“Yes.” Davey glanced at him quickly and opened the door. “Follow me.”

“Oh, you can bet your life I’m following you. You forget, David, I was always very good at that.”

Trevor couldn’t believe the car David got into, an old Ford with an odd-colored door. It seemed to sputter a bit and then moved away from the curb. He followed him out of the town center onto a road and then he took a turning onto a narrow single lane. Trevor hoped they didn’t meet any oncoming traffic.

The cottage was typical of the area and looked to be very old. It presented a plain front. Trevor wasn’t impressed and wondered how David could live in such a place. It reminded him of the barn on his farm.

Davey unlocked the door and kicked off his boots. He carried his bags through to the table in the snuggery. “I’ll get the fire going. I thought I’d be away today.”

The fire was a pot bellied stove set in the fireplace recess in the next room. It proved to be a living room of sorts, sparsely furnished.

“Don’t you have central heating?”

“I do and I will turn it on in a minute. No need to run it if I am not here” He was still Davey building the fire, wiping his hands on his jeans, removing his dripping coat and hanging it in the entry on the pegs provided there.  “I’ll put the kettle on. Come and see the kitchen.”

“This is nice, David. Looks like it doesn’t belong to the rest of the cottage.”

“It did not until it was built on. This was a holiday let. Everything here was for the tourists to stay. A self-catering cottage.”

“I see and you…you’re leasing it now?”

“No, I do not lease. I own it. Only the cottage. Next door is Mr. and Mrs. McKinney.  It is their land and they sold me the cottage. Someday I hope to own some of the land. There are 60 acres here.”

“Beautiful country.” Trevor watched him preparing a pot of tea. He still had that grace, that fluid movement, even though his appearance had undergone a transformation. He was slimmer now and broader of shoulder.

The cat came out to see who had come in. Davey spoke to it, opened a bag of dry food and put it down. “Tea at the table.”

Trevor sat down. “What are you doing here…buying cottages?”

“I am living.”

“How?”

“I am a fisherman. Colin McKinney has a fishing boat named Choice. Sometimes we are out for days, even weeks. It is good, honest work. The pay is good when we are successful.”

“David, you’ve got to explain all this to me. You faked your death, didn’t  you?”

He took a sip of his tea and lit a cigarette. “Yes, I did. I killed David Blaine.” He looked directly into Trevor’s eyes. “He is no longer here, Trevor. I am Davey Reardon. It was necessary.”

“I was there in Ithaca. I saw the shirt…walked out in the water to the drop.”

“The shirt was meant to be found.”

“It was your blood.  We had it tested.”

He pulled down the neck of the thick Aran sweater he wore. “I know just how deeply to cut. I have a thin scar there still but it is not noticeable. I bled a lot. I walked into the water naked and then I swam a bit. The boat came as arranged and picked me up. A small boat it was, one man at the oars. He stopped the bleeding. I dressed in clothes I'd bought in Corinth. I had money, Trevor. Money will buy anything in some places. It bought me passage on a fishing boat to Sicily.”

“All this time we thought you were dead.”

“You were supposed to believe that. For all purposes, David Blaine is dead. It was the only way to end it. Believe me, I thought about killing myself for real. It came to me how it could be done as I planned. No boat to save me…I could not do it. I had not the courage to take my own life.”

“Alternately you could have presented yourself as a target and ended it that way. You wanted to live. Why didn’t you let us know?”

“I could not. Not until I knew who I was now.”

Trevor stood up, feeling the anger rush through him. “You have no idea of the anguish, emotional pain and heartache you’ve caused.”

“Would it have been any less had I put a bullseye on my shirt? Only a matter of time. I hope you have not led them here.”

“There is no them anymore. The radical, rabid uncle who was behind all the threats was assassinated. The rest of the family, what there is of it, wants to live in peace.”

“I did not know of this. When was he killed?”

“A week after your memorial service. I don’t know any details other than that.”

“I did not kill Abby.”

“I know all the details, David. I know everything. I’ve lived through it…Billy completely devastated. Christine is a shadow of herself, still hoping. She sends a message to you if I found you. She says ‘you’ve only to ask’. She said you’d know the rest. She’s living in my guest house with Lyssa because her house was destroyed in a deliberately set fire. Gravesend…destroyed in a gas explosion caused by interference with the lines.”

“Gravesend…oh, God!”

“It’s gone, a bloody blackened ruin now. I’ve got Fish and Toomes at the house. Toomes is going to leave, she’s given notice. Fish is staying on. I quite like her.”

“No one was there when…?”

“No, actually Brennan called them all in, even Christine. I went to Marseilles for her and brought her and her dog back. Everyone was at Sir Brennan’s house when the arson started. I fully expected the farm to go next…and then word came of your whereabouts. By the time I got there…it was all over.”

“I am sorry, sorry for all the pain I have caused. Would it have been better had I died?”

Trevor put a hand on his shoulder. “No, a thousand times…no.”

“I have wondered if it were so. I have suffered too…for the loss.”

“What happened after Sicily?”

“In Sicily I was able to obtain papers, a new passport, a birth certificate. The last of the money was spent there and I hired on another fishing boat. It was a good way to get into different countries. I worked my way around…Spain, Portugal, France. I hired onto a ship from Greenland and that is how I ended up here in Ireland. I was tired of running.”

“I can’t see you fishing, David.”

David spread his hands out. “Hands of a fisherman. I learned.”

“You have a fortune waiting at home. I haven’t spent a penny of it and neither has Christine. Billy put his in the bank for Willy.”

“That was David Blaine’s money, not mine, not any longer. I have shed a skin. This man,” he touched his chest, “is not a rich man. This man smells of fish not 300 dollar scent. This man buys his clothes at thrift shops. This man drives an old junk car that he bought at an auction for the cost of hauling it away. I am stripped down, Trevor, stripped to the bones of who I am.”

“All right, what about Billy?”

“I will always love Billy. I have not forgotten him.”

“He doesn’t know I’m here. I didn’t tell him I was coming but he knows you’re alive. He was there when Lyssa opened her card. He knows about the stick people. What he doesn’t know right now, is how he feels about this.”

David folded his hands in his lap. “He has a right to his feelings. I know how he feels, Uncle Trevor. I cannot help with that.”

“Have you found a new boyfriend?”

“No. I have been celibate since Athens.”

“A year…you?”

David shrugged.

“So where do we go from here?”

“I don’t go from here. Davey Reardon lives here in Kerry. David Blaine is dead.”

“You don’t have to live like this. You don’t have to stay here, David.”

“What do you think, Uncle Trevor? Do you think I can go back to England and live as he did? I am not that man anymore. He’s dead. I don’t need him to be alive again. All that he was, all that he’d become…it…sickens me now.” It was David’s turn to walk around. “Do you know what I saw inside of me? I saw a whore…Ali Kazan’s whore. That is what I was. He infected me with his disease and I became like him. I became a killer. No…I do not and cannot become that man again.”

“It doesn’t have to be that way, don’t you see? You don’t ever have to contact any of those people again. Find some out of the way place and buy yourself a country house. Live in style, the style you know.”

David smiled and placed his hands on Trevor’s shoulders. “I love you, Uncle Trevor, but you do not understand me, you do not hear me. He hugged him and Trevor hugged back.

“I love you too. You’re the only family I got besides Lyssa. I don’t like to see you like this. I don’t see how you can abandon your daughter after the way you were treated as a child.”

“I know it seems as though I have, but I have not. I am trying to make a place for her here. That is why I bought this cottage. I want my daughter with me and I want…Christine with me.”

“That little girl of yours has a tablet now. She’s downloading music and games and shite. I doubt if you’re going to get her out here in the back of beyond.”

“I have internet but, alas, I do not have a phone and I do not have a computer. These things cost money and all I make has gone into this cottage. I am saving for these things.”

“I’d like to shake you hard, David, I really would. Christine will come, I’ve no doubt about that. Are you sure this is you? You’d better think really hard about it. This new Davey is not somebody either of them know. I can’t imagine you putting Lyssa in that car out there. Hell…I can’t see her even getting into it. She’s not used to this kind of living.”

“I know it is a wreck, but it is mine, paid for out of my earnings.”

Trevor shook his head in dismay.

Chapter 3

Trevor left mid-afternoon, promising to see him in the morning. David was disturbed by the visit. His carefully constructed new life was in danger of tumbling. There were cracks forming in the foundation. He loved his uncle and his family but he’d pushed them back into the shadows onto that dark misty plane. Trevor had brought them out into the light again. He could close his eyes and hear his daughter’s voice, almost smell her little girl scent. When he opened his eyes he looked around the cottage, trying to see it with her eyes…with Christine’s, Christine, who came to him in dreams leaving him hot and unsatisfied. Would they turn away from him now…here in this place? He went to the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face and looked into the mirror. Davey Reardon looked back. “They do not know you,” he said softly.

Trevor was even more disturbed. He wondered seriously if David was suffering from some kind of mental illness. Whatever it was, he knew he had to pull him out of it, turn him around and make him face reality. It might not be an easy task. He could understand some of it, the faked death, but then why didn’t he make contact with somebody in his family? He could have been brought in, brought home. “God knows what he’s been through to get to this state. Fishing boats…”

When Trevor got back to his hotel he put a call through to Christine.

“You found him,” she said when she heard his voice.

“Yes, I found him but…”

“Did you say to him what I asked?”

“I did and he said he wanted to bring you and Lyssa over but…”

“Then we will come.”

“Christine, wait a minute.” Trevor went on to describe what how he’d found him and where he was living. “He’s calling himself Davey Reardon and…Davey is a fisherman, Christine. He’s been bumming around on fishing boats since his faked death in Ithaca. He’s changed in more ways than one. I was a little shocked when I saw him.”

“What do you mean?”

“He looks different, thinks different. He’s awfully proud of what he’s accomplished on his own. He’s driving around in a fifteen year old wreck of a car. He lives in near poverty. What I’m trying to say is I don’t think you should come over here yet. And as for Lyssa, I’m not at all sure this is a good idea for her.”

“I hear what you say, Trevor, but it is for me to decide for myself. I will come alone. I think this is something I must do.”

“You’d better check with the airlines. It’s been raining and windy since I got here. The weather is bad. Do you want me here when you come?”

“I would rather come to him alone, if you don’t mind.”

“Okay, I’ll tell him tomorrow. He doesn’t even have a phone but I’m going to take care of that for him.”

The next morning Davey was at the dock. The wind was strong, pushing the water in. There was no sign of Colin but some of the fishermen were there and helping others secure their boats. Some smaller craft were already awash. Colin’s boat was tied up and rocking but didn’t look as though it was in any danger. A gust of wind brought a wave over the dock  washing water into his rubber boots, wetting his feet. He was used to wet and didn’t even notice it but he stepped back. He wished the weather would clear enough for the boat to go out. With his hands in his pockets he walked back to his car. His uncle didn’t say what time they were to meet. He drove up to the town center and parked. There was only one hotel in the village he thought Trevor would stay in.  He went in and sat in the lobby. A woman came over to him after a while and asked if she could help him.

“No,” he replied.

“Well, then, I’m afraid you’re going to have to leave. This is a hotel for paying guests and not for the likes of you to find a spot out of the weather.”

He supposed he did look a little rough and he stood up. “Sorry to wet your chair.” He headed for the door while she watched.

Trevor finished his shopping early and headed out to the cottage. There was water on the road leading to the cottage. It sat on higher ground, which was good as the radio was talking about flooding. Trevor thought Christine wouldn’t be arriving for awhile. He found the cottage unlocked and empty except for the cat curled on a corner of one of the sofas. Perhaps it was just as well. He set the bags down on the table, found the central heating thermostat and turned it on. While he waited, he activated the phone he’d bought for David.

David arrived around noon carrying a bag of fish and chips.  “I didn’t know you would be here. I’ll share.”

“I forgot about not being able to get in touch with you.” He sampled the chips. “I bought you a phone and it’s ready to go.”

“You should not have done that.” David looked at the phone Trevor slid across the table.

“That’s not all. I bought you a laptop too. It’s about time you checked in with the rest of the world, David. Nice chips.”

“I went to your hotel and they threw me out.”

“I can’t say as I blame them. Have you got a mirror in this cottage?”

“I wish you had not spent your money on me.”

“Forget it, you’re my nephew and if I can’t spend money on you then…fuck you.”

David grinned.

“I called Christine. She said she’s coming.”

“With Lyssa?”

“She wants to see you alone and I think that’s best…don’t you? You two need to find out if it’s all still there. It’s been a year of tears and heartache for her. All that pent up emotion is probably going to spill out. The memorial service may have been for naught at the time but may still hold.”

David pushed a piece of fish in Trevor’s direction. “It is for best that she comes alone.”

Trevor munched the fish. “And another thing…get your hair cut. Clean up a little. I’ve never seen you like this. You always took care of yourself…look at your nails. You’re 37 now, David. I always thought you were a decent-looking man…as are all the Blaine males.” Trevor smiled and punched his shoulder. “If you keep on this track you’re going to look older than me one of these days.

“You think she would not have me like I am? It is what is inside that counts, here in the heart.”

“I believe that but first she’s got to get through the crust to find it. Make it easy for her. What are you going to do about Billy?”

David covered his face and rubbed his eyes. “I do not know. One thing at a time.”

“If you love him you can’t leave him hanging out there forever. Have you really not had sex in a year?”

“The last time was in Athens in the Parthenon. I went there to rest and think. There was a girl or a goddess who came. It was dark and there was no one else around.” He sighed. “That was the last time. There has not been anyone since that I wanted to have sex with…male or female. You do not think about it much on a fishing boat.”

“That’s a dangerous life, David. I read something in the paper this morning about a boat missing in the Irish Sea. It got caught in the storm trying to make it back to port. Two men are missing off the boat.” Trevor looked into his eyes. “You like that, don’t you, that edge, that adrenalin rush that comes with a struggle. That’s why you were good at what you used to do. No fear.”

“I have fear. A man without fear is a fool. Blaine was not without fear. He survived by luck…dumb, stumbling luck.”

“Whatever…how about the pain? Still on the pills?”

“No, I am clean. I take no drugs. The pain comes and I work through it. I am stronger now than I have ever been. When the boat comes in I am wanting a hot bath. It loosens the tight muscles in my back. I relax…I meditate. I manage it.”

“Good for you. That’s good, David.”

“That is the first thing about me that you think of as good.”

Trevor blinked. “Not at all. I may not have said so but you’ve done very well on your own for a man such as you were. You could do better, live better, enjoy some of the finer things. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. I said the money is there for you. I don’t need it. I could never spend it in my lifetime. I appreciate the inheritance, don’t get me wrong, but it’s all null and void now…you’re alive…so live, man…live. I can set you up a bank account and have the funds transferred over. Easy…David…easy.”

“I do not need…”

“Stop, just stop. Think beyond yourself for a minute. You want Lyssa and Christine to come here and live with you…right? How are you going to support them? A man who has to save up to buy a cell phone. Think about it…think beyond the end of your nose. Do you want Christine to foot the bills? How are you going to pay for Lyssa’s education? School ain’t cheap, mate.” He could tell by the look on David’s face that he was hitting the marks.

The next day the weather cleared. It was still raining but the wind had ceased to ground planes and boats. Trevor went home and David went back to work

Trevor gave Christine David’s phone number. “I got him a phone but if I were you, I’d wait until I got there to contact him. He works fishing hours, whatever that may be. Make sure you take a credit card and some cash and I’d advise you to rent a car at the airport.” He told her where to stay and said they’d look after Lyssa and Bebe, her little dog.

She was nervous, not sure how many clothes to take. Trevor had been frank with her about David. However, she was a woman who loved him and she meant what she said about going to him no matter where. She packed for a week, cramming everything in one bag.

Instead of calling him on her arrival, she checked into the hotel and spent a day walking around the town center and beyond. She drove down to the docks and walked out looking for the boat Trevor told her about. It was not in its berth and a man sorting nets told her it was out for a few days. This set her back, ‘a few days’? She spent the time wisely getting to know the surrounding area. She even drove out to his cottage per Trevor’s instructions.

The door was unlocked and she went in. A cat came running in after her before she could close the door. She petted him and found food in the kitchen for him. It felt strange being in someone else’s house poking around but this was David’s house. There were few personal items to be found. No photos or anything, nothing that said David. Outside she walked around the cottage. It was plain and old but the back of the house was a little more promising. There was a walled patio with pots of dead plants, a metal table and two chairs turned upside down. She righted one and sat down. It was almost like being at the cottage in Yorkshire except for the view.

“It be a sad sight, innit?”

Christine jumped and turned around to see an old woman with a garden hoe in her hand. “Oh, hello.”

“Hello, I’m Rose McKinney. Didn’t know he had another guest. I saw the car.”

“I’m Christine Marcel and I only arrived yesterday. I hoped to catch him at home but he’s out on a fishing boat.”

“Yes, and likely to be gone for awhile. Weather’s kept them in. French?”

“Me? Yes, I am from Marseilles, currently living in Yorkshire.”

“Aye.”

“You are gardening?”

“Trying to clean up after the storm. I used to keep this little patch real nice. Can’t do it anymore.”

“I…I could help you. I love a garden. At my house in Marseilles I grew many things, flowers and herbs.”

“I don’t mind some help. Let’s find ye some boots.”

She spent hours raking and digging. She emptied the dead pots and refilled them with fresh soil. Later she would buy some seeds, parsley, thyme…

She shared tea with Mrs. McKinney. “I could give you some cuttings to start around the patio over there.”

“I would like that,” Christine smiled. She met Mr. McKinney. He came in all muddy from repairing gates on the property. She was invited to tea, meaning dinner, but she declined. It had been an enjoyable day, after all. The next morning she checked out of the hotel, stopped for some supplies and moved into David’s cottage.

He’d been out for three days and the catch had been good. If the weather held they’d be out again tomorrow. Colin was in high spirits and it carried over to his fishermen. David took his pay and stopped at the market for steak and potatoes. He was tired, dirty and hungry and longing for a soak in a hot tub. His old car rattled and complained as he made his way up the single lane to his cottage.

A strange car sat in the drive, lights were on in the cottage. He thought Trevor might be back.

Christine was about to make her dinner. She had prawns and some tiny new potatoes and some carrots all laid out on the counter. The sound of a car door closing froze her in place. She quickly washed her hands and patted her hair. She must look a mess, half day in the garden and she hadn’t cleaned up or changed her clothes.

David came in, toeing off his boots and hanging up his yellow slicker on a peg. “Trevor?” He came through to the snuggery, put his bags down and then looked into the kitchen. His breath caught in his chest. “Christine.”

“Hello, David.”

“I…I did not know you were coming.”

“Well, I am here.” She took him in as he was. She took a few steps towards him.

“Do not come any closer. I stink of fish.” He was shocked to see her. It had been so long and even though Trevor said she wanted to come he hadn’t expected her this soon.

“Fish…and I stink of garden soil.”

“Garden soil…?”

“Yes, I have been busy.”

“How…how long have you been here?”

“Three days…waiting for you and now you’ve come.”

His eyes softened. “You are more beautiful than I remember.”

“I know you with your hair long, with your beard. You are my David.” She bit her lip, wanting to go to him but he’d stopped her and so the next move must be his. She couldn’t wait much longer.

“Am I…still?”

She held out her arms and he came to her, crushing her to his body, burying his face in her hair.

“Oh, God, Christine!”

It was going to be all right. She kissed his neck, tasting salt, inhaling his male scent. It was at that moment more heady than the expensive scent he used to wear, the scent that lingered on his clothes, in her bed, when he would leave her.

“I have to bathe.  It has been days.”

“Yes, if you must. Let me…let me bathe you.” She touched his hair.  It was stiff with salt water.

He pulled back, looking into her eyes, amazed that she would even touch him as he was. He could hardly believe she was here. He took her hand and kissed it. “All right.”

A hot, steaming, claw foot tub of water and David slipped in, relishing the feel of the water on his skin. He asked for a moment and then Christine picked up her bath sponge and began to wash him. He dipped underneath the water and came back up. She shampooed his hair. His body was alive with sensations, her hands...on his skin, in his hair. It had been so long since he’d been touched this way, touched by hands that loved him and he knew her love for him. There was a part of him that felt unequal to her love. In the past it had been different. He’d been different…coming to her in different states of pain and empty, needing her and then leaving when she filled him. What must it have cost her? He’d never thought of it in that way until now. He laid his head on the rim of the tub.

“Christine, I love you. I really love you. I know that people say these words all the time. They say them in response, they say them because they want something. I say these words because I know…I know what they mean. You are a giver and I am a taker. I want to give to you what you give to me. I will try…”

She put her hand over his mouth. “Don’t say anything more.” She kissed him.  “I could not accept  your death. For me, there was no body to bury and therefore you lived. You lived within my heart and my soul.”

“The first time I saw you…we hardly spoke that day, do you remember?”

“Yes, I remember.”

“There was something about you that excited me. You asked for nothing but I knew…yes, I knew and I know now. It was a mistake to keep you separate from my life.”

“I accepted you as you were and as you are now. There is no need for words. You and I know, for our bodies have spoken to each other many times. It is a special bond that we have.”

From the tub to the bed. He wanted to be inside of her, deeply inside of her, in a place where nothing could touch him, where he was safe and warm and loved and wanted.

Later over a dinner of steak, potatoes and prawns, he asked about Lyssa.

“She is only a small child but she understands you are dead. She has become…how shall I say? She is quiet, David, and has attached herself to me. I love her, how could I not? She and I we live in the guest cottage…”

“Why do you live there instead of the farmhouse. There is room for you.”

“There is room but I am more comfortable in the cottage.”

“Uncle Trevor…he has not made advances toward you, has he?”

“No, of course not. He is very good. It is his house, you see. The cottage I have made my own. Lyssa is between, she comes and goes. Fish and Toomes are in the house and there is, I think, a link to her old life there. She has a bedroom in both places. It is not good, David, for it pulls her in two directions. She needs some permanence, a place that is home.”

“Uncle Trevor said she would not live here.” He looked up at her, searching her face.

“I will be honest with you. She has already suffered the loss of her father, of her home and of her friends.  Mrs. Broadus took her dog for she could not bring it to Sir Brennan’s house. This is a foreign place, David.  There is nothing that is familiar to her here.”

“Not even me.” He sat back and closed his eyes.

Christine went around to his chair and held his head against her breast. “ I want to say something…I want you to come home with me.”

He turned his face into her body. “I do not know if I can.” His answer was little more than a whisper.

“If there were no one else but you and I…I would stay here with you.”

He grabbed her around her hips and held her tightly. “I understand.” He also understood that he had created this problem. It was not up to her to solve it. He looked up at her with her hands in his hair. “Some dreams…they do not come true…they cannot exist.”

“That may be true, but some dreams they can exist if you let them come true. You have to help them along I think. There is love, David.  Let it guide you.”

 

Chapter 4

David was out two days on the boat. He came home in the rain to the cottage to find it dark and cold inside. He’d been afraid this was what he would find but held onto a little scrap of hope.  The wet cat came in with him. Mrs. McKinney fed him when he was away but didn’t let him inside. David tried not to feel anything. He went about building a fire in the stove and turning on the central heating to dispel the damp. He went into the kitchen to feed cat and found a note beneath his cell phone that he didn’t take with him.

My darling,

I have to go home. Trevor calls to say Lyssa is crying for me. She is afraid I am not coming back. So you see, I must go. It is I who will be crying for you now. I ask again for you to come home. Come back to where you are loved. All will be forgiven with your joyous return. I love you more than words can say and you know this in your heart. There is life to be lived there and a family that loves you.

Christine

His eyes stung and he sat down at the table in the snuggery. When he thought of home he thought of Gravesend. It was hard to transfer that longing and that familiarity to the farm. He remembered the cottage but had spent no time there. But family…family was home, wasn’t it? The thought of Lyssa crying hurt. It hurt doubly because he knew he was the cause of it. Life to be lived there. What kind of life? He’d killed David Blaine and had no desire to resurrect him. Was he strong enough to let him stay buried in the Ionian Sea?

He heard a vehicle come up and pass by the cottage. A little later a knock sounded on the door.

“Davey, I took some fish to Owld Rose.”

“Come in, Colin.”

“All snug ‘n dry in here.” Colin unbuttoned his slicker. “Not sure we’ll be goin’ out t’morrow. Callin’ for wind again.” Colin looked at him and thought him distracted. “Are ye all right, lad?”

No one ever called him ‘lad’ but Colin, who wasn’t more than 15 years his senior. “Ah, I am… all right.”

“Owld Rose says yer lady has gone.”

“Yes, she…left.”

“Davey, do ye mind a bit o’ advice?”

He went to the kitchen and put the kettle on, spooned tea in the pot and found two mugs.

Colin pulled out a chair in the snuggery and there was the letter left on the table. He cast his eyes over it and all became clear. He cleared his throat and accepted the tea. “Thankee.”

“What, um, advice are you handing out today?” David sat down and palmed the note, sticking it up beneath his sweater.

Colin nodded in the direction of his hand. “I’ve seen it. There’s no need for ye to hide it. What are ye doin’ here, Davey? I’ve not been fooled by ye, ye know that. I recognize o’man of education and learnin’, a man used to different ways. Ye’ve done well by me, I’ll say that for ye. Not afraid of hard work and that says it for ye, don’t it? Yer got a lass back ‘ome an’ so I’m askin’ ye what are ye doin’ here?”

“Erasing the past. I…I do not think I will…”

“Go home, lad. ‘Tis time, don’t ye think? When ye heart’s anchored in one place ye can’t run far enough or fast enough to pull it loose. We only got the one life, ye know.”

David’s eyes flashed at him and then at the table top. “It is true, is it not…the one life? I have done a terrible thing. I hated the man I had become. There were others who wished me dead and to escape it all…I faked my death and became someone else.”

Colin reached over and thumped his chest. “But in here, yer the same. The heart don’t know ye gave yerself a new name. Listen to ye heart, not ye head. Whatever ye’ve done begs forgiveness. Yer woman said it best. It’ll be missin’ ye I’ll be on t’boat. Do the right thing, Davey. Ye won’t be sorry.” He finished his tea and stood up, holding out his hand.

David took it. “Thank you.”

After a fitful night and waiting for the kettle to boil, he took down the tea tin and opened it. Inside was his savings and he counted it out. There should be enough. An hour later he sat in a chair at the Shamrock Salon waiting his turn. The girls were happy to work him when he told them what he wanted done. He had his hair cut, beard trimmed, and then put his hands up on the manicurist's table.

“I do not know what you can do with these.”

“Oh, love, I can do wonders with them.” She gave him a saucy smile.

He drove out to the airport and bought a ticket to Manchester. One more night here in Kerry and he would be gone. He had to see Mr. McKinney about the cottage and the cat. They would hold the key to the cottage and after some discussion, they agreed to take the cat on. He was free…

His stomach flipped over when the plane landed in Manchester. He might be Davey Reardon on paper but inside he was David Blaine again, not the David who left England a year ago but a man he hoped they would know and accept.

He was nervous in the rental car and stopped in Stanford Bridge before he went to the farm. From the pub he called Trevor.

“Can you come?”

“Where are you?”

“The Crown.”

“I’m on my way.”

David ordered a pint and took a table by the bow window, looking out on the street. It had rained earlier and everything was fresh. The air was different and not so heavy with moisture. It took Trevor fifteen minutes to arrive.

David stood up when he came in and they embraced, Trevor smiling and looking him over. “Welcome back. You look good.  How are you inside?”

“Nervous, scared. I don’t know what Lyssa will say.”

“Why don’t we play it like this…Christine found you. Let it go that way. I don’t have to be involved at all. After all, you didn’t come back to be with me.”

David smiled.

“Did she leave you the plane fare?”

“No, I cleaned out my tea tin. I should have called and let you know so that you could prepare them at the farm.”

“Everybody knows, except Lyssa, that you’re alive and unless Christine’s said something no one knows where you were. You can have the farm, David. I’ll move out to…”

“No, no, no, you will do no such thing. I have much to think about and have made no plans as yet.”

“There’s a check waiting for you at the farm. The contents of your safety deposit box were sold three months ago. I never cashed the check. It’ll set you up until you decide on taking back my inheritance.”

“That was for the jewels. Dirty money, Uncle Trevor.”

“Money is money and it doesn’t matter where it came from originally. Ali gave you the jewels, he didn’t hand you cash. The jewels were sold at auction and the money came from many different hands.” Trevor thought Ali owed him that for all the damage he’d done. “That money is yours and I won’t listen to anything else about it. You can’t go around acting broke when you aren’t. Was it hard for you to leave?”

“No, once I made up my mind that was the path I must take, there were no regrets. I still own the cottage and the key is with Mr. McKinney. I got back from sea two days ago and there was the note from Christine. I had a visit from Colin and after that there was not a choice left for me. He saw the note. Can I say it was like a weight lifted off me.”

“Whatever it was, I’m glad you’re home. Finish up that pint and let’s go…oh, no, a Yorkshireman never leaves a pint on the table…drink up.”

David smiled and downed the pint. “I have a rental car but only for a day.”

“Where do you turn it in at?”

“The airport.”

“Damn, David, that’s a hike.”

“Well, what was I to do?”

“You could have called me and I would have been there to meet you.” Trevor got in his Rover and David fell in behind him.

He couldn’t get in the door of the farmhouse for Fish and Toomes exclamations, tears and hugs.

“Let the man in the house,” Trevor said.

“Where is Lyssa?” David asked.

“Ah, the wee bairn’s gone to the dentist. Christine left with her not five minutes ago,” Toomes answered.

“Just as well,” Trevor said. “Give you time to feel around a bit and get your bearings.”

David stayed for tea and then he walked down to the cottage alone. It was small, two rooms down and two rooms, up but they were generously proportioned. He could see that Christine had made it her own. Feminine touches were everywhere and in the kitchen drying herbs scented the air. Through the doors out onto the porch, he surveyed the familiar scene of rolling green hills marked off with stacked stone fences. It wasn’t the Kerry Valley, not quite as intensely green, for here there was color already climbing over the fencing, growing in the fields and color around the porch. Spring and Christine.

Perhaps it would do for now, the four rooms. He’d learned to live in a smaller cottage than this. How much did one need? It was quiet here and peaceful and far enough away from the farmhouse for privacy. He could understand why she wanted to live here instead of the farmhouse.

Lyssa came running in from the car to show Fish and Toomes a tooth. Trevor stopped Christine, putting his hands on her shoulders.

“You and Lyssa need to go down to the cottage.”

“Why…what has happened?” She looked alarmed.

“There’s a surprise waiting for you there.”

Her eyes changed from fear to hope. Trevor nodded.

“Come, Lyssa, we must hurry home…come along, we have a surprise waiting for us.”

 

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