Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Broken Bottle Top (The Conclusion)

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The Conclusion

Present in our sitting room were my stepfather, Uncle Sam, Uncle Seifert, a police sergeant I knew as Sergeant Forde and one other police officer who had his notebook and pen in his hand ready to record any information I could give him of my assailant.  How well he had concealed this whole affair!  It suddenly dawned on me rather forcibly that my assailant having escaped was free to try again.  This thought brought great fear to me.  It was then that Uncle Seifert spoke again.  He said, “Do not fear, David. If he tries again, we’ll be ready for him.  In fact, I will be your personal bodyguard if it comes to that.”

“Oh no you won’t!”  I shouted.  My mother looked at me with the strangest of expressions.

“What do you mean by such an ugly outburst?” she inquired.

“Did anyone ask how he came to be here?”  I asked, pointing a finger at the notable police sergeant.

“But he has a right to be here, plus he is your relative.  My mother seemed very annoyed with me.  In addition, she was trying to cover her embarrassment, a direct result of my question.

Uncle Sam would not allow it to drop there.  He walked over to me, rested his hand on my shoulder and in a soothing voice he asked, “What are you trying to tell us sonny?”

I blurted out, “It is he who tried to strangle me!  It is he!”

I began to sob.  What I had just done had taken quite an effort.  Uncle Sam’s voice helped to calm me.  “It is he who?” he coaxed. 

“Uncle Seifert!”  I mumbled almost inaudibly.

Uncle Seifert started to laugh. “He’s hysterical.  He doesn’t know what he is saying,” he commented amidst his laughter.  Uncle Sam ignored his remark.

“But why would he want to kill you?”  He asked.

“Because I know who killed my father,” I responded.

“Who killed your father?” he asked.

With a burst of courage I pointed straight at Uncle Seifert and said, “He did!”  Everyone looked at me unbelievingly.  My mother expressed that maybe my nerves had become overwrought and I should be left alone to rest.

I looked at each one of them.  They all thought that I had gone crazy.  That was, all of them except Uncle Sam.  He knew that I was telling the truth.  I turned to Uncle Sam who was still by my side.  He, I believed was my last ray of hope.  My mother had condemned him unjustly.  If anyone would be interested in my story, it would be he.  I looked at him imploringly.  I said, “Uncle, if it is proof you also want, I’ll supply the proof.”

I related to them all that happened that night.  I told them where I was and my reason for being there.  They all listened intently.  Uncle Seifert listened as intently as the others, only interrupting toward the end to emphasize what a good imagination I had possessed.  At the end of the account I realised I had completely won Uncle Sam’s support.  I knew then that beyond the shadow of a doubt he had believed every word.  He actually told me so.  My mother gave him a look of scorn and disgust all mixed up in one.  I believed at that time she was wishing for something horrible to happen to him.

Uncle ignored her look of hate and indicated to me that whereas he believed my story, it was just my word against Uncle Seifert’s.  He continued, “He’ll deny it any way.”

The time had come for me to play my final card in this battle of wits.  I had started at a great disadvantage but I knew that it was not over by a long shot.  Uncle Seifert had long resumed his usual air of composure and was enjoying my apparent difficult time in convincing the others that he was the real culprit.  However, he did not openly show his amusement.  Instead, he came over to me, placed his hand on my shoulder and attempted to assure me that he understood what I was going through.  

Image result for images of a broken bottle topI begged for an excuse and went to my room.  I returned soon after with a small parcel that was taped all around.  I handed it to Uncle Sam with the instruction to open it.  He opened the parcel to reveal a broken bottle top.  That’s right.  I had kept it all these years.  On close examination one could still see the deposit of dried blood.  Yes, that was my father’s blood and his assassin was right here in our house masquerading as Mr. Nice Cop.  Well, this would be the end of his little charade.

The police standing at the door, and who up to this point was merely a passive listener, stepped forward.  He said, “With all respects to you Sir, I would like to ask a few questions of my own concerning this matter.  Are you familiar with this?” he asked, holding up the murder weapon. Uncle Seifert refused to answer. “And another thing, Sergeant Seifert, how is it that you were among the first persons to get here this morning?  You weren’t at the station when the report was made yet you walked through the door just minutes after P.C. Forde and I did.  How did you know of the incident so soon?”

Uncle Seifert went dumb.  He refused to answer any questions.  His only response was that the only one to whom he intended talking was his lawyer. 

With the broken bottle top it was not difficult to corroborate my story.  The culprit’s fingerprints were lifted from the bottle and he eventually pleaded guilty, claiming that he acted under provocation. 

My mother finally swallowed her fierce pride and apologised to Uncle Sam for her unjust behaviour.  Uncle Seifert was arrested, charged with murder and sentenced to life in prison.  My stepfather and my mother committed themselves to each other again and Uncle Sam became my companion and fishing instructor one more.

Image result for images of a broken bottle topWhen I think about those seven years, I never once thought that a broken piece of bottle would have saved the day for me and erase my fear of the dark.  It turned out to be a very wise undertaking when I decided to keep that broken bottle top under lock and key. It had taken my father’s life but it had saved mine.


Stewart Russell © 1979

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Broken Bottle Top Part 5

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Part 5

When I came to, I was lying in my mother’s bedroom. I stared at the items around me wondering how I’d come to be lying there.  Then the whole scene came flooding back to me. I wondered, “Had he been caught or had he escaped?”  He had seemed so elusive that I would not have been at all surprised if I had learnt that he had fled once more.

Uncle Seifert was the sergeant in charge of the investigations into my father’s death. The strange thing was that there was every diligence shown yet no headway was made in uncovering any important clue that would lead to my father’s assassin.  The only clues discovered were the pieces of broken bottle beneath the tree that confirmed the doctor’s finding that he was stabbed with a broken bottle.  The actual murder weapon was never found.

The investigations became long and drawn out principally because I had not gone to the police with my secret information.  No one would have believed my story anyway.  The irony of the entire situation was that I was questioned.  I unswervingly communicated my ignorance of anything remotely connected with the crime.  I was trembling and showed the wild panic and shock that lay within me but the clever, and all too sympathetic police sergeant, explained that perhaps I was very shaken by the recent happenings and that it might be better not to subject me to any more interrogation at that time.

I rose from the bed and pulled the bedroom door.  I was confronted by voices.  They seemed to be coming from the sitting room.  Using the support of pieces of furniture, I unsteadily made my way to that room.  I was still feeling somewhat groggy.  My mother was the first to notice me and she came towards me.  She held me gently by my shoulders and led me to a chair.

My Uncle Seifert was the first to speak.  He looked across at me with a very sympathetic look on his face.  He said, “Sorry son, he got away.  We did not even get a chance to see his face.  One of the policemen chased him but he vaulted the paling and escaped.  But don’t you worry, we have everything in place to trap him when he tries again.”

I said to myself, “This assassin really has some nerve.” Then it occurred to me,  “But did he really escape?”

Image result for images of a broken bottle top     To be continued...

Stewart Russell © 1979