XV

THE DEATH OF MOLLY SAINT-CLAIRE

 

‘I gotta tell ya ‘bout Molly Saint-Claire,

how she ran from the tower when Denise was down there.

The witch disappeared ‘fore Norman could see,

while Molly ran into the boys and me.’

 

He coughed some and blood decorated his face,

as other survivors crept out of the place.

The townsfolk were keen to remove themselves

from a scene that, come nightfall, would prove themselves

to be unworthy of escaping the judgement a-comin’.

It was time for them all to hit the ground runnin’.

 

So soon the silence was silence complete,

a silence of death were Death was replete…

for now.

 

‘We could see she was cryin’ and mighty upset,

and we promised her rightly to comfort her yet.

But she dismissed us with scorn and tried to break free,

cursin’ us all…and cursin’ me.

 

‘As she screamed at us rightly to leave her alone,

we decided as one that she wouldn’t go home.

And we gathered her up tightly and pressed her to silence,

and took her away to deal measures of violence.’

 

Bill could feel a chill in the air,

a presence a-watchin’ him taking it in.

And something caused tears to escape from his care

as he listened to Jimmy recountin’ his sin:

 

‘It were like the Devil was in our heads,

and we all wanted nought but this evil instead.

We cut her, we hit her, we tore off her dress.

We reduced her to feeling she were nothin’ less

than an animal, the like that surrounded her there.

That night in the barn was her night of despair.’

 

He reached out for the Pastor with shame in his eyes,

said, ‘Peabody and the others helped us keep the lies.

They knew how to twist things and tell things untrue.

Oh, they knew well of the best thing to do.’

 

Bill said, ‘You blamed Norman.’

 

‘Norman came runnin’ when he heard her screams,

but he was a man of a mind, not a man of the means.

And when their eyes met, so soon past rejection,

he turned his back to the girl who sought his protection.’

 

‘That’s why you said that he wouldn’t return,

that The Horseman wouldn’t be back tonight.’

 

‘I figured that maybe he hadn’t learned,

and thought some things not worth the fight.

Cos, Pastor, when we told the town it was him

who had done that to Molly and killed her that night,

he just looked at us blankly and took on the sin.

He said, ‘I put up my hands. You got me right.’

 

‘Then they hanged him, but not as they thought for his terrible crime.

It was me and the boys who shoulda done time.

No, they hanged Norman straight out cos of his terrible shame.

He let it consume him and sully his name.

 

‘He loved that girl so much and knew he let her die.

That was his shame…and that was our lie.’

 

Jimmy coughed again. Bill didn’t move to console.

The chance of forgiveness was beyond his control.

Instead, he reached to the floor for one of the guns,

rose to stand above Jimmy as he heard a bell toll

and said, ‘May the Lord have mercy on your soul.’

 

Pastor Bill felt a righteousness like never before.

 

He pulled the trigger…

 

and the Inn-Keeper sinned no more.

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