This is Part 2 of my serial, A Man Called Truth. You can read Part 1 here: The 70’s Job.
Becka was still alive when Harold found her, but barely. The sight of her tortured body lying in the overgrown lot broke both his soul and his sanity. He cradled her in his arms, anointing her blood-stained face with kisses and tears.
“Who did this to you, Becka?” he asked, looking into her ruined eyes. He felt the warmth of her blood as it saturated his shirt.
He saw a couple walking down the near sidewalk and he yelled at them to Please, Call an Ambulance. The man nodded and the pair hurried away.
While he waited, clutching his wife’s wounded body, he begged her to tell him who hurt her.
Fading in and out of consciousness, Becka told him everything.
He’d been so proud of her as she worked her way through night school until class-by-class she earned her Journalism degree. He was a modern man, and wanted his wife to pursue her dreams.
She took the job at the city news, doing grunt writing: obituaries and church notices. She was ambitious, and so talented that she made Investigative Reporter in just two years. They celebrated the event by having dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town. When they got home, they made love until morning.
With the new position came bigger stories, and with the bigger stories came danger. She uncovered the closeted skeletons of some of the most respected members of the community. She received bundles of hate mail and a few death threats, but neither of them took it seriously.
Harold didn’t like it, though. He didn’t like the idea of Becka meeting criminals alone for interviews. He didn’t like her going undercover into some of the most dangerous sections of the city. He never once voiced his concerns, or tried to dissuade her, though. It was her dream.
And now, she was dying.
She’d called him earlier to tell him where she’d be meeting her latest contact, some lowlife who served drinks at a sleazy disco. Becka always told him where she was going. That’s how he’d found her.
She met someone there, all right, but not her contact. She was subdued and stuffed inside the back of a van. As Harold listened to Becka tell what those sons-of-bitches did to her, he resisted the urge to cry. A hard knot of pain formed in his throat and he swallowed down to the pit of his stomach.
He listened, taking in every detail of his wife’s story: names, places, he urged it all out of her.
“Promise me you won’t go looking for them, Harry,” she begged, her breathing becoming more ragged with every word. “Promise me. They’ll kill you. I…please…promise…”
“I promise,” he said. And he meant it. He wouldn’t go looking for them. He wouldn’t need to.
Becka was already dead by the time the ambulance arrived. He told the police everything, but he knew they’d take too much time to act on it.
He went home to the old Victorian they’d recently purchased, hoping one day to fill the spare bedrooms with little copies of themselves.
Harold sighed heavily. He knew he had to start making funeral arrangements, but there was something else he needed to attend to first.
He walked into the study and sat down at Becka’s old desk. He took a small spiral-bound memo pad and pen out of one of the drawers. As he wrote, the sorrow he’d been holding deep inside was joined by rage. He clamped down tight on both emotions, and quietly nurtured them. He wrote on one sheet of paper and tore it off, then another until he had four sheets in front of him. These he gathered up and put in the breast pocket of his button-down shirt, still stained dark with Becka’s blood.
He rose and climbed the stairs leading to their bedroom. In the closet, he moved boxes and bags from a top shelf until he found what he was looking for, tucked away in a corner. He removed a lockbox about the size of the lunch pail he carried to work.
He sat on the bed, placing the box in front of him. From his pants pocket, Harold withdrew his keychain. He grasped a very ancient looking key and fitted it into the lock. It made a rusty groan when he turned it, but the box opened. He stared for a long while at the object that rested on a bit of folded fabric within.
Suddenly, his grief swelled to it’s apex and he could no longer hold it in.
He began to hum.
He removed the artifact from the box and laid it on the bed. He spit into his hands and began to caress it, feeling it soften beneath his touch. As he hummed, the object began to grow.
Harold’s humming became louder and words emerged from his lips…
The object continued to grow beneath his hands as Harold sang, pouring out his grief and rage, channeling it into ancient magic. It flowed through him, through his fingers and into the artifact, now so large he had to place it on the floor. Harold closed his eyes, tears streaking down his cheeks as he wailed…lamentations echoing in the empty room.
“Azru li…one who loves truth…Ahavat HaEmet…help me.”
Harold opened his eyes and gasped.
The object was only inches from touching the ceiling.
Harold rose to his feet and reaching up, traced a single word upon the forehead.
Lids opened, revealing glassy, mahogany eyes. What once resembled clay, was now flesh. Curly dark hair framed its face.
Harold went to the closet again and removed from hangers in the back a pair of slacks, a shirt, and a jacket that were always too large for him, but that he’d bought anyway. He never explained to Becka why he occasionally bought clothes and shoes that were too big for him. And always in black, the perfect color in which to clothe your living revenge.
When he had dressed it, Harold showed it the first piece of paper. It nodded.
“Open,” Harold commanded, and the half-living man obeyed, allowing Harold to stuff the pages into it’s mouth. It swallowed.
“Go avenge me, Emet,” Harold said.
Emet turned and walked out of the room.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Big Shot