Behind the stonewalls of the castle opposite Kate Denisov’s ship-shape, cute home, battened-down hatches for the fall into winter season, Camoustra and Frenalto allowed Gerald Pommeroy back upstairs. They fed him a boxed Thanksgiving dinner from the local supermarket, bland stuffing that tasted like sage paste, overly salted mashed potatoes, and a few slices of turkey breast doused in glue-like gravy the color of chickpeas.
“This could be your last Thanksgiving,” Frenalto teased the grateful owner of the castle keep, “eat up!”
“Yes. Anything for you. Please, please tell the master . . .”
“You shouldn’t call him that.” Camoustra interrupted Gerald. If she were a cat, she’d be purring, each word dripping with subtext, glee.
Gerald Pommeroy’s senses awakened. He was an old man. Turning eighty-nine in three months time. March. No children to speak of, losing an only son in the Vietnam war, and a wife to ALS twenty years past. He retired decades ago from crabbing. Earned his living working the salmon boats up in Alaska three times a year. Extended that when he felt up to it. He still owned a small crabbing vessel, always took younger helpers, tourists, out on the Sound if they could help with the stronger stuff. The backyard, all fenced in behind his castle, was awash with sailing and boating, fishing gear and rusting equipment, neglected crab pots. And, even shy of 90, Gerald’s physique kept strength with trips to the Fidalgo Pool where he took interval training sessions and stretching classes for seniors. Even so, he had a pacemaker and a stent helping his heart tick away with a normal beat. He felt like a cast member in a dream. He studied his hands, the splotched pale skin, a few blisters closed but still visible. Digging. He’d been digging so much. He remembered the monstrous head of a young gentleman—poor soul. He’d buried it in the dirt in one of the small graves and began to dig other enclosures. Evil. He felt evil, and wondered about all the good he’d accomplished. Wouldn’t that be worth something in this long long life of his? He couldn’t even think about a higher power without thinking he was being tested.
The phone rang several times as the days and nights ticked away. His mind blinked. Wouldn’t his friends at the pool, the ones he said hello to each day in passing, his swim mates, worry about his absence?
“Gerald is under the weather.”
“Oh, thanks for your concern. My uncle’s doing much better but won’t be back to the pool anytime soon, if at all . . .” Camoustra loved her little lies and speaking to these voices over the telephone line.
“Of course you can come visit him. He’d love that.”
Time passed, days, weeks now, and not one friend or acquaintance came calling on Gerald Pommeroy, pressed the castle’s doorbell worried about his abrupt disappearance. He had no family, no nephew wondering to whom his uncle was going to leave his small estate after his passing. Waltzcrop disappeared during the night, walking alone somewhere unknown to Camoustra and Frenalto, as it ever was.