Gertrude Boyle: The conclusion

A guest post by Bela Matyas Feher

This is part two of two. Read the first part of the story here.

I see you’ve finished your sherry. Shall I pour you another? Oh, very good. You have excellent taste! This sherry is of a very unique vintage, I am assured. Like none other you have ever tried – I am so pleased you like it!

Now where was I? Oh yes – the charming Miss Boyle! And she was charming, mind you. I fail to see how a gentleman could ever harm such a creature as that, so near to perfect in her manners, her upbringing, which is to say nothing of her beauty. I fear she may have thought for a moment that when I offered her my chambers that night, she thought I meant something untoward! I assure you, I meant no such thing, for I knew her virtue simply from a glance. But, were someone to touch her, there is no doubt in me that she would have raised such an alarm! Unless, she, too, were dealt with in similar fashion to that of the coachman, there would be simply no way to subdue her.

I do say, traveler, that the person who could do this would needs be one of such skill and cunning, with the ability to put on the air of a sane person with such acumen that none would dare even suspect him! He would need the resources of a physical space, and most importantly of time to dispose of the evidence of this horrible crime. To do away with horses, a coach, and the presence of two people? How would he manage such a thing? Why even if I were to do it, I would need more space than my barn allows!

But the question, of course, is what drives a person to commit this horrible atrocity? What changes a man from one of reason and quiet demeanor to one possessed of such a frightful nature? How can we stop it? It puzzles me, truly. It has bothered me since that night, I tell you. I have been pondering it relentlessly, trying to discover at which point the person changes from one of kindness and reason, to the point of insanity. I can tell you, I have found no answer as yet, and my latest research into it has, I regret to say, failed miserably.

How do I mean this? Oh it’s quite simple. You might recall me saying something about needing a large private place like a cold cellar. Many years ago, the foundation of my barn began to crumble, and when I went to rebuild, I found a large cavern behind it, carved out of the hill behind the barn. I cannot say how it came to be there, only that it was. I decided to make a cold cellar to store goods for the winter months. Well, you can imagine how such a place might be used. And now, dear traveler, that you have drunk my sherry, you will find yourself, I am quite sure, incapable of stopping me from putting you this wheeled chair of mine and taking you out to see the barn, first-hand. You see, I find it much easier to move you when still alive. What is that? Yes, yes, my dear friend, you see it all clearly now, don’t you? My inn is a very nice establishment, but with travelers not being as common as once they were, I am afraid I have had to resort to other means of obtaining funding. Your horse can be sold off, as well as your few belongings. There’s no worry, as you will not be long for this world, and will have no use of them.

Oh dear, I am afraid I cannot understand you very well! It seems I may have given you a glass too much of the sherry. I had to, you understand, given your stature and manner of bearing, I thought you might be a little too much for me to overpower, and I wanted to be certain that you would not be capable of escape. It astounds me how terribly sensitive it is, this art of drugging wine. I find that if you overdo it just a little, the intended person is dead before they can truly appreciate the art. But with you, oh I believe I stopped before going quite that far. Although, it might be a little more sporting if you could put up at least a little bit of a struggle. What do you say? Do you think you might manage it? No? That is a pity, my friend.

Here we are, at last! All I must do is move aside this barrel, and there, you see how cleverly the door is hidden to the chamber beyond? No, no, there is no need to look about to find the latch on the other side of the door, dear friend. You won’t be able to get to it. You won’t be able to move in a matter of a few moments. Shall I tell you about the fate of Miss Boyle, then? Very well – I am so glad you asked!

It was here, in this very chamber, where she decided that she could change me, and indeed, she was correct. She tried every sort of way she could to entice me to allow her to live, and I dare say, I was oh so very close to doing it! She offered me a kiss, first, which I readily accepted. How could I not, from such a beauty as she? She swore to stay by my side, and assist me in reclaiming my immortal soul and allowing me to come back from this living hell to which I had condemned myself. It was she who convinced me to try and put right, through experimentation, that which had gone awry!

Yes, I nearly believed her, until the one day, when she proved to me just how little she cared for me. She was selfish, I tell you, and wanted only her freedom, not to redeem me as she once said. I knew this was the case when she at last offered herself to me, if only I would release her from the bonds which held her. Yes – these bonds I am attaching to your very own wrists – you are so very astute my friend! It was then I realized the truth – the devil was with her, for while she spoke of healing my troubled soul, she would defile herself, and thus rule me through the loss of virtue!

It was clear to me then, I tell you true, that I knew I must endeavor this trial on my own, and that each and every traveler who comes through must be a test of my soul. Some come and go, and some are not interested in hearing my tales. I never can tell who will be coming. But you, my friend, must understand something – and this is very important – I did not intend to harm you when first I saw you this evening. But the fog – it was the fog, you see, that made me do it! For it reminded me so much of that night and of her face, that made me tell you about Miss Boyle. And you – so very eager to listen to me. I knew then you were my test, a test that I have failed, once again, to pass. I cannot let you go now, my dear, dear traveler. No, that would never do, for how would we then know which is the more potent: the madness that lies in the hearts and minds of men, or the virtue that comes from steadfast devotion to principle?

That is the answer I seek, my friend, and it is a shame that, for today, the madness is the victor once again. What is that? Yes, yes. Simply put, I lied to the inspectors. You see, no one knows about this cavern here, and no one ever will. I keep a few mementos of a personal nature, though, so that you know you will not be forgotten. I do give you one bit of choice here – have you anything you wish for me to keep in particular? It will join the myriad of other things I keep in this trunk here. No? Very well. I will choose something, then.

I want to thank you for your part that you played here, my friend. It has been most illuminating to my research, and I am most grateful to you. There remains but one little fact that I have yet to know, and please, I do ask that you are honest with me. What is your name?

Bela Matyas Feher, of the Pittsburgh, PA, area, is most at home when he is involved in creative endeavors.  He is most known for his creative expressions in wood (www.bellissimocustom.webs.com), but dabbles periodically on the amateur stage, both in acting and writing.  He is grateful to his long-time friend, Kim, for giving him the opportunity to share this brief story, and wishes all readers a very Happy (and haunting) Halloween!

For the month of October, Listing Beyond Forty is Listing Toward Halloween, featuring posts related to or inspired by Halloween. For more Halloween fun, follow @halloween4all on Twitter or Halloween Queen on Facebook.

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