Archive for February, 2012
Scarecrows On the Mountain a short story by Kathy Da Silva (copy right and ownership of Kathy Da Silva).
by Kathy Da Silva on Friday, April 9, 2010 at 4:24pm ·
A Short Story by Katherine Da Silva (Page One)
Scarecrows On The Mountain (2,307 words)
Slowly, the snow fell softly at first, and lightly, but then in larger, white flakes, gently settling on all the surfaces. The window sills were beginning to fill, and the lawn in front of the lodge, was covered thoroughly in the white mass. Yves, had promised to return within a day or two, so Megan had waited patiently, for his return, nursing a sore ankle, from a bad fall a week earlier. They had both been skiing. One set of footprints had been left in the snow on the path, that morning, first showing the coming and then the going of the local postman. Large, long black prints, that had begun to fill with snow and were beginning just now to fade and disappear. Yves would not be long, just a small business matter, an old friend, had flown in, and was staying in the city of Zurich. The friend had been keen to reacquaint himself, with Yves, and over a business lunch, was going to arrange for the purchase of a painting. Yves ran a gallery, on the outskirts of Paris. Megan had met Yves two seasons ago, skiing the slopes of the French Alps. Yves was a keen snow boarder. Whilst waiting the return of Yves, Megan had promised to visit their friends in the village, where the lodges for visitors, were beginning to empty out, with people returning to their work, after the holidays. Francesca Dupres and her fiance were staying an extra week, at the lodge near to the Font Bar-Hotel. An appointment for luncheon had been arranged. Yves had left Megan the use of the hired land rover, and she chose to drive down to the village, at about one o’clock, to meet with her friends.
The front of the hotel was well lit, so that in spite of the snowfall, it was bright and cheerful in appearance, and inviting. The fire at the centre of the lounge was ablaze with a new log to ensure the warmth of the Font’s customers. An archway separated the diners from the lounge, and the tables were set more formally, with napkins, starched and shaped, in a mid pink colour, against white cloths. The glassware sparkled, and the cutlery shone. The table that had been reserved for Megan and her guests, overlooked the view of the outdoor terrace, and beyond, the high peaks of snow filled Swiss mountains. The restaurant was busy at this time of the day. Megan sat down, but the guests had not arrived. She ordered a carafe of red Shiraz wine. The waitress brought the wine to the table, and although new diners arrived, Francesca and her fiance were late. Megan tried her friend’s mobile, but the phone went straight to a message taking service. She decided to wait a further half an hour, and then try and discover their whereabouts.
Snow fell constantly throughout the morning, and would continue for the remainder of the day. Megan had decided to go round to the lodge, in which the couple had been staying, either to find them there, or leave a note. The lodge was literally round the corner from the Font Bar-Hotel. She walked, leaving the car parked. The lodge looked deserted. There were no lights, but,
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on climbing the wooden steps to the front entrance, Megan found the door was open very slightly. She rang the bell, and called out. No reply came. She
pushed open the door further, and called out again. Everything was as expected, but in the kitchen diner area, something like a bottle or vase had been broken, and its contents spilled on the tiled floor. Nothing else looked disturbed. Megan, called again, and started to ascend the stairs that led to the bedrooms. It was about two-thirty by this time, and there had been no sign of her lunch time guests. Once again she called out.
‘Francesca? Philippe?’ Absolute silence, and the snow seemed to make the air more soundless. The master bedroom door was ajar. Megan knocked, all the same, but on entering she saw the shoe of her friend, poking out from under one side of the bed. A blue fairly new shoe, that seemed half on and half off its owner. The woman looked unconscious. Megan stooped briefly, to shake Francesca’s shoulder. The body was already cold. Megan withdrew in horror. Her first thought was to raise the alarm, and call the police. There seemed no sign of Francesca’s fiance Philippe. Megan wondered if robbery had been the motive.
The police called round, eventually, but, poor weather had inhibited their journey to the holiday lodge. An ambulance accompanied them. Megan was asked to make a statement. She also made a call to Yves within the same hour, but Yves was not able to travel back the same day, but promised he would take the early morning train. The hire car that belonged to the couple, was missing from the drive, and the police were trying to trace it. Philippe and Francesca were due aboard flights for Paris, by the end of the week. There were no messages, left on the answer phone in the apartment. Megan, returned to her own lodge, after finishing her interview at the police station. Staying in for the evening, she lit a fire, and poured herself a glass of brandy. She had also put one of Yves cable sweaters on, and curled up infront of the fire. Yves rang just before midnight, to confirm which train, he would be arriving on the next morning, and to ask her to pick him up from the station in the land rover. Sleeping alone was difficult, and Megan lay awake, listening to a woodland night owl, and the occasional sound of a motor vehicle struggling up the icy roads, to nearby lodges, punctuating the silence. She watched the trail of light reflected onto the ceiling of the lodge, as the cars turned and skidded toward their respective drives.
Yves and Megan, had only made acquaintance of Francesca Dupres, and her fiance, over a few days. There had been very little to offer the police, with regard to the motives, behind such an attack. Both had seemed reasonably well off, and they too, owned property on the outskirts of Paris, near to Yves gallery. Francesca’s parents had died and left her a small farm in
the South of France. Megan kept going through the conversations with Francesca, the day or two before, and could not link anything she said, with the event of such a dreadful attack. Eventually, she began to doze, and then
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sleep came over her.
The alarm had been set early for six in the morning. Yves would be on one of the first trains in. It would take possibly, up to half an hour of journey time to reach the main local station.
The following morning, Megan awoke, dressed, and made a breakfast for herself, of muesli and toast. The light outside seemed brighter than the previous day. The snow had settled, and there was evidence of sunshine showing through very light white clouds. Taking the keys from the sideboard for the land rover, she made her way to the local station. Yves had already arrived, by the time she pulled into the car park. They embraced, and quickly retreated back toward the car. Megan recounting the previous days ordeal. Yves frowned at the thought of their holiday finishing in such tragic circumstance. There was something on the early morning news bulletin, on the radio with reference to the finding of the body in the holiday lodge, but little was said. The missing hire car, had not been traced, as yet, but, the police were still searching.
Once they had driven back to their lodge, Megan rang the police to see if there was any more they could do, and learned that the passports of Francesca, and Philippe, were missing from the apartment. They asked her if she could remember, any other persons who may have talked to or become acquainted with the couple. By midday, another bulletin, revealed the hire car had been abandoned the other side of the Swiss boarder, on the German side. Boarder control, had only seen a single white male, pass through in the car. But, the man had looked a serious, possibly worried individual, in a hurry to go about his business. There had been no decision to search the vehicle, however, and he was allowed to go through to Germany.
‘Do you suppose that was Philippe?’, Megan asked her boyfriend.
‘Well, they will have to identify the man from photographs and cameras at the boarder crossing, they haven’t said they identified the man in the car. Do you feel he would have been the sort to be guilty of such a hideous crime?’
‘He seemed tame to me, far too quiet to be capable of such violence. He was a gentleman, so it doesn’t make sense, they both seemed happy to come to lunch, there was no tension between them. I wonder if the police have informed Francesca’s relatives?’ Yves sighed,
‘It’s such a terrible business!’
That day seemed to last forever. Megan, had seldom, had the occasion to worry for someone she had hardly known for a day or two, but, there was an element of guilt involved. If she had called round instead of sitting for an hour almost, in the restaurant, could she have saved Francesca from falling victim to murder.
Night had fallen. The weather had turned fowl once again, snow fell in drifts, and the wind was biting. Philippe, had woken, to find himself covered in blood, from a shot gun wound. He appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. He could remember only small fragments of the previous day. He
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felt very weak. He was laying under the shelter of a pine, on the sloping part of a mountain track. He could remember scrambling desperately, up a steep path, away from his hire car, and the sound of a gun being shot, loudly echoing around the hillside. The rest of his memory of just what had happened, was blurred. The light from the local houses and bars were not too far in the distance, and he pulled himself off the ground, with a deep moan. His appearance was dishevelled, and he was unshaven. He tried to hide the blood on his shirt by doing the buttons of his corded jacket up, and loosely curling his thick, winter scarf around the stain of blood at the back of the jacket. The local bar owner, offered him the use of the public pay phone in the bar. His first call was to Francesca, at the holiday lodge, but there was no reply. And he tried to ring the Font Bar in the hope of tracing his fiancee, but the number seemed eternally engaged. He asked the barman, how far he was from the Swiss boarder. And discovered it was only a matter of one or two kilometres. His wallet was empty. The hire car was no longer on the roadside. The two dark-haired refugees who had forced him to take them across the boarder, had vanished. Bracing himself against the cold night air, and a sky that threatened snowfall, he decided to get to the border crossing and call his fiancee once again from there. Philippe hitched a ride with a freight vehicle driver, and alighted at the border. His recollection of the two masked men, who had caught hold of him as he had parked his car in the drive of the lodge, and made him lie down, in the back seat, was still vague. He remembered thick accents in a Mediterranean tongue. They had spoken in broken French vocabulary, and he understood only one thing, that his life was threatened if he did not cooperate with their demands. Philippe had not even had a chance to communicate with Francesca, when the vehicle with himself tied up and face down in the back seat, had been driven off. At the border crossing, he reported the theft of his car and started to explain the loss of his passport and identification papers. The guard made a call to the central Swiss police bureau investigating the murder of a tourist in St Moritz ski resort. He was sat down in the office, until the police arrived. Philippe was taken first to the hospital, to have the wound to his shoulder dressed, and then on to the station to make a statement and answer questions, with regard to the death of his fiancé. The news of Francesca’s death, made Philippe break down in sobs, and he asked if his friends could be contacted.
Megan and Yves, had had a phone call made to their apartment, and had driven over to the police station. They released Philippe the same night, and allowed him to return with the couple to the holiday lodge, temporarily. They sat talking for hours. The death of his fiancee had caused him much sorrow, and there would be the inevitable autopsy report to go through. If the gun shot wound to Philippe’s shoulder, matched with the same weapon used to kill Francesca, then he was in the clear. The bullet had entered Philippe’s body from behind his left shoulder, as he had run from his
captors. The hire car too, showed evidence of more than one person’s prints.
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Philippe had certainly never owned a gun, or held a licence for one. He recalled the whole story, talking into the small hours of the following morning.
This is just a short story, I tried to make it in a slightly more commercial style…so see what you think….