That a bitch could walk into his life and climb under his skin, try it for size and wear him out like that; well what do you think? They said Vincent McGovern is not like the others; it would be best to get away before it all goes south. Who knows him like that anyhow? Savvy to know him that well? Me! Don’t think so, bitch that I am.
Derna Travillian lies camouflaged in a snipers fly up an oak tree without moving. Even to relieve herself, she is well prepared. Fermanagh, her rustic mare, shifts his weight quietly beneath each time nature called. She spits her spent gum down at him for the hell of it. It feels like early spring, she remembers as a child riding in the same field. It was green then, today the same, apart from tracks of large tractors. Birds in the scope take flight when spooked. She bites a feather between her teeth, which helps her focus. It also means going through with her contract. She cross her forehead saying a few words to Mary, then again spits.
Mischievous jackdaws nearby are only a small distraction. Not that she has anything against birds. Birds are welcomed; knights of the realm are not. She throws her weight sideways, scans the grass where it grows longer. She checks for topography changes, all good. She rolls back into position. A contract is a contract. She did not want the trouble of erecting her camouflaged fly, which she did anyway, enabling her less seen from the air. The Brits had been combing the border now on two years and still has no idea how she made it out of their dragnets. She even taunted them sometimes, with her spent gum. Nevertheless, this is near the end of a campaign and why now any less cautious. She could hear her father’s voice speak to her, as though the oak held him within. Then she notices in her scope the hue from the winter dusk creep over the pasture. The light grew dimmer there. It’s all it took.
Rationalizing it an RUC vehicle and not army, she would not have the same difficulties to escape. The Brits trained their boys to spot differences in topography and even vegetation. RUC could not spot the difference between a bull and stallion’s arse. Music rose in her head as she lowered her telescopic sight onto Officer McDowell’s head, whose doom is certain from a field in county Fermanagh. How we have to get it together reached a crescendo from her Sony recorder. She squeezes the button. Allow five for trajectory, five for distance, and another for crosswinds. The sound of the piano, if she could hear it, enables her to focus sharper. Shostakovich’s Piano piece hit a note. The smell of cow manure wafts by from the nearby hilltop. She stretched her positioning to all fours. That’s more like it. Without stability, you are probably still in mobility. Herr Steiner’s training rang in her head. She pins the contract into the tree’s flaky bark with a Gaelic hairpin. Then she rests the barrel onto the branch for deadly focus.
Covered by woodland from behind to her right and left she felt confident any sudden cracks within would dissipate through it. Her aim is steadier. She tested it to see if it is steady enough. One two three and squeeze… one two three and squeeze… allow for a little jump, down a tad more, all in one flow, hold, hold, hold, relax. Smile to yourself, Countess. ‘Still feckin’ good.’ Delight is short lived. The squeal of the RUC defender pierces the otherwise calm. She still could not shake off the thought Vincent’s cadet, who he hid from harm’s way. Maybe the group is right about that alignment of hers. This would surely seal that fate between them both forever. Dead love, hello again.
The grouse feather, chewing gum, only those extremely close to her knew she carried in her purse, along with the walther: light enough to hold to the head. Little did they know about her work, or the contract, even young McDowell from the hate boiling in her contractor’s blood? Uglier these days, though this day she has something to prove, doubt of her commitment to the cause of republicanism, lately an issue. Of all the ideals she had notched up, she never felt shrinkage from any except maybe this last feckin son of tinker’s brat. What is more, after all these years of commitment, she actually loves another in the same uniform as the one her crosshairs centers on. His voice, resonating more than ever, his velvet tipped tongue no other possessed. It made up for all the other stuff, his age, his old ways, and not forgetting the old uniform. He was a different, not like the others and after all, love is different at fifty-something when it seldom came along. How could she have foreseen it? When it does, the mind tends to look further ahead more frequently and see things you had not seen at twenty something. In addition, a lonely wealthy Irish Countess with no one to share it with is as intolerable as the feelings from its source. Feelings that recently race around what little conscience she had left to herself. Moreover, the same question, ‘if he knew what I had done this day, would he forgive me for this too.’ Somehow, she could see he might, her intuition said this one is strangely different. Many times his forgiveness she had taken for granted. However, with this she has a choice. Finally, she could see the defender turn the corner where the wooden fence opposite curves outwards toward the field of grazing Friesians. Their carbon rose above the herd like a smoke screen. Officer McDowell laughing with his colleagues came closer in her sight. Every time she looks at him, she tried to see only him. No wonder he sent him south; fecking well looks like him.
Shit, why this feckin’ son of a tinker?
RUC personnel should not feel any different from a brit. Came with the turf, not one of those bastards could prove different; their sins will always be,
Le péché Terrible. Her Steiner again, though he is German.
After all, shielded by an English judicial system on the land of her father, what did they expect? Today, those convictions Derna had been trying harder burying over the last years. To make matters worse, this one is not quite the same as the others. Too close, too easy. Maybe when twenty something without a conscience, but this time, at fifty-something, the enemy had hit the soft spot. Moreover, it went deep. That is not supposed to happen. Despite denial, her head at fifty-something is not the same as it was once at thirty something. Men all over her then: Today they are mostly all dead or incarcerated.
Derna fixed the crosshairs of her anti shimmer sight and a scene from last summer threw a flash at her. Exquisite, that dark clear green canal they sailed together. She almost allowed the joy to get to her. The barge was meandering, slowing it here and there, and pointing out places of interest with either the oar or her finger. Soon they were floating deep into the glens and lakes allowing the butterflies to partake of the love that carried them. He poured her a cup of English tea. Not the brew he is accustom too. The morning had been bliss, and for a change, the effect it had on her was what she needed, after a high maintenance contract. She pondered; she would not have it any other way, even with the foe at her side.
“What are you thinkin’ about, Mary?”
“Makin’ love on yon embankment.”
McGovern thought about it. Even though out of uniform, he felt with her he still wore it. She lied to him. And he knew.
“Could we wait till the surroundings are more to my liking, darlin’?”
She said hiding her true wish behind another disarming smile.
“Of course, what did you think; I was goin’ to rape ya or sumpin’?
“You can if you can manage it,”
“Now yon’s a challenge.”
“More than you can imagine, darlin’,”
“You don’t know my imagination, Vincent,”
“Care to bet on that, Mary.”
Cutting it today is going to be hard. She just needs to work on getting her head round the one annoying me myself stuff, and that feeling. There is no doubt; Officer McDowell is awful like a younger Vincent McGovern. The picture of him in his leaf coloured officer’s uniform lingered. Mary lowered her head this time to take aim along her camouflaged Mauser and there he is. The crosshairs rounded dead center on his forehead. Uncapped and clear as a bell, ready to die. Sorry my love.
One two three, squeeze. One two three, as Mary engaged the magnum, her mare took off in a fit of hysterical gallop towards the woods.
A sound of indescribable proportion could have been mistaken for something not of this world followed by a sway that shook the earth beneath the oak. Her heart pounded at her chest, her hand clasping at whatever she could, before her body tumbled downward. But it made no difference; her eyes trying to make sense of what seems desperately out of place, when the blast, a miniscule of a second before the fly, is out of the branches. All around her, pieces of tarmac, pebbles, brick, and stone peppered her. Pieces of stone had embedded her hair and even inside her ears. Her Mauser blown against the tree is now shattered pieces, like her newfound alignment. Remarkably, blown from the tree before the defender’s mesh had embedded itself where she took position a moment before. Just when all seemed final, a head rolls out of the branch above and with one ugly hallow sound of impact against the trees trunk, it held Derna in a shock like none other.