DEATH IN THE ROUND
It has been fifteen years since Rory, Angelika,
fled Nice, France to avoid Adriana’s murderous plots. They had been in a half-dozen
large cities, from Rome to Mexico City, always keeping one step ahead of her. Now
Rory has decided it’s past time to confront Adriana and accept his duties as
the father he has never been. Adriana has set up shop with her staff and Rory’s
daughter, Alese, in New Orleans, a city she has known as home before.
It’s a large, round room with a
thirty-foot ceiling and ornate buttresses on the walls from floor to ceiling
every ten feet or so. The purple floral wallpaper is faded and has pulled away
from the walls in a few places along the wooden baseboards.
There are two entrances to the
high-ceilinged old ballroom. The main entrance has massive oak doors, while directly
across the room from this entrance is a smaller entrance, or possibly an exit,
without any doors at all.
The floor is of high-quality
oak, and though it’s no longer polished, at one time it had probably been beautiful.
The room reflects the influence
of the first French settlers in New Orleans.
A decorative crystal chandelier
hangs from the ceiling. It appears that with some dusting and a little vinegar
and water, it would brighten the room as it once had.
A teenage girl walks to the
center of the room and stands under the chandelier, craning her neck to look up
at it from that angle.
She shudders when the thought
pops into her head that the chandelier could choose that time to let loose from
the ceiling and come crashing down on top of her.
It has probably been up there
for a hundred years waiting to kill her.
“Damn, get a grip,” she mutters
under her breath.
“There you are,” said a voice
from the main doorway. “We were told you might be here.”
The girl turned toward the
sound of the voice. A rather handsome man and a dangerous looking female ogre
stood smiling at her.
“I’ll find out who gave you
that information and have them killed,” she said
“It appears she’s her mother’s
child, Rory,” said Angelika. “How sad for her.”
“I’m nobody’s child and I don’t
need your pity,” she said. “As to whether my mother influenced me, that is probably
true; I had no father figure to learn things from.”
“I’m your father, Alese, and
I’d like to be part of your life,” said Rory.
“A little late, aren’t you?”
sneered the young woman.
“It’s only recently that your
mother has given up on trying to find us,” said Rory. “I know I should have
returned before this and confronted her, but I felt we would be no good to you
“But I am going to confront her
now and damn the consequences.”
The young woman pulled a dagger
from a sheath at her waist and walked toward the pair.
“I don’t think you have the
right to confront anyone,” she said.
“I don’t fault you for thinking
badly of me,” said Rory. “I won’t stop you from using that knife.”
Rory closed his eyes and raised
his head to the ceiling, exposing his neck to her. He heard an intake of breath
and then the thumping of a body falling to the floor.
He opened his eyes to see
Angelika standing over the body of his daughter.
“What have you done?” he
“That was not your daughter,
Rory,” said Angelika. “That was the mother, your wife, Adriana.”
“How could you be sure enough
to kill her,”
“I have known her far longer
than you have,” said Angelika. “I could read the signs.”
Just then, they were
interrupted by a voice from the large doors.
“Who are you and what — Oh, my
god! Is that my mother?”
Blood had pooled around
Adriana’s head where she lay on the floor. A cockroach of some variety stepped
into the blood while scurrying across the floor. It stopped, seemed to taste
the blood and then flipped cockroach-style onto its back.
“I’m so sorry, Alese, but it
is,” said Rory. “I’m your father and this Angelika.”
Ignoring Rory’s introductions, Alese
brushed tears from her eyes. “Why does she look like that? She looks like
…., she looks like me.”
“Her plan was to get close
enough to me to kill me,” said Rory. “Angelika saw through her manifestation.”
“I’m sorry to have been the one
to slay your mother,” said Angelika. “It grieves me to cause you pain.”
“Her hunger for power and the
things she could do with that power had grown to dangerous levels recently,”
said Alese. “She was evil, I knew that from the time I could walk, but she was
still my mother.”
“I tried and failed to temper
her lust for the dark side of things,” said Rory. “She was stronger than I, and
after failing to convert me to her ways, she had decided to settle for doing
away with me. And without Angelika’s and Edward’s help, she would have been
“I need to sit down and think
about all of this,” said Alese. “We can go through that back door to a sitting
“Rory, look,” whispered
Angelika. Standing in the great doorway were two burly guards, each holding one
of Edward’s arms.
“Will Adriana’s guards accept
you as their captain now that she is dead?” asked Rory. “Can you win them over?”
“You jest, of course,” said
Angelika. “With but a look in their direction, they will join us.”
Angelika stared at the two
guards in the doorway. A look of puzzlement came over their faces and they
released their hold on Edward.
“My thanks, Angelika,” said
Edward, as he walked into the room. “And this is Alese? So happy to finally
meet you.” Looking down
at Adriana, he added, “And I regret it has to be under these unfortunate
“We were just going to
someplace quiet to discuss things, Edward,” said Rory. “Could you and those two
guards please remove Adriana’s body to a secure location and then meet us in
the room behind the small door?”
“Certainly, Rory. I’ll have
everything taken care of.”
Later, sitting at small table
in what must have been a powder room in earlier days. Rory, Alese, Angelika,
and Edward talked about their plans for the future.
“I’d like to stay in New
Orleans for a few more months, but then I’m open to wherever you think would be
best, Father,” said Alese. “I have things to finish up and people to say
Rory’s heart ached when he
heard the word “Father.” It was the first time Alese had addressed him as such.
He had missed all those years when she would have called him “Daddy.”
The two guards who had earlier
held Edward stood at attention in the doorway, hoping to be seen as loyal and
useful. They were fearful that a “changing of the guard” could mean their
“I’m sure we have time to spend
in New Orleans, Alese,” said Rory. “Take all the time you need.
“And, Angelika, I’d like you to
explore the possibilities of a new home for us. I’ll be happy to let you choose
our final destination. You’ve earned the right to choose where you would be
Angelika grinned at the
compliment and Alese was taken aback by that grin, but to Rory and Edward, that
smile told them that maybe this story would have a happy ending.
Angelika was capable of using
The Dark Door to take them anywhere in the world and to keep them safe from
anything that came their way.
“Your father is the Ferryman, Alese,”
whispered Angelika, taking Alese
aside. “When we are in our new home and
have gotten settled, I will tell you of the Ferryman’s history.”
“Will I like what I hear?” asked Alese.
“Yes, you will,” said Angelika.
“The Ferrymen have always been good people …., except when they weren’t,
Dorman, firstname.lastname@example.org, of Madison, WI, who wrote BP #90’s
“The Return of the Ferryman” (+ BP #89’s “Orphans at the Dark Door”;
BP #88’s “Blood on the Riviera”; BP #87’s “The Sepia
Photograph”; BP #86’s “New
Orleans Take-Out” & “Not This Time”; BP #85’s “Door County
Getaway” & “The Gift”; BP #84’s “Goodbye to Nowhere Land” &
“Nobody Should Be at 1610 Maple St.”; BP #83’s “Door #2”; BP #82’s “A Nowhere
Friend” & “Foundling”; BP #81’s “Nowhere Man in Nowhere Land” & “The
Box with Pearl Inlay”; BP #80’s “Andrew’s War” & “Down at the Hardware
Store”; BP #79’s “Cellmates” & “Get Some Shelter”; BP #78’s “All Is as
It Should Be”; BP #77’s “Essence of Andrew”; BP #76’s “Flirting
with the Alley”; BP #75’s “The Enemy of My Enemy…”; BP #74’s
“Doesn’t Play Well with Others”; BP
#73’s “A Journey Starts with a Flower”; BP #72’s “The Beach House”; BP #71’s
“The Big Apple Bites”; BP #70’s “Borrowing Some Love”; and BP #69’s “Back in
Town” and “Finding Good Help…”), is retired from the University of
Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for 60 years. At
the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now
a voracious writer. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Birds Piled Loosely,
Burningword Literary Journal, Cease Cows, Cheapjack
Pulp, Crack The Spine, Drunk Monkeys, Every Day
Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flash Fiction Press, Gap-Toothed
Madness, Gravel, Lake City Lights, Near
To The Knuckle, Shotgun Honey, The Creativity Webzine, Theme of Absence,
Owl, The Story Shack, & Yellow Mama.