Hailey couldn’t help but stare into her stalker’s hate-filled eyes—it was like staring into an unfathomable abyss.
“I know all about Godfrey Ainsworth and his British Israelism,” he hissed.
She looked at him as if he were mad. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. My father—I mean, Godfrey Ainsworth was a vicar in the Anglican Church.”
He grabbed her chin, squeezed hard and tilted her face so her eyes stared directly into his. “Appeared to be, Girly, he appeared to be a vicar.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying your father, Beatrice McAdam’s husband, thought himself to be a leader of one of the ten lost tribes of Israel—didn’t you know that?”
She shook her head, thinking him mad.
“Take the case of the family history about which you claim to know so little—the McAdams accuse the Ripley’s of treason—of plotting to assassinate the Queen.
For centuries we bore the disgrace and the McAdam’s enjoyed the royal favour and all the trappings that went with it.
Your father saw himself as the custodian of that favour, knowing that eventually, it was he who would be called upon to lead a tribe in the millennial kingdom. It’s one thing to be defrauded in this life—but quite another to be shut out of the great hereafter…”
“This is crazy,” she shouted, “You’re making absolutely no sense.”
“Perhaps not to you, Whore—but then you’ve admitted you had no idea what your family was up to. Did you think Alicia was upset merely because Clare married a Jew? The truth was your family believed they were the true Jews—Anglo Saxons who migrated from the holy land and settled in the British Isles. Their racial bigotry knew no bounds—that was the real reason Alicia wanted to erase Clare’s memory—it was either that, or erase Bernie Sigel—but fortunately, a plane crash took care of that.”
“Even if that’s true, what does that have to do with me?” she wailed.
“It’s all about primogeniture, the rights of the first born. It’s Birdie who would have inherited the manse and the fortune and the McAdam name—don’t you get it? —Godfrey and the rest couldn’t allow that to happen.”
Hailey’s head was spinning. “So, you’re saying I’ve been lied to all my life, just to keep Birdie from her rightful inheritance?”
“But I had no part of that—I was just as much in the dark as she.”
“True, I’ll grant you that.”
“Then why kidnap me?”
He snickered and shook his head. “The privileged class—it never fails to surprise me how deep that sense of entitlement goes.”
“What are you talking about?”
He grabbed her coat collar and pulled her face close to his. “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU.”
Bubbles of foam curled at the corners of his mouth. His eyes were wild. “Whether you know it or not is of no consequence to me—you’re their chosen weapon—don’t you see? You have to be stopped.”
“But I mean you no harm.”
“It’s bigger than you Whore. You’re the chosen of the False Prophet—you’re the Scarlet Woman. I defeat you and I defeat his plan—Simple as that.”
“You mean kill me?”
“What would killing me accomplish?”
“Birdie would assume her rightful place—the family escutcheon would be stained forever. Just imagine—a Jewess as family matriarch. Godfrey’ll roll over in his grave.”
“This is insanity. Why are you bothering to tell me all this—why not just kill me and get it over with?”
“Oh, I can’t do that just yet, girly. We have to wait.”
“Wait—wait for what?”
“For sundown, for darkness. You will die at the same hour as my father and in the same manner.”
Hailey was almost afraid to ask. “How did your father die?”
“Ten years ago, he was hiking through these woods in the rain—used to come up here to clear his mind, he’d say. No doubt he was here trying to wash away the memory of the disgrace your family caused ours. We didn’t have the luxury of an unblemished name.” His face turned cold.
“Anyways, night fell and he was walking back along Lookout Point when a mud slide took him over the edge.” He shuddered at the memory.
She looked at him questioningly.
“You’ll die the same way,” he said quietly.
© 2017, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.