“Oh James!” she cried, falling into his arms and the rushing up to the instrument.
James knew she hadn’t had lessons in some time, but she quickly took to the one piece of sheet music that the store owner had thrown in, “Miss Lucy Long,” sometimes called “Take Your Time Miss Lucy.”
It didn’t last long, however. Ella played the tune first thing the next morning, waking James up. He smiled and rose and got about the day, but returned at lunch to hear it again, and then at supper too.
A month went by and “Miss Lucy” continued to ‘take her time.’ It was a Thursday when James snapped, one that dawned cold and foggy. The mists off Casco Bay were shrouding the land two miles in the distance, and any ships would have a hard time of it indeed trying to get to port near the Kennebec River.
His face was unshaven, his teeth turning yellow. He looked on in a daze, a shambling thing more than a man. Reaching the shed he fumbled at the open lock, finally undoing it before letting it fall to the ground. Inside he found what he was looking for and grasped it tightly.
Her playing increased, a frantic pitch like a demon’s wail, and from behind her James clutched the double-headed axe in his hands. The head gleamed in the soft glow of the single candle’s light.
Ahead of him Ella played on, as if she knew what her husband was trying to say and agreed with him, but the only way she could acknowledge such, and indeed agree with it, was to play on all the harder, all the faster, and all out like her life depended on it. In a way it did.
The last vestiges of hope escaped James and he raised the axe up, then moved forward. With a single mighty heave he brought the axe down on Ella’s hands, just as they’d reached the triple-key affair that he’d first loved so much upon first listen.
Ella screamed as her fingers were severed from her hands and blood sprayed over the white keys, black too. But it wasn’t a scream of pain, more a scream in line with the music, as if she was trying to replace the sounds lost from her hands with that still available from her voice.
It wasn’t the reaction James had wanted, if indeed he’d wanted anything. He was guided by something else now. Outside the waves crashed upon the rocky shore.
He brought the axe down on the square grand piano, first on the large wooden top, splintering it but not breaking it. He swung again and again and wood and chips and splinters began to fly. On the floor his wife bled everywhere from the neck. Her head was nowhere in sight.
It took nearly three minutes for James to chop the piano to bits, at least enough for his liking. He was filled with a primal desire and also a sense of fulfillment. He was in ecstasy.
He looked down at the axe, all covered in saw dust, but still showing splotches of red as well. He brought it up slowly to his chest, touched it a few times to where his heart was, then brought it back down. A wicked grin game to his face, then faded quickly as his frame lurched and his muscles worked.
He brought the axe up as fast as he could and the razor-sharp head embedded itself into his heart. He fell to the floor dead next to his wife’s decapitated body and the piano they’d both ‘loved’ so much.
Sequin Island and Self-Publishing
But what if that one doesn’t take, and the one after that, and the one after that? When do you find another tune to play?
I’m not talking about giving up writing, but perhaps a genre switch is in order. If you can change your tune you just might be able to last a lot longer in this dance we call self-publishing.
If you liked this story please share it. I’ll put up another 4 lighthouses here in the near future, starting with Heceta Head Lighthouse.