Evidence of Foul Play

“Every generation learns that a matter of honor is settled over and proceeding from many generations of generosity and the brotherhood forthcoming”

Someone’s been murdered, she said.

They were just finished with a late and hearty dinner of fish and chips at the seaside pub and had filtered into the dim, otherwise empty arcade, against the NASCAR racing seats and the get what you can grab transparent glass boxes.

The police are everywhere. There’s something like a body or parts of it on the cobbles.

You’ve heard of the harpies, Medusa of the Greek legends. The gods of storms and the children of Poseidon. Mermaids, to use an euphemism. The sea is full of secrets.

The bespectacled historian bit into a lamb kebab, chewing noisily.

A man in a trench coat and horn rims pulled them aside. We’ll need to do a DNA test but we think what’s left on the beach is your father.

What’s left of him?

Just his legs.

You know, Al often told me of his broadsword. The one that slew a thousand men. I’ve seen him wield it. Swordsmanship runs in the family. It was forged in Crete during the Crusades – supposedly. And its handle was a fish’s tail.

The historian brandished his umbrella by the handle, wrists and elbows twisting as he swung the folded brolly in wide sweeping strokes that glanced against the game machines.

Yes, the Arabs and their scimitars were more agile, but a spearhead of knights, with sheer strength and coordination were unstoppable. The Matilda tanks could have saved France, stopped Hitler dead in his panzer tracks…

She watched her eminent uncle lose himself among the displays, talking to the air.

In their hotel room, at the Trident Resort, detectives discovered his diary. It was full of tales of the sea. How generation after generation of his family knew and loved the mer-creatures. The gumshoe showed her an entry from 20 years ago. His gloved fingers obscured the last paragraph.

Did Al believe in mermaids?

Why yes, I was very little, but I saw the sword with the fishtail handle given to Dad by a relative. Said it’d been in our family for generations. Forged during a storm in the Mediterranean with hammers found in the Roman ruins in the shallows. There were shards of stone and steel, I have some of it, in an amulet.

She showed the detective the encrusted disc under her jacket.

He took a brief look at it, then turned to the other officers. You keep it safe, he said, folding his notebook close.

And there were the stone fragments of people who stared at Medusa. Parts of their bodies, noses, eyes and ears, under the water. So real, that the salt water and the sea creatures that ate away at them revealed vessels and cartilage. Say you were wrong, detective.

The historian stopped short of stabbing the cop with his umbrella, in an en garde position.

You’re welcome to believe whatever you want. I believe someone was murdered that’s all.

The police filed out of the entertainment parlor, leaving the small group of family to commiserate. An ambulance took the remains away.

Many of us have blasphemed the sea. The garbage we put into Poseidon’s mouth. The micro plastics and drug syringes. Offended the gods with our sin -so called. Maybe Al knew what he was in for. What he saw was a mer-beast. Maybe it took him. Maybe he has a new life under the sea with the legless creatures he was meant to be with. In any case, the sword goes to you -and the legend therewith.

* * *

Beneath the waves, wyrm with fangs gnawed at the dismembered body of Al Farlling. Around his neck, a Crusader’s talisman. There was a smile etched on his frozen face. He had found his god albeit after 4 and a half beers.

You know mermaids are bare-breasted, said her college boyfriend. I hear you have an amulet from the Crusades.

You can see them all together all you like, she said, peeling off her top.

FreeLunch.my, C. K. Yap, yapchenkuang@outlook.com