The Story of Silence

Silence Mourner is like every other person out there, but not every person is like Silence.

The story starts in the small, Italian village of Paura where Father Demetre finds a four-year-old boy in the snow beside three fresh graves. A mystery surrounds the boy, who is he? What was he doing out there alone in the cold? How did he get there? Whose graves are they? And finally, why can the boy no longer speak? Faced with these problems, Father Demetre takes the boy in and with the help of the village doctor, they care for him until a stranger from New York comes to claim him.

Now named Silence Mourner, follow this boy's road to manhood in the distant city of New York where he has slowly come to forget his secret, but his silence serving as a reminder that it should never be told. Now faced with a girl from his youth who is determined to bring it into the light, will it stay concealed, or will his desire to remember bring it all out?

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19. Chapter 19

Wednesday, March 15th:

‘Well,’ said the sun to the early morning riser. ‘What brings you up so early?’

‘I am here to watch you rise. For each time you rise it means a new day dawns, and a new day dawning is what some people spend all their days hoping for,’ replied the early morning riser.

‘And why do you wish to see me rise?’ questioned the sun.

‘Because it means that the night is over.’

Well, it was true, some spend all the time in their days waiting for the new day to dawn in case that it brings with them a new day, a new future perhaps? But what is the point of wishing for something new to happen? Wishes don’t always come true. If you want a new day, something that has never happened to you before, you have to get up and do it.

And for Silence, he spent a long time hoping that each day would be different, and indeed everyday was, but he was too blind to see it change before his eyes. He spent a long time hoping that Susan would quit trying to find out the truth of his past. He hoped that by asking her to stop, telling her that it was none of her business, that it would make her stop. But his efforts only spiked her interest and she continued. So why not try something different? He thought. I’ll tell her what happened in the hopes that she stops, she understands ... she never tells.

Silence’s bedside clock started beeping, rousing him from his thoughts. He tapped the roof of the clock and it quit beeping as he lay back down on his bed and closed his eyes, trying to assemble his thoughts. He opened his eyes a quick second later as he looked over at the red 7:30.

It was time to get up and go to work. He threw his covers aside and rose to his feet. He noted as he stood that he didn’t seem to be suffering any longer from the effects of the night before, if anything he felt better.

Thomas’s door was closed with the light off as Silence made his way to the shower, so he was careful as he walked passed. If Thomas woke, Silence was almost certain he would object about him working today. Bines had only said he was suffering from shock after all, and he was feeling fine now so Silence could see no problem with heading to work.

He made himself a quick breakfast after his shower and then rushed to getting ready for work. His thoughts had drifted back to Susan while he was in the shower, and he had made up his mind.

After hailing a taxi and climbing in, he pulled out his phone and sent her a text.

I’m sorry for last night. Please can I see you for lunch today? It’s important. I’ll tell you about my past.

Work seemed different as he walked in. The building was a hush despite it being working hour, and the main floor was empty except for the few odd people who had arrived a little late like Silence. No one seemed willing to say anything to Silence, or even acknowledge that he was there. But he noticed that it wasn’t just him being ignored, everyone was keeping to themselves, not looking anywhere besides where their feet were going.

The building seemed eerie standing tall and quiet, Silence wasn’t used to it. In fact he didn’t even recall a time that it was this quiet. It was like someone had died and they were all being quiet out of respect. Or else they were too spooked and afraid to make any noise. He found the cause for it later as he stepped out of the elevator and noticed a sign at the end of the hall, posted onto one of those large, pin-up boards for posting announcements.

It was the notice that Oldwood had made Miss Phelps write in his office yesterday, though Silence noticed a couple of changes to it. For starters -one thing he knew he hadn’t heard Oldwood tell her to write- it was written that any unnecessary noise such as: conversation not having to do with work, were not permitted during working hours. If the source was discovered an immediate sacking would follow.

Silence stared in disbelief at what was before him. How could Oldwood write up instructions like that and expect to get away with it? His uncle had run Inks and Paper Incorporated with the thought in mind that to allow his employees to chat freely and have the run of the place that it would help them all get along and work. And it did work. Everyone worked, did what they were supposed to, and with such cheerful staff sales were made and they were one of the leading companies selling office supplies.

That wasn’t the only new rule up, but Silence didn’t bother reading them, he knew why everyone was being quiet now. At the top of the list there was also the notice telling them about Silence and how he was late and was now suspended from work for a week.

He had actually forgotten that, but now that he was here there wasn’t any real reason for him to leave. Oldwood couldn’t sack him for showing up to work. Silence reckoned that he would still be able to work; he just wouldn’t be paid for it. But he thought that okay as it was only something he’d do to keep himself occupied till lunch.

Oldwood wasn’t in Silence’s office when he arrived, Silence hadn’t imagined that Oldwood would be in his office as there wasn’t any reason for him to be, but it still meant he could relax while he did his work in peace.

Twelve o’clock came around and Susan still hadn’t replied to his text, but Silence still hoped that she would show up. He needed to talk to her straight away.

As people started to file out of their offices for lunch, Brian came by to see how Silence was doing. No one else had come by to see him; they must have all thought he would have been at home doing other things as he didn’t need to be at work. But Silence had sent Brian a message to see how he was faring with Oldwood’s new rules, and he was careful to put his alarm for messages on silent.

‘Are you coming down for lunch?’ Brian asked as he poked his head into the doorway.

I’m waiting for Susan. I really need to speak with her and I suggested lunch today. I’m waiting for her to show up. Wrote Silence, and getting up he handed it to Brian.

Brian nodded, gave Silence a nudge in the side and winked slyly at him.

‘I see how things are,’ he chuckled. ‘Well, I hope your ‘date’ goes well! I’ll see you later then!’ he called, as still chuckling he headed towards the elevators.

Silence watched him leave, a frown on his face. He realised though that that was probably what it looked like to everyone else. He’d spent the last week waiting round for Susan in case she showed up before having lunch; he kept texting her, and possibly everybody in the building who knew Silence knew he had been forced from seeing her when Oldwood had told Brian to tell her that he was unavailable.

By twelve-forty Susan still hadn’t shown up or replied to his text, so Silence left his desk and was just heading towards the door when, to his surprise and delight, Susan walked through the door.

‘Brian said that you’d be in here,’ she said simply, ‘waiting for me. What do you want, Silence? What do you mean you’re going to tell me about your past? You didn’t want me to find out last night and now you do? You said you couldn’t even remember why I wasn’t supposed to know.’

Pulling out his notebook he wrote, I know what I said. And so what is said next by me, I hope you believe. Come on, let’s get lunch, and I’ll tell you there. He picked up his coat and hat and let her leave the room first before following after her. They both knew the way to the place; they’d been there often enough in the past week.

They sat down at one of the tables inside, near an open window and ordered their meals.

‘So,’ began Susan. ‘What are you going to tell me?’

As you know, I can’t speak. I can make sounds, but I can’t make them into words. Now the reason for this is, and I don’t think you actually know, but the reason for this is because I don’t have a tongue. But I wasn’t born without one; I still had it the night my family died.

Actually, the night my family died, was the night I lost it. I’ll get to the point, okay? I saw something, and my tongue was cut off to prevent me telling anybody what I saw.

It was a warning, and a reminder. If I told anybody what I saw, then the same fate that awaited my family would come to them. I don’t want you to die because of me, because of something that happened in the past. I don’t think the same fate will happen to you because…I just don’t think it will. But if it did, I don’t know what I’d do.

‘You’re telling me that the reason you can’t talk is because somebody cut your tongue off when you were four years old, after you saw what happened to your parents?’ Susan exclaimed after reading the note. She spoke louder than she had meant to and the few other people in the restaurant looked wide eyed over at their table. Silence and Susan just smiled at them and then tried to ignore the stares.

Silence nodded. I can show you if you don’t believe me.

Susan looked shocked at the suggestion and quickly shook her head.

‘No way! I’ll believe you. But, really? I’d suffer the same fate if you told me what happened to them? What did happen to them?’

Silence shook his head.

I won’t tell you. The threat was years ago, but I’ve lived every minute with a reminder that no-one should know, even if I only just remembered it last night in a dream. It was the name Joseph Amerigo that started the ball rolling. He told me his name once; this was while I was still living in Italy.

Silence didn’t tell her how it was his name that made him remember; he just hoped that knowing this would make her stop. He really, really hoped that today was that new day where things changed.

Their meal arrived and Susan didn’t say anything for a while as she ate her burger. She finally finished and took a sip of her drink.

Looking up at Silence with a gaze that made him feel uncomfortable, she asked, ‘Are you telling me that you didn’t want me to know in case I died like your family?’

He nodded slowly. This, he hoped, wouldn’t be as tricky as it was sounding like it would be.

‘Why?’ she asked sharply, suspicion lacing her words.

Silence coughed to clear his throat though he didn’t need to, and looked nervously down at his meal. This question he had spent a lot of last night as he had lain in bed thinking over in case it was asked, and now that it had been he didn’t want to say in case she laughed at him.

She continued to look at him expectantly.

‘Well?’ she asked.

He scratched the back of his head and looked away and she smiled suddenly.

‘You like me, don’t you? That’s why you didn’t want to tell me, you didn’t want me to die because you like me!’ She exclaimed happily, and Silence risked turning his gaze to her.

She was smiling broadly at him and he nodded slowly in reply. He did like her, and he didn’t know if he could live with her dying on him if she found out his secret. He had known her for a week at most, though he’d known of her for longer than that, but maybe his feelings had started the day she walked into his hospital room to thank him and he had noticed her. How she always talked lots because she was afraid of being the silent type that always got left out of things because she never said anything and was not any fun to be around.

She reached over and gripped his hand in hers.

‘That’s so sweet,’ she told him softly, looking into his eyes.

Silence just smiled back, gripping her hand in his.

Unbeknownst to either of them, their conversation had been overheard, and what George Oldwood heard displeased him. He rose to his feet from his table outside of the open window of the restaurant and walked away. He’d heard enough. Silence Mourner had told someone, and it was just that poor boy’s luck that it had to be to the girl that he liked. It just meant that both lovers would have to die, and whoever died first would cause pain to the other until they died.

Unfortunately, Oldwood couldn’t kill one and then leave the other to live. No matter which one he killed, the other would have to die as well. If Silence told one person what would stop him from telling another and another, even though Joseph was dead and couldn’t go to prison? And if he killed the boy and left the girl, she was a reporter, she had a job as one working for the best newspaper in town, what would stop her from telling everybody the news? If she did, the police would lead an investigation into Joseph’s private life and what they might find would not be good.

Oldwood nervously wrung his hands as he thought about the job in hand for himself. Simon had been caught, but he hadn’t been caught with the book on his person, which was good. He also hadn’t been caught in the house so the police would have to release him because they didn’t have proof. So George hoped that if Simon didn’t have the book, it might still be in the house. And he knew that the police didn’t have that much interest in books so they wouldn’t have gone through the library in Joseph’s secret room, which meant that if he could just get that book back, it wouldn’t matter if Silence or the girl told anybody.

The police could track it back to Joseph, but he was dead so they couldn’t arrest him. And if they didn’t have the book they couldn’t put everyone who had ever paid Joseph or had worked for him in jail, which was also very good.

Oldwood made plans. He couldn’t just let Silence or the girl live; he would have to kill them anyway because that’s what Joseph had told him, that whoever he told would die, as well as himself.

He hadn’t killed anybody in ages, he’d gotten used to hiring other people to do his dirty work for him. The work he was doing at the moment for Joseph wasn’t dirty. All he had to do was get that old man to make him CEO so that he could keep an eye on Silence. But now that Joseph was dead, he didn’t have to do this anymore. Though he’d still kill them anyway, he wanted to, just to keep his hands in the game.

Maybe I’ll kill the boy first, he thought as he walked down the street, and then let the girl stew for a day or two, not too long in case she decides to tell someone, and then I’ll kill her. That would be a good plan. Their deaths would be a mystery, but a lot of things are.

Susan had also admitted to Silence that she really liked him as well. Silence was glad of that. It made him feel so much better that his feelings were returned and felt the same by the girl he liked. And something else that also made him feel better, like a weight had been lifted off his shoulder, was that she had agreed to not continue searching and to just drop it even though she was still interested in it.

She knew now anyway that his family hadn’t been killed by the crash, and she knew now how they had gotten over to the other side of the mountain and had been buried, he had decided to tell her that.

Sadly though, their time together had to come to an end. Susan had an appointment with the chief editor of Newest News. Silence could have walked with her to it, but she didn’t know how long it would be so he might end up waiting around with nothing to do for ages. But she told him before she left that she would come by his place later in the evening. Silence promised her that he’d cook her something. He also hoped that Thomas would be out again.

‘That sounds like a lovely idea, Silence,’ Susan told him when he told her. ‘I’ll be there about seven. I’ll see you then.’ She leaned in and they kissed, Silence wished it didn’t have to end, but it broke off and they parted ways.

Silence wandered off and spent the afternoon walking around the shops, checking out things to buy that he could make Susan for dinner. He settled on something simple, but something he thought she would enjoy. After finishing shopping for the couple of ingredients he knew they didn’t have he set off home.

Because of the rain it was cool in the late afternoon so he decided that instead of getting a taxi he’d just walk home. From his place to the shops it wasn’t far, and his bag wasn’t particularly heavy.

As he was walking and thinking of Susan, he spotted something in a shop window that he thought she would like. And just as he stopped there was a sharp whistle and then a smash as the glass a foot along from him shattered into a million pieces.

Silence turned sharply away from the explosion, dropping his bag and throwing his hands up to cover his face. There was a scream from somebody who had been passing Silence, and quick footsteps of people running. Silence removed his hands slowly as the glass shower settled and looked into the window at the mannequin rocking on its pole. There was a small bullet hole resting in the center of its plastic, smiling head.

He turned in shock and looked around, stunned as he searched the suddenly busy, panicking crowd. There was another sharp whistle and the glass on the other side of him shattered into a million pieces. Silence turned away from it and ran forwards, ducking into an alley opening another shop down to escape.

Oldwood swore under his breath as his second shot missed Silence, and as he watched from his car Silence running into an alley for cover.

He pulled his car over to the side of the road as soon as the car in front of him had moved and jumped out and ran after him, pushing through the crowd of people who had started to get to their feet after the second shot.

Killing Silence in an alley wasn’t what he had intended, but it would get rid of him, and now it would look like a mugging if he was beaten to death instead of falling to the street with a bullet in his head. This was actually a good plan and Oldwood didn’t know why he hadn’t thought of it before.

He ran along the alley, following its turns and came out in an old, deserted backstreet. Silence was nowhere to be seen. If Silence had followed the street he would have made it to the main street and would be able to get away.

There was a possible chance that Silence might not have been followed, and the wannabe-killer was still on the road. So Silence had run into the alley across the backstreet and had hid. He hoped that anyone running after him would see the backstreet empty and would head to the main road.

Silence waited. After a minute his jaw dropped in surprise as his boss ran into the alleyway. He knew his boss didn’t like him, but he could think of no reason why Oldwood would want to kill him. So he rose steadily to his feet and strode out from behind the boxes he had been hiding behind and into the alley, waving his hands to catch Oldwood’s attention.

He reached into his pocket to pull out his pad to tell Oldwood what had happened, but Oldwood had pulled out his gun and was taking aim to fire it.

Silence dropped what he was doing in shock at the sight of the gun in Oldwood’s hand and raised his own slowly above his head. He wanted to ask why, but was unable to.

‘Run, Mr Mourner, run so that it looks like a mugging!’ Oldwood shouted at him, grinning evilly as he leveled the gun at Silence’s head.

Silence swallowed hard and shook his head.

‘Fine! It doesn’t really matter anyway!’

Blam!

Silence dived to the side just as Oldwood pulled the trigger on the gun and the bullet narrowly missed hitting him, instead it found its target in the brick wall.

Silence rushed to his feet from the dive and sprinted back into the alleyway he had been hiding in moments before, and ran to the very end of it. It was a dead end and the door that allowed him access into the home was locked. He turned and hid behind a full rubbish bin just as Oldwood fired another shot.

He stayed down low and waited for the rest of the bullets to be fired into the bin. None came. Risking a quick peek, he raised his head over the top of the bin.

Blam!

Another shot was fired, again hitting the brick wall behind his head as he ducked and heard footsteps as Oldwood drew nearer to him. When he judged him to be a couple of feet away, he took a gander on faith, and dived over the bin. He succeeded in tackling the surprised Oldwood and knocking him over.

They tumbled to the floor of the alley and Silence immediately started laying punches on the downed man.

Oldwood’s gun had been knocked out of his hand so that he was free to defend his face with his hands. He flew out with a couple of his own punches. One hit Silence on the cheek bone, and Oldwood took the second while Silence was dazed to push him off of his body.

Silence collapsed on to his back and Oldwood sprung at him. They rolled, each trying to get on top of the other and throwing punches whenever there was space. Oldwood threw a punch that hit Silence in the eye, and ended up on top.

Blood was pouring out of Oldwood’s nose where a lucky punch by Silence had struck home and broken it, and blood from a wound above his eyes where Oldwood had struck him was preventing Silence from seeing out of that eye.

Taking Oldwood’s pause for breath, Silence suddenly heaved with his hands at Oldwood’s chest and succeeded in throwing him off just as Oldwood was starting to wrap his hands around Silence’s neck.

Oldwood flew into the wall but was able to stay upright. He ran towards Silence who was still lying on the ground and Silence kicked out, sending him flying back into the wall.

Spying the gun on the ground where it had fallen in the beginning, Silence took the time while Oldwood was getting to his feet to get to his own and grab the gun.

He grabbed it, turning just as Oldwood heaved one of the smaller bins up onto his shoulder and threw it at him.

The impact took the wind out of Silence as the bin hit hard him in the chest before he had a chance to dodge.

As he was thrown back, his fingers tightened their hold on the gun still in his hand. Silence heard another bang just as he landed hard on his back, cracking his head against the floor.

He lay dazed on the floor, coughing and gasping in air; he could feel a sharp pain in his chest and reckoned the bin must have broken a rib. And then remembering the fight he clambered to his feet, bringing his hands up to his face, ready for round two.

He sniffed and wiped the blood from his eye and noticed Oldwood lying unmoving on the floor, a red stain spreading quickly through his shirt.

It took a moment for the realisation to get through the cloud in his brain as to why Oldwood was lying unmoving on the ground, bleeding from a wound in his chest. Silence’s breath caught in his throat as he knelt down next to his boss and felt for a pulse. There didn’t seem to be one.

Dread filled his body and soul as he staggered to his feet and took a step back, fear building up inside his body. He hadn’t meant to kill him. Hadn’t meant to kill him! Screamed the voice inside his mind, he meant to kill you and probably would have succeeded too! Why did you pick up the gun if you didn’t mean to kill him? To throw it away so he wouldn’t get it? To bash him over the head so that he would fall unconscious and you could get away? He would have gone after you when he’d woken up, he might not have stopped! It is good that you killed him! You’ve saved yourself and him a lot of trouble! Now run before someone arrives! His voice screamed at him.

Silence ran. He ran out of the alley and into the main street. Hailing a cab he got in and told the astonished driver his address. The driver didn’t ask any questions of Silence’s appearance and for that Silence was glad. He wouldn’t have known what to say anyway.

He arrived home in less than ten minutes, and was starting to notice the pain in his head and the blood that was still leaking from the wound above his eye where the skin had split.

He paid the driver and ran out of the taxi and into the building. He ignored the shouts from the man at the desk and ran into the elevator. It took him up to his floor.

Glancing at the time he noticed it was five minutes to seven; seven was when Susan said she’d be here.

He unlocked the door to his flat and walked slowly in, too tired to rush. He headed straight to the bathroom and started the tap pouring water into the sink. When it was full he proceeded to wash the blood from his face.

Thomas didn’t seem to be home, he noted by the silence in the flat. If he had been he would have come over to say ‘hi’ and ask what Silence was doing.

He finally finished cleaning his wound and had placed a towel over it to prevent it bleeding any further, when the bell rang. This time he rushed quickly to answer it, and stopped short of opening it as he suddenly thought it might be someone else. He would have asked who it was, but he couldn’t. So he just opened the door an inch and peeked out. Susan was standing there waiting.

He pulled open the door and dragged her inside.

‘Silence! What on earth happened to you!’ she cried as she saw the white towel slowly turning red tied around his head.

He had to drop the towel to write and she saw the wound that it hid.

‘Oh, Silence!’ she cried again. She looked round, ‘Where’s the kitchen?’ she demanded. Silence pointed a shaking finger to the door that led to the kitchen. Picking up Silence’s towel she hurried off to it and started soaking it in water. She ran back and applied it to his head.

‘What happened to you?’ she asked again.

I got into a fight. Somebody tried to kill me!

She looked at him, shocked by the news, fear clearly seen in her eyes.

‘Who tried to kill you?’

My new boss, George Oldwood. I’ve no idea why, he just started shooting at me! He lost the gun, I ended up in a fight with him for my life; I picked up the dropped gun and pulled the trigger by accident when he threw a bin at me. He’s dead…

‘What are we going to do?’ Susan asked slowly as her mind worked through the problem.

Silence shook his head.

I’m not sure, what can we do? It was an accident. Surely I can’t be blamed for killing him, it was in self-defence?

‘Have you told anybody?’

No, I got a taxi and got here as fast as I could. Who would I tell? Wouldn’t I get arrested if I went to the police and told them that I had just killed a man, even though it was in self-defence! Silence was panicking, and was also suffering a headache and faintness from lack of blood. His writing was a mess as he could barely hold the pencil firmly in his hand. He sighed deeply and collapsed backwards onto the sofa.

Susan took the towel from him again and rinsed it before bringing back a fresh one. The blood had stopped flowing and so all she had to do was clear it up. It hurt and Silence winced as she dabbed at the wound.

‘I suppose we should just wrap a bandage around your head,’ she told him. ‘I don’t think it will start bleeding again anytime soon,’ she murmured as she worked. ‘And maybe get you to a hospital to check for concussion.’

She noticed Silence waving a note in her direction and she stopped what she was doing to take and read it. She shrugged.

‘I guess the best thing you could have done -should have done- would have been to call the police immediately after you killed him. Are you sure he was dead?’

Silence nodded his head; he knew dead men didn’t have pulses.

‘Well we should still call the police anyway. Do you remember where you shot him?’

Silence nodded again and told her. After reading the note, Susan rose from Silence’s side and headed to the phone she had seen hanging in the kitchen. Just as she was taking the phone from the hook the doorbell rang.

 

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