By Al Place
The party had gone well, James Forbes MP, had been appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs. The title was ironic in itself.
Forbes was the golden boy of Parliament, this years wonderkind, with all glories there is a past and his was going to catch up with him sooner than he thought.
To the press Forbes had done it so smoothly, from Secondary Modern, to University and then onto a junior post, now here he stood in Parliament with all before him.
Walking from Number 10, Forbes thought he caught sight of a face from his youth but on second thoughts, he thought better, as it could not have been her.
“No ! “He told himself. “She is dead, I saw the accident myself.”
As he tried to recall what had happened, all the years peeled back.Like opening up a nasty scab and seeing a raw wound again, one you thought had healed.
It was the summer of 1979, he was at a friends’ house having a few drinks when Margaritta Perlmann, the dark haired German girl walked in.
The beer was flowing well that night, to show off to the new girl, he had leapt for the chandelier, hanging 50 feet above the floor.
“Don’t do it!”cried Angus Farris, as he watched his friend leap “It won’t support you Jimmy!”
Blinded by the beer and the urge to impress the girl. He jumped and got a grip, as he did, the chandelier ripped from the ceiling, just as Margaritta walked below. Hearing the commotion, she looked up, to see the chandelier rip from the joist and coming crashing down on her.
James was lucky, the beer made him roll as a drunks do.He got away with a few cuts and bruises. As for poor Margaritta, he never knew and nobody ever told him, it was their secret.
Friends told him, she had died from a massive head wound caused by the glass shards and the fallen chandelier.
As the years went on, he forgot about that night and got on with his career in politics, yet, at the back of his mind, there was always a niggling thought.
“What did happen to her, after I left the party? “ He had asked everyone there.They had the story down, so well, and that is what is what concerned him.
“How can so many people have the same story of an event, and tell it the same way?
And why wont anyone tell me truth?” He thought.
The rising son of the media, had to be blameless the friends had all agreed, and so the whole incident was uniformly forgotten, never to be mentioned again.
Now 15 years on, she had returned but for what reason?
As he walked across to his car, she stopped him dead in his tracks “Hello James, you will not remember me. I never forgot you!’
Chills ran down his spine, it was not just who said it but the way she said it. Never in all his years had he felt so scared of anyone. There was so much venom in those words, he had no doubt, she was going to make him pay for every thing she had suffered.
“M, M, M, Margaritta!”He stammered.
“Or what is left of her, after your friends and 12 years in an institute have drained my soul.”
“I didn't know what happened that night, after I left.”
“And you made no effort to find out either, the rising star and golden boy.”
“Y, y, you have to believe me, I did try, the others covered up my terrible accident, I am sorry for what happened to you .”
“You, sorry! If that wasn’t so pitiful I would laugh at you.”
She stood before him with her face covered , she pulled her hair away from her face to reveal a face torn to shreds by glass and massive scarring from surgery,her once gorgeous features, now mangled.
“All your friends clubbed together to send me away to a clinic in Denmark, where they could keep me locked away.”
“I, I, I did ask about the unusual payments being made, but they said it was a memorial fund in your name, for car crash victims.”
“Well the truth is out now, isn’t it and I have come for payback James.”
“I'll give you any money you want Margaritta.”
“MONEY! You rich kids, think you can buy anyone off. Do you think money can get my looks and the life I was going to lead back. The family I never had the chance to see, money cannot replace the hurt I feel, when people look at me, and see this.”
“What are you going to do to me, then?”
“That is for me to know and you to worry about! Just tell the driver to go to St. James’church and we will see from there.”
“St. James’ on Clare Avenue?”
“The same. And to clarify your next thought, yes it is due for demolition tomorrow.”
“I thought it ironical that your last hours, should be in a church, of your name, where you and the others can pray for your souls.”
The car pulled up to the derelict church, James saw through the broken doors and windows, that all the party from years ago had been gathered.
Margaritta walked into the church, going to the pulpit she said to the gathered and scared crowd below.
“It has taken me three years to find all of you, my haven’t you done well since you shoved me away, so you could have a life. never got the chance, I cannot take the years back nor can I have what I should have had, all this time. All I can do is, to stop you now, from enjoying your lives.”
Looking around James saw them all, gathered for the first time since that night, Carol Palmer, Frances Torrington, Jack Holder and Angus Farris, trussed up like turkeys for Passover, helpless.
Jack Holder, head of the local engineering firm Holder, Parker & Thomas was first to speak. “When did they let you out Margaritta?”
Margaritta did not answer at first, all she did was look around the group and laugh in their faces as she said “They didn’t Jack, I killed three men with my hands and escaped, I spent a year on the run, living on berries and hiding in the daytime ! None of you ever checked, after the second year at the clinic. I got transferred to an Institute for the criminally insane. All I talked of, was this moment, I had it fixated in my mind, from then until now. The irony of the whole thing was I set the chandelier to fall. I paid the cleaners to make sure a few bolts were loose. It was supposed to fall on you!” Margaritta said looking straight at Carol Palmer.
Shocked Carol stammered “W, w, w, why me?”
“Back then, all the boys were after you.None even cast me a glance, you had it all, looks, brains and charm. You have until 7:30 in the morning to free yourselves and get out. If you can!”
“Why did you say if?”
“You'll see. Looking at her watch Margaritta said “ When I leave, and lock this door, you had better get started as you only have four hours now.”
Saying that, she walked to the cross, crossed herself and walked down the aisle laughing manically, knowing a secret, they would find out soon enough.
The door closed slowly on its hinges as the first signs of dawn showed through the stained glass. Daylight beckoned the group, as they finally saw their predicament, perched high on the upper balcony of the Wesleyan church.
The church had been in disrepair for so long, very few timbers remained and it was clear to Angus that if anyone tried to move,t he whole group would crash through the balcony and fall into the Charnel house that they could see below. Flled with skeletal bones, from the early days of the church and containing Lord only knows what bacterial infections.
“We'd better get going, if she is right we don’t have any time.” Frances yelled at the group.””If one of us can get out, we can try to stop the bulldozers.”
“You couldn't be more wrong Fran, if you tried.” Jack said. “This was meant for our payback and the first person to step on the wrong board, we all end up down there,” he said nodding to the Charnel house below. Another thing, she made sure, escape was impossible.”
“Sorry, am I missing something?”
“Yes, Fran. Whilst she was talking, I was looking at our ties and noticed they are done similar to a Chinese finger puzzle.”
“Meaning what?” Carol asked.
“The more we try to get free, the tighter they get!” Angus finished.
As they group sat there, waiting for the inevitable, they heard the sound of the bulldozers approaching. Carol was going to yell out but the iron ball came smashing through the stained glass window. James and his friends, died as Margeritta had lived all those years, cut to ribbons by broken glass.
She got her revenge, standing across the road, she laughed maniacally as told James’ driver “To the airport and make it quick please.”