This story is my version of the murder of the Marquis, from the novel, A Tale of Two Cities.
The rattle of the carriage in deafening. My arms burn, but the pain is the farthest thing from my mind. Well, my pain is the farthest from my mind. My hands are slick from oil that drips off the axels in rhythmic plip plip plips, and a bump is starting to form on the back of my head from the countless times it’s connected with the underside of the carriage I’m clinging to.
The Marquis, that demon, he will meet his fate tonight. He’ll beg to return to the hellhole he spawned from when I’m done with him. It feels like just seconds ago this very carriage had come barreling down the road too fast for my poor Cecil to escape it’s crushing wheels. My precious daughter had been only seven, and the thought of her face, still and pale, makes my vision go burry. Her tiny pink lips were slightly parted, and her dusty green eyes closed, as though in a fitful sleep. Then that devil blamed her for being in the way! He tossed a coin to me, as if that would spare his immortal soul. But before I could shove that golden nugget down his throat, Mrs. Defarge, the death weaver, threw it with remarkable aim into the open window. The carriage stopped, and it gave me the adequate time I needed to dive under its stationary wheels and grab hold. No one saw except Lucien, the mender of roads.
“What are you doing, Gaspard?” He asked in a hushed whisper.
“Avenging Cecil.” I spat grit out of my mouth.
“You can’t kill him. He’ll catch you and rip you apart before you even get through the gate!
I chose not to point out the fact that he wasn’t trying to dissuade me as a Christian man, but only out of concern for me. Lucien’s brother had also been a direct subject to the Marquis’ cruelty, and I knew my friend would do the same thing for him.
“Then I shall be with my Cecil once more. Think of Carlos, your brother will be avenged as well, along with all the others he has caused to suffer!”
“Then godspeed, friend. If this is the last time, know we stand behind you.” He slides a dagger towards me, and I snatch it and tuck it into my pants just in time for the wheels to churn and I lurch forward.
And so, here I am, stuck like a leech under a carriage that belongs to the devil himself. The wheels bump and my cheek scraped against the ground. Blood trickles down my jaw and I trace its path with my tongue. That mixed with sweat, tears, and grit make a bitter cocktail in my mouth. The vehicle turns sharply and I almost lose my grip, scrambling back on just in time to avoid being crushed beneath the wheels. Like Cecil.
The carriage pulls to a stop, but I don’t release my white knuckled hands. I hear a door creak and the Marquis’s Italian leather boots whisper to the ground. I can feel the knife in my waistband sliding, and I reach for it, but not in time. It clatters to the cobblestone with a sharp pang. I hold my breath. The single pair of shoes has now multiplied into at least ten. My arm flings out like a cobra ready to strike and I snatch the dagger off the ground. I hold it between my teeth as who can only be the captain of the guard crouches down to inset the underbelly of the carriage. I press my back further in to the wood above me, my arms screaming. The dagger, razor sharp, cuts into my lips and blood begins to flow from my mouth. I try to close my lips to keep any condemning drips inside, but that only causes the dagger to cut deeper.
“What is it, Captain?” I have to hold in the rage I feel at the sound of his vice. Oily and smooth and completely apathetic, the very same tone when he threw a coin to him to pay for his lost Cecil. I grind my teeth, causing my lips to separate. I watch in horror as the glossy red drips fall from my parted lips and plop to the ground.
“I’m not sure,” Replied the deep, rich voice of the Captain. “I think I see something down there.” He crouched down lower
“Oh, never mind that. I’m tired and I want my dinner.” The pompous noble started up the stairs. I exhale. For once, the stuck up, whiney tendencies of the Marquis are working to my advantage.
The sun had set for the night when the last of the precession disappeared inside the large double doors that lead into the grand building. My body gasp in relief as I dropped to the ground. The hard road was a welcome feeling compared to the last few hours I’ve endured, and I decide to lay there while my limbs recovered from their exertion.
After an adequate time, I pull myself out from under my hiding place. The world is shrouded in and ebony curtain, and the cloudy night squeezed every last drop of starlight out of sight. I duck my head and hurry towards the grand house. I know I can’t go in through the door, but if I make it there I can find the closest window. The air smells sharp in my nose and the hair on my neck raises. I haven’t realized how cold it is. The red velvet curtains of the nearest window are parted. I peer between them to see the Marquis outside, enjoying his meal. His fancy dining table filled with fancy food to serve a fancy man in fancy clothes in his fancy house. I wrinkle my nose in disgust. How can anyone stand to live like that? All glossy and pretty on the outside but nothing inside, like a magnificent, golden picture frame with jewels embedded in the sides, only to accent nothing but the wall behind it.
I move further down the side of the building. I want him to feel secure when I come upon him. The moment when he looks into my eyes and remembers who I am, and he’ll die knowing I crept into his grand, safe house and slit his throat.
The window I really want is his bedroom. Now, if I were a rich, successful man, where would I put my sleeping chambers? Easy. With a view. I tilt my head back and look up. There, up towards the top, a glowing light. I reach up, grabbing hold of the parts of the wall the jut out from the building. I shift myself off the ground and move my feet to some more makeshift holds. My arms are fatigued from the carriage ride here, but I press on. Up and up and up, the wind swirling around me, trying to snatch me from the wall and throw me to the ever-furthering ground. Time stretched and compressed like an accordion on that climb, and when I reached the ledge of my chosen target, I wasn’t sure whether or not a few minutes or a few hours had passed.
Fortune is on my side. Not only was the window pane slightly ajar, but it was also the correct room. I stumbled through the opening and collapsed onto the plush carpet. Wind snapped around blue velvet curtains, causing them to flail like dancers whose acts have gone horrible awry. Once my strength has returned, I take bearings of my surroundings. The room is colossal, almost two of my houses put together. A large canopy bed rests on plush, wall to wall red carpet. A hefty, dark wood chest sits at the floor of the bed, and overstuffed chairs squat in various corner of the space. There are two doors, undoubtedly leading to both a ridiculously large closet and the corridor outside. And everywhere I looked there was velvet. The bed, the curtains, the wall decorations, even the hankies that doted the shelves. All velvet. What was it with the guy and velvet?
I scrutinize every nook and cranny, trying to find the correct spot to await my victim. I have just decided on the closet, amidst the (can you guess?) velvet robes when I hear the hallway door creak. I dive into the closet and bury myself among a group of rich purple garments. It hasn’t been long, maybe a few minutes, when I hear the Marquis join me in the room. He scoots around a bit, I hear the shuffle of fabric, then the door closes once more. I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding and slowly inched into open space. Just as I reach the brass nob I notice a row of black clothes. This gives me an idea.
A few more minutes later, I’m earing a pair of black pants and a black riding shirt. A pair of soft grey boots were hidden in a corner and I slip them on. They’re a tad tight, but more than a few steps up from my last pair. I also found a box of masks that must have been used for the masquerade balls the Marquis attended. Many of them were dazzlingly elaborate, with bright colors and feathers shouting loud through their presence. But, towards the bottom, was a mask waiting to be adorned and looked simple enough and unfinished. I strapped it on. From my old clothes I plucked the knife Lucien gave me and my old stocking cap. I jam the withered hat to my head, and, before exiting, ball my tattered rags and shove them behind closest rack of elaborate cloth.
I ease the door open a peer around the corner. The devil is drowning among the lavish blankets, seemingly fast asleep. The window was closed and only a dim light from a bedside lamp softly illuminates the room. I creep forward, my movements barely audible between my new boots and the thick carpet. It takes me all of 30 seconds of sneaking before I am at his bedside. The Marquis’s face was tranquil and pleasant, a wisp of a smile on his thin lips. This sight, the Marquis, peacefully resting on his lavish bed in his lavish room in his lavish house with a belly full of lavish food while outside thousands starve to death erase any smudge of doubt in my mind. I grab on of the handkerchiefs from his bedside table and ball it in my fist. As mush as I would want to drag this out, it would have to be quick. I ready my knife securely in my hands and leap onto his stomach, legs straddling his torso. His eyes snap wide and just he opens his mouth to scream I shove the hankie I grabbed into his mouth. The blade in my hand flashes as I bring it to his neck, and I press it lightly against his throat.
“Listen to me, you devil.” I hiss. “Today, your deeds have caught up with you. Today was the last day you smooth over your misgivings.” I add more weight to the knife, causing a thread of blood to swerve down his neck. The man squeaks, undoubtably begging for mercy. I wait as he tries to talk around the wet cloth in his mouth, his eyes growing more and more frantic. Soon the squeaking turns to babbling, and hot tears begin to tumble down his face and pool in his ears. I roll my eyes. What a wimp. Can’t even die like a man. I lean closer to his face.
“I don’t feel one tenth of sorrow for you, you wretched devil.” My victim recoiled at my breath, no doubt hot and smelling to decay and alcohol. “I only hope your existence in Hell makes up for the pain I don’t have the time to give you.”
His face is surprised, like he doesn’t know who the heck I am. I decide to fill him in, as one last nail in his coffin.
“You remember that girl in the square? The small, golden haired angel you mashed into the cobblestone?” I dig the blade down, so to scrape the neck instead of stab, drawing blood and pain, but not puncturing the windpipe. “Her name was Cecil, and she was perfect. She was perfect, and you killed her! You killed her and thought you could make up for with a single coin! And now you’ll go to Hell!” And with that, I raised my blade and brought it down hard into his throat. It glides straight through, and I press until my hand are held up against his still pulsing neck. I stare into his eyes, and notice the ashen grey color they are. His pupils buzz, black flies swirling in a milky sea, until the life drains out and they grow dim with death.
I’m breathing hard. My chest heaving in gigantean waves as I gulp in air like a starved man inhaling food. I sit back on my haunches, waiting for my soaring heart to settle. The sound of pounding footsteps snaps me out of my bloodied daze and I camber off the body of my enemy. I hurry to the window, my escape, but stop. Instead, I dash to the writing desk n the corner and scrawl a quick note, just a little something for them to know someone was there. My blood-stained hands leave paths on the quill and the paper’s edge as I tack it onto the Marquis. Then, I’m back at the window. I throw it open and allow the gust of wind to cool my face. I bring my hands to my nose a take a long sniff. Normally, the form of blood in a way makes me sick, but now, just the fact that it’s the Marquis’ blood, makes me greedy and I touch my tongue to my red fingers. I throw my leg over the sill, my body facing into an ebony night.
The guards blast open the door and flood into the room, but the chamber is empty of living. The window, however, remains agape, curtains snatching in the breeze.