Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Judged (#3)

Read the Preface.
Read Part 1.
Read Part 2.

Before Dom could respond, however, the door burst open behind him. It was his son, an overeager pup of a man, a boy with no sense and no control of his senses. He was Donnelly, after his mother's godfather. She had insisted on the name. The runt of the litter, he was constantly rushing into ill-considered brawls.

The men of the Temple were instructed to call him "Don" and never "Donnie." But among themselves they knew him by another name, an even more insulting diminutive. They called him Donnicello.

Donnie had been in the East Gate when he had learned of the destruction of the West Gate, and then the return of his father’s car to the Temple at the hands of a stranger. Putting two and a number not necessarily two together in that instant, he had rushed home, wielding the only blunt instrument he could find: a hand-crank he took from the Model T he had driven there.

The discovery that his father was both alive and, more distressingly, in the same room made him pause. But this lasted only a moment. His energy was consumed in fueling a deeper rage toward the stranger, who was clearly responsible for the destruction of the West Gate and the murder of his father. His loathing was not diminished by his father's evident survival, but was rather exacerbated by the kind and potentially puppyish look his sister was giving the stranger.

Donnie advanced, a menacing gleam in his eye and an inarticulate war-cry on his lips.

Basilio was exasperated by the interruption, but he was not in the habit of restraining his son from the verge of every new insanity. At any rate, he shared his son's suspicions, and was eager to see how the confrontation might be resolved. He saw Dalia pale visibly, but that meant nothing. It was the weakness of a woman, or perhaps girlish anxiety for a potential beau. Dom was more interested in the youth.

The young man held his ground, his eyes tracking Donnie as he approached. Basilio noticed that his hands were flexing slightly, and his feet and legs had tensed. Something approaching alarm began to dawn in his mind, but Dom did not yet realize it. After all, his son held the crank.

Donnie approached and swung the crank. It was a low arc, aimed at the body. His father nodded approvingly: the pain would incapacitate without death. But the young man had other plans. He had launched himself against Donnie, into the path of the crank. It shuddered to a stop within an inch of his flesh. The youth had pinioned Donnie's arm, forcing him to drop the crank and retreat from the pressure. The youth snatched the crank with his other hand as it fell, placing it on the nearby table. Then, mere seconds after it had begun, a break in the action.

Dom Basilio was astonished. Only now did the thought finally occur to him to caution his son against this fight. But it was already too late.

Donnie, enraged at being so easily disarmed, had thrown his full weight into a punch aimed at the young man's nose. The young man turned slightly, and his jaw caught the blow. The punch landed with a crunch of bones and a cry of pain. Basilio did not understand: surely so quick a man would sidestep the blow? Then he realized that the crunch and the cry had not come from the young man. They had come from Donnie. His hand had broken on the young man's jaw, and the jaw was none the worse for wear.

Dom glanced, incredulous, between his son and the young man who had disabled him. Now, even in his own Temple, he was terrified of those eyes that spoke of so much wildness.

The young man spoke, and his words had a cold authority. “You made an enemy of me this day. This man abused me in your own house, and you lifted not a finger." His eyes flared. "You have led him and your people to the slaughter." He glanced to Dalia, the fire reduced to embers. "Dalia, dear, you are always welcome to my presence. But not as one who bears my enemy's name."

The young man looked down to the whimpering Donnie, who was only now getting to his knees. He grasped the hand-crank from the table, overshadowed by an aura of unimaginable restraint. "You provide the weapon. I wield it." He struck twice, brutally: the first just below Donnie's knees, knocking the breath out of him, the second against the legs as Donnie began to collapse. They struck with a sickening sound of bone, muscle, and ligament. Dom Basilio knew without a doubt that his son would never walk again. He raged inwardly, but was so far from his wits he hardly knew to move.

The young man looked at the bloodied cudgel and spoke over it:

“With the hand-crank of a T, I have laid him in a heap.
With the hand-crank of a T, I shall fell a thousand men.”

In his fear Basilio managed to ask a single question, though weakly:“Who are you?”

The young man replied: “My father is Noah, and our family is Dan. We walked this land for many years, and now we are home." He gathered himself and walked out, turning to speak in Dom's ear as he passed: "Their cause is mine. I will deliver them from your hands."

At last Basilio found his power return in a wave, rage pouring through his every vein and pore. He did not ask but howled his demand after the retreating figure. “Your name!”

The young man didn't look back as he walked out onto the street. But his words rang through the Temple.

“My name is Samson.”

Read the Afterword.

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