The beaver looked up into Albert’s moist eyes and quietly spoke. “Oh my friend. You never told me. I thought you never spoke of those years because of the war, because of what happened after. I would have helped. You should have told me.”
“Should. Yes, I should have. I should have done so many things. My folly was that I believed myself invincible and that I could protect what was mine; that I had some semblance of power or control.”
“I know better now. I know I couldn’t even protect myself let alone my family. And so, my friend, I turn to you now. I need your help.”
“My help? Of course. But that was decades ago. What could I do now that will help. I mean, I’m willing to help but, jesus, that kid’s gotta be 50 by now..”
“54 this November. But let me finish my story and perhaps you can see how you might be of no small service to me.
Unfortunately for me, the war had not yet concluded and I still owed service to my country. A cold and bitter service that I fought against with a more vibrant hatred than I ever exhibited for the supposed enemy. For almost four more years I was forced to deal with the distraction of that so called world war and for four years I lied, stole and manipulated everyone around me working only towards my personal goal.
As a result, I found myself once more posted home and assigned to a branch of intelligence. This allowed me to use the resources of the the wartime effort to search for clues as to what my now estranged family had done.
I discovered that my cousin Samuel, the disreputable husband of Aunt Harriet’s daughter Eloise, had been quiet vocal in his opposition to my pre-war machinations, and had, after I left, managed to convince the man who was my father that he was the best man to ‘solve’ the problem. For this, if for nothing else, I no longer consider that man my father. Samuel was a braggart, a climber of the worst sort and most unforgivably, a fool. I would no more trust my child to him than I would a kitten to a blind bear. It was even odds he would harm him out of malice or sheer ignorance.
As I discovered, Samuel first convince the mother of my child that I had changed my mind and abandoned them both. He eventually whisked her off to the continent with promises of money and security and then reneged. Worse, upon arrival, he also removed my son from her protection and left her alone and bereft.
I managed to discover that she had worked her way south to Portugal but then I lost her. Just three years ago I discovered her death certificate. She died not long after the war of Influenza in a village in Italy where she had been working in a hospital caring for those considered the detritus of battle.
Of my son, there was no sign. Samuel, in his post as adjutant to a staff officer, travelled widely through those years and I have never been able to find out if he ever travelled with a small child or servants of any kind.
You can imagine the kind of fate I had determined for dear cousin Samuel when next I laid my eyes upon his. My very soul festered and churned with a depth of emotion that I hope never to feel again. I was not blinded by hate, but rather driven by an inexorable destiny that has not oft been seen outside of a Elizabethan tragedy. My soul was forfeit and I intended to eat his.
On April 1, 1945 the universe played it’s ultimate prank on me. Many think that last casualty of a V2 rocket was a few days earlier on March 27. In fact, I discovered the last casualty was one Samuel Livingston, who died inspecting a captured V2 launch site in Dalfsen, Holland on April 1st while acting as a liaison with the Canadian 1st Army. It apparently exploded when the idiot got too close mucking around with it. No one else was injured as they apparently had the good sense not to stand too close to an enemy’s surrendered high explosives. I almost believe that they invented the term booby trap in reference to that unbelievably stupid bastard.
And so you see, any hope of finding my son quickly ended there. And to be completely honest, I almost ended my own life there. I endured an unspeakable period of despair upon hearing the news. Alone without family and friends, I collapsed in upon myself and ended up in the sanitorium that you found me in many, many months later.
And, when you and your kindness and friendship rescued me from that fate, I resolved to seem to put aside my differences with my family and once more entered the fold. You must remember that period; I cannot tell you how grateful I was for your intervention and how low it made me feel to deceive you in that way. But I truly believed in my madness — because yes, I believe now I was still quiet firmly in the throws of madness — that I need to to hold myself apart for everyone in order to perpetrate my masquerade.
Oh if you were to think that my deception and falsehood had blossomed under the cover of the military intelligence branch, you cannot imagine how I used and abused my family: it’s money and it’s influence were my weapons in the following years; more horrible than any of the bombs and rockets of the unlamented war I was thoroughly despicable and single-mindedly ruthless.
And in the end, I succeeded in my quest. Too late, I succeeded in my pitiful quest. Much too late.
“And now, good friend, my dear, dear friend, I turn once again to you.”