- Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
- Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
- Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
- Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
- Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
- Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney
The Dagger: Part 6
“It’s a Sunday, Nick. Nobody goes into the office on Sunday. At least not every Sunday. Not even you.”
Despite his wife’s toying remonstrations from the bed, Pineclay remained facing the dresser, back turned. He continued fiddling absent-mindedly with the buttons on his sleeve – at that moment, it was all he was capable of doing. His mind was a spiralling muddle of conjectures, his thoughts mere snowflakes spinning without vector inside a furiously shaken globe. He scrunched his eyes, concentrated hard, trying to get his bearings. Only moments before he had been in an interrogation room…with a killer…an old man…who had done…something? But what? Whatever this something was, be it an act of kindness or one of assault, Pineclay found that he could not recall. He was certain that the event had shocked him, unsettled him, even – but why? Being attacked could be shocking – but so could the sudden and unexpected reveal of a birthday surprise, friends leaping out from behind the curtains and thrusting cards and kisses and gifts and…
“Gifts…” Pineclay murmured to himself, a flicker of anamnesis burning then fizzling before he had a chance to clutch it. He again heard his wife.
“Nick? Sunday, you know? The day of rest…”
Dismissing any further thought to his newly transposed circumstances, as one shifts from daydream to reality with only a fleeting memory of the previous, Pineclay spoke. The words felt recited.
“Crime doesn’t take a vacation just because you ask it to. And you know I’m being transferred.”
“Yeah yeah, to a new unit and you need to make a head start.” his wife finished with a playful sigh. “You’ve told me enough times already.”
“I’ll be back in time for lunch.” Pineclay heard himself lie, remembering full well that he wouldn’t even make it back for the following day’s breakfast. “Have it ready. I’ll be there. I promise.”
As his wife considered him with an expression both accepting yet dubious, Pineclay found himself again fumbling with his cuff button, distracted, his next words not so easy to come by as before. “You know how it is. The wheel never stops turning. The pursuit…it never ends. If I don’t keep up to speed with everything that’s going on back at the station, I’ll–”
“How long have we been married, Nick?”
“Seven years.” Pineclay replied without hesitation. “It’s nineteen ninety-five, spring, and we’ve been married seven years.”
“And in all those years, all those days of marital bliss, how many weekends have we spent together?”
The impetus of the detective’s excuses ground to a halt. Having let his cuff fall open and dangle unbuttoned, he slowly turned to face the bed.
His wife was younger than he remembered – youthful, not only in years but more so in demeanour. She had a rejuvenated radiance about her so blinding and brilliant that the detective found himself squinting. A radiance which, he remembered, had long since dissipated, syphoned by so much unnecessary heartbreak and absence – the majority of which was his fault. Flattening the rolls of silk nightgown over her hip, she repeated from the glare the very question Pineclay himself was still pondering.
“How many weekends, Nick? In total.”
Ashamed into retreating back to the dresser’s mirror, Pineclay couldn’t bring himself to admit to the single-syllable answer.
It was then that a boy and a girl whom Pineclay only faintly recognised exploded into the bedroom and began running laps around the bed. Having announced herself the winner, the girl bounded towards her daddy’s leg and knotted her arms around it.
“Gee, you’re shorter than I remember.” Pineclay marvelled at the little girl, noticing the tightness in his voice which he did his best to conceal. “It seems like only yesterday that you were so small.
“And Jack…look at you.” Pineclay gulped. “You must be nearly–”
A knocking at the downstairs door called the girl and her brother away – away from Pineclay’s gaze and his longing want of an embrace. A rumbling of little feet on the staircase and a dog barking and the front door opening and a pair of “Grandpa!” exhalations brought the scene downstairs to life in the detective’s mind. In the hurried interval it would take to slip a button and clasp a wristwatch and kiss his wife’s belly goodbye, he would be making his way downstairs – passed the kids, passed the puppy, passed his stepmother–
Before finally passed his father.
For the last time. Pineclay arrived at the terrible realization that tomorrow his father would be gone, gunned down.
And Jack. Jack. He stood watching from the landing as though peering into a grave, the boy of no more than five playing meet and greets with the grandparents in the foyer below.
From the bedroom, tolling like a bell, Pineclay heard the bedside phone begin to ring. Taking his arm, his wife joined him at his side.
“Ignore it.” she said softly, her very presence seeming to muffle the interminable ringing. “Your children miss you, Nick – and with each weekend, one hour of overtime at a time, you’re missing them.”
“I know. But if I don’t… I have to–”
“You don’t have to do anything.” she squeezed his arm tighter, as though he were adrift and would be swept away by the currents at any moment. “I understand. I do. It’s just maybe you could put your work to one side, just for today?
“Come downstairs with me. We’ll have breakfast. You and your father haven’t laughed in too long, and you’ve been meaning to show him the rifle you got Jack for his birthday. Then tomorrow, Monday, then you can rush back to the office…
“In the meantime, stay here with us, just a little while longer. A lifetime longer, if you wish.” came the whispering in the detective’s ear, so warm and convincing it was undeniable. “You’ve got all the time you’ll ever need, right here with us.”
Pineclay’s wife kissed his cheek, and pressed a cold and heavy object into his hand. “Today is a gift, Nick. Don’t let it go to waste.”