11 May 2010
Magpie Tales #13...His Glass Eyes
My father flicked his paintbrush across the round glass. This eye was a startling blue, staring back at him.
The eyes scared me, because they looked real. When I opened the drawer to show customers the selection, the eyes gazed up at me, sliding side to side and clinking.
My father was working on a commission for twenty-four eyes. The customer, who wanted to remain anonymous, sent servants and maids to give orders and collect eyes.
Sometimes when my father was out, I would take out an eye or two and play marbles with them. They rolled across the floor like slime, pupils fixated on the wall.
I had picked up my paintbrush and was painting an eye for the taxidermist, my father didn't trust me with human eyes yet.
A policeman burst through the door.
'On the floor,' he cried, though he had no gun. My father complied at once, but I carefully put down the eye I was painting then moved towards the policeman.
He stepped back.
'Son, I'm arresting your father. If you have any relatives in the city, you should call them.'
'What are you arresting him for?' My father was no criminal.
'Accomplice to murder.'
I stood rigid, astonished. My father had said nothing.
'Why?' I couldn't help mumbling meekly.
'The Cyclops Killer Murders.'
He took pity on me and went on.
'Ten people found dead, their eyes carved out with a sharpened spoon. And a glass eye dug into their forehead.' He smiled in satisfaction as I involuntarily shuddered. I didn't need him to tell me the Cyclops Killer was our client. But my father had nothing to do with it. I knew it.
'Father? You're not guilty! Tell him, tell him,' I shouted.
He looked at me. 'I'm sorry m'boy. It was all for you. You needed money, an education. You couldn't grow up making glass eyes.'
'It was Ryan. He promised to pay me. I picked out the mark, that's all.'
The policeman took him away.
I smashed the drawer against the wall.
'Stupid eyes, this is all your fault,' I screamed.
They just gazed up at me, rolling haphazardly across the floor, as they had always done.