The Linnet's Wings :Take All My Loves, My Love - Page 75

The Linnet´s Wings plified and clarified by several documentaries since, of medical teams gathered around my poor father, came back to haunt me again, and at last I looked straight into the face of the real demon inside me. This wasn’t about rescuing my family’s future, this was no Machi- avellian plot to save the Murrays. Vengeance is what I wanted, cold, hard vengeance, to answer the devil with the devil’s own works. On Wednesday October 14th, I went home in readiness for the shoot at the weekend. My mother received me with a long embrace as if a prodigal son had returned; Uncle Stuart grasped my hand as if he wanted to wrench it off and gave me his grimace of a smile. I was debriefed on ‘the plans’, as in the wedding scheduled for the summer of 1983, and I managed to remain mildly interested and non-committal, though my mother looked unconvinced. On Thursday morning, before we were due to set off for the Lessiter estate in the afternoon, I went for a run, for old times’ sake, and to clear my head for what I had now convinced myself I had to do in my father’s name, tough and bloody as it was. My mood caused me to take little notice of how far or where I was going, and eventually I realised I had almost run myself on to Les- siter land. Not far in the distance was the same munro I’d quarter-climbed with my father and Stuart at the age of sixteen, and that terrifying swing about in the High- land air came back to me in all its intensity. A glimmer of sense lingering around my embittered mind suggest- ed I was now putting myself into the same kind of lost and dangerous position again, and then I saw a sight which stopped me, literally, in my tracks. A golden eagle, a big, female golden eagle, was draped indecorously across two rocks, with so many pellet holes in her she could almost have been shot down by a machine gun. Her long graceful head was hanging backwards like a broken toy, and the blood, bones and feathers of what must have been her long death agony were spread all about her. I sat down on a rock nearby and found myself unable to prevent the tears coming. Yes, the eagle was a lamb killer, a merciless predator without compassion or pity, but it was also one of the noblest of our wild creatures, a law unto itself and an inimitably beauti- ful sight in the Highland sky. But, of course, it wasn’t really the eagle I was weeping for; I was a very young man still, and I could only weep for me. On the edge of manhood, and all my eagles had fallen; my wonder- ful father, brave and able, who I would cheerfully have died for and who would have been able to guide me through the increasingly challenging swamp land of my life; my beautiful mother, courted and won by an unprincipled gold-digger and probably a murderer, and my writing and professional future, amounting to a mediocre degree and a total absence of any gainful employment. Here was the proud Murray son and heir, sitting around weeping like a whipped boy who doesn’t know what he’s been whipped for. I stopped myself and worked on replacing my shameful sobbing with a murderous determination to bring to rough justice the man I conceived responsible for it. Improvising digging tools with rocks shaped for the purpose, along with my bare hands, I buried the ea- gle and all of its detritus I could find, washing my hands in a nearby stream. Two days later, in the early Saturday afternoon, I had found my strategic place. As a prominent member of the neighbouring Murrays, I was entitled to one of the best guns available, and with it stretched across my knees, I had concealed myself behind a rock at the base of one of the hills which I knew the birds would be driv- en over. I had moved ahead of the main group, taking advantage of the privileged freedom of movement al- lowed me, and I knew Uncle Stuart and his compan- ions, including Ian Lessiter himself, were not far behind me and would soon come comfortably within range. As the birds came over the hill and flew on into the distance, I would raise myself up and shoot at them, though one or two shots would find their way into Un- cle Stuart. Two, accurately placed, should do the trick. 75