Seven floors up from ground level, Feeney sits, steaming mug of tea, as usual, at the small table by his window. He is watching the night roll in, or the sky relinquish its light, take your pick. He feels the cold, more inside than out, these days; but know this – the heating won’t be going on until the stroke of 7pm. Below him, the reassuring twinkle of light, emanating from vehicles, streetlamps, retail outlets. The pulse of the city running through him.
Didn’t know the kid. Until he was a dead cover star. Across the print media. Local, evening, national tabloid, Feeney had bought them all. Bought them all; the least he could do. Jared. A budding architect, enthusiastic chess player, the papers had it. Pupil at the local Academy. Jared. Stabbed in the neck. Matter of metres from his doorstep. 15 years of age. Feeney couldn’t bring himself to throw the newspapers away. Kept them about him. Had to hide them all when the police called (yikes!). Door to door, in search of answers, getting only the neighbourhood omerta. What do they expect? A fair-haired Inspector and a female Sergeant. And she asks if Feeney was working… was working, she came out and asked this to his face? Wouldn’t take a cup of tea or coffee, thank you. The pair of them got nothing out of Feeney.
Vigil at eight o’clock. Candles will burn. Someone will sing. Soft and low, vibrato. Feeney won’t attend. Too much sorrow on show. He doesn’t know what to do with the emotion. The monotony of a family in turmoil. Tears you can only turn away from. Words you can’t find. A child killed. Feeney, feeling older by the minute. Useless. Couldn’t bring himself to throw the papers away. Needed the connection. Before it becomes too late.
It’s nearly eight, and the mourners are milling. So, Feeney gathers the Chinese-style lanterns he has made from the newspapers he has kept and takes them into the night air of his balcony. More than a dozen of these – well, Feeney knows they are lanterns! He’s opened a bottle of Jameson’s whiskey. Has a swig. Lights the first lantern, which sort of staggers to the ground in a burst of flame. The second burns in his fingers. But the third…. takes flight…. as does the next and…
And just about everyone knows the identity of the real perpetrator. The person responsible for Jared’s murder. Only a brave fool would speak this name. The female detective left her contact details, so she did – should anything come to mind?
For luck or something similar, Feeney floats his lanterns in the dark.