Quixotic Crossings

Quixotic Crossings by Deidre Dalton is Book #2 in the Collective Obsessions Saga.


Fate continues to entangle the Larkin and Sullivan families amidst madness, murder and obsessive love. Colm and Molly's grandson Jean-Claude Sullivan finds his life driven by greed and perversely tainted pleasures. Beloved family chef Claude Mondoux watches helplessly as Colm slowly loses his mind in ghostly visions of Molly, while Colleen Larkin seeks love in the arms of another man with deadly consequences...

From Chapter Six

Spring 1929

Larkin City, Maine


    COLM SULLIVAN WAS feeling his age shortly after his 69th birthday in March 1929. He had led a rather quiet life since the death of John Larkin two years earlier. Colm kept his cottage in Larkin City, whiling away his days with painting and reading. He wrote weekly letters to his youngest son Aidan, a Catholic priest serving in Toronto, Canada, and once a week Colm's oldest son Mick stopped by the cottage to visit with his wife Layla. On occasion, Mick's son Jean-Claude came to see his grandfather with his wife Jennifer or his best friend Mason Berger. Colm usually rustled up a big pot of Irish stew, which Jean-Claude and Mason seemed to enjoy immensely.


    Colm had not been to the Larkin estate since John's funeral. He was tired of funerals, having just attended the service for Lizbeth Bisiker at the Larkin Cemetery. John's mistress was now gone, as if God was running through Colm's generation. He had no reason to go the mansion, although he sometimes felt the desire to see Molly's grave.


    Claude Mondoux came to Larkin City every Saturday for supplies, as he had done for years, and he always came to see Colm. The two usually had lunch together at Colm's cottage, or they sometimes went to Bruno's Café for a hearty meal.


    Claude and Colm were the best of friends, yet they rarely mentioned the past or Molly Larkin since Nigel's funeral. Claude knew Molly still haunted Colm's mind. It was an unspoken knowledge. Colm had been a dutiful and affectionate husband to his wife Maureen until her death twenty years ago, but Molly had always been on the peripheral edges of their marriage. Maureen had been aware of this of course, yet she loved Colm until her dying day.


* * *


    COLM'S TWO-STORY cottage was located at the end of Cove Hollow Circle in Larkin City. The cottage was clapboard slate-gray, with two chimneys and a fenced rear garden. The interior was pleasingly decorated in eggshell blues and pale greens, with pale yellow wallpaper and comfortably cushioned window seats.


    One morning in early April Colm set up his easel in the garden behind his cottage. It had rained earlier, and the drops fell heavily on the grass, shrubs and flowers. The sun broke through the clouds, gradually dissipating the liquid bubbles of rain, creating a persistent drip amongst the foliage.


    Colm was painting his image of the garden, a collection of lilac bushes, roses, tulips, peonies, and larkspur. It was a riot of colour, and Colm loved nothing better than to convey the sight with splashes on his canvas.


    He stored his finished artwork in a spare room inside the cottage. Aside from portraits he had given to John Larkin and members of his own family, Colm kept all of his paintings, rarely showing them to anyone. It wasn't because he was insecure about his talent - he knew the art was good - but he had no desire to become part of a showcase to promote his work. He painted for the enjoyment of it, not the possible financial windfall it might provide. He was also mindful of the terms of John Larkin's will. Some of the portraits depicted the relationship between him and Molly, and were therefore not suitable for public consumption.


    All finished works were well-organized in wooden crates, carefully separated by large pieces of thick tissue paper. One box held miniatures he had painted over the years: some of Molly, but mostly of his children and grandchildren. Bigger portraits, such as landscapes, lighthouses, gardens and other people were in tall, slender crates.


    Colm continued to work, humming to himself as he deftly stroked the canvas with his paintbrush. He had been painting for the better part of an hour when all of a sudden he felt the hairs rise on the back of his neck. Someone was in the garden, watching him.


    He laid the brush on the easel ledge, setting his paint board face-up on the garden table next to him. He wiped his hands on a small towel tied to one of the belt loops on his trousers.


    "Can I help you?" he asked without turning around.


    Silence greeted him.


    Colm sighed, standing up from his chair. He turned around, expecting to see a vagrant standing in his garden. Instead, the vision before him took his breath away and set his heart pounding with fear.


    It was Molly Larkin, looking like she did the last time he saw her…forty-three years ago.


    Colm blinked his eyes, willing the image of her away. But when he opened his eyes, she was still there.


    She was staring at him, her regard expressionless. There seemed to be a white, muted fringe around her figure, as if she were suspended in time. She was hollow-cheeked, pale and thin just as she had been on the last night of her life, but her beauty was still haunting. The hood of her dark green cloak was thrust back and resting on her shoulders. He looked at her hands, which held open the cloak, and he could see they were still bony and blue-veined.


    "What do you want?" Colm cried, grabbing the back of his head with his left hand. "You're dead, for pity's sake. Am I losing my mind? Are you here for a reason?"


    She smiled then, her lips parting slightly. "You are not losing your mind," she said in a cool whisper. "I'm only here because you want me to be here. I waited a long time to hear your voice."


    Colm shook his head. "Nonsense. I don't want you here."


    "Your thoughts brought me here," she said gently. "You've thought about me ever since I fell from the cliffs, haven't you Colm?"


    He turned away from her, trying to convince himself he was having a hallucination, but then the cold caress of her hand smoothed over his shoulder.


    "Don't be scared, Colm. I'm not here to hurt you."


    "But you're dead," he insisted. "And you didn't just fall from the cliffs. You threw yourself onto the rocks at Banshee Point."


    "All true. Please, Colm, look at me."


    He turned again and found her only inches away from him. He was weak at the knees, terrified by her presence.


    Molly smiled again. "That's better. There is nothing to fear, Colm. When I died, you and I weren't really through with one another. Before my last night on earth, you went on with your life while I lived in despair, true, but there was never a proper end for us. My father saw to that, with his almighty interference and righteousness. You were forced into a marriage with my maid to save face for our children…"


    Colm found the courage to face her ethereal image, meeting her eyes for the first time. "My marriage to Maureen may have been a convenience at first, but I loved her in the end."


    "Like you loved me?" Molly questioned.


    He was defeated. "No. There was never the love…nothing like I felt for you."


    "That's better," she said, gladness in wraithlike her eyes. She glanced at his hair, his hands, and his body. "You've held up remarkably well, Colm. If only my father had left us to our own devices, we could be alive together right now, enjoying our twilight years in peace."


    Every time she spoke, Colm could feel her icy breath on his face. Was it because she was dead, and as eternally cold as the earth? He still felt as light as air, as if he were in the middle of a surreal dream. "You're dead, so you must be seeing your father in the confines of heaven. Have you talked to him, confronted him with your anger?"


    Her eyes grew dark, almost turning black. "What makes you think I went to heaven?" she countered in a whisper.


    Colm recoiled in horror, perspiration forming on his brow. "You came from hell?" he asked, trepidation in his voice.


    "That's one theory," she said softly, her non-earthly wisp of a voice sending a shiver through his body. She evaded a direct answer to his question. "I'm Catholic, and I killed myself. What other logical conclusion is there to my ultimate fate?"


    Colm's eyesight dimmed and he felt his limbs turn to water. Turning away from her, he found his chair by the easel and sat down.


    His brain rattled: I'm talking to Molly Larkin, who is fresh from hell to see me



QUIXOTIC CROSSINGS ©2011-16 Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

"Quixotic Crossings" may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the author. "Quixotic Crossings" is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.