Past Sorrow and Future Happiness
A few weeks later . . .
William (Bill) Sikes was arrested and hung on the seventh of July in the town of Oxford. Known by only a few, his life was basically a mystery. Peter Wently, a long-ago school friend, was willing to give a few facts about his childhood. Bill (as he was well known) lived the first fifteen years of his life in the poor district of London. His father had passed away a year after his birth and so he was left alone to take care of his ill mother. After her death, he basically disappeared from the public eye. He quit school, sold his mother's apartment, and went off alone. He left no forwarding address and did not stay in any contact with his friends. "I was quite surprised at his sudden upheaval. We had been very close. He had always talked to me about his problems at home - I still am shocked that he left - I know I was the only one he ever confided in. I felt a bit betrayed at the time," Mr. Wently told the Times.
On further investigation, more information was extracted from a few of the locals, who had lived near Mr. Sikes before and during the time in which he murdered his girlfriend, Nancy. It seems that he kept pretty close to home, except for going to the local bar at night. According to a neighbor, he was always quiet and seemed almost afraid of other people. "A little stand-offish," she said and then added, "I only saw his girlfriend a couple of times. I do believe he would treat her harshly and the fact that he murdered her doesn't surprise me. I always got the impression that he did not care much for the opposite sex - possibly something from his childhood."
I went back to Mr. Wently to ask what conclusion he had on the subject. "I don't think he hated women - he had no reason. His mother was always nice to him - I mean, yes, she wasn't able to care for him as a mother should, but that was not her fault and I don't think he blamed her for anything. I think that if you see Bill as a murderous madman, well then, you never knew Bill. He was funny, some-what shy, cautious, and had a pleasing personality. I think what tipped him over the brink was his mother's death - he couldn't handle it. I mean, what are you to do when you're fifteen and have no parents? I have three children of my own and I have done everything I can to make sure they would be cared for if I or my wife died. His mother couldn't provide that. I can't honestly imagine what sort of emotions he felt. London is a very scary city - what else could happen other than the fact that he got caught up in it." I asked Mr. Wently to explain further, but he declined, saying that he knew nothing more for sure.
The surprising ending to the story is the fact that Mr. Sikes asked to be hung. At the hearing, he freely replied, "I killed my girlfriend in a very bloody an' disgusting manner. Hang me for it!" He was immediately sentenced by the court and was hung an hour later. The man who was in charge of the hanging that day, Mr. Kelly Jones did make a very unusual statement. "It was like (and you can't say this about many hangings) - like the part of the Bible where the criminals are hung alongside Jesus. He just took the punishment in a quiet manner, whispered something like "forgive me, God," and then went away peacefully. I was talking to one of the other prisoners in the jail and he said that Mr. Sikes spent much of his time talking to God during his short stay. I guess he had picked up religion somewhere in his wanderings. Either way, God knows - maybe he's saved. Oh, and he also mentioned something to God about his daughter - whatever that means."
This last comment is still puzzling me. I cannot, at this point, say any more. Perhaps some light will be shed on the subject. All we know is that Mr. Bill Sikes wanted her his daughter to know that he loved her dearly and that he hoped her all the happiness that life can bring. Also, that he hoped she would not be ashamed of him. I hope that Bill's daughter will get in touch with the Times and help us finish the story. All I can say is that it is a very sad-sounding ending.
Mr. Peter Wently held a private ceremony last Thursday. He buried Bill in the same cemetery where his mother had been lain years before. "It is, I think, what he would have wanted," Peter smiles and adds, "I live near here and I can keep fresh flowers on the grave. I miss him a lot - I know he knows that."
Leanne placed the paper upon her lap and stared around the room. They had all gathered together at Terry's after Mr. Brownlow had discovered the article in the Edinburgh Crier. Leanne had read it aloud to all and she now looked over at her mother.
"Yes, Sweet-pea?" Linda straightened up in her chair as if startled.
"Can I contact this reporter? I want to tell him about myself and more about Daddy," tears glistened in her eyes and she tried to wipe them away before they began to fall. "An' Mr. Wently?"
Linda stayed silent. After a bit, she looked over at Fagin. He was sitting across the room, next to Bet, and was staring down at the floor in a respectful position. He slowly became aware that Miss Doris was staring at him. He looked up and met her gaze.
"Mr. Fagin?" Linda began. "Was Leanne to do this, would it hurt you in any way?"
"None that I know of, my dear. Let the child write what she wants to write - it will help her cope," Fagin gave Leanne a grin.
Leanne smiled back and then went off to start writing.
Linda looked back over at the old Jew, "That was very thoughtful; thank you."
"Don't mention it, my dear. Leanne has practically become a granddaughter to me."
Bet smiled and kissed her husband on the cheek. "And what does that make me?"
"Her grandmother, my dear."
Bet laughed and gave Fagin a small slap for making such a comment.
"I didn't mean it, my dear!" Fagin got up out of the chair and rubbed his shoulder. "You'll be the - um . . ," he went silent.
Mr. Brownlow looked up and then relaxed once he realized that the Jew was not going to finish the saying.
"We will need to get back to Ferndale," Miss Doris announced. "Leanne will be going back to school in another month."
"We need to, also," Mr. Brownlow added. "Oliver has school and I have business to see to. We should head back together."
"I would appreciate it," Linda walked off to look out the window. "How about the day after tomorrow."
"Splendid! We can get some tickets for the first boat to leave. We will be back in London by Tuesday," he looked over at Oliver.
Oliver nodded and said, "It will be good to get back - I miss Mr. Losberne, Rose, and everybody."
"What about you two?" Linda addressed Fagin and Bet.
"We discussed this with Terry last night," Fagin began "He wants to go see London himself - says it will get him more story ideas, possibly." Fagin smiled and then went on, "We are planning on moving back - we have reason to be going back."
Dodge spoke up, "They don't want their future child to be Scottish."
Fagin and Bet looked over at Dodge and he grinned, "I was listenin' outside the bedroom door."
"You're pregnant? Congratulations!" Linda perked up instantly.
Bet smiled, but said nothing.
Fagin broke in, "We are not totally confident yet, my dears. We will find out."
After that, the conversation took a very happy turn.
"Have you started talking about names?" asked Linda.
"Not really," Bet replied.
"You should come up with a few - how about Laura?"
"Maybe if the baby was yours, my dear. Your family seems to be all made up of 'L' names," Fagin grinned. "I think I like Elizabeth. And if it is a boy, I would like Luke."
"Those sound nice," Bet agreed. "They're sensible. Not that I'm saying 'Laura' is not sensible!" she added after a pause.
"Don't worry, I'm not upset!," Linda blushed a bit. "It's your baby. Maybe someday I could have another - by marriage."
They all fell to laughter at this point.
Oliver, seeing that the adults' discussion was beginning to get a bit silly, retreated to the next room.
Leanne was laying on her stomach, on the bed, a pen in her hand and a paper in front of her. She was concentrating very hard.
Oliver closed the door behind himself. "Leanne?" he asked.
She paused in her writing and looked up at him.
"I think what you're doing is just great. I wanted to tell you that. I think you're right about your father - I wish I could have known him the way you did."
Leanne got down off the bed and wrapped Oliver up in a tight hug. She then kissed him on the cheek and said, "Thanks!"
Oliver smiled, "I hope I get to see you fairly often when we get back home."
"Me too," her face became a bit sullen. "I think we live an hour from London - by carriage."
"That's not too far - you could visit on the weekends. We could all get together for Sunday dinner or something."
"You're right," her smile reappeared. "Do you really think that my dad loved me?"
Oliver considered for a moment and then said, in a very honest way, "I think he did."
"That's good. Do you want to help me write this?"
"What would I write?" Oliver jumped up onto the bed and Leanne followed.
"Whatever you think makes sense."
"I didn't know him in a good way," Oliver protested. "It would just mess up your memory of him."
"Then you need to write it," Leanne was very serious on this matter. "I need to understand him - I need to know who he truly was - that is what is important. I don't think I could stop loving him."
"Alright. I will," Oliver grabbed a pen and took one of the papers Leanne had procured from atop the dresser.
After a few minutes of silent work, in which only the sound of scraping pens could be heard, Leanne tapped Oliver on the shoulder, "When are we leaving?"
"The day after tomorrow. Everyone's traveling together - even Fagin and Bet are coming. Oh, they're having a baby."
"Really? At Fagin's age?" Leanne raised her eyebrows in shock.
"Seems so," Oliver chewed thoughtfully on the end of his pen.
"I think he'll make a good father," Leanne concluded.
Oliver nodded, "He has potential. He's pretty nice to Dodge and you."
Leanne nodded, "Like one big family - aren't we?"
"Yes, and I think we're going to stay that way. That fellow, Mr. Wently, he was Bill's friend and he's still Bill's friend. That's an honest friendship and I think it's the same with all us. We're going to stick together and help each other out, no matter what."
"I hope you're right."
Oliver smiled, "I know I'm right."
Well, that's it. I am a little saddened, but I hope everyone has enjoyed reading this story. I have new one that should be up really soon (like probably within a few hours!). Please read it, too!
Thanks to all my readers and reviewers!
Please leave a review (I really love them)! - Elaine Dawkins