© Douglas Brownlie 2012 - These first 3 chapters are a novelette that set the entire book up. Please read them wiith this in mind.
Cannes, the French Riviera - April 9th 1974
Bill Douglas held his gaze steady. The eyes staring back were unblinking and confident. “Why would they, and why should they flinch or even waver?” It was but a fleeting thought. The funeral earlier today was uppermost in his mind.
He endured the event with a clenched jaw and appeared outwardly impassive. Only his eyes betrayed his grief. Deep inside though, his feelings were impossible to conceal and his normal controlled breathing escaped him at times.
It felt both brutal and gut wrenching and he was surprised, perplexed and somewhat angered by his own emotions. Over the years he had lost many people to death, and sent many more to meet their Gods. She was but seventeen when he'd been with her last and so absent from his life for these past eight years, and seldom if ever in his recent thoughts.
“What is pulling me back in time?” crossed his mind constantly during the ordeal. His subconscious knew the answer and was merciless in its constant repetition of the truth, "You loved her more than you ever knew."
He was not asked to articulate the eulogy. Her father made a tougher request. “Sing Dylan’s ‘Forever Young,’ Bill. It’s her favorite. She loved when you sang, even though your voice is not to my taste,” he said with the briefest of smiles.
Bill sang it with strength and the performance released his pent up emotion to be absorbed by the mourners. Bob Dylan himself could not have evoked more reaction from a gathering. She died too soon, too young and too beautiful. For all of those gathered she would remain the young girl they loved.
Since seeing her last, he evolved to be fearless, secure and confident. He was the very best in his profession. A master of his destiny and of those he hunted and killed. “Too bad I couldn’t protect a loved one,” he reflected but quickly banished the concepts of blame and of love from his mind.
The man in the mirror looked at him with eyes that were black and flecked with nothing but reflected light. They appeared to be deep pools of obsidian and still water. He was of the Douglas blood after all. A Black Douglas to the core, with his bloodline of assassins solid to the 7th century AD.
He learned very early in life that the eyes were masters of outcomes and communications way beyond the verbal. His paternal grandmother called them two way windows. “Like dawn is to sunset,” she’d say. “Your eyes are two sides of the same experience. How you use them will make you or break you.” She’d pooh-poohed the windows to the soul cliché. “It is far too simple. Look your self in the eyes often. Hold your own gaze and examine your heart,” she’d instructed.
When the single tear suddenly appeared in the corner of his left eye and began to trickle down his cheek, he was totally unprepared and the accompanying cry of anguish he heard – in his subconscious, he thought – shook him to the extent that the face looking back at him appeared to have changed.
It slowly transformed into the face of his 15 year old self. Unblemished and unscarred. The innocent face and eyes that had not yet been to Hell and back, looked at him with mixture of accusation and regret.
He allowed himself to drift in thought, welcoming the chance to leave the accusing look behind and travel to another time...