Temple’s Job: Chapter 12


Nearing Lake Tekapo and nearing the end of the search for personal vengeance.   What happens after the bus stops at the southern end of the village?

As they were talking, Lake Tekapo came into view. The iridescence of the water immediately stopped the conversation. They surveyed it open mouthed. Neither Joe nor Ian had seen the lake before and like most tourists they found the sight incredible.

The bus pulled into the village at the southern end of the lake and they could see its glowing blue water, the surrounding mountains and that strangely shaped Mt John with the Observatory at its top.

Joe had heard the walk to the top of Mt John was challenging but not overly hard. From the top you could see out towards the Southern Alps in the west, Mt Cook and Tasman to the North, the length of Tekapo itself and sometimes Lake Alexandrina on the western side of the base of Mt John.

Joe hoped to make it to the summit but doubted he would do it. Catching Mark Liston had become something of an obsession for Ian Temple. Joe couldn’t blame him. If he’d not been subjected to Liston’s experiments, Ian would probably be a happy man, in a job lecturing at the University.

.While still in Christchurch Joe had rung and booked beds in a backpackers hostel. It was only a short walk from where the bus had parked in the village up the road leading to the back of the settlement.

The hostel was actually made up of two buildings next to each other with an attractive outdoor area between them. One building held the beds and the other was divided up into a lounge, kitchen, office and dining area.  

hey were surprised when they checked into the hostel that there was a letter waiting for them on the front desk. They were both interested to see who it was from but neither of them wanted to open it and realise their worst fears. Joe was not so worried, after all, it was addressed to “Mr Temple from a grateful past student”. At least, that is what it said.

They both stood there staring at the envelope but not touching it; as if it was infectious. After staring at it for about thirty seconds, Ian reached out a slightly trembling hand and picked it it up off the counter. As soon as he began to open it. he heard a voice that made him shiver with fear – Mark Liston.

“What took you so long?   I can see everything you are doing right now. Thank you for following the clues I left for you. It proves that someone who undergoes personality change through my “technique”, will suffer no intellectual damage. So I can sell my ability to change one’s personality for an enormous fee”.

Trying not to show emotion Ian said “Oh of course, I’d figured that out a very long time ago.”

“What’s worse is that I believe you” replied Liston. But tell me, what took you so long, old man?  

Ian replied slowly with false rage “That had better be an idiom or I’ll kill you.”                                                                                                                                                                  

Joe finally thought of something sensible to do; he asked the hostel staff in the office if a Mark Liston had checked in, and if he had, had he mentioned any plans for his stay. On the bus Ian and Joe had considered the Mt John Observatory because of its frequent use by the University of Canterbury.

The hostel staff didn’t know of any specific plans. All Liston had wanted to do was get away from the crowds. He was going to walk up Mount John the long way – along the edge of the Lake first, before turning inland and following the trail up the hill to the observatory. And that’s where they found him. About half way around the lake side lying across the track. It looked as if he had simply fallen over. The base of his trouser leg was pushed up towards his knee. There was no blood so perhaps a sprained ankle. Apparently he’d underestimated his own strength.

“Hello Mark, good to see you after you squeezed your way through my English course.”

“Your assessments were never very hard you know, old man.”

Ian lowered his voice and spoke slowly. “You just made things a lot worse for yourself Liston. When I was in prison I spent a long time dreaming about revenge upon the person I assumed was guilty for my false conviction. But now I see the truth. YOU were behind my problems and the sorrow of Angela Redheart’s friends and family. More than anyone I know, you deserve to die, but first I need you to look at this object in the lake, it could be valuable and it is within reach. This was not a total fabrication as there wa a strangely coloured stone on the bottom by the lakeside.

Ian walked toward Liston’s outstretched body and kicked the ankle with the toe of his hiking boot. He screamed in pain. Mark Liston dragged himself to the lakeside and stared intently into the water.   Close enough, Liston suddenly reached into the freezing cold water and grabbed at the stone. Ian darted forward and pushed his head under the water. Despite the struggle he held him there until Liston’s body began to go limp.

Shocked by glacier-fed water and the water he had inhaled Mark Liston began to choke. As he tried to lift his head up and out of the water Temple pushed it back under accompanying his action with poetry snatches of which Liston heard as his ears emerged from the freezing fluid.

 Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink

Water, water everywhere and all the boards did shrink

The second time he’d held Mark Liston’s head under for an extra second. Pulling his head back he’d looked into his eyes and seen fear. Fear of the one thing he had caused others – death.

With a sudden burst of desperate strength Liston reached up and grabbed Ian’s head. Ian had not realised just how cold the water was. If they’d finished the walk and climbed just a bit further up Mount John they would have seen the snow source of this freezing water.

Like a second player in some deranged play Liston began to victoriously recite:

The naked hulk alongside came

And the twain were casting dice

The game is done! I’ve won I’ve won.

Qouth she and whistles thrice.

He made sure to blast the words “I’ve won into his old teacher’s face.

“Good try young Liston, but you forget that this is my favourite poem”

 The many men, so beautiful

And they all dead did lie

And a thousand thousand slimy things lived on and so did I.

And with that Ian put his heel on mark Mark Liston’s head and pushed him violently back into the water. Mark Liston stood in the waist-deep water staring at Ian.

“I would never have normally done this, but thanks to your experiments, I’ve been recreated. Unfortunately it would appear, in your image and I’m not the only one whose life has been ruined. Eventually the other guinea pigs  would have come for some revenge. You should be thankful that I got here first. If they had beaten me here I’d be talking to a body.”

“Why did you not kill me yourself?”

“I have this friend who does his best to regulate the worst of my behaviour. I don’t want to upset him too much”.

Ian stopped as he suddenly thought how alien that last statement was. He couldn’t recall the last time he referred to anyone as a friend.

And in this sudden pause Ian thought what was he going to do with Liston? He’d been responsible for one violent death and had effectively ruined the successful lives of two men, himself and Dr Alvin Taylor. Now Liston intended to sell the method and techniques which could destroy and individual’s identity and personality..

Temple had never had children. , He had no concept of parental discipline.   He knew there needed to be some sort of punishment and he’d tried that mimicking the painful and violent punishment of his childhood. Ian knew Liston deserved to receive the same kind of punishment he had. The actual process of getting Mark Liston behind bars, he’d leave to Joe Wigram.

What next?   Justice for the victims of Mark LIston.  Incareration for Liston.   Will it be the final instalment of Nick Scott’s crime thriller next month….?   Check out WORDS on ARTbop on the first Saturday of June to find out!

Nick Scott Nick Scott has a B.A from The University of Waikato where he studied film under Sam Edwards. Nick has retained a keen interest in cinema. He studied Te Reo Maori at Te Wananga O Aotearoa part-time for 3 years and then from 2014 to 2016 Nick collaborated in writing “The Traveller’s guide to Maori Place Names”.  Nick is a regular Film Reviewer on ARTbop.  Check out his film reviews on ARTbop. 2021 and Nick has several new projects on the go…….


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