Angels Crying - Tom Moore
Paperback, 230 pages
Book in Good Condition
Why would a beautiful, 15 year old girl kill herself by jumping off a cliff?
Why was her foster father found holding her body? Angels Crying is the true story of one girl's life and death. RCMP, Social Services, Hughes Inquiry, and our society is all involved in this nail-biting countdown to tragedy.
About the Author
Tom Moore lives in St. John's, Newfoundland and teaches high school in the nearby town of Avondale. He has published six books and several have won awards and been translated into foreign languages. His last two books were self-published. One is a national best seller, used as a text in four universities, and the other won the Percy Janes award for best novel manuscript in a field of 20 other Newfoundland books. His writing is about the human condition as reflected by a Newfoundlander, a Canadian and a human being. His latest book is The Plains of Madness
It was not a day for dying at Deep Harbour. True, the summer sun was losing its strength, but the soft wind from the west carried warmth from the land and brought it to the sea. The water in the harbour gleamed where the sun struck it and glowed the colour of the deepest, brightest blue; bluer than a child's eyes. It was very calm.
THE LAST DAY OF SUMMER
...Everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster;
The plowman may have heard the splash,
The forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure;
The sun shone
As it had to on the white legs
Disappearing into the green water
W.H. Auden, Musée des Beaux Arts
Down the harbour road, in a garage near the local church, two fishermen were building a box for the graveyard. They were brothers, both in their forties; pleasant men with quiet manners and strong hands that nailed the boards together.
Three feet deep, four feet long by two feet across, it was a wooden box, much like a small coffin, to be sunk in the graveyard, filled with cement and used to anchor the mast of a large cross. As well as fishermen, both were iron workers who had worked on the tall steel buildings of New York and Toronto, they were quite capable of the carpenter's task at hand.
Bob Dobbin was the older of the two brothers, a large, strong and heavy set man. John was taller and thinner, a youngish looking forty. They worked well together, relaxed and quiet.
Around 5 p.m. John went home for supper. The soft westerly wind that had been blowing across the harbour all day had stilled. The evening temperature had already begun to drop from a high of 17 towards the evening low of 9 degrees Celsius. The late afternoon sun shone between an occasional fluffy cumulus cloud.
John drove his truck along the road high over the westerly side of the harbour for the short distance to his own house. The blue waters of the harbour lay, as he later said, "clock calm" in the evening sun. As he neared home he waved to his daughter, Donna, riding her bike after her first day back at school. Summer was ending on a soft, long note.
As he turned into his yard he looked further up the harbour road past the church. The children of the harbour were around the community wharf. Some were on bikes. Others were jigging tomcods or an occasional flatfish; complaining when they snagged an unwelcome sculpin. Summer seemed to be offering another grand day before the school work and cool weather of fall were upon them.
But something much more ominous than cooler weather was about to settle on this quiet community. Even as the children played on the wharf, a drama between two people was being played out on the other side of the harbour. There, a secluded and almost inaccessible wooded lot faced the water directly over a 14 meter cliff. Near the edge of this cliff, a man and a fifteen year old girl were about to reach the climax of a strange relationship.
About 6 p.m. John returned to Bob's garage to resume work on the graveyard "form". The sky had clouded over and the evening air was cooling very quickly. While they were working, John thought he heard someone shouting. Neither he nor Bob mentioned it immediately. Then they heard a helicopter. It seemed to be flying low over the harbour, so the two men went out into Bob's yard. The RCMP helicopter was flying out over Rocky Cove Point, directly across the harbour.
"Probably someone after shooting a moose," Bob suggested as they returned to the work at hand.
Hardly had a hammer struck the next nail when they heard the muffled cries, "Help! Help!"
It was a man's voice. Back in the yard the two men looked in the direction of the harbour but could see nothing unusual. The helicopter was gone but they heard the faint cries for help again. "I'm going in the house for the binoculars," said Bob. Soon he was back and scanning the harbour for a capsized boat, or a fisherman in some peril.
The "way of the sea" in Newfoundland is a dangerous way, as novelist Norman Duncan so aptly recorded in 1903. The survival of fishermen for over three centuries at Deep Harbour depended on men like Bob and John looking out for each other when trouble occurred.
On the far shore of the harbour, off Rocky Cove Point his search stopped. "There's a man in the water." He handed the binoculars to his brother. John looked and saw the first palpable evidence of the tragedy about to unfold. At the water's edge, a man stood at the base of a cliff, up to his ankles in the sea water. "He must be trapped there by the tide."
"Is anyone on the way over to get him?" asked Bob.
"No, there's no one on the wharf now." The supper call had lured most of the locals to their homes.
"Let's go over and get him out of it," said Bob. "We'll take my boat; she's tied up at the wharf."
The two men drove quickly to the community wharf in John's truck. The wharf was deserted. A number of unconcerned, younger kids were playing in front of the fish plant. The men quickly untied Bob's boat and set off across the quiet water, a distance of about a kilometre. It was now around 7 p.m. The water was flat calm although the sky was cloudy.
Bob was in the stern manning the outboard motor while John perched in the bow peering ahead across a kilometre of open water. Soon he could clearly see the figure of a man at the edge of the shore on the other side of the harbour. The man was leaning backwards with one hand against the cliff face.
Bob warned, "Hold on now John, we don't know how dangerous this fellow might be. He could be in trouble or he could be right out of the "Mental". John reached for an oar.
"It's Albert Weller," John said, recognizing the man about his own age from the community. With adrenalin pumping, John sought a safe spot to land the boat. He was not ready for what he saw next. "Bob, boy, he's holding a body!"
The extended right arm of the stranded man held a female body by the wrist. The calm voice and the calm water belied the emotions racing through the two fishermen. John felt shock, disbelief and a cold, clammy dread.
Bob cut the engine. The water was so still that they floated quietly to just twenty feet from the stricken couple on the shore. There was an unreality about the scene.
Albert Weller was holding on to the girl in his right hand and with his left he leaned back against the cliff face. Searching up and down the shore, John could see it was the only place in sight where one could easily reach the water from the top. So sheer was the cliff that retreat had been impossible for the man, encumbered with the body. He was standing on a small ledge of cliff just under the water. She was floating, held by her arm. Her face half-submerged except when the swell of the tide ebbed.
Albert was wet and shivering from the cold. John also noticed that his face was purple.
"Give me her arm, now, Albert." John reached over the side and pulled the girl into the boat. Soon she lay supine in the bottom with her legs over the starboard gunwale.
Albert climbed in and John looked at the man crouched in the bow of the boat. "How did you get down there Albert? What happened?"
There was no reply.
Albert just pointed to the cliff. "Who is the girl?' John asked. There was no reply.
"I hope Angels Crying will be widely read...solidly readable, heartbreaking book...an excellent job..."The Evening Telegram
"Angels Crying gathers steam like a locomotive, reaching a fevered, page-turning pitch. Angels Crying is a good read." The Sunday Telegram
"It's a well written, well researched and well-developed story. It will make you think. Angels Crying is a heart-rendering story you'll have a tough time putting down."The Newfoundland Herald
"This is a truly compelling book...carefully researched, well documented and sensitively written...highlights the failure of protective services, police and child welfare to protect children. The writer's skill is such that this book reads like a novel... It should be required reading for foster parents, social workers, police and for students..."Community Alternatives: International Journal of Family Care