And while it’s true that he was killed by a man with six fingers on his right hand, I feel it would be unfair to downplay the role in his death that was played by said fumes. I’m not a doctor, but the effects were hard to ignore. No man was gentler or wiser than my father. No man was ever more patient in his craft, but after a few hours in front of the furnace, he would definitely start to get what I would describe as loopy.
It was little things at first. Misplacing his tools and being seized by strange moods. Often we would catch him talking into one of the swords he was making as if it were a telephone. Some of these behaviors even seemed charming to us at the time, though you should have heard how furious he got on some of those phone calls.
Once after working late he came to my room and woke me in the middle of the night. He was covered in sweat and his eyes were wide with astonishment.
“Inigo,” he told me, “I have done it. I have created my masterpiece, the greatest sword ever beheld by man. You, my son, are the only one fit to wield it.”
His hands trembled as he gave me the sword, except it was just a banana he’d stuck onto the end of a pencil. He made me get dressed in order to take the “sword” outside and demonstrate its quality. We were in an empty field all night until the sun slowly rose to our backs. I performed countless perries and lunges, the banana whistling through the air as my father’s eyes shone with pride.
Other days he would no longer refer to me by my name, Inigo, and would instead call me “Laser Boy.”
“You’re Laser Boy!” he would shout, banging a broadsword flat while regarding me with a wild look in his eyes.
When he worked, we tried to get him to open a window or something, but I think the truth is he sort of liked the fumes. When I was cast as the lead in a school play, I saw my father during my performance. He was in the front row sniffing from a big jar that he’d clearly labeled, “dangerous sword fumes.” Nor was it uncommon to come down to the breakfast table and see my father carefully spooning some of the fumes into his coffee.
Eventually the man with six fingers on his right hand visited my father’s shop and offered him an incredible sum in exchange for the perfect sword. My father worked for three days without stopping. When it was over, the sword was indeed beautiful, though my father was now possessed by the acrid fumes of his labors. I was so frightened by his state that I hid from him, watching from behind a barrel of scabbards as the man with six fingers came to collect his sword.
Right away, my father refused to sell it to him.
“This sword is my wife,” my father said, crossing his arms and shaking his head. “No sale.”
But when the man with six fingers prepared to leave, my father seemed to have a change of heart.
“Okay, okay,” he said, looking down at the sword he’d made. “I’ll take it. How much?”
The man with six fingers looked confused and then tried to explain that the sword wasn’t his to sell. My father nodded at this as if he understood and added the sword to the shop’s lost and found.
“Well, it’s a beautiful sword,” he said, “I’m sure someone will come back for it.”
Not a moment went by before my father then accused the man of trying to steal some of his fumes. He leapt over the counter and bit the man in the leg. There was a struggle and in the end my father was mortally wounded. The man with six fingers fled, looking annoyed. But my father, with his dying strength, removed the sword from the lost and found, then crawled to where I was hiding and presented it to me.
“I will trade you this for some sword fumes,” he said.
I still plan to take my revenge from the six-fingered man, but having come to terms with the full facts of my father’s life, I only think it right to revise the manner in which I will address his killer before doing so:
“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. However, I cannot downplay the role in his death that was played by all the dangerous fumes he was exposed to as a result of his lifelong pursuit of swordsmithing. Sometimes he would call me ‘Laser Boy’ etc. Nevertheless, prepare to die.”