Part of the ‘Cazique of Poyais’ story – read more here
They walked into the wooden building with its great big rooms, now all bursting at the seams with people from Poyais, suffering in beds, chairs or makeshift sanctuaries of blankets on the floor. This was the real reason their investigation meant so much and Smith saw that, instantly glad he had not let his commander run into battle without him. The suffering inflicted on these people was unforgivable and the strain it caused on the small Belize Town was entirely unsustainable in the medium run, not even speaking of the long run.
Nurses rushed from bed to bed, doing whatever they could. Levearson recognised one as Noemi Mercorda, who he knew through her dearly departed parents. It had been some time since they had properly spoken, but he approached her nonetheless.
“Noemi, how goes it here?”
She stared at him with the eyes of the sleepless and a mind trying to gather the somewhat recognisable image before here. Nothing came out of her mouth.
“We’ve met several times, though that was some years ago. I was a friend of your father’s.”
Realisation tends to come in waves and then all at once crashing down. Friend wasn’t a loose term, her father had definitely been close, but not so close that he helped to care for her and Jose after their parents had passed away. It was the same as with many of their other friends. Noemi had been endlessly angry with many of them as her parents died at the cusp of her and Jose’s teenage years, so their memories and understanding of social situations was at the right level to feel resentment. Of course, that feeling had passed and Noemi realised that these people had their own lives and worries. Only someone truly special dropped their life to focus on the children of another person. She had last seen this man at St. John’s Church on the day of the funeral.
“Hello,” Noemi began, grasping at the name she could not fully remember.
“It’s Levearson, Noemi,” he said in order to cut off moments of awkward silence, “please, it would be so helpful if you could tell us – me and Smith here – how it goes at the hospital. We have been charged with investigating this whole Poyais mess.”
On the one hand, Noemi had no inclination to offer help. Why should she when he knew so little how to provide it when she needed it most. Then, there was Jose’s voice in the back of her mind, urging her to forgive and forget. To help those in need and these poor souls subject to this Poyais scandal surely counted. It would be a help to them, she concluded, not to Levearson.
“What do you want to know?”
“Clearly many are I’ll here and we know there is strain on the whole colony for it. We want to understand more about the people that caused this and how it could have happened. We tried the tavern but most there are deluded into thinking it was fate or divine retribution. Have you heard anything here?”
She had heard many things, mostly the ramblings of fever dreams, but some had been more lucid. Both spoke of MacGregor, some of Thomas Strangeways and yet others of a Colonel. Most spoke curses and other sinful utterances about those names. Blame was all around, with some blaming themselves and others not even blaming the supposed mastermind, MacGregor.
Noemi started with the simple, “I’ve heard lots about all of it. I figure that much of it is false, brought on by fever dreams or anger, but I suspect there are nuggets of truth within it all. How much do you know? Where should I start?”
“We know the basics. Who MacGregor is, but not exactly how he plays into it all. How they got to Poyais and the names of the ships and a captains who abandoned them and went off with their provisions. Little else to be frank other than that there is certainly a swindle from some angle.”
Having sat crouched next a patient for all this time looking up at the two men, Noemi rose and began wandering down a corridor which lead to the Hospital’s administrative offices, beckoning the two men as she did. They dutifully followed her into a break room.