The London Deeds

Part of the ‘Cazique of Poyais’ story – read more here

Luckily for Daniel, he was wrong. As he awoke in a deep depression and swirling hangover, he reached blindly over to the nightstand looking for a glass of water. Feeling around, he found no glass, but his fingers stumbled across paper. His hungover heart and mind leapt. He hadn’t searched in this part of the room for the deeds.

It was unlikely that he ever roused from a hangover so quickly in all his life and thought he never would again. Fully clothed from the night before, he grabbed all the papers from the nightstand and rushed to the round table to inspect them. The first was a dud, but then there were the Parsons Green deeds!

There was no time to celebrate though as he had to get up to see Tito and seal the deal. Daniel was concerned about the reaction he would receive. There was no time for that worry though as he just had to seal what he had already set up. Quickly, he splashed himself with water from the basin and tidied up his appearance. Adjusting his shirt, straightening his coat and then on with his hat.

The morning was not so young, so it was most likely that Tito would be alone and that was exactly as he needed it. Cautiously, he walked up to the front door with his portfolio containing both the Parsons Green and Fox Lane deeds, plus some worthless bonds that he was giving away and a back up plan in the form of the original Parsons Green property. Before he could knock, Uncle Tito opened the door and scowled at Daniel, “You’re late. Even by my low standards, you are very late. This is not a good thing.”

A pause can be a good thing. This one did not feel that way to Daniel Perez. Uncle Tito was staring at him in silence as if waiting for an answer to a question he never posed. Daniel was speechless given the night he had just had, so the silence persisted.

“This is the part where you explain why you left me waiting more than 48 hours when I provided you with a perfectly reasonable deal,” Uncle Tito exclaimed exasperated.

An invitation to explain himself was welcome, though not expected on the exact threshold of the house. Well, it was partially expected given how slow Daniel had creeped up to the house, but in any event he did not expect it in this moment. Eventually, he composed himself and started to explain, “have you heard about the survivors of the so-called Poyais scandal?”

“No,” Uncle Tito advised, wondering what this could possibly have to do with their deal.

“I’ll explain quickly. Several hundred would be settlers of a land across the bay called Poyais have come here to Belize Town on a ship called the Mexican Eagle. Most are sick with fever and have been ferried straight to the hospital which is now over capacity. The people were lead to believe that this land, Poyais, was plentiful and temperate when in fact it was an infested swamp. Their arrival has put a great strain on the town and its resources. I’ve been gone for 48 hours because I have been sidetracked trying to help with this disaster. I am still very sorry though, sir, as it is my pride to always keep my promises and be punctual.”

Uncle Tito pondered all of this new information and then said, “Come in,” whilst mumbling to himself, “Damn twins never tell me anything that happens out in the world.”

They walked back to the dining room table where they had previously discussed their deal. Uncle Tito poured himself a coffee and offered nothing to Daniel. This was a straight and dirty trade in his mind, no niceties required.

Daniel Perez hadn’t expected any talk other than business in the circumstances, but then Uncle Tito said, “that Noemi of ours works in the hospital , you know. I wondered if she was just coming home late and rising early, even though I know she never does. It must be that she hasn’t come home because she’s been attending to these souls you speak of. Her damn brother probably didn’t tell me as he thought I’d worry. As if that is a bad thing.”

No question, again, but Daniel felt as though he had to respond, “no, it’s not a bad thing. Worry just shows that we care.”

The comment was brushed aside as Uncle Tito continued, “all I do for them,” he gestured to the papers on the table, “and they can’t even communicate properly with me. Well, I know they love me, I guess that is enough.”

In the subsequent, again unbearable, silence, Daniel pulled the two deeds and bonds that he had promised and neatly placed them on the table, right side up towards Uncle Tito. Daniel Perez wondered why the old man wanted to inspect the documents when there was no conceivable way he could know anything about property law or the deeds. He accepted it was part of business though that those who know so little demand to be shown detail that is utterly meaningless to them in order to perpetuate some false sense of fairness within the negotiations. A funny old thing, but he was happy to do the dance if it got him to his goal.

Without saying a word, Uncle Tito took all three sets of paper towards him. Starting with Fox Lane, he carefully turned over and examined each page. The manner in which he did do made Daniel wonder if he even knew how to read. Clearly not a good idea to bring such a suggestion up though.

After a lengthy inspection of the documents, Tito leaned back on his chair and looked across his dining room table at Daniel Perez. The table that would soon be Daniel’s. This was the point of no return. In no way was he certain of what he was doing, but he felt it was the best for the twins. It was the only reason he could stomach going ahead with it. He would give his life for their happiness.

“You’re going to have to give me something for being so late. I suspect you were digging to find out the value of my haul, which is the real reason you were delayed. Now that you’re obviously in such a rush to complete this, I imagine that you understand the value if you put the work in. So, what else do you have for me?”

A near perfect situation. Daniel only worried that he would acquiesce too quickly and Tito would demand more. He had to play this just right. So, he began, “I couldn’t. I may have been late, but the deal you are getting is outrageously good. Two properties and an income for a house here and your lumber stash is good. Not that good though.”

Uncle Tito didn’t say anything. He just looked at Daniel and then waited for the next flurry of horse shit to exit his mouth.

“You must counter or say something. I refuse to negotiate with myself.”

The two men stared at each other, not saying a word. Uncle Tito may know nothing of London property, but he was t going to budge on this. Three was better than two. There was no doubt in that. Daniel began to sweat has the heat in the room rose along with the growing mid morning sun. He was ready for this to be over and for him to be done with the Mercordas.

“Fine. All three. You need to sign a document now that puts the house here in my ownership and give me that map.”


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