Aftermath

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

Jose had the misfortune to discover Uncle Tito’s cold body.  There was a release of tension when he and Noemi had left Uncle Tito alone.  It gave each person time to consider the momentous conversation they had just endured.  “Endured,” was the only word that felt adequate to describe it.  Not only had there been a great revelation, there was also immense sadness and finality in all that had been said.  Well, Jose had thought it felt very final then, but he didn’t know he would soon stumble upon his Uncle’s dead body.  That was truly final.

When he entered his Uncle’s room, his initial thought was that Uncle Tito was napping late after the emotional toll of the day’s events.  It wasn’t the most unusual thing in the world to think, yet it was ever so wrong.  As he approached his Uncle to wake him for the food that Noemi had made, he became very certain something was off.  He noticed the vial that had fallen to floor, a liquid residue seeping slowly out of it.  Jose had never seen poison.  That didn’t stop him knowing that his Uncle has just poisoned himself.  Silently, he fell to his knees.

Should he scream, yell or cry he thought to himself in the split second before he burst into tears.  This was always a possibility that Jose thought was the most distant.  Such a sacrifice on top of everything else was far too much and yet it was.

Death had felt like it was forever hanging over Jose and Noemi’s shoulders.  There was a time before their parents had died where this wasn’t the case, but that was long ago overshadowed by the brutal reality.  Still, they had never actually seen their parents dead.  It was just that one day they didn’t come home.  A young Jose and Noemi waited at home in their beds and then instead of their parents coming to wake them in the morning, it was Uncle Tito.  They had met this Uncle many times with their father, though they had never really spoken to him as he showed no interest in them.  Those first few moments, none of the three knew what to make of the situation.  That was when the shadow covered their lives.  Their unknown and uncertain fate of their parents.  Though Uncle Tito advised they were dead and they had no reason to disbelieve this at first.

Now death hung doubly over Jose’s shoulders and creeped towards Noemi.  Jose’s sobs would reach her ears before long and then there would be no escape from this truth.  In that moment as he hunched over Uncle Tito’s body, he prayed that his sister would be able to enjoy a few more moments in general peace before discovering this.  Would she blame him, Jose thought?  He hoped and believed not, but he was now preparing himself for anything.  Including not going to London.

Low sobs soon began to fill the house in the quite moments without movement.  Noemi heard them faintly at first, thinking it was some odd background noise around the house.  Maybe a cat or dog that was meowing or whining.  She was working on a basic meal for the family.  Throwing together a stew from the little pieces of food that was left after leaving Uncle Tito and Jose substantially alone for a few days.  Using allspice and chilli to add a bit of flavour and kick, she declared in her head that the food was done and ready to be eaten.  Jose had gone to get Uncle Tito, so she began to plate up the food and set the table.  This was when the sobs became less than faint.  She listened for a sounds she expected and so she didn’t actually register that it was sobbing at first.  Then Jose let out a few wails that were slightly louder and Noemi knew.

Noemi rushed into Uncle Tito’s room as soon as she knew.  It was not that her brain had registered that her brother was sobbing, rather that the sobs themselves meant that Uncle Tito was dead.  Her mind had wandered that direction when they were debating the stubbornness of both sides earlier in the day.  From time to time she would have these dark thoughts and pray they didn’t come true.  That was the case earlier, but somehow she knew it was a futile hope.  Uncle Tito was looking out for them and was far more stubborn.  Suicide was the only true option.

The reactions were as different as the two twins themselves.  As Jose sobbed on the floor, hunching over their Uncle Tito, Noemi comforted her brother and remained stone faced.  She would cry later.  Now was not the time for her to do that.  She looked at her brother and said, “I think it was the only option he truly saw brother.  He wanted us to go and he would never go with us.  It was not his style to go along with something that he didn’t want to do.”

“Do you blame me, sister?” Jose asked through his low sobs.

Contemplating her answer she heard Jose sobbed deeper at her silence and so she responded, “No, brother.  This is of Uncle Tito’s doing.  Neither of us forced this upon him.”

“I can’t believe he did it so quickly.”

“That’s what I mean brother.  He obviously thought about this for some time.  Maybe even before you brought up the whole London move.  So, I can’t blame you.  I do wonder why he felt the need to have a vial of poison around the house though.”

“Choice.”

She thought on this and agreed that was right and so she nodded to her brother as he continued his low, muted sobs.

They were both much older now, but it did not make it any less awful that they found themselves alone again.  Without any elders to look up to.  With each other.  If they weren’t so unlucky with the course of their lives, they would consider themselves lucky to be twins.  Now they simply felt cursed to be alive.

It would be a long way to travel before they forgot their Uncle.  They both looked at him and etched the memory on their brains.  One day it would fade, but that would be long from now when the edges of everything they knew were blurred by age.

Tito’s Goodbye

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

They had all sat together for some time in Jose’s room, Uncle Tito sitting in between Jose and Noemi, a hand on each of his children, as he now felt entitled to call them. It was a sort of meditative, non-action that was required in the face of such a conundrum as they found themselves in. Jose reflected after a time of silence, “I suppose I always knew there would be a sacrifice and deep down I probably knew what it meant, but I had never fully considered it.”

“Do not for a moment beat yourself up about this young man…” Uncle Tito started.

Jose cut him off before Uncle Tito could finish his absolution, “Noemi was concerned about this. It was her main concern, which is why she refused to get excited about the prospect, even though she too wants a new life, a new adventure. She thought about you first. Being as selfish as I am, I only thought about getting to the end goal and not about what it would mean. I honestly don’t even know what I want to do when we get to London, if we ever actually decide to go there.”

“You will be going Jose, Noemi, that much I can promise you. Stop with this self flagellation. Noemi may have thought of this, but that does not necessarily mean that you are bad. Only that Noemi thought of it.”

Noemi interjected, “Don’t praise me as too much of a saint. I wanted to make sure that we considered you and how it would work with you, but I still wanted to go. I still want us to figure out a way that you can come.”

Uncle Tito rose from their meditating positions and made his way to the door, “I will not go. That is final. You will go. That is also final. Come with me.”

They all wandered together into the dining room. It smelled the same as it always had. Yet each of them considered it with renewed appreciation. Jose and Noemi wondered if they would remember the smell of wood and years of collective, subtle dining. After all, if Tito had his way, they would never see the room again, or any of these rooms. Uncle Tito knew for a fact it would be one of his last. When the twins had left, and he was adamant they would, he would be out of a home. He chose not to give it too much thought and focussed on the first step, forcing the twins on their adventure. It had been so long since he had lived anywhere else and the twins hardly remembered their very first house. It was a good room that they spent much time in.

Uncle Tito reached for the papers he had received from Daniel Perez and spread them across the table. He stated bluntly, “this is your future.”

They seemed so insignificant, almost worthless, these pieces of paper strewn across the dining room table. Their symbolism was strong though. Not only were these their future, as Uncle Tito said, but a death warrant. If they did as he asked, it would lead only to his death. Everything had been sacrificed to obtain these papers. All wondered whether it was really worth it now.

Staring at the papers while sitting around the large dining table, they all took deep breaths, as if back in some sort of meditation. The issues now facing their little odd family were such that it was difficult to truly address them. No one wanted to make their case for fear of the angry backlash and insisting of the opposite that would ensue. Idle talk filled the void.

“Is there any breakfast?” asked Jose.

“I think there is some bread from yesterday in the kitchen. Probably stale though.”

“See What happens when I’m not around. You two fools would survive on scraps. Luckily I actually have a taste for food,” Noemi threw into the conversation.

“What can you make with stale bread?” Asked Uncle Tito.

“Nothing. I will figure something out. Jose, can you come and help me?”

They proceeded to the kitchen leaving Uncle Tito alone with the papers and his thoughts. He knew that the twins would certainly be talking about him and plotting as to how they could bring him with them or what they would do if they would stay. They were indeed doing this, rehashing parts of the conversation they had in the hospital. There was no good answer for them. Uncle Tito contemplated this and thought that it would have perhaps been easier if he had simply left well enough alone and let Jose try and scrape together whatever it was that would have been acceptable for Daniel Perez. Given what Perez took in the end, Jose would not have been likely to get the deeds and there would be no conflict in the family.

Conflict would permeate through all of Uncle Tito’s being though, he knew that for sure. Also, he would have had to most likely die never knowing how much he meant to the twins. Sacrifices, as with almost everything in this world. Whatever could have happened, they were in this situation now. An impossible one. Uncle Tito had to act in order to force their hands.

Suicide. A final act in his full control. He thought it would wait until the twins had safely packed up and on the ocean heading to London. He saw now that would not do.

It was a shame in many ways. There was little romance in his life, but going out on his own terms by himself seemed like a good way to go with a touch of romance. As an added bonus, that sleaze Daniel Perez would have had to remove his rotting corpse to get his hands on Uncle Tito’s house.

There was a note he had written about the Twins parents and their tragic deaths. He knew so much more than he had ever told the twins. They would probably not see him the same way once they knew of his heavy guilt. It was right. It was written some time ago when he thought he was on deaths door. Now he was.

He removed the letter from the brown leather envelope where he has now stored it for years. It smelled like a well worn leather jacket, faintly musty with age. Given the passage of time, he felt that a post script was in order. Checking around to ensure they are no where in sight, he wrote: “I love you both dearly and hope that these facts will not scar your memory of me into something ugly and misshapen. Carry this into your new life so that you can well and truly leave this one behind. Good luck.”

There was no need for any overt secrecy, so he threw it on the pile with the other papers when he was done and made his way to his room. Contemplating his decision for a final moment, he pulled a small vial from his bedside drawer and examined it carefully. There would probably be some pain. He didn’t see how dying could be anything other than pain. It was the compliment to birth, trauma on the way in and out. If only it were also not the same in between. At least he raised the twins to be decent enough people. There was one accomplishment and sense of pride amongst the rest of the shit that was his sorry life. Without a further thought he sucked down the vial. First nothing and then quickly he convulsed and lost consciousness and finally the life left him.