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.

Revelation

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

Noemi slept loudly in her small cupboard room even as the sun’s rays beamed through her east facing window. Now was an occasion to fully indulge in her natural instinct to sleep as long as possible. The layer of exhaustion meant that nothing but the most violent of sounds, brightest of sunshine or forceful an action could rouse her. It was an indulgence for sure, but one deserved after her work and the high/low that was Uncle Toto’s revelation that the twins would go to London while he would stay in Belize Town. Home.

As she slept, Jose was awake, true to form. On this day he could not be industrious though. He was in his own cupboard room, lying on the bed, fearful of what it actually meant. Going to London, the journey itself and the prospects when they got there was pure adventure and exhilaration. It was now burdened with multiple pieces of baggage so heavy that Jose felt firmly pressed against the ground where he was.

There had been no conversations, no conspiratorial whispers in the night following Uncle Tito’s announcement. A look in each other’s eyes was all that passed between the twins. It was all that was needed. This was a deal breaker. For both of them. There was no way they could leave Uncle Tito behind here while they ventured off into the world. He said that he had friends, but none they knew of. Definitely none they would call more than acquaintance and none they would trust with their Uncle’s well being.

Jose lay on his bed with a heavy pit where his stomach once again was, thinking through the alternatives. One of them could stay with Uncle Tito so the other could off on an adventure. This would only sow resentment and guilt. They could both stay and get on with their lives as was. It was possible another opportunity to change their lives here could come along. This would just lead to regret and resentment. Of course, they could try to take Uncle Tito with them, but they would never get him along against his will. There would be only anger if and when they failed, with guilt on the off chance they did. Could they actually do as Uncle Tito wanted and leave him here? They wouldn’t be able to live with themselves. It was impossible.

He killed himself into a half sleep, half trance thinking about it all, so he was sufficiently startled when Uncle Tito barged into his room and roused him with a booming question, “what’s wrong boy, are you dead or just dying?”

Jose shot bolt upright at the question and looked around the room in disorientation, not focussing on Uncle Tito. For a split second his mind believed that the question had come from the ether, then he was brought back to reality by Uncle Tito shouting, “you better be dead or dying because this is no damn way to show your gratitude to my great sacrifice.”

Focussing on his Uncle now, Jose pulled himself over so his legs hung over the side of the bed and he sat with his head in hands as he responded, “neither Uncle,” and then softly, “but it is not through any lack of gratitude.”

“Speak up boy and look at me properly. What is the matter?”

Jose took a deep breath, but before he could answer, Noemi walked into his room. Uncle Tito turned and gave her a scowl which she knew to express the points he just shouted at the top of his lungs. She sat down next to Jose and put her hand on his back and gently stroking it. She looked at her brother and then at her Uncle Tito and said, “you have given us an impossible choice. You have done everything for us ever since our parents died. That is exactly why we cannot leave you here alone. It is not a lack of gratitude, but the complete opposite. We love you so much and are grateful for all that you have done so that there is no way we can accept this proposal of yours. Likewise, if you cannot or will not make the journey, then we are out of real options.”

Uncle Tito had never considered that this relationship he had with the twins was truly both ways. He knew how he felt and had felt that way almost since the moment they were placed under his charge. That they would feel such a deep love for him, he did not think possible. It was something he believed was reserved for birth parents. For those that brought you into the world. This revelation had stopped him in his tracks.

It is a cruel quirk sometimes that you don’t realise until it is far too late how others in your life truly feel. The feelings only bubble overtly to the surface when it is too late to truly appreciate them or act on them. They can be welcome or unwelcome. In Tito’s case, so welcome that he was completely awestruck. It was a warm feeling coming over him like the sun’s rays, but then quickly followed slamming feeling, like the waves against a beach. This was the last of there time together, because he would insist they go now. His mind was made up.

Would he have made a different decision if he had this information before? No, he was doing this out of love for them and a sense of an ending for himself. He had reached the end, they needed a beginning.

After the lengthy silence, he said with a heavy heart, “it gives me great joy to have the evidence that you love me so, children, but you must go. I am old and I have lived. You think there is opportunity at the end of this trip and adventure beyond it. Go and carve this out for yourselves. Leave me here with the memory of your parents. They would not want you to live out your lives with restraint and I would never forgive myself if I held you back.”

“But uncle,” they said in unison, “we can’t leave you here alone.”

“It was such unfortunate circumstances that lead to you two coming under my care. All in the past now, but you’ll never know how such an unfortunate event for us could end with me feeling so lucky. I got to raise both of you and be a father figure. Something I would have never done if your parents hadn’t died. From pain, joy. Not something that I would have thought possible. Here you two are though, proving that it is.”

Noemi and Jose were gobsmacked. Had Uncle Tito always thought they didn’t love him? They were ashamed that was the case. It was a quirk of the forced adoption dynamic. Uncle Tito thought they could never love him as they had their parents and the twins just wanted someone to love and be loved by. They always thought Uncle Tito was a begrudging participant.

Now they all sat in Jose’s cupboard of a bedroom in a stalemate of mutually stubborn love, not allowing either side to have their way.