Shades of Hemingway / Deja’ Voodoo – Part 10, the Lord Giveth Away

Author’s note: This is a continuation of a series. For more information see, Shades of Hemingway and Shades of Hemingway / Medium Exposure.

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“I have to see Lord Cristobal now!”

Naty, Miriam and the children have just returned from the open market. I was so convinced that I had to depart immediately that I put my clothes back on even though they were still damp.

“Chris, what has happened?” Naty is startled at my abruptness.

” I have to see him right away, Naty. He knows where Rachel is, I am sure of it now.”

“Chris, even if he did have her or know where she was, you don’t just march up to the La Casa Vinales de Eden and demand to see Lord Cristobal. It just isn’t done.”

“It is when you are referred by someone, Naty. That is how I’ll get in there and speak with Lord Cristobal by saying I was sent to see him.”

Naty crosses her arms in front of her chest, resisting my logic. “And just who has referred you all of a sudden?”

Over looking my self-incrimination of wandering through her personal items while she was gone I go into her bedroom and grab the picture with the smiling woman. Naty follows in behind me and gasps as I pick up the photograph.

“That is my sister, Rosetta!” She exclaimed, also overlooking my rude behavior. “You’re going to say she referred you to Lord Cristobal’s villa, Chris? She has been dead over a year now!”

The gears are starting to grind. Of course this was Naty’s sister, it all made sense now. Connect the dots… just as Hem had said.

“I’m not going to say Rosetta has sent me, Naty. It is this man,” and I tap the face in the background, “he will get me in.”

Naty snatches the picture out of my hand. She is suspicious of me now and for good reason, as I am about to find out.

“This man? How do you know this man?” She is holding back her anger and/or fear but is just a decibel below screaming at me. Her face has turned near hysterical. With lips quivering tense emotion her darting eyes penetrate past my exterior skin and search my soul for credibility. By then Miriam has followed behind us and is also looking at me in disbelief.

“Mr. Fiore,” Miriam begins, “this is not a good man. It is because of him that Rosetta is dead.”

Now I am more intrigued and also having my own share of wonderment.

“This man is the father of her children?”

“Yes… this man is very dangerous.”

“Not only that,” adds Naty, “if you know him we must assume you are dangerous, too, and not to be trusted! Who are you and why are you here?”

“But I’ve told you why I am here.”

“You did not tell us that you knew this man!”

“Naty, how could’ve I? I didn’t make the connection until now… after seeing this picture.”

Naty puts the photo back on the dresser, leaving her hand hold it for a moment while it rests there. She slowly starts to calm down, breathing a sigh.

“I keep this picture as a reminder of my sister brought to such a tragic end by this man condoned and abetted by Lord Cristobal. He has used the teachings of the Santeria and the influence of the babalaos to get away with murder. Each time I look at it I swear my family’s revenge.”

“Naty, I thought your sister killed herself…”

Naty raises her hand to cover her mouth then walks out of the bedroom sobbing, followed by myself and Miriam. She falls onto the sofa in the small living room and Miriam finds a seat on the edge to comfort her. I stand once again looking at pictures of people I do not recognize then scan the bookcase, trying to ignore Naty’s sobs and the soothing coos of Miriam struggling to console her. It is then that I see the binding that I had overlooked earlier while trying to entertain myself during their absence. It is the only book written in English, tucked down towards the bottom, easily blending and fading into the fabric of the other books more aesthetically pleasing. I step over and pull the book out… Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway.

“Know this, Sport… nothing’s as you suppose…”

Hem is still propping his argyle socked feet back on his desk. I have opened the book and am looking down at it’s dedication. ” A mi amigo bueno Juan Revuelta despue’s de que agana’ramos el “grande.” Muchas gracias, Ernesto.”

“What does this mean?” I ask, standing dumbfounded before the apparition whose fantasy only moments earlier had been the wearing of a new pair of socks daily.

“To my good friend, Juan Revuelta, after we caught the ‘big’ one. Many thanks, Ernesto” He states with a shrug, “Or some variation thereof. He was the only Juan that got away with calling me ‘Ernesto” because I knew he was using it as a measure of respect.” Hem smiled at his little joke.

” I mean, WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS MEAN? “My good friend, Juan Revuelta?’ Why didn’t you tell me you knew the Revueltas?”

Hem seems a bit put off by my loud tone, but he quickly acquiesced.

“Juan was a friend of Goyo, the captain and caretaker of my boat, Pilar. He’d go out fishing with us on occasion… prior to the Revolution, of course.”

“But you didn’t say anything of Juan or his family at the La Floridita… and what the Hell is a ‘Goyo’?”

“Goyo is what he goes by, the entire island knows him by Goyo. His full name is Gregorio. Gregorio Fuentes is the best fisherman in all the Caribbean!”

.
“Okay… it still doesn’t explain why you didn’t tell me about the Revueltas.”

“Why should’ve I? What was going to develop would take place in the normal course of time, Sport. You know certain revelations are out of bounds for me to disclose. I can only steer things by having YOU make the choices. Besides, what difference does it make now? You’re on your way to finding Rachel… right?”

“I need some answers.” I snapped the book closed and tossed it on his desk.

“What kind of answers?”

“There’s a connection, there’s gotta be.”

“What kind of a connection?” Hem was playing it all wide eyed and innocent.

“Between you and this Lord Cristobal! There’s some link… some common denominator that I’m tiptoein’ around but can’t quite put my finger on! There’s more to this than your interest in having me expose Officer Jordan’s killer. I mean , why would you care? Why would you waste your time and mine? Except you have all the time in the world, right? Well, I don’t! This is some fun for you, right? Some ghostly perversion? Get the mortal to run around in circles and become all discombobulated? I have a life… HAD a life! And now this picture of Naty’s sister, Rosetta! You’ve got to tell me what is going on. RIGHT NOW!”

Hem sits there in his high backed chair and rocks it a little, back and forth, staring at me with a fixed little smirk on his face while I am thrashing my arms about pacing in animated fashion. Suddenly I begin to wonder if getting agitated at him was such a good idea. I could imagine all sorts of unpleasantness caused by an enraged poltergeist. Had I gotten just a bit too carried away?

Finally Hem draws his legs in and sits up, resting his arms on the desk top and folding his hands formally before him. I have initially calmed down and stopped before him, standing with my fists on my hips as Hem looks up at me with his crinkled brow. Then he nods.

“I knew you were a bright boy, Chris… knew it when I first laid eyes on ya.”

It was the first time I could recall Hem addressing me by name. There was an ease in his manner but a solemness I was not accustomed to. This was not coming from the more forceful and cavalier personification of the shades of Hemingway. Before he seemed amused and condescending towards me, almost appearing gleeful at my chagrin at being twisted about since I embarked on this quest of theirs. But now Hem was reflective. He continued nodding as if affirming what he had to say while he said it.

“And you’re right, it’s time you knew everything. Before it wouldn’t have mattered and might have hindered you. But if we’re going to proceed it may be helpful for you to know. Lord Cristobal is… my godson.”

“Whaaat?”

“My godson. Lord Cristobal is the son of my Nigerian guide, Tenete’.”

“The man carving the ivory shoehorn?”

“Precisely. Cuba has ancestors linked to the African nations as well as the Europeans. Much of the religious practices here are traced back there. A blend of Spanish Catholicism and that ol’ black magic.”

“And the kyklos todd mene’ I’m supposed to be wary of? The killer that is influenced by the ‘cycle of the death moon’ that Papa warned me about? What’s become of him?”

“Yes, well… we don’t wanna forget him, do we? Not that you could now that you think you’ve got it all figured out’ Are you familiar with the term, ‘a forced suicide’?”

I have calmed down by now… way down. I sit opposite Hem intrigued. For the first time since I’ve met him, Hem seems to be less abrasive and more persuasive towards my intellect. We are approaching middle ground where I am feeling like an equal, albeit… momentarily.

“You mean like the shoguns who lost face and killed themselves because they felt they had dishonored their emperor?”

“That’s it in principle.”

“Yeah, sure… I know what you mean. People losing hope and ending it all rather than face the humiliation of the consequences of their actions.”

Hem looks at me coolly, leans back in the high back chair and begins drumming his fingers on the desk.

“Or perhaps not…” Hem begins, his tone full of foreboding, “there are circumstances we are put into physically… emotionally, that the mind cannot cope with. Sometimes with just the right prodding, the correct amount of urging or power of suggestion… ” His voice trails off.

I sit there and begin to grow more inquisitive, remembering a snide remark Hem had just made.

“What do you mean I think I have it all figured out? I know who is in the picture with Rosetta.”

Hem begins the slight rocking again looking like his old self, gleefully witnessing my misguided confidence.

“Tell us who you imagine it is…”

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