Shades of Hemingway / Deja’ Voodoo – Part 11, From the Back End of Beyond

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

*

And then a strange thing happened. Not that talking to a ghost no matter how often you do it doesn’t seem strange. But in the weeks that I had been associated with the spirits, this was something that I had not witnessed before. Hem, the shade of Hemingway that was the representative of his age at mid-life, where he had achieved his international celebrity began to morph into Papa. This was the Hemingway at the twilight of his years on earth, the image of his most reflective self.

“Best not to utter that name to Lord Cristobal, Chris. I doubt he’d receive it or you too kindly.”

After witnessing such a transformation from the back end of beyond I was temporarily awestruck. My meetings with the spirits were generally not as theatrical. As a matter of fact, they seemed no less than normal had I been chatting with a neighbor. Papa’s reassuring countenance helped me quickly regain my composure. Papa raised his hand and touched his nose, a gesture that recalled the antics of St. Nick inThe Night Before Christmas.

“But take heart… you may be on to something.”

“Papa?”

“Hello, Chris.”

I had not spoken with Papa Hemingway since we had last met at the public library in Key West. It was there that he told me of the kyklos tod mene’ and warned that I might be it’s next victim. In all the excitement of coming to Cuba to try and rescue Rachel I had almost forgotten about him.

“Am I glad to see you!”

Papa seemed genuinely warmed by the fact that I expressed my relief and optimism at meeting him once again. He sat at the desk that Hem had occupied only moments before and looked regal, poised and reassuring. He smiled that grandfatherly smile of his and my heart’s rapid percussion seemed to ease a little.

“It is good to see you again, Chris. Sorry I had to materialize in such a fashion but I haven’t been available much of late. Tell me about your progress, how are things going?”

“Whoa… Papa! This is a tough nut to crack! I keep getting in deeper and become more confused with each step I take! And now I see this man in the picture with Rosetta? How could this be? I had no idea what was going on around me with this guy. Now I find out he is involved with this Lord Cristobal? And Lord Cristobal is your godson? When did all this happen? And what about Rachel? Am I to presume that one leads to the other?”

“Easy, Chris… all in good time. The association between that man and Lord Cristobal is a fragile alliance at best. How did that relationship begin? As usual, one is in it for the money and prestige, of course. The other wants his control and influence to spread. Originally each saw the collaboration as a means of furthering their individual goals. But it is not that solid of an arrangement now.”

“And finding Rachel, Papa. How do I find her if not by using this guy’s influence? I need some way in to see Lord Cristobal or they’ll turn me away at the gates.”

“Well, Chris… you can’t just march up and accuse someone like Lord Cristobal of kidnaping. What would you say even if you could get in to see him? ‘Hello, I’d like my girlfriend back?'”

“I haven’t worked it out that far, I’m afraid. I figured having a name as a calling card might open up some doors. I was going to ad-lib the rest.”

.
“Listen and believe me. Ad-libbing can get you killed, especially if you go up and announce yourself uninvited. Your friend’s dabbling with the practices of the Santeria faithful has gotten their babalaos very upset.”

“This forced suicide thing Hem was speaking of? That is based in the Santeria practice?”

“Exactly. The cycle of the death moon is more a condition than an adversary, Chris. Humans are at their most vulnerable state and easily influenced by the kyklos tod mene’. I’m sorry I couldn’t make that distinction clearer to you before now.”

“Wait a minute! What about exposing the killer, Robert Jordan and possibly Rosetta’s? I presumed them to be one and the same. I mean, I figured it was… he was…”

“A person, place or thing? I’m afraid that was your own conclusion, Chris.”

“Meaning that this exposure business that I have undertaken is about a condition, not a perpetrator?”

“Well… there are certain elements of human influence that agitate the kyklos tod mene’, Chris. Methods to direct it’s desired effect, ways to accelerate it’s potential outcome. This is one of the tools used by the babalaos, or his progeny, to punish an enemy. But the ‘killer’ you are to expose is more diabolical than the cycle of the death moon in itself. It just isn’t as easily resolved as walking up and pointing him out.”

“Sheesh, you didn’t leave much else to go on beings everything helpful seemed ‘out of bounds’.”

“There is such a thing as a need to know. What you will need… you will know.”

“Okay, what about this being Lord Cristobal’s godfather? I didn’t need to know about that? Just whose son is he, anyway?”

“My guide, Tenete’s. His relatives christened his son ‘Miller’ and asked that I return with him to Cuba after Tenete’ had been mauled to death by a lion while we were on safari.”

“Miller?”

“My middle name, Chris. I was named after my grandfather on my mother’s side, Ernest Miller Hall. Tenete’s Miller came to Cuba with me and when he grew older took the name ‘Cristobal’ after the cathedral in Havana. Later he searched out his ancestry and took to the Santeria faith, progressing rapidly to the rank of babalaos.”

“What does this have to do with my friend, Keith?”

Naty looked up at me, her eyes moist with tears. I had spoken the name out loud standing there in her living room. Naty was in anguish, that was plain to see. But it had more to do with my discovery of who the culprit in the photograph was than what the outcome had been. Her sister had taken her own life, but the reason given earlier was because she had been rejected and another woman had been chosen to take her place. That other woman, as it turned out after a long and tearful confession, had been Naty.

I tried to recall my first meeting with Keith, long before that fateful first trip to Key West. I had made the habit of visiting a local coffee shop in the early morning hours on my way to work. Keith would occasion the place and we would acknowledge each other politely as ‘regulars’ and go about our business. One day as Keith was reading the paper he asked me a question.

“Have you been following the news on these Cuban refugees washed up over on Sanibel Island?”

I had been. Our area on the S.W. corner of Florida was still regarded as a sleepy little retirement community. All the newsworthy things happened over on the east coast. Even Hurricane Andrew managed to pass us by to the south. So this refugee news was international, CNN stuff placed right at out back door.

“Yeah,” I replied, more interested in the sports section than the local news or world affairs, but I was polite. Keith and I had made comments back and forth in the past, but nothing real substantial… until now. “What a thing to have happen, right?”

Keith let his paper drop to the table. “How do you feel about them coming here?”

I hadn’t really thought about it before. Florida gets reports of Cuban refugees arriving fairly often, those that are fortunate enough to make it to land. More often than not we heard of the Coast Guard turning away the rickety crafts that the hopeful bind together and make the 90 mile trek with.

“I can’t say as I blame them.” I said, finally setting my sports report aside and looking squarely over at Keith sitting a few empty tables away. “I imagine if I lived in a country like that under the thumb of a cruel dictator I’d want to get away to a better place, too.”

“I’ll bet it has those rich folks over on Sanibel singing a different tune.”

“Oh? How so?”

“You know that everyone that moves over there wants to be the last one, don’t you? Once they have their little piece of paradise they want to close the causeway down to keep anyone else from coming over.”

“Really, you think so?”

“Oh yeah, the ones that complain the loudest about the overcrowding and the pollution are the new arrivals. I call them the NMIs, ‘new money islanders.’ Now that they’ve achieved that status of living on Sanibel or even better yet, Captiva, they don’t want the riff raff coming over and spoiling it for them.”

“You think these people from Cuba are ‘riff raff’?”

“I don’t, THEY do!”

“Yeah, well… I feel badly for them. Like I said, you can’t blame people for wanting a little piece of paradise, too. I think that we as a so called ‘Christian Nation’ ought to be more concerned about the plight of these poor immigrants that through no choice of their own have come to be suppressed by the likes of Castro.”

“Now you’re making it a moral issue.”

“It is a moral issue, we have plenty… like you say about the ‘new money islanders.’ They have plenty. Why should they worry if the lower class want to bask in the same sun they do?”

“There’s more to it than spending the day on the beach. I think you know better than that.”

“All I know is that if I were living in poverty without hope because of some cruel dictator I would hope that someone would be willing to stand up to him and end his regime.”

Keith looks at me with a devilish grin, like he had stirred up the pot and all the heads have come bubbling to the surface.

“Who says he’s cruel?”

“What?”

“Castro, how do you know he’s a cruel dictator?”

“It’s in the news! People that have left tell us what is going on over there!”

“They only tell you what they want you to know, you realize that right?”

“How do you mean?”

“The government they had before wasn’t all that great. Besides, we were only interested in Cuba for our own gain, not for the liberty of it’s people. American interests, that’s the bottom line. Castro dared to defy us, that’s his crime.”

“I suppose there is some politicking in there.”

“You KNOW there is. Besides, one man’s dictator is another man’s liberator, it’s all in how you look at it.”

The conversation is veering off into a direction I’m not that familiar with but Keith was just getting warmed up.

“Here’s a moral issue for you. Imagine you were someone that could profit off another person’s misery while at the same time rendering them a service. Would you still provide that service?”

“You mean like selling booze to an alcoholic?”

“Kinda sorta. You had nothing to do with that person’s choices, had no control over conditions or locations or politics. But you could make money by providing them a service even if it seemed a little unethical by some people’s standards. Would you do it?”

“By providing them this service, would it help in making them better? Would it lead to a cure for the condition they found themselves in? Not like putting fuel to the fire, or giving them more poison to slowly kill themselves with?”

“Let’s just say it could give them the opportunity for a better life, if they took advantage of it.”

“Then… yeah, I probably would have a clear conscience about doing it, why not?”

“Hmm… that’s very interesting. Given that, how do you feel about the guy that brought the boat and dumped those refugees off over on Sanibel Island?”

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One Response to “Shades of Hemingway / Deja’ Voodoo – Part 11, From the Back End of Beyond”

  1. chirchi965 Says:

    Hi,

    Been away from wordpress for the longest time….kept shutting down on me :S, argh i missed so much…I am gonna read the story now..

    take care
    Agila

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