Republic of Haiti, 1967
We were doing a routine patrol in the region. While my comrades were all singing our nation’s heart warming anthem, my stomach was hurting badly. I don’t know if it was the bumpy ride but whatever the cause was it damn sure was trying to make a volcano erupt out of my stomach. They say that a good long look at a natural landscape will relax the body and the soul. However, this doesn’t work if your father forced you as a child to align yourself with a group of merciless murderers whose sole objective is to keep Le Prezidan in his good praises.
We are known as the Milice de Volontaires de la Sécurité National. But because of our violent ways toward the inhabitants, we’re simply known as the Tonton Macoute. Our job is to rain terror on those who dare to speak out against Le Prezidan Francois Duvalier. Besides myself being a member, my big brother Gaston, is as well. He and I might have the same blood but his is satanic acid compared to mine.
Not that long ago he and I were making rounds in the neighborhood of Turgeau which is the location of the College Mixte Philadelphie - Dantès Bellegarde. Everyday after school teens would enjoy the rest of the sunny afternoon and go see their favorite John Wayne films. I went to the restaurant to grab some casse-croûte while my brother was waiting close by. The second I made my way out, a girl was yelling and everybody was running away for their lives. I looked around and there was Gaston just finishing slashing open the throat of some poor boy. The crimson colored substance was everywhere even on his hands but he could care less about the bloody mess. For him it was all about not being made fun of…
“Piece of trash!” He said.
I dropped everything and rushed over to him. “What the hell man?” I told him directly in his face. He pushes me away with his blood dripping hands and says; “Those light skinned Negros… just because they’re on a high educated plateau it gives them the right to ridicule the rest below them.” The boy was already dead once I had arrived. Besides his blood being everywhere on the ground, so was his school books. “What did he tell you?” I reasonably asked him. “Something that made me look stupid.” He said. In my mind, I truly saw the reason why he killed that boy. His prideful and distasteful ignorance was put in its place by someone who had great knowledge and was not afraid to use it. My brother had nothing in his head to defend himself against that so, out of sinister rage, he did what our father taught him to do. And not to forget, that boy’s skin color was brown tan. The Tonton Macoute has a deep hatred over that colored population.
“Where’s my soda?” he said as if nothing significant just happened. He picked up the beverage and began drinking it. Meanwhile, I was observing the lifeless body and especially the books and I noticed he had the Without Family novel. That’s a book I’ve always dreamed to read. Out of nowhere a can hits me in the back of my head probably my brother trying to grab my attention. “Let’s carve it up some more and put it on display” he directly told me. “His dead body would look perfect on the school’s front building. What do you think?”
“I think I’m going to vomit…” I grunted out while I tightly held on to my stomach.
“Tell them to pull over right now.” I desperately said.
Honest to heart, this damn ride is going to be the end of me if I don’t get the fuck off. The truck stopped, I stumbled out, ran to the tobacco plantation fields and puked until I felt completely hollow inside.
What is my mission here? Why was I birthed to this world only to cause misery? Is this truly my destiny to be a monster like my father and brother? If it’s the way is going to be then I don’t want any part of this. I’m alone in the darkness sitting on the edge of my uncomfortable bed with my dad’s revolver pistol in my hand. I spin and spin the barrel in hopes that bullet connects to the hole. While spinning it my conscience was telling me over and over…
“Isn’t it fun that you’re excited to die?”
It’s whatever at least I’ll finally be reunited with my mom. A deadly illness that we unfortunately couldn’t afford to treat took her life too soon. Well, if I’m going to do this might as well do it while the brother is gone partying and my father passed out in his bedroom with a prostitute. I slowly pull the gun toward the right temple of my head and closed my eyes. Adieu et a la prochaine…
Why am I still wandering in the shadows?
Why can’t I see the light at the end of this tunnel?
Last but not least why am I not dead?
I reopened my eyes and looked directly at my nightstand next to me and there was that book written by Hector Malot. While my brother was dragging the corpse, I took it upon myself to grab it and hide in my pocket. After reading the first couple pages of that book, the main character and I which oddly cherished the same name of Remi, share a lot more in common when it comes to infinite hardships in a young life. But his story is less gruesome than mine.
He was abandoned as a baby and when he turned 8 years-old, he we was sold off by his deadbeat foster father to a traveling musician. The musician along with three dogs and a monkey traveled around the region of France entertaining the villagers with their enchanting performances. Even though this musician was a complete stranger to the boy, he cared and loved him as if he was his own son. While time would pass by and the two would travel from town to town Remi, looked up to him like a father he never had.
Some good hearted tales can become darkly tragic as you keep turning the pages…
The musician was jailed and Remi, was on his own with his fellow companions. Fortunately, the musician was shortly released from prison and reunited with the boy.
Meanwhile on their journey…
Through a devastating snowstorm in the woods on their way to Paris, two of the three dogs were eaten alive by a vicious pack of wolves and the poor monkey caught pneumonia. Remi and the musician gave the ultimate performance of their lifetime to raise money for the operation but it was little too late. While he needed to go away and train new animals, the musician decided to leave Remi with a Padrone which is a man who kept a group of boys sold by their poverty-stricken parent who worked for him.
I personally know some people who do the same for both abandon boys and girls however they’re saints compared to this monster…
After two horrible hours of witnessing how the Padrone was beating, starving, abusing and enslaving the boys, the musician quickly took Remi out of that place and never to return again. During those two hours Remi made a new friend in Mattia.
No good deed goes unpunished…
That night unable to find a place to stay, the musician and Remi collapsed during the snowstorm under some fence. At that moment, the musician who was by all means pure hearted died while saving his boy. Fortunately, Remi was rescued by a group of good people but like a fragile vase that fell on the floor, he was shattered in a million pieces once he received the news of his mentor.
All that was left now from the gang was Remi, and the white greyhound that survived the wolf pack attack.
In order to find out the true identity of the musician, a policeman escorted Remi right back to the Padrone. He revealed that the lonesome traveling musician used to be the famous Italian singer Carlo Balzani. As he grow older, his voice rusted and he was deeply ashamed of this that he decided to disappear for good. He eventually changed his identity to Vitalis, the traveling musician.
The book ends with Remi ending up joining the people that rescued him and working for them in their garden. During his stay there he falls for a mute girl named Lise. But tragedy strike again with a terrible hailstorm. It ruined the glass in the greenhouse and the owner was sent to debt jail for not being capable of paying. The children were sent to uncles and aunts while Remi was left alone with his dog traveling the big roads once again.
The good thing about this book, it’s only volume one. Hope and salvation is not dead just yet.
“Time to wake up! Common let’s go! We have an important mission to do before sunrise so get ready.” my loudmouth father said before leaving our room.
Gaston was passed out on the floor after partying hard the night before and as for me, a book made me change my mind about blowing my brains out. I didn’t know the exact time but by looking at how the sky was mauve dark, the roads were deserted and the dominant silence in the neighborhood, my good guess is it’s early in the mourning. My dad was driving the jeep almost at the speed limit on the crumbling road while my brother and I were barely holding on to everything. We drove through Rue Bonne Foi and made a couple of corner turns. We finally ended up stopping near a home in South Port-au-Prince. While we walked toward the home a huge gate was blocking our entry. So like a bunch of athletic street cats, we climbed up the gate and jumped over. The family’s dog begun barking like crazy but my father wouldn’t have any of it.
A cold blooded killer that he is, he simply gunned down the dog.
With an obvious reaction, the man of the house rushed out to protect his family but my brother was right behind to knock him down. My brother then pulls him on his knees and punches him repeatedly. Meanwhile, I was ordered by father to go inside the house trash everything and drag every living creature out. I entered and went toward the bedroom. The door was locked so I busted the door down with a hard kick. With tears of fears and worries raining down all over their faces, the mother and daughter were clustered in the corner with their only hope that they don’t get killed…
“Please I beg of you… do not harm us.” said the mother
I took out my machete and responded “Shut your mouth and get outside!”
The mother was first in line followed by her daughter. The daughter was walking extremely slowly so out of impatience, I poked her on her back with the machete. She flinched but didn’t say a word. All three family members were on their knees with their hands tied up behind their backs. Gaston shortly filled me in of why we’re supposed to execute this family; the father is a well known professor and journalist who on several occasions has written articles critiquing Le Prezidan’s politics incompetence.
“Any last words?” said my father?
The professor remained calm with his head held high in the heavens and said…
“To my dear family, I forever will love you all… L’union fait la force, but to him this has no significant meaning. He doesn’t care about this nation or its people. In truth, what only matters to Le Prezidan, is absolute domination and corruption over the poor and vulnerable souls like you. He has no compassion for human kind, this man is a genocidal monster and I will pray that you realize it.”
I felt a huge surge of a powerful and unexplained source going trough my entire body the moment he said “I will pray that you realize it.” He locked his eyes to mine when he said this. I strongly doubt it was a mere coincidence. Nevertheless, my father thought otherwise.
“Well until then…” My father told him before putting three bullets in his head.
The mother screamed and immediately leaned over her husband body but Gaston, stopped her in tracks, pulled her by the hair and slashed her throat. Witnessing her parent savagely been murdered in front of her, the daughter simply fainted on the ground with the never ending tears running down her face. I took a look at my machete and at this girl. It was my turn to kill. This unexplained source inside was making me reluctant to go through with it. I could feel father’s impatience breathing down my neck. “This girl has nothing to live for now. Hurry up and do it.” I never killed before. In fact up until now all I did was only assist in dismembering the corpses and decorating them for the innocent to watch. My family is encouraging me to continue this tradition of murdering without reason, but I can’t. I’m not a monster and never will be.
“I won’t.” I said before dropping my machete.
“You better tell me why or else you’ll be aligned with those bodies” my father coldly said.
“I want to give her some last pleasure…” I said to my father while looking in his eyes.
He took a brief long moment to think about it and said…
“Make sure your dick is the last thing she ever sees.”
My brother dragged the dead bodies to the vehicle and my father got in the driver seat. He give me a long cold stair, nodded his head and drove off.
I walked toward the girl and she was still unconscious. I pulled her up by the elbow and dragged her back inside the house, back in her bedroom. I looked at her almost lifeless body and told myself; “What now?” Seriously, what to do now? Maybe I should grab her belongings first and hopefully by then a good plan will come along. I’ve grabbed every important thing that I could and put them all in a burlap sac. For transportation, I’ll have to cross the street and borrow the bicycle with the trailer behind it. Knowing my father, he’ll comeback at any given moment to finish her off. How can I save this girl without having my father, Gaston or any member of the Macoute suspecting a thing?
That’s it… The Macoute are dirty savages. Might as well use what I’ve learned from them.
Alright, everything is set the girl and all of her belongings are in the trailer now on to the last part. I’ve thrown a flamed lit bottle at the window and watch the house slowly burn down along with the family’s most cherished memories. I then got on the bicycle and ride away.
To be continued…