The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #28 (A part of my novel)

A year had almost gone by and Toney was doing quite well.  During the past few months, he was able to acquire sufficient money working at Mr. Chin, so that he was able to make renovations to the house.

Jason was now approaching eighteen; doing so in a couple weeks.  He still missed his old home back on Dow Island, but at least his complaining got less and less in the ear of his parents.

Merry too had settled in nicely in the village.  From time to time she stitched draperies and sold.  The village women really grew to love her designs.  With almost any type of material Merry got her hands on, she was able to make artistic miracles happen.

Village life was quiet.  A bit quieter than what the family were used to on Dow Island, but, all in all, the few month were excellent.

***

About 8:00 pm on Sunday, Mr. Chin and his two daughters had already gone to bed for the night.

Toney and Merry had also turned in.  Toney lay in his usual position on the bed.  His back rested slightly against the wall.  Merry’s head in his arms.  Her ear listened to each thump of his heart.  Like the swings of a pendulum, the sound sent her sailing to the world of sleep.

Jason had asked to stay out a bit later and trusting him, Toney agreed.

The breeze gently ruffled the trees outside.

As Toney lay in bed, he imagined the life he wanted for his family.  A life filled with peace and unity, a life with ease, a life which will have been difficult, had he stayed on Dow Island.  He knew his upbringing was not the ideal but at present, he had done all he could to bring a measure of happiness to his family and so far, he was managing to do this.

As he too began fading into sleep, he heard the howls of his dogs.  His eyes widened.  He knew the call of his dogs signals and knew how to listen between their calls.  They did not let up.

Toney knocked his fingers gently on the window sill above his head.  He was hopping not to wake his wife, who by now was fast asleep.  Yet, with the howling outside, Merry did not even budge.

In the distance he heard a faint crackle, and then a slightly louder one.  He found it strange, as beaming on the window ledge appeared a bright light.  It was a brilliant glow, one that he could not ignore.  For a moment, he thought to himself that he had left the lamp on in the kitchen, but the light was not coming from inside the house.

“Merry, Merry wake up, I smell smoke!”

“What’s that Toney, why do you need soap?”  Merry groaned as she wrestled to open her scarlet shot eyes.

Toney rolled her off his arms and pulled himself to a seating position.

“Light,” he said.

“I am tired love, come back to bed,” she protested.

As she said those words, Toney brushed aside the cotton curtains and pushed his head out of the window opening.  By then, he knelt on the bed next to Merry’s head.  His eyes, squinting, narrowing his vision; feverishly he tried to get a fix on the location of the disturbance.

The cool air that was evident during the early evening, was converted into a great furnace of gray smoke, churning among the trees.  The skies were a red and orange blanket.

The teak trees along the footpath leading to the main road, became ghostly figures, creatures seeking shelter, bending in one direction but not able to take cover.

“Fire, fire Merry, something is not right out in the trees!”  Toney shouted.

“What?  Where is Jason, Toney?”  Merry, fully coming to her senses.

“I’m not sure Merry, I am sure he is alright though,” Toney jumped over her and grabbed his jeans from the corner of the room where it hung on a nail driven in the wall.

She threw a shirt at Toney as he ran out of the bedroom towards the kitchen.  As he moved passed Jason’s bedroom, he looked in but his son was absent.  Merry ran after him but stopped short at the kitchen table, her heart racing.  Her fingers and toes, cold.  Toney forced opened the front door, breaking the handle in his haste.  In the confusion, he did not realize his shoes lay tucked neatly beside the kitchen sink; jumped down the flight of steps and into the night.

Hurriedly, he moved through the track leading from his house, to the main road.  The air, chocking.  His toes, like claws propelling himself through the air, they seem to barely touch the earth.  His arms flapped clumsily as he tried to gain his balance.  He stumbled out of the track and onto the stone road.  He then stopped in horror.

On the western side, just before the street took a sharp turn, he saw the terrifying flames.   He thought to himself, something must have ignited in Peter’s bar, and the presents of alcohol, fuel for the flames.

He made his way down the street, racing once more.

A sole man, running as fast as his legs could carry him.

But nearing the flames, he beheld he is not alone.  About fifty or sixty meters away, the street, filled with residence, buckets in hand.  But as they threw water on the raging beast, this only served to infuriate the creature further.  The damage was already done, the structure, gutted.

Toney moved closer to assist, however, as he came about forty feet of the commotion, he made a grimmer discovery.  For it was not Peter’s bar being consumed, but Mr. Chin’s grocery, the place of his employment.

Toney ran to the side of the structure.  A chain of residence about ninety or maybe one hundred strong, snaked their way to the river; which passed a little less than quarter mile off the main road.

Mr. Chin’s house was almost attached to the grocery, with just about five feet separating the two.  Toney joined the line and started passing buckets of water.

After about five minutes into his arrival though, efforts turned from, trying to save the grocery, which by now was lost, to saving the closest structure.  As the beast of fury showed signs of ending on the skeleton of the grocery store, the famished dragon turned its head to the house of Mr. Chin.

Thick smoke engulfed the house, attempting to blind all who will venture to predict which section of the house to guard.

A faint cough could be heard, emanating from within the belly of the dwelling, it is Mr. Chin, but he is all alone.  His two daughters Clara and Ping are missing.  As he struggled to burst through the front door of the house, he heard a voice shout at him.

“Move away from the door, Chin!”  Sharp and commanding the voice.

No sooner had Mr. Chin dropped to the floor, a loud smashing sound came.  It was Jameson, chopping into the cedar door relentlessly.  It was as if he had rehearsed these movements over and over in his mind, waiting for this night to test the agility of the ax.

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

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The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #27 (A part of my novel)

Inside, the two men went passed the other patrons and straight to the counter.  Only a few minutes had passed though.  But to Toney, he felt as if it was hours.  He was not the kind of man to sit still for any lengthy periods.  Being asked to sit still was like asking him to serve a lengthy prison sentence, for a crime he did not commit.

For those moments in the bar, he did sit; but rock back and forth, and tapped his fingers on his lap.  Then again, he was not much of a drinker.  So being in a bar was unnerving.

He felt the walls of the bar closing in on him.

The countertop, the only area of safety for him, a few times he rested his elbows on it; it sparkled.

The constant wiping on the countertop, by Peter, offered a welcoming distraction for Toney’s eyes.

The cream coloured walls, flaking, offered no beauty to the already dreary room.

It appeared, in every inch of the room, the mixture of sweat and liquor dancing violently in the air.  Toney’s stomach churned.  Glued to the countertop; he meandered his way in telling a bit about himself to Deo.

“Well, that is a little about me.  Nothing much too this man before you.  I am like a child in this place, brand new.”  Toney looked at the glass of whisky, twirling the last bit.

“I see…I see,” Deo shook his head, he too looked at the countertop.

“But, you have not really said much about yourself, who are you around here?”  Toney shrugged his shoulders.

Deo looked at Peter with a quick side glance.  Peter on the other side of the counter, with a white cotton cloth in his hand, had about six wine glasses in front of him.  Not in the conversation, but certainly close enough to hear the two men.  And maybe he did.  For as soon as he heard Toney’s question and got the glance from Deo, his countenance changed.

Peter moved away and tended to other customers.

Deo glanced at Toney, and then surveyed the bar on either side of his shoulders.  He appeared to look for something, something out of the ordinary.

Toney became concerned, but did not venture to speculate.

He waited for Deo to decide to answer, or at least process a response.

“Toney, all men are not build up equal,” Deo muttered in an undertone.  He peered into his glass of whisky, his eyes ferocious; more so than what it was outside a while ago.

“Okay.”

Deo gulped the last bit of the drink then continued, “Toney, I could sense you’re a good man, your heart, pure.  An adventurer, but your heart is pure.”  He gripped the glass closer in his fist.

“I am…”

“Over twelve years,” Deo bent his head back and closed his eyes, his breath is slow and deliberate; he dragged his words, “Toney, you tell me, what kind of man leaves his wife, his daughters, girls Toney, girls, and allows himself to go away!”

Toney bit down gently on his tongue, then attempted to fix himself on the bar stool, “Deo, you—”.

Deo interrupted him.  Toney acted surprised, but was relieved to not make a comment.  Really not knowing what he would have said.

“Toney, a ruthless man, I am a ruthless man!”  Not wanting to draw attention to himself, but apparently not realizing his strength, slammed the glass against the counter.

“Well, Deo…”

“That is okay Toney you could say it,” Deo jumped off the stool, stood, then pushed the glass away from him.

The two raised their heads recognizing Peter had moved closer to where they were.

“Deo, I think you had enough,” Peter said, as he reached for Deo’s glass.

Deo looked at the glass in Peters hand; he became pensive, hypnotized by something, “Yeah well…,” he mumbled.

Peter cleared his throat and turned to Toney’s glass.  Toney slid it to Peter’s reach, he too stood, frozen; waiting.

Then Peter spoke, “Ruthless men do not feel shame and guilt, but conscious men do.  You have returned, Deo, you are here now.  Shelly is happy, the girls are happy.  You have matured and I am sure that no one really treated you badly since your return.”

Deo bent his head, placed both hands in his pocket and turned away from Peter, leaving the bar.

Toney looked at Peter.  His both hands, palms opened, moved closer to his chest.  His eyebrow closed in to each other.

Peter though will have no curious question.  “And, please, am…,” he waved his finger.

“Toney.”

“Yes you, Toney.  Don’t ask me anything about the man’s past.  Just leave it alone.  No one around here wants to remember.  You hear me stranger?.”

Toney awkwardly moved the right side of his face.  He shook his head as a child being scolded for an unlawful act.

Peter attempted to walk away to attend too another customer, when Toney called out to him.  “Peter, I am looking for work, do you…, or do you know of anyone who needs someone to employ?  I am good with my hands.”

Peter stopped, held his hands over his mouth, then tilted his head as he close one eye. “Well I needed someone to help around here, but already contacted a person.  Actually, she is expected today, come to think of it, haven’t seen her yet though.”

Toney nodded and gave a little smiled.  “Well if you hear of any opportunities let me know,” he said and turned to leave the bar.

“Oh, wait,” Peter jerked his index finger in the air, signaling Toney.

“Yes,” Toney stopped, clasped his hands behind his back and bended slightly forward.

“You know, Mr. Chin Soo Chow asked me a few weeks back, if I knew any handy man.  At the time there weren’t any willing to take the job.  But I really didn’t hear him say anything about finding anyone.”

“Alright, I guessed that’s good news then.  I will check him out sometime this morning,” he smiled.

Urging Toney to go see Mr. Chin, right away, he waved his palms at him, then pointed, allowing Toney’s head to follow in the direction of his hands.  “He is next door, he owns the grocery store.”

“Nice, thanks.”

Toney, became spirited, thanked Peter and headed for the door.

A young, tall, gorgeously looking woman entered the bar, passing him on his way out, he nodded at her and proceeded to push the swinging doors and exited.

He brought his steps to a halt, turning.  Behind him he heard Peter vocalized something.  As he tiptoed over the swinging door, he saw Peter moved from behind the counter and stood in the middle of the walk way.

“Men, stop what you’re doing for a moment, and yes, Dennis that means you too,” Peter said.  He was quite assertive.  So much so, that every man in the bar stopped, raised his head and listened.  “Let me make this very clear—.”

But before Peter could continue, he was interrupted by Dennis.

“My goodness, Peter, who is that sweet girl?”  Dennis yelled, while he rose to his feet.

Some of the men chuckled.

Peter quickly made his voice overpowering once more, “Yes about this girl,” Peter suspended his words for a few seconds to glance in the direction of Dennis, “Dennis, I think you should remained standing, because when I am through with what I have to say, you will leave.  I will see you tomorrow, not today again but tomorrow, right!”

Dennis appeared to ignore Peter, pulling his stool closer to him to sit back down again.  The stool made a scraping noise against the rustic floor.

About twenty, or so, men were in the bar.  With horrid stares on their faces, they turned to look at Dennis.  His body arched to sit.

Peter’s toes itched to move in Dennis direction.

There was a silence, overshadowing the bar’s misty air.

Toney, still stationed at the door, heard an influencing tone from the other side of the bar.

“Dennis, you heard the man, we’ll see you tomorrow!”  The voice, assertive as well, but friendlier than Peter’s.

“That’s find Zig, I was leaving anyway,” Dennis responded.

Peter came back into the conversation, appearing to not be overly sidetracked by what had just happened.  “Now this is Candy, she’s my niece.  She’s now staying in the house just right around the bend, after the cemetery.  I think most of you will have remembered my older sister, Miss Joanna, who lived obliquely opposite the primary school.”

“Oh, yes man, I remember her, Miss Joanna, boy.  I for one sorry she gone,” Zig said nodding.

A few men chattered quietly among themselves about what Peter’s sister had taught them at school.

“She will be our waitress from today, she is to be respected and I ask that she shows each of you the same.  So are we are clear?”

Like a choir after the orchestra played the introductory piece, the men harmoniously bellowed, ‘yes’ to Peter’s request.

Peter now focused his attention on Candy.  He hugged her tightly, and kissed her on the forehead.

Dennis made his way out of the bar grumbling something to Toney as he brushed passed him.

Toney chuckled to himself.  Unto the streets, he entered the blazing sun and glorious light which emanated from the heavens, upon Kiskadee village.  As he walked in the direction of Mr. Chin’s grocery he squinted, trying to adjust his eyes to the brilliant light.  By now the sun was directly overhead.

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #23 (A part of my novel)

That morning, Merry made the family breakfast; eggs, cassava bake and cocoa tea.  After breakfast, she took the dishes away from the table and started sweeping the kitchen floor.  Jason returned to his bedroom.  Toney on the other hand, went to the corner of the kitchen for a pair of booths and headed into the yard.

From outside, Toney called out.  “Merry, I am going to take care of the dogs before heading out to look for work today.”

“That’s wonderful.  I’ll finish doing some unpacking in here.”  She smiled from the corner of her lips.

“I’ll see if I can get you some more rods for the curtains, while I am out today.”

“Yes, that will really be wonderful.  Thick, strong ones though.”

“I’ll see what they have.”

“Just make sure the quality is good.”

“I will take Jason with me, perhaps he might find some type of work he likes.”

“That’s a great idea, nothing to hard though, he is my one son.”

“The boy almost a man, he could more than do a little hard work.”

“Honey, please, it’s Jason we are talking about.”

“Maybe it’ll toughen him up some more.”

“Maybe, a cleaning job then.”

“We’ll see what they have when we go out there, we’ll see.”

The house was about three metres from the ground, on poles.  On one of the poles, Toney had the dogs tied with about seven feet of rope each.  In that way, the dogs could freely move around.  Back on Dow Island, they were not accustom being shackled.

Toney untied the two dogs, and went to the other side of the house.  Jason’s room rested just above his head.  He could hear his son ruffling through some bags, and assumed he too was unpacking.

He looked at the track leading from his home and into the distance, where is disappeared.  He kept his gaze there for several minutes.

“Toney,” Merry called out.

“Love?”

“No, I just didn’t hear you.”

“Haven’t left yet.”

“Okay, that’s fine,” she said.

“Vic, what did you get Blacks into?” Toney whispered, cleaning mud splatter on Blacks fur.  When he was through, he turned his attention to Vic.  He noticed Vic, who had walked around him by then, with something red on one of its front legs.  “Did you hurt yourself boy?”  Toney asked as if seeking to have an answer from Vic.

Merry placed her head through the opening of the kitchen window, “Don’t forget the curtain rods today, please.”

“No, I remembered,” he lifted his head.  He held the dog’s leg and examined it closely, “No, okay, it’s not yours!”

Toney stood up.  He placed both hands on his hips.  He looked at the dog’s fur, but there was something else he observed.  There was a smell on Vic, one that was not common to Toney.

“You said something to me?”

“No, no, just to the dogs.”

“Are they okay, love?”

“Yes, they are fine, just checking them out,” he said.  “Okay, you know what, let’s get you cleaned up.”

Toney washed the blood from the dog’s foot and returned them to a pole under the house.

He went to a barrel with water to the back of the house.  Using a small bucket, he dipped and poured on each hand.  He returned the small bucket to the barrel of water.  From his pocket he retrieved a piece of polyester cotton, material his wife tore form a ragged curtain and fashioned as a handkerchief.  Folding it in half, he vigorously dry his hands.  He had grown accustom using the sides of his pants to wipe his hands, soiling the area close to his pockets.  But after receiving a stern warning from his wife, he started making good use of the cloth given to him.

“Jason,” Toney called out, “join me outside, let’s go look for work.”

There was silence in Jason’s room.

“Son, your father is speaking to you.”

“Jason!”

“What?”

“Son, please, go outside and meet your father.”

“He could go without me.”

“Son please, right this minute, go and join your father.”

Jason came out of his room sulking.  His mother walked towards the front door.  Her son made his way into the yard.  His father had already set foot in the track.

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #14 (A part of my novel)

As Deo sat at the table, Shelly cleared the dishes, removing the children’s, then his.  He eased back into his chair, as if to allow her sufficient room to reach his plate, and then, just kept looking at her.  Shelly could not remember her husband being this quiet, but under the circumstances, she continued doing the same.

After a few more minutes, Deo sluggishly got up from the chair and made his way to a small wooden window in the kitchen; a window he recalled building just before his incarceration.  A gentle smile enveloped his face, as the nights air struck him.  Reaching into his pocket, he took out a pack of cigarettes and reached over to a box with matches near the kitchen sink.  He shook it, listening to the sticks crashing into each other.  He then placed a cigarette to his lips, lighted the match and leaned into it.  There was a silence, so much so that he could feel it in the air, heavy.  He looked from the corner of his eyes at his wife’s piercing gaze.  He recognized that much had changed since he was gone.  He blew the match out and crumpled the cigarette in his hand, but the pack he returned to his pants pocket.  He chewed on his thumb nail for a few seconds.  Deo looked at the thumb, while playing around with a piece of the nail in his mouth.  Then spitting it through the window, he scratched against his two day old beard.

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #4 (A part of my novel)

The family had not seen him for twelve and a half years, during the time of his incarceration.  All this time he spent on the islet of Centenery, about three hours from the main land.  From his family, he lived isolated.  Shelly had little means and could not travel freely to see him.  Also, the last place that anyone could end up was on Centenery.  The local fishermen preferred to venture out into the protected waters of the neighboring countries, than to veer in that direction.  But there a father and husband was.  Centenery was considered a curse.  And even Deo, as much as at times he longed for his family, this was not a place to come near. ………………….

 

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

 

The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #14 (A part of my novel)

As Deo sat at the table, Shelly cleared the dishes, removing the children’s, then his.  He eased back into his chair, as if to allow her sufficient room to reach his plate, and then, just kept looking at her.  Shelly could not remember her husband being this quiet, but under the circumstances, she continued doing the same.

After a few more minutes, Deo sluggishly got up from the chair and made his way to a small wooden window in the kitchen; a window he recalled building just before his incarceration.  A gentle smile enveloped his face, as the nights air struck him.  Reaching into his pocket, he took out a pack of cigarettes and reached over to a box with matches near the kitchen sink.  He shook it, listening to the sticks crashing into each other.  He then placed a cigarette to his lips, lighted the match and leaned into it.  There was a silence, so much so that he could feel it in the air, heavy.  He looked from the corner of his eyes at his wife’s piercing gaze.  He recognized that much had changed since he was gone.  He blew the match out and crumpled the cigarette in his hand, but the pack he returned to his pants pocket.  He chewed on his thumb nail for a few seconds.  Deo looked at the thumb, while playing around with a piece of the nail in his mouth.  Then spitting it through the window, he scratched against his two day old beard.

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #4 (A part of my novel)

The family had not seen him for twelve and a half years, during the time of his incarceration.  All this time he spent on the islet of Centenery, about three hours from the main land.  From his family, he lived isolated.  Shelly had little means and could not travel freely to see him.  Also, the last place that anyone could end up was on Centenery.  The local fishermen preferred to venture out into the protected waters of the neighboring countries, than to veer in that direction.  But there a father and husband was.  Centenery was considered a curse.  And even Deo, as much as at times he longed for his family, this was not a place to come near. ………………….

 

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.