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 #22 (A part of my novel)

Early next morning, on the distant hill overlooking Kiskadee village, the sound of a rooster was heard signaling the start to another day.

Merry, her face turned to the wall, used a hand to block a ray of sunlight coming in through a crack. Her eyes burned.  Heat rested on both her eyelids.  She saw red.

Her heart skipped for a moment, behind her was a hiss.  Then warm air flowed down her back.

She remained quiet for a while.  Her body stiffened; not an arm or a leg moved.  Her breathing slowed.

She smiled, “Hey!”  She knew that scent.

She massaged the back of her neck, and then pushed against the warm body.

“When did you get in, darling?”

“I, ah—.”

“I am so sorry, but,” she robbed her eyes, “I must have fallen asleep.  Did you find the dogs?” Merry muttered.

“They are fine; they may have wondered and gotten lost.”

“Oh, those poor things.”

“I got them back.”

“I know, but still.  Wondering around in that cold dark forest.”

“They are accustom Merry, they are hunters.”

“Well, I guess,” she said.  The concern didn’t leave her voice.

Last night, after he left, she reminded herself of why he had to leave.

“I found them a bit north east from here.  Came back home about three o’ clock this morning.”

“Wow, that was late.”

“Found you sitting at the table with your head in your hands, fast asleep.”

“I am so sorry, dear.”

“You had a long day Merry.”

Toney hugged his wife in bed.

Jason came into the room, “What’s for breakfast, mom?”  He bellowed, his forehead frowned

“Good morning Jason!”  Toney yelled, thumping at the wall close to his head.

“No, Toney.  He is our son and he is hungry.  Son, tell your father that you’re sorry!”

Toney placed both palms over his face and breath gently into them.

“I am sorry man, I mean dad,” Jason mumbled.

Toney waved his right hand to him, as if to say, you should leave the room now.

“I am coming son,” Merry made her way out of bed.  “I will make you and your father something to eat.”

Toney pulled at her arm as she climbed over him.  “Merry where are you  going?”

“I am out of here,” Jason wagged his head and made his way from before the bedroom door.

“Sweetheart, I should be up any way.”

He released her hand.  Flat on his back he laid facing the ceiling, “Go on.”

“Oh come on, don’t be like that.  Besides, we can get an early start on the day.”

“You mean get on with the decorations.”

She chuckled, “You know, I didn’t have that in my mind, but thanks for reminding me.”

“Yeah right, you, not remembering?”

“Anyway,” she togged at his wrist, “time for you to rise and shine yourself.”

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #19 (A part of my novel)

He looked at the watch around his wrist, one he had bought a few hours earlier.  “Well, its late people,” he said.  “Time to jump in bed, we had a very long day.”

His wife chuckled.  “Come on dear, no one is tired yet.”

“That’s not what those beautiful eyes are saying, I can see sleep all over that face.”

“One more minute, I need to make some more curtain rods.  Where are the rest of the strings I brought inside this evening?”

“I will go to a shop tomorrow morning and get some real curtain rods for you.  But now, sleep time.”  He made for a few feet away from her.

“Okay, I guess I can handle this some other time then.”

“I’ll be in soon, after feeding the dogs.”

“Jason, you heard your father, go wash up in the barrel outside and go to bed.”

Jason pretended to not hear his mother for a few seconds, but jumped to his feet as his father approached the door way.

***

“Here boys, it’s getting late.  Where are you?”  Toney called out to the two dogs.

Standing outside, the woods played him a festive song.  He felt a sense of newness, and purpose to his life.

Back on Dow Island, Toney had three dogs he used for hunting.  When he was about to leave, he sold the lead dog to another hunter.  He did not need it anymore.  But more so, he did not want to cripple it.  It was getting old, and knew the forest back on the island better.  It was the best hunting dog he ever had.

Buck was its name.

Buck was used to train the other two dogs, Vic and Blacks, who came on the journey.  Vic was the youngest, and always had to prove his spot in the pack.

Toney whistled loudly, piecing the cold air.  He expected his dogs to respond.  Yet, for several minutes, could hear nothing other than the forest creatures whistling back.

Some distance around, he saw a few houses.  There, light beamed from their windows, like eyes, but not enough to provide any help to him.

At that moment, under his breath, Toney reminded himself of the vow he made.  No one will be left behind to fend for themselves, and that included his dogs. These dogs were part of his family.

Many nights in the past, Toney’s dogs alerted him to dangers on the hunting trails.  Once, Blacks even placed himself between a venomous snake and his master.  Itself it offered as a sacrifice, so its master could escape death.  Remembering this, Toney went into the house, placed a slipper on his feet, took his machete out of the case and headed back to the front door.

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #13 (A part of my novel)

Now, the house was a wooden ‘L’ shaped structure with three rooms; two ten by twelve bedrooms and a ten by ten kitchen area.  The average size of most houses in the area.  The toilet and room for bathing was outside.  This too was the same for a number of other people in the neighborhood.  The community was simply designed, and the people had a view of not having too much bothered them.

                                   ***

Since Deo was gone for years and Sarah, at the time was still a baby, she shared the bedroom with her mother up to that point.  The other three girls shared the other bedroom.  Each night the girls enjoyed staying up late, talking to each other about hair styles, the eligible young men or clothing which they saw in old catalogs swapped with other girls in the village.  This night though was to be different.  Without the girl’s mother barking at them to go to bed, they willingly left the table for their respective rooms.

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #11 (A part of my novel)

As Deo sat in the kitchen, his mind tried to make sense of what his sight beheld.  The table in front of him seemed different to when he sat there the last time.  It appeared bigger.  Probably because of the size, when compared to the one he had in his prison cell.  Either way, it felt strange.  The six chairs around the table were worn and unsteady; their previous light brown colour had now taken on a dark grayish shade, lightened by the constant scrubbing and polishing.  From where he sat, he saw the kitchen sink propped up with two pieces of wood.  Wood Shelly must have fastened to keep the tattered stand from crumbling to the floor.  The kerosene stove was blackened and choked by the soot.  A shade highlighted on the few cooking pots, hanging from four inch nails, driven into the wooden wall.

 

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #9 (A part of my novel)

The evening was serene.  Deo now said just about three words to his wife, since walking through the door.  The children were quiet too, as if trying to make adjustments in their thinking.  Questions no doubt needed to be answered.  But who was going to start?  Was this even the right time for questions?  At least one thing was certain, there was a man named Deo Narine in the house that night.  Tomorrow, the village will have the chance to meet him.  For men like Deo, probably word was already being spread in the village.

 

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.