Blahdy blah, same place as before. July 10th, 1990:
Jonathan’s life at the orphanage was enjoyable. There was nothing wrong with it, nothing that he wanted to change. Everything he needed he had and there was nothing that he could think of that he needed, besides more books.
He loved to read. Whenever he had a free moment he would curl up somewhere in the church, where it was normally always cool and quiet, and just read. Reading was where he learnt everything. He learnt to write by reading, and by age nine he could write better than most of the children in the village.
And he loved to talk. Well, not really talk, but talk without speaking. Talk with the use of pen and paper. If there was someone next to him he would bring out his pad and write a note saying ‘hello’. A lot of the time the person next to him would pay him no attention, and if that happened, he would just put away his pad and pen and let it be. If they didn’t want to talk, that was fine.
He was at the moment sitting in the church reading one of the books that Doctor Faloni had brought for him. He liked Doctor Faloni, who would always drop by whenever he had a spare moment and see how Jonathan was doing and ask what he’d been up to.
He was just in the middle of an exciting part of the story when there was a knock upon the doors of the church. It was just a single knock, and then there was another shortly after, like the person knocking wasn’t sure if they should be knocking.
From his seat at the front of the church, near where it reached the stage, he watched as Father Demetre walked to the door, taking his time. It looked like he was battling with himself if it would do him good to answer it. It was kind of silly to Jonathan, if there was somebody at the door, you should answer it. He turned back to his book; it was more interesting than somebody knocking on the door.
Jonathan had been right though. Father Demetre had been battling with himself about whether or not it would do him good to answer the door. He knew it was silly to think that, no-one ever knocked on the door if they didn’t want something that he couldn’t give. Some advice desperately needed? A place to stay for the night, food and drink, a book he could lend? Those were just some of the things he could do.
Finally when the knocking had started up again after a long break, Father Demetre reached the door and opened it. The man that stood before him on the steps was large, not overly large, and Demetre didn’t think that it was fat that made him large. The man held a red and white cap in his hands which he twisted nervously round in a circle; he had a big moustache and bushy eyebrows which seemed to hide his eyes.
The man took a step back and did a sort of half bow when the door was opened.
‘Sir, uh, Father,’ he said, recognising the robe and the white strip around Father Demetre’s neck. The man had a deep American accent and his voice positively rumbled.
‘What can I do for you, my son?’ inquired Demetre; he was taken aback by the large man before him. What could he do for this man? Demetre knew English, it was important to in his line of work. All sorts came to him and it was always good to be able to talk to them in English. Almost everyone spoke English in the village, so he was glad that he had taken the lessons.
‘I heard the, uh, orphanage is here?’ the man's voice rumbled.
‘Um, yes, it is here,’ replied Demetre, now worried. No-one ever came asking for the orphanage, especially strangers. ‘May I ask why you are interested?
‘I’d like ta adopt a child. I have all the necessary paperwork in here,’ the man said, holding up a briefcase that had Demetre hadn’t noticed before; he couldn’t take his eyes off the man’s size.
‘Uh,’ Demetre replied in shock. No-one ever came with the intention to adopt anyone either. ‘Please come this way then, Mr -er-?’
‘Revine, Cuthbert Revine.’ The man held out a giant hand. Demetre reached out slowly and shook it. The man had a grip of iron.
‘My name is Father Demetre, please follow me.’ Demetre shook some life into his hand as he moved away from the door to allow Revine entrance. Revine had to bow his head to get inside. He was like a giant. Not quite seven foot, maybe more six and a half. Father Demetre wasn’t that short of a man himself, but he only came up to Revine’s chin.
Demetre lead the way through the church to the back where the orphanage sat. The orphanage was a part of the church. It had been added on about fifteen years back when Demetre had joined the village. It was his idea in fact; most of the children had just been living in the street, or had been taken in by friends and family. But once Demetre had set up the orphanage it soon ended up just a place to put kids that you couldn’t take care of. Demetre didn’t think that was quite right, but he let it happen anyway. Someone had to look after them.
They entered through the large doors that separated the orphanage from the church. The room they entered into was just a sort of waiting room. Through another door you entered into the outside playground and through another door you enter the room used as a dining room. Again through another door was a set of stairs that went to the second floor where the rooms were.
‘Most of these children here are boys,’ Father Demetre told Revine as he led the way into the waiting room. ‘I’m not sure why, but they seem to be the main sort that comes. Do you have a preference to a child?’
‘A boy. One by the name of Jonathan Crash. I believe he arrived here some years ago?’
Demetre stopped in his walking so suddenly that Revine almost walked into him. Demetre’s mouth had dropped open in shock.
‘Silenzioso Lutto!’ he whispered.
Cuthbert Revine frowned. ‘I beg your pardon? I don’t speak Italiano.’
‘Oh, excuse me! It’s just, that’s what the other children call him. ‘Silenzioso Lutto’. ‘Silent Mourner’. Or as they also sometimes call him: ‘Chi non può parlare’.’He-who-cannot-speak’,’ translated Demetre. ‘We sometimes just call him Silence.’
‘I don’t understand the names,’ Revine informed him.
‘Don’t worry, you soon will. I’ll get one of the boys to find him and bring him to us.’
Demetre called out something in Italian and a small boy rushed into the room, it was the same one that had played with the toy cars when Jonathan had been found. He told the boy to find Silence, tell him that someone wanted to adopt him. The boy looked wide eyed at Revine and then ran off when Demetre shooed him away.
Father Demetre turned back to Revine. ‘If you don’t mind me asking you, Mr Revine, but why are you interested in Silence?’
‘I’m his uncle. My wife was Jonathan’s mother’s sister,’ he explained at the surprised look on Demetre’s face. ‘We live in America, and news is slow to arrive to us. They had a fallin’ out you see, ties sort of got severed. I have nothing against Jonathan or his parents. And being his closest relations I believe it is my duty to adopt him and raise him. No offense, but I believe I will do a better job of raising him than you. After all, we are family.’
Demetre nodded his head. ‘We are all brothers and sisters in Christ though,’ he told him. ‘And of course you will have to prove that you are actually his uncle.’
Revine nodded and held up his briefcase. ‘Everythin’s in here.’
‘In that case, please follow me to my office; we can discuss it all there. Francis will bring Silence to us there if he does not find us here.’
A short time later while Demetre was still checking out Cuthbert’s story, Doctor Faloni and Silence walked in.
‘I heard the news,’ Faloni explained to Demetre who had looked up at the sound of the door opening. ‘Not often something like this happens is it?’
Demetre shook his head in agreement. ‘No it isn’t.’ He turned to Revine who had stood up when the doctor and Silence had walked into the room.
‘Mr Cuthbert Revine, this is Doctor Geronimo Faloni, and this,’ he pointed to Silence, ‘is Silence.’
Revine and Faloni both shook hands, and Faloni didn’t even wince from the grip. Revine then turned to Silence, who was looking up at him with interest. He got down to his knees so that he was closer to Silence’s height, though still taller.
‘Good day,’ he started in his thick, heavy American accent. ‘My name’s Cuthbert, I’m your uncle,’ he told him. ‘And if everything gets all sorted then you’re going to be coming and living with me and my wife!’ he exclaimed, holding out his hand in greeting to Silence.
Silence looked at it, and then with a nudge from Faloni, reached out with both hands and gripped hold of the outstretched hand. He shook it and then let go. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a note pad, and wrote something on it and passed it to Revine, who took it and turned to Father Demetre questioningly.
‘Silence is, uh, special,’ explained Father Demetre. ‘When he came here, he’d been in some sort of an accident, a car accident, you know?’
Revine nodded his head. ‘I know?’
‘Well the boy suffered,’ continued Demetre. ‘Doctor Faloni here, treated him when he came in; he says that the boy will never speak again. He, something happened to his tongue. He can make sounds, but he cannot speak. He communicates with us by writing out notes. That is why we call him the silent mourner.’
Revine nodded his head again. ‘I see,’ he murmured, and opened the note and read it.
‘It’s good ta meet you too,’ he said with a smile when he had finished and straightened up. ‘Is everything all clear?’ he asked, turning back to Father Demetre.
Demetre sat down in his chair and looked through the papers spread out on his desk a final time. ‘It would appear so,’ he told him. ‘What you have supplied about yourself and your wife seems to be correct, but would you mind if we checked it up at the police station? They have a computer, you see. We don’t have one here.’
Revine shook his head. ‘Not at all! Please do check if you have any doubts,’ he urged.
‘It’s just to make sure you see,’ Demetre told him. ‘We have to do it.’
Demetre left, leaving Revine, Doctor Faloni, and Silence alone. The silence itself in the room was awkward with none of them knowing what to say.
Faloni excused himself after a minute or two to make a cup of tea, and asked if Revine wanted one as well. Revine nodded, glad of something to break the silence.
Faloni returned five minutes later with the tea. He handed one of the cups to Revine and sat himself down in the other free seat in the room. Silence had found a book and was busy reading it on the floor, ignoring the outside world while the world inside the book held his attention.
Faloni wasn’t sure what to say, or even talk about, he was busy thinking about Revine, wondering about the man and what he would be like to Silence.
Just as he finished his cup of tea, Father Demetre walked in and sat himself down behind the desk. Both Revine and Faloni sat to attention as Father Demetre placed a form down onto the desk.
‘It looks to be all in order,’ he said, looking up at Revine. ‘You are allowed to adopt Silence. Please sign here.’ He handed out a document to Cuthbert who took it with relief at being allowed and signed it in bulky cursive.
‘You may welcome Silence into your family, Mr Revine. Congratulations!’
They all shook hands with each other, a huge smile covered Revine’s face.
‘We will collect Silence’s things and then you can go,’ Faloni told him. ‘Let’s go get your things,’ he said to Silence and they both walked out of the room.
Packing didn’t take long. Silence didn’t have much stuff to take. The police when they had arrived all those years ago had confirmed that the family buried were actually Silence’s family, and so he was free to have what was found in their broken car.
He hadn’t known what to keep or not, so he had kept everything, and now that he was leaving there was only so much his suitcase could hold, he had to decide on the important things. There were his own clothes, which he took, a couple of things belonging to his parents and sister, and his books. There wasn’t much he owned that he really wanted to take with him he now decided while packing.
Silence wished that packing had taken him longer, he was nervous about meeting that man again. He didn’t know him, and from what he understood, he would be going to live with him now. That meant leaving the orphanage, and Father Demetre and Doctor Faloni. He didn’t want to leave them.
What if the man, his uncle, wasn’t really his uncle? Or if he was just plain mean and wanted a slave? He had heard stories from the other children who had heard stories from kids who knew other kids who had been adopted into a life of slavery. What if that was happening to him now?
Having these thoughts scared him and he didn’t want to leave the room, but Faloni came in and helped him with the rest of his packing. He then helped carry Silence’s case outside to the front of the church where Cuthbert had parked his car.
Demetre and Faloni both said their final goodbyes to Silence while Revine packed the case into the back of the car. Demetre had tears in his eyes as he hugged Silence, he felt there was something special about him and his loss would be noticed and be greatly missed.
The other children had also come outside to say goodbye to Silence. He had become friends with all of them. There was just something likeable about him. He couldn’t talk, but he was always there to help. And he knew more than them and was always happy to help.
‘Now you’ll remember everything we taught you, won’t you?’ asked Faloni as he knelt next to Silence on the grass. ‘You’re to continue in your studies, and one day you’ll end up as good as I am. I’m counting on you to become better than me, Silence. Reach out and take the world in the palm of your hand. Become somebody great, somebody the world can’t do without. And always remember, you’re not handicapped; don’t let anyone treat you like one. You are just like everybody else, but they won’t be like you.’ Faloni hugged Silence. ‘Keep in touch.’ Silence nodded, enjoying the tightness of the hug, and then Faloni let go of him.
Silence pulled out his pad and quickly wrote something in it and handed it to Faloni, who read it and smiled.
Standing up, Faloni turned to Revine who was waiting by the side of his big four wheeled drive vehicle and said, ‘take care of him, Mr Revine. Keep him well.'
‘I will,’ Revine promised as he lifted up Silence and placed him in the front seat and buckled him in. ‘Take care now!’ he cried and getting into the driver’s seat started the car.
Silence waved until the church was out of sight.
Faloni turned to see Demetre standing with his eyes closed and murmuring something. He stopped when Demetre opened his eyes.
‘I don’t know what you just said, but amen to it, Father, amen,’ Faloni told him, clapping him on the back and then he turned and walked back into the quiet church.
Father Demetre stood still outside when everybody else had gone. He was going to miss the boy. They all were. But one little thing like this was not going to get him away from the chores he had to do. He turned round and went back inside the church, closing the doors behind him.
The trip in the car was a quiet one with both Silence and his uncle not knowing what to say. Silence was fine with just keeping quiet and watching the scenery fly by, but he could tell that Mr Revine was feeling awkward about the silence.
‘Now, Jonathan,’ began Revine, finally breaking it. ‘I can’t guarantee that you will enjoy your life with us. But if there is ever anythin’ you need, anythin’ at all, do not hesitate to ask me, or your aunt Geraldine. We’ll be here for you,’ he finished. Silence just nodded, not knowing what to say.
The silence returned, broken only by the sound of the engine and the car driving over the slightly rocky road. They were driving along a lone stretch of road that wound its way along the Alps. The same road that Silence’s parent’s car had crashed on. He wasn’t sure if Revine knew that, who had started chatting happily now about anything he could think of. He chattered knowing full well that Silence couldn’t reply back, and a thought made Silence wonder if perhaps the reason he was chatting so much now was because he did know which road they were on and was simply trying to keep Silence’s mind occupied.
Silence didn’t mind him talking. He enjoyed hearing what Cuthbert had to say. But what he didn’t like was how his uncle kept calling him Jonathan. He knew well what his name was, but he also knew something else. It had been five years since anyone had called him by his real name. There was something that was now a haze in the back of his mind that told him there was something to do with his real name and the one everyone back at the orphanage called him. He had to remember it.
He had decided back there that he would only answer to the name Silence Mourner. It was something to make sure that he never forgot, but with the name Jonathan, he might. Maybe this was something he could ask his uncle about? He had said that anything at all to not to hesitate about asking.
Silence pulled out his pad and flicked to an empty page. His uncle noticed the pad and stopped talking and he waited for the note to be passed to him.
Revine knew that he shouldn’t take it and read it while driving, but he took it anyway and read it. He raised his eyebrows at Silence and returned the pad.
‘Really?’ he asked. ‘You want ta be known as that instead of Jonathan Revine? Is there something wrong with your name that you don’t want ta be known by it?’ he asked. He was not exactly angry, maybe more a bit upset and hurt that Silence wanted to reject his name, and also puzzled as to why Silence wanted to be known as Silence Mourner instead of Jonathan Revine. He saw Silence nod his head and then shake it. Obviously answer to his questions.
‘Why?’ he asked.
Silence didn’t know quite how to tell his uncle. He shouldn’t tell his uncle why. Not being able to speak was a reason. He wrote another line on the pad and handed it back to his uncle.
‘It fits?’ Revine replied, sounding puzzled after he had read the new line. ‘How do you mean, ‘it fits’?’
Silence took the pad back and wrote another line before handing it back.
‘Yes,’ replied his uncle slowly. ‘I understand now. Very well, if that’s what you want, I’ll call you that. But don’t expect your aunt to concede with your wishes. And if I didn’t mention it before, you can call me Uncle Cuthbert.’ Silence nodded in reply. He could keep his name so he was happy.
They stopped off at some place to eat about half way before moving on. Cuthbert wanted to get to the airport as soon as possible so they could get back to America. There were also a couple of problems dealing with Silence’s ticket.
Over lunch, Cuthbert was able to get to know Silence because he wasn’t driving, and Silence more about him. His uncle owned a large company that dealt in office supplies called Inks and Paper Incorporated. He enjoyed gardening, when he had the time and could take his time doing it.
His aunt on the other hand disliked gardening, and worked for a weight watching company, she manned the store set up near where they lived.
‘It’s just a small suburb,’ his uncle told him. ‘Not very large, and it’s a bit quiet, but it’s nice like that over the weekend. It’s about an hour from New York City which isn’t too bad to travel. That’s where I work. But your Aunt works in the shops within the suburb. She likes it there. You’ll probably like it there too. You’ll go to the school there, meet some people and make friends. You should enjoy living there.’
Silence nodded. It sounded like a nice place from what his uncle had told him, though the idea of going to a school and meeting new kids scared him. What would they think of him?
After lunch they got back on the road, and soon, they were at the airport.
It was larger than anything Silence had seen before, full of people talking and other children screaming and carts being pulled all over the place full of baggage and shopping bags. Security guards stood along walls or next to doors and other men in blue outfits which Silence took to be the pilots wandered around.
There was more than one floor and Silence wanted to rush off and explore them all. He had a feeling that his uncle would have let him, but they had things to do. He still didn’t have a ticket for the flight.
His uncle led him through the thick crowd of people to a series of large counters with people behind them dressed in matching outfits. They had a sort of glass wall separating them from the people lining up in queues.
Silence and his uncle entered into the back of one of the long queue and waited for their turn at the counter.
Silence’s head kept turning around and his eyes kept wandering around the sights to see. He could see this giant glass wall, with a door that allowed you to go out onto a balcony, and through the glass he could see planes taking off. He had seen planes before; he could sometimes see them pass over the orphanage on their way to wherever. Sometimes he would wonder where they were going, and if the people in them could see him watching them. But he would soon find out if they could.
He had a faint memory of being on a plane before. The smell of the interior, the seats, the roar of the engines and the jerks as it started to roll and then the push as it flew into the air. The stillness interrupted now and again by violent shaking, the long hours sitting waiting for it to land, and then finally the landing. The thump as it touches the ground, lifts up and then touches down again. And it’s over. The doors are opened, you all pile down some steps and then you walk along and enter this tunnel which takes you into the terminal. Then something else happens, his memory was foggy on that, it all was, he wasn’t sure if what he remembered was all true or not.
He turned away from staring out of the window and found that he had stepped out of the crowd and that it had moved on without him, including his uncle. He followed along the line he had been in, looking for his uncle. He hadn’t actually noticed anyone ahead of him or behind him so he wasn’t able to see if they had already gone through, or were still there. As his uncle didn’t seem to be in the line he decided that he must have bought the ticket and left, forgetting about Silence, even though he found this hard to believe.
He wasn’t sure what to do, should he go up to the man behind the counter and ask if he’d seen his uncle? Or should he stay near the queue in case his uncle came back in search of him? Or should he go in search of his uncle? He didn’t want to be alone in the crowd of people, and yet if he went out in search of his uncle he would still be alone. The same if he stayed where he was. Going out in search might end up with him becoming lost as well, so the best choice he saw would be to go over and ask if the man had seen his uncle, and if he hadn’t, well, just stay and wait near the queue.
Silence wrote a note asking about his uncle and describing what he looked like, and then entered back into the now shorter line.
It wasn’t long before he was next. The counter was taller than he was, and the man behind it had to lean over to see him. He asked what Silence wanted, and Silence handed him the note.
The man ran his eyes over the note and apologized for not having seen Silence’s uncle, and suggested for Silence to find one of the security guards that were around the place and ask for their help. Silence thanked him and left the counter.
The man hadn’t been very helpful, the way he had acted made Silence wonder if he just didn’t care, but his suggestion of asking one of those security guards was a good one.
He scanned the crowds for one of the guards and found one leaning against a pillar with another guard in the middle of the floor. Silence pushed his way through the thick crowd towards them.
As he was nearing them, close enough to call out to them and they would hear him, a hand gripped his shoulder and pulled him to a stop. The hand turned him round and Silence gazed up into the large face of his uncle.
As Silence saw again the large build of his uncle he was amazed that he had actually lost sight of him, and he sighed with relief; he’d thought that his uncle might have left without him.
‘Tryin’ ta run off, huh?’ his uncle asked with a twinkle in his eyes. ‘Excited ta get goin’ you couldn’t wait for me?’
Silence shook his head. I thought I lost you.He wrote. He pointed over to the security guards. I was going to ask them for help.
His uncle followed the point of his finger to the guards, and then he looked back to Silence and smiled. ‘That was a wise choice ta go and ask the guards,’ he pattered Silence on the shoulder. ‘Come on, let’s go, we don’t want ta miss our flight now do we?’
Silence shook his head and followed his uncle.
Once with the tickets in hand, they set off to board. A lady in a dark blue outfit stood waiting for them at the entrance to a long looking tunnel which Silence presumed to be where they went to board the plane. The lady took his and his uncle’s ticket and then waved them through.
His uncle took his hand and led him through and down the tunnel and together they entered into the plane. It was smaller inside than Silence had thought it would be after seeing the outside. His uncle nodded to the air hostess at the door and led Silence along past chairs already filled with passengers and seated Silence down in a chair next to a window and then sat down next to him.
The door was closed and then the captain's voice came to them through the intercom welcoming them on board. He explained to them what was going to happen next, and after that he signed off and a moment later the engines roared and the plane shook.
Silence held his breath as the plane continued to shake violently and he gripped the armrests of his chair and stared straight ahead, scared to look away. After a minute or so the shaking stopped and Silence relaxed. He let out the breath he had been holding in and looked through the window. They were in the air now, in the clouds; Silence could see the land so far beneath them. He smiled. He was really on his way.
His uncle leaned over and looked out the window and joined Silence in a smile. And then he told him to get some sleep as they would be traveling for a while and wouldn’t reach home until probably late the next day. Silence wanted to stay awake for the whole time so he could experience it all, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to. So he turned over in his chair and went to sleep.
He woke a couple of time during the flight and once when they changed planes, but after that he slept soundly and only woke later when his uncle was buckling him into a car.
‘We’ll be home in about an hour’s drive,’ he was told.
Silence sat looking out of the window for the whole trip. America looked different to Italy. Just about everything he saw was different. But driving at night limited what you could see. He was excited for tomorrow when the sun would come up so that he could see things better.
The trip by plane had taken things out of Silence. He had found it exciting and despite sleeping on the plane, by the time they reached his new home he could barely keep an eye open. He didn’t remember much about his arrival, he was asleep when he reached there, but he did remember the journey.