24. Painful Memories
The memories are exceptionally painful and brand new as ever. I have tried to forget them. To rub them out of my mind. But that has never worked in any way conceivable. Even to this day, I can still see him standing there before my very own weepy and hurt eyes, intolerably red-eyed and completely soaked to the skin with the rain that his whole clothes and hair are at length drenched and dripping wet. That was Alex without a doubt. The one and only man I loved back then in the complete world like nothing else. The one and only man I still love and likewise adore today like I have done with nobody else. What did this man do to me? Cast me under an irresistible love spell? What precisely? Danny’s Motel. That was the place I last saw Alex Ramirez. My last time seeing him and enjoying his companionship. That night, he was dressed in one of his most excellent suit and he looked wholly handsome and irresistible that my own eyes were helplessly becharmed and enamored merely by his own sight and presence. I had already made my decision that night that we both had to part ways and when I realized how extremely gorgeous this man was, whom I was on the verge of dumping, I began contending and warring with myself on whether it was the right thing to do or not. It was not like I dumped Alex specifically and deliberately. I don’t know what other word I can use to describe my split-up with him. Well, I called things over with him, if you prefer and the description is polite enough. That was what I did. Not something rude and vulgar. No, please, don’t think that of me. I beg you. INTRODUCTORY SCENES Fast. Speedily; and at high-speed. The heart of Bryant Stuart starts beating, thudding-like, banging-like, with a monotonous and bumpy-like, quick-paced sound. Bit by bit. Unhurriedly. At a snail's pace even. He stirs his fingers first, imperceptibly and tenderly, and at long last the toes of his feet are in motion, unsteadily but indisputably. Not that his feet are stripped bare. They are not. He is putting on boots, ones that are dim in color, tough and brawny-built in fabric and cumbersome in weight. He almost died even though he was not supposed to give up the ghost. The bomb was preordained to kill them. Not him. It had him pass out to nothingness for thirty straight precarious seconds and if he is not going to make his move now, the existing enemy will certainly kill him. Whisking quick; flapping cautious; thrashing obstinate. He reaches for his long and unblemished sword in an ephemeral while and nabs it to himself as promptly as he can. He must not hesitate; he must not be indecisive. The enemy is drawing near and he can sense his advancement. It has a deathlike feel to it; yeah, a hellish-like flavor to it even. Whim. The diablo leaps up into the air, curling and bowing its feet as it does so to jab down on him with its pointed and cutting-edged switchblade. Clink. Clank. Jingle. Bryant has by now escaped away from it—rolling and whirling himself rapidly and fearfully to evade the smack of its carving knife and yes, he is triumphant. He has now already come to an abrupt halt undamaged and unhurt away from it and he has in addition to that hauled himself up and bowed one knee against the floor with the other leg of his stretched and drawn out expertly. The sword is still hard and rigid in his grasp, frozen and unbendable just like himself. He has pinched eyes established on the rival before him. Bryant’s eyes become demure and dim as he rushes toward it. Fast. Rapidly. At the fastest pace. It slings its switchblade to hit and smack him. Rampant. Unbridled. Frenetically. He flings himself high up to duck and elude the strike of its switchblade. By the time it batters into the wall, the diablo itself whirling so as to strike him well, he has arrived down, and on he knifes it into the stomach, hacking its flesh, tearing its bone, letting loose an intense rainstorm of incessant blood. Groaning in rage. Hissing in fury. Hooting in wrath. The diablo dies—or so it seems—at a snail's pace and feebly. Its emotions blur and melt and dissolve into this vast ocean of effusive pain. Dribble. Trickle. Spittle. Blood drips down to the facet of the floor, bit by bit and with a very namby-pamby sound. Drip. Splash. Trickle. Blood drizzles down to the surface of the china-tiled shower, merged and melded and mingled with sprinkling driblets of water. The tap is in use and running. Scattering droplets of water down on the stationery and un-stirring body. She is deceased. Perished and lifeless even. Out of breath and short-winded what’s more. Hulking coffee dark eyes, slit and nicked bronze skin, a straightened out and a bit twisted and crippled throat, a yawning and partly-open mouth, off-the-latch eyelids, blood yielding and spewing hands, deformed and tortuous feet, a paper-thin-like but lofty body, the unheard-of and dead woman gawps direct at Kelli Koni, private investigator, who is yet to look over his puzzling and inexplicable death. Hers is a photograph in his office that was captured on film six years ago. He was hardly twenty then and a shaggy-haired boy who gulped up coffee all night till morning at Regent University of Lusaka. The door bursts open with a cacophonous cackle and Kelli jumps back from astonishment and wonder. Erin Ming, a subordinate officer, makes her way in, twinkling and grinning at him as he comes back from his hasty bolt from the blue. Straightening out her hand, she hands him a dagger and makes known, “This is from Constable Chama. He says you will need it on your journey.” Kelli heaves an eye. “A bayonet. What for? I always carry my handgun with me.” Erin persists, “Take it. You will without fail need it.” Kelli obliges, sighing deeply and without restraint. “I trust so,” he grumbles coolly and serenely. After which he toddles his way hence, knitting brows and making a skuzzy face to himself. She scowls, moving in the large forest noiselessly and under her breath. Her feet stomp and stump and tramp and tread on dried-up, sun-baked leaves. The leaves are gold-like and yellowy in color, threshing and thrashing madly in the air every time that a breeze of wind blows and bursts and blasts pasts them, disarranging and rumpling them up. Still, their champing and munching and chomping cannot be overhead or eavesdropped on. Odd, is it not? Bryant at last comes at last comes to a standstill, his hair rippling behind him all thanks to the blast of wind that surges in his track. Ahead of him is the house is the homestead. Substantial; man-size; gigantic. It is all timber and planks and lumber. Totally and perfectly made of wood in other words. Yes. This is where the antagonist lodges. No uncertainty and lack of conviction about it. Like lightning. Apace. With all haste. Bryant tears after the house and carries on to boot the door ajar. He surveys inside while whipping out his firearm. It is not big and stretched. It is petite and puny-like. Speedily. On his guard. And in hushed tones. He switches from room to room, studying and inspecting about. He must track down that hellhound. He must lay a finger on him. Launching his feet up, he boots and raps locked doors open. Guarded and on the look-out, he levels his gun at rats and mice such that should he open fire on them, he would blow them to bits and crumbs and slices without any bullets going astray. Fast and cracking, he lays open kitchen cabinets and cupboards and exterior wardrobes and closets and under-wraps rooms and checks them all from joint to angle. Still, he uncovers nothing. Neither does he stumble upon that time-worn whippersnapper. Where could he be hiding? Snappy choked. Hopping mad. Looking as black as thunder. Bryant moans and cries out, kicking off in a hostile style anything that his feet find to oust the boot into. No. He couldn’t have escaped. That wairua. That toe-rag. Mephistopheles himself. Mephisto even. He finds out something. It is a snapshot. Giant and massive. And there he is. A full-of-years man with ashen hair and ashy pale skin and lawn green eyes. He looks patriarchal and weak-kneed. Which is not true at all. He is stout and virile and youthful and paranormal in spirit. Overlord of the daiblo. On this picture are the words: REST IN TIMELESS PEACE OUR BELOVED, CAESOR LOUIS. Damn. Bryant turns the air blue. Foul-mouthed in mind. Cussing in silence. Candles flare and shimmer. The room glints and sparkles with their light. Tears of wrath and resentment glow and glisten down his face. Caesor is still and quiet. Gazing and watching him with a deadpan and straight-faced expression. He glowers back at him, giving him that dirty look, gnashing his bare-stripped teeth. The sun glows in the sky. Sublimely and illustriously. The air is a-boil and searing. It makes Bryant’s skin go up in imperceptible flames before Caesor’s grave. Is this really his grave? He cannot tell. He was brought into this world on 29 April, 1929 and he kicked the bucket on 13 March, 2022. Last week that was. How precise are all these details? Whizz. Whir. Wheeze. Something bestirs behind Bryant and he wheels around in a moment. Nought, it seemed. Naught but the damn wind. Yeah, it be the wind and naught thing else. Uh-huh. Elisa revolves and walks away. The air is chilly. Terribly bitter and biting. She moans; she exhales; she breathes out. She is all by herself on the dingy and just about pitch-black boulevard. It is poorly-lit and all hushed and soundless. Dim. Murky. Shadowy. It becomes more dingy and poorly lit where Elisa is going. Dim. Murky; and shady. She can feel the blackness strengthen and intensify. It is not supposed to frighten the hell out of her. But it is anyway and she cannot help it. When a tickle springs up in her throat, she clears it, promptly and loudly. She thinks he has heard coughing too behind her. Could that be true? Like a bat out of hell, with all haste that is, she revolves around, breathing fast, scanning slow. No. She cannot see anyone. Could it all have been real?