Hills and valleys, towards the east of the capital – where dotted out the large mansions and the entourage of small buildings where lived the servants to the men who own them. There was a route between Haiti and Santa Domingo. It was a route that was paved only part of the way, though it had been planned to finish the entire way with asphalt. But you know how it is, corruption was more important than completion. Here there was life abundant, and only a few dots of home. Spread out from the main route were roads which were unpaved as dust was – unpaved because it was somehow natural for them to be unpaved. But between the dust and asphalt that man had made, between the stucco buildings and less graceful wooden shacks – there was green palms and yellow green stalks of grass.
It was there that Jules and her driver were caught by the quake. Here it was different from a developed area -the ground shook, and almost immediately. The wave that was the tremor grew stronger than anyone had imagined, except of course it had been imagined and warned by seismologists. But no one had really listen to them, because they warned when their was not any noticeable difference. Warning when there is no difference in warning when the difference strikes immediately, are 2 very different things. This is because, what exactly are you going to do? Many people cannot move from the island, or even move to the other side. And being stuck on the island means there is only one thing to do – build things stronger. However that requires money, money that they do not have for building – when there are so many pleasures now that can be had. All of this means that when the quake comes, people will die. But life span is short for most people anyway, so machwe won?
Road rumbled, trees shivered, and everything was whipped about from side to side. Then there was a loud crackle and the roaring slow down - and stopped. Immediately on Jules mind was the thing which all people not affected thought: when our the aftershocks coming? Because after a big earthquake there will be repeated tremors, and probably within the 1st day several will be large enough to do more damage. This is why, if they could, they sleep outdoors. The driver felt that out-of-doors was the only place to sleep after a massive quake. Little ones did not matter. They had them all the time. All. The. Time.
Big ones meant the focus of attention was the aftershock, because they would be coming. Not immediately, that not being the way – but soon. Every second meant the possibility had died down, until there was a moment when it would grow greater again. When every second meant a greater possibility. The mind of humans was attuned to the nature of Nature.
Chaos clears way to xaos – which like “gas” - comes from the same root in Ancient Greek, but means something completely different. Because chaos is random disorder, gas is the evaporation of liquids and solids – a new sort of order out of disorder - but xaos is disrandom order such as the set of Mandelbrot. After a few times through, there emerges seahorses scurrying along the defined path. And that is the same way with the earthquake - 1st there is a kaleidoscope of shaking which has no order – but if one survives that - and the bumping of bricks – a new kind of habitat has come in to being. The ones who 1st arrive at this – are the ones who intended to do evil before. This is because evil is so much easier to do when all things have to reassert their order. It will take time for police forces, and hospitals – and all of those other things that require thought. But to stab a knife into someone requires no foresight at all. The town blooms with terrible white smoke, filled with screaming – and already there are those who decide that certain people should have died, and they will make sure of that.
Shaking of everything that was still attached, and people running, there are those who plan to move quickly quietly and steadily towards their new goals. But this wakes an entirely different group of people, people who want to help – and realize that there are those that want to hurt. And the people that want to hurt have only a few minutes to affect their disinterested rage upon whoever is there target.
Jules was one of those who wished to help, and on the curb of the dusty dirt road – could see that there was a motion. Motion aforethought. And instinctively they knew that that would mean evil.
Instinctively, she moved her head in every direction, and their was only the driver visible. But invisible was someone else in the tall weeds. As if she had been driven to this place – and in a moment of wild madness, she realized that that was the truth: she had been dispatched here to be killed. Only before the earthquake there was a plan, that now needed to be thought a new. If she was a normal person, this would have been easier – she would get just the standing and then there would be a slit from a dagger. And then in the minutes time she would be dead – or at least on the way to that state. Unfortunately for everyone involved – she was totally aware. She was seeing in all directions, and calculating which direction would be the greatest danger.
Eyes stopped, her face stopped, and the body gradually moved into a gradual erectness – because in her eyes was the one person who she could not bear – Jon le Bon. As soon as her eyes fixed on him, his smooth voice became garrulous: “You know I was hoping that you would not see me, it would have been so much better to strike from behind.” there was no pity in his voice, though it was soft in a different way. He was dressed in short black pants and a short white shirt, and around his leg was a tire which he had rolled up beside him. In his shirt pocket was cigarettes, of a foreign nature. Oddly, she could see through the white that there was a camel logo. Her brain cast up a No. 5.
“Where you always going to kill me?” Though the answer was obvious.
“Yes of course – I just realized that I could have some fun first. You cannot tell me that it was not pleasurable for you. I just had to wait for your movements to be just so – that way you would open up to me – whether you wanted to or not.” The other thing that happened with his voice – was the talkative nature was underlined. Presumably because he had nothing left to fear. Somewhere back in the distance the driver was hurrying back down towards the town – he had delivered his victim, but did not want to see the result.
“How did you know that the driver would be the man who I used for gathering up?”
“Oh, that is easy – you used him the same way many times. I just needed to grease his palm, and he was ever so willing to oblige. He does not really like you you know, because of all sorts of reasons – but mainly because you are a woman – and he does not like taking orders from your sex. It is undignified, unrefined, and shameful.”
Most men thought this way – because all of the important work was done by men but documented by women. This annoyed almost all men to distraction. The writing of pens was anathema to their unequaled purpose: why did anything need to be documented before it was done? Actually they knew the reason: because mistakes were made, and such things as a quake made things visible. One thing that Haiti had not learned was the range of corruptness which could be allowed, they were still hit or miss on this concept.
“So you wanted some pleasure before getting to your work, is that it?” Rumbles in her eyes grew angry.
“There are things that need to be done, and people like you should leave them to professionals to do them.” He was blasé and this – it then became clear that emotion was not his strong point, except for himself.
“Why take supplies from the injured?” A note of plaintiveness tried to infect her voice – but it failed, because she knew why.
“Now look what you may give me do, I have to turn off my music.”A click on his jeans. “There is more to be made selling them to those who have more money. And it is money that talks, so even the foreigners say. Aside from that, the UN was cleaning up the mess it had made, itself. There was little enough good being done. All that would have to happen is that the UN needed to place more emphasis on Haiti – and what is bad about that?”
Wheedle tone quicked his voice, especially the long sentences which she knew was his way of convincing himself – and the person who he had met to take the contract, who smoked a different kind of cigarette, and in great profusion. There was an air of tobacco from Syria and Turkey – she knew this because she had dated for a long time smoker who had this exact scent.
Explaining, again to himself, because she was not going to be there for long. She could see a long lighter in his left hand- which was for cigarettes and cigars - and the motions that he made were to light it. She was to be necklaced. In her mind she felt the tire over her head – and the terrifying way that the fire from it would catch on her face, neck, and shoulders. Terrified she thought about running, but something gave that away and he spoke again:
“There is no point in running, I am strong enough to throw the tire anywhere that can get to.” This was true, she did not know how she had gotten out of the car, or moved such a long way. But that is the point about tremors – the gap from the moving is always longer than it seems.
While he was thinking that it was time to swing the tire – something happened. The cause was behind him – and she could only guess it is source. A 2nd tire came up from behind him, and wrapped its way around his neck – at the same time he lit the long lighter on his tire. There grew up a flash of light and heat, making an explosion around his head. At 1st she could not see anything but the eruption of gas about him. It made a crackling noise, and then a hiss as it caught fire on every part of his body.
Melting about him were the two tires, with steel treads finally lighting – which meant that they had more than just a butane stick. But the fire prevented her from seeing who brought this man down for a time. She finally rubbed her eyes, and saw the person who necklace Jon le Bon. It was a familiar figure – mamba. The rich ripe figure who was the least expected person to be there.
Then she realized, that as Jon le Bon had his spies, so to did the leader of the ritual. As the conflagration finally had down Jules saw mamba in a different aspect. She realized that there was a purpose to mamba searching – she realized that Jon le Bon had been by her home quite recently. And she guessed that anything that she had seen in his movements was trivial for mamba to divine.
Minou coin – catty-corner or kitty-corner – was the only way between mamba and the body, between the ditch. Barrabas grew in among the stalks of cane – it was a low growing bush, often planted to mark the boundary between to owners. Beyond that there was fallow land, though it might be in season later this year. After that were trees of various sorts, but all showed the signs of being transient – they had sprung up very recently. She bounced her way away from the tire despair body, and just a way from the poisoned blush. Then she was confronted with the woman who guided spirits.
Rotund was putting it mildly, though she had curves rather than being merely fat. A top her meaty frame were a pair of large breasts, and her face was plump, though she could see how many men liked that as well. Everything about her was in proportion – her lips, her cheeks, even her eyelashes dwarfed everything about Jules.
“How did you know that I was going to be here? How did you know any of this was going to happen?”
“Did not know anything except that the little man would be here, and that he would do anything necessary to finish the job. Though, it seemed quite likely that you would be here as well.”
“Was it just because he came? Or was it more than that?”
“Anyone could see that you were in the way. You wanted to be full – pregnant. If I recognized it, so had others. And his eyes were sharp in that way.”
“There are too many coincidences for this to be the only thing you know.”
“That you work for the government, but not on the paycheck – that is easy. That he is fraph is also easy. That you were the one he was looking for, required nothing other than noticing who was in a car. All of the things that you think are coincidences, are easy to spot once you know who the man is interested in. Then there was the hospital, everyone talking about what they think they know. Once you know that the man is going to be someplace, then it is not hard to have a driver follow him. And that will make a guess become real – n'est pas?” The last phrase was in impeccable French.
Shame came to Jules' face. She realized that if she was going to continue to ply the trade, she would have to recognize that every moment was full of meaning.
“So why have you done this?”
“Because my people suffer from cholera, and the man who you are helping is among the carriers of secrecy. I have seen him working the digging, and passing out money to some individuals – even before I knew his name, I knew he was part of the corrupt group of foreigners, though in this partikular case he will be helping my people.”
“Do you know who sent me? Or is that too obvious?” Pensando, pensando. Por lo que mas tu quieras.
It came out as a small laugh - Quizas. Quizas. Quizas. “Alix is your handler, and I have known him since he was small. There is nothing to this, if you know who is using strings to benefit. This is not a large country, the way the US is. It is a small country, with small elites, and thus everything remains small. Most of the countryside is involved in little schemes just to make money. Which is why places that collect cholera move in groups – because the same village will settle in the same neighborhood. Cholera in the city, means an outbreak in its corresponding village.This tells one who caused it.”
Estas perdiendo el tiempo. Her head hung down, the endless conspiracy. “It seems as if I have no power.”
“You have actual power, though you do not use it.” And was a hint of grandmotherly smile. The glisten of strings from far away, in a town gone and forgotten. As if played in a soundtrack, or perhaps – perhaps – perhaps – an echo.
“So, what do I want?”
“Almost all the men merely want what all men everywhere want, almost all of the women want children to raise. If you want something else then you have to decide to want it. Your friend over there,” She pointed at the body. “wanted to kill things, and he did until he himself was killed. I would say he had a good life, is short as it was.” The laughing started, and then abruptly halted. “What is it you truly want?”
Though she admitted that tobacco was off her list - and she therefore hated all smokers, because she had been one herself, Jules hesitated, because she knew what it was though she could not describe it. On her mind, but without words – until at last she rasped:
“These are the days of wine and cigarettes.”