Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Friday, December 5, 2008

Through The Godless Hours (79)

It was not a religious affair, Ketu knew: more a simple dispute between a few kampung folk and the man who controlled the coffers, the Lurah. Nevertheless, he knelt to seek the advice of his God, as he did in all other matters. And on this occasion, as in others, he was rewarded for his faith. Of course, it now occurred to him. That’s what I should do. Go and see him again. Give him a chance to do the right thing. Change his mind. Careful not to end his prayers with unseemly haste, he nevertheless curtailed his contemplations much sooner than he normally would, and made ready to slip out into the night.

Rap, rap, rap!

Ketu’s knuckles connected with the door, sharply. “’Pak Lurah! ’Pak Lurah! Open up! I need to talk! Please!” There was a lengthy pause and he was about to knock again when the door was opened inwards with such velocity that the air was sucked from behind him. “You again,” sneered the occupant, irritated at this further intrusion into what should have been a restful Sunday. “What is it now? What do you want?” “’Pak. Please. I’m appealing to your better nature. Help us out, here. In this difficult situation we’re in. We don’t have much money, and the boy has even less. I know you’re sitting on enough cash to help him out. Look – I’ve thought about what you said earlier. About your concerns. What if I were to act as the kid’s guarantor? If he doesn’t repay his debt, then I’ll take responsibility. It’ll be me who owes the money. How about that?” “I told you before: go and ask whoever it was who shot him to foot the bill. Isn’t that more appropriate?” The Lurah’s intransigence was beginning to infuriate Ketu, and it told in the next words he spoke: “’Pak Lurah, I didn’t come here to make threats. But I’m warning you that if you fail to come to our aid – fail in your duty as our leader, as I see it – then the consequences will be dire, and will be on your head.” “Get out of here with your threats!” the older man screamed back at him, now furious at the effrontery of what was, after all, a mere kampungan. “Get out, I say!” “Then on your head be it! On your head… sir!” yelled Ketu defiantly, as he disappeared off into the darkness…

In the wood-panelled study of his luxury home, the General woke with a start. Slumped in his chair, he observed the half-empty bottle of cognac on the desktop gradually take form, at an angle of approximately forty-five degrees. Forcing himself to sit upright, the next object to come into focus was his Cabana, long-extinguished but somehow still emitting its acrid stench. Was all that… some kind of… dream? the General quizzed himself, vaguely recalling the ugly exchange that had taken place between him and his elder son. His head still half-cocked, it looked almost as if the uniformed man were listening to the sound of distant artillery fire. No… No it wasn’t… the demons in his mind now intervened, teasing him. Not a dream… Oh, no… Nothing as convenient as that… No… It was real, alright… Your boy’s a bencong… A fucking banshee… Snatching up the bottle in front of him, he sloshed another three fingers into his glass, angrily. It bothered him little that almost half the liquid racing around the bowl of the goblet splashed back over its rim to spatter the desktop. Taking a large gulp, the General then exhaled through his nose, once the burn allowed. What am I going to do about him? he pondered, wearily. What… am… I going… to do?

Another set of images began to fill his mind, as this additional, heavy dose of alcohol topped up what was already in his system. His wife. Screaming. Hysterically. As if – like everything else to happen that was not quite to her liking – it was all his fault. Screeching into his face. Pummelling her fists into his broad, but sagging, chest: What have you done? What have you done? At a time he needs us more than ever, you kicked him out? What right did you have to do that? And on my behalf? You… you monster! It was after she had slammed the door behind her and left him alone to fester in his study that the Camus had been uncorked, enabling him to embark upon a one-man drinking contest – destination: oblivion.

And now he was returning there, necking the rest of the contents of his crystal goblet before pouring another huge slug, while gazing absently at the pistol lying on his desk. At first slightly out of focus, an image that slowly sharpened while his thoughts, from nowhere, began also to crystallise. And as he continued to stare at the gun, the blood drained from his face as the darkest possible scenario occurred to him, then took hold of his troubled mind. A shiver ran up his spine at the morbid contemplation. A frightening vision of his son, sufficiently unbalanced to consider taking the easy way out. No, no, no… Not that… Please! he screamed inwardly.

posted by Kirk at 10:36 pm  

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