Toque de la vida (Part II: 15 years ago)

 He followed the man
down the decaying stairs which creaked every time they stepped on a loose
floorboard. After a minute and a half of a very depressing walk down the
dilapidated building, they have finally reached the last stair and turned right
to what was called a parking lot. In his months of stay in the wretched apartment,
the only two places where he spent his time the most were his room and the
grungy cafeteria down the alley, where he enjoyed their small servings of hot
coffee, burnt toast and half a chicken wing every morning. It was his first
time to be down here in the parking lot, he disliked exploring the places
surrounding his room because he felt the longer he walked farther from his
place, the sadder he becomes in every step he takes.

He looked around to absorb the surroundings and amidst the
numerous abandoned and weak looking cars and motorcycles, he spotted a well
polished Mercedes Benz 500E, that looked like it had been bought a couple of
days ago. He was supposed to be impressed with this, but no words of utter
amazement escaped through his dry mouth.

“Well, here we
are, this is our ride.”
said the blue
suited man proudly.

“Oh, ok then.” he replied poorly.

The man looked clearly disappointed with his company’s lack
of excitement and eagerness, so he spoke with disgust in his words, “You know everyone who was invited to
ride in this car was always full in spirit before, during and after his/her
ride. They’ve always wanted to try to drive this car, but I always disapprove.”

“That’s nice.” were the only two words that came out of his mouth because
feelings of irritableness and satisfaction swelled up inside him.

 “This is one of the best cars in the country and I don’t expect you to
appreciate it because of these surroundings.”
The man savagely added.  He then swung the rear door wildly open for
the passenger to enter.

He shrugged and entered the car. Admittedly, he accepted that
indeed entering a rich perfumed scented automobile and sitting on a well
cushioned backseat was one of the richest feelings he felt throughout the year.
Yet he was cautious enough not to show this elated feeling to the hot tempered
man on the driver’s wheel.

As the engine started, the blue suited man reminded him not
to touch anything in the car because according to him, every piece was more
valuable than their lives. They drove a couple of blocks south, when the man
spoke in an awful, real manner.

 “We are quite far from our destination; you
may want take a nice, little siesta
before you perform that little trick of yours later.”  

But before the man even finished his sentence, he dozed off
completely. The pain on the skull he had just acquired an hour ago from hitting
the solid ground was now hurting even more, plus, a fresh red lump had formed
inches above his right eyebrow.

Yes
it was a warm and sad Sunday morning, he clearly remembered. Everything was
normal back then, fifteen years ago. He was sitting on the terraza, the entrance of a large house, welcoming all the old,
morose looking visitors who would pay their last respects to his great old Tio Edgar, by giving each a mug of cafe caliente, assorted pieces of caramelo and two slices of por con mantequilla. The visitors looked
as if they were wearing suits for a themed party, male would wear black americanas or a grey barong partnered with black or brown
shoes, female were suited in an all white dress with matching long, dark
colored shawls.

He
was told to be stationed outside by his Tia
Cecil
, who was now already sprawled on the floor, weak in tears and relaying
to the guests on how her husband died during his sleep. “It was terrible”, she concluded, after she finished the tragic
story and waited for the crowd to lift her up back to the seat. Personally, he
never knew much about his uncle; they never had a chance to bond because Tio Edgar was in the army and only went
home every summer or Christmas. Despite the lack of knowledge, he knew that his
Tio was a very good hearted and
generous man; he was the one who gave him his first comic book, which he kept
under his pillow and read at every chance he could get.

 A warm tear was now dropping from his cheek,
but he did not dare to wipe it off, he stood up from the stone steps and walked
slowly inside the room to where his uncle’s casket stood. It was a brightly lit
rectangular room with an antique yellow chandelier, which was in danger of
falling at the very middle. All the sofas and chairs were occupied by mourners,
leaving no room for anyone to enter and comfortably sit. He carefully squeezed
in to the open spaces and made sure that he had not stepped on any covered or
open shoes along his way. His eagerness to see his uncle, even behind the glass
even behind the glass, took over his consciousness, making him trip over an
unknown foot. Later did he know that he was slammed face front on the casket of
his Tio Edgar. Everyone was now staring at him, bewildered and stunned were the
looks now etched on their tired faces.

His
Tia Cecil was running toward him and cried, Iho, what are you doing?
Don’t you realize we are mourning the death of your Tio? Please show some sense of respect, Get up!

He
had never seen his aunt looking so upset at him, she had been very nice to him
ever since. He too was angry at himself, why had he not looked at where he was
walking? He looked down at her feet and shamefully replied, “Sorry Tia.”

But
before he could lift himself up, he saw his aunt’s eyes widen with a mixture of
fear and confusion, and so were the surrounding crowd. He looked at where their
eyes were fixed and he too was so surprised that he could faint; his left hand was
violently discharging purple coloured sparks on the now, vibrating glass
covering his uncle. He tried to remove his hand, but it seemed that it had been
permanently glued to the casket, everyone was now shouting at him, some fainted
and most were pulling him away. After seconds of an intense struggle, he fell
backwards to the ground, instinctively, he checked both of his hands, and to
his utmost relief, both were back to their pale white color and smooth texture.
He was really sure that he was to undergo a very long sermon from the whole
household, yet the attention was not on him but instead, everyone was now
circled around his uncle’s cold body. He stood up instantly to check what
degree of damage he had caused, but as he looked again at the casket he saw the
chest of his dead uncle shining an intense purple. As the purple color faded
away, his uncle opened his eyes, which to nobody’s shock half the visitors fell
ill to the marble flooring or to the nearest couches. He saw his Aunt Cecil, so
pale in the face, but amazingly no hint of fear was seen on her thin face. She
immediately ordered the conscious people behind her to open the casket and help
her husband up to the chair. That was all he remembered from the miraculous
resurrection.

He
too had fainted after what happened. He woke up lying in the now, silent hall, with
his head rested on his worried mother’s lap, and beside his Tia Cecil, who was now holding the hand of
her warm-bodied husband, Edgar. He
sat straight with a confused look similar to those of the people surrounding
him.

Tio Edgar? How?” He spoke as if there
was a large, solid object constricting his throat.

His
uncle, though who still wore a completely confused look, gave him a light smile
and replied, “I am not sure Iho, how it happened or how you did it,
I am just as confused as you are, you know. The last thing I remembered was
that I was slowly walking towards a blinding light, and then I woke up suddenly,
encased in that casket,”
he pointed at the empty box behind them.”

His
uncle stayed alive and healthy for a whole year and finally gave his last
breath on the three hundred and sixty sixth day. Majority had now accepted his Tio Edgar’s second passing away.

“He had done what he had to do, he
left the world happy.”
the lines his Tia Cecil had always
reassured to the grieving mass.”

He
woke up with a jolt, the car had stopped suddenly. It looked to him that they
already have arrived at their destination.

 “Wake
up now, stop dreaming, we are here. Wait here, I’ll open it for you.”
The
blue suited man called as he bustled to open the car door to his right.

He
can’t believe it, fifteen long years had passed, and still the vivid pictures
of him first discovering his curse, as some think , or a blessing rather, like
most demand it is, still plays like an unending record in front of him.

He
stepped out of the car and looked up at the towering mansion.

This
is apparently where the next Lazarus resides, he thought.

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