Sinking into Decrepitude - short story

by Anoucheka Gangabissoon

Jesse ran his hands through his hair and sighed with regret.  If only he had listened to his wife, Sara.  The latter had warned him several times not to trust that money lender.  Now, he needed more money and he did not know from where to find it.  From across the room, he could hear his two month old baby girl, Rina, coughing.  The latter was sick.  Doctors did not know yet what was ailing her but they had prescribed so many medicines for her.

“Such a tiny thing,” thought Jesse.  “And so much medications!”

Sara tended to Rina while Jesse sat at the kitchen table and wondered about what he would do now.  Rina was vomiting, again.

“Jesse, could you help me with the cleaning up?” called out Sara.

Jesse pretended not to hear, he just closed his eyes and swallowed his tears.  This was not his idea of the perfect family.  This was not what he has pictured when he had married Sara.  This was not what he had pictured when his baby girl had come to Earth.

But he was a man, he had to act as such.  He gruffly stood up, pushed the chair away and said in a very rude manner,

“You do what you have to.  I am going to see my Boss.”

As he left, Sara watched him, feeling more and more helpless.  She did not want to lose her child.  She could be cured.  She was sure of that.  The only problem was that they lacked money.

“Please Sir,” Jesse said to his boss.  “It’s just a small loan that I’m asking from you.  I will repay it back within a year.”

Daren, for that was his name, finished his lunch, gulped down his white sparkling wine and called out to his dog, to feed him the leftovers.  Jesse’s belly growled.  He was embarrassed, he hoped Daren did not hear it.  As it is, he hasn’t eaten properly since three weeks ago, since Rina had started vomiting.  Daren was a fully built man, he was tall and muscular.  He had a great body and he was in a great shape.  His clothes were so neat that they looked as if they had just been bought from the shop.  He looked like a well-cared man.

“Jesse,” said Daren calmly.  “I understand your problem.  But your wages are not given by me.  It’s given by a whole corporation.  If I have to give you a loan, I will have to seek for their approval.  It could be that they agree to it, it could be that they do not.  Anyhow, you will have to wait.”

“For how long?”

“For nearly two weeks.”

“That long?  But my baby is sick.”

“I know, I know.  Calm down.  You see, our company’s director is not in Mauritius.  He is abroad for a deal.  He will be back next Saturday.  And the management team will have a meeting only Monday next.  You will have to wait, I will not be able to help you before that.”

“What if I work overtime for you Sir? Or what if I do anything for you around the house?  Maybe you could help me then.”

“Jesse, we already have workers at home.  You do a great job as our company’s security guard.  And as for working overtime, well it amounts to the same thing.  I won’t be able to take any decision on my own.”

“So there is no way out for me then?”

“Your  baby will be fine, relax, don’t worry.”

“But she needs medication.  And I don’t have the money for it.  Without those syrups, her health will deteriorate.”

“I am sure you will find the solution while waiting throughout those two weeks.”

Just then, Daren’s seven year old daughter came sauntering over to him.  She was a gorgeous little thing, with short curly hair and big blue eyes, same as her father’s.  She wore a little flowery pinkish summer dress and matching sandals.

“Dad,” she pouted.  “Mum said you would take me to the park today.”

“I will darling.  Just give Daddy some time.”

“But I am all set.”

“I will see you in ten minutes.  Is Mum ready?”

“Yes.  She is.”

“Then tell her I’ve asked her to get in the car and wait.  You wait for me as well.  I’m just coming.”

The girl happily sauntered away and Jesse felt his heart wrench.  He wondered if he would ever get to see his daughter playing around at the age of seven.

“Well,” said Daren.  “I have to go now.  Are you working tonight?”

“Yes I am.  Sir, can’t you even give me some money just like that?”

“Well I have to see to my family now.  Go away!”

“Sir, please….”

“Rob!” called out Daren.  “I need you here.”

Just then, a huge man walked over to Jesse and ordered him away in a very stern manner.  Jesse was pushed out of the yard and the gate closed itself.  Some minutes later, it was opened again as the majestic range rover of Daren just whisked by.

Jesse felt helpless.  He even felt worthless.  He was a man, a working man and he was not being able to do anything for his family.  Whereas Daren, a working man too, but one with loads of money, was doing so much for his family.  Jesse walked around aimlessly.  He looked at his surroundings, he lived in the village of Terre-Noire.  He looked at the people walking around, some of them whom he was acquainted to, some of whom he knew as being his family friends and felt disgusted at their selfishness.  Those people would talk to him, invite him over for a drink, laugh and share jokes with him.  But now that word had spread that his baby girl was sick, they were all avoiding him.  Some of them pretended to be absorbed in their conversations as he walked by.  Some others had their noses stuck in their newspapers.  Whichever, he was now invisible.

Jesse remembered how he had helped his neighbor, Ram, when the latter lost his job.  For three months, Ram and his family had been given food, three times a day.  He remembered how he was always ready to help in his company, how he would never ever refuse any work.  But, now, everyone was turning their backs on him and that hurt like hell.

Jesse came home late that evening.  He had wandered around town, feeling hopeless.  He had thought of begging for money on the sidewalk but his pride had not allowed him to.  He no longer cared for work.  By that time, he should have been at work already.  But nothing mattered now, nothing at all.  He would let things go the way they feel like going.  He opened the kitchen door and was surprised to find the house all dark.

“Sara?” he called out gruffly.

“Am here,” said a frail voice.

Jesse walked around the house and switched on the light in each room.  Finally, he saw Sara, sitting in a corner in the living room.  She had been sitting in the dark and she held Rina in her arms.

“Have you prepared dinner?” he asked.

Sara looked at him and her eyes told him what he needed to know.  He looked at the still baby in her arms and went out again.  He called to his neighbors to help Rina.  The weight of everything crashed down on him but, he was a man.  He needed to act like one.  He would have to be strong, and tough too.

“I need a transport,” he said to Ram.  “I have to take the lifeless body of my child to the hospital.”

“I will see to that,” said a shocked Ram.

The baby was taken for an autopsy.  The cause of her death would be determined later on.  Sara had become so blank.  Jesse left them all sitting dejectedly at the hospital and walked out.  He needed an escape.  He needed to bury his inner rage.  He needed to let off all the steam he had amassed in him.  He could hear people calling him, urging him to stay as the doctors would require his thumb print on the authorization papers.  But, they all seemed to be part of a haze.  He walked out and let the chill air engulf his senses.

As he walked, he came across Daren’s house.  The seeds of evil, already in him, bloomed into a horrible, foul smelling monster and Jesse broke into the house.  He managed to get in by climbing over a wall, without letting Rob know of his presence.  The house was empty.  They were all probably still having fun at the park, or, somewhere else.  Jesse took a knife from the kitchen and hid himself in the cellar.  While waiting, he had more than a few bottles of wine.  He felt so powerful.  What he was about to do seemed so right.  Daren could have helped in curing Rina.  All he needed was money.  Jesse waited, patiently, as a tiger would wait for its prey.  He waited and when the time was right, he struck.

Everyone talked about that gruesome family murder for months.  Everyone talked of how a poor watchman, frustrated and depressed over the death of his own baby girl, had killed his boss and his wife and daughter.  They had all been found in their beds, each had suffered more than ten blows.  The killer had been found unconscious in the yard.  It turned out that he could not remember anything about the previous night.  But the police was sure it was him.  The knife was still with him when they found him.