Dark Days in Port-au-Prince (Part 4, Katia D. Ulysse)
To celebrate the release of Haiti Noir 2: The Classics, edited by Edwidge Danticat, we asked contributors from both of our Haiti Noir volumes to participate in an exquisite corpse style story—a serial story in which each participant builds off of what the previous participants have written—to create an original piece of fiction with a decidedly dark tone. Check back each Friday through February 7th for a new installment of this six-part short story with sections from Roxane Gay, M.J. Fievre, Ibi Aanu Zoboi, Katia D. Ulysse, Josaphat-Robert Large, and Edwidge Danticat.
Sirop Miel fluttered her eyelashes theatrically. Somehow she made the Glock in her left hand look elegant. Without a word she assured Sylvain and Jean Pascal that unless they quit playing their ‘innocent bystander’ game, she would flush them down life’s toilet without an ounce of remorse. Terrified, the men ran backwards. Jean Pascal nearly swallowed the lit cigarette between his lips.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” Sirop Miel strutted toward Gilbert, who was now even more unsteady on his feet than before. She shoved Gilbert into the house. Elsa stepped aside to let them in; her hands crossed over her belly—protecting her precious cargo. Gilbert said a silent prayer for his unborn child.
“Collateral, remember?” Sirop Miel said, eyeing Elsa disdainfully.
Collateral. The word seemed bigger than the entire house. Once when he could not pay the rent, Gilbert put up his old moped as collateral for cash. That was how he “lost” it the first time. When Elsa had learned out about the moped, she called Locito. He was the intelligent one; Locito—she loved his name—was fearless and much better looking. Gilbert had been furious with Elsa but was thankful when he got the moped back. The second time Gilbert used the moped as collateral and Elsa called Locito, he hung up.
Sirop Miel perched herself at the edge of a sisal chair; her eyes ping-ponged between Gilbert and Elsa. “You let him do this?” Gilbert shivered with fear.
Elsa scanned the room for something that might change the odds in her favor. There was nothing beside the wooden handle of an old broom and a few aluminum plates. She cursed herself for settling for Gilbert. Locito never would have allowed this to happen. He had good, maroon blood. Gilbert—the half-brother, the “outside child,” was a foolish dreamer, a waste. And now she might die because of him.
Sirop Miel flicked her hair. “You two are starting to bore me,” she said. “Give me Locito, Gilbert, then you and baby-mama can get back to your pitiful happily ever after.”
Elsa inched close to Gilbert. The smell of his skin nauseated her. She cleared her throat and spat in Gilbert’s face. Stunned, Gilbert reached up to wipe off the saliva.
“Fool,” Elsa growled. The word ripped through Gilbert like a bullet. “You still don’t get it, do you?” Her voice was even. Her eyes like ice.
“Calm yourself,” Gilbert whispered. He worried about her and the baby who would have his eyes and his name.
“Calm myself,” Elsa’s voice ricocheted off the walls. “You want me to be calm, after what you’ve done?”
“Shut up, Elsa.” Gilbert said apprehensively.
“You’re worth less than the skin on a pig’s ass to me,” Elsa shot back. “You don’t listen, Gilbert. How many times have I told you this?”
“Quiet, Elsa.” There was moisture in his eyes now.
“Bastard,” Elsa’s words cut deeper. Gilbert had heard the rumors about Elsa. He never wanted to believe them. Locito walked a straight line all his life . . . He was not the “outside child.”
“It’s not yours,” Elsa rubbed her belly, smiling peevishly. “Did think you were ever man enough to do this?”
“You’re a lying bitch,” Gilbert said in spite of himself. Elsa wobbled toward Sirop Miel.
The women exchanged a sinister look; one tried to read the other’s mind to no avail.
Elsa leaned closer to Sirop Miel, wet her parched lips with her tongue. “What was it you were saying about collateral?”
KATIA D. ULYSSE, a native of Haiti, writes in English and Haitian Creole. Her work appears in The Caribbean Writer, Meridians, Peregrine, Smartish Pace, and others. Stories are anthologized in Macomère, Brassage, Butterfly’s Way, Haiti Noir, Mozayïk, and others. Her first book of fiction, DRIFTING, will be published by Akashic Books in July, 2014.
Part 5 of Dark Days in Port-au-Prince will appear on Friday, January 31st.
Posted: Jan 24, 2014
Category: Akashic Insider | Tags: Noir Series, Haiti Noir, M.J. Fievre, Haiti Noir 2: The Classics, Noir, fiction, Exquisite Corpse, Serial story, Roxane Gay, Ibi Zoboi, Ibi Annu Zoboi, Dark Days in Port-au-Prince, Katia D. Ulysse
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