Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » January 2014 » Dark Days in Port-au-Prince (Part 5, Josaphat-Robert Large)

Dark Days in Port-au-Prince (Part 5, Josaphat-Robert Large)

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.

This fifth installment of Dark Days in Port-au-Prince comes from Haiti Noir contributor Josaphat-Robert Large.

Read Part 1 of Dark Days in Port-au-Prince by Roxane Gay here, part 2 by M.J. Fievre here, part 3 by Ibi Aanu Zoboi here, and part 4 by Katia D. Ulysse here.


“Enough!” Cried Sirop Miel. “Enough already! You spend too long talking, barking, pleasuring yourselves with the words of your domestic quarrels. Enough!”

Then, almost whispering: “Listen, listen carefully to what the wind has to say! Listen!”

Both Gilbert and Elsa looked puzzled.

“What,” declared Sirop Miel, “you don’t hear the words of the wind? Are you Haitians or what! If so, stop acting like such a silly duo! Don’t you ever listen to the wind of rumors? Don’t you follow what the neighborhood’s gossip has to say?”

Sirop Miel knew exactly what direction she wanted the conversation to take. In Haiti, using the medium of what is called Telediol, masters of rumors in each town—from the North to the South and, from there, way down to the Grand’Anse Department—women and men establish coteries of gossipers duly responsible for spreading and launching into the air daily winds of rumors.

“The wind today,” added Sirop Miel with a cynical smile, “is talking about collateral. Read my lips.” She silently mouthed C.O.L.L.A.T.E.R.A.L. “You understand? To make sure you dig what I’m talking about, let us turn the page and go to the second phase of my visit.”

She unclipped her phone from her ornamented belt and quickly pressed a button. “It’s time,” she said, and hung up. Jean-Pascal and Sylvain had already fled, shaking with fear.

It wasn’t a minute before a brouhaha started at the door. Loud knocking! Sirop Miel walked toward the entrance, throwing a joke in the air: “May I?” she asked. “May I?” she repeated, slowly opening the door.

Two headsmen, the SUV’s driver and another henchman, made their way into the house. One went toward Gilbert and the other, the most ruthless one, in the direction of the pregnant Elsa. There, he rapidly adopted his macho posture: squaring up his shoulders and lifting his shirt to expose his 9mm’s hammer. He quickly took Elsa in his strong arms, wrapping them stiffly around her shoulders.

“Let the show begin!” shouted Sirop Miel.

The henchman seemed to start to draw on Elsa’s body with the tip of his index finger, going from underneath her right breast and curving down until the finger reached the lower part of her belly, not far from her genitals.

Smiling, Sirop Miel threw an explanation: “C for Collateral!”

Enraged, Gilbert tried to jump toward his wife, but the driver got him in a lock, a strong arm tightly wrapped around his neck. Ready to strangle, he gradually tied up the lock.  A muffled sound came out of Gilbert’s mouth, as if he were fighting for breath, his tongue sticking out of his mouth. That’s when Sirop Miel, looking more cynical than ever, took a stroll around Gilbert and shouted:

“Let the show continue!”

Kneeling beside the chair where the Elsa had taken a seat, no longer able to stand on her wobbly legs, the ruthless henchman gently slipped his right hand underneath her skirt. He looked cynically at the astonished Gilbert, his finger slowly crawling toward Elsa’s panty. An anguished cry then exploded in the room: “No! Oh God! No!”


The unconscious woman was finally half-carried to the front door, which was ajar. Sirop Miel mockingly launched these last words: “Remember, listen to the wind of rumors, for the sake of your Collateral!”




JOSAPHAT-ROBERT LARGE was born in Haiti in 1942 and moved to the United States in 1963 during the Duvalier dictatorship. He then studied English at Columbia University. A poet and novelist, he writes in French, Creole, and English. He is the author of five novels and four collections of poems. His novel Les terres entourées de larmes (Paris, 2002), was awarded the Grand Literary Prize of the French Caribbean in 2003.

Posted: Jan 31, 2014

Category: Akashic Insider | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,