Rezo Nòdwès presents this Sunday a literary short story by Margaret Papillon
Sunday July 26, 2020 ((rezonodwes.com)) –
Abner Mondestin was almost licking his chops. He was doing very good business and he loved it!
At first, he was absolutely unhappy with this profession of undertaker, but since he had found a way to make his own butter through him, now he vowed to it, literally, a cult like no other. Who could have relished working in this field? Spend his life dressing, pampering and embalming stiffs? Except a fool, of course, would revel in it and he, thank goodness, was not a lunatic.
His pet was numbers. Bookkeeper by trade, this new profession of funeral worker, he had not chosen. He had even been forced to exercise it after a very long period of unemployment which had put him in the shackles.
Indeed, without a job for over a year, he was vegetating in the house, by the river. nervous breakdown, playing the lotto like a madman taking care to always select the same combination of numbers that corresponded to the date of birth of his late mother, when his brother-in-law, Gardy, brother of his better half, came to propose to him this position that was to be filled in this funeral director's business owned by one of his friends.
Could you imagine being an undertaker? What he loved most of all was living life to the fullest. He was a “ croque-vie “, what!
At first, he had believed in a hoax on the part of this “ bòf * ” who had the reputation of to be a famous joker; he even wanted her very much.
But afterwards, he had organized a small party worthy of the name to thank her for it.
Now, for nothing in the world he would not have ceded his job to “Ad vitam aeternam” (that was the name of the institution), to anyone.
The main cause of his new passion for this rather… loathsome and poorly paid job was simple: he had discovered an extraordinary way, like a conjurer, to transform a daunting task into a very lucrative one and was happy to do so every day. He felt the soul of an … alchemist.
Ah! You had to be brilliant to find, by practicing embalming, such a gold nugget in “that rat hole”!
What was it exactly?
Well, he had noticed that the parents dead people, we don't really know why (he imagined it was out of respect for… God!), absolutely insisted that their loved ones be buried with new clothes. Behavior he had found, at the beginning, totally absurd since all these beautiful people were well aware that these superb clothes would inevitably rot underground.
But one day, when he took care of a body and made out loud the remark of this aberration for the umpteenth time, he raged by saying to himself that his costumes were worn out while he was “alive” and those of the deceased who were leaving for eternity were costumes for galas. And suddenly, it had tilted in his head: but, here is the solution! he had thought. These chic suits, often three-pieces, he had only to exchange them for his poor people, shabby, frayed, patched up, in short, tired from his rotten unemployment. And, since he carried out his daily task in the strictest isolation, at the back of the establishment, and the others, his employers and his co-workers, never attended this ritual, it would only be too much. comfortable with bartering. Everyone would love it!
That day, he returned home in an incredible state of excitement. He now had free rein to make ends meet in all discretion. Neither seen nor known!
From now on, her children would not miss anything. No more rationing, restrictions and cost savings. And, he would keep this secret jealously to himself. For nothing in the world, he would not put his wife in the confidence.
His honor was at stake…, because she would surely not see with a good eye that he could make money by stealing (great God , as he hated this verb), the clothes of the dead for which he was responsible. Knowing her, she would even say that her husband was exercising a form of abuse (abuse of power, abuse of authority and finally … abuse of trust!) On “beings” unable to defend themselves … “individuals” in a situation of weakness. …
His pride would have taken a hit… that his wife would think that of him.
His “divine”, “brilliant” plan was being put in place, and this , in the beautiful way.
At the beginning, his way of proceeding was simple: he waited for the parents of the deceased to send him the new costume and he, as soon as he had identified the color of it, he left. quickly at home during his hour of break and came back dressed in his used suit of the same shade … the same color, in the same tones as that of the remains. Then all he had to do was make the substitution and voila. The rest was just details and small problems … he made a beautiful floral decoration that only showed a tiny part of the garment. A so-called arrangement, clever camouflage, which was immediately favored by the clients of the company who found that he had had a brilliant idea.
The only minor inconvenience in this whole affair remained the question of size (size). Often the sizes did not suit him. He had either pants that served as a broom or mop on the floor or others that exposed a good half of his shin or jackets with cuffs completely covered his hands. But, what did it matter to him that he looked like a clown when what was important to him was how much he could get out of it? He reserved for himself the suits which suited him like a glove and the others he placed them with Madame Noémie Faeton who owned a “room” business, not far from his parents' house, and who sold them at a pace that would make you pale. jealousy of the biggest stores in the area.
Soon the moment came when our man's complete wardrobe had been completely renewed. And, there was definitely no way for him to give up his lucrative business. What should he do then?
Another idea, just as excellent as the first, occurred to him. Surely he was hugely inspired all of a sudden! In the simplest way possible, he was going to get his supplies from the merchants of “ pèpè *”, the resellers of second-hand clothes, those clothes that we received, by whole bales, from the United States. America, more precisely Miami, which was found at a ridiculously low price at the bottom of the city.
And presto! The wheel of luck began to spin again to his delight. Money flowed into his coffers with disconcerting ease, for now he also took care of the ladies' toilet.
He was happy as a king.
Ah, how well luck did things! With such luck, he also did not neglect to continue to buy his eternal lottery ticket.
To his wife who teased him about this sweet addiction, he replied, unconvinced anyway: “Do we ever know? … I could, at any time, grab the jackpot, God, tired of my insistence, will one day make up his mind to finally open the doors of… opulence! “
He did not believe in saying so well!
The day after he had to make this declaration, he went to the market to get a common gray suit that he was going to exchange for a superb Yves Saint -Laurent that the Buteau family had brought him the day before so that Stanley Buteau, a wealthy entrepreneur, could leave “with dignity” for the afterlife. Then he went to the lotto office (this week there was two million dollars at stake) to buy a ticket.
When the transaction was done, he stuffed it deep in his pants pocket and joked. with, Antonin, the sales clerk, who made fun of the clothes he wore, finding them much too loose.
Our “merchant” took this remark as a joke, bursting into a fat laugh and happy by evoking a sudden weight loss… due to an intestinal problem to explain the fact for him to float in his own clothes.
After, he returned to his job whistling with the carelessness of a guy satisfied with his lot.
19659005] There, he hurried to make a photocopy of his ticket, as usual, because he still lived in fear of losing the latter. He put it back in his pocket and filed the reproduction in a drawer of his worktable.
Now he could take care of his… Yves Saint-Laurent !
The next day, he repeated, to the letter, the scenario of the day before… the visit to his suppliers first, then… direction… the Anto-nin counter… except that…
Arriving at the lottery office, where we seemed to be impatiently hoping for his arrival… he was greeted with extraordinary cheers.
He was the first to be amazed and was greatly startled when he heard this clamor which he never knew He didn't wait.
The employees of the company threw themselves at him with overwhelming enthusiasm.
– But, what's going on? he asked when at last he could place a word.
– What? Said Antonin, the lottery seller, shocked, don't you know?
– Know? But what are you talking about, dear friend?
– You are the lucky winner of the two million dollars, Mr. Mondestin! the other replied with a big smile that cut his mouth up to his ears. Didn't you think about checking your ticket this morning?
With that simple sentence, Abner had received the shock of his life.
He was silent for a moment, not wanting to believe his ears.
Long seconds passed without even being able to move. He was petrified. His eardrums were vibrating dangerously.
He was going to pocket two million? No, it was not possible, he was probably the victim of an … auditory hallucination.
– Did I win? He asked, unable to digest his insolent luck.
– Yes, sir, you won the famous bonus!
– Are you sure what you are saying, Antonin? He insisted on ensuring his peace of mind.
– But, if I tell you, Monsieur Mondestin. The number arrangement you've been using for almost five years is the winning number! This is how we could see immediately that you were the new… elected…
That said, Antonin, to corroborate his statements, rushed to his counter to grab the receipt indicating the combination purchased by his client and showing it triumphantly before our man's bulging eyes.
It was only then that Abner Mondestin let his immense rapture burst forth.
“Such was my destiny, then! exclaimed the lucky winner.
Then came the delirium… He screamed with happiness, stamped with joy, clapped his hands in frenzy, performed a few dance steps… It was over for him misery, destitution, indigence! He was going to be able to finally offer a good life, for good, to his family… he hummed a fashionable tune… talala-lala… talala-lala…
It was absolutely hilarious that he left the lottery office to leave for his home in search of his ticket to be able to collect his bonus.
Arriving at his home, to his astonishment, the household seemed to already be aware of his good fortune, because there was an excitement there extraordinary and boundless excitement. Everyone was running in all directions, screaming hysterically. His wife, knowing her favorite number by heart, listening to the results of the draw on the radio had drawn the only possible conclusion: “Abner had won the jackpot!” “. It was euphoria! A joy close to collective hysteria. His wife and children, with joy and happiness, threw themselves on his neck when they saw him.
A unique moment of pure bliss. He, who had suffered so much from having been castrated by these too long months of idleness was greeted as a hero by his family. Glory to God!
Hugs, hugs, warm congratulations… laughter out loud.
A devilish scandal!
They toasted their bright future by making a thousand jokes of… “good” taste.  It was after much discussion of how they were going to spend all this money, and millions of hastily scaffolded projects, that more than half an hour later Abner Mondestin took leave of his brood to take his ticket. in the pocket of the pants he had to wear the day before.
He remembered hanging this one in the closet in the bathroom. So he walked over to this place at a run.
But as soon as he saw the “Yves Saint-Laurent” in his closet, his blood drained from his body. He became as pale as a dead man and he began to tremble strongly, his heart on the verge of cardiac arrest.
His winning ticket had remained in his old frock which was now worn by Stanley Buteau which was supposed to be go to limbo!
– Nooooonnnnnnnnnnnn! he yelled in despair, refusing to believe, after all his setbacks, that life had “ the audacity ” to play this hanging trick on him.
It was a dreadful misfortune that hit him there and he couldn't breathe a word of his mishap to anyone.
He only had one chance … Maybe Buteau's funeral date had been postponed.
We had to act quickly. !
He left his home in fourth gear, like a nutcase, plunging the others into utter amazement and rushed to “Ad vitam aeternam” in a mad hope that he could make one last attempt to recover his most possession. precious.
But, unfortunately for him, when he finally arrived on the scene, after having endured the most monster traffic jam of all his life, he noted with dismay that Stanley Buteau had indeed been buried during the day. previous
He then felt himself going nuts. He wanted to howl with rage.
Tears of annoyance rose to his eyes.
His colleagues, surprised at his reaction to Buteau's “departure” for the cemetery, were forced to offer him their condolences. 'imagining that the latter was a member of the Mondestin family.
Abner did not even have the strength to point out to them that they were greatly mistaken.
He was dejected, completely devastated!
Impossible to admit to his wife and his brats how the note had disappeared. Because, to justify his sudden cash flow, he had led his wife to believe that he had received a brilliant promotion which had been accompanied by a substantial increase in salary.
He lingered on wandering the streets of the city with his soul deep in his soul, on the verge of suicide, wanting to postpone, as much as possible, the moment when he would be facing his better half.
He wondered with anguish what he was going to be able to do now that he had missed the chance of his life.
He returned to his home at a time when he knew the household, tired of waiting for his improbable return , completely asleep.
Broken, mortified, he then lay down on the living room couch, his eyes fixed on the ceiling and he began to mop up. His pain was immeasurable. How could he have made such a mistake! It was like incredible bad luck or… magic… the greatest of mysteries!
In the end, he concludes that the late Stanley Buteau was solely responsible for his misfortune.
Eye for an eye teeth for teeth… this one had applied the law of retaliation. He had stolen the stiff Yves Saint-Laurent tuxedo and in return he … had left for the beyond with his two million.
What a masterful revenge!
Ah! He had taken good revenge for the extortion he had been subjected to … and he had won! He, Abner, no longer cared for that signature evening dress that was only worth a handful of dollars while he, Stanley, had gotten the hell out of the way with the fortune that could have provided a comfortable existence for a dozen or so people. people. In his sharing, “luck” had not been fair. And, this sad fact infuriated our Abner and made him bitter.
In this country of Haiti we must believe that after death the deceased had their own … life!
No! He wouldn't let it go!
But, what could he do to repair damage of such a magnitude?
He was thinking at lightning speed.
His only solution would be to go exhume the body of Stanley Buteau to force him to return his property to him. He would give her back her costume and get her ticket back.
It was all easy to say, but his execution was insane. Either way, on his own, he wouldn't. He needed the help of at least two people. Hmm…! But who would be willing to accompany him on such an adventure?
How do you organize such an expedition without being labeled a sorcerer, zombie maker, if caught in the act with his hand in the bag? A supreme shame in his opinion… he could even die of annoyance! Because, there were only bòkòrs and members of secret societies, to come and dig up corpses in the middle of the night.
Was he ready to sacrifice this beautiful dignity which was his and what had he gained by working hard on his self-esteem a lifetime? No, certainly not!
And then, all this would not be without consequences… this offense was punishable by law. He would therefore face many years in prison if he ventured to do so.
He just couldn't give up the game with two million at stake… that would be madness!
His thoughts were spinning like tops inside his brain. Enough to drive him crazy for good.
In any case, he still had one certainty: his winning ticket was six feet underground; where no human could steal it from him. On this point, he could be quiet.
A friend once told him that when one could still “locate” the location of an object that one had “misplaced” is that all n was not lost. The odds of getting this one back were at least 90%. Today, he was willing to lend faith, with all his soul and all his strength, to the theory of the latter!
Perhaps his solution would be to hire real “wake-up calls” of the deceased to regain this. which belonged to him by right.
What a mishmash! What a mess!
He was now swimming in the dark with no hope of reaching the light.
What demon had made him do such a wrong and vile act as theft, even though it had been on the person of a deceased; he who had been an honest man all his life?
He had given in to temptation, the devil certainly had a lot to do with it!
He was paying dearly for this theft! And to think that he believed himself to be the most intelligent of all and was convinced that no one would ever know anything about it since the victims were dead or rather it was … dead, therefore unable to understand what was happening and to be able to do without defend!
Soon it was impossible for our man to work or lead a normal life. He feared the effect of the humidity on the lottery ticket, earthworms, ants… termites and other critters… which could destroy his most priceless possession now! And, his fears very quickly turned to obsession.
While waiting to find a solution to this thorny problem of recovery, he had stood up as a genuine vigil who kept watch around Buteau's burial place even on Sundays. and public holidays. At dusk, armed with a flashlight, he swept Buteau's tomb with its beam of light to make sure nothing had been touched.
The slightest activity around this place seemed suspicious to him. He even drove there between midnight and 2 a.m. because he had let himself be told that this was the time frame that the dead body thieves and zombie makers operated.
Harmful thoughts whirled in his head in a crazy waltz: what if … a real bòkòr, for some reason he does not know, came to wake up “his dead” and take him to a destination unknown to him? Just thinking about it made him panic. My God, my God, how was he going to get away with this? He was losing his temper for real!
His wife, inevitably, given the permanent state of anxiety of the desperate, ends up wondering about the funny behavior of this one.
Now she had a firm belief that he had a mistress. In his opinion, a man would go out, on the sly, at undue hours, only to talk to another.
How else to explain the fact that he was unable to claim his prize? His two million won in the lottery? Worse… he swore he didn't know where that “wonderful” note was; true “Sesame, open up!” Of all his family. He had certainly given this one to another woman. Well! She would make him regret it! He was going to pay dearly for it!
Vexed, angry, frustrated, revolted, she became sick with jealousy and decided to follow him in order to find out. She wouldn't let that happen! She would be foolish to accept that such a fortune is slipping under her nose!
Her first shock was to realize that her destination was “Ad vitam aeternam.”
And her second… she was flabbergasted when she surprised her Jules's little merry-go-round around one of the tombs of the funeral home (he spoke aloud as if he was addressing an interlocutor, yet he seemed to be quite alone in this deserted place at this hour of the night). In addition, he gesticulated, gesturing with his arms outstretched towards the sky, then punched his chest with his fist forcefully. She just couldn't believe it!
She heard him yell:
– Give me this note, you got it old bastard, he's mine! This money belongs to my family … You have no right to take it from me!
But, to whom was he reserving this kind of talk, when he was filled with some sort of rage? Was he talking to the unseen?
A dreadful fear seized her then.
“What the hell could all this circus mean?” She wondered completely stunned. He was really acting like a fool. Her husband's sanity was clearly in jeopardy. But, given his current totally aberrant behavior … wasn't it already too late to hope for a cure?
Morale in a thousand pieces, she hurried back to her home. Now, as he was, she feared he would harm his own offspring. He would still have been happy if he had a date with a mistress. It would be a lesser evil! The horrible scene she had just witnessed simply put her off guard.
Heavenly God, what a calamity!
At the “Ad vitam aeternam”, things were no better . Our man's colleagues were also in a deep astonishment at the tormented face of their friend and his behavior, to say the least, aberrant … For a few days, we found him in an extreme state of agitation.
We had it. seen spraying the earth around Stanley Buteau's grave with insecticide several times in the same day.
So he insisted on moving his small office. He had installed this one just in front of one of the windows which offered an outside panorama, because he wanted, he declared, in his moments of pause, to have a view of the cemetery. MACABRE! And, besides, he spent his time staring in the direction of one of the crypts (he had to say his head was elsewhere) and his work suffered terribly.
Then, one evening, when Abner was at the end of everything, his nerves ready to crack; he ended up falling into a deep doze during which he had a strange dream… He dreamed of Stanley Buteau!
The latter had knocked on his door and told him that he had come for a “courtesy” visit. He was wearing the threadbare suit that our “clever” Abner had given him!
So they both sat in the living room and chatted about everything and nothing, like good old friends, around respect for the property of others, honesty, a quality so rare in today's world, decency, a sense of honor, etc.
At a certain point in the conversation, Abner heard himself make his “mea culpa” and offer, point blank, to his opposite:
“Let's make a pact, Stanley Buteau, I understood the lesson, I'll give you back your costume and you give me my money back! “
With these words, the face of the” disappeared “had lit up.
An understanding was sealed by a good and frank handshake. And, the nocturnal visitor, happy with the turn of events, left without asking for his rest!
As for Abner, not managing to digest the loss of his famous note, he woke up with a bitter taste in the mouth and a despair always full the head. His dream was precisely “just a dream” … light years away from his sad present reality.
With his eyes closed, he was already making other bizarre plans to try to reclaim his jackpot, when suddenly his a woman, standing since the first light of dawn, her frustration at not hearing from her jackpot was great, entered the room in a gust of wind to announce:
“Abner, Abner, wake up, there's a guy in a rush outside the door who claims you promised him an Yves Saint-Laurent suit so he could go to a funeral. He also says that in exchange he has an envelope for you!
At first glance, Abner thought of a hoax. He didn't flinch and said only with a growl:
– At six in the morning? If this is a joke, Deborah, this one is in terrible taste! It may be a way for you to take revenge for my abnormal and unacceptable behavior of the last few days…
– It's not a joke, dear friend, this gentleman is really there and he is impatient . I offered to sit down, but he refused, citing a busy schedule… When I pointed out the morning hour…, he replied that he had just negotiated with you and…
Taken aback, Abner straightened up like a spring freshly released from a shackle, struck by the coincidence of his recent night vision.
He let out a loud cry of surprise.
It is the trembling body that he rushed to the bathroom to grab his robe and go straight to the front door; his heart pounding in his chest.
It was indeed Stanley Buteau that he found on the threshold of his house; holding, in his right hand, a rectangle of white paper. He immediately recognized the face of “the ghost” that had remained etched in his memory for the rest of his life and above all … the patched up, faded costume he was wearing.
Eyes wide in amazement, Abner Mondestin remained silent for very long minutes. His forehead was beaded with sweat… cold while his cheeks were on fire.
Then, without saying a word, he went to get Buteau's “three pieces” and brought it back to him.
The latter s 'grabbed his Yves Saint-Laurent and handed his “usurper” the envelope containing the famous lotto ticket.
And, still keeping his profound silence, he quickly slipped away. Il avait à peine fait quelques pas, qu’il disparut complètement de la vue de Mondestin, abandonnant totalement sa forme matérielle.
Notre homme n’en revenait absolument pas de cette mystérieuse et extraordinaire visite.
Il ouvrit précipitamment l’étrange pli et y découvrit « SON BILLET », preuve que cette incroyable scène avait bien eu lieu et qu’il n’était pas en train d’halluciner.
Quand il recouvra l’usage de ses jambes, il se précipita dans sa chambre à la recherche de la photocopie qu’il avait précieusement conservée pour pouvoir faire les comparaisons. Il n’y avait pas de doutes, ce billet était définitivement le sien !
À bout d’émotions, il versa des torrents de lar-mes de joie. Il sanglota tel un bébé !
À Déborah qui était accourue pour voir ce qui se passait et connaître la raison de tant de pleurs ; il lui tendit le billet gagnant puis la serra très fort dans ses bras tout en continuant à pleurer.
– Oh, mon Dieu ! Tu l’as retrouvé, mon chéri ! C’est merveilleux ! fit-elle remarquer alors que ses yeux à elle se remplissaient d’eau. Quel bonheur ! poursuivit-elle, je savais qu’il ne pouvait pas être trop loin. Mais, où l’avais-tu fourré ?
– C’était mon destin de devenir millionnaire, c’est tout ! Se contenta-t-il de dire, préférant ne pas lui fournir une réponse trop élaborée.
Sur ce, il appela leurs enfants pour leur apprendre à eux aussi la bonne nouvelle !
Comment un tel phénomène avait-il pu se produire ? Ça, il ne se l’expliquait pas… et probablement qu’il en serait ainsi pour le reste de la période qu’il aurait à passer sur Terre.
Pour le moment, il ne cherchait pas non plus à comprendre. Sa seule certitude était que désormais il en était quitte de cette affaire avec Buteau. Ce contentieux avait été résolu à jamais et sa famille et lui allaient pouvoir profiter un peu de la vie.
Peut-être qu’un jour il prendrait son courage à deux mains pour raconter cette histoire rocambolesque à Déborah… le temps pour lui d’y croire vraiment lui-même… et… en espérant qu’elle ne le considèrera pas comme le dernier… des timbrés !
Miami, Floride, le 24 novembre 2015
Nouvelle publiée in le recueil « Voodoo Mood », nouvelles, 2017
© Margaret Papillon