(Sound track suggestion: Raison d'Être - Spire of Withhold)
The road was crowded with souls. Standing peacefully, listening to an inaudible speech. An angry speech. The one who brought all of them, the one with the angry, disturbed face, he, in the middle, the first of them to leave this world, the perpetrator of vengeance, stood right in the middle of that cemetery road where each soul was its own tombstone.
It began a few days earlier, when he was at home, depressed, while his family happily watched soap operas. They did not care about him until they noticed that for each step he took he would stop and breathe deeply. They took him to the hospital, not the one where he had been treated before, no, this time they took him to a different one.
He was already intubated by the time the news reached me. We seldom saw each other, but just as soon as I heard about his state I ran for the last visit. My cousins cried helplessly as their dad was nearly gone, only breathing through a ventilator. At first it was difficult to recognize him, not because we seldom saw each other, but because his face was swollen like I had never seen happen to a human being before. They said his whole body was in such state, but I didn’t see it, for it was all covered. They said there was blood all over his body as the doctors tried to help it circulate artificially, keeping him alive for a few more days. As I stared at his nearly dead, swollen body, in induced coma, I couldn’t think about anything. My head was completely empty of thoughts, as barren as the driest of the deserts. Suddenly, I realized it was most likely the last time I’d ever see my uncle, but it was not the last time he would’ve seen me, as he couldn’t see me at all. When he saw me for the last time, cheerfully playing cards at my father’s birthday, he would never imagine the last time I would see him would be at his deathbed.
When time finally came, less than a day after, me and my sister met at father’s place. The old man could only blame our aunt, who, he said, made our uncle suffer like hell since they got married, decades ago. As if father would feed on hate he could not stop bashing his own sister, their neighbors, friends and relatives in front of us, as he would cowardly bash ourselves to them as soon as he grabbed an opportunity. He refused going to uncle’s funeral, which was going to happen in his hometown, not far away from us. I promised my sister I’d meet her the next morning to catch the bus she arranged to take friends and neighbors to the burial.
I was quite tired and had a terrible headache for the last two days in a row, so I lay down early and quickly fell asleep. I could see my uncle, alive and well, but silent. He was wearing a smoking jacket and a bow tie, things I’ve never seen on him before, and walking around my building. I tried to talk to him, but he fled. As I kept speaking, he’d go further, placing white boards standing about 1.5m (c. 5ft) from the ground, saying:
I shut, as the sign says in Portuguese “DO NOT SPEAK”, and tried to find a way to reach him, but then the writings on the boards would change, as in a hologram, to show the words:
I stopped, as the board said “DO NOT GO”, and found myself trapped in the middle of an appalling amount of boards my uncle left as he fled away. I woke up in complete darkness, hearing the storm hit the window. I drank some water and went back to sleep, as it was still only 3 in the morning. Then I saw the speech. Somehow, I managed to transport to the place my uncle was going, the road, where hundreds of souls followed him. I understood that was the near future and those were the souls of the friends and relatives who went to see his funeral. They died in a massive car accident on the road to that town during the storm and my life was spared by the signs my uncle had left. From his inaudible, angry speech I could only read one word coming from his lips: “barbeiro” – the barber.
Suddenly, my mind was invaded with a scene that happened before my own birth. In an old house made of rammed earth, in the countryside, I saw my uncle falling asleep while my aunt argued badly with him for some hogwash. She started to hit and yell at him but he wouldn’t wake up, pretending to be sleeping so she would finally quit arguing. Then she saw a barber bug on the wall and had a horrendous idea. She placed the beetle on his skin, enticing it to bite my uncle, infecting him with the Chagas disease, the one that waits in the body of men for decades until suddenly makes their heart grow and grow until it crushes the surrounding organs, curbing the blood circulation, leading ultimately to an excruciating death.