Authors: Derek Haines
The Sons Of Cleito
by Derek Haines
The Sons Of Cleito
Copyright © 2012 by Derek Haines
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Also by Derek Haines
One thing I know, that I know nothing. This is the source of my wisdom.
The Sons Of Cleito
The internal organs located in and around the belly, while serving most notably as an efficient set of composting and sewerage services, happen to possess another completely unrelated and totally mystical function. Often attributed in total to the stomach, which seems unfair on the liver, spleen and other soft tissue organs that do all the really hard work, it is the ability of these organs to foresee bad news, attribute self-guilt, doubt and generally tell the owner of the organs that they are probably going to be in for a very bad day.
It is of course a complete mystery how these organs know about a death in the family well in advance of the telephone call that confirms the sad news. However, due to the fact that these organs can only communicate by using degrees of nausea, hollow emptiness and an indescribable and illogical upside down sensation, they can't actually spell out the precise name of the soon to be dearly departed, so it still takes that one telephone call to get all the nitty-gritty details. When it comes to guilt though, these organs work together in perfect harmony as they reprocess angelic messages of pure innocence from the brain and then inform the rest of the body that the brain is dealing, once again, in disseminating misinformation and indulgent fantasy.
It was confusing for me when I woke, after I had willed my legs to the side of the bed and my feet onto the floor and then sat up and wished I hadn't, because my internal organs were definitely trying to tell me something. Of course I knew whatever it was, was bad, but then had trouble deciding on what category of bad it was. Logic and my thumping headache deciding it was simply another hangover, which I knew were becoming a little habitual, and that explained the nausea and empty feeling because my liver was working overtime, yet again. From elsewhere though, roughly just left of my navel, there was another conclusion forming that while agreeing a little with my headache and classic logic, was saying that it would probably be a better idea to get back under the covers and go back to sleep because today was going to be a real shit. Something bad was about to, or perhaps had happened, and it was something I surely didn't want to know about quite yet. Unfortunately, seeing as my internal organs had now told me that something bad had, or was about to happen, the nausea, emptiness and upside down feeling I was suffering wasn't going to let me roll over, go back to sleep and forget all about it. Nor was my bladder, which had now been woken up and started screaming for urgent attention.
Feeling like crap and making the foggy journey to the bathroom wasn't unusual, but the feeling in my gut was. On the one to ten scale of impending bad news festering in there, this one was off the scale at around fifteen. Clean teeth, a pee, a shit, then a shower and shave did nothing to help diminish the awful feeling; neither did coffee and a slice of cold pizza. I drank more coffee and waited – while my gut twisted and turned, reinforcing its premonition.
My fourth cup of coffee only helped in refilling my bladder and sending me off for a second pee. I caught my face in the bathroom mirror and then wished we hadn't caught up. Recently, mornings weren't being all that kind to my forty-six years and although I had accepted my receding hairline a long time ago, I wasn't as accepting of the lines burying themselves deeper into my brow, nor the new flushed and ruddy complexion I was developing. This morning wasn't one of the really bad ones though, as at least I didn't get the feeling that the bags of skin under my eyes were threatening to drip all over my cheeks. I knew it was the alcohol, a bad marriage and a feeling of worthlessness bordering on depression, but I still thought the mirror and mornings were being extremely mean. I needed a holiday and some time on a beach to work on getting a suntan, or at the very least, skip the beach and work on getting myself a life. I let that thought process itself while I offered orange juice to my hangover, which it seemed to accept with gratitude. However, when the cold juice hit my gut, my stomach did three somersaults followed by a twist with tuck and reminded me with earnest of its earlier forecast. I was in for a shit of a day.
An almost timid tap at my front door startled me, and instantly added a missed heartbeat or two to my surly and alarmist internal digestive organs, who immediately assumed of course that their augury of doom had arrived. My apartment building had a secure entry and the intercom usually alerted me to my visitors wanting to get into the building. So this unexpected knock must be from a neighbour I assumed as I took a deep breath and made my way to the door. Checking my front door's spyhole for one of the very rare occasions, I was relieved to see a deliveryman with a small parcel – he was looking up at the ceiling in the hall and whistling.
'Hello,' I said, after opening the door.
'Good morning, Mr Langley Garret?' he asked, and then the sudden realisation that it was Sunday morning sent my stomach and lower bowel into a twisted state of uneasiness.
'Yes,' I replied, and for some reason my small intestines weren't all that surprised when he silently turned his back on me and took his first step back towards the elevators. From either side of my open door, a man and a woman materialised and my digestive organs immediately went into
'We told you so'
overdrive. With faces that appeared chiselled from granite they moved through my door almost shoulder to shoulder, forcing me to step back involuntarily. My mind was racing and asking me why I hadn't politely said no thank you and closed the door – but these faces didn't strike me as those that would have taken no for an answer. I had stepped back in fright, so it was no use now in mentally debating what I should or shouldn't have done or said, now that they had closed the door behind themselves and were firmly situated in my apartment.
'If you'd like to sit down Mr Garret,' the woman said as the man, dressed in what could only be described as a scary ill-fitting black suit remained standing in front of my door, which other than jumping from my eleventh floor balcony was my only logical means of escape.
'What's all this about? You can't just barge into my home like this,' I protested, but her cold hazel eyes told me she wasn't even going to bother answering me.
'Sit down Mr Garret,' she said, ignoring my protests as I had predicted, and then looked around my living room. Not with the kind of looking around people do when admiring the furniture, my literary taste on my bookshelves or paintings on the walls, but more the kind of careful looking around one would do when you think someone is aiming a gun at your head. After concentrating on the corners of the walls where they joined the ceiling, then around the window frames, she nodded to the man. I heard my keys locking my front door and then the sound of them dropping into his pocket before he moved off towards my bedroom.
'Quiet!' she snapped in a low voice and stared at me with eyes that could kill, and I immediately wondered if perhaps they had. She waited, standing in front of me, still scanning the room and only when the man returned and shook his head and she gave him a hand gesture that seemed to say,
did she return her attention to me.
'I said sit down!' she repeated, and fearing the possible consequences, I acquiesced.
'Now Mr Garret, I need to confirm a few details with you first,' she said, as she sat down a polite distance from me on my sofa. She crossed her legs as ladies do by habit when they sit, but that was about the only ladylike quality I noticed. Being dressed in a pale blue pants suit didn't soften or add femininity to her persona either, as her cold hazel eyes that could perhaps have killed were now cutting across my face, sending a clear message that she wasn't about to beguile me with anything remotely close to feminine charm.
'What the hell is this all about?' I asked, as politely as I could given the circumstances.
'Your wife is away I understand.'
'That's none of your business.'
'I know your wife Helen left a few days ago. She's due back in a couple of days I believe.'
'What do you want?'
'Do you both travel a lot?'
I didn't answer, just looked directly into her eyes and knew I was in serious trouble. In any other situation I might have described her as attractive, glossy shoulder length brown hair and in her early forties. But all I saw at that moment was a woman, who was doing a very good job of scaring me shitless, and my guts agreed; they felt very hollow, and were turning upside down in fear.
'You've been to so many parts of the world Mr Garret. You're quite a traveller. Asia, the US, Europe and the Middle East. But you're from England originally, aren't you?'
I didn't answer.
'You're not very talkative.'
'I like holidays.'
'Do you and your wife always travel separately?'
'Who are you? Police? You haven't shown me any ID,' I said as calmly as I could.
'I don't get the chance to travel all that much. I probably should take more holidays,' she said, completely ignoring my request for ID.
'I don't understand what you want.'
'You're very active on the Internet too Mr Garret.'
'I don't see what….'
'Looking for a little Internet romance?' she said, with the first hint of anything approaching a smile. It wasn't really a smile. It was more a small wry upward movement of one side of her mouth.
'It's none of your business.'
'No, I suppose not.'
'Who the fuck are you and why are you….'
'Settle down Mr Garret. Getting upset and annoyed will only make things more difficult.'
'More fucking difficult? Who the fuck are you? And why would…,' I shouted, just before I felt her grab at my upper arm below my t-shirt sleeve, and then feeling a hot stinging sensation that went running up and down my left arm.
'I see,' she said and stood up. 'Anything?' she asked the man, who had returned and he shook his head. I tried looking up at her but my vision suddenly started blurring and my legs turned to jelly as I tried to stand and protest. My organs in my gut however were working perfectly and were saying,
'See, we did tell you.'
The smiling, whistling delivery man, who I'd met only a few minutes before, was waiting by the open elevator doors as my two visitors escorted my disobedient legs, plus the rest of my body into the elevator. Any hope of conveniently meeting a neighbour or two and screaming for help disappeared as the elevator went straight down to the ground floor and I was whisked into a waiting car. My two unwelcome Sunday morning visitors sitting either side of me in the back seat as the streets of Neuchâtel gave way quickly to the high speed left lane of the freeway. I tried to ask where we were going, but my mouth had ceased working at about the same time as I caught my last glimpses of Lake Neuchâtel. I could feel my head nodding and my sense of time being lost as we drove, but I managed to recognise a few familiar sights as my head bobbed up and down and realised that we were now off the freeway and into the outskirts of Zurich, and shocked that I had lost nearly two hours of my Sunday somewhere along the way. A sign flashed by indicating two kilometres to Kloten Flughafen, so I consoled myself with at least knowing roughly where I was; in Zurich and somewhere near the airport. Why I was there was still a complete mystery however.
'Yes, around the back,' I heard the woman tell the driver. I wondered about her accent as I couldn't quite place it, but she was definitely English speaking. Living in the daily language potpourri of Switzerland, one acquires sensitivity to languages and accents, and second language English speakers are usually easy to pick. She wasn't though. But my brain was not working well enough to decide if she was American, English or South African. The car turned into a narrow side street, then left into another before pulling up at the rear of a small apartment block. Without a word from anyone, I was pulled from the car and whisked up two flights of concrete stairs before being man handled through the door of a second floor apartment.