William was walking down the streets covered with his own blood. In Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, people were afraid of this blood-covered man ambulating quietly as if it were normal to walk on the streets like this. Usually, people don’t walk on the streets wearing their own blood as a garment.
by Jonel Juste
Usually, people don’t wear blood outside; they keep it inside. Outside, they wear clothes, jewelry, a smile or anything else to hide their true selves. The sight of this man strolling down the Main Street with a bloody clothing was both bizarre and frightening. Maybe he was one of the dead people who escaped from the funeral homes. Yeah, in Port-au-Prince the dead are not always dead. Some of them can escape from the funeral homes because they are still alive. They are called zombies, living dead; however, they are no zombie, they are just not dead yet.
Usually the so-called zombies are people poisoned with a special powder that make them cadaver-like. When people are “powdered” like this, you can’t tell if they are alive; no sign of life, they don’t breathe, they have no pulse and doctors declare them dead while they are still alive. When they put these people in funeral homes, it happens they wake up when the poison effect stops. The poison was not meant to kill the victims but to paralyze them completely and make them look like corpses. That’s called zombification. This living dead would be later unearthed and brought to a large rice plantation to work as a slave. Awful. It happens that the “dead” wake up and escape from the funeral home bleeding. When this happens, it makes headlines in Port-au-Prince. People talk about it for days. William was not one of those walking dead, but he too escaped from the claws of death this day.
William, reporter at The Nation, the local newspaper, had planned to go to Bel-Air during the weekend. Bel-Air was once a nice neighborhood in the Haitian capital. Rich people used to live there before they fled to Petion-Ville, the rich city on the hills. Now Bel-Air has become a deathtrap infested with thugs. However, William fell in love with a Bel-Air girl. Though he had to face danger every time he went to see her, he courageously did so because he was in love.
This morning at the newsroom meeting, the editor-in-chief assigned William to cover a developing story in Arcahaie, a small city outside of Haiti’s capital, in the countryside. There was an uprising in Arcahaie and the newspaper wanted this story for the next issue. The reporter would have to spend the whole weekend outside of Port-au-Prince.
William didn’t want to go the countryside for two reasons. He feared for his life because he heard that two cops were already murdered at this uprising. Secondly, he had already planned to spend the weekend with his new girlfriend, the Bel-Air girl. He didn’t tell any of this to his editor-in-chief fearing that his reasons wouldn’t be validated. So he lied. He told his boss about an interview he had with Tupac, the most powerful gang leader in Bel-Air. Tupac had decided to speak with the press because he was unjustly accused of a mass killing. The gang leader wanted to clear his name and tell his story at the same time. He would also, invented William, tell whose hand was really behind the mass killing. William convinced his editor he had a scoop, the interview of the century. Mr. Edison was reluctant to air such a story, but as he felt that this interview could boost the sales of the newspaper, he agreed and allowed William to meet with the infamous gang leader. “Come back alive”, he told him as he was leaving.
William left the newsroom with a mocking smile on his face wondering what other lie he would make up to cover the one he just told. He even called his girlfriend to tell her how he played his editor in chief so he could see her. They laughed a lot.
Saturday night, Williams was driving to Bel-Air thinking of the wonderful night he was going to spend with Alicia. However, when he arrived at her place, he saw a Jeep parked in the front yard and was wondering whose car this could be. Before getting in, he checked his phone and noticed a couple of missed calls from his ladylove. He couldn’t hear anything while he was driving because the phone was on silent. He tried to call her back when he noticed the calls but the battery was dead. So he decided to knock at the door to ask what was going on. Alicia half-opened the door and refused to let him in. William was surprised but he could also read fear in her eyes.
-What’s going on? He asked her.
-I tried to call you to cancel our date, she answered.
-Why? William asked.
Alicia was going to answer when a man from inside asked loudly:
-Darling, who are you talking to?
William jumped, “What? Who’s calling you ‘Darling’”? Alicia was beseeching William to leave but he pushed her violently and passed the door. When he got in, he bumped into Tupac, the famous gang leader he told his newsroom he would interview. The interview was brutal. When Tupac saw him, he grabbed his riffle and many gunshots followed. Fortunately, William could save his life; he ran away leaving his car behind. He ran while bullets were flying over his head. When he got to a safe place, he noticed he was bleeding. He took a bullet in his shoulder. The blood covered all his body, but he was alive and didn’t seem to care about the wound. When he totally left Bel-Air and felt himself out of danger, he was just ambulating quietly on the streets, thinking about his car, his lost love and what story he will invent when Mr. Edison will ask him for the famous interview.