Paraiso

Off the curb of Paraiso street, three young men are sitting down, holding a bag of plastic. All three are wearing shorts and sandals, two of them are wearing loose fitting t-shirts and one of them a collared polo. They are Andre, Angelo and Henry all children of foreign diplomats living in this particular subdivision.

Andre wears a white t-shirt with an emblem of his school. He opens the plastic bag and takes out a beer; he pulls out his lighter and wedges the butt between the bottle cap and his thumb, with a swift flick he pops the cap free and hands the beer to angelo. He repeats this again twice and now all of them hold a beer in hand.

Angelo sports long raven hair, and always wears black from top to bottom, his shirt has the imprint of an old political figure, and although he knows nothing about the history or the achievements of this person he likes the design of the shirt… especially the slogan at the back.

Henry leans back and looks around, the houses are big and so are the trees, there is so much history yet, here they were young kids who know nothing about the country they are staying in.

‘Guys, have you ever thought about this place?’

‘What do you mean?’ asks Andre

Angelo drinks his beer.

‘Think about it, there is so much history, there was war, and then there was unity, the religion, the people, diversity, so many things.’

‘What are you mumbling about now Henry?’

‘Where we are sitting now, this street is old, as old as our parents, maybe older, and these houses, the trees? I mean what was this before the houses? What were the people like?’

‘Are you drunk?’ asks Andre

‘No.’ Henry replies.

‘Listen why does it matter?’ Andre pauses before continuing ‘in a year or two we wont be here anyways.’

Angelo nods, empties his beer and asks for another.

Flicking the bottle cap open Andre speaks ‘who knows where we will be, maybe Switzerland, Indonesia, Brazil? Do you expect us to sit and learn the history of these places as well?’

‘Have you even tried to understand the country?’ Henry asks.

‘Nope.’

‘Language?’

‘Nope.’

‘But you have a Filipina girlfriend.’

‘Yup’ Andre smiles and drinks his beer. ‘That is a completely different scenario altogether.’

‘How so?’

Andre opens another bottle and takes a sip.

‘Aren’t you drinking Henry?’

Henry looks at his bottle, beads of cool sweat trickle down the smooth surface; he takes a sip and looks at Andre.

‘She is just a girl-friend, I mean I don’t need to know her history or language now do I?’

‘You have been together for two years now right?’

‘Yeah so?’

‘And you have met her family, brother, parents.’

‘What is your point Henry?’

‘It’s serious isn’t it?’

‘I don’t know, maybe.’

Henry takes a sip of his beer. ‘Next year you are going to college right?’

‘Yes.’

‘Have you applied to the local universities?’

‘Of course.’

‘If your dad leaves, will you leave with him?’

‘I don’t know, if I am already studying then maybe I will stay, it will be too difficult to keep on changing universities.’

‘And you will be here with Lanie yes?’

‘Henry you are losing me.’

Angelo asks for another beer.

‘Think about it Andre, you have a two year relationship, you are entering college and that is four years, most likely you will work here as well, you might be living all by yourself.’

Andre opens the beer and hands it to Angelo.

‘Yet you don’t want to learn anything about this country, not the history, not the culture, not the language?’

Andre empties his beer and looks at the plastic, only one bottle left, he looks at Angelo, he is lying down, the bottles of beer scattered around his legs.

‘Go ahead take it, I don’t want it anyways.’ Henry says as he takes a sip from his beer.

The three boys sit there for some time, finishing their booze. Angelo finally speaks ‘lets walk around, I am bored.’

They stand up, leaving the empty bottles on the ground, Angelo is Zig-Zagging, while Henry is still persistent about Andre.

Andre dismisses Henry, and just continues looking at the houses. All the houses here are old, most of them converted into embassies, the first one they recognize as the Indian embassy. The security is fairly tight, and the houses quite large, which leads to the preference of the diplomats and ambassadors.

They reach a corner house which is a duplex, fairly new, the driveway is tiled and the house is painted in a mixture of pink and orange. Angelo bumps into a black sedan and leans. ‘Guys, I need to pee.’

Andre shakes his head ‘wait till you go home.’

‘No I have to go now.’

Henry says ‘why don’t you do it by the tree.’ And he looks around for a good spot, walks over to an empty lot and there is a tree at the far end ‘Angelo there, you can pee there, Angelo?’

Angelo is halfway up a black iron gate.

‘Hey get down from there!’ screams Andre

Angelo falls onto the marbled driveway and breaks out in laughter ‘I gotta pee, this will be quick.’

‘We have to get him’ says Henry

‘Why? He is getting himself in trouble, my house is just at the end of the street, I can go home.’ Replies Andre.

‘Come on lets go.’ Henry drags Andre and they climb over the gate. They land on their feet and raise Angelo. ‘Up we go.’

‘No! No! I really have to go.’ Angelo shakes off their grasps and runs to the main entry way. The door made of solid Narra wood, there is a gold plated lever, and Angelo presses down on the lever. It is locked, he shakes the door hard and the clattering noise shocks Andre. ‘Keep it down, come on lets go!’

Angelo runs to the side of the house and goes through a narrow passageway leading to a large swimming pool. Henry runs after him with Andre not far behind.

On the right is a small shed, there are some discarded boards, a pail of nails and a makeshift ladder. Behind the shed the shower rooms are situated, Angelo enters and opens the door; it is unlocked and relieves himself at the solitary toilet.

The pool is deep blue, and is illuminated by small pin lights at the bottom. Splashes and giggles can be heard, which by the arrival of Henry and Andre turned to moans.

There is a couple in the far end of the pool, their clothes are piled up on a bench behind them.

Andre notices a familiar figure in the pool ‘Lanie?’

‘Andre?!?’ Lanie shrieks, trying to cover herself behind a bald muscular man.

‘Hey! Who are you guys? How did you get in here?!’ The man lifts himself out of the pool, wraps a towel around his waist and brisks his way towards Andre.

‘Andre.’ Lanie speaks

‘I thought you were visiting a childhood friend.’

‘I was.’

‘Who is this?’

‘He is Miguel.’

‘Who?’

‘He is my ex.’

‘Your ex is in the states.’

‘Now I am back, and who are you?’ Miguel stands in front of Andre, cracking his knuckles.

‘I am her boyfriend.’ Andre tries to push Miguel aside.

Miguel smirks ‘not anymore.’

Andre throws a punch at Miguel, but the latter has dodged the futile attempt and now twists Andre’s arm behind his back.

‘I think you better leave bro.’

Henry approaches them trying to calm them down. ‘Ok ok we are leaving.’

Miguel releases the arm of Andre, rubbing his sore arm and filled with rage at his philandering girlfriend he swings a right hook towards Miguel.

Miguel expertly dodges the strike and punches the gut of Andre, knocking the wind out of him.

Meanwhile Angelo has finally relieved himself and steps out of the shower room, he watches the confrontation evolve. He lunges at Miguel, surprising him and striking the side of his knee.

Miguel bends over clutching his leg, then Andre makes several strikes at the head of Miguel, Miguel pushes him away and prepares a massive strike.

A loose four by four board with rusted nails pierced through hits Miguel’s head skewering his eye and he falls backward splashing into the pool, his blood release into the calm blue water.

‘Lanie?’

‘I’m sorry Andre, we kept in touch, but I told him I have a boyfriend.’ She drops the board ‘he invited me over to talk, and he made me drink, and one thing led to another.’

Andre pulls her close and caresses her, rubbing her naked back and then raising his hand to her head, grabs a clump of dark hair and drags her to the pool ‘its ok Lanie’

With both arms he throws her in the pool.

Lanie submerges and bobs back up, swimming to the edge, trying to catch her breath as she gurgles on chlorinated blood. ‘A Andre? I’m…’

Andre leans over and holds Lanie’s head firm, he dips her head in the pool and she fights, her arms flailing about making wild splashes. ‘It’s ok Lanie.’

Henry runs towards Andre, trying to pry him away from Lanie. ‘Andre, Andre! Stop it man!’

‘It’s ok Henry, don’t worry about it, Lanie and I are ok.’

In the corner Angelo is rocking back and forth and chanting ‘Holy Mary mother of God…’

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