A Tale Of Two Cousins (Flash Fiction Part 6)

Image by meineresterampe from Pixabay

Flash Fiction #163

This is the 6th part. The previous five parts are here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Cousin Arjin, Twenty Five Years Ago

Nalan didn’t come home that night. When my aunt and uncle asked me, I just told them that I didn’t know where she was.

“Where could she go?” My aunt said, wrinkling up her nose to show her annoyance. “She looks quiet and obedient, but underneath, she is very headstrong and very determined. I have to admit sometimes I thought about her running away. Do you know that her old English teacher left and now she has a new one? Nalan has never told me. If She did, I would have recommended somebody suitable for the primary school. No, she didn’t tell me. She’s like that, haven’t you noticed? I was so embarrassed that I was the only parent who didn’t know while all the other parents knew. I was the English professor at the university and I was supposed to know about these things. Nalan is a bad girl, indeed. She has embarrassed me like that many times before.”

“She would show up tomorrow I hope.” My uncle said.

“You really need to be tough on her. Not coming home is a very bad thing to do, especially for her who’s going to be a teenager soon. And how am I going to explain to other parents? What a big embarrassment. Children often do things with no consideration for their parents.” My Aunt said.

“You are so right about that. Children can be very selfish and inconsiderate.” My uncle echoed.

My cousin Nalan’s absence for some reason changed the family atmosphere. Well, in a good way, I suppose. It gave them something to occupy their mind. And just as I expected, my uncle didn’t mention my homework at all.

On the second day, Nalan’s missing was broadcasted on the university campus. There were speakers fastened on trees and telephone poles throughout the campus, including the staff living quarter. It announced that if anybody saw Nalan, it should be reported right away.

On the third day, when I came home from school, I found two plain clothed police officers waiting for me, together with my aunt and uncle. The university had its own campus security crew, which served as the de facto police force. It turned out that somebody saw me walking with Nalan to the little hill around 5:30PM on the day of her disappearance. And this person reported it. Obviously I didn’t tell my aunt and uncle the truth. I was the last person who saw Nalan before she disappeared and I was the suspect.

I told them everything, about climbing the hill, kneeling down to prey. Everything. “She pushed me and ran away.” I said. “How do I know where she went? She went crazy.”

The two campus police didn’t quite believe me. They talked with my aunt and uncle for a while, after which I was told to spend the night at the campus police station. I refused to go, but they dragged me into their car and sped me away. I cried and cried until my voice gone hoarse, but nobody cared.

Now reflecting on this twenty five years later, I think the police was not really trying to arrest me or anything. They just tried to frighten me into telling them more information. They thought I was hiding something information, and I could reveal these secrets when I saw the little detention center they had and got frightened out of my wits.

Anyway, at the station, I was handed over to the two young policemen who were doing the night shift. I vaguely knew these two young men. They were sons of families living in the campus staff quarter not far away from us. Although I had never talked with them, I knew their faces.

The two young men never introduced themselves and that’s why I don’t know their names. They started to complain about my aunt and uncle, who had the reputation of looking down on other people while being stingy on community events.

In this remote area of the Steppe, the campus police and the transportation department were the only two entities that owned cars. Needless to say, people often asked them for favors, like transporting furniture, driving somebody to hospital located 20 miles away, weddings, ceremonies, and a lot of other things. The two young men got used to be treated well by everybody in the community.

The first one yelled at me and told me that if I didn’t tell them the whole story, I would go to prison for life. So I cried and said I had already told him everything.

After a while, the first one left, and the second one came in and said to me in a very gentle tone ,”So your uncle and aunt are stingy people, aren’t they? They haven’t treated you well, right? I know the type. I don’t like them. I totally sympathize with you. You and I can be buddies. Call me Big Shoe since I have a relative who’s working in a shoe factory. She can always get discount shoes for us and so everybody calls me Big Shoe.”

Big Shoe was so nice that I started to pour all my heart out. I told him how I hated my aunt and uncle, how I disliked my cousin Nalan. Everything.

“Really, they don’t sleep together?” Big Shoe’s eyes opened wide. Now I think of it–I was giving him a piece of juicy gossip. In this small community of this remote place, there were not many interesting news. No wonder Big Shoe was eager to hear what I had to say.

“No, they don’t. My uncle is often banished to the sofa.” I said.

And you won’t believe it that the campus police station was full of food. There were home made crisps, pickled dates, sweets, apples, hawthorn fruit jelly. In those days, people didn’t have too much money. When the police did them a favor, they just brought home cooked food or whatever they had to the police station to thank them. Big Shoe ate his dinner with me and I stuffed myself with as many squares of sweet mung bean cakes, my favorite, as I could. And I told him everything.

“Really? She even beats him up sometimes?” Big Shoe was incredulous.

“Yes, she pinched him hard because he didn’t do housework. He promised that he would do it later. She believes that he has mistresses since he travels so much, but he denies it. And he accuses her of almost running away several years ago with a professor from Vietnam and a translator from Japan.” I said.

“There are rumors that she and the amateur theater director are… You know. What’s his name? Wait, his name is Wotan. I like Wotan a lot and he always gives us free tickets. You know there are not much entertainment during the long winter here and those tickets are always welcome.” Big Shoe said.

Somehow the hospitality of Big Shoes opened the flood gate of my imagination. I continued to talk about my aunt and uncle’s misdeeds as I imagined them. And I added some drama to make Big Shoe more interested in my story. They stole other people’s pets and ate them; Nalan was not their real daughter–her real mother was my aunt’s witch friend who had died; they tortured children for fun and at night when children slept, they sucked their blood to rejuvenate themselves; my uncle knew nothing about mathematics and he was a fake engineer; my aunt’s English was very bad even if she was an English professor–she got her job because the dean of her department liked her.

(To Be Continued Here)

11 thoughts on “A Tale Of Two Cousins (Flash Fiction Part 6)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s