The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 29

by Mark Figueroa | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen


Chapter 29: No harm done. No offense taken, not by me, anyway.

Kanti silently steps over the polished wood floor, stopping in the center of the main hall, examining the rooms beside us. “By willing it so. Where there is a will, there is a way, so long as one is convinced they will find a way.”

I shrug condescendingly, and drop my nasty duffel bags. 

“Do you feel it?” Kanti asks sternly.

“Nothing?”

“No.”

My duffel bags plop on the ground. I scan the beautiful, brightly-lit hallway ahead and partially illuminated large dining room to my left. 

“I don’t feel anything, Kanti.”

I take a deep breath and focus my energy.

Something sneaks up close then disappears when I look in its direction.

I stare ahead again, feeling it approach.

“It is your first test,” Kanti says, “A peculiar soul; acknowledgement will cause it to become unruly. The space in this home should allow us to develop your capabilities incrementally.”

I don’t need to be told twice. “I’ll just focus my energy and do something else in the meantime, then,” I respond hoisting both duffel bags to my chest, clenching them with my hands and forearms. 

Kanti nods. “Perhaps it is the wisest way to proceed. Perhaps it is not.”

“Ooooh! So, cryptic, Kanti. Perhaps you could reveal a little more so I know how to handle it then.”

“There is no need. It is merely a test of how you will respond to other entities. Advising you would only remove the degree of responsibility, cleverness and adaptability that you as the cloak bearer must develop.” 

“Alright. Alright. That’s probably better than babying me. I got laundry to take care of anyway.” I admire the large hallway and Eliza’s family photos.  I’m not a big art lover, but her gothic paintings are amazing. It’s like someone lived in Anor Londo before the first flame and decided to paint it.  

Eliza’s informal eating area is a small, round table between a half-hexagon wall with large windows. A bar counter built into a wall separates the dining area from the kitchen. Where the hell’s her laundry room? The base — “Ah!” What the hell was that? “Aunt Eliza? Tia? Hello?”  

Sigh. “It is her…” I mutter after focusing my second sight. She’s washing dishes. Thank god. I wonder when my training is actually supposed to begin… 

“Tia… Aunt Eliza?” I ask, setting the laundry down. “Ye-low… Hello?” my hand grazes the sapphire counters and carbon-fiber appliances as I walk toward Eliza.  

Two steaks bleed on the cutting board next to her orange cream, porcelain sink; she’s chopping cilantro, jalapenos, tomatoes, onions and garlic on a board over the stove. Is she just ignoring me?  

“Tia?” I ask again as she reaches for a salt shaker in between a pepper grinder and a glass container with red powder.

I reach out to tap her on the shoulder, “Dinner?”

“EEEEEEEEPPPPP! Conyaso!” Eliza drops the salt, grabs my shoulders and shakes the hell out of me. “A-Ha hahahaha! God damn it, Emery! Dios mio! You scared the shit out of me, Turd!” She picks up the salt, laughing hysterically. 

I laugh too.  “Is that dinner? Steaks?”

“No, it’s breakfast, bitch. Of course, it’s dinner.  Who has steak for breakfast?”

“White people… Mexicans… Black people… About a third of IHOP customers…” Sigh.

“Does IHOP make chimichurri sauce with steak?”

“They should! I’d eat it!” I shout, holding my laugh. 

“Ok. Well, we’re having steak and salad with champagne.”

“Champagne? Really? I’m thirteen. My mom would kill me if she knew I was drinking.”

“Trust me, needle dick, your mother’s okay with it. For all intents and purposes, I’m your mother in this house. Entiendes?” Eliza says with a straight face. 

Whatever. If this is her way of making up for lost time, I won’t add insult to injury. But, giving champagne to a thirteen-year-old… sigh. Guess a sip wouldn’t kill me. “Cool. I’m down then, I guess. Anyway, where’s the laundry room?”

“The basement,” she responds nonchalantly. Eliza chops the chimichurri base and slides the sauce into a porcelain container with a spout.

“Ok, so where’s the b-m?

“B-M? Bowel movement? What the hell are you talking about?”

Sigh… old people. “The basement… B-m… Basement. What else could I possibly be talking about?”

“Mira, pendejo, I may be your cool ass Tia, but I have rules. None of that half-speech in my house. That’s where it all starts; you modern kids and your social media, half-ass speech, and angry music… one day you’ll be talking in grunts and people who know better will control what you’re allowed to do. None of that bullshit half-talk in my house. Ok?” 

“I don’t have social media,” I say softly. Damn, she can be pretty scary… 

“That’s not the point. Not matter what age, race or, whatever the hell people think is important these days, a good vocabulary makes you a better thinker. The fewer words you know, the fewer ideas you can form, and with fewer ideas, you lose imagination and creativity. Y entonces, you lose that much more control of your life. When you don’t take it upon yourself to learn and keep yourself sharp, you have to rely on other people to make sense of the world around you; you are not your friends, you don’t need to rely on a teacher, or even your parents. Don’t be a dickless, pendejo or a malnourished gusano who can’t make an effort to speak correctly.”

Sure, all this from the only educated, Spanglish-speaking person I know… Sigh. I nod. What a hypocrite. 

“Hmmph. I know what you’re thinking, Em. Just so you know, I speak Spanglish because I like to, not because I have no other option. Unlike the other mentally-starved zombies in this beautiful world of ours, I speak multiple languages with much more fluency than most native speakers can grasp one.  It’s one thing if I spoke Spanglish to sound cool or compensate for my lack of knowledge, pero that’s not the case as you can see by my flawless pronunciation of both English and Spanish.” Eliza snaps her fingers and shakes her head.

Sigh. Much more than I needed. You’re literally repeating how I think. “…Ok. And the basement?” 

“Basement door’s that way.” She points her chin at the door to the backyard, in the direction I just came from. “Your electronics are in a zip-lock bag, don’t throw them into the washer with your clothes.”  

“Okay.” 

Sigh. I completely agree with her. I personally don’t like blending languages, but I guess it’s no different than using letters and symbols in math, assuming you can read, write and do math well. Is that the same thing? I wonder if other people think about that? What if I’m the only one? I wonder what Roslyn’s doing. I should probably charge my phone. Eh. Texts from Arsen are probably gonna’ pour in…  Despite how cool Eliza was being and how much I might be like her, at the end of the day, she still abandoned me. Eliza lied to me just like everyone else… “Eliza lied to us, just like everyone else.She is destined to suffer our wrath. I will kill her,” whisper a sinister shrill voice.


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