©-2010 by ObsidianEmerald Books
Verdigris: The Hunter Tragedy
Part One: Sunday, September 12th, Year One
"Today is a day of great sorrow," the Pastor spoke.
It was sunny today, and there was a slight ocean breeze, causing my black suit to rumple slightly. Yet the weather was at a total contrast of what was going on today. It would've been more appropriate if it was raining hard and thunder light up the sky... Would've been appropriate if the world was going to hell...
"Today we bid farewell to the beloved couple of James and Elizabeth Hunter," the Pastor continued. I couldn't help but wonder how many funeral rites this aged pastor had done. How did he endure?
In the background people could be sobbing hard. Most of the men here wore military uniforms, the patches on their uniforms indicated that they were special forces, and despite the fact that these men were as tough as nails, had seen horrors the movie producers could only guess at, they sobbed like children. I had no idea who they were, and I probably would never know either.
"On September 10th, while returning to Verdigris city, their Cessna air plane crashed due to unknown reasons," the Pastor said his next part. Did he prepare these speeches in advance, or did he just make it up as he went along?
Unknown reasons? Try engine failure. We'd gone to Tipica island to celebrate my 18th birthday on September 8th, and had been flying back on the 10th to the air port. Then the engine started to smoke...
"Yet despite this great tragedy, God was merciful. Their only son, Jesse Hunter, is here amongst the living," everyone's eyes turned to me. What did they expect? Me to say something?
I stared with a detached air at the two stone graves, and then to the dog beside me. My pet German Shepherd, Wraith, sitting besides my right foot, also staring at the graves. There were no coffins, the Cessna had never been found, and neither had my parents body's. I'd woken up in the hospital on the 11th, and found out that a police officer, some person named Samantha Lauren or something like that, had found my body on the beach unconscious and had driven me to the hospital. I'd have to get around to thanking her eventually.
"My friends, I tell you do not fear death, for death means unification with the Almighty. James and Elizabeth are in Heaven, and they watch us now, they watch their son, Jesse, forever by his side. So do not grieve, rather, rejoice," the Pastor finished, his voice was walking that icy edge of sorrow and confidence when he spoke. He knew he couldn't break down in sobs, if he did, so would everyone else. He was a leader here, a symbol. And what good was a symbol if it had no strength?
Rejoice? What a load of bull. My parents were dead, and I was alone now. Who rejoices at death? Was this pastor a head case? And who the hell were all these people here anyways? I'd never met any of them before. And yet...and yet it was nice to know so many cared...
"Do you have any words of parting?" the Pastor spoke to me in a soft voice. I stared at his warm and concerned eyes, and looked away. "It's okay son, grieve, I am here if you need to speak with me and need guidance of the soul," he put an arm around me. I would've brushes it away, but I found not the strength to move a muscle.
I wanted to sob, I wanted to let loose a waterfall of tears, I wanted to give a grand speech of farewell, but nothing would come. My voice was dry, and my eyes were cold and empty. In this time of great pain, I expressed as much emotion as granite. I was lost and adrift in a sea of overwhelming emotions. I didn't know what to do or think or say. It was just too much for me.
Slowly people began to walk away from the grave, and yet I stood there, staring at it silently. And yet as they dispersed, the sun did not leave, the birds did not go anywhere, nature was the same. In this life, the death of a person meant relatively little to Mother Nature. The world would not stop spinning, life would continue. I guess that's where I found my answer: I would continue pressing on. It was all I could do.
"Your parents left you their will," the pastor spoke suddenly, breaking the heavy silence, and handed me the sheet of paper. I couldn't bring myself to read it.
"What's it say?" I finally spoke for the first time today after giving it back to him, he gestured for me to keep it.
"They've left the entire Hunter Estate to you," he said gesturing to the area where we were, "And all their personal effects as well. Your Father also made a request that you take over the family business of being a fisher," he explained, looked at me for a long moment contemplating what to do, and then left after seeing I had nothing to say.
A few soldiers walked up to the graves, and took a place beside me as I stood there. Finally one of them took a step forward towards me, he was a middle age man, with buzzed cut hair. His heavy set muscles and clean shaven face covered in scars, combined with that straight as a pole posture, told me that even if he was in blue jeans a t-shirt, anyone would identify him for a soldier. His eyes were pained but kind, and I knew I was looking at a man who'd seen countless friends die in the horrors of war.
"I knew your father in the service," he said in a heavy voice, "We all did," he indicated to the men around him, "We were all part of his unit. Your father was a true hero. Let me tell you, he was loved by all. There was a time I got wounded, and your father picked me up, even with all my gear and his, as if I weighed nothing. He hauled me through the combat area, bullets flying mere inches from us. Bombs going off, sending shrapnel so close you could make out the finest of details. Took me to the chopper and the medic told me I was lucky to be alive. I would've been dead if not for him," he told me of his personal memory, and his eyes started to go wet. He wiped them, and then, with the rest of the men, saluted the grave, and then marched off without another word.
Father had never mentioned in his time in the military. Whenever I asked him about it, he would dismiss the question immediately. The only thing he ever discussed was the training he'd received and how it could benefit me. Never mentioned the missions, the medals, any of it. As far as I could guess, all his effects from the time in service were in a few boxes somewhere. And every so often I'd find him in the middle of the night sitting in his chair by the huge fire place, drinking his favorite scotch, weeping silently. He'd look up at me with a weak smile, and say he was just remembering old friends. Then he'd wave me off to bed, and the next morning it was like nothing had ever happened.
As time wore on, everyone gradually began to slip away, until finally only I was standing there with Wraith at my side. He let out a low howl, then nudged at my leg and looked to the house.
"You're right boy, we should leave now," I spoke to my dog silently, and walked to the house.
I entered it, and knew I had some work to do. I would erase my parents existence from this home, any photos of them, anything that might make me as so much as think about them. I never wanted to remember today again, it was too much for me. I had to cut all ties to the past. When I woke up tomorrow, I would be something new. Something different. And the old Jesse Hunter would be nothing more than a distant memory of a long forgotten life.