Actually I should probably preface this excerpt. Antfortas Bersules is the older brother of Ablendan Bersules. Their relationship is rocky, mainly due to their father's constant absence and their mother's fragility. Dimo Bersules is a police captain in Atlantia, the capital city of Atlantis - the country in which the story is set. Their mother is Miranda Bersules, a stay-at-home mom with traumatic memories from the family's original home in Sudan. They arrived as immigrants by the good grace of the Magna Beast, who was in Sudan years before the present story on a mission. Dimo Bersules helped him in that mission, and was rewarded with a way out of the war-torn country. The whole family becomes embroiled in the war between Mags and Howlas because Ablendan ends up becoming friends with Briok, and coerced into joining the war. The excerpt deals with the relationship between Antfortas and his father, Dimo.
Antfortas walked into his home with a towel wrapped around his shoulders and hair still dripping wet. His seashell colored swimming trunks were still moist from the Water practice, Coach Sharon having run them particularly hard this day. Of course, after a loss of fifteen to a school half their rank, the Atlantia High Dolphins weren't expecting a relaxing week. On top of schoolwork being used in a sadistic, savage manner to drill knowledge into upper-classmen, Antfortas was now expected to take care of his brother. Having just entered Upper School, and only being 14, family culture dictated Antfortas take care of the precocious Ablendan. This took more effort than Antfortas could muster on a good day, let alone this day.
Walking into the parlor, Antfortas dropped his bags on a simple wood table carved by his father's hands. Intricate images of wildlife and war games had been etched into the birch, memories of a past life his father was too often too fond of. "Andy!" Antfortas turned at the booming voice and backed away from his father's imposing figure. Shoulders broad as the hallway he entered from, mustache thicker in girth than the upper lip it rested on and eyes wild with constant, restrained fury Dimo Bersules shouted out his son's name again. "Andy! Where is your brother?"
"What?" Antfortas draped his towel over one of the chairs strewn around the room. The parlor was very bright, illuminating Dimo's angry face.
"I just got a call from a Proteus Qolsat. The son of the Mafia Czar, and he's asking me if Abe can stay the night. Why don't you know about this? He was supposed to be with you!" Dimo knocked over a chair in his anger. Antfortas' eyes glanced at the chair and back to his father.
"To tell you the truth Baba, he hasn't really been hanging out with me that much anymore. He's with the Proteus kid a lot." Antfortas craned his neck to see past his hulking father, but Dimo moved between him and the hallway. He surged forward in the same instant, smacking Antfortas to the ground.
Antfortas could do nothing but stare in shock. It had been a long time since his father had hit him. "Do you not remember what I told you about letting him run amuck in Upper School? The first day he went, I told you to watch after him! What kind of brother are you that you cannot look after him?" Dimo made to raise his hand again, but Antfortas stuck his hand out.
"What's wrong with him being with Proteus? He's a good kid! Dad! Baba! Stop it!" Dimo was proceeding to take off his shoes now, readying himself to tear into Antfortas. As he moved towards Antfortas, the young man quickly shot up and around the room in a vain attempt to escape his father. "Why are you so angry?" Antfortas shouted.
"You know why boy! That Proteus is bad influence on your brother! He is rebellious, disrespectful and has an attitude. I will not have my children be corrupted by these Atlantian brats!" Dimo threw his shoes at Antfortas' scurrying figure. For his part, Antfortas hid underneath a table, cowering beneath his father's anger. The bad blood that existed between the Bersules and Qolsats was no secret to anyone. The most powerful Enforcer captain in the capital city could not abide by the incompetence shown by Benas' powerful branch of the government. And Benas' frustration at Dimo's stringent, hardline policies were constant sparks for debate. The uneasy relationship between the bureaucracy built to monitor the mafias and the Enforcers who would police them was more than that, it was a bloodless feud of unrestrained egos.
Dimo Bersules continued to pursue his son, flinging his shoes at him and picking them up as they parried against one another across the room. "Baba, just go get him if you don't want him to stay with Proteus! There's nothing I can do, he doesn't listen to me!" In the middle of picking up one of his poorly thrown shoes, Dimo straightened up immediately. A wild, demonic look took over his entire body. His back was rigid and eyes livid.
"Boy, you think you can tell me what to do?" Dimo roared. "You think this is about that Proteus boy? You think I care?" Antfortas' jaw dropped. His father was beginning to stop making sense, always a sure sign that the punishment was going to become ten-fold worse than before.
He tried his best to weasel out of the situation. "Baba, I swear, you just said -"
"Nevermind what I said, this isn't about Proteus, or Benas, or anything else! YOU are supposed to look after your brother! And instead you go have sex with that hooker Jenny -"
"She is NOT a hooker! Mom likes her! Where is Mom?!" Antfortas voice cracked and he dodged another shoe.
"Your mother went to go pick-up your brother, the one you were supposed to look after!" At this point Antfortas made a mad dash for the hallway that would lead to the staircase and then his bedroom. He could lock the door there. But Dimo was faster. Almost the minute Antfortas had turned his back, Dimo grabbed his shoulder and turned him around. Upon seeing the look of fear on his eldest's face however, Dimo immediately cooled down. He unclenched the hands that had grabbed a hold of Antfortas' shoulders and heaved a great sigh. His face hung low now, Dimo walked away from his son to one of the chairs in the parlor.
Antfortas was frozen. His face was still petrified with the look of fear that had stopped his father, and most assuredly the best thing to do was hurry up to his room. But his father decided to speak at the exact moment Antfortas found the resolve to move. Frozen again by his father's voice, Antfortas barely breathed for fear of starting another rage. "You don't remember your uncles, but they were all younger than me. There were six of us, each one stupider than the other. I don't mean intelligence, I just mean street smarts. None of them could take care of themselves, always getting caught up with the wrong crowd. I always had to make sure they stayed in line. I've seen what happens when an older brother doesn't do his job, Antfortas. Do you know what happens?" Dimo looked up, his hard eyes softened with tears. Antfortas had lost his voice at the sight. His mouth opened but sound refused to come out. Never before had his father cried before.
"Your Uncle Thomas, the one I grew up with and loved the most, he hated me. Your mother can tell you of the fights we used to have when we still lived in Sudan. We used to take knives at each other, like dogs we wanted to kill each other sometimes. I only ever wanted what was best for him, to keep him away from the wrong people. You know what your Uncle Thomas ended up doing?" Dimo was wringing his hands now, as if trying to wash something off. "He ended up joining the Howlas, thinking he could save the country with them. The night he left I was stabbed five times, him seven because I tried to stop him." Dimo's hands were shaking now. Antfortas's eyes stayed wide and his body remained frozen. This story had never been told to him before. "I can see now the separation that destroyed me and my brother happening between you and Ablendan. I do not want that for you my son. I've always tried to treat you like an adult, and I'm sorry if I've ever put too much responsibility on your shoulders. But you cannot lose him."
Antfortas gulped down the swelling in his throat, and tried again to speak. But nothing came of it. He simply nodded his head. "Your brother is a fool and incredibly naive. It is your job to make sure that what happened to my brother doesn't happen to yours." Dimo rose and walked up to his son, hugging him. "I should not have reacted with violence. I'm sorry. Go upstairs and get changed, your mother will be home soon."
Numbly Antfortas nodded his head and walked into the hallway his father had emerged from not twenty minutes ago in an unrelenting fury. Pictures lined the wall of Antfortas' family, seaside snapshots and awkward holiday portraits littering memories along the cream-colored paint. Staring at one in particular, Antfortas grimaced. He and his brother had gotten into a fight over who should be in front of the other in a Christmas portrait, thus causing the photographer to take the snapshot while the two of them were fighting and send the family home. He and Ablendan had taken quite the beating that night. Antfortas turned around and hurried back to his father. He found Dimo staring at a watch in his hand, cracked brown leather frayed at the tips and its silver face scuffed. "Dad?" Dimo turned to look at his son. "What happened to Uncle Thomas?"
Dimo shook his head. "I know I trust you with a lot, Andy. You deserve it, you are wise beyond your years and more mature than anyone I've seen your age. But that is too much for you to bear. Just make sure your brother is always in your eyes, and never far from your reach. Now go. We wouldn't want to upset your mother with all this." Dimo turned back to the watch, ending the conversation.
Comment, Critique, and Suggest please! Until next time then.