For The Sunday Whirl. This week's words are demimonde, asylum grey, oranges, candle, grand, rites, reborn, Africa and transgression.I used all but one.
Many of the grand and wealthy landowners in that part of Africa employed the services of a demimonde. But those from the lower orders took advantage of the vulnerable. The rites of the weak and defenseless women in the villages seemed non-existent; for them, there was no asylum. A grey undercurrent rippled unheeded below the surface. The transgressions of the selfish few went unnoticed or ignored. This short story tells the tale of a samaritan who held a candle for one such poor soul; a story of hope reborn.
There were not many people at Gerald’s funeral. A couple of neighbours, three or four folk from his church and his health visitor. He had lived alone for years and although everyone around him did what they could for him, he never really seemed grateful.
There was however one person at the chapel whom nobody had seen before. Tall, expensively suited and with a skin the colour of polished mahogany . His gentle smile lit up the miserable grey walls and the leaden sky which peered through the chapel windows.
Thirty or so years ago , Gerald had been a manager at a gold mine in Africa . There, the local men toiled and laboured taking home a meager wage, day in day out, year after miserable year . One evening after Gerald had finished his shift he was wandering back though an orange grove to his hut when he witnessed the appalling sight of a man raping a local girl. Had she not been wearing a bright yellow coloured garment he might never have noticed her. He was however too late to prevent the ghastly crime, and the guilt he felt for not being there minutes earlier haunted him for many a long month .
As a result the girl had conceived and in the following spring gave birth to a healthy baby boy. So moved was Gerald that he made a promise to see that the mother and child were supported both physically and financially for as long as he lived. Months later he returned to England and never saw them again. His attempts to contact the girl and her baby were unfruitful, but still he ensured that the financial help he had promised continued even though he realised that the aid he was sending could well be falling into the wrong hands .
A couple of weeks ago Gerald was lying in a hospital bed. He had few visitors and those did sit at his bedside never felt that he was in any way grateful for their visits. Then one afternoon a handsome young man strode up to his bedside. He was tall, expensively suited and had skin the colour of polished mahogany. His smile lit up the gloomy hospital ward and softened the leaden sky which peered through the windows. Gerald knew at once who the young man was, but was too weak to utter a single word.
‘My name is Gerald too’ said the visitor. ‘My Mother and I owe you a debt we can never repay. You have given us everything, for which we will be forever grateful. Yet I ask for one thing more. I simply ask that I be permitted to call you Father. Gerald’s feeble smile was all the confirmation the young man required.
At the graveside the gathered few scattered soil on Gerald’s coffin as it was lowered into the ground. The young man cast in a piece of bright yellow fabric. ‘Rest in peace Father’ he said.