Some of you may know that I only began writing about ten years ago. For some reason I decided to go back to college and take Creative Writing courses. The first stuff I ever seriously wrote just for the sake of writing was fiction. Short stories.
Since Henry began posting his The Lost City – A Continuation series, and reading how darned good it is, I kinda got the itch to write something just for writing’s sake. That is, something that you just sit down to write, start with one character, and let him develop slowly, to a point where you as the writer arent sure what that character will do next. I’d forgotten how difficult it is to write fiction, and the following very raw, basically unedited piece shows just how out of practice I am.
I didnt spend too much time on it, two, maybe three hours. Ive had the plot in my head for a while now and just decided to put it to the test. All criticism will be appreciated. I named the main character Henry, pa’ jode’ na’mas.
The cigars from the box now atop Henry’s lap were long gone. They’d been smoked in celebration of every occasion except for the one originally intended. Child births had been regaled with smoke. Little league baseball championships; High school graduations; college graduations. The last few cigars having been passed out two years prior at the neonatal waiting room when little Henry III was born. As far back as Henry Jr. could remember, every special event in his life had been honored with the burning of authentic Cuban leaf. Now all that remained of the cigars that were supposed to one day return to their place of origin, “To be freely consumed,” were ashes.
Henry ran his fingers along the edges of the cherished box as he peered out the small window of the propeller plane. Ocean. Nothing but ocean. The same seemingly endless ocean that his father had crossed twenty years prior, to hell and back, only to greet the family he’d left in Miami in worry and despair for days that seemed like weeks with “Did you bring La Cajita?” Four more inhabitants of the box had gone up in smoke that day, right there at the marina where all hell appeared to be breaking loose.
The drone of the propellers were only interrupted by bouts of turbulence. Henry clutched the box through each jounce and tremor. The flight attendant had frowned when Henry refused to stow the box in the overhead compartment. Its contents were much too important, much too valuable to keep out of sight. Henry was not about to let go of La Cajita.
The captain’s voice broke out over the intercom with the typical arrival information. Please fasten your seatbelts, temperature in the nineties, sunny and landing on time. Henry felt a knot build in his stomach. He labored to breathe. His heart felt like it would pound its way out through his throat and his eyes stung a little.
Henry wasn’t one prone to crying. He just wasn’t the sentimental sort. Even at his father’s wake, with what seemed like all of Miami there at the funeral home, Henry hadn’t shed a tear. His pain was beyond measure, his father meant the world to him and Henry had the utmost respect and love for the man, but even with his mother reduced to sobbing, at times wailing in agony and making everyone around her burst into tears as well, Henry was numb. He’d always felt out of place in emotional situations.
The plane began its descent and the knot began to tighten in Henry’s stomach. As the plane approached the tarmac the knot grew, it now felt like an anchor. It wasn’t airsickness, Henry was an experienced and frequent flyer. He’d traveled the world, been to almost every country imaginable selling his father’s famous cigars. And now, as he heard the captain’s final approach message, momentarily landing at Jose Marti airport in Havana, Cuba, Henry gagged. He breathed in heavy spurts, in between each breath the bile rose, burning his insides.
No sooner had the plane made first contact with the ground that Henry began to vomit. The bile erupted from him like a volcano, acid lava spewing uncontrollably from his mouth. He threw up from the moment the plane landed until it stopped on the tarmac.
Henry had nothing left in him yet he couldn’t stop heaving. The flight attendants were concerned, treating him as if what he had was airsickness. Offering water and Dramamine and moist towels and fanning him.
But Henry knew it wasn’t airsickness and he recalled only one instance where he gagged and regurgitated as bad: the day he was nine and mad at his father for not showing up at a little league game. His team had lost and when Henry had come home, he’d stolen a cigar from La Cajita out of spite and attempted to smoke it. He’d only gotten half way through it before he was caught, red handed and green faced, throwing up behind the mango tree in his back yard.
From out of nowhere Henry’s gagging turned to sobbing. La Cajita, clutched in Henry’s fingers, his father’s cherished Cajita, had now officially returned to its place of origin. Its contents, Cuban cigars long ago gone up in smoke, now replaced with ashes.