Chapter 6: The Hierophant


Lima bumped into her brother Oskar stepping off the Jubilee Line at Willesden Green tube station. It had been a while since Oskar visited his parent’s home. He had moved out into his own flat in Southgate two years ago. He saw his father more than anyone else in his family – aside from having worked together until Juan’s retirement, the father-and-son team would often meet sometime over the weekends too.

Joyce missed her first born when he moved out of home. They talked regularly on the phone but with Oskar’s busy work schedule she rarely saw him. Fortunately Joyce spent much time with her daughter who still lived at home. Lima was nearly 28 but she wasn’t in a hurry to move out of home just yet. Rick had asked her to move in with him a few months ago, but she refused. She couldn’t afford the sky-high rents in London, but really she didn’t want to live with Rick.

Lima’s parents gave her her space and they allowed her to be as “noisy” as she needed to be with her sewing machine and DJ turntables. Joyce and Juan nurtured their youngest child’s creativity and heralded the “noise” coming from her bedroom, unlike Oskar. They were the ones who bought her the sewing machine and turntables for her landmark birthdays. Oskar, it appeared, wished his parents had bought her a pair of slippers, wool and knitting needles instead.

Joyce was proud that her daughter DJ’d. Joyce, who worked as a piano teacher from home, enjoyed outings with her daughter to record fairs like the Independent Label Market at Spitalfields. They would come home and play their purchases on an old Technics turntable in the front room, dance together, before Joyce would take to the piano and try to emulate a rare groove riff.

Oskar and Lima were close when they were younger, but as they aged, Oskar became more “serious” as he pursued a career in human rights like his father. He had lost his spark, according to Lima. When Lima first started DJing, Oskar wasn’t enthused. He was studying for his bar exams and he could hear Lima playing on her decks in her bedroom. They had different tastes in general. Lima liked electro, drum and bass, jazz funk and rare groove. Oskar preferred Northern Soul and old Motown. Their musical tastes didn’t clash necessarily but the siblings were just different, as it became more apparent as they grew older.

Oskar was serious by nature, and always wanted to have “intense conversations about world politics and the legal system”, according to Lima. While Lima was light and good humoured, her brother found her dress making and DJing a “noisy hobby she’d hopefully grow out of”.

Lima daren’t ask Oskar how his day had been. She didn’t fancy learning the ins- and-outs of the Santos Diaz case. It wasn’t that she wasn’t interested. Just that her father was better at keeping things brief and giving the key facts so one could follow what was going on, which was probably why the media loved Juan. But Oskar prattled on like he was reading aloud a theses. Juan, Lima said, was more “animated” whereas Oskar a bit “deadbeat” as she called it. Too steeped in “academia” as it were. Lima, according to Oskar, “didn’t have the time nor the patience for rich conversations” that his legal eagles would engage in.

In fact Lima found Oskar a tad snobby. Since completing his bar exams, Oskar had acquired some rather “obnoxious” PhD friends and legal high fliers. Lima was more down-to-earth and she found his friends would exclude her when they came round. Aside from her being Oskar’s “little sister”, her sustainable fashions raised some startled eyebrows and it would turn into a conversation, as if Lima was invisible, about “how unfortunate Lima doesn’t get any money to buy clothes in Primark”. For law students, Lima found their judgment off and dismissive. Lima wasn’t bothered about the Prada and Gucci-clad “legal clones”, as she called them, but she often thought it was a shame that she and her brother didn’t have much of a rapport anymore. Oskar wasn’t a bad guy, she believed, he believed in a good cause and was devoted to serving the greater good like their father. But he just got caught up in the “privileged world” of law, and seemed to lose a part of himself in the process. Maybe he would find that missing piece of the puzzle someday, and see that life had other things to offer if he just took time to notice.

“So,” Lima said. “You looking forward to seeing Uncle Alfonso?”

“Not thought about it to be honest,” Oskar said. “I think I last saw him when I was nine, over 20 years ago now. But you saw him when you went to New York with dad, right?”

“Yeh, 10 years ago,” she replied. They stopped off at the off-licence. Oskar was insistent on buying wine, even though Lima had told him that their father had bought a bottle of whiskey. “Oh that’s for after dinner,” he said. “I’ll get some Malbec to go with dinner.” Lima was used to Oskar and his “refined tastes”. She could see him now with his barrister buddies quaffing wine après court in some private members’ club. She laughed to herself as Oskar emerged from the shop with three bottles of wine. “I thought we could try a port afterwards, perhaps,” he said. Lima wasn’t really a big drinker. She enjoyed cocktails, or rather she enjoyed making them for friends and family. She liked entertaining, and she took great pride in muddling mint, sugar and lime with rum to make her kick-ass “magical mojitos”.

Oskar and Lima didn’t say much to one another during the remaining 10-minute walk home. Lima checked her iPhone. She was wondering when she would see Leo again. She really wished she’d got his number. It wasn’t impossible. Estrellar must have his number? Estrellar and Lima hadn’t discussed Leo at work today. They had been too busy at the store and Estrellar had a number of clients in for psychic readings. News had spread fast in Hoxton, Shoreditch and the city about Estrellar’s psychic readings. She was attracting new clients as well as repeat customers already. The lease on the pop-up store was for six months. Lima wondered whether Estrellar would keep it going or maybe find a new pop-up venue somewhere else. That was the beauty of the pop-up concept. It gave small businesses an opportunity to sell their products to a small and discerning market, without having to worry about extortionate rents.

Lima was starting to see the bigger picture and was considering asking Estrellar if they could come together on setting up a concept store, selling sustainable clothing. Since meeting Leo at Brazilian Emporium, Lima was beginning to see the “bigger picture” – she seemed more open and willing to take a leap of faith. It had only been 24-hours or so, but truth of the matter was she was opening herself up to her intuitive awareness and allowing her intuition to guide her. She didn’t have time to meditate, to connect with her inner being, the previous evening. She would make time this evening she promised herself.

The siblings had made it to their family’s terraced house. Oskar made his way down the hallway to greet his mum in the kitchen. He could smell shepherd’s pie. His mum had made her son’s favourite to honour his coming for dinner. Alfonso would have to eat it regardless of whether he liked it or not, Joyce thought. He may have been the “special guest” in the Diego household, but for Joyce, she was celebrating her son coming home for the first time in over a year. “Mama,” he said, kissing her on both cheeks, before handing over the bag with the three bottles of wine.

Joyce took the bottles out of the bag and unravelled the tissue paper. “Ooo fancy,” she said, revealing a bottle of port. “I don’t know many people that drink port these days, but I’m willing to give it a go,” Joyce said perturbed. Joyce was a humble lady, no airs and graces. She was a confident woman – very in tune with her inner being and always followed her heart. She always wanted to be a jazz artist and in spite of her family’s wishes for her, she left Glasgow at the age of 17 to follow her musical dream. Her music career didn’t take off instantly.

Joyce landed herself a bar job at the legendary jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s, in the event of getting herself known as an artist. Unfortunately her boss wasn’t interested in her catapulting her jazz career via the bar. He had seen many like her before with the same intentions. She left Ronnie Scott’s but not without having met some musicians who were willing to give her a leg up. She started off as a session singer with them, playing in some lesser-known venues.

Eventually she would find herself doing gigs at PizzaExpress Jazz Club in Soho’s Dean Street. She wasn’t a household name nor did she want to be. It was just about doing what she loved, and the fame and fortune part was secondary really. She played backing vocals for Harvey Memphis, a popular jazz artist from back in the day. Joyce alongside Estrellar’s other half, Ulisses, became part of his regular band.

Joyce was level-headed though – she knew she wasn’t going to be frequenting the stage forever. She had one of her band mates teach her to play the piano. She was a fast learner and became a piano teacher in her latter years. That suited her lifestyle when she married Juan and had children.

Her son, Oskar, she felt was a little “high brow”. Frig knows where he got that from, Joyce wondered. It certainly wasn’t her Scottish roots. Maybe Juan’s side of the family – oh yes, she thought as if she’d just had a light bulb moment. “It has to be Alfonso”, she said to herself. Oskar would be in good company tonight with Alfonso sipping port, Joyce pictured. Alfonso was a lecturer in Latin American History at the Ivy League, Cornell University in New York.

Joyce had spent much of the afternoon in the kitchen, not because she was chained to the kitchen sink unlike what she had known of Alfonso’s Mrs. Alfonso meant well but Joyce found him conservative and traditional. Certainly not in line with her way of being, nor Juan’s really. On the journey home, in a cab, from Heathrow, she gave Alfonso and Juan the opportunity to catch-up, while she rode in the front.

By the time they reached home, she made her excuses and fled to the kitchen to make the evening’s feast. The Scots in her knew it was going to be a long five days, so best to kick-start the proceedings with a glass of whiskey on the rocks. She opened the bottle Juan had bought the night before. She took a tumbler glass out of the cupboard and headed to the freezer to get some ice.

Juan had sprinted into the kitchen just as Joyce firmly pressed the ice cube tray to release the cubes into her glass. Juan had whiskey on his mind, just like his wife. “Make mine a double,” he said sniggering. Joyce laughed and kissed her husband on the lips.

“Alfonso’s a little jet lagged,” Juan said. “So he’s going to take a nap for a few hours before dinner.” Alfonso took a rest from 2pm to 6pm. Juan wasn’t sure if it was a wise move that Alfonso had a power nap. At least if he hadn’t slept, there may have been a chance that Alfonso would make his excuses at the dinner table and have an early night. Wishful thinking, thought Juan.

It was just after 7pm when the family sat down at the dining room table. Joyce had even brought out the candelabra. It was a retro piece of silverware that she had picked up at Spitalfields Market with Lima. It was the first time she’d used it and made it her dinner table centrepiece.

No sooner had Alfonso sat down and Joyce came in with a box of matches to light the candles.

“Joyce,” Alfonso retorted. “What have we here? Have you converted to Judaism?”

Joyce wasn’t sure if he was making a wise crack or just being obnoxious in his high brow kind of way. Alfonso was a traditional man – Catholic apparently, when it suited him. Unlike Juan, who wasn’t religious in the slightest. Juan had fled New York with his mother and younger brother for England in 1975, leaving Alfonso with their mother’s uncle Rico. Juan didn’t want to move to England, fearing he would lose his “Latin American roots” if he had. At that time there was not much of a Latin American community in London, let alone the rest of the country. “At least New York has more Hispanics than anywhere else outside of Latin America,” he said. Alfonso was in his 20s and capable of looking after himself, and besides, he could live with Rico, temporarily at least.

Within a year of washing dishes in an Italian restaurant in Spanish Harlem – “Manhattan’s first Little Italy” according to Mr History, Alfonso – Alfonso had picked up enough English to get by on a day-to-day basis. Alfonso, just like his brother Juan was a handsome man. He was 6 foot exactly and had a slender build at that time, thick black hair and piercing brown eyes. On his arrival in the Big Apple, he also sported an iconic “immigrant ‘tache”. The Tom Selleck Magnum, P.I.-style mustache. Rico told him to shave it off. “You don’t want to look like a freshie,” Rico said. “Ditch it otherwise you may get into bother with immigration. This machismo mustache is like a radar for immigration police.”

Rico was paranoid about US immigration. He too had arrived in the country without the necessary papers, but he married an older, Irish-American woman so he could stay.

Alfonso didn’t have a problem with the ladies. He wasn’t intentionally a ladies man, but he had women “throwing themselves” at him, as he like to tell people. He slept with many women during his first year in New York – African American, Puerto Rican, Irish American, Japanese, English and Caucasian. Most of them were one-night stands, but there were a few he had to go to great lengths to get them to stop pestering him. One woman would turn up to his work and threatened to report him to immigration and his boss for hiring illegal immigrants. Alfonso was subsequently fired. He didn’t leave Rico’s apartment for a week after that incident fearing the police would catch him. Rico asked him why he didn’t just marry one of the women so he could get a green card. “You’ve seen those tarts,” Alfonso said. “They throw themselves at me and other men and they expect a marriage proposal.” In spite of sleeping around, Alfonso like many Latinos he knew wanted a “nice Catholic woman” when it came to marriage material and “had better be a virgin”.

Not long after his immigration scare, Alfonso met a beautiful Dominican woman, Ana. Her parents had settled in New York in the 1950’s and Ana was the first of their children to be born outside of the Dominican Republic. She was petite and “perfectly formed”, as Alfonso described. He met her at a dance hall in Spanish Harlem. She was into merengue and was one of the best dancers in the club. She noticed Alfonso at the bar and made a beeline for him, sauntering over in her low-cut, halter neck dress. Alfonso wasn’t into dancing but on Rico’s advice, he took to the dance hall to find himself a “good Catholic woman” with V-plates. So off he went to the dance hall with his two left feet, in search of a virgin bride. Alfonso was in luck. He was wooed by her curves and her soft facial features, and razzle dazzled by the cross that she wore around her neck dropping down to her half-bare chest. “A Catholic chest,” he applauded.

Alfonso agreed to a dance. Ana couldn’t care less that he had two left feet. She was enamored by his looks. It turns out Ana was 21 and was looking to get married and start a family. She wanted to be a kept woman. Alfonso was obliging – besides she ticked at least one of his boxes, she was Catholic, but she wasn’t a virgin. Alfonso was willing to make allowances on that front. They married within six months and a month later, she was pregnant with their first child, daughter Verity.

Ana never worked. She didn’t want to. Ana was happy to be a “housewife for life”. Who was Alfonso to argue, after all she was the kind of “trophy Latina wife” he had always wanted. She was a great host. Ana would put her best clothes on to entertain Alfonso’s friends. Tight dresses and killer heels. It may have been a bit too sexy for Alfonso’s academic colleagues, but he wanted to score brownie points. It made him look good, he perceived.

So what was Alfonso to make of Juan’s wife and daughter and their chosen paths? Well, Alfonso wasted no time at the dinner table airing his beliefs. “Ladies,” he said, turning to Joyce and Lima. “Do you not dress for dinner?” How old-fashioned, thought Lima. “Nah,” Lima cockily said, knowing full well what his reaction would be. “Oh gosh,” he said. “Such a beautiful woman and she sounds like a barrow boy.” “Tell me do you always wear jeans and trainers to work?” he said, peering down and under the table to check Lima’s clothes. He gave a look as if jeans and trainers on a woman were an abomination. “Joyce,” he said. “You have not trained her well I see. You too wear trousers.” “This is 2015 London Alfonso, not 1950’s America,” Joyce spoke back.

Alfonso took a mouthful of shepherd’s pie and paused for several moments as he digested his food. “I just thought maybe you would dress for dinner given that you have a guest,” Alfonso said.

Joyce and Lima looked across at each other, smiled and giggled. Alfonso wasn’t one for laughing and joking much. “I see my traditions amuse you both,” he said, addressing them like school children.

“Oh come on,” Juan butted in. Alfonso was starting to grate on everyone in the room now. Nobody messed with the women in Juan’s life, especially not a member of his own family. “Alfonso not everybody dresses for dinner like Ana,” he said. “We are modern folk with modern ways.” Juan was becoming more wound up as he could see his brother turn his nose up in the air. “If you don’t like it, I suggest you stay in a hotel,” Juan boldly said. “I have many I can recommend.”

“Well, well,” Alfonso said childishly as he looked at Juan. “I’ve only been here a few hours and you are already carting me off to the Hilton. Is that how you treat your eldest brother? Where’s the respect?”

“I wasn’t thinking of the Hilton,” Juan loudly proclaimed. “I was thinking more like a motel or B&B, know what I mean?”

“Are you really that cheap?” Alfonso bitterly asked.

“You’ve come all this way to disrespect me and the ladies in my life under my own roof, and you expect me to respect you. I suggest you think twice before you vocalise your prejudices,” Juan said. “They are not welcome here.”

“You human rights folk really are so pious,” Alfonso fought back.

“And what does that make you Alfonso?” said Juan. “Pompous perhaps?”

“I worked hard to be who I am today,” Alfonso said, trying to pull on some heart-strings in the Diego household, only nobody was obliging.

“I’m not saying you didn’t,” said Juan. He rose from his seat to go to the bathroom. Lima was wondering if her father was going to have a sneaky cigarette in the back yard. Even though he had given up five years ago, he was known to have the odd smoke every now and again. This family gathering may just have been one of those moments.

Juan had wondered how long it would take for his brother to start “talking shit, quite frankly”, as he said to his wife earlier. See Alfonso lived such a conventional existence, it became so mundane that he sought excitement elsewhere. That excitement came in the form of having digs at non-traditionalists, non-academics.

When Juan had visited Alfonso’s household in New York, dinner was a silent affair with the whole family sat at the table, Ana dressed to the nines, and children meekly sat not wanting to break the silence amongst each other for fear of their father telling them off. It felt like time had stood still to Juan. Like they’d been transported to 1950’s America.

Alfonso believed he was living the American dream, and he probably was, but it was not Juan’s idea of a dream. Juan had taken Lima to New York when she was 17. Juan’s eldest daughter, Verity, and Lima bonded well. Lima was a loud and bold teen, while Verity was a very well-behaved young woman dressed in old-fashioned clothing that wouldn’t have stuck out among a community of Amish. Her fashions, most likely Alfonso’s influence, were a far cry from her mother’s daring above-the-knee dresses and heels. Verity was glad of the light that Lima and her father had brought in to her home. Lima and Verity would stay up all night having girly chats about anything and everything.

Alfonso told his guests to keep their Sunday open. Juan thought Alfonso was going to take them for a drive out into New York State somewhere. When he arose on Sunday morning, Alfonso brought a blazer, shirt and tie combo into the spare room where Juan was sleeping. He was to wear it to church, Alfonso told him. Lima didn’t travel to New York with any “appropriate” clothing, according to Ana. So Ana told Verity to lend Lima an outfit. Lima was not impressed – she wore a long skirt akin to a white petticoat with a black blazer. She tried to funk it up with her black leather bomber jacket, but Alfonso said it was “too ghetto” for church.

Father and daughter were not impressed that they had to spend their Sunday in New York at church, in clothes that neither suited nor fit them properly. The afternoon didn’t get any better. Alfonso had invited some of his work colleagues round for coffee and cake. The conversation quickly descended into Latin American cultural history and when “the Welser were stripped of their rights on Venezuela in 1556”. Neither Juan nor Lima were interested. Juan was itching for a cigarette, while Lima was sat sulking in the corner in her white petticoat-style long skirt with broderie anglaise fringing. Lima raised her right leg and crossed it over her left leg. Ana ran over to her to put Lima’s leg down. When Ana returned to the kitchen, Lima did it again. After serving her guests, Ana decided to take a seat next to Lima so she could rearrange Lima’s “unladylike posture” in any event. Lima knew how to wind up her aunt. She wanted to rip apart the skirt she was wearing and make curtains of it.

Alfonso had gone silent since his brother’s departure to the bathroom, using the time to finish his dinner. He soon turned his attention to Oskar. “I hear you have followed your father’s path,” Alfonso said.

“Yes,” said Oskar.

“Do you enjoy it?” Alfonso asked.

“I love what I do,” Oskar said. He was a man of few words tonight, so far.

Alfonso being the “nosy old fart”, as his brother liked to call him, decided to probe Oskar about his love life. “Do you have a girlfriend?” Alfonso queried. “I see you do not wear a wedding ring so I take it you are not married yet.”

“No,” Oskar said. “Not married. I have a girlfriend and she lives with me, in sin, I’m afraid to have to tell you.” Alfonso pulled one of his squinting poses, which meant he didn’t know what to make of what Oskar had just said. The whole table except Alfonso were laughing at this point. Alfonso was clearly not adept to British irony.

Oskar was being slightly cheeky tonight. It was also the first time he had shared with his family that his girlfriend had taken up home with him. Lima liked the Oskar she was seeing, and loved the fact that he was challenging Alfonso and his archaic belief systems.

Alfonso was not making any fans tonight and neither was he getting anywhere with the “unconventional, heathen-style English family”, as he was to describe them to his wife, Ana, on Skype later.

Joyce and Lima cleared the plates from the table. They couldn’t stop giggling as they entered the kitchen. As they placed the dirty plates by the sink, Lima said: “Quick, I want to get back to see Oskar in the boxing ring with Alfonso.”

Mother and daughter scurried back into the dining room. Alfonso was still interrogating Oskar about his girlfriend right down to her vital statistics, it appeared. “She’s not Catholic, if that’s what you are truly wanting to find out,” said Oskar. Alfonso, the academic, was trying to outsmart a human rights barrister but he wasn’t fairing well. Not wanting to appear defeated, Alfonso kept firing off the questions. “What does she do?” he asked.

“She does charity work,” he said. Lima was intrigued, Joyce too. They knew Oskar had a girlfriend. But they didn’t know that much about her. They’d been dating for eight months and she did charity work – that’s all the information they had. Neither had met her. Juan had met her in passing at an event, but only to greet one another.

Oskar’s girlfriend, Seyha, was French Cambodian. They met at a human rights conference. She worked for the international charity, Relief, as a team leader. Her expertise was Asia. She would spend part of the year developing special projects in the charity’s London-based office and would often travel to the likes of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand to see the projects in action. Among the type of work Relief supported were dam projects, developing artisan skills amongst communities and crop farming.

Seyha’s name meant August in Cambodia – the month of her birthday. Her family lived in the suburbs of Paris, and Oskar had taken her for a long weekend to Paris for her birthday to celebrate, as well as to visit her family.

“Her family lives in Paris yet you haven’t invited her to see your family in Willesden Green,” Joyce said, sounding a bit miffed.

“I was being spontaneous,” said Oskar. “It was her birthday and she was missing her family, so I thought Paris would be an added bonus.”

Oskar took a few yet overdue days off work to take Seyha to Paris. They spent a few nights at Hôtel Costes near the Jardin des Tuileries. A dirty weekend at Hôtel Costes pré meeting the parents, thought Lima. Her brother and his new found spontaneity was growing on her.

“So Oskar,” probed Lima this time. “Do you like chill out music? Hôtel Costes compilation albums are some of the best.”

“Yes I do,” Oskar said. “The bar at Hôtel Costes is great. They have live DJs there and even though it was busy, it’s a pleasant intimate vibe. We felt really relaxed and comfortable there.”

Alfonso used that as a cue to pop the question. “Are you going to marry Seyha then?” he bluntly asked.

“She’s special,” said Oskar. He wasn’t about to give too much away, especially not to his uncle who he hadn’t seen in years and neither warmed to either. It looked like a session of drinking port between uncle and nephew was off the cards then.

“Oskar,” said Joyce. “Would you mind helping me bring dessert in from the kitchen please?”

“Sure,” he replied. Lima followed her mother and brother not wanting to stay in the room with Alfonso on her own. Her father wasn’t back from his extended-stay in the bathroom yet. He must have been searching his room for his “special occasion” cigarettes, she thought.

“Omg,” hailed Oskar as they entered the kitchen, the door closed tight behind them. “What an a-hole!” Lima, Joyce and Oskar cracked up laughing. “Nobody told me he was a conservative jerk,” he continued.

Lima wanted to hug her brother at this point. It was like he’d come alive again, after all these years of being so serious. Maybe she had him all wrong and judged him based on the company he kept.

“Hey Oskar,” she asked. “Why don’t you bring Seyha round some time? I’d like to meet her.”

“So would I,” his mother added, grabbing Oskar by the biceps. “I didn’t realize you were living together. When will you invite her here?”

“I will sometime,” he promised. “I’ve not been hiding her. Just…you know I’ve been busy and even though we’ve been living together the last two months, the weekends’ are the only time we actually get to spend quality time together.”

“Well, you let me know when is good for you both in the next few weeks,” Joyce said.

“I will,” he said, as he placed slices of chocolate torte on to plates. “Now where’s the whiskey that Lima said dad bought,” Oskar wailed. “I need something heavy duty to see me through the rest of the night.”

“What about the port?” said Lima. “Fuck that,” he replied. “Not strong enough. Whiskeys all around, hey?”

The family was having a lot of laughs at the expense of Alfonso’s “stuffiness”. It was always good to make light of an awkward situation, Lima believed, and she was often the first alongside her mother to turn negativity into a positive.

The three returned to the dining room with dessert and drinks. Juan was back at the table looking flustered. Lima twitched her nostrils to see if she could smell a hint of eau de cigarette. She couldn’t smell anything, which was maybe why Juan’s energy was a tad tetchy. The brothers were discussing Alfonso’s upcoming retirement. He had gone part time five years ago and was working his way up to retirement in the next year.

The family’s return to the table inspired Alfonso to work the room again. “Lima,” Alfonso said. “What are you doing with yourself these days?”

Lima winced, then calmly said: “I design clothes, fashion styling for magazines, I DJ and work in a pop-up shop.”

“That sounds very busy indeed,” he said. “Either you earn very little money or you don’t know what you want to do with your life. Which of the two is it?”

Lima pulled a face, she was ready to have a face off with the unwanted house pest. But as she proceeded to say something, Oskar piped up. “Alfonso, has anybody told you that your judgments stink,” said Oskar. “You may live a very conventional and traditional life in New York. You are a religious man and you are an academic,” he said. “But that does not give you the right to criticize other people for not sharing your fossilized views. Not everybody in this world is religious, conventional nor traditional. But if everybody in this world were academics or barristers for instance, it would be a really boring place. So might I suggest you broaden your views on life and women especially.”

“Gwaaan Oskar,” Lima said, throwing her right arm and fist in the air. Lima’s respect for her brother had gone off the Richter scale right about now.

“Right, who’s up for a toast?” asked Oskar. “Go ahead son,” replied Juan. Everybody followed Oskar as he rose from his chair. That was everyone except Alfonso. It was like he’d become a shrinking violet during and after Oscar’s words of advice.

“Here’s to family,” said Oskar. “Let us rise above and beyond differences of opinion, accept one another for who we truly are and just be.”

The Diego family clinked their glasses. Alfonso slowly emerged from his seat, and decided to join the family in a toast. Raising his glass, Alfonso said: “To the Diegos”, and then proudly smiled.

All characters and events in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Twins At Work are a writing duo. ‘Tarot Tales: The Mirror’ is their latest book. 


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