Aborted hopes

That evening, after the masked ball, Max was going home alone. He was wearing the skull and crossbones hood that had drawn attention to him all evening. The dimly lit street was almost empty. Max was only a few meters from his house when he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his head, as if he had been hit with a stick in the middle of his skull. He screamed in pain and fell to the street.

He barely heard the panicked cries of his mother, who had certainly been called out by a few onlookers on the street. In his neighborhood, at any time of the day or night, there was always someone outside, driven out of bed by hunger or bedbugs. He was more or less aware that he was being carefully lifted by firm hands. Here, one made sure to carefully lift a person who fainted, in the popular fear of paralyzing the grabbed party for life. He soon felt himself being deposited on what had to be the smashed sofa in his living room. The pain in his head was becoming more and more insistent. His mother, Rosalie was running around, filling the house with her shrill screams. She had never learned to keep her cool in an emergency. ”Be quiet! ” Max felt like yelling at her but the words wouldn’t pass his numb lips. Numb like the rest of his body that he didn’t feel anymore while the noises in the room were gradually converted into an overwhelming, disturbing silence, barely disturbed by imprecise murmurs.

A jolt of reality. The noises had resumed. He thought he heard the voice of Marguerite, the local nurse. This young woman had recently gotten her diploma in nursing, but since the beginning of her studies, she was constantly called to the bedside of old people to control their blood pressure or solicited by young girls who wanted to be given injections that were supposed to give volume to their buttocks. Marguerite willingly lent herself to this. In the neighborhood, she was the closest thing to a doctor.

Someone mentioned an ambulance. Max thought that if his condition was really bad, he might die before it arrived, if it ever did. He felt something wet on his forehead. A compress. This gave him some relief. And he bravely let himself be carried away by the nothingness that was sucking him in. When Max woke up the next day, the sun was shining in every corner of his little room. With haggard eyes, he looked around as if he was discovering for the first time the place that had been his home for as long as he could remember. The dressing table next to his bed, its drawers eaten away by termites, the walls that had once been painted a beautiful green but now only showed dirty touches of color here and there. He looked at the dusty light bulb, the antediluvian fan that was no longer in use because of the lack of electricity. The bed, too old, cracked under his weight. He perceived the creaking of the rusted iron which in several places pierced the fabric of the mattress. Mechanically, he brought his hand to his face but the hood did not cover it anymore. He felt a disappointment so powerful that he was himself surprised. He had been infatuated with this strange hood the minute he had seen it on Sister Judith’s stand. A skull and crossbones hood, which seemed to have a life of its own, capable of giving goose bumps to the bravest. An irresistible force seemed to carry him towards this object. Max had not hesitated a second. This hood had decided him to go to the masked ball organized by Denis.


Denis was an eccentric. A few years earlier, he had lived in the United States of America. Deported, he had returned home with his head full of everything he had seen. From time to time, he would come up with a whimsical idea that would keep Morfé talking for weeks. Before this ball, he had thought of giving a dinner party where all the guests would be dressed in white. The idea had aroused laughter around him but Denis did not give up. Very quickly, he passed envelopes around the neighborhood where everyone had to make a modest contribution. Those who had offered the most money had received a royal treatment at his dinner. With indulgence, his neighbors gave all they had, because Denis was fun or perhaps because Denis was a diaspora. The dinner had finally materialized. When the day came, the poor inhabitants of the neighborhood showed up with their pants pulled up tight, their shoes worn out and yawning in the wind, their shirts patched and faded white. Finally, they had all submitted to the theme of the event. Although there was no wine, the beer flowed freely. And all the participants were satisfied. So the idea of the masked ball was better accepted. Denis said that he had chosen to organize it on November 2nd, to celebrate Halloween. This time, his neighbors didn’t even try to understand.

Usually, Max spent this day with the gédés, dancing to the point of trance. Then, in the evening, exhausted, he would fall into bed fully dressed. But he had wanted to try something else that year.

At the ball, the masks were bustling around him, to admire his disguise up close. Some of them, a little ashamed of themselves, had felt the tingle of fear, reminiscent of the past when, on the Champ de Mars, they hid in their mothers’ skirts when the Chaloska and other folkloric characters of the national carnival passed by. Max had been intoxicated by this success. Moreover, he had managed to keep his identity secret, leaving it to the other guests to discover the secret of his mask. Most of them could not take their eyes off the mask, hoping perhaps to melt it by the sheer force of their curiosity . No one had succeeded. At least, that’s what Max had thought. His memories of the evening were quite hazy. But could what had happened to him the night before be explained by a dizzying increase in his blood pressure? And wasn’t it said that in such cases, the pain was more likely to be felt in the back of the neck. Was it witchcraft? Max obviously did not think about the possibility of a ruptured aneurysm or any other medical explanation for his misadventure. He wasn’t sure he hadn’t been hit either. Because if not, how had the hood disappeared? He remembered now that he was not wearing it when he was carried in. Max let himself think. Who could have attacked him? An enemy? He had plenty…

In his mind the image of Granchir formed. A sneer of contempt immediately twisted his lips and his hands laid flat on the bed trembled with anger. “The fool!” he told himself. Max saw again Granchir’s hypocritical smile and cunning look the last time they had seen each other. Granchir had brought him to his house to make him a proposition. He had wanted to get him on his side. Max had refused.

The haunting, throbbing rhythm of the Assotor drum from the back of the house that day still occupied Max’s mind. He had been led and seated on a tiny straw chair in a room barely lit by daylight filtering through a skylight. In front of him, a desk was overflowing with papers and posters featuring Granchir’s falsely jovial face at the bottom of a slogan that Max found ridiculous. Bottles of alcohol occupied a shelf in the corner of the room. A man stood in the doorway, a gun strapped to his belt. Max knew him from having played together as children. Dessalines, as he was known in the neighborhood, had become a henchman for Granchir. From where he stood, he watched Max with a hostile stare.

Max had waited for long minutes, growing impatient. The noise in the background was becoming oppressive. A woman’s voice was singing a song in which Agwe‘s name came up regularly mixed with the sound of feet tapping the ground in rhythm. Max felt an inexplicable uneasiness. The day before, he had participated in a similar ceremony at Delamare’s. He had felt perfectly at home, in his element. The sweat, the bodies rolling in the dust, the songs that came back, haunting. He knew this world perfectly well from his mother, who had taught him the Christian faith along with allegiance and veneration for the voodoo gods. He understood that Granchir was trying to curry favor with the ancestral forces. But the woman’s voice had stirred him deeply and chills had run through his body. The heat in the room had become unbearable. He had reached forward to the desk to grab a poster.

<<Don’t touch anything! >>, Dessalines had asserted in a sharp tone just as Granchir appeared, sweating, his clothes crumpled and his hand outstretched.


Max Dorestal was always a playful, friendly and overly ambitious boy. He often told everyone that one day he would be very rich, would own beautiful houses that would make everyone forget the little tin-roofed garret of his mother where he still lived at 32. His belief was so strong that his enthusiasm became contagious. Those who knew him often found themselves imagining with him the beautiful cars, the big concrete houses where he could give parties much more impressive than those of Denis. They believed in it, though they didn’t know him to have a job or a big fortune to inherit. At the Shepherd’s school, located across the street from his home, Max had long struggled with cosines, sines, object complements and other things, and had repeated more than one grade. But once in his junior year, he had to multiply the maneuvers. But no matter how much he cheated, he could never go beyond. After the third unsuccessful attempt, he had finally given up, under the resigned gaze of Rosalie who had not dared to try to dissuade him. Max resented all manual labor. Frustrated, he often spent hours arguing about the uselessness of diplomas in a country where work was the exception, unemployment and inaction the realities everyone had to deal with. Consequently, like all idle people worthy of the name, he had started a prestigious career in the games.

In Morfé, the hunt for occupations was on, seven days a week, and it was not surprising to come across the noblest of old men playing marbles with the most mischievous of kids or attending a soccer game where plastic bottles were used as balls.

Max had discovered a real passion for dominoes. As soon as he drank his morning coffee and until bedtime, he would sit down with Monel, Grovi and all the other domino enthusiasts in the neighborhood, the little tables shaking with the victorious hits. As they played, they drank beer after beer, and because the games lasted so long, they often found themselves spending money they didn’t have.

But Max didn’t always play. Sometimes he sat with his friends on the remaining walls of what used to be one of the most beautiful houses in the neighborhood. There they talked about soccer and women, and whistled at the girls passing by. If any girl tried to ignore them, they would start listing all the men in the area who had shared her bed. Almost everyone in Morfé knew each other in the biblical sense of the word. It’s just that there, the bodies had ended up being pooled. When a guy won a nice sum of money in the lottery, he suddenly discovered a swarm of official girlfriends who swore by him and only let him go after having emptied him of the last cent. Everybody was thus happily taking advantage of each other. Men, known for their sexual prowess, were supported by retired prostitutes or dissatisfied respectable women. The men used their meager incomes to offer themselves the illusion of power over the bodies of women that the waves of hunger and misery had washed up under them. In Morfé, great concepts like feminism, communism had no place. Neither did love.

Max knew all the shabby hotels within a hundred kilometers. With Rosalie’s meager savings, he had afforded himself the real or feigned moans of many of the girls in the neighborhood. Max took them ruthlessly, wanting to get his money’s worth. To get out of the hotels, the girls always took infinite precautions, certainly superfluous because the minute Max reached the limits of the neighborhood, everyone was informed of his little escapades. In Morfé, gossip animated the daily life of the inhabitants, provoking piquant disputes. Thus, life in Morfé was not so different from that of all the other districts where a mass of proletarians lived. At least, that’s how it was until the last few weeks.

His mind still foggy, Max watched for a long time as Rosalie worked beside him. Then again, his thoughts wandered. Still searching for explanations, he once again began to think about Granchir.

Granchir had arrived one afternoon in January, sweaty-faced, pulling huge suitcases after him. He had watched the little neighborhood with shining eyes, a satisfied smile hanging on his lips. Many people had come to see him move in, and the man was sizing up all these people with a sly look on his face. He quickly made his mark in the small community, walking his bulging belly and bushy beard into every home, at every gathering. He showed a honeyed kindness everywhere. He handled words with admirable ease. But in spite of his broad smiles, he had ended up attracting incurable hatred, including that of Max, to whom he had refused a loan. If Granchir generously offered his presence, he was surprisingly less generous when it came to money, although many people already suspected that he had a large fortune.

He had eventually surrounded himself with a swarm of hardcore supporters calling him depite with ceremonious gestures. The news had thus spread around the neighborhood. Mr. Granchir was a politician! The old men had nodded their heads. Of course, such kindness was not normal, they said.

Granchir looked at his supporters with the confident, indulgent air of a father. But to have any chance, he had to face Delamare, the one who won the majority of the votes in each election, and who was defending his position fiercely. The one Max had supported in the last elections and for whom he had boundless admiration.

Morfé was an overcrowded district and therefore a key political arena. Delamare did not live there, but he had always been able to count on the votes of its inhabitants. That year, however, a war had been declared against him that he intended to win. Morfé had naturally split into two camps, which were fighting each other as if they had always been enemies.

Max was immediately enrolled in this political atmosphere. He joined the struggle, full of adoration for Delamare. His sympathy and charisma made him a dangerous opponent. He had met with the minions of Delamare’s party, put up posters, distributed leaflets. His speech was a perpetual propaganda. He had done so much and so well that Delamare had finally contacted him. Max had returned from this meeting transformed. Conscious of an importance that he had lacked until then, he had transformed himself. From the filthy shirts he used to put on his hairy chest, he had switched to clean, well-ironed shirts. He was never again seen with his pants draging behind his knees. The games of dominoes that he used to play were becoming less frequent. Max gave himself such an air of importance that one came to believe that he himself would be elected. The trips to the hotel became more frequent. People around him were thinking that maybe he was finally close to realizing all the crazy dreams he was telling between sips of beer. Max told everyone that soon he would be one of the few wealthy men in Morfé. He had never worked in his life but was already excited about the prestigious job position that would fall to him once Delamare was re-elected. He had put on weight, because of the imminence of the dollars he could almost feel, looking more and more like the image of an important fat man. He had made enemies but didn’t care. Having enemies was the privilege of the powerful.

Two weeks before election day, he had been quite badly injured in a brawl with his idol’s enemies. Rosalie had protested his involvement as much as she could. But Max had not paid any attention to her, especially since on that occasion Delamare had assured her of his support and encouraged her to turn to him in case of need. The day Max returned to the neighborhood with a high-end laptop, he had truly become the idol of Delamare’s supporters. He promised them that privileges would rain down on them as well. Just a vote. A little ink for new hopes. Very little to pay…

The masked ball given by Denis had come to offer a moment of respite to the heated minds. That morning, Max had woken up early. He had addressed a thought to his lwa. Would he draw their ire by not honoring them? This year, he could not allow anyone to see him slumped and humiliated at the feet of the gods. Later, he had attended a political meeting at Delamare’s. There, everyone had treated him with great respect, reinforcing his feeling of importance. As he was leaving the meeting place, his eyes met those of another party member, where for a second there was a glint of malice. The boy, named Ronaldo, had walked up to Max and caught him in a hug.

  • Hey man, looks like things are going well for you.
  • You could say that.
  • Will you let me see? he asked, pointing to Max’s cell phone.

Max had passed it to him and was pleased to see the envy painted on the face of his interlocutor who gave him back the mobile without saying anything.

-You go to Denis party this evening?

Max had looked at him, suspicious, looking for a suitable answer to give.

  • I will not be there, I have other projects, had resumed Ronaldo before leaving.

Back home, Max had been drinking, until very late at night. He had then received an umpteenth call of threat. He didn’t have to wonder long about the reasons for the grievance. With a light heart, he had hung up on the threatening caller, certain that it was just another bad joke. His thoughts had then turned to his hood and he had laughed at the idea that this night at least, he would be perfectly protected.

The corridors, drowned in filth, reeking of dog piss and of cigarettes that the local boys smoked by the dozen, were deserted at the time Max had left home. The few electrified houses, threw pallid lights outside. He had made sure not to be followed. Then he walked to Denis’ house.

There, the living room was shining brightly and he remembered wondering how Denis had managed to cover such expenses. The contributions of the people in the neighborhood could not have been enough. Max had never been to Denis’ house before and was surprised to see the grand staircase in the center of the room leading to the upper floor, the beautiful parquet. The room was wide enough for guests to dance or sit. Max had to admit that the work was rather successful. Young girls were simpering like pretentious duchesses, forgetting for one night the hungry kids that they had knocked out with sugary water to earn this moment of freedom, the despair that often inhabited them. Besides, they were all at the same point, wanting to forget for a moment that they were poor and that they were killing themselves, clinging to life with all the strength of their flayed hands while their tired legs carried them for endless hours under the burning breath of the tropical sun. They were dancing, laughing. There was plenty of beer and local rhum. In the corner of the room, plates overflowing with fried food reminded many that they had not had enough to eat in ages.

Max had moved in the middle of this small assembly with confidence, attracting glances. He approached the women, joined the political discussions under the suspicious looks of his interlocutors. The evening was in full swing when a young girl, slightly drunk, had led him into a darker room. She wore a dress with a plunging neckline, which stuck so closely to her body, that it seemed to have been sewn there. Having raised herself on her toes, she had placed a furtive kiss on Max’s lips who was observing her, incredulous.

  • Tonight, I kissed the death, she had murmured while chuckling, with a melodious voice that Max had vaguely recognized.

Max had wanted to seize her by the waist, but she had slipped away. He had pursued her, removing his hood as she turned her gaze to him one last time. The mask she wore had prevented Max from distinguishing her face.

He had thought about her for a long time, this whimsical girl who had intrigued him beyond all expression. If she had shown herself more enterprising, ready to offer herself to him to live the big thrill, Max would have been able to understand and would not have been surprised one second. But this simple gesture was devoid of any wild eroticism. It was not tainted either with any interested thought: it did not fit with Max’s daily life. However, the mists of alcohol had ended up relegating the girl to the bottom of his memory. He had then had time to think about the next day. Denis’s ball was being held the day before the elections. In a few hours, Max should be in the middle of the action, encouraging the hesitant, ensuring the displacement of the partisans of Delamare, before taking his position of observer. A day that would be particularly grueling. When tiredness had begun to weigh on his eyes, he had grabbed a beer before going out. Outside, he had let his steps lead him, slowly. His mind was fogged by alcohol but with each flash of lucidity, the thought of his future fortune came back to him with force. Max was happy. Happy and confident in the future…

And it was there that he felt himself losing his footing under the blows of a pain in nothing comparable to all that he had known. The beer bottle, while crashing on the ground, had made a small cut in his hand. He looked at it as his memories came to life. Max tensed like a spring as he realized that the day he had been waiting for was happening without him. But the unbearable headache that overcame him the moment his foot touched the ground, curbed his fervor. He was not aware of having screamed until Rosalie rushed to his bedside, a cup of steaming tea in her hand. Max had to swallow every last drop of the bitter leaf infusion. Then he whined like a child deprived of an outing while a tempting soccer game was being played outside.

  • I have to go. I’m needed outside,” he repeated.
  • There’s absolutely no way,” Rosalie exclaimed with a determination in her eyes that Max didn’t know.
  • You don’t understand. This is the day. It’s my day. Delamare needs me!
  • Believe me my son,” she said, looking at him with pity, “he is no more interested in you than in the dust under his sole. Come down to earth a little.

For the first time in a very long time, Max was on the verge of tears. He knew that Delamare would understand his situation, but he still wanted to prove himself, to impose himself. So that nothing and no one could say afterwards that he hadn’t earned the rewards he would be offered. In this country, those who stood by the politicians enjoyed enormous advantages when they came to power. So for Max, who had been instrumental in Delamare’s campaign, it would be even better.

He insisted. But a second attempt to stand up failed and he fell into a dazed silence. The agitation of the street came to him in bits and pieces and the desire to cry became more and more intense. He waited a long time for a visit from his friends in the party or from Delamare himself, of whom he thought he was one of the closest collaborators. Eventually he fell asleep.

He woke up to find that the horrible headache had doubled again in intensity, which he thought impossible. His body was like a burning ember, but at the same time he was very cold. He heard his mother’s sobs and cries, calling for help from both the loas and the saints.

  • My son! My poor son! Ever since he wore that awful hood that made him look like the devil himself, bad luck has been chasing him, his mother was telling people. I had warned him so many times: ”Max don’t wear that scary thing”, Max don’t stick your nose in the affairs of politicians!” They must have charmed this hood for him, to kill my poor son! My only son!
  • Calm down madam and stop talking nonsense! A man whose voice Max didn’t recognize shouted.

Max tried to open his eyes but saw nothing. He panicked and his body started to twitch in a way that many people thought was not very christian. Some evil spirit must have taken hold of this kid. A sonorous slap fell on his cheek under the redoubled cries of Rosalie. The calm which followed was terrifying. The unconsciousness settled back little by little. Inaudible words formed on his lips. Before sinking, Max felt, , an icy breath on his face, while soft lips touched his and a voice whispered in his ear: ”Tonight, I kissed death”

Max did not open his eyes again until three weeks later in a cold hospital room. Rosalie was dozing on a chair opposite his bed. She looked tired, drained of all energy. It was Marguerite who had convinced her to take Max to the emergency room, suspecting that his case was more complex than she had originally assumed. The expense of Max’s stay in the hospital had forced Rosalie to vacate their miserable hovel of all its furniture. She had incurred more debt than she could ever pay in her lifetime. After the first week, the worry had turned to panic. And with each new bill, Rosalie made a fuss, demanding her son back.

  • Ban mwen l. M konn sa pou m fè pou pitit mwen. M pa ka kite l mouri nan men nou.1

But in the face of the accusing tone of the doctors, who immediately brought out their arsenal of complicated words and asked her if she was ready to assume the consequences of her act, which would be the inevitable death of her son, she remained silent. Rosalie had never been a reckless woman.

As soon as Max had made a move, she came to life. She threw herself at him, telling him that he had spent three weeks in a coma, that she had thought she had lost him but had never lost her faith. Her prayers were finally answered. Hallelujah!

Max soon couldn’t stand the smell of the hospital. To his right, an old man, ashamed that he couldn’t go to the bathroom by himself, was looking at him. Flies were sticking to him: the degrading image of old age in poverty and loneliness. The doctors told Rosalie that Max had been lucky, but she did not understand the rest of their explanations. They gave her a prescription that increased her despair.

Max was in a rage. His stay was a constant torment, but even worse was the anxiety that gnawed at him at the thought of all he had missed. He wondered what fallout his absence might have had at the key moments. But he couldn’t be blamed for being sick. Besides, since his awakening, he was so convinced that he had been victimized by his enemies in some way, that he was close to considering himself a martyr. He placed all his confidence in Delamare, and on the day when Rosalie lamented before him their new pecuniary difficulties, he replied with unruffled calm: ”Don’t worry, I’ve got connections”. Rosalie begged him to forget all the Granchirs and Delamares of this world who brought nothing but trouble to poor people. But Max did not pay any attention to her words.

Soon, he found his neighborhood again with its dumping ground appearance, heads turned as he passed, people waved at him but many ignored him ostensibly.

When Max returned to the circle of Delamare’s supporters, he soon realized that his presence had not been greatly missed. Ronaldo, the son of Sor Judith, had now taken the place that he had once occupied in the minds of the people. He was told the details of the election day as if he were a stranger to the mysteries of politics. Ronaldo seemed to have distinguished himself on that day. Others proudly confided that they had spent the night in jail for attacking voting posts where Granchir was leading. They took pleasure in reminding him that he was not there, as if he had hidden when the need for his presence arose. They told him that the same week, Granchir’s pets had accused them of fraud. They had been really angry until recently, but since then they had calmed down. Perhaps Granchir had finally realized that he was no match for them. Delamare’s victory was almost certain.

When Ronaldo took out of his pocket a new touch pad, with a little arrogant look that he could hardly hide, Max thought he saw the reflection of what he had been a few weeks earlier. He swallowed painfully before speaking again:

-That’s all very well. I need to talk to the congressman.

The politician’s minions looked at him as if he had pulled out some nonsense.

  • That’s impossible young man, one of the party members told him.

”Now they don’t even know my name anymore!”, Max thought sheepishly.

-Come on Max, Ronaldo said to him with the same fat smile painted on his lips, even I don’t have my way with the congressman so you… The elections are over, my man. Back to reality.

  • I need to talk to Delamare,” he said aloud.

They didn’t even bother to answer him. Disappointed, he was about to leave when someone stopped him and handed him an envelope that he hastened to open, hoping for an explanation from Delamare. Inside, he found a bill of 250 gourdes attached to a paper where he could read:

For services rendered,
Congressman D.

Max stuffed the contents of the envelope into his pocket and left without a word. He returned from this encounter overwhelmed. He looked at the neighborhood as if he had never seen it before. The piles of garbage seemed to have doubled in size. The gaunt dogs were barking at the rats who were having a feast. One could perceive through their barking, more imploring and more brittle than those of the dogs of the big estates, that the misery which was eating away at the men around them had spread to them, and the marks on their rough and scorched coats were proof that they were often used as punching bags by their hungry masters. Two garbage cans that the city council had placed in the neighborhood two years earlier and that had never been emptied filled the area with foul odors. At each street corner, he saw a more or less dark shade of destitution. In front of him, a junk dealer stood behind her stall, with a tired expression on her face. Here and there, young people like him, were betting while watching dog fights, laughing out loud while downing liters of alcohol.

Max felt an enormous sadness fall on his shoulders. His disillusionment had given him a flash of clarity. For the first time, while observing his district, he felt a strange feeling of confinement. As if he was in a labyrinth, unable to escape. The people who lived in the neighborhood today had always lived there. Their houses had been built decades before by their parents or grandparents. No one ever left the neighborhood except to go somewhere where life was even more difficult. There were also those who had left to experience other skies. Some had died at sea, the others had been erased from the common memory. Denis was the only one who had returned, with all that he had taken from the other place where his steps had taken him, as a psychological resource. Max realized that with the passing of years and successive elections, the living conditions, when they did not worsen, remained unchanged for the inhabitants of Morfé. The hope of getting out of this situation was almost non-existent, and Max realized how crazy he had been to have dreams and to believe in them. Max finally understood the reality and it was painful. Painful to the point of losing his mind. There, as he felt a deep disappointment, he identified himself with the destitution and despair of his entire neighborhood. Later on, this sudden empathy would certainly disappear. And Max would return to the carefree spirit that had always characterized him.

Distracted, Max did not notice the dark cloth in front of the door of his house until his feet touched it. He bent down to pick it up and it was then that he realized that it was his hood. Max examined it at length, turning it over and over in his hands. It was intact. He began to slide it on his head…


To the crowd of people that would later gather, Rosalie’s neighbors would explain that they had heard a thud, like that of an inert mass hitting the ground and a woman’s heart-rending scream. The testimonies would never agree on which came first. People would nod sadly as they watched the line of blood stop just outside the doorway where Max had stood two hours earlier. Right in front of a black cloth that looked suspiciously like a skull and crossbones hood.


He was seen for the first time in the streets of the city on a cold December evening. He had arrived with shaggy hair, bare chest, dried blood under his fingernails. People thought he must have been thrown up by one of those miserable neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city: Morfé, Alcatraz or Cité Bonheur. As the years went by, he became part of the scenery, like a tourist attraction. Every day, invariably, he would be seen wandering through the public squares looking for something, a skull and crossbones hood, some said, having heard it from him several times. Looking desperate, he would mumble rambling sentences in which the words “congressman”, “mother”, “curse”, “ball”, and sometimes “pretty girl” would be repeated. These last words often led those who saw him, and who were often informed of the popular story that the young man had been a former candidate for a seat at the parliament driven mad by a competitor, to say that their dear ti depite must have been a stud in his prime.

1. Give him to me. I know what to do for my son. I can’t let him die in your hands.

Magdalee Brunache


Agwe= Agwe is a voodoo lwa. He is the patron saint of fishermen and those who travel by sea.

Assotor= The Assotor is a large Haitian drum, with a cylindrical wooden shaft fitted with two ox skins.

Chaloska Monstrous character of the Haitian carnival which refers to the bloody tyrant Charles Oscar Etienne.

Depite= Congressman or congresswoman

Diaspora= A person living abroad or coming from abroad.

Gédés= Spirits of the dead

Lwa= Vodoo spirit

Ti= Small, often used as a term of endearment

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