VIII. UNCLE LAZARUS REVEALS A DARK SECRET
It was some time after these events that I received a surprising visit. I’d never grown up knowing my daddy’s family. In fact, it seemed taboo to even speak their names. That was, all but one. I’d grown up to know that I had an Uncle Lazarus. He was well spoken of because it had been he who warned daddy of the threat that the other two presented to his life.
I’d always wondered what he looked like, if he had the same kind visage as daddy. I’d always wanted to meet him, if only to thank him for giving daddy warning and seeing that he was able to have a family for a little while. He was my unspoken hero. I wished for so long that he’d been around to give me shelter, to show me how I was supposed to be. Oh, if he’d only been able to raise me in the absence of my parents.
When he finally showed up at my doorstep, I was overjoyed. But my joy would be short lived. So would my hatred toward those whom I’d tried to destroy. My hatred, it seemed, would be redirected at those who were truly responsible for my daddy’s death. I would also learn the dark secret of what had really ailed my mama. By the time he left, I would have no doubt about anything that had taken place in my family’s past.
I opened the door, answering a knock, and saw the weathered and almost ancient visage of a man who reminded me completely of my daddy. Handsome, even in old age, Uncle Lazarus was the picture of what daddy would’ve looked like if he’d reached that age. Strangely enough, I felt at ease in his presence. He came in at my invitation, and I attempted to make him feel comfortable.
“So,” he said in a tired voice, no so unlike daddy’s, “you are Calvin’s infamous daughter Magdalena?”
“Yes,” I replied, “what’s left of me, anyway. And you must be Lazarus, daddy’s twin brother.”
“Perhaps,” he stated sadly, very tiredly, “you do know some of your family. Ah, but, you wonder about the young lady that accompanies me. Well, she is your cousin Lucretia. She and I, even now, still run from your uncles…Lucifer and Cain. They still seek our lives, just as they sought your father’s. Indeed, they even seek your life. But I shall make sure that they do not get to you, dear child. They mustn’t. They must not get Their hand on your father’s fortune.”
“There’s no way they can,” I replied, “it’s invested in my company. My business partner handles it all for me. If anything happens to me, it all goes directly to the company incontestable. They can’t even touch it.”
“Ah,” he replied, “you’re much wiser an adversary than they ever gave you credit for. You seem ready for anything anyone can throw at you. But what of your children? How will they survive?” “I have made provisions for them,” I replied, “why?” “I was just curious,” came the weary reply, “That’s all.” “How did you find me?” I asked, curiously.
“It wasn’t hard,” he replied, a sly smile playing upon his lips, “especially since you know my errand boy, Cozy. I have protected you, often, through sending him to you. He has been a very loyal servant, wouldn’t you say? I mean, he has never betrayed either of us to those who wish us dead. Unlike them, I do actually pay what I promise and very well too”.
“But,” he continued, “alas, I must tell you—and quickly— what I came to tell you. I must, I fear, reveal much that you have
never been told. Your father…”
“My father was murdered,” I interrupted, almost screaming, “When I was only five.”
“Yes, child,” he replied softly, “I know. I saw it! I was on my way to warn him that they’d found him, but arrived too late. From my vantage point, I saw it all. Yet, in fear for my own life, I kept quiet. But your mother was right. That whole town did have a hand in your father’s death. The trial, afterward, was indeed a sham. It was paid for the ones who masterminded the whole deed…Lucifer and Cain. They paid the whole town to kill your father and cover up all evidence of who did the actual deed and who’d had it done. But, even more so, they began to cover up their deed by killing those personally involved in the crime. They knew nothing of you at that time. They only knew of your mother. Cal always had been good at hiding things from our brothers.
“At this point, let me clarify a few things for you. You father wasn’t actually gambling when he went to New Orleans. He was actually secreting money for you to me so that I could hide it for you. Also let me explain that I was never a part of the family business. I had my own company, and still do. Your father was the only one crazy enough to join the family business after Lucifer took it over.
“I was the one who advised him to sell his portion to them. They weren’t happy with either one of us afterward. They wanted everything both of us had. But, most of all, they wanted our money. And they are willing to do anything to get it. Nothing will stop them…except your ingenious business tactic.
“I was glad to learn that your mother had done something equally smart,” he continued, unabated, “in her banking business after Cal’s death. And speaking of your dear mother, I must tell you all that I know. I take it, you believe your mother died from her drive to get her vengeance…or perhaps a broken heart or soul. But I tell you now that she died of the very illness that you, yourself, suffer from. It is a rarity as far as such things are concerned…but an inherited anomaly, which has been in her family for many generations and which she passed on to you. I, myself, was hoping that it had been diluted enough by marriage that it would not affect you. But, unfortunately, it has…I see.
“I suppose that it was inevitable. Oh, well. Anyway, I’ve already said too much and now time is running short. My time, that is…not yours. But I must also include the fact that the house, the very family, of Usher is in its last throws of its death agony. It is actually destroying its self from within.”
“What do you mean?” I asked in concern.
“How can I tell you,” he started, with a strangely sickened look on his face, “without sickening you at what must be explained…?”
“Try,” I replied, “by starting at the beginning.”
“It’s not what you’re thinking,” he replied, “rather, it is far worse. As I have told you, Lucifer is an evil person. Cain, too, is very evil. But there are five who are more evil, by far, than they. And those five are the daughters of my brothers. By name, they are: Lilith, Asmoday, Octavia, Alexis, and Salome. Lilith and Asmoday are Lucifer’s spawn, while the other three belong to Cain. They are a lecherous lot, the daughters/ nieces sleeping with their father and uncle. But the girls have a plot enacted, which includes the murder of their incestuous lovers. Of course, not only do they commit incest with their fathers and uncles, but they commit it with each other as well.
“Their house is a modern form of Sodom and Gomorrah. The very things that led God to destroy those vile cities go on inside the halls of my ancestral home. Those depraved girls practice witchcraft and magicks of all kinds in the ancient halls where your father and I grew up. I, myself, have not been back there in over ten years. But it was then that I witnessed what forms of evil take place there.”
“But,” I asked, “why tell me these things? What do they have to do with me? How can I change any of this?”
“You can’t change any of the things I’ve told you,” he replied, “but you can bring some of our family’s honor back in at least one branch of our family tree. You are our last hope for some meritous prestige and respect. The rest of us have failed, slipping back into the evil of our ancestors not so long gone.”
“Well,” he said, receiving a signal from his daughter, “we must take our leave of you. Take care of yourself. Heal the breach between yourself and your friends, drawing them closer to you in the days that pass. You’ll need every single one of them. If I need to contact you from now on, I will send Lucretia. Until you hear from me again, if you hear from me again, good-bye.”
He hugged me as an uncle would his niece, and then he went to the door. With a flourish of activity, he drew the door open and, followed by Lucretia, vanished into the hall beyond…the door closing behind them. As I stood there, I knew that I wasn’t being punished at all. What I suffered wasn’t the price of lust. I’d wrongly judged and condemned myself, taking a genetic illness for God’s retribution for imagined sins. And, even now, I found myself embarrassed at my own foolishness.