It was common to see his stumbling walk in the evenings. Despite his alcoholic numbness, he knew Flowers Street well and every night would come home with a big burlap sack over his shoulder. Any comparison with Santa would be a bad joke. That man didn’t have any meat on his body. He was made of pure bones and his cheeks had never blushed or met affection. Although he carried a sack à la Santa, his nickname on the block was the Prophet.
He was known on Flowers Street for his loud rants as he would crawl back home dirty, tired and drunk. A bit unaware of time and carrying the weight of being who he was in the bag.
He would yell at the children and locals, sharing news from only God knows where he got it from. “The end is coming! There will be glory!”
The Prophet had five children: three boys and two girls. The youngest child was born deaf and mute, a result of the years of his father’s alcoholism.
They lived a few houses away from my grandma’s, in a shack (difficult to access, built on top of a steep, red, dirty hill. During the summer rainy season, everyone would be struck by how the house remained standing. The most devastating floods would bust down walls, and drag furniture, memories, and dreams everywhere onto Flowers Street. But not the Prophet’s home. I wonder if the humble construction inherited its owner’s talent to withstand despite the bumps of life. The Prophet’s family didn’t fear anything because they had nothing.
Myself, on the contrary, I was terrified to sleep at my grandma’s house. At night, you could hear strange noises coming from the roof. I would cover my head with the blanket and hold my breath for several seconds hoping that the noises would go away. What was it? A ghost? A thief?
The answer came one morning when I saw the Prophet entering my grandma’s house with his bag slung over his shoulder. I got behind the couch observing from a certain distance with curiosity while the man dragged a ladder to the attic.
— Here, there it goes. It seems that we got a big one and its offspring, said the Prophet coming down from the roof and almost staggering down the ladder.
— These things keep reproducing, huh?, my grandma commented with disgust on her face.
— That’s the way it goes. Living things just trying to survive and carry on, Ma’am.
— Oh well! Not under my roof!, responded my grandma laughing nervously while the Prophet gathered a possum family inside his bag.
The Prophet said goodbye and thanked my grandma, while she was left with a heart full of gratitude and sorrow.
From behind the couch, I could hear the man on Flower’s Street announcing:
“Tonight, there will be dinner!”.
A true story based on memories from my childhood growing up in Capelinha, Minas Gerais, Brazil. I wrote it as part of an exercise for my writing club Rough Writers.