James finished his beer in a hurry and left. It was time to get back to the house anyway and the weather looked like it was going to get bad again. Sure enough, as he drove the last half-mile the skies opened up. He rushed into the house only to find Alfred waiting for him.
“Ah, there you are James. Went out to explore, did you?”
“Yes, though there wasn’t much going on.”
“That’s usually the case.” Alfred laughed and they moved to the library. “Let’s have a brandy, James.”
He brought over two glasses and sat down.
“Now then, James. We shall be leaving soon for Nasio’s house. I want you to follow my lead when we get there. Just do as I tell you and don’t speak until you are spoken too. Got it?”
“Okay. Listen, Alfred, I was reading up on the history of this island. I know now what you meant by what you said about the Carib not being – “
Alfred cut him short. “James, please don’t over think things. Just go along, it’s very important.”
James wanted to press the matter but good manners won out and they finished their brandy in silence. Soon after Alfred announced it was time to go and they got in the Mercedes and headed out. As they drove down the hill and through the village to the countryside James began to feel warmth in his belly and the landscape took on a dreamlike quality. It was dusk when they finally arrived at a ranch house sitting by itself quite a ways off the main road.
Nasio came out on the porch to greet them and then took them inside. He spoke with Alfred but said nothing to James until they were seated at a large oak dining table off the main room.
“James. It’s so good of you to be here tonight.”
James nodded. Trying to form a response he found himself tongue-tied. Alfred smiled at him and then Nasio called out to someone in the kitchen in Carib. A woman in traditional garb came into the dining room carrying a plate. James’ mind flashed back to his dream. The light in the room seemed to flare and then fade to dimness. He could feel his throat constricting as she put the plate in front of him.
He looked from Nasio to Alfred. Both of them wore thin-lipped smiles and said nothing as they looked at the plate sitting before him. He tried not to look down but his eyes moved as though they had a will of their own. His hands began to shake.
Nasio spoke but it was as though he was hearing an echo through fog on some godforsaken moor.
“The circle is not complete James. You must take honour from the fallen.”
He heard Alfred and Nasio begin chanting in a low voice, the same chant he had heard in his dream. As his eyes began to focused on the contents of the plate he could swear the thing was still beating. He picked up the knife lying beside the plate with its decorations of hair and beads. With the other he picked up the fork.
The roar of blood in his ears drowned out the chant as he began to chew.