Written on August 21, 2022 | by Jun P. Espina | 10 min read
[ Short Fiction Story. Gen. Fiction. Invented names. ] FICTION
Why are you obsessed with your shape and muscles while we are eating less every day?” Veda asked.
“Because you love me for my abs, right?”
Amell Coffey loved Veda like she was a goddess to him and thought his muscularity and good looks helped keep his wife at his side. He had just finished his 500 pushups, his daily warm-up, when Veda, his blonde and blue-eyed wife, began complaining that she had nothing to cook for breakfast.
They had lived in a crumbling log cabin by the creek for the past ten years. Their shack was built by Amell’s employer’s parents over a century ago. It tilts to the right side, and when it rains, drops of water cascade inside. But Amell’s common sense to repair it seemed deactivated.
Lucho idolized his father’s love for bodybuilding and athletics. He loved to run around their log cabin many times a day as part of his daily exercises.
“My son, learn to fight. Your grandpa told me to win a match we needed to attack the opponent.”
“Enough brainwashing your son, Amell. Education is the key to a better future.”
“No, my son. Your grandpa said, “The stronger, the mightier.”
“We’re not Spartans, my dear,” Veda said. “We’re poor farmers without a piece of land.”
The Coffey family lived in grinding poverty all these years without a fridge and electricity in their village of Dobrom, since Amell was just a wageworker for a landed farmer. Amell’s wedded wife, Veda, was educated, beautiful, and smart, but without the opportunity to earn and help send to school Lucho, their ten-year-old son. One day, their uncle invited them to live with him in the village of Garana after the death of his wife. But Amell did not want to mingle with his uncle’s Muslim community.
“I read somewhere, Amell, that it’s better to fail on the side of trying.”
“You go there alone. I heard it’s difficult when violence gets into religion.”
“Read Christianity’s history, my dear. It’s bloody, the darkest of ages.”
“You mean Catholicism? Mine is Bible Christianity.”
But Veda kept on pushing for adventure to come out of squalor. So, they traveled a hundred kilometers to Garana, hoping they would improve financially and send their son to school.
At Garana, their lives changed at once. Their uncle gave them everything he had, as he was too weak to even cook his food. His thirty-year assets—his livestock, fruit-bearing trees, corn, and other farms, farm machinery and equipment, his concrete house, and everything inside, including home appliances, were given to them.
The 360-degree turn of their lives was a miracle if you believed in it. While Amell and Lucho built their exercise room furnished with a few modern pieces of equipment, Veda beautified herself with new clothes, jewelry, and respectable cosmetics.
After a few months, however, their uncle died, and Anakin, the ruthless village chief, wanted Veda to serve him as his cook since their uncle’s farmland was still owned by him on paper. Amell rejected the offer furiously after learning about Anakin’s motive to steal his wife from him.
Despite the ease that his wives and servants afford, cooking for him is a provocation.
Amell expected a fierce fight in the coming days to defend his stunning wife from the grasp of the village’s boss.
Anakin was narcissistic, and his megalomania delighted in stealing other people’s wives. His three wives were not his at first.
Their uncle was a Christian missionary, and Anakin’s parents were his converts. They gave him a five-acre farm, but without a land title. After their deaths, Anakin, the sole inheritor of the entire Garana village, converted to Islam to increase his wives and wanted Veda to be his fourth wife.
Amell could lift a sack of rice in his right hand. At age 30, his physique was like that of his father, who was once a boxing champion. But his six-pack abs could not intimidate Anakin, who was well-armed and ringed with bodyguards.
“What is your plan?” Veda asked.
“Anakin rules Garana, but not outside the village.”
In the dark of night, the Coffey family left Garana on foot. Veda clenched her teeth when the pain of leaving her exciting new house hit her. Lucho could walk faster than his mom, who backpacked a few of their kitchen stuff. Amell armed himself with the pistol of his father, a machete, and a survival knife. And he did not know where the road they followed would end.
After around ten kilometers away from his uncle’s farm, they hit on a river called Perati. Veda and Lucho rested for a minute, while Amell made a raft out of the bamboo by the riverside.
By morning, Anakin fired his rifle in a fit of anger after learning Veda and her family escaped. He sharpened his knife and loaded his pistol and rifle. It was a long chase. He organized four people to accompany him, each one on his own horse.
They came to a stop by the river, Perati, and dismounted to take a little rest.
Anakin observed that the fire Veda had set for their early meal was still glowing as the Coffey family paddled down the river on a raft at first light.
“Let’s build a raft and follow Amell.”
By noon, the Coffey family ate and then rested under a tree. But before they could finish eating, five armed men ordered them to lie on their bellies.
“Don’t shoot!” shouted Amell. He then silently pulled his gun.
“I order you to leave Veda to me.”
“Save me, Amell,” whispered Veda.
“Let’s talk. We’re unarmed.”
“What negotiation do you want? This river is part of Garana, my territory. I own everything here.”
“Yes, but you’re an ugly coward.”
“I can kill you right now.” Anakin fired his pistol into the air.
“Don’t do that. My pretty wife will never love a foul chicken like you. Let’s fight, unarmed, man to man.”
Anakin signaled his bodyguards to cover him, then he threw his pistol to the ground.
As a rich kid, Anakin was a trained martial artist. He was a black belt in Karate and Judo. It was this expertise that cheered the men in Garana to follow him.
Sensing the danger, Veda pretended to wipe her face with her scarf while she quietly grabbed Amell’s pistol and hid it inside her jeans.
Anakin was taller than Amell, but the atrocious ruler could not intimidate him. His father trained him to fight. The four guards cleared up a portion of the ground for the two men to wrestle on while Veda and Lucho had already seated themselves. The wind whooshed as Perati gurgled, but even the singing of the birds populating the trees by the river could not appease Veda’s fear.
The fight started with Anakin surprising Amell with a hard roundhouse kick that sent him to the ground.
“Rise. Give your best, hungry farmer!”
While Amell attempted to stand up, Anakin kicked him again in the face. But Amell caught his right foot and twisted it forcibly, like twisting a dough. While Anakin was screaming in pain, he gripped his foot tightly and swung the former’s whole body like a baseball bat and smashed it on the trunk of a tree.
As Anakin fell to the ground, unconscious, Veda stood up and pointed her gun at the four bodyguards seated on the ground. The suddenness of the action caught Anakin’s four buddies off guard, so they put their hands in the air.
Fuming as a mad dog, Amell seized the pistol from Veda’s hand and fired at the four bodyguards on the head, killing them all on the spot.
“Why did you kill them?” Veda asked.
But before Amell could have replied to her, Anakin had already crawled down to the riverbank, and they lost him.
“Anakin is still alive.”
“I’ll find him. Gather their guns and arm yourself. Wait for me here.”
Boulders and fallen trees crowded the riverbank, and vines and forest bushes covered the steep terrain.
Anakin could not escape from this deadly landscape. He is just hiding nearby.
After around twenty minutes, he returned to where his family stayed.
“Don’t move or I’ll shoot your wife and son.”
Deranged turd! Amell put his hands above his head.
“Tie up your husband,” Anakin said, handing Veda a tough tree-climbing vine as he curved his lips in pain from his broken right leg.
Afterward, to show off his supremacy, he held Veda’s head and attempted to kiss her on the lips in front of her husband. Anakin’s narcissism just ruled him, even in a dangerous setting. As Veda struggled to free herself from Anakin’s hands, Lucho stabbed him in the waistline. His blood cascaded from his injured kidney. Veda saw an opening and kicked his aching right leg cruelly. Then Lucho hit Anakin’s forehead with a piece of rock after he swirled to the ground like a swirling loose rope.
As he bathed in his own blood, Veda searched for any hidden weapon and found a pistol in Anakin’s pants. She took it, and then raced toward Amell and unbound him.
Anakin became unconscious again.
“What’s our next move?” Veda asked.
“Let’s bury the four dead guys and bring Anakin back to Garana.”
“What? It’s risky. They’re clannish.”
“They should compensate us for Anakin’s barbaric demeanor.”
The Coffey family returned to the roadside, where they made a bamboo raft and rested. And it was a toilsome journey as they carried the injured Anakin on a carrying pole.
When they reached the place where Anakin and his men tethered their horses, ten men emerged out of nowhere and aimed their weapons at them.
“Drop your weapons or you’ll bury your injured prince today.”
“Drop,” Anakin yelled at his guards.
“We made you alive. We demand compensation,” Amell said.
“What do you want?”
“Half of your territory, or I’ll kill you right now.”
“You cannot get out of my territory alive.”
“If we die here, you’ll go down to hell with us. I’ll count up to three, one, two.”
“Wait. We need my boys for our witness.” Anakin wanted his guards to get closer so they could have leverage over Amell.
“No need. I’ll just announce to them you agreed to my demand,” Amell said.
Anakin saw the trees swirling around him. He became pale as paper. His injured kidney could end his life in a few minutes without hospital care.
“Guards,” Amell cried out, “listen. One-half of the Garana territory now belongs to me. Your dying boss agreed to that. And I want the Perati river to be a part of Amell Coffey’s territory, which I want to name the Fraco Christian Village in honor of my uncle.”
The guards rushed Anakin to the nearest hospital, where he recuperated for two months.
Through their cash in the bank that they inherited from their uncle, Amell and Veda hired a geodetic engineer to determine the boundary of the Garana and Fraco Christian Villages. Then Amell announced that those families who would live and work on his vast farm would own five hectares each of titled farmland after two years.
This campaign angered Anakin since it would make his share of the Garana unoccupied with no workers on the farm. So he planned to kill Amell and organized his most loyal men to help him.
“Boss,” said one of Garana’s elders, “it is against our culture. Amell won his territory in a fighting match. You can only take it back with a rematch.”
Anakin’s hallucination of greatness was just unbelievable. He did not care about anything—his recently injured kidney—except for showing off his superiority and the belief that he had royal blood. So he challenged Amell to a hand-to-hand fight. Otherwise, he would not acknowledge Amell’s territory within the Garana Village.
“My most loyal fighting men, cover me. I’ll share my three pretty wives with you as your reward after we kill Amell on Sunday next week. Let’s kill this land grabber together.”
Anakin was a misogynist. But his announcement angered his three wives. His second wife had a plan, and the two others supported her.
The scheduled fight came, and Amell hired a lawyer to notarize the agreement. They held the fighting match on the trimmed lawn of Anakin’s magnificent house.
As they met face-to-face for the bout, Anakin said: “Remember, Amell. Your lawyer and the two hundred families in attendance are our witnesses. If you lose, you cannot own a parcel of land in Garana—including your uncle’s—and your wife will be mine.”
Veda gripped the right arm of Lucho as she pursed her lips, angry as a bull.
“Agreed, but I think your people will bury you today unembalmed,” Amell replied.
As with their first match, Anakin attacked Amell with a powerful jumping front kick. But Amell was no stranger to Anakin’s karate. So, he would get closer to him for the opportunity to wrestle him without losing focus on Anakin’s flying kicks.
Veda then shouted something like “careful” loudly, and it prompted him to turn his head toward her. While Amell was distracted, Anakin delivered a quick and hard punch to the solar plexus, followed by a powerful back kick that knocked Amell to the ground.
The crowd chanted, “Fight, Amell, fight.”
Familiar with Amell’s vise-strong grip, Anakin always kept his distance and never allowed his opponent to catch him.
After around seven minutes into the fight, Anakin continued with his karate stances and kicks, never allowing Amell to hit him. But Amell was strong as iron, and he could not make him sleep with his attacks.
Amell persisted in his attack to catch and wrestle with Anakin. Hard kicks hit his head and breast, but he was angry and refused to be knocked to the ground once more by a karate move.
Seeing Amell’s strength, Anakin shifted his attacks to judo. He tried to hit Amell’s neck with his judo chops, but Amell waved his head like a professional boxer and hit Anakin’s stomach so hard that he let out a loud fart.
Amell then twisted his shoulders and struck Anakin in the right jaw with a powerful uppercut. Amell delivered another powerful blow, this time a direct punch to Anakin’s nose, as the latter’s feet swayed. He fell to the ground, unconscious. His body trembled.
“Kill him, kill him,” chanted the crowd, who favored Amell as their chieftain.
Anakin’s bootlicking sidekicks did not help him, as per their agreement, for fear of the pro-Amell mob.
“He cannot wake up, Amell. Give that swine to me,” a man ranted.
“Who are you?”
“I’m the husband of Amell’s most beautiful second wife. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity.”
“We’ve got a lawyer here.” Turning to the lawyer, Amell asked, “What do you think, sir?”
“Let the people decide. The voice of the people is the law.”
“It’s payback time. Payback time,” the crowd roared again.
“The voice of the people is the law,” hollered Amell.
The aggrieved man stabbed Anakin ten times, and the Garanans buried their cruel ruler that day.
Around an hour after they declared Anakin dead, the people looted his mansion and carried to their homes everything they could plunder. Anakin’s wives raced to Amell for his protection from the angry people, but Veda protested.
“Never get close to my husband.”
“We fed Anakin with dirty food and water. We helped your husband win,” the second wife said.
“Wives of Anakin,” Amell proclaimed, “return to your husbands. I’ll give you your share of titled farmlands.”
The Coffey family remained in their uncle’s house while constructing their mansion. The Garanans became prosperous because of Amell’s management and humane policies.
“I don’t go to school, papa.”
“I stabbed a ruler, papa. Remember? Strength. You said that.”
“Lucho, when your dad helped Anakin live after you stabbed him, it was wisdom.”
“True. Wisdom, my son, instead of stabbing people.”
“Yes, Lucho. When your dad distributed the farmland to the Garanans, ’twas wisdom.”
“What, mama? Where did Papa get his wisdom? He didn’t go to school?
“From me, I’m a degree holder,” Veda laughed.
“Shut up. I used my common sense uncommonly.”
“Thank you, my dear. Now we’re rich, and Lucho will attend school. Wisdom lives in the brain and heart, not in the muscles.”
“How would you describe my brand of wisdom?” Amell asked.
“Unschooled wisdom from common sense enforced through strength—and love for me?”
“Yes, of course. Who does not love my sweet Veda Coffey?”
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