The journey had indeed been long, but all knew it was nearing an end. Perhaps an end is not the best way to describe where they were headed. There are times when change is sudden, and other times, it happens gradually, over time. This journey has been long, and much had changed throughout it. Ricky and Pauline had found love, Raissa had found a place to feel part of a family of friends, and the last manuscript was believed to have the secrets of where Pauline came from.
Raissa perpetually pondered secrets. The unspoken word continually came out when she painted. She noticed many of her paintings focused on her subject’s eyes, and her artwork began to have figures in what had once been empty landscapes. As if, life was coming to her. In her study, she had painted Theodore and Pauline and noticed similarities in their eye shapes and the special twinkle and chameleon type color.
During the three days on the boat to Cat Island Pauline and Raissa had time to talk. Raissa shared stories of her time growing up with her mother. She had never known who her father was and never fully understood why her mother was so secretive about him. Her mother had spent time at a monastery in her younger years and is where she said she had found peace and happiness, but Raissa never knew what made her stay at the monastery in the first place. Yet another secret. Raissa realized many secrets made up her life journey and was unsure why she had such an uneasy feeling about Cat Island.
As they neared the island there was a deafening silence and the uneasiness of what lay ahead grew. Raissa wondered if others felt the same way but the silence was thick and difficult to break. She leaned forward, touched Pauline’s shoulder, and said, “I feel like we are entering the world that your father used to always tell stories about.” Pauline turned and smiled, nodded her head in agreement and then rested her head on Ricky’s shoulder.
It was still dark when their boat pulled up to the dock. Lightning was filling the night sky with an ominous light. The island gods were angry tonight and had unleashed their furies upon the island and the sea. When the larger bolts lit up the sky we could see the Hermitage boldly shadowed against the mountaintop like a medieval castle. The Hermitage was a place of love and redemption, but the coming day would find us seeking a reckoning and Theodore’s last manuscript.
We had been on the water for three nights and we were ready to walk on dry ground, but the furies gifted us with rain, lightning, driving winds and torrential rain. Even with those odds we were eager to bring this quest to an end. Ricky was unloading our hiking gear from the boat and loading up the two jeeps that were waiting to take us to Como Hill where we hoped to come face to face with Richard and get the manuscript back. Raissa, Rafael and I would take the lead and Ricky and Pauline would follow. The jeeps were smoke black; after all, sometimes on an island you do not want to be seen. We were more worried about the Obeah than Richard. The dawn would break soon, and we wanted to start the climb by daybreak because the Obeah owned the night.
We rode with the headlights off hoping Richard would not see us coming down the ocean highway. He knew we were coming but not when. I lived on Cat Island many years ago and it was familiar to me. I knew that the view from the Hermitage was vast and you could see most of the island. In the distance I could see fires burning on the top of Mount Alvernia and knew that we would be seeing Richard face to face by sunrise. We rode in silence each of us locked within our own thoughts.
As the morning sun was lighting up the sky we pulled up to where the paths started. Raissa and Pauline gave each of us a hug and said, “We will meet you at the top.” Ricky smiled and said the reckoning that we have been waiting for is near at hand. There are two paths to the top and Ricky took the steeper but shorter one as he wanted to get eyes on the compound before the rest of us got to the top. Raissa and Pauline took the path where the Stations of the Cross were carved by Father Jerome. They would look for the clues to the manuscript and hopefully today would be the day Pauline would possess the manuscript.
When I arrived at the top, I did not see Ricky, but I knew he was there in the shadows. Richard was standing by the bell tower looking toward the ocean at a Cigar Boat just out from the shore past the breakers. Richard looked hard and weathered, his hair was grown out and he had lost a lot of weight. He lowered his head and said he had hoped to be long gone before we arrived, but he was glad that this would come to an end. After all Pauline was Theodore’s daughter and Richard added that he had read the manuscript and it was about how Theodore had met her mother and they had a daughter. It was to be released as fiction but anyone reading it would know it was a true story.
Richard said he saw that Pauline and Raissa had taken the trail with the Stations of the Cross and at each one he had left a clue as to where the manuscript was. He smiled and said I have confessed, and I am at peace. The manuscript is here if you know the stations the clues will tell you where it rests. Ricky walked out of the shrubs toward Richard. With clenched fists and a hard stare, he said you cannot run from this. There needs to be a reckoning and there needs to be an awakening for Pauline as to who she really is. Richard could only look at the scattered rocks, silence being his only reply. Raissa and Pauline walked up and smiled at them both and said it is over. They all stared at Richard then as in slow motion he pushed away from the bell tower and stepped into the void. Silently he fell into the brush and down the hill. From the beach we heard a roaring sound as the Cigar Boat sped away. Ricky called Rafael at the jeeps and he said he would drive around and look for him, but he doubted they would find him.
Raissa and Pauline were working diligently to assemble the clues and finally Raissa said I found it in the clues. The manuscript is here and has been here all along. We all held hands and watched the new day breaking over the sand dunes. I said we should pack up and make for the boat. The Obeah would want the manuscript since Richard owed them for bringing him to Cat Island. We will take all that we have found back to The Writers Café in Saint Simon, sort everything out and celebrate our new beginnings.
Clues to the Lost Manuscript
- Jesus is condemned to death
- Jesus takes up his Cross – Paths cross when the time is ready
- Jesus falls for the first time – Apathy towards others will allow movement forward
- Jesus meets his Mother – Crosses to bear can be shared
- Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross
- Veronica wipes the face of Jesus – Kinship is the bloodline of life’s most profound connections
- Jesus falls for the second time – Aching hearts can mend and continue to move forward
- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
- Jesus falls for the third time
- Jesus is stripped of his garments (sometimes called the “Division of Robes”)
- Jesus is nailed to the Cross – Great pain cannot be hidden
- Jesus dies on the Cross
- Jesus is taken down from the Cross
- Jesus is laid in the tomb – Eternal life comes for the sharing of memories and telling of stories.
Paths cross when the time is ready
Apathy towards others will allow movement forward
Crosses to bear can be shared
Kinship is the bloodline of life’s most profound connections
Aching hearts can mend and continue to move forward
Great pain cannot be hidden
Eternal life comes from the sharing of memories and telling of stories.
Coming soon: Secrets Revealed
Part 1 – Writer’s Cafe
Part 2 – Friends, Color of Sadness
Part 3 – Long Journey Home
Part 4 – Bourbon and Barbwire
Part 5 – The Writer’s Cafe, Lost Manuscript
Part 6 – The Writer’s Cafe, Pirates, Poets, and Goodbyes
Part 7 – Sailor’s Sails and The Hermitage