Essence & Folly: Twelve Short Stories
by Jorge David Awe
Set in and around a small town in modern-day Belize, Essence & Folly chronicles the lives of several poignant and comical residents from Santo Innocencio.
A humorous fishing story of revenge gone wrong entitled "Ole Gyal and Jackanapes" exposes some of the difficulties arising from the generation gap between a cantankerous Mayan grandmother and her "half-limey" grandson.
"The Voice over the Water" recounts Doña Elena's days of interminable melancholy and loneliness following the death of her husband. Three months after her heartbreak, the widow finds herself at the edge of a cliff, confronting her own mortality.
"Don Gabriel Loco" is a madman serving out the final days of a twelve-year sentence for the botched execution of his ex-wife's lover. While in jail, he records the colorful details of that bloody evening in a diary. Eventually, through deliberations with God, Shakespeare, and Diablo, he arrives at the decision that he must finish what he startedin six seconds flatthe moment he's released.
Believing this is his best shot at a normal life, a lonely bachelor enlists the help of a mule to pursue the love and attention of his neighbor in "The Love Story of a Garbage Man."
In "Leonid and the Mini-Commander," a shopkeeper wonders whether his obsessions and compulsions are the result of prompts from a mini-commander hiding in a bunker lodged inside his head.
"A Harsh Lesson" is exactly what the protagonist gets when he witnesses a horrific event (that continues to haunt him right into the present). Moments after his grade school teacher warns that his impatience will someday teach him a harsh lesson, the prediction becomes reality.
"This Doesn't Concern you" constructs with great clarity the details of the first fight a young boy recalls between his parents. Growing up in a house dominated by domestic violence, the terrified boy treads lightly having been victimized many times himself. As his alcoholic stepfather engages his pregnant mother, he tries to deal with the horror and confusion by invoking the words his mother has taught him to utter under such tense situations: 'This doesn't concern you.'
"The Drunk, Joe-Joe" is the story of a drunk who ends up being outmanoeuvred by the barmaid he tries to solicit.
In "Pathetic Love", the protagonist decides to confront his best friend (who is pining from a broken relationship). Although he acknowledges that they have very different views on love, he nevertheless dares to jar his friend out of his state of melancholy so that they can resume chasing after girls and 'maybe fall in love for real'.
"Santo Innocencio" is the story of a young reporter who, on his first major assignment, dissects a popular town figure as well as the upcoming election to try and provide some insight into the people and culture of a sleepy Belizean town.
"Two butchers" is a hilarious story about two 'meat grinders' who dislike each other but who are forced to share a stall at the public market. A hectic Saturday morning serves as the backdrop for their petty antics.
"Don Victor's Affairs" tells the story of an opportunistic and remorseless man who cheats on his wife, a passive woman who chooses to bear the indignities of her broken marriage in relative silence. The reader gets a snapshot of Don's Victor's calculating nature which might be part confession, part justification.
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