I looked down at the pearly casket of my father, whose body lay in his favorite off-white, colored suit. His salt-and-peppery hair was coifed nicely as he used to have it done when he was still alive. The wound in his head was no longer visible.
I will never forget the image of my father the night he had died. He was found slumped in his chair, his head in a pool of blood on his desk; he held a revolver in his hand. Everyone in my family—my brothers, my mother and my cousins—were convinced that he had killed himself. I am the only one who is convinced that my father was murdered, and I vow on my father’s grave that I will avenge his death with or without my family at my side!
I looked away at my father's casket and looked up and saw my mother sobbing uncontrollably, being consoled by my brother Alex. He noticed me watching him so he got up and approached me.
“Hey, Nico, you gonna be alright?” asked Alex, sitting down next to me.
“They are going to pay for this!” I answered venomously.
"Who?" asked Alex, but before I could answer he says,“Look, you have to let it go. Pop did what he did."
“What he did?” I repeated angrily. “He didn’t kill himself, Alex. He was killed! You act like you don’t care about what happened to Pop.” I stood up knocking my chair backward, towering over my older brother.
“I care!” he shot back. “We all care! Bro, get over it! Pop is gone and killing anyone won’t bring him back.” He stood up to me as if he was challenging me to a fight.
Our mother finally stepped in between us with outstretched arms, blocking us from advancing to each other.
“Stop shouting! You are making the guests nervous!" she cried.
“I’m going for a walk,” I announced dryly. I needed to cool off. This was too much for me to handle. I walked off toward a row of gray tombstones lined parallel to each other. I stopped by a vase of red roses and took in its fragrance. A single tear rolled down my cheek as I reminisced about the times I spent with my father when I was a young boy. I was so caught in my own moment I hadn't heard my mother's soft voice calling me. When I finally heard her, I turned toward her.
“Si, Mama,” I answered, looking down at her beady brown eyes. She hesitated before saying, “Your brother is looking for you.”
“I told Alex I wasn’t talking to him,” I answered sourly.
She shook her head. “No, Nico. Not Alex. Your other brother…Rocky.” I looked at my mother in shock and followed her gaze in the distance at a short red-haired man.
“Rocky?” I repeated. Rocky stood at the crest of the hill and was standing next to a beautiful blonde-haired woman carrying a little boy with blond curly hair.
I haven’t seen Rocky in years--sixteen years! I remember the day he announced to the family that he no longer wished to live his life the way we were living ours, and he no longer wished to be a part of the "family business". I was about 10 years old, he had been 16. Pop was angry and he told Rocky that he was not welcome in our estate and that he no longer could call Rocky his son; he had disowned Rocky--his oldest son. I can almost hear my mother's plea, begging my father to forgive Rocky and to accept Rocky's wish. Papa didn't want to have it. That was the last time i saw my brother.
I walked over to him slowly. He still looked like he did fifteen years ago, only he had auburn-colored stubble around his chin. Rocky extended his arms out to me as I approached him.
“Nico, good to see you again, little bro,” he said as we embraced, “It’s been a while since I saw you.” He let go of me and stood back as he studied me. “You’ve grown, taller than me at that. How have you been?”
“Alright,” I mumbled. This time Alex and our cousins Rico and Tony had joined us.
“Rocky! What’s up my cousin? I haven’t seen you in a while and who is this lovely lady?” Tony asked, extending his hand politely to Rocky’s wife.
“This is my wife Leighanne and our son Baylee.”
“He looks like Pop,” added Rico, rustling Baylee’s hair.
“So, Nico, I heard you’re taking over Pop’s business now,” Rocky said.
“Well, actually Pop left his business to all of us,” corrected Alex quickly, throwing me a dirty look. I clenched my jaw, but didn’t utter a retort.
“Of course," Rocky replied quickly, avoiding any further conflicts. He looked at Alex and me. “It is good to see you both, mi fratellinos [my brothers],” he said, taking us in his arms at the same time. Alex and I avoided touching each other making the embrace awkward.
Our father's casket was finally lowered into the ground and the graveyard workers began to dig dirt on top of the casket. We said our last prayers and threw flowers into the pit.
Afterwards, we headed to our estate in the Village. A winding driveway led to our house that sat on top of the hill. Along the driveway rows of trees and plants lined up along the road guiding as to our sanctuary. When we got inside, I looked around and felt a sense of emptiness. I sat down on one of the leather couches in our living room. The rest of the family went into the kitchen to get something to eat. Rocky came and sat beside me.
“Hey, you okay? Alex tells me you have…assumptions about Pop’s death—“
“They’re not assumptions!” I interrupted, angrily. Rocky grew quiet, then finally he spoke.
“You think Pop’s been murdered?” he asked, cautiously.
“I know he was! Everyone else thinks he killed himself. Look, you may not have known Pop growing up…” then I stopped after seeing the sadness brewing in Rocky’s eyes.
“Nico, I forgive him for what he did to me all those years ago. I don’t blame him for doing it, and I still love him as my father. Yes, I was angry with him, but that changed, I loved him even though he had disowned me. But when I heard about his death, and what everyone was saying about it, I felt angry again. I was angry that he had disowned me again,” he said.
“So you believe he had killed himself?” I asked him. I looked straight into his eyes.
“I don’t know,” he said, dropping my gaze, “I really don’t know what to believe.”
“Give me one good reason why he would kill himself, Rocky!” I blew up, my voice echoing in the halls.
“Please,” he pleaded, “I came here because I wanted to see you all again. Don’t do this, please. It’s only been a few hours and we’re already arguing. Please, be patient with me.” I kept quiet and looked away apologetically.
“I have an idea, why don’t we go out tonight?” he suggested, trying to lighten the mood. “You know, catch up on things. Just us: you, me, Alex, Rico and Tony, it’ll be just like the old times.”
“Sure. I need a drink.” I heard Rocky sigh heavily as I stood up and headed to the stairs to my bedroom. Inside, i layed down on my bed and closed my eyes.