The Iniquity Workers

by Stredwick
he Iniquity Workers
a short story
by Austin Mitchell

“Mind you kill him, Celes,” Eugenie shouted to her sister-in-law, as she came through her gate. The woman had a big belt in her hand and her youngest son, Selvin’s face was soaked with tears. There were belt marks all over his body. Celestine’s other five children with her late husband were in the yard and some were crying.
“I was passing and heard the noise up here so I came to find out what was happening.”
“I can’t find some of the money, Sweetie sent for me. I feel that it’s one of them who took it but nobody wants to talk.”
Eugenie’s brother and Celestine’s husband, Ralston, had met an untimely death two years ago in falling off a ladder and breaking his neck.
Sweetie, was Eugenie’s and Ralston’s youngest sister, who migrated to England some fifteen years ago. Most holidays but especially at Christmas she would send money and clothes for her siblings and in-laws.
“I changed it up at Mister Roy’s shop,” Celestine informed Eugenie.
“Are you sure you didn’t put it somewhere and can’t find where you put it?”
“I know the piece of cloth I tied it up in and put it under my mattress. I don’t have any man coming here to me so it must be one of them who took it.”
“Are you sure it’s not one of those boys from about the place?”
Celestine considered for a moment.
“I went down to Miss Birdie’s shop and when I came back I found the back door open. It’s from then that I missed the money. All of them were in school.”
Celestine knew that she wasn’t totally sure from when the money was missing. It could have been from Sunday when her eldest son, Bobby came to look for her.
“Celes, then you know all of that and you still believe it’s one of them who took the money. It could be one of those boys.”
“They could have taken it before they went to school. That’s why I’m not ruling them out. I’m not calling the police because I don’t want them to rough them up.”
“But I never heard of any of these children taking anything that doesn’t belong to them.”
Celestine had long ago released Selvin.
“There is always a first time.”
Eugenie nodded in agreement with her.
“Celes, it’s tonight we have turning out for Miss Zella and Sunday it’s Mass Benjie’s funeral,” Eugenie reminded her.
“I can’t Miss Miss Zella’s turning out and I must be at both Mass Benjie’s set up and his funeral,” Celestine replied as Eugenie left for her home to start preparing dinner for her husband and seven children.
After Eugenie left, Celestine examined the ring on her right hand ring finger. She wore the ring after meeting some hard times in the market. She had gone to see Cracker Jack, a science man living in Duffield district, five miles from her village of Lobbans Ridge. On at least three Saturdays she had gone to the market and sold not a single piece of produce. She was facing ruin as she had to fork out money to pay people whose goods she had taken.
“Your enemies live near you. If you turn around you must see them.”
Celestine was puzzled by what Cracker Jack said.
Nevertheless she turned around only to see the big smile on his face.
“They are the same blood and they are your best friends.”
“Cassetta and Merlene! They are the ones doing this to me. I can’t believe it, look how we live. Look how long we have our stalls beside each other.”
“They sell off every week, and you have to throw or give way your goods.”
It was true she hadn’t noticed how quickly they finished selling their goods.
“You have to protect yourself from them. I am going to give you this ring to wear but it’s going to cost you. You can pay down on it and you will get it when you pay off the balance.”
He told her the cost.
“I will give you half of the money now and bring the other half next week.”
Celestine went into her purse and counted out the money before giving it to Cracker Jack. He counted and pocketed it.
“All right, once you have it on they can’t hurt you. What you want me to do to them?”
Celestine considered for a minute or so.
“Let them stay, sir. They will know that their plans have failed when they see me striving.”
“You are a good woman, you don’t have a wicked heart. I will see you next week then.”
Cracker Jack had given her the ring to wear and every weekend since, she sold off all the produce she took to Kingston. She saw the sullen looks on the two women’s faces and knew that they were now her enemies and were to be feared. Cracker Jack had recently strengthened the ring.
“He gave me this ring and said it was Cassette and Merlene doing it to me,” Celestine explained to Eugenie.
“You know what, a better get one for myself. I don’t like how Miss Dulcie behaving, especially when I sell off before her.”
Celestine told Eugenie how much the ring cost.
“He should be able to make a cheaper one for me.”
Eugenie sold in a different market and she reported to her the remarks being made since she started wearing her guard ring but hadn’t paid them any mind.

As Eugenie finished walking the half mile separating her home from Celestine’s, she saw her sister, Precious, waiting on her.
“I am just coming from Celes’ house. She lost some of the money, Sweety sent for her last month. She says it’s one of her children who stole it. At the same time she said that it could be one those guys from around the place.”
“She probably spent it off or put it somewhere and don’t remember. If
Celestine ever let Cracker Jack do anything bad to any of those children, watch me and her.”
“All I heard her say is that if when she returns from the market the money is still missing she is going to beat the truth out of them.”
“How is she sure that it’s not one of those boys from about the place who stole her money? And why doesn’t she call the police?”
“Would you want to put police on your children?”
“That would be better than what she is planning to do to them. She beat them already. It’s Cracker Jack she is going to. But if she ever let him harm any one of them, I must find the biggest science man in this country and let him do her something.”
“Neither me nor you know what Celes plan to do. So if I were you I wouldn’t start issuing any threats.”
“I have to start dinner now as Joseph and the children will soon come home,” Eugenie said.
Precious looked at her watch.
“It’s almost two o’clock. I didn’t know that it was so late. I’d better try to reach home too,” she said.
“I will see you tonight at Miss Zella’s turning out,” Eugenie told her as she made her way into her kitchen.
As Precious made her way home she thought about what was happening.
Several persons in their village had told her to go and have a look into her brother’s death. They felt that somebody had pushed him off the ladder and Celestine was to blame. Precious had gone to see a science man named Purcell.
“It’s she kill Ralston. Watch the shadow pushing the tall man off the ladder. You ever think how a man could be on a ladder picking coconuts off a dwarf coconut tree and just drop off and break his neck?”
Precious shook her head.
“I know that it was she who killed him.”
“What you want me to do?”
“I have to check my bigger sister. It was she who sent me to you.”
“All right go but if you want me to do her anything you have to come back quick.”
“You must be mad or something, Precious. Cracker Jack is the most powerful science man around. The blow you would be sending after Celes, it’s you who would get it,” Eugenie warned.
“He said that it was she who killed Ralston.”
“It’s money, Purcell looking to buy rum. He’s no good. You see anybody going to him? I am warn you, don’t bother try anything against Celes.”
Precious didn’t return to Purcell.

“You find the money, Celes,” Sylvia, one of her neighbors asked her as they attended Miss Zella’s turning out.
“No, but now I’m not sure that it’s they who took it. I heard that last night, Scully was down at Princess’ bar buying drinks for everybody,”
“What! Thiefing, broke pocket, Scully. Where he got money from?” Sylvia asked.
“That’s what I’m wondering too.”
“Celes, you should have reported it to the police long ago,” Sylvia said.
On her way home Celestine knew that if she reported it to the police, they would want to know why she took so long. She would have to tell them that she suspected her children.
Friday evening she left for Kingston her mind made up to punish whoever it was that had stolen her money.

Celestine arrived home that Saturday evening. She had a long face as the market had been bad and when she made her checks she was just about breaking even.
Her eldest son, Bobby, came to see her and denied that he had taken the money. He was not Ralston’s child but the man had married Celestine when he was but a baby.
She attended Mass Benjie’s set-up but hardly spoke to any of the other villagers and returned home with her face made up.
On Sunday morning Celestine went to church. Then she attended Mass Benjie’s funeral. After she returned home and had dinner, Eugenie and Sylvia came to look for her. They had also attended the funeral.
“So Bobby said that it wasn’t he who took the money,” Eugenie stated.
Bobby worked in a big hardware store and was making rapid progress in his examinations. He was being viewed as a future manager and had gotten several promotions despite his youth.
“All of them said it’s not they who took it. But I’m asking you, Sylvia and you, Eugenie, to make your children watch out for any of my children spending any extra money.”
Celestine drank some water.
“I heard that while I was in town, Scully was spending big. He all got drunk. I heard that Bello was at a party, buying drinks and food for lots of women.”
“Maybe it’s not your money they are spending, Celes,” Eugenie cautioned her.
Celestine had to agree with her
“I will tell my children to see if anyone of your children are spending any extra money,” Eugenie said.
“I told my children already,” Sylvia stated.
“I don’t think it’s too late to call in the police,” Sylvia advised.
“They are going to question her children and probably rough them up. That’s what I’m afraid of,” Eugenie said.
Later that night Celestine went on the road and confronted Scully and Bello about the source of the money they were spending. Both men told her some words not worth repeating.
After she went home, Celestine decided that the police couldn’t help her. She wasn’t going to tell anybody, not even Eugenie that she was going to Cracker Jack to find out who had stolen her money.
The next morning after the children left for school she went to see Cracker Jack.
She got number twelve which meant that she wouldn’t get through before lunchtime. Celestine was always surprised at the number and quality of persons who came to see Cracker Jack for help. Many of them looked to be prosperous by the clothes they wore and the type of vehicles they drove.
Celestine’s number came up at last and she went in to see Cracker Jack. She had been surprised the first time she saw him. He couldn’t be more than thirty she had thought. Now he looked even younger. He was dressed in a dashiki. He had a modern haircut, wore jeans and had on a pair of slippers.
“How can I help you, lady?”
For a moment Celestine was fearful that he mightn’t remember her.
She told him why she had come to him.
“The market was bad on Saturday but it’s just the economy. So you lose your money and you want me to find it for you.”
He was looking at her straight in the eyes as if boring holes through her.
“Yes, sir, I want you to help me.”
His eyes had not wavered from hers.
“You lose five thousand dollars but it is going to cost you twice as much. If you don’t have the money I can’t start working.”
For a moment Celestine was taken aback by the announcement of the cost by Cracker Jack. She opened her purse and took out the money and gave it to him. He took it and counted it before pocketing it.
He was still looking piercingly at her.
“Pig is his own sow.”
It took Celestine sometime to grasp the meaning of the science man’s words, then she burst out crying.
Cracker Jack waited for her to dry her eyes.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Do whatever you want to do, sir.”
Cracker Jack looked at her for sometime.
“Are you sure about that, lady?”
“Yes, sir, very sure about it.”
“All right go home now and wait on developments,” he said, ushering her out of the room.
Celestine took a taxi home. She only ate a little of the food that the children cooked before going to bed. She dreamt of Ralston, of all her dead relatives, of the children and of Cracker Jack. She didn’t wake that morning until after nine o’clock.
The next day she went about her chores as usual. She was still at the children to find out which one of them had stolen the money, to stay Cracker Jack’s hand.
When she went to the market she took some time off and went to look for Bobby. He again denied that he had taken the money.

A month went by and nothing happened. Then on a Monday evening she came home to see Bobby’s girlfriend, Francine, in the yard.
“What brings you up here, Francine?”
“It’s Bobby, Miss Celes, one week now and he hasn’t gone to work. He’s just on the street idling. I don’t know what to do.”
It was Bobby who had taken the money! Celestine stifled a sob.
“I have to go and look for him,” she told Francine.
They found Bobby near his house. Celestine talked to him but he behaved as if he didn’t hear her. He came up with her that same night.
Celestine knew the futility of taking him to Cracker Jack and indeed this was made clear by his announcement that he couldn’t turn back the blow.
“The blow that I sent for him was light. He could be eating out of a rubbish pan or even wandering about the place. You told me to do anything I wanted,” he reminded her.
“I know that, sir.”
“You know what I saw in that boy’s future. He was working in a hardware store and just like how he took your money he was going to take his employer’s money. They would have put him in prison. I know you would be ashamed to know that your son is in prison so I moved him from the hardware. He won’t get in any more trouble where money is concerned.”
“Don’t worry that your son is not in any big job again. Any more jobs like that and it would work out the same way. He’ll soon get another girl and he will survive. Lady, thank me for saving your son from prison.”
Celestine thanked Cracker Jack for what he had done. If Bobby committed fraud at his workplace, what a disgrace it would be on her and she couldn’t afford to pay lawyers to keep him out of prison.
On her way home Celestine felt that her conscience was free. Cracker Jack had seen Bobby getting into trouble with other people’s money and his strike had been a preventative one. It would be better to see him performing some low paying job than to know he was doing a long prison sentence for fraud.

Precious went to a man living in two miles from her home named Tobias.
“I can make him get back his job. I can make them promote him that before he knows it he’s in charge of everything. I will charge you sixty thousand dollars plus I can send back the blow.”
“I’ll soon come back, Mr. Tobias,” Precious promised him.
“Make it quick. Delay is danger and every day the boy is getting worse.”
Even when he reduced the fee by ten thousand dollars Precious knew she couldn’t afford it.
Precious had gone up to Eugenie’s house early one Monday morning only to return to find a woman wearing a woolen dress with her head wrapped, waiting on her.
“My name is Ludmilla. I can heal the boy. It will cost you twenty five thousand dollars. I need half the money to buy herbs to make medicine for him and liniments to bathe him.”
“Can you cure him?” Precious asked.
“I am a herbalist, I’ve cured lots of people. I sell herb under the big tree, Downtown, Kingston. Any day you come there you must see me. I can’t lost or run away.”
Believing the woman, Precious rushed down to Eugenie’s home and between the two of them they managed to find the money to give to Ludmilla but that was after phoning Sweety who agreed to give them back the money they were giving Ludmilla. Ludmilla promised to return a week later with the healing herbs but to this day neither woman has heard anything from her.

Although Bobby came off the streets and began doing menial jobs he had lost all interest in the work he used to do as Cracker Jack had predicted. Francine was forced to move on. Meanwhile Celestine and Precious are mortal enemies after the woman accused her of killing Ralston. Eugenie is still on good terms with Celestine especially after she explained what Cracker Jack had told her that he saw in his vision for Bobby. Of course Eugenie also remembered that one of Bobby’s uncles was a serial fraudster. The End.
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December 6, 2019 - 20:25 i am miss brenda i have private disscusion with you via at my email (

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