Chapter 2: Castle in the Sky
Millions would be making their permanent migration to New Jerusalem. There were only a few of them that had the last name Castle.
“The police report has all of the information on there,” Dom states, joining me in his car, “We are hiring the very best to find out who is behind this assassination attempt.”
He’s trying to reassure me but I don’t feel reassured. This wasn’t big for Dom. Dominik Castle was a big person in the world. He was a somebody and the fact that he was here ready to literally go nuts for his regular ass cousin should have meant a lot.
But this was his world…not mine.
“This ain’t cool,” I sigh at the idea of sounding like a teenager but still spit out the words, “I just want to go home…”
He is a teenager too just a different kind.
“We are going home. Tomorrow,” he responds.
He’s talking about the trip to New Jerusalem. That’s not what I considered home. He gets in the car and I look out of the window. That’s where I see Rich. He’s looking for me. I can tell. There was a bunch of chaos after the assassination attempt. It was an international incident even though I was considered a US citizen. It’s because of who I was.
It’s because of what my last name was. Castle.
And that’s why there are helicopters flying overhead, more cop cars than I could count and even the FBI pulling up. It’s best to try to get with Rich later. Now wasn’t the best time.
“Couldn’t you have been a little more subtle?” I ask.
“I was subtle.”
“You show up at the party with a Rolls Royce Caravan playing the Rainbow Anthem with an entourage of dozens.”
I look over across the seat at my cousin Dom. Dominik Castle was 6’4”. A face made for public work. I swear when I look at him I see traces of my lil young cousin who used to go on adventures with me. The one who always pretended to know things that he didn’t really know so he could be the knowledgeable older cousin. He always knew how to spread the truth. That wasn’t who Dominik Castle was anymore though. Not to the world. I’d seen him on magazine covers. I’d seen him with the most important people in the world. Standing tall and defined with his face like a statue and his skin like milk chocolate.
He leans in giving me a pat on his leg and letting me get a whiff of his ridiculously expensive cologne featuring hints of things I couldn’t pronounce if I took a class on cologne.
His lips curl up so fast you would think he would hiss when he says, “Ok, a little bit much. I must admit. Still though. I have to pick up my little cousin in style.”
The style was the key word here. The style was something that Dominik Castle had a bunch of by the way. Down to the Versace button down, he has on. It dripped all over him as though when God created him he took the very best dark chocolate and added all the good stuff. You can’t fake this kind of style. You can’t replace it.
“My friends didn’t know who I was,” I admit.
“Are you kidding?”
I wasn’t kidding. I saw how they looked when they saw so many people pulling up. A bunch of them had gotten restrained to a few rooms. I wasn’t kidding about their reaction to who I was. It was big for them. HUGE probably. I wanted to talk to my friends but I was nervous.
After a second or two of not responding he realizes that I’ m telling the truth. I can see his face growing hurt. My cousin on the outside seemed perfect, great body, nice face, sweet personality and even-tempered. But deep inside I knew there was a sensitive side to him. Especially if he cared about you.
After a little bit of time, he states, “Are you ashamed of the Castle name?”
There he was. DomDom. The face that made you stick up for this family regardless of what they did.
If the Castle Family were a chess board, Dom Castle would be the bishop. He moves every which way around the Castle, dipping his head in and out but can only truly move in one direction so always seems to feel either more comfortable ducked off in a corner somewhere or back at home behind the Castle name.
And the walls of Castle. Let’s just say by the Rolls Royce we are driving in right now are quite high and quite expensive.
“I’m the extended family. I’m not even part of the family.”
“You’re a Castle.”
He loved to stress it when he was a kid. It was as though he has some deeper understanding of what that meant to be a Castle and I didn’t. Why should I care? There is a pause. A lot of what Rich had said to me had really affected me more than I liked to admit.
“Listen there have been some articles about Uncle Faison,” I start off…
I see Dominik immediately clam up. He almost gets defensive. He stands real still gives me a look and turns to me.
Then as though rehearsed comes the dismissive smile and the spin.
“Fake news. Sure my dad is…different…”
Different. The man was unpredictable as fuck.
“Uncle Faison has the lowest approval rating of any ruler in the world…even dictators…”
“You’re worried about the wrong thing,” Dom states, “Our enemies are trying to smear us. The Gay Agenda political party has people bothered. That’s all. Go home. Talk to your parents. You are a Castle. That’s who you are. I can’t wait to show you all over New Jerusalem. You’re going to love it. It really is a UTOPIA for gay people.”
He smiles. I smile back.
Truth is though…our talk doesn’t make me feel better about Uncle Faison or the Gay Agenda. I was scared out of my mind.
I get home and choose not to tell my parents about the incident. Knowing my family, they’d find out soon enough and it was going to be this huge deal. I was going to have to deal with the idea that I almost got assassinated but not today.
Things were gonna start changing I just wanted one more day of being normal.
“DOM – fucking – CASTLE!”
I don’t say why I’m screaming out his name. My parents look up and they don’t seem surprised my cousin is on my mind. I don’t ask if they knew he was coming but I wonder.
When I walk in they seem worried about something else. They just give me a look as though expecting me to straight up go crazy on them. They give themselves away like that. Often actually. It’s pointless to get mad. So pointless that I just push the thought away.
“They must have shown up at your school too,” Caesar rolls his eyes, “Crazy, isn’t it. One day we are normal kids and the next moment the fucking family can’t decide to stay out of shit. And we are being dragged in…again.”
My brother Caesar wasn’t the type to hold his words. He spits the word family like it’s laced in shit. He leans up against the wall clearly irritated about this Rainbow Ticket thing. They must have sent an envoy to his school. I doubt that Dom would show up in person for Caesar though. Caesar was very socially awkward so I’m sure he hated it.
“It wasn’t that bad,” I state, “Just a little embarrassing is all.”
My parents can hear. I don’t want to make them feel bad. I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. It was a big deal though.
“Boys make sure everything is packed,” my father states and heads downstairs for dinner.
He’s a man who doesn’t want to act like he is eavesdropping but also wants to make it clear that he hears every word we are saying. He lingers at the top of the stairs seeing if we were done talking. Caesar looks in his direction and lets out the biggest grunt before my father proceeds. Dad is a character. He’s aggressive in the way that he says it. It’s enough to make me immediately start packing. I wish I could say the same for my brother though. He is clearly not feeling ANY of this.
Dinner is awkward. It’s the last dinner in this house. They were selling it. As though it was nothing. They could have kept it. If they wanted…
“Do we have to go?” Caesar asks.
Mom presses a forced smile between her teeth, “Cease, don’t be difficult. You always knew one day New Jerusalem was opening and we’d be part of the community.”
She was right. My mother was dignified. Apple Sky once made the comment that she was too pretty for my father. She thought I was offended when I disagreed. Probably thought I was upset about my dad. No. My mother was beautiful. Ridiculously so. But she wasn’t too pretty for my father. He was a Castle. Castles got the best including a Beauty Queen trophy wife to stay home and teach your kid’s morals. But still, they loved each other something sick. They’d always been honest at least with that part. I look over at Ceasar. I got it. He had a life here. We both did. We didn’t know anything about New Jerusalem. Not a single thing. So when he keeps talking I don’t stop him.
“Stop it,” Mom tells Caesar.
“Uncle Faison is a dictator,” Caesar states, “They talk about it on the radio all the time. They talk about how he treats the people in his country.”
“I heard it too…” I jump in.
I don’t know why I say it. Maybe a part of me is really starting to rethink this as well. I see my father, who has been uncharacteristically quiet look up from the table. He seemed to be ignoring Caesar.
“They say he’s a murderer,” Caesar asks, “Is that true, dad?”
My dad takes a deep breath. Titus Castle was the youngest of the Castle brothers. My dad never spoke about his other brother Seneca. They didn’t speak but Titus never spoke badly of Seneca either. Rule 1 of the Castle Family is The Castle name above all else. Him and Uncle Faison were close though. They talked every day. They were best friends.
“Son…your brother has a misconception of what our family does…he always has,” Dad states.
To say Caesar was the black sheep and the problem child of the family was an understatement. He’d gone to Juvenile Detention several times and even managed to run away just as many times. Last year Uncle Faison literally came down and had Caesar taken to a mental facility. I think a lot of Caesar bringing this up is because he never forgave Faison. It was clear he was troubled and no one ever really knew what the cause of it all was.
“We aren’t a part of that family. Stop forcing us to be,” Caesar states.
I know what he meant when he said “That Family.” Even at family reunions, we would go and at the very head of the table was Faison Castle. And THAT part of the family. We were never true Castles. Not like Faison, his wife and kids. They were THE Castles. Each with lights that made me flicker. And I liked it that way. They were the head of the Castle family but somehow we flicker just kept getting dragged along into their stuff.
“I don’t have a job…” my dad says.
“When did you get fired?”
“I never had a job,” my dad explains, “In my life…”
I look over at my mother expecting her to be surprised by this but she wasn’t. That leaves Caesar and me to exchange looks.
“What the hell do you do from 8 am to 6 pm?”
“I go to the coffee shop. I… “ He pauses, “I tried to start a few businesses. They failed. I….”
“You’ve been lying to us?” I ask, “Where is our money coming from?”
Caesar rolls his eyes, “Where else?”
I look over at my dad with a hard confused expression. Caesar might not notice it but I do. My dad seemed out of it. It had to be a blow to his self-esteem.
“Caesar relax,” I try to interrupt.
Caesar isn’t having it, “You’re a fucking loser, Dad. You let your older brother take care of your responsibility for years…”
Caesar always goes too far. Always.
I watch my father’s face sour. Sour unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Caesar is fucking VILE sometimes with his words. I kick him underneath the table and he just rolls his eyes. I wonder sometimes since we looked so much alike if I can come off as rude and ignorant as Caesar does.
My dad seems like he can’t even pick up his face off the ground, “We’re going. It’s settled. I know you both look at me like I’m a fucking loser…”
I jump in, “I never said…”
“BOTH of you look at me like I’m a loser,” he continues, not backing down, “I see you do it, Io…”
Has to kind of be hard for a guy to feel his sons think he’s a failure. I want to deny it but I don’t. My dad is such a beta male when it comes to Uncle Faison.
He continues slow, “Maybe I never did anything to make sure my family was provided for. I get it. But things will change in New Jerusalem. I’ll have a job. A real job. Your Uncle is going to make me Secretary of Defense.”
What credentials did my father have for that? It’s laughable.
“Going to New Jerusalem is a mistake,” Caesar states, “We’re going to pay for it.”
My father…angry slams his dish on the table shattering it into a million pieces. The only one he scares is the dog Goku who is underneath the table half asleep.
“And we’re going none-the-less.”
The next day I’m wearing a silver metallic outfit. It’s really futuristic. Ever since the Phase there has been a whole “FUTURE IS HERE” push. So I guess me putting on a form-fitting, unisex, silver metallic New Jerusalem uniform was appropriate right? This was our outfit. I stand in my brother’s mirror and turns.
“My ass looks good.”
“Man this is gay as fuck. I can’t believe you convinced me to put this shit on,” Caesar states.
It’s Departure Day. It’s a big deal. There are crowds outside. I’m not quite sure who these people were. We hadn’t been allowed to watch television in the morning. And then all of a sudden we start hearing people outside. Dad tells us to keep away from the blinds. He expects what’s happening.
I wondered if they did it for everyone who was going to New Jerusalem or was it because we were actual members of the Castle family.
“You said that you owed me one…”
“You got the heat off of me when they found out your dumb ass didn’t tell them you had an assassination attempt on your life!”
He laughs. He hasn’t gotten over it. It happened earlier this morning. My mother fainted. They had to rush her to the hospital. Dom, being the drama king he was, bought out the entire upper unit of the hospital so that his Aunt could have personal space. I think he thought she was overdosing on something. He never really called and asked. Just sent a bunch of money and the number to his best lawyer.
Let’s just say for the first time in a very long time, I became the problem child for keeping an assassination attempt a secret from my family.
Well, at least I got my brother in the uniform. Figured this might make Dad think we are a bit more supportive.
This was dad’s dream. I needed to be here for him.
“OK it’s gay, but that’s the point,” I explain to him, “New Jerusalem is a gay society.”
“I’m not even gay.”
I look over at my brother. The way he says that is as though he is so fucking confused about it all.
“I get it…”
“I’m not gay. Clearly, our parents aren’t gay. You are the only gay one. Why are we forced to join a gay community? I’m in the twilight zone,” he is freaking out.
“Maybe pretend to be gay,” I suggest.
He pauses. I think he is honestly offended by what I say. At first, I don’t believe it. I laugh a little bit. I wasn’t joking about my suggestion though and I think he was able to pick up on that. Maybe that’s why his face still looks so offended.
“You want me to pretend to be something I’m not?” he asks, “You want me to pretend to be gay? When I’m not—-”
“Listen,” I state, “You know me. I’m chill Io but at the same time, we’re Castles. We’re going to be in the spotlight. We’re going to be invited to places. No one needs to know we’re someone. We can be just random. I think unless you want the publicity of being that one straight young Castle boy growing up in a gay Utopia…”
I’m trying to save him. It was my mother’s idea really to move away. She wanted to make sure her kids grew up with normal lives. The Castles were not just politicians. They were the most popular family in the world. People died for just a taste of their lives. Anything one of the Castles touched was instant money. They weren’t famous though. No. The Castle name was Infamous.
People hated them. That asshole Faizon Castle who stole a fucking election and literally stole a fucking country. His overly sexed up husband. His shady, dark dealing MacBeth of a husband or his overexposed perfect son with the ambitious glint underneath his smile. I knew what they were saying about the main Castles. They were obsessed. And they loved to HATE Castle.
And now if we weren’t careful…we’d be more Castles to hate.
“When you came out I supported you. I fucking SUPPORTED you.”
“I support you being straight,” I state, “Be who you are. But we don’t need any attention to our family. We aren’t as attractive as Dom. He’ll always get the spotlight and that’s fine because he wants it. He’s prepared for it. No one’s going to notice us unless you do something stupid. Don’t do something stupid.”
I don’t know how else to say what I’m saying. I hate any tension between Caesar and I. Even though we were so different we still tried so hard to become close now that we were older.
But I had to be honest with him. I didn’t want to be out there in New Jerusalem and I knew he had to agree with that.
“You really want me to go in the closet.”
He’s taking it personally. I guess in a way I can understand why. It’s like some sort of reverse closeting thing going on. It’s weird to think about. He seems offended and starts walking away.
“Wait,” I call out.
It’s pointless. He leaves, clearly offended.
I try to chase him down and halfway down the hall I notice some men grabbing me up. I try to stop them, talk to them somehow but the men clearly seem to not give a fuck what I’m saying. Even pushing them away only causes the grips to tighten!
I notice the uniform they have on. Silver. When the lights hit it sparkles of a rainbow pop up as though some sort of optical illusion. It’s a beautiful fucking effect for such rude brutish men.
“GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME!” I finally freaked out halfway through the living room.
“It’s time,” a voice states.
It’s a calming voice. A voice that seems to let my escorts know that they can back off just an inch or two. It’s my father. He’s dressed differently today. He’s dressed like I’d seen Uncle Faison dress. He had on the field silver double-breasted great coat with dark green collar and shoulder-strap. There were insignia on his chest.
He looked different. He looked important.
I wasn’t saying that to be smart even though he looks up at me as though I am trying to be. I barely recognize him.
His face grimaces and he says, “When I’m working it’s, Secretary Castle. We’re moving out son.”
I want to compliment him. Tell him the colors suit him. He’s way too guarded right now though. Caesar’s words probably still lingered.
“We’re not supposed to leave until later. I’m supposed to be meeting my friends…”
I try to say something else and he waves me off. In the next moment, those men of his are pushing me towards the goddam truck like I’m cattle. It really does piss me the fuck off.
Before I know it I’m on the patio. Guards surround me as though I am a fucking Princess.
“Keep your head down sir,” some random man with a scar stretching from his cheek to his neck says. He looks scary. He clearly works for my family.
I just remember the conversation I just had with my brother. At that moment I make a mental note. I was wrong. I was very wrong. I was already a big deal. I notice that I am when 30 cameras are shoved in my face.
“Mr. Castle, was there really an attempt on your life?”
“Mr. Castle, did you get a good look at your assailant?”
It’s me. I’m the big deal. I pray this passes and my Dom or his sister do something stupid for the press. I push my head down as far as I can. Those same brutish guys I was talking shit about earlier…man, I loved them now. They were my best fucking friends. They broke through the crowd like fucking butter. I’d never seen anything like it. It was fucking amazing.
“Did you know the assailant was your cousin…”
That was the first time I heard them say it.
I turn…confused as all fuck.
“What are you all talking about? Dominik was there but he would NEVER hurt me!”
I shouldn’t have stopped. I know it’s a huge mistake even at the moment.
I may have not been in the spotlight all my life but I knew better from seeing the other Castles. I knew how to avoid the spotlight. Me making a comment to the press was NOT me avoiding the spotlight. I was moving towards the spotlight and I had to admit that I couldn’t help it.
“Not Dominik. You have no idea do you?”
“No idea of what?”
“GET MY MOTHERFUCKING COUSIN IN HERE!” I hear my cousin Dom screaming in the distance. He’s causing a scene. A hell of a scene. He’s throwing people over to get to me. He’s doing what he does best. Solving issues. He’s rushing. I don’t know what he’s so concerned about.
The press had it all wrong right?
“I don’t have any other male first cousins,” I state, “Maybe a second cousin…”
“He doesn’t know!” a voice states, “He doesn’t know…”
At this point, the media is having a circus. I don’t understand what’s going on but I know I’m saved at the very last minute. They sweep me away putting something over my head. My heart is beating. My nerves have gotten the best of me but somehow I’d survive long enough to get to our caravan.
The soldiers stop the press.
Dom looks down on me. He’s so attractive in the way he leans over me. He presses his hand on the back of my chair. I bet girls of all ages went nuts for him making it hard for their men to support anything Castle related.
“Are you OK?” Dom asks.
I fucked up out there. Not sure how but I know I did. He brushes my hair a few times. He always makes me feel better.
“This is a media disaster,” I see my father panicking, “Goddamnit, Io, did you have to keep talking? Faison is going to eat me alive for this.”
“Ignore him, look at me,” Dom states, “Are you OK?”
I nod loosely. My dad was staring at me though and I didn’t get why.
“Stop babying him for once Dom,” my father responds, “You guys give him everything he wants and the one time he’s supposed to perform…FOR THIS FAMILY…”
“You sound like your father,” my mother interrupts.
My mother is kind-hearted and quick to defend her children. She was beautiful. Some people said she looked like Pocahontas. Gay guys seemed to adore her which is why Uncle Faison and his Gay Agenda Party never had a problem using her in their gay propaganda when needed. She was the belle of the ball. Easily. She has always been my father’s weakness. I wish someone would look at me the way my dad looked at my mother.
My dad almost sings the name. Europa. The way he says it sometimes makes me thinks that he falls in love every time he hears it. I was named Io because of her. Europa was another moon around Jupiter. My mother had the regal beauty of a lioness. Strong, silent and moral. She was the best for us. We all knew that.
My dad surrenders to her by turning to me and muttering, ‘Sorry, Io.”
I nod, ‘It’s OK.”
She brings out the best in him. He looks away. I don’t know what that means but he just gets real quiet afterward. My mother pushed a button that definitely worked. I wished someone in my life looked at me that way and was able to control me in that way. I wish someone had that magic control over me that Europa had over Titus.
That was my dream.
I wanted that kind of love.
The forever kind of love. The kind of love you could build dynasties from.
I look around. We are in a sort of luxury RV. The windows were bulletproof. It was spacious and of course very high tech. I look over at Dom.
“As soon as we get to the airport, you’re going to be safe,” he tells me, “I have my personal private plane picking us up.”
“This is subtle? Dom…” I sigh.
“I’d do anything for my little cousin,” he says.
He is playing with my fingers. It’s soothing in a way and so I let him do it.
All the talk outside was confusing me. I did have another cousin. I hadn’t told the press the truth. I didn’t know we were even allowed to talk about him.
“Is Uncle Seneca coming. And his son…uh…what was his name again.”
Sucks I can’t remember my own cousin’s name. Uncle Seneca got blacklisted. I’d heard what happened first hand when someone gets blacklisted by the Castles. It’s not pretty. I never really knew what Seneca had done to get on the Castle bad side.
“Kaiser,” Dominik remembers, “Kaiser Cast. Granddad wouldn’t let them carry the family name.”
“Granddad was a real hardass wasn’t he.”
“Hardass isn’t the word,” Dominik laugh, “He’s still around. Never comes around anymore. Thank god. If he did, I’d protect you from him though.”
Granddad. Let’s just say I heard he was very unpleasant.
After a few seconds, I notice we are both doing it to one another. That’s when I open my eyes. I’m not sure why. I guess I’m just I don’t know. Curious. And that’s when I notice that Dom is looking back at me. He’s been looking at my eyes the whole time. Our eyes connect.
Slowly. He’s staring at me hard.
Almost like how my mother stared at my father. It freaked me the fuck out that I just kept staring wondering why he was looking at me like that. I almost forget that we aren’t alone. I almost forget that RV is packed and right next to us is my very nosy brother Caesar.
“You two are so fucking weird,” Caesar announces.
“What are you talking about? Your brother was almost killed. At least he has an older brotherly figure who gives a fuck,” Dom states.
Caesar rolls his eyes, “If you think we’re doing that ——competing for Io’s affection—-thing like we did when we were kids you’re wrong. You GOT that, Dom. Completely.”
I shake my head, “You two stop. I had someone try to kill me today.”
“He’s back there,” Caesar states.
Dom is pissed! “Fuck Caesar. You have the biggest FUCKING mouth!”
I’m panicking at this point. Dom gets up and Caesar flinches. Dom is a big guy. Caesar is relentless though. Caesar points to the back of the RV. There are some guards back there. The RV is big enough where there seems like a whole different area blocked off from view. Something was definitely back there that was important.
“You’re lying…” I state.
“I’m not going to lie to my own brother. I told THEM that,” Caesar states, “They wanted me to keep it a secret that they have the guy who tried to fucking KILL you on on the back of the bus.”
Dom looks at me. He knows I’m going to make a run for it. He’s fast. Real fast. But I was slim and always hard for him to get a hold of. I take off to the back of the bus! My feet pounding the so fast that I swerve through people and end up literally sliding to the far end of the bus before Dom can stop me.
“Goddamit, Io! He’s dangerous!”
“No shit! Then why is he on the bus with us?” I ask.
I open the screen to the other side at that moment. I’m desperate to understand what the fuck is happening. That is when I see him. He’s just fucking standing there. Just like it’s nothing. The handsome beautiful guy who I talked to at the event. The one who tried to shoot me. It’s just him, though.
“There were two of them,” I state.
That’s when I see Dom walking over. He doesn’t seem as eager to do the aggressive approach now that he sees I wasn’t going to do anything crazy.
“We know, he got away,” Dom states, “The son sacrificed himself for his father.”
I look at him. He was so fucking handsome. Much lighter than I was but still a subtle tan with that beautiful soft curly hair drove me completely crazy. It’s crazy to find someone so dangerous so attractive.
“Why’d you try to kill me?” I ask.
There is silence but he lifts his eyes. Goddam his eyes are almost piercing. I blush red. I never blush red.
“You’re one of them,” he states.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” I ask.
Dom leans off seeming bored of the conversation, “Does it matter, Io? He’s probably a breeder. I hear unplanned pregnancies cause so much stress on them. It really outlawed. He’s speaking nonsense Io…”
Dominik is leading me out of the room. I look back at the assassin. There’s something that draws me to him. It’s not that he is ridiculously attractive. It’s more than that. I don’t know what it is.
“They said he’s my cousin.”
I’m in the middle of the RV. At this point, my parents have walked over to find out what’s going on. They’ve gotten there right at the best part. And Dominik looks at me and looks at my parents. He clears his throat. He doesn’t say anything. That makes me turn to my father who just looks at the cage.
“My brother Seneca had some issues with um…gay people. He sent his son to gay conversion camp. When we found out we rescued the son, and we tried to get Seneca sent to jail. Well, it worked. His son said he wanted to go it on his own. That is his son…”
Jesus Christ. I look over at the boy. He looks up at me.
“Kaiser?” I ask.
“Hello cousin…” he replies.