The Rainbow Dynasty, Chapter 3

 

Chapter 3

 

Family

“I want to talk to him,” I state.

“That’s not a good idea,” my father tries to interrupt.

I think he wants to flex whatever new found power he’d found probably. Maybe it would work if I wasn’t so pissed. As soon as he gets close to me I give him the nastiest look I’ve given my father. My brother had given it to him a million times but not me. He knew this was mad.

“What’s not a good idea is hiding from me that the person who tried to kill me is my fucking cousin.”

There is a pause.

“5 minutes…”

“Uncle Titus, my father said no one speaks to Seneca or his children,” Dom seems unsure about this.

I am scared my dad might get scared due to his older brother. That isn’t the case though.

“5 minutes,” my father repeats.

Dom tries to stop it but what my dad says seem to surely go at least in this RV. They leave me with Kaiser.

“I remember when we were really young, things with our dads weren’t so bad,” I state, “You would get so upset with me sometimes and I never knew why.”

“Do you care.”

“Please talk to me Kaiser,” I tell him,” I don’t know about your relationships with the other castles but talk to me this time.”

He pauses, scared and bothered

“You and Dom always ran off together,” Kaiser explains, “Made me jealous. I got to see Dom a lot more than you but when your family moved away so quickly…I never got to hang with you. And you were so into Dom that…”

I don’t like how he says “into” Dom. He shakes his head. I guess none of that mattered. All of that was in the past.

“How did we get to this?”

That’s what mattered.

“Me trying to kill you?” Kaiser asks, “Someone who I used to love as a child?”

I nod, “Pretty much…”

“Fuckin gays,” Kaiser states, “They listen to Faison Castle tell them the story of your grandfather Faus and his miracle drug that cured the epic Phase. They started worshipping Faus Castle when it was revealed a gay man while working on the inside of a homophobic company created a cure for the disease.”

“The Phase is over. Why bring that back up.”

“People believed only a Castle could lead gays into the future,” Kaiser states, “And my dad saw how sick and twisted this gay world would be.”

“A gay world is sick and twisted to you?” I ask.

Without hesitation, without any resistance or without any denial he nods, “Yes.”

I’m shocked, “You’re so homophobic.”

“No. I’m not the bad guy here. I meant: a strictly gay world. New Jerusalem is supposed to be exclusive like a pride parade. All about happiness and light. The Castles will destroy the dream.”

“You are a Castle, Kaiser.”

“No, I’m not,” he responds, “I’ve been Cast out. Kaiser Cast.”

~

The private plane is a lot easier I don’t have to deal with the stress of politics. Dominik, being our representative from the main house, makes sure that his public relations team is definitely on the plane. And it’s quite the team too. Men in business suits and speaking in code languages all because I opened my big fat mouth and let a few things slip about me not knowing about Kaiser Cast.

Maybe it was a sign I needed to get closer to him. If he survived that was…

“I don’t want to go…”

My family is sitting in our special suite. There is no denying this plane is luxurious. From the bars to the glitzy golden and wooden finishes. Each suite has an endless supply of caviar, top-notch champagne, and just a feeling that you can have it all.

“Looks like the golden child has gone back to black,” Caesar celebrates as my parents take the time walking in here and announcing this.

“You don’t have a choice,” My father states.

“My friends aren’t here. This isn’t me. All the attention. My cousin just tried to kill me, I’m trending all over the internet and I’m pretty sure I’m single again. No, I don’t want to go to New Jerusalem anymore.”

The talk with Kaiser really drained me. He hated the Castle family. What if I got like him?

“I told you.”

“This is all your fault,” my father starts blaming Caesar. I think he even manages to throw something at Caesar’s head.

They start arguing back and forth. Out of nowhere, my mother interrupts. She literally just barges in, “SHUT UP!”

We all turn to her. It’s uncommon for my mother to get loud. It’s uncommon for her to ever raise her voice. This little Indian woman raising her voice to these much bigger guys and being able to get their attention is absolutely shocking.

“The truth is this is a selfish decision,” she states, “For all of us. Your uncle runs this country, your uncle adores us and so for that reason, we run the country. Does make sense to you, Io? The kind of power we possess?”

“Yes…”

Rule. Power. Got it.

I want to argue something else, anything else but nothing comes out of my mouth. I don’t want to hurt my mother’s feelings.

“It’s time for us to become ambitious. For too long we’ve played in the background. Your father came to me and pleaded that we do this for his sake. And we’ll do it. For his sake. For all our sakes.”

The way she says it makes me feel like this is all to stroke my father’s ego. He wanted his dick to look as big as Uncle Faison’s. It worked though. It always worked with Mom when we got like that. She rarely used the whole “Getting Real” thing with us but it was a very effective maneuver.

Because in no time we find ourselves in New Jerusalem.

~

This was always a city of the haves and have-nots. There were those in the colorful Saturn Station Salons with their exotic cars and luxury lifestyle and those on Hastings Street, drug-addled and abused. They had a nickname.

“RTL everywhere…it’s so much worse…”

RTL was Refusal To Leave. I didn’t know much about New Jerusalem but I know how they were treating the RTLs were being played out on the international stage.

“It’s fine,” Dad says.

I look over at Caesar. He shakes his head. He’s nervous. He might have had a reason to be. People suggested often my Uncle Faizon was in trouble with humanity violation.

“It’s just the outskirts…” someone assures us.

The outskirts of New Jerusalem. It was a reminder of the days of the grief. There were families, mostly RTLs. Straight families who refused to leave after the government took the land and gave it to the gays.

“Won’t be much of this soon,” I hear my dad whisper to my mother.

“They’ll kick the RTLs out?” she asks him.

He answers. I’m not sure what he says because I can’t hear too well but by my mother’s facial expression I assume the answer is yes. They literally just took people’s land. It reminded me about Rich. It was kind of fucked up. There was no real middle class. After the virus, we were equal for a short time. Equal in our grief, our losses, our mental disarray. The city was ghostly for those frozen weeks, no-one moved for fear of bringing back that anger during the Phase.

Things had returned to normal I guess but when I get close to real city area and out of the ghetto slums I realize things have changed…for the better.

“This can’t be New Jerusalem.”

We pull the car over to what looks like a pod. There was nothing. Not really. Just a plain, emptiness.

“That area is called the gray zone,” Dom states, “We actually have to go to New Jerusalem.”

“What are you saying?”

“Hold my hand and find out.”

We break out into several groups, small groups and walk up to the pod. That’s when Dom walks over to a panel, presses a few buttons. He comes back. I feel my feet start to shutter.

I fall to the ground!

The Earth beneath us was moving!

I walk to the edge noticing we are floating. Floating towards something bigger. Something bigger overhead and I can’t wait. It’s all magical watching this happening to me. My heart skips more beats than I can count and that’s when I feel Dom’s arm holding me.

“It’s hard to believe that once we consumed the land with our homes, so much that nature had nowhere to thrive. Now things change.”

“A floating city…”

“We aren’t too far off the ground yet but in a few days, that changes. We float way into the sky,” he explains, “It was from your idea. I was talking to you when we were kids and you wrote me a letter about a dream you had.”

“A castle in the sky,” I remember the dream.

He nods, “Yeah. Well, I took it to my dad. We made it happen. In your dream, you saw a building grow into the sky, many strands of steel and glass like the steps of a wild plant…”

I remember. A wild plant organic in shape. As we rise I can see my dream coming in real life. The strands of steel, organic in shape, coming together and moving apart. It was a vertical city. Standing underneath and looking left and right with only soil beneath its feet, at least as big of a city as I could remember.

It was beautiful.

“I love it.”

“It killed me your parents never allowed you to visit. Your mother wanted to keep your identity a secret from the press. But seeing your expression now is worth it. This is your new home. Our new home together.”

He’s holding my hand again. It feels good. I lean over and lay my head on his shoulder. We are breathing together. I can smell Dom’s breath up against my face.

“I want us to be like we used to be Dom,” I admit.

I don’t know where it came from. Maybe I didn’t even mean it. I remember how things used to be with Dom. Weird. Very weird. We were close but uncomfortably close. Close in ways, we shouldn’t have been. But somehow it felt so fucking natural. And maybe that’s why I close my eyes and let him stroke the side of my face.

No one notices. How can anyone pay attention to us with a beautiful city nearby?

“I’ve been thinking the same thing. I can’t stop thinking about us.”

“We were close.”

“I couldn’t get it out of my mind,” he states, “All these years I’ve been working on New Jerusalem to make it perfect for you.”

He leans in grabs my hands. For so long I thought he was all about showing off his money. I was wrong. Those gifts came from his heart. They meant something. They always did.

He was just trying to make it perfect for me and it was.

It was perfect.

~

“Welcome to the Government District. Right now there are only three districts. Government, Commercial and Residential. But as we expand that is going to change. Please pass down a brochure.”

It takes us a while to get to where we are living. Growing up I didn’t see skyscrapers that made my eyes hurt. I didn’t see beautiful ads floating unassisted in the middle of the air. It felt like I had stepped into the future or something. It felt like I had arrived on a whole different planet.

We aren’t the only ones arriving in New Jerusalem and seeing our homes. Most people are single except for gay couples with children. There weren’t a ton of them left though after the Phase and the resulting genocide in the South, unfortunately.

They stay in small but beautiful apartments in tall buildings that all have a uniform look. Not like
DC, New York or any other city in America. Lately, cities like Vegas had started modernizing. There were talks of things like flying cars. But we hadn’t seen the future yet. Not really. Not like it was in places like Dubai or parts of China. Like those places, New Jerusalem has left America in the dust in terms of modern aesthetic. This was a planned city. You can tell. It had one aesthetic and a theme throughout the city. Prosperity and innovation.

That’s when everything changes.

“We’re living here?” Caesar asks.

“Yes. These are the residential suites at the Rainbow Rooms of the Faisonian Palace. One entrance, one exit through the gate. The main building is that way.”

Faisonian Palace. As we walk through there are statues of Uncle Faison. A level of respect happens when we come through. People seemingly expecting us with nerves that I don’t quite get. The staff greets us with an interesting, “Beautiful Agenda today…”

A standard greeting in New Jerusalem, I guess.

Statues are everywhere of Faison. More statues than I would ever imagine one man could stomach having built for himself. The sculptures in front of the palace were set on pedestals amid the water of the fountains and the perfectly manicured topiary that looked like animals.

The rainbow room were sets of apartments each with their private entrances and some expanding out to be massive suites. We were given a suite, due to us being family but it was large enough that we all had our own areas and fully staffed shared common rooms .

And then there was the military war force that they referred to as security.

“Amazing isn’t it?” Dom asks me.

“Overwhelming.”

I’m dizzy. So dizzy that I have to lean back and take a seat. The worst feeling in the world is feeling like you were going to someplace you would recognize only to see that it’s changed. The Castle name had become bigger and the Castle rule had dominated.

“Why is this a palace, Dom?” I ask, “The White House isn’t a palace.”

I think it’s a fair question. It just pops in my head. I’d been trying to figure out why the hell I was overwhelmed and then I had to realize it was all of it. I was in a fucking palace for god sakes.

“Cousin, I mean what—did you think I was going to put you up in the Marriott or…”

“No, it’s just…”

He looks at me curiously trying to figure it out. I look over at my brother Caesar. Even he is dropping his guard and acting impressed by everything. He and my mother are taking a tour. My father is asking the general dad questions about security and whatnot, especially after I was attacked.

I was in New Jerusalem.

Everyone else seemed amazed but I just felt off.

“I’m just really tired…”

“Dom was going to take us on a tour of the city,” my dad states.

Seeing the city scared me. It would make this real. I wasn’t ready for this to be real.

To me, this place was nothing more than a beautiful jail.

~

I head to my room. I was given two staff members supposedly. I think one of them came to the door, but I didn’t answer. My room is gigantic. Ridiculously so. It’s bigger than some people’s apartments. The bed is in the middle of a huge granite floor that looks like it never knew what dust even meant. Almost takes a full 2-minute walk just to get to the bathroom area where everything is made up of some sort of silk. And the weirdest thing about the palace. Everything talks to you. Literally..the walls, the toilet, and even the fridge. .EVERYTHING.

I’m sitting feeling like shit and wanting to know why when the damn wall lights up and starts talking me. The ENTIRE fucking wall.

“Welcome Io, I am Colors, your personal home assistant. This is your house of the future and it is no “House” at all. All homes in New Jerusalem were built tall to conserve the land and preserve habitats. For those with children, the condo towers of the Rainbow rooms have entire floors with jungle gyms for different ages and some even have slides that spiral from the top to the bottom floor.”

“Shut up…”

“Sir?”

The guy’s name is Johnson. I assume that’s his last name. He’s an older yet attractive white man with salt and pepper hair, a muscular body and a restrained facial expression that I would describe as taut.

“How may I assist you?”

“Something to eat? A massage? A tour of the rainbow rooms?”

He’s talking to me the same time as the wall. Outside there is more talking. I have no doubt because we were in the government sector that this was government related workers. This is their job. I know I shouldn’t expect them to be quiet just for me. But I needed quiet. Bad. I’m having a fucking breakdown.

The Colors wall is now a neon blue: “…There are floors for indoor nature walks with special lighting to allow plants to grow and others for heating lagoons or or lighting theaters…”

“SHUT UP!”

“Sir!”

“Get out!”

Three more people come to see me, Robinson,Barrett, and Johnson return a second time.

I keep sending them away. I can’t stop Colors though. The thing keeps going into soundproofing technology, how nice it is not to worry about the weather, and how energy efficient everything is. Everything was so goddamn perfect. This was a Utopia. The perfect place.

So why am I so miserable? Why am I punching a fucking wall?

“Hey…”

I turn. Dom is in there. How did he know about me? How did he know I was freaking out.

“You spying on me?”

“Johnson and a few others have been keeping an eye out on you for me. The staff says your having trouble adapting…”

It’s just been a day. Sure I haven’t left my room. But I didn’t want to.

“How’d you get in?”

“I have a key,” Dom states, “You’re my fucking cousin. I’m going to have a key to your residence.”

I’m freaking out. I couldn’t even control who had access to my room. This is all a lot. I get dizzy. I don’t know why. I try to settle down. This was Dom after all. He’s one of the closest people to me.

“Sorry it’s just the fucking talking wall,” I state, “Nothing here is normal.”

“Dad feels like it’s important to compete technologically.”

How does a country compete technologically without having a real population until a day ago? He is talking and I let him but it doesn’t make sense to me. It seems like everything was for show here. Everything.

“This is really…I don’t know…small country…”

“We start small,” he states. He walks over to me, “Do you feel closed in or…”

“I just want silence.”

“I’ll shut off the wall. I’ll tell the staff to leave you be. But are you OK here, really? I really would do anything to make you happy. You know that?”

“I miss my friends. I’ll get over it…”

“Io…”

“I’ll be fine.”

I think Dom is trying. I can’t be sure. But I think he’s really attempting to make me comfortable. Lord knows the rest of the Main house hasn’t even shown up.

“My dad is going to return shortly. I want to make you happy before he gets back…”

“Why?”

“There’s something dad needs you to do for him. A huge favor. But he wants to ask you in person. He says that I need to make sure you are in a good mood when he asks you..”

“So you’re using me?”

“You can’t use family.”

He had a point.

“Fine. Well then make me happy and leave me alone for a while.”

~

Staying the night alone was a lot. I couldn’t sleep. Not because this place wasn’t the most comfortable place in the world. The mattress literally kept trying to adjust comfort based on my mood. The automated vents kept pumping essential oils into the air to calm me down. And it almost worked. The problem is I didn’t want to get comfortable in a place like this.

A day passes.

Two days pass.

A week passes. I stay in my room. My mother gets a counselor to come to see me but I refuse to speak to the person. I just don’t want to be here. I don’t want to fucking be in New Jerusalem. And they couldn’t make me stay here. Right?

They couldn’t possibly.

This place didn’t seem…I don’t know…

REAL.

And that’s when I get a knock on the door. I swear I think it’s Dom. I open it and I’m shocked when I see Apple Sky standing behind the door.

“WHASSUP BITCH!”

My heart stops!

“What the hell?”

I’m beyond excited as she embraces me. Seeing my friends meant the world to me. A little piece of home in some place strange like this. Just at that moment Rich and Paulo show up as well. They are all standing behind the door. I’m beyond shocked even when Apple Sky damn near circles her hand on me in an effort to show affection. I’m shocked but in a good way.

It’s when I see Rich that I struggle not to lose it.

“Too cool to give me a hug?” he asks.

I’m pretending like I don’t want to jump up and scream. Not even while he waits for me to come to him instead of coming to me. He plays that kind of game I guess. I hug him and immediately everything feels amazing to me.

“Rich you’re here…”

“It was your cousin…” Rich states.

I see Dom standing at the door. He has a suit on that fits him like an expensive glove. He gives me a look and smiles a little bit. I give Rich a nod and leave him walking over to Dom. As I join him we exchange glances.

“You brought my friends here.”

“You happy?”

I was elated. Of course, I can’t let him know that. So I shrug, “You did OK this time. You did alright.”

“Good because my fucking father just arrived at the palace. There is a welcoming ceremony. He wants to meet with you as soon as possible.”

The palace is buzzing with energy all around us. It’s the build-up that you kind of see coming. The President had returned. I can see staff running around the place, all seemingly alarmed when they see Dom Castle and immediately doing their best to get on his good side. Dom was a nice enough guy though, he just pretty much let everyone do their own thing.

While walking Dom puts his arm over me. The Palace is nuts with my uncle back and people are making a big thing of it all so he must be trying to relax me.

Maybe too much. I find myself leaning back, “Damn you’re comfortable.”

The palace was cold and somehow I find myself shivering. Maybe it isn’t just the temperature. Have you ever been someplace that just feels cold? No matter how much smiling, how many rainbows and even how warm it is…it still feels cold.

That’s how New Jerusalem felt.

Cold.

Something wasn’t right with this place.

“You are too…” he states.

I don’t know how it happens. How we stop walking. How we end up ducked off in a stairway, with his face uncomfortably close to mine. People see us but I doubt Dom is concerned here. These were his walls. This was his castle.

That’s when I notice him staring at my lips. That young, childish thing we had going on so long ago was here again. We weren’t 12 though. We were grown. And we knew better. And for some reason that doesn’t stop him from staring at my lips. That doesn’t stop him from leaning in and almost touching them.

And I have to admit I don’t know how I would react.

Luckily he doesn’t. He stops. He just gets quiet and clears his throat. Finally, he stops holding me and takes a quick side-step.

“Remember the time we kissed?” I ask.

There is a pause. I shouldn’t have brought it up. Even when we start walking again, I regret bringing it up as soon as I do. I think Dom is going to ignore it. It’s hard to read what he’s thinking right now. His eyes seem to be trying to figure out where I’m going here.

“Why even bring that up?”

It almost happened again. Of course, Dom won’t admit it. But there was this…thing between us. I hated that it was there, but for some reason, it comforted me in New Jerusalem.

“Ionno. Kaiser mentioned him thinking we were always so close. Made it seemed like something was going on between us. Something inappropriate.”

I laugh trying to make it light-hearted but it doesn’t work. Dom looks down. Damn, he was handsome. The way that his eyes just focused on one thing at a time. This time it just happened to be the floor but that didn’t make that look any less regal. I could paint this guy!

“You were my first experience with a guy,” he explains, “The kiss and…the others things we did…”

“Does anyone know. Does anyone know we…”

He shakes his head. “No. I grew up kind of ashamed of it. I heard the term kissing cousins but never heard of fucking cousins. Mix that with the fact that I believed I was in love with you back then and there goes why everyone thinks something happened between us. Because it fucking did..”

“You were in love with me?”

He laughs. He stops walking even.

“You got to be kidding me, Io,” he states, “You’re so cool. I used to wonder how I could just be a fraction as cool as you were. You just seemed like everything was always OK. Your parents never pressured you into anything.”

I shrug, “I grew up normal. No worries.”

“Exactly. But you had to know that I had some sick cousin crush on you throughout the first part of our lives.”

I had to admit it, “Yeah. I knew.”

“Did you know I went to counseling for it?”

I let the thought marinate for a minute. Don’t want him to think this is a big thing. I know this is something he’d rather not be talking about. I know this is something that he has had to deal with internally.

“How’d that go?”

“Am I in love with you? No. Would it be hard if you were butt naked to resist you, yes.”

“That’s honest.”

“Shit. What the fuck you going to do, spank me if you don’t like the answer?” he asks, “I’m being honest because I can. I’m Dominik Castle. For the longest time, I had no weakness save some little New York kid who had no idea the power he wielded over me. Besides, it’s the past. So I meant to tell you about Marcus Petty.”

“Marcus Petty. The oil Tycoon’s son?”

“Yes. Well, I’m going to get engaged to him.”

“Marcus Petty is straight,” I state. “Or I thought he was. I didn’t know you were even dating…”

“Who said anything about dating?” Dom asks, “I never dated the guy.”

“He used to give me weed every time I delivered messages to Druscilla for him.”

Druscilla was never interested of course. She wasn’t the dating type. Still, he liked her. He’s not even gay. Just a pretender. But his father helped my father win his election so we owe them big time. I marry my gay and the Pettys are New Jerusalem royalty.”

“He’s not even gay,” Dom laughs, “Gonna marry the guy though.”

He says it casually. As though it meant nothing.

“Dom doesn’t marry someone for political gains.”

“We are Castles,” he explains, “Why else would you get married?”

“Not me.”

“Excuse me…”

“I’d never marry just to further the ambitions of my family,” I assure him.

He gets quiet. Real Quiet. Uncomfortably quiet. There was enough time. Enough time to talk and say something else but it’s weird that he doesn’t. I look for something anything at that moment to explain his real reaction that he was being forced into a political marriage.

I look for any tiny space between his breath or any slight gasp that tells me he’s trying not to cry. I look for it in his eyes. But nothing. It was hollow. An emptiness of expectations.

“You gave up on love.”

He shrugs, “I’m Dominik Castle. Love was never an option for me. Surprised it’s one for you…”

He seems really surprised actually. I look at him and laugh, “Of course it is.”

“OK…”

“Dom…you’re scaring me.”

“What I said OK,” he responds, “You are a Castle but you’re not like me and Dru. Dad won’t make his nephew marry a stranger. I’m sure…”

He smiles but I notice how quickly his smile fades. What the fuck?

Soon he opens the door. Dom opens the door and behind that door lies my Uncle with my father and a few other important looking men. They seem to be having a talk. Something about some foreign president. These men look so important. He’s standing there at his desk. His assistants biting at every word coming out of his mouth like puppies to a tit.

My father looks unsure seeing me here, “Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be in tutoring?”

My father hadn’t been around. If he had been around he’d know I hadn’t left my room. If he had been around he’d know my mother hadn’t even gotten the chance to set me up with a tutor who could help me finish the last year I had of high school.

“He’s fine,” Uncle Faison tells my father.

My father looks annoyed, “No he isn’t. Son, get out of here. This is no place for a kid….”

“Ridiculous,” my Uncle Faison states, “I remember when Io used to sneak into all the meetings and hide underneath my desk. You remember that Io… my nephew…”

I look over at him. There are some people in this world that carry auras. I truly believed that Uncle Faison had an aura about him. He was the kind of man you wouldn’t have been surprised knowing an entire city would stop when he arrived. Even back then when I was a kid I remember how much of a big deal my mother made when Uncle Faison visited. The world stopped naturally for Faison and he knew it.

“It’s been so long,” my voice sounds tired and I hope I don’t sound too fake. It’s just been a long week.

My father tries one last, desperate attempt, “Son, why don’t you go check on your mother. She’s been decorating our quarters and would love your attention.”

I don’t move. Not. A. Single. Step. For some reason, instead, I look at Uncle Faison.

“He stays,” Faison states.

“Brother…”

I would have thought it would be inappropriate for Uncle Faison to argue with him. Sure he was the supreme ruler but surely even the supreme ruler wouldn’t interrupt a man raising his son right? Wrong.

Uncle Faison doesn’t argue with my father. What he does is so much worse.

He waves him off, “Ignore your father. He’s just a stickler. It’s been forever since I’ve seen my favorite nephew. Are you still living your gayest life?

My father gets quiet. I feel bad for him. He can’t even tell his son what to do when his oldest brother Faison was in the room. My dad was the middle Castle Brother. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to forget him standing on the side of the wall like he is.

He looks at me, then looks at his son, and then looks at me again. There is judgment all around him. In that aura of his. I think his son feels the tension of that aura too because he seems to be completely still, waiting for my answer.

“Of course,” I assure my uncle, “Very gay. Sexually and otherwise. Dom went out of the way to even bring my friends here…”

“Oh yes. The temporary citizenship requests,” my Uncle states, “Tell your friends they are very lucky. Millions want to be part of the New Jerusalem Experience. Tell them their papers are only temporary. They’ll have to prove their worth. And you will too. Just because I’m your uncle doesn’t mean I’m taking it easy on you.”

“I understand.”

“Oh who am I kidding?” he states turning around, “You’re my Io. Look at you. Dom look at him. This is the kid that you used to take baths with.”

Dom looks embarrassed being pulled into the conversation. He looks over at me. I can see his eyes dance on me, probably thinking about the same things that he’s too embarrassed to address. But finally, he smiles and says, “Yeah. He’s grown up to become a very impressive man dad.”

My uncle looks at me. He has an intimidating look to him. He is one of those men that definitely doesn’t always seem pleasant. Right now he was pleased though.

“And you’re gay. Is that brother of yours still going on about that straight nonsense?”

I knew my uncle didn’t approve.

“I’m not sure.”

He isn’t bothered. He swings his arms over me, “Not you though. You are my gay pride and joy. Born that way. What a powerful thing. The entire country celebrates your return home.”

“Not Uncle Seneca.”

“What?”

“His son tried to kill me.”

“Kaiser is confused,” my uncle explains, “We will deal with this privately. Outside of the media attention. They’ll understand that there are no issues behind the Castle walls.”

He smiles. I am standing still. I feel so awkward standing next to him. I feel awkward talking to him. There’s no familiarity like I had with Dom. Uncle Faison might as well be a stranger to me. The way his face adjusts to the light is odd. I wonder if he’s gotten work done. He’s had to have gotten something. He’s almost unrecognizable.

“What’s going to happen to him?” I ask.

“Shot probably,” Dom states.

Hearing Dom say that so casually sends shivers down my spine. I look over at him remembering that Dom was never the one to usually invoke any sort of violence.

“He’s family…” I state.

“Let’s not worry about that now,” Uncle Faison says, “I have a very special request for you.”

“What request.”

“You’re good with words still?”

I mean I was a poet. I’m not sure how much better with words you needed me to get.

“Sure,” I assure my uncle.

My uncle nods, “Great. I am going to have you write me a speech.”

“Of course.’

This was my dream come true.

Or so I think before my dream becomes a nightmare. And before my entire world is turned upside down in one single request.

“I need you to write my coronation.”

I laugh thinking he’s joking, “What are you talking about?”

“My coronation. At the end of the week, I am going to announce myself King of New Jerusalem.”