This follows on a couple days after The White Stuff and serves mostly as an epilogue to The Mongola Saga, tying up a few loose ends. There will be more stories focussing on Jonathan and maybe we’ll see Herman again, but everything dealing with Josef’s part to play will be wrapped up here.
With that in mind, it’ll help if you’re familiar with some of the history of these characters, particularly Requiem For A Doctor which this follows on from as well.
Herman watched the casket lower into the ground, putting the body of Josef Mongola, his youngest nephew, to rest. He felt a slight twist in his gut, it wasn’t the notion that he’d never see Josef again, though that wound was still healing, it was the knowledge that at almost 80 years old, the old man was outliving most of his family.
Josef wasn’t even 40 when he died.
Herman looked up and around at the small gathering, there couldn’t have been more than 10 people there, not include the minister. Some were friends of Josef, some were apparent fans of his work – Herman could guess what that work was and he didn’t want to think about what his nephew had been up to in his spare time – and some were outliers, Herman recognised Lewis Carter from the news and briefly wondered why he was here, but seeing his face Herman could tell that while Carter wasn’t celebrating Josef’s passing, he wasn’t overtly saddened by it either.
The one person Herman hadn’t seen though was Katherine, Josef’s girlfriend. He hadn’t spoken to Josef in close to a year so he didn’t know what had happened between them in that time, but he would’ve thought she’d still show up regardless.
Herman felt movement beside him, he turned and saw the final guest standing beside him, Jonathan Mongola, Josef’s older brother. Behind him were two prison guards, keeping a close eye on Jonathan during his temporary release. A silence fell between them all as Herman tried to think of what to say.
In the end, Jonathan broke the silence for him.
“You’ve gotten old.”
“I’ve always been old John, I guess I’ve just been feeling it a lot more lately than usual.”
“I’m aware of the feeling. I can barely recognise myself anymore. Almost didn’t recognise Josef last I saw him.”
“How was he?”
Jonathan paused, he looked as though trying to find the right way to describe Josef’s last few days of life.
“He was… troubled. But he’s a Mongola, we’re all troubled.”
“Don’t give me that John, don’t deflect anything awkward like everyone else in this fucking family. I know Josef’s death is hurting you, I know you want to know who killed him…”
“Oh I know who killed him, it was Kat.”
“Kat? Katherine? What in God’s name makes you think that? She loved Josef, what possible reason would she have to kill him?”
“I don’t know yet, but I’ll find out soon enough.”
Herman sighed, recognising the self-destructive drive that plagued his family. “John please, don’t do anything stupid. I know what you’re thinking and…”
“You know jack-shit about what I’ve thinking H.A.M., I’ve been locked up for, what, 7? 8 years now? How many times did you come to visit me in all those years? 10? 12? Josef was there on an almost monthly basis, he never forgot me. For the longest time it was like he was the only family I had left, and now he’s gone so excuse me if I’m feeling a little fucked off about it.”
“Don’t give me that shit John. You and Josef hated this family, you’re in prison BECAUSE you hate this family. Josef might’ve performed his brother duty but don’t pretend like you were abandoned. Yeah, you got the shit end of the stick with Fitzgerald as your father but don’t forget I went through the same shit with my father, I suffered the same beatings, the same fascist bullshit shoved down my throat and I had to watch my brother make the same mistakes. Only unlike Josef, my brother never had a Martha to pull him out of it. And don’t misconstrue my words John, I’m not upset that me and Fitzgerald never had our big climatic reunion, but I kept you in my life as much as possible, even after you killed him and Vivienne, I tried my damndest to be there for you and if you think it wasn’t enough then I’m sorry. But like it or not we are still family and I still care about what happens to you. So please, don’t do anything dangerous.”
Herman swore he saw something flash by Jonathan’s eyes, it almost looked like… uncertainty? But it passed by far too quickly and Jonathan was back smiling again.
“Of course H.A.M., all we have left is each other. I wouldn’t do anything to upset that.”
One of the guard tapped Jonathan on the shoulder, telling him it was time to leave. Jonathan bid his uncle farewell but as Herman watched his nephew leave, he couldn’t help but feel like this would be the last time they ever saw each other.
All this fucking family had was trauma and anger, and Herman wasn’t about to try and fix something that was comfortably broken.
While it was still fairly early in the evening, Herman knew it would be far too late to start driving back home now, it would take him at least two, maybe even three days to get back so he could get things moving in the morning. Until then, he decided to take a quick walk around the city to tire himself before bed.
Being so used to the isolation of his farmland, Herman was momentarily taken aback by the magnitude of the place. Not just the sheer storm of people around him but there seemed to be a… filth n the air. Not smog or anything like that, but all around him Herman saw the telltale signs of abuse, both human in the sights of waste, drug use and sewage overflow, as well as Fluffy with Herman spotting several severed limbs and dead foals on his walk.
He dreaded to think about what went on behind closed doors in a place like this.
Herman had been walking for nearly an hour before he felt his old bones starting to hurt. He was lucky that he was still in as good a shape as he was for his age, a combination of farmwork and chasing after Fluffies for the last seven years had kept him fit but his age did still catch up with him now and again. Finding a nearby bench to rest himself at, Herman plonked his butt down and caught his breath.
He noted that the air was thicker here, and the familiar stench of Fluffy shit was almost overpowering as it lingered for far longer than Herman was used to. No wonder Josef was troubled having to live in a place like this.
Looking for a distraction, Herman took out his phone and called Johnny, this was the longest he’d been away from Angie, Cole and Cinnamon before and he wanted to check up on them.
Johnny answered after a few rings. “Hey Herm, how’s things?”
“Good, considering the circumstances. Funeral went… decent I guess, as funerals go. I think it’s just starting to hit me that Josef’s gone, might be a few days before it smacks me upside the fucking head.”
“I know the feeling, felt the same way after dad died. Felt sad and all of course but randomly knocked me on my ass about a week after the funeral that he was really gone. Don’t you worry though, me an Gheorghe are happy to help if you need anything.”
“Cheers guys, you doing ok with the family?”
“Oh the wee ones have been excellent, I swear I’m getting diabetic just being in the same room as them all. You want to talk to them?”
“No, no I think that might just confuse them. Tell them I’ll be back shortly and I’ll bring them all presents when I get back.”
“I’m sure they’ll love that. Alright well I’ve gotta head, Gheorghe’s just back from the shops and I’ll need to give him a hand. You need anything else?”
“No, just looking for a check up. You go on.”
“Ok, talk to you later Herm.”
The line went dead and Herman smiled, he knew he left his Fluffies in good hands, with everything he’d seen around him he felt unnatural scared of his own Fluffies safety. The reminders of how cruel the world could be, how cruel his own family had been to Fluffies sat uneasily on his mind.
Just then he heard something, a small, high-pitched noise behind him. He turned round and saw a nearby bush rustling and a small voice pipe up.
“Come on speciaw-fwiend, need find safe-pwace befowe dawk-times.”
This was followed by the hushed but unmistakeable weeping of a broken Fluffy, whatever had happened to this lot had clearly devastated them. Herman got off the bench and went over to investigate, the bush was still rustling as he got closer, evidently the Fluffies hadn’t noticed him yet and he didn’t want to scare them off.
“Hello, is anyone there.”
The bush stopped rustling, but no Fluffies came rushing out, no streak of shit following a crying ball of Fluff, Herman was honestly surprised.
After a moment, two Fluffies came walking on, both stallions, both a little over a year old – if that – and both covered in dirt, dust, and a little bit of blood. The first stallion was a cream coloured unicorn with a brown mane who was standing protectively in front of the second, a dark green Alicorn with an orange mane who just had the most depressed and broken look on his face.
The cream stallion spoke first. “Pwease nice mistah, Fwint an speciaw-fwiend nu wan twoubew, nu mean tu upset nice mistah. Nu wan homesie ow nummies ow anee-fing, jus wan gu, pwease.”
Herman took a beat to process that these two stallions had called themselves special-friends before he found his thoughts again.
“Hey now, I’m not gonna hurt you. I just heard that you needed help and… well I have a few Fluffies myself so I was wondering if I could help you with anything. You said you needed a place to stay, I can keep you inside for tonight, give you a good meal before I go home tomorrow. I live far, far away and I’m here saying goodbye to a family member, they went forever sleepies.”
The green Alicorn let out a soft whine, which the cream stallion instantly reacted to, hugging his mate tightly and rubbing his face softly on the Alicorns neck.
“Am sowwy nice mistah, speciaw-fwiend hab wowstesh heawt-huwties coz of famiwy. Some fwom wosing famiwy, some put dewe by famiwy. Fwint am sowwy nice mistah hab famiwy gu foweba sweepies, nu-wun wan dat.”
“No, they do not. Look if you’re nervous then I understand, I’m not going to force you to come with me, if you want to then I’ll take you back to my room, give you a warm bed, hot food and in the morning you’re free to leave. If not, then I’ll get you some food anyway and leave you alone. What do you say?”
The cream stallion, Flint, looked at his mate, concern etched onto their faces. After a moment, the Alicorn looked up at Herman.
“Nice mistah pwomise, nu wan gib huwties?”
“I promise, no hurties.”
“Den Fwuffies gu wiv nice mistah, nu hab gud sweepies ow gud nummies in wong time.”
Flint let out a happy sigh, Herman guess that he’d wanted to go the moment the offer was on the table but his mate’s precaution towards humans, or maybe even just help in general, meant that he needed the Alicorns approval as well.
Herman knelt down and picked the two Fluffies up, cradling them together in one arm so they weren’t separated, they were lighter than he expected which added to their underfed, feral lifestyle.
“So.” Herman said as he started on the road back to his hotel room. “I got your name Flint, but what’s about you, you got a name?”
Herman looked down and saw that the Alicorn was fast asleep, the second he’d found a slight piece of comfort and a much needed sleep was on him in a flash. Flint smiled, Herman got the sense that this peaceful a sleep was a rare thing, and looked back up at him.
“Moss, speciaw-fwiend namesie am Moss.”