A/N: This story is inspired both by my exposure to Latin American literature while studying it for college, and by the TV series Tyrant. The difference of course is that instead of the Middle East, this story is going to be set (mostly) in a South American country called Margovia. I got the idea and setting of Margovia from my good friend Rafael dela Cruz, and we both have stories that are going to be set in the country of Margovia, although our versions will be different as Rafael's Margovya (note the Y instead of the I) is influenced by Russian invaders while my Margovia is more what you might expect a South American country to be. You can check out his stories here in FictionPress, just search for Rafael dela Cruz and there you have it.
Anyway, that's all that I have to say, and I do hope you enjoy The Good Son (if you can get over some of the less than savory concepts and ideas I set out here, of course). Oh, and this is not to be confused with that Philippine teleserye or even that other film. - GR
"Buenos dias, my young explorers!" I said to my class of special education children. "Now, who wants to learn and have fun?"
Being a teacher can be such a hard task, and doubly so for a special needs teacher. But this is where my passion lies. Children with special needs are so misunderstood, especially in our current time, but all it takes is for someone to give them the love, care and attention that they need and they can become the most wonderful and fascinating people ever. That was why I chose to take special needs education as my degree when I moved to America, and why I applied to the special needs school for my first ever job.
I still remember the day when I first met a special needs child in my country, and how he was basically left to fend for himself because he did not, could not conform to the educational standards of my country, which claims a 99 percent literacy rate but only because it has been very careful in hiding its illiterates from the rest of the world. I also remember the day when one of my teachers had simply had enough of this special needs kid so he took off his own belt and began whipping the boy, who was either autistic or afflicted with ADHD, because he simply would not pay attention to the teacher or his lesson. I saw the tears in the boy's face as he was being whipped, and I knew that it was because he had no idea why he was being punished. I had been powerless then, but now I was no longer the hapless child who couldn't have lifted a finger to save that boy from punishment. That was the day that I decided that I would dedicate my whole life to helping children with special needs, to make sure that they did not and would not get ostracized simply because they were different from their classmates. I would not let them suffer like the way that that boy in my childhood had suffered.
Of course, helping out these children wasn't all fun and games. Sometimes they would punch, scratch or even bite their caretakers if they didn't want to be interrupted from whatever it was that they were doing. But it was all part of the job, and I knew that the key to establishing a rapport with these kids was patience. I was in my element, and I was happy. Little did I know that this was actually my last day as a free man, and that the past that I had tried to run away from my whole adult life has now come back to reclaim me.
It was eleven in the morning when my old life came back to haunt me. I was near one of the windows in the playroom watching and helping this boy with Down syndrome build a tower and fort with wooden blocks when I saw two black vehicles, one sedan and one SUV, pulling up to the curb in front of the school. Both vehicles had flags with yellow, green, blue and red stripes flying on their hoods, which was how I knew that they had come for me. Confirmation of this came from Rachel, one of my fellow teachers in the school, when she went into the playroom, walked up to me and said, "Max, some people from the Margovian consulate are here to see you. What's that all about?" she asked.
"It's nothing," I shrugged. "They're just checking up on a fellow countryman. Let me talk to them for a sec, tell them that I'm all right, so cover for me with Mrs. Bitterman, please?" I walked out of the playroom and towards the two consular security officers with their black shades and rubberized earpieces. They led me to the back of the SUV, where I found myself sitting beside none other than the Consul of the Republic of Margovia to the United States of America in Los Angeles, a plump and portly man who despite being already in his early eighties still had a full head of dark brown hair on his head. "Look, whatever it is that my father wants to do for me, tell him thanks but no thanks, I don't want it," I told the consul without preamble or even a greeting. "I don't want to hear anything from him right now."
"Oh, actually, unfortunately I think that you will want to hear this, Maximilian," the consul replied, using my full given first name, and I knew that this was an entirely serious affair. "Your father collapsed while he was in the shower. He's been rushed to the hospital, but the doctors say that his cancer has already advanced to the terminal stage. He has days, if not hours, left to live. The doctors have given him a week to live but he knows that they are just trying to be overly optimistic. But what I'm really trying to say, Max, is that your father would like to talk to you one more time before he dies."
Now that was not the answer that I had expected from the consul. I turned to face him, a man who had been my father's close friend for over five decades, and I asked him, "Are you serious?"
"Of course I'm serious," he replied. "Why would I joke about your father's health, which if I may say so, is deteriorating as we speak?"
"My God!" I muttered, still trying to understand what the consul had just said to me.
"You know what this means, don't you?" the consul asked me. "You have to go back to Margovia. Even if only just to talk to him."
I guess it's time for a little confession about myself. There's one thing about me that a lot of people that I know here in LA don't know, and that is the fact that I am the son of the president (some might say dictator) of Margovia, Jose Panaquer. And I guess it's also time for a proper introduction from me now, too.
Hello, my name is Maximilian Victorino Jose Leonidas Panaquer Cedro, and I am the son of the last South American tyrant.
Everyone knows the story of Jose Panaquer, how he overthrew the rightfully elected president of Margovia, Ireneo Amaro, and made himself president with the help of the CIA in the 1980s. Father had always been a staunch lover of American culture, and he believed in the cause of the United States, which was why the CIA supported him in his coup to take over Margovia and not Amaro, who was more in favor of having Margovia join the Non-Aligned Movement. Yes, my father is the last remaining relic of the Cold War in South America, the last leader brought into power by the infamous Operation Condor. And he is also the same reason why I fled the country of my birth to live a simpler life in America. My reasons are simple: I didn't want to grow up under the shadow of my father's legacy, and I also didn't want to follow in his footsteps and be groomed for politics to eventually take over the presidency myself when the time is judged right. No, I didn't want any of that, and Father knew that this was not the life I wanted to live, but even then he tried to convince me to think about, and I had always told him that my answer would still be the same even if I did. My resolve to go away from Margovia only strengthened when my brother Alejandro Panaquer was assassinated by rebels who wanted to overthrow my father and restore democracy in the country, and at that point Father knew that there was nothing in his power that he could do to stop me from going. So far, I've been able to live quietly in Los Angeles with Amber Eastwood, my girlfriend, and I even managed to get my green card (as a political asylum seeker) before that orange fool made his way into the Oval Office, and I've been happy with my life.
But now I had to go back to Margovia and face my father for one last time. Jose Leonidas Efren Panaquer Tejada, the great President of Margovia, was dying, and his last request had been to speak to his last living son for one last time. It would have been easy to say no, to tell the consul that I wanted nothing more to do with my father, and that his death would finally release me from my bond to the country and its government. But I couldn't say it, couldn't do it. He was still my father after all, and if he died without seeing me, if I wasn't able to see him before he passed away, then I don't think that I would have been able to live with myself. There were still a lot of things that I needed to say to him, and I'm sure that he had a lot of things to say to me as well.
"All right, fine, I'll go see him," I finally said to the consul. "But only for one week. After that, I'm going back here."
"All right," the consul said, patting my knee. "Good man. I'll make the necessary arrangements for you to go back home."
"Oh, and one more thing," I said. "I don't want a welcome reception waiting for me when I arrive. I want to arrive in Margovia just like any other person. That means I want to go through customs and that kind of stuff. I don't want to take advantage of my father's name any more than I already have."
"I'll see what I can do, Max," the consul said to me. "All right, now back to school with you. I hear that your new students are waiting."
I got out of the SUV and returned to school, although I could barely recall anything else happening after my meeting with the Margovian consul. I was in a daze; I guess I was still having difficulty accepting the fact that my father was dying. I've never really had the best relationship with my father; I've always had the feeling that he saw me as a political successor, more so when my brother Alejandro was assassinated. Father had always made me feel more as his heir rather than his son, but still, he had his moments where he showed that he truly cared. It was just a shame that those moments were few and far between.
At the end of the day, I managed to get a few minutes of Mrs. Bitterman's time. Mrs. Bitterman was the principal of the school, and from what I've heard from my fellow teachers about her, she was a very strict and uptight woman. We exchanged a few pleasantries when we finally sat down to talk; she asked me about my day and my experience with the kids and I replied that I had enjoyed my time with them, which was true. Finally though, I brought up the real purpose of my visit to her. "I know that it's very, very early of me to ask of this, seeing as this is just my first day of school," I said, "but I was wondering if I could have the next week off."
"A week off already?" Mrs. Bitterman asked me. "You better have a good reason for this, Mr. Panaquer." She pronounced this as "Pan-ah-kerr", the American way of saying my name. The Margovian way of saying my name, the way that I've always pronounced my name, was "Pah-nah-QUEHR".
"It's a family emergency, ma'am," I replied. "My father, he's sick. Actually, he's terminal. I need the week off to go back and take care of things."
"Ah, I understand," Mrs. Bitterman said, nodding her head. "But why do you need a whole week off, though? Surely you can take care of what you need to take care of in less than that."
"See, ma'am, I have to go back to my country to see my father," I said. "The shortest visa available there is a week-long visa."
"Ah, all right, then," Mrs. Bitterman nodded once again. "Very well. Go see your father, take care of what you need to do there. I just hope that you're not using him as an excuse to skive off already."
"No, ma'am, nothing of the sort." I nodded my head in acknowledgement, and then I went out of the principal's office and made to get back home immediately. The consulate would want to get me on the first flight back to Margovia as soon as possible, and that meant that I had to get packed and ready already.