Shooting Down Heaven by Jorge Franco

Shooting Down Heaven

Shooting Down Heaven by Jorge Franco
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 1.1 MB

After twelve years away, Larry comes home to his native country of Colombia after his father, an old associate of Pablo Escobar, is murdered. Larry returns to collect his remains from a mass grave and give him a proper burial…but not before a reunion with his childhood friend, Pedro. Pedro picks him up at the airport to take him directly to the Alborada celebration—a popular festival where fireworks explode over Medellín, and the entire city loses its inhibitions. This is where Larry’s story really begins.

His long-awaited homecoming quickly becomes a rude awakening. The years of luxury living in bodyguard-surrounded mansions are now firmly in the past, as Larry watches his family—including his ex-beauty queen mother and troubled brother—fall deeper into depression, drug addiction, and the traps of the family business. Faced by an uncertain reality, Larry is forced to confront his family’s turbulent history and reclaim himself from the dark remnants of a city still trying to rediscover itself.

Nelson doesn’t need to read the lyrics as he sings karaoke. He knows them by heart and is crooning with his eyes closed. Loneliness is fear that silence locks in, and silence is fear we kill by talking. The tune’s going one way and Nelson another, but he doesn’t care. He’s told me, I’m going to sing you your daddy’s favorite song, so I listen intently. And fear is the courage to begin thinking about life’s final journey without moaning or shrinking!

“Libardo would be crying by now,” one of his friends from way back whispers in my ear.

“He had a song for every woman,” says another.

Either he didn’t understand who I was when we were introduced, or since I’m a grown man now, he doesn’t feel any compunction about mentioning Libardo’s lovers to me. Or maybe mobsters are always loose-lipped.

They pour me more whiskey without asking if I want any, even though I’ve drunk only half my glass. The guy to my right says, “But this was his song, just for him, and it was a real nightmare because musicians never knew how to play it. I warned him the song gave him away: a guy can’t go around admitting he’s afraid of fear.”

He breaks off as the crowd starts clapping for Nelson. I’m anxious about my friends outside, hoping they don’t leave. My suitcase is still in Pedro’s SUV. And I don’t have Fernanda’s address.

Nelson comes over and says, “Your dad would be doubled up bawling his eyes out right now.”

“Yeah, so he said.” I gesture to the guy next to me.

“So what did you think?” Nelson asks me.

“Great, you guys sing great,” I say.

“Nah,” he says. “It’s just a hobby—we get together every couple of weeks to let off some steam.” He laughs, then looks at me and says, “Your dad would have loved to come sing karaoke. He was a real music lover.”

It’s true. Libardo was obsessed with stereo systems; he always had the latest model, not just at home but also out at the farms and in his car. If he was in a good mood, he’d listen to music with the volume way up, cheesy popular stuff that Julio and I used to mock relentlessly.

“You don’t invite any women?” I ask Nelson.

“Would you believe it,” he says. “The one time we brought women, they took over the microphone and didn’t let us sing.”

Another man comes up, fat and grinning, holding a sheet of paper, and asks, “Did you already choose your songs for the second round?”

“I’m doing ‘¿Y cómo es él?’” says the guy to my left.

“Come on, Baldomero,” says Nelson. “Again?”

“I didn’t sing it last time.”

“Yeah, because you didn’t come. But the time before, and the time before that, and the time before the time before that . . .”

“Well, whaddaya know,” Baldomero complains. “Now he’s deciding what we can and can’t sing.”

“Let’s go and ask for the song list so you can look at what else they’ve got,” the fat guy suggests, and the two head off.

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