I heard in a whisper once about her being ‘a tough old bird’. It was said late at night, in a very dark
corner and with great respect from one of our more colourful clientele. She did well at her trade of
owner and was known throughout the city as loud, rude, obnoxious, and honest.-
I’ve got it! Ma suddenly yelled. Both Julius and I fell backward and off the bench, and cracked our
heads on the back wall. Ma paid no attention to this little act.-
We’ll kill him off! That’s it!’
She turned to us.
What do you think?
Ah...Ma, isn’t that a bit extreme? I said. We want him free, not dead.
-No, you idiot, not really dead, just pretend dead.-Oh...good. I like that idea better. Mimed Julius.-
Yes, yes. Now come on boys. Let’s get down to details.
Well, the plan worked, and now Julius is free. According to the official records…:
The slave, one Julius, aged about 16, was run over by a horsecart in the early morning hours of the ides of Februaris, 17 C.E.,while trying to escape. The owner of said horse cart, a ClaudiusManlius and his mother Rufinia were returning home from a
relative’s wedding feast. Because of poor visibility, and the slave’s
erratic behaviour, it has been termed an ‘unavoidable accident resulting in the slave’s death. The body was taken to the local
gravedigger and left outside the city. The following day the owner came and confirmed by visual means as to the identity of his former slave. Case closed.
Julius hid in and out of the house for nearly two years. We dyed his hair and dressed him as a singerof songs; thank the gods he could sing. He kept a low profile and we watched over him carefully.The identified body? The man in charge of the public graveyard owed Ma some
about dice games. I didn’t a
sk. A suitable body was found, a debt repaid.
I never thought much about ‘the ugly boy’ who became my brother. But as we got older we
becamecloser and closer, and eventually intimately close. By the time we were 18, Ma knew what washappening, but never said anything nor acted like anything was different from when we were five.
We knew she knew, but we didn’t say anything either.
Things went on like this for almost eight years. We stayed with Ma, but paid rent and the house wassuch that Ma had her own privacy as did Julius and I. We both helped out at the
; Juliusbecoming very popular as the cook, he had a flair for sweets and cakes, and I as bartender, and