Michael Baez


The Pinkletts


Michael Baez lives in Puerto Rico in a tiny apartment with an even tinier desk. He has a BA in Theology and a minor in ESL. He strives to bring a Puerto Rican flair to the writing community. At the moment, he is pursuing a master's degree. 

When it comes to his published works, Michael's track list includes everything from poetry to academic articles, yet fiction is his dame. He has published works in Corpus Litterarum, The Hound Magazine, Leading Edge Magazine, Inter Metro Newspaper, and Flores Nuevas Poetry Anthology. Currently, he is the Editor-in-Chief at Vaunt Zine.

All the tombstones in the world couldn’t prepare Lydia for Nylda’s passing. Preparing a stranger’s headstone was one thing, but her mother’s—that was a different story. Heartache accompanied each letter. Lydia was used to corpses; she should’ve been used to death too, but she wasn’t.

The lawyer’s office was all but silent. Lydia’s siblings mumbled the quiet to submission. After all of Nylda’s lessons, they still hadn’t learned the purpose of silence. Had all those years locked in that room been in vain? Nylda’s death meant many things to many people, but to them it meant they could finally speak their minds. Change was impossible now.

Grady pushed open the door and took his rightful place behind the mountain of paperwork cluttering the mahogany desk. Anxious feet tapped in rhythm to Lydia’s beating heart. Grady, one of Nylda’s many lawyers in charge of her affairs, fingered a vinyl sleeve.

“We got that over with at the funeral,” Jessica masticated a piece of gum. “We aren’t here for a concert. Get it over with so I can get home. My soaps are waiting.”

Lydia bit her tongue. Respect was to be expected. Had she learned nothing? One dark thought crept into Lydia’s mind: she wished she had carved Jessica’s tombstone instead of Nylda’s.

Grady set the vinyl sleeve atop a paper mountain. “Ms. Pinklett’s affairs are to be dealt by her own children. Whether you all keep the house or sell it, is none of my problem. Yet there is one thing I have to say on Nylda’s behalf.”

“And you falter,” Xander waved a hand dismissively. Xander’s suit made Grady’s look like a cheap Halloween costume. Lydia wondered who deserved the title of lawyer. “Spit it out, tool.”

Grady cleared his throat. “Your mother requires that you find this vinyl—”

“I dealt with that old broad for too long,” Stanley began.

“You?” Ingrid smirked. “Oh, please. I didn’t see you standing by her bedside. You weren’t there wiping her—”

“Would you all shut up!” Lydia’s words sprouted. Nylda’s memories strangled her. She buried them deep for way too long. “I was the one who worked on the tombstone. I stuffed her body and removed her organs. You know nothing of dealing with her…”

Grady smiled. In the decades the old man served as Nylda’s lawyer, this was the first time someone defended him. “There is a message for whoever finds the vinyl.”

“And where is it?” Xander leaned back on his chair. “I don’t suppose you have it hidden in that mess.”

“I do not know nor care,” Grady tossed a tower of paper in the trash. “Your mother left strict orders: orders that only stated that you all had a fair chance of finding it.”

Appreciation played a medullar role in this matter. Lydia couldn’t have her siblings keep Nylda’s will. They wouldn’t be grateful; they never had. The vinyl sleeve brought back soothing French tunes that lingered in Lydia’s memory like a lullaby. The tracks Nylda used to unwind after a session.

The room emptied out and Lydia approached the desk. Muteness permitted her thoughts to flow. They’d all left so fast—repelled like flies.

Grady peered over his triangular spectacles. Stains painted his underarms. “Like I said, I have no more information on the whereabouts of the vinyl. I recommend you ask someone else. Maybe someone who’s not busy.”

“May I keep the sleeve?” Lydia kept her voice steady, although her insides were awry.

“You’re the mortician, aren’t you?” Grady leaned forward.

“That’s got more to do with who I am and a lot less to do with who Nylda was,” Lydia said. “May I have it? Please?”

Grady extended the sleeve. “Tell me, Ms. Pinklett, what did you write on your mother’s tombstone?”

Pride often mirrored in Lydia’s work. She’d never had to come up with the message herself; it was always the client’s job. She never thought she’d be the one writing them. “Avid music, vinyl enthusiast, and violin master.”

“No loving mother?” Grady arched a brow.

Memories of a flogging crept into Lydia’s mind. “No.”


Wealth and fame greeted Nylda at a young age. The old broad had neither been royalty nor discovered electricity. Nylda had been the first woman to devote an entire library to vinyl discs. A day didn’t go by when Nylda didn’t lock herself up in her majestic vinyl kingdom. Tourists from all-around the world came to see the collection, but the Pinklett children had never been permitted into her kingdom—until now.

LPs carpeted the floor like fragile claymores. Xander and Jessica climbed up the spiral staircase and threw down one disc after another in a desperate search for the treasure. Lydia stared in awe as her siblings destroyed her mother’s prized possessions. Nylda was dead, but that didn’t mean her memories had to die with her. Then again, maybe she deserved it. No! Lydia couldn’t start thinking like that.

“Could you not?” Lydia snapped.

“Like it matters,” Xander loosened his tie. “Mother’s dead. You should get it through that thick head.”

“Dead, but not forgotten,” Lydia crumbled the sleeve.

“It doesn’t surprise me you’d say that,” Jessica tossed a vinyl like a live grenade. The crash brought a smile to her face. “The old hag never laid a finger on you.”

Lydia’s back burned. The floggings were hers to remember. Nobody beyond the locked door had to know. As far as Lydia was concerned, the past should stay buried. “Mom did what she thought was best for us.”

“The stinging disagrees,” Ingrid added from beside a hill of vinyl. “The only things that old wench held dear were her whips and canes.”

It only took those words to captivate Lydia. An idea sprouted. She ducked past a few flying decals and fled out of the library. Ingrid was right about one thing: Nylda loved her tools. The lingering tunes of the vinyl discs were but a desert to her whipping. The music was the cherry on top.

Lydia’s hand quaked as she felt the steel handle—the only door with a lock in the Pinklett household. Nylda made it impossible to flee. With one twist of the handle, the door opened. Memories weighed down on her brows; the room spun, forcing Lydia to lean against the wall. Her fingertips graced the leathery grip of the whips. Lydia was taken back to the lacerations and the pain.

“Spotless,” Lydia muttered. She forced herself to see her mother in the light she’d trained herself too. It wasn’t working. Old guilt lingered in that room. The good child facade faded. “She always kept everything so clean.”

On the far end of the room, the record player rested triumphantly on a table. If that item were to confess, it would tell countless tales of horror. The record player would confess all that the Pinklett children harbored. Lydia caressed the needle and eyed the title of the vinyl still in place. The sleeve in her hand and the disc were one in the same.

Ready to free herself from Nylda’s restraints, Lydia dropped the needle on the slick black decal. White noise greeted scratched all over the room, but it wasn’t long before a voice, unlike the one the vinyl was supposed to possess, blared out of the speakers.

“I’m guessing I’m dead,” Nylda began.

Lydia’s blood froze. Hearing her voice in that room again gave rumbled her gut.

“It’s no surprise. Everyone dies sometime. Lydia knows that more than anyone. Now, I haven’t got much to say and I haven’t much to give.”

Lies! Lydia bit her lower lip in disbelief. Nylda had the whole Pinklett mansion to giveaway.

“The Pinklett fortune is null,” Nylda chuckled. “Wasteful old lady, I guess. I can’t say I did anything right with any of you, or it, for that matter.”

Lydia’s nails dug into the vinyl sleeve. “Why start now?”

“Death is liberating, I suppose,” Nylda inhaled deeply. “I should be liberated from all this pain…I’m sorry my children, for everything. The choice is yours: you either keep this house and all of its belongings or you take me with you. I know this disc isn’t much but it’s the last thing you’ll have of me. One last memory to cherish.”

“…A good one…” Lydia lacked one of those.

The door swung open.

Lydian removed the needle from the record player. The sound stopped with a squeak. Lydia shrouded the player with her shadow.

Xander’s eyes met the whips and he stuttered, “Did you find it?”

Lydia shook her head. This apology belonged to her. She’d always been the good daughter. “I forfeit my share of the will. I can’t stay in this place anymore.”

“Still acting like mama’s favorite girl? She’s dead. You can stop.” Xander retreated into the hallway.

“No, I can’t,” Lydia slipped the disc inside the sleeve and smiled. “I forgive you.”

© The Acentos Review 2017