The Cry of an Old Used Tool

I expected you to control me
A tool alone is all I could ever be
For years you used me applying temporary fixes
Then leaving women in broken pieces

I am a gift to you, to use in a union,
a spiritual union resulting in procreation
A child was born and you were blessed
Regrettably infidelity and cheating remained in your marriage nest
You used me for fornication and adultery
Without shame or regret you seemed to lived a life of luxury

I was so happy when I thought you realized
That there is no need for me to be idealized.
Although all my appraisals won rave reviews
This little tool knew that was not great news
I was so joyful when you finally admit
That to my father Jesus you decided to commit,

So tired of being confused, abused and accused
At last I thought no more cuts, squeeze and painful bruise
But nothing changed and you still remained estranged
Even more than one at the same time displaying your range

I can’t fight you anymore
I am just a little tool whose feelings you ignore
Because you wanted more and more
You use me to oppress, depress and cause stress
I give up because I know you are obsessed
If only you allowed me just a little control            
I would not put myself in so many deep dark holes

But you are my master and I implore you to avoid disaster
In a world full of disease all I ever wanted was just one main squeeze
I am begging you to protect me but you keep trying to defect me
I’d hope with age you would have turned a new page
And Learnt how to cope but you continue down this very slippery slope

I am depreciating with wear and tear, ask yourself master
When you decide on that one will she meet a wobbly disaster?
I am tired and limp and feel like I am being pimped
Standing tall, hard and strong has never ever been a problem at all
In fact I even rise up for you during a telephone call

But my spine is weak, my muscles pain
I can’t believe l was given to you but you use me in vain
For Gods sake I am petitioning for a break
Make no mistake tomorrow may just be too late
I served you well from the age tender age of ten
All I want is an end and to say Amen

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Excerpt from “Diary of a caribbean country bookie” Alice Bain

She broke a long peas tree branch. Not a whip you know, a branch. I began to tremble. If you are from the Caribbean, just the thought of getting “licks” with a peas branch should bring tears to your eyes.

 “Cutty,” that’s what his mother called him, “come here boy!” Cuthburt was trembling and fresh cold was already running down his nose. “Yeah, yeah, yes mama,” he answered trembling.

Before he could say another word his mother started to give him some good “blows” across his back, his bottom, his hands, just wherever it landed. “How the hell ah going to pay for that now? You working? Five months now ah aint get no road work how the hell ah paying for that?” she questioned.

Cuthburt was numb, and he turned dumb also. He was licking the fresh cold that was flowing into his mouth and did not have an immediate answer. She repeated the question while pelting blows.

He stammered “oh God mammy doh kill me. Ah go, ah go work for Ms. Josephine in her garden all through the summer mama.”

Ms.Josephina interrupted “boy doh call me damn name eh.. ah tell you ah have work for you?”. This was followed by a long drawn out stupes. Her lips looked like a “targhee cat”.

“Wey you friends Cutty?” still beating him his mother questioned. I was trembling hoping they did not see us hiding in the cashew tree. Cuthburt looked around but didn’t seem to see us.

“Ah don’t know mama,” he answered. The river works continued down his face after he realised that he was on his own.

“So mister man, you alone did playing cricket eh? You bowl you self, you bat you self and you break Ms Phina window all by you self? Well you should be on the West Indies cricket team because you is definitely a “all rounder” you have multiple talented,” She confidently stated feeling proud of herself for using big words.

I couldn’t help smiling at “multiple talented”. A few of the fast villagers sneaked a little giggle being careful not to let Ms. Caroline see them.

Ms. Caroline called out Cuthburts brothers and sisters, all four of them. “You see what trouble this little “brute” put me in here today?” She asked.

“Yes ma.” they answered like a little choir with a perfect blend but trembling. “Come here!” she bawled at them. They approached her slowly. They looked scared as if they knew what was coming to them
She then turned to them and began beating them. I was in total shock. I wondered what they had done wrong. They shrieked in pain as the peas whip sounded a high tone “swish swish” when it landed “wherever” on their bodies.

It seemed like she felt compelled to reason with them or maybe to defend her actions.

She stated with Authority “ah beating you all in advance, just in case all you thinking of doing any “stupidness” to put me @#$%&^ in trouble.”

In our village beating young children was admired. You were a good parent if you engaged in serious beating. Ms. Caroline felt proud and looked around for the approval of the neighbours but everyone was in shock and mumbles of disagreement were heard in the crowd.

This seemed to upset Ms. Caroline more but of course she had to justify her actions. “Prevention better than cure!” she screamed at them. “ah doh care what the hell none ah you tink. Prevention better than cure.”

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A child of the Carnival – In memory of Francis Bain

A child of the Carnival – In memory of Francis Bain.

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A child of the Carnival – In memory of Francis Bain

A CHILD OF THE CARNIVAL

CHAPTER ONE

To be born in an underdeveloped country is a misfortune. If one is visibly black the situation is intensified. But, to be born black, poor, illegitimate, and in a poverty stricken shanty is the gravest calamity. For the die is cast, the dice deliberately loaded against you. You are a creature of doom, born into a mould. It is a mould of privation and of want. It is a mould which determines that your hunger will know no limits. It is a mould which ensures, in life later on, unemployment and subsequent destitution; weed peddling and smoking, petty street corner gambling; knife fights among brothers, among sisters, among even brothers and sisters. O God! Among friends form part of your scene. It is your scene predetermined for you by your most honourable governments and your most venerable and decent Sunday Catholics, and Saturday Sabbatarians.

They determine that your sisters shall be practitioners of unholy prostitution by the age of fourteen. A first criminal abortion by sixteen is not far from the truth. Public quarrelling is an integral part of the life. There is no escape. There is no hope for salvation; no horizon for freedom. Like the scorpions and the mosquitoes infesting your shacks, reeking disease and death, your history is prescribed. Like the stinking, stagnant water about your shack escape is out of the question.

This is where John Edmood was born- among the scums of society. And scum he is to be. His wits is what will keep him alive. From his creeping days he has to be smart. He has to become a man before he is quite a child.

His mother Jenny was the fourth among eight children. At sixteen she was a cleaning maid in St. Clair. It was only a part time job. She worked for little money. Her elder sister was twenty three; a well established lady of the night, she made good money. In the wee hours of morning, when she came in everyone crowded around the table to congratulate her on the night’s return, and to “squeeze a bob.” The younger ones would be told: “go sleep.”

The Ma, Mags and Jen would discuss the night’s adventures – in tones subdued. Jen could hear because she would soon be initiated into the business. The little ones pretending to be asleep, straining their ears heard too. This is the society into which John was to come; unwanted and unheralded. It happened on Carnival Monday night.

Now carnival in any part of the world is a time of merriment; a time free of cares, and a time given to all sorts of indulgence. But Trinidad is the place in the place in the world, and the streets of Port-of-Spain resplendent with carnival, the place in Trinidad where self-indulgence is most complete. The entire atmosphere is geared in this direction. The people, Black people of African ancestry in particular, live in abject poverty throughout the year. But on the two days of carnival, the very poverty stricken mass, this same mass of shanty dwellers are transposed into British Lords, French Marquis, German Barons, American Imperial contingents. The city walls reverberate their jolly scandal. For a few days in the wake of carnival, large numbers are too sick or too tired or both, to work. In certain cases this malady perpetuates itself until it is once more time to prepare. They give all their energies. They practice calypsos; they practice pan; they prepare the costumes. Christmas means nothing to them except that it is the signal to commence preparation for the all important carnival. The carnival which helps to drop the population with the keen help of the drivers. The same carnival produces a tremendous boost to population within nine months. Statistics must indicate that within seven to nine months after carnival the birth rate is highest. The illegitimate births are stupendous. Especially is this so among the younger mothers.

Well Jenny left her shanty with her pals and headed downtown (Port-of-Spain). As she walked she emulated nature in a most profound fashion. As she strode along her hips swung in simple harmonic motion. Furthermore, she has a figure of impeccable beauty, and a pretty face with a tinge of Chinese in the eyes. She is what the boys call “callaloo ‘oman”. So not unnaturally wherever she went she was the object of desire for the men; of envy- for the women. Whenever she stepped out she could see the lust in the eyes of men. Young men, old men, boys! The lust was there. She was always whistled. Carnival day was no exception. Even so, all this was increased.
Walking down she inquired of Ann “Wha you meetin’ you cat?”
“De ban’ coming down St. Vincent Street he say oui” Ann replied.
“My cat playing with Harmonites” quipped in Mary not to be left out.
“Who ask you dat?” Ann retorted. “All ah we know you has a pan man now.”

Now Ann was one of those foolish people who figures on bluffing their way out with fancy twang. Whenever she talks “I are”, “I has”, “I appreciates” are strewn all over. She is one of the social prostitutes. She likes the limelight, and she likes to boss all around her.
So Mary let her have it: “Ah didn’t talk to you pros’….. ah talk to Jenny.”
“All yuh can’t stop fightin’ nah?” Jenny volunteered.
“She always braggin’ ‘bout she pan-man. You see –e, I appreciates the way she feel. But she is a girl, and I are a woman, I can’t stand her bragging man. It makes me sick ma-an. She’s just too po-ompous.” Having delivered Ann felt pleased with herself; she likes to be listened to. We all like to hear the sound of our voices. What is wrong here is not that she does, but that she does more-so than anyone else. She went chatting away with no one really paying any attention to what she was saying. It was inconsequential in any case.

They bounced into another little group. And they all went down together. They arrived downtown Port-of-Spain a short while after.

Oh! Port-of-Spain is the most wonderful place to be on that day. The gaunt walls laugh and rejoice bathed in the morning sunrise. Port-of-Spain on Carnival Monday morning is the most unique spectacle. It is a tribute to the industry of the Trinidadian people. The scope of this festival serves as an annual reminder to the masses that we too can be bathed in grandeur if given chance. This entire festival is an amalgam of the highest and the lowest. Beautiful portrayals of art are accompanied by the initial steps to disaster. Marriages are in the making and in the breaking there. Guys lose their girls; girls lose their guys.

This is what happened in Jenny’s case. She lose her man! So she picked up a man! They jumped and really made carnival of the day. She was very proud of her Bajan man. He had some papers; he made them fly lavishly at her. This was the bait. She the catch. So Monday night he decided to cash in on the returns of his investment – for that was how he looked at it.

He did cash in in fact. The only hard part about it was that “Baje” used no protection. So two months after carnival was over and “baje” was safely back in Bim, poor Jenny had to tell her mother. With tears in her eyes, with her head too heavy for her neck muscles, that her chin rested on her chest she was the most sepulchral sight to behold. She had to tell her mother. How is that possible?

There is nothing wrong in having a baby. The little babe might have been “conceived in sin” as our “Godlike, respectable” people put it. But in fact, there is everything right, everything proper, fitting, most beautiful, and most worthy of admiration about the little babe. That little babe has never given thirty five inches for a yard; he has never given fifteen ounces for a pound; he has never given half-an-hour’s work for eight hours pay. It is we who will teach him these refinements of our culture; these finer arts of progress. It is we who will school him diligently in the pursuits of these everlasting stanchions of our society, adulterate and so destroy his innate holy innocence.

If the babe is a male, he is in fact a little Jesus boy, gentle, meek, and mild; if female, she is a potential Virgin Mary. Whatever the circumstances may be the child is without sin; the child’s body is God’s temple.

On seeing Jenny is such bespeakable condition her little brother ran out from the house terrified: “Mammie, mammie, Jen sick.” He pulled her by the hand still terribly shocked and still visibly afraid for his sister’s safety. The mother reached the “house.” She glared at Jenny. “Wha ‘appen to you now?”

She said not a single word. She pointed to her belly. She need say no more indeed. Everything was there: the delicacy of her situation, and expressive power as well as grief.

“You making chil’ eh…. Ah ‘ope you know the poopa…. but, but, but…. But look a’ me dam trouble nau.” Her voice rose in a falsetto. She trembled all over. She was a perfect representation of wretchedness and terror. All of a sudden her trembling stopped. Her face went through terrifying contortions. Her pallor depicted something coming from out of Frankenstein at his most superb, horrifying best. She had been herself illegitimate. Her children – though poverty stricken they were better off. However, they were fatherless now. Her husband died a year ago. All this went through the mind of this woman. She was a person most profound in her depravity. But his was too much! Oh cruel kindness! Devil knows she had done her “bestest worse” not to let this happen to her Jen. She intended that Jen would become a “Social Lady.” Whatever that meant, she alone could fully grasp and justify.
What with all those nightly instructions from big sister Mags! But this was a practical woman! She had no time for fairy tales….. no time for insipid mythology. Better to be a successful rouge than any straight going mediocrity. Mediocrity she detested. Her very personage and appearance rejected mediocreness. A woman of so robust a physique, she was almost masculine. She bullied her husband. She bossed her children. She was a queen! As far as she was concerned, a baby’s birth, in such circumstances, would be a rather tiresome accident. This accident must be avoided.

She recalled all her tribulations. She visualized all her wretchedness, and all the humiliations of bastardy. She was determined to stop it! If this happened to the rich, the doctor would “fix-up.” They could pay! She could not! She knew what she will do though. She would go to the old lady. She stood transfixed, thinking. One would get the impression she was rooted to the spot. A minute ago, her face, the picture of doom, was transposed. She found her tongue. “Jen…. Put on your shoes.” She was going to the old woman immediately. Not a single minute must be lost. But Jen sat there, not knowing what to do. She did not know, just now, whether to obey or to disobey. She sat there, hypnotized gazing at her mother and yet staring through her, staring through her as though completely unconscious of her very presence; with her eyes focused at infinity, perhaps communing with the spirits, she resembles a stiff dead. There has been few scenes more mournful, and more demanding of pity. Consider the pain and the grief. Consider the great sorrow which she had before her. This certainly was a most touching moment. Her mother became impatient.

“’Oman, ah talk to you…. you deaf?”

At this Jenny broke down. This was just too much for her. From silent weeping tears, the waters from her eyes, no longer like little streams but now like floods. It was no mere drizzle now. It was now like all the clouds of hell bursting forth fruitless, trying to quench the fires of disaster and of tribulations. It was a flash flood indeed simulating all the devastations of a flood. The difference? Hell! Hell! So the flood waters were hot. Yes hot! Hot on Jenny’s face. “Fresh cold” streamed from her nose, mingled with tears, and with sweat made its way to her upper lip.
Her mother hustled her again. “Ah didn’t sen’ you you know!”

Suddenly she jumped as though awakening from a deep trance. Then, she looked at her mother, searching her face, and expressing that great need for compassion. Pity was there alright. Compassion was not. It was a straight case. She was an outcast. The girl then looked about the room. She was searching for a friend; she never thought of Jesus then. She was looking for consolation. Could she find it there in the sty – for that it was? She looked long, hard at the two old chairs. Both chairs were rickety. Both chairs were psychedelic in uncleanliness. One rested against the partition. Then she looked at the partition. It was made of “crate board.” They looked on all sides of the room. And on all sides there were splits which permitted them to see outside. Where a split was large it was patched from the outside; a piece of tin from the Labasse did the job.

So looking from the outside one was arrested by an array of advertisements. This was psychedelical. Here you have “Bermudez Biscuits”; there “Klim”, “Frico”, “Fernleaf” etc. they gazed towards the floor. They could see the water-logged below. The floor sagged all over. When one walked the floor sagged as though it would give way.

They then looked towards the roof. They could see the skies. This reminded them that when the rain fell they got wet too. The roof itself was a fine display of psychedelia from outside. It is doubtful what they were looking for. Could they expect to find God – for instance – in the devil’s domain of the living damned? But God works in a wonderful and amazing way his works to perform. Just as he was in the stable with Mary, in prison with Peter, with Daniel in the lion’s den, just so was he with this most profoundly depraved and wretched people. It is almost strange that people who otherwise never think of God do in times of grief. I say “almost strange” because despite current popular theology that man is base and intrinsically wicked, he always suffers and inward hunger. He is subconsciously hungry for his maker’s love.

That woman’s face softened; tears came to her eyes; remembering her youthful days in the Church of God assembly she sang a song. This was the song or rather what she remembered of it.
This was what she sang:
“What a friend we have in Jesus;
All our pains and grief to bear.
Oh! What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayers.”

Jenny was amazed. She herself knew snatches of the song too! Her mother continued singing now with more verve.
“Oh what joys we often forfeit;
Oh what needless pains we bear

All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayers.”

Looking at Jenny – now very tenderly – she continued, caressing each syllable, she was most impeccable in her evocation.
“Do your friends despise, forsake you;
Is there trouble anywhere?”

This was too much for Jenny. Like a lioness she sprang to her feet, threw her arms around her mother and blending in her voice, weeping they sang together.
“Don’t you ever be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

They sang the last stanza over and over. Her mother forgot about the old woman now. Jenny must carry her babe, she decided.

She then sang a number of songs in the same strain, singing what she remembered of them. She performed a veritable religious medley.
“My Jesus I love thee,
I know thou art mine.
For thee all my follies
Of sin I resign.
My gracious redeemer,
My savior art thou
If ever I love thee,
My Jesus ‘tis now.

Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Who Jesus is.
He’s the lily of the valley
He’s the bright and morning star
He’s the fairest of ten thousand
He’s the bright and morning star
Oh what a mighty fortress is my God

On solid rock I stand
All around is sinking sand.”

Meanwhile neighbours gathered around. Their reactions varied. Some cast remarks and made comments; others visibly moved by so touching a scene between the mother and the daughter joined in as best they could.

She continued her medley:
“Rock of ages cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee
I am poor and weak and blind.”

Someone in the crowd struck up:
“The night is dark and I am far from home”, only to be quickly cut short by another.
“Brothers and sisters none have I.”
This was a true spectacle of religious fervor indeed. Now someone cut in with a most beautiful and obviously practiced contralto:

“Take my hand precious Lord
Lead me on etc.”

And at the end someone shouted: “Willimina you hold the lottery?”
Now Willimina always bought lottery tickets. And the neighbours knew, because she always talked about it. She always dreamt about sheep and goat grazing in immense pastures. She always connected her nocturnal meanderings with oracles of good fortune. She answered the question in a loud and clear voice. “Yes.”

A sigh went through the crowd. There was mixed feelings: anxiety, joy, envy, jealousy. They filed away slowly, some lingering to help Willimina celebrate. They asked her to “make one on dat.”
But she answered, “tomorrow.”

~

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE DISPOSSESSED

We born-
Some say by accident!
The fowls born too;
By what design is subject of much debate.
The swine –
Likewise debatable too.

The fowls fly –
That’s for certain though.
We grow -
Most agree – by guess.
The swine-
They wallow, that for certain too.

The swine –
Die perhaps by the butcher.
The fowls -
Doubts here too.
But we –
We are the Sons and Daughters of the dispossessed.

CHAPTER TWO

As time went on there was no perceptible change in Willimina’s circumstances. Instead Jenny’s belly grew in opulence. Soon this became the topic of the “villagers.”
“She didn’t win no lottery, is Jenny what’ bingo on she,” one fat woman said.
Another said “Ah know dat woulder happen. You doh see how she does shake she bam-bam when she walk! The little girl ‘omanish too much oui. When she been smaller dose little boys use to take ‘er and go an’ make banquit.

Jenny had a sympathizer now. “Dat is liddle chil’ren days man,” a young fellow said. Whereupon one of the fat mamas renewed the attack.

“You mus’ say dat…. You damn good-for-nothin’ scamp….. you damn son-of –a-bache: you ge’ youshare when she was sharing, so so you mus’ say dat.”

Another joined in with more invective. “Sex and size boy. Who talkin’ to you? Speak when you’re spoken to and don’ be damn rude and impertinent you hear. But, by Esmy, Esmy ooh the younger generation doh have any brought-up-sy about dem nuh. Jus’ de odder day this little boy use to pee down he bed oui…. ‘E weying lang pants now, so he figure ‘e big. So ‘e figure he could join big people conversation. Gyal, what we go do wid dis younger generation today days?”

“Ah doh know nuh Maymay. This young people and dem always ragin’… ragin’. De worl’ coming an an en’ oui,” Esmy pronounced.

“Is trute gyal, gyal is trute de bible talk about it too” the mama said.
Little petty conversations like this one grow and multiplied in numbers as well as in viciousness. It grew to the point where some naively asked her” Jenny you dam fat now you know gyal?”
Even people who have made countless bastards, and what is worst each for a different father joined the parade condemning Jenny with no compassion whatever.
It is a lucky thing that Christ did not say in Trinidad these words: “Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.” That woman would have been “very stoned”. Such is the attitude of our people. Anyway, admist all this Jenny bore the child for nine months.

The babe was delivered by an old lady of the village who acted as a mid-wife for the entire area. These people do not go to hospitals or nursing homes to have their babes. It is amazing that some learned people try to fool we simple folk into believing that all mean are equal. This is not so. How can John be equal in birth for instance with little Dave, born in Park’s Nursing Home? When Dave arrived there were a qualified midwife and a Gynecologist on hand, simply to supervise the delivery. Dave’s father, a city executive relaxed in the lounge awaiting the glad news. The first air that Dave breathed was the clean one; the first John breathed was that of the swamps stinking mingled with that of the stuffy room. Dave’s first sight was of clean walls nicely painted, clean uniforms on nurses, cleaned pressed bed linen. We know that the opposite is true in John’s case. It is possible that men were meant to be equal; today men ensures that his fellow men shall not even breathe the same air.

While one breathes the air of a clean atmosphere the other is born in a polluted swamp in what is more a house boar too dilapidated to float that it must be supported on stilts. John is born in pollution. And the air of pollution he must breathe for a good part of his life. Dave and John are not in any way equal.
As Dave and John grew up their differences become more pronounced. Dave has a lovely garden in which to play; John does not even have real time to play. John joins the hordes of other prowlers, roaming the labasse, sometimes searching for breakfast. Where is the equality? Dave can read the alphabet; he can form letters. He has had his first piano lessons already. He is only four. John can not. John has never seen a piano yet. He does not even know what a radio is. Dave already knows how to tune in the radio to six. He knows that “6 is Guardian”, he know that “7 is Trinidad”. John goes to Public Elementary School. Possibly, Dave goes to the same school. John stays away from school on certain days because there is just nothing home to eat. John reaches to school late most of the time. You see our little John has to foot it to school, and in his youth he is entrusted to the care of the elder ones. These break biche at every opportunity. When they do not, it is a cruise to school. There is no hurry man; but why should they man? In those days whether they do or do not go it’s the same “ole short khaki pants.”
Soon enough John is well on his own going to school. The miserable little boy has not had the opportunity to learn the value of time; discipline to him is simply the word which the head teacher uses when he keeps assembly. In any case he is rarely present for those assemblies. But John is bright. The child is gifted with a quick brain. He soon gets into the spirit of school. He likes school. He loves his school mates; he adores his teacher.

Dave on the other hand is driven to school. He misses school only if he is sick. The two kids are in the same class. They are not enemies; all the same, they are not friends. John knows that he is way down there, instinctively, he knows that Dave is way… way up there, in his big Mercedes Benz. John develops an attitude towards Dave “Way up there from way down here.” He gets to hear of the scholarship examinations. He has an inward hunger for the desks at “Q.R.C.” he did not make it though. Many of the pupils from his school did sit the scholarship but their parents paid their fees. This group includes little Dave. In fact Dave had already acquired the wonderful skill of bribery. He used to supply John with butternuts, chocolates and many other nicities so that John would let him have a “little see.” With Dave gone, John well nigh lost a benefactor. This was very irksome to John. No more sweets! No more delicacies!! What?? unbearable.

The situation drove him to improvise. He made fast friends with the lady selling at the school gate. Miss Otina liked the little boy. He would sit and chat with her. She dubed him “the chatter box”. In due course however she soon realized that the “chatter box” never bought. Poor child he could not! She suspected as much. She began giving him the broken sweets. She also sent him on little errands for her. This got him another name, this time from his own mates. This very name generated much fighting. The name was “Otina mus’ boy”. Otina treated him as well as she might. He pilfered as well as he could – from sweets to cakes, to pennies. He was caught on more than one mere youthful misdemeanor each time. Each time he sulked for a few days; but like a cut tail dog he returned always. Otina was a church goer. She belonged to one of the protestant sects. She askd him to come to church with her.
The little boy agreed.

“You mus’ come to meet me early eh!”

“Yes tanty Oti” for that’s how this boy called her now. He duly told his grandma, for she was the boss.
“Grandma tanty Oti wan’ me to go to church wid ’er.”
“You doh ‘a clothes for church. What’ tanty Oti en buy clothes for you if she wan’ you go church wid she? Tell she you doh ha’ no church clothes.”
Now, the little boy sat in a corner. He was vey sullen, very sulky. He thought of all the other little boys whom he saw on Sunday mornings – looking rather important, rather impressive – with their bow ties, their jackets, with a white handerchief sticking out at the pocket and their shining black shoes. The head teacher used to dress like that sometimes. He dressed that way at the beginning of term. He dressed that way when the minister (of Government) came. What is more! That is how the minister himself was dressed. That was how he remembered Dave’s father.
“I’ll one day have all those fine clothes…..I’ld have a lovely house – in Dave’s neighbourhood….I’ld…… I’ld have a lovely car too. And everybody would call me “Sir”, the wretched little boy mused. He continued under the spell for quite some time. The day dreaming brought on a spirit of elation. He would not walk “Barefooted in the mud”, his little head mused. Then he left his corner and went outside. He walked with at certain spring and verve in his step. He strutted about in the 6pm semi-darkness issuing imaginary comments to imaginary servants. He really had it. After he had worked up himself in this dream he felt fatigued and exhausted. He sat down on a stone. The little boy drew a blank. He thought of nothing in particular and everything in general.

He allowed his mind to wonder in complete abandonment. The child was there alone; the place serene, such as a philosopher’s haunt might be. He had his first sensible traumatic intercourse with society. He rationalized his situation. This is the reaction of a child.

The child is confronted with his poverty at fourteen years of age. This is why it is so difficult for a conscious black man to appreciate the arguments against revolutionary confrontation. We might know why these arguments are raised! These arguments are raised because of childish reactionism. The fact is that our people live in a state of daily confrontation. Should we yield, stand firm, or go forward? That is the vital question. The child went about the weekend broken and down-hearted. The danger light was blaring bright now. Never before had he consciously, systematically surveyed his home. All along he knew; he knew that he lived in that place on the edge of town. It was the place which when mentioned produced bursts of laughter from the other children at school. He did not quite understand why though. His nose had become insensitive to the unholy smell. His eyes had grown accustomed to the squalid shacks. He knew however that there were lovely houses – big, pretty houses, just like Dave’s. These were on the other side of town so, somewhere along the line he had got into his subconscious, the desire to be on the other side of town. Mistake!

One day the little boy went walking. He went there to walk. He went just to see all those lovely houses, all those fine people who live there. He would walk; then he would stand and stare and stare, and wish and wish, to be really inside one of these fine houses. “My God… Those walls!! those walls…. so big! so strong! so tall”…..the child was thinking. Just then a uniformed policeman happened by “What you doing ‘ere saga boy?” John was too frightened to answer. He was always afraid of a policeman. The policeman always came in his area running after someone. The policeman always had a big round stick. The police used to beat his mother’s friends with the stick. At one time he even saw “uncle Tommy’s forehead split open!” he knew “the police will kick me”. So he did not answer. He took fright and ran. The police gave chase. But he was too fat and heavy to catch up with the nimble little boy. This incident came to his mind again and again during the weekend.
He thought now of those people of the village. He knew now that not one of them was ever seen in a fine suit with a white handkerchief at the pocket. He realized too that the people there went to church once a year – Good Friday. He remembered the bug that had come out from under the old Wesley’s “jacket collar”. He remembered how the people all talked and joked about it – on the way home after church. He remembered when Mr. Wesley had thrown his pitch fork behind Mr. James. He remembered how much trouble the villagers had pulling it out. He remembered too that none of the little boys from his village wore suits. Sunday morning came; the child’s sense of privation was acute.
He awoke early, and he remained in bed, thinking. Could he ask mummy for a suit? Would she give it to him? Or could she? He will try his luck though. The little boy went to his mother. She was sitting in the doorway. He squeezed in beside her. He twined his arms with hers. This was a most tender scene. Jenny obviously felt pleased. He came out with it. “Mummie” he said, in childish sing song, “make a suit for me please.” Jenny was no taken by surprise. Her mother had already told her the reason for John’s sulking and dreaming over the weekend. She said: “Ah doh ‘ave money now John… One day….one day I’ll buy a nice suit for you. And all the boys will look at you. They’ll envy you John… One day I’ll get it John.”
Jenny started weeping; it was a terrible grief that caused this new emotion. It was that very grief which all poor experience. It came out in response to a most profound need. There was a certain fundamental continuity between the present tears and the tears fourteen years ago. The tears of grief and despair secured a unity of the whole. The whole was wretchedness. This is the state of black people. This is the state from which we must liberate ourselves.

We would not liberate ourselves by sweet soul music, marijuana and pot. We must wrest control of our resources – whatever they may be. In the West Indies, from Cuba to Trinidad we must have a West Indian West Indies, bringing together a West Indian people represented in a West Indian nation. How vexing this question of West Indian nationalism is! Our own people seem to have very little faith in our ability to decide for ourselves. And in the meanwhile we seem to be blessed with an endless reservoir of weeping Jennies and dreaming Johns. In the face of all this there is a group of non- indigenous oppressors living in sumptuousness and in opulence. They live and build themselves; the foundation of their affluence and vanity has its genesis in the sweat and tears of my people. These silent tears which Jenny wept were not her own alone; these tears cried to heaven seeking and supplicating the assistance of the almighty God.

She was crying the cry of vengeance. John wanting his little suit is not at all anything but the expression of need, that same gripping need experienced by all the other little boys.

Anyway her tears soon drew the attention of her sister Mags. Mags had never taken to the little boy. He was a walking, talking, symbol of shame. Although a lady of the night herself she always cherished a secret dream; a dream that she one day will be married to some good man and leave this God forsaken place. She was not as attractive as Jenny; so she hoped that if she did not make good Jens surely will. The coming of this child had put a stop to her ambitious designs. You see, although a lady of the night the villagers never knew for sure. She would not let them have her for all the gold in China! She would do business with any good man, but not these. One of the villagers patronized Ann, and the next day the entire village knew her game.

Mags on the other hand was always smart enough to treat the men of the village with a certain royal politeness. This kept them in their places. Let them suspect, if they want. So long as they have no proof she was happy. And she had no intention of giving them any. Mags inquired: “Whadyou Jen?”
Jen simply said: “Nothing it is o.k. now.”

“So you little Bajan puttin’ water in you’ eye ‘gain eh?”

“It’s not your business Mags. You too damn fas’ man…. Ah does interfere in you’ business? ‘Is me chil’ you know…. You never like ‘im. Ah does hear how you roughin’ him up… ah does hear how you hootin’ and brawlin’ at ‘im…. Wha’ you do go an’ make eh? Wha’ you doh go an’ make?”

Now little John watched all this. He was accustomed to hearing quarrels within the family. But this time, hearing his mother and his aunt quarrelling because of him, he really felt the knife cut deep. His emotion welled up within his tender heart. The wretched little boy, in all his child’s innocence, could only say again and again,” leave my mummy alone… you hate my mummy and you hate me too…. Leave my mummy alone.”

He suddenly broke down, the tears bursting forth giving vent to all the tumult in his tender heard, it was a scene demanding even the devil’s compassion. Mags could no longer pursue. She simply said “O.K.! o.k.! I done. Next time ah’ll min’ me business. Doh forget eh.”

The little boy cried, and cried and cried himself to sleep- right there in his mother’s lap. She carried him- still asleep – inside and laid him on the floor. He slept for quite a while, partly because of exhaustion, partly because he spent quite a good part of the previous night lying wide awake. Yes! Wide awake and thinking; thinking “Where would it come from” oh God of mercy and compassion he is now arrived at manhood. He is adult, adult all of a sudden. Or is it truer to say that he had been adulterated? Yes! Indeed he is adulterated. Our society with all its false values (its suits etc) has adulterated little John. Nonetheless this very society heaps on Dave all the joys of childhood and covers him with adulation and adoration too.

John spent a very unhappy Sunday. Tanty Oti waited on John…. What could keep back the boy? He showed no distasted for the invitation.

She left her home and went to church. She felt that he still might turn up at the church. At the church she kept on hoping that he would turn up. It was a hope which she never wished to relinquish; all the same it was just a hope and one which she knew she could in no way justify. With service over, she was still concerned to know why. She had planned to surprise him after service. He would have lunch with her family. He would have many delicacies such as he did not have at home. He was coming for a treat. She is one of those people who fail to realize that, no matter how poor his Sunday meal may be a person – especially in childhood – prefers his Sunday meal a million times more that the most sumptuous banquet you may prepare.

Anyway she’ll see him tomorrow. She will know why: she will take steps to ensure a very different result next Sunday. She – a Christian- would invoke the Quran: if the mountain cannot come to Mohammad, then

Mohammad must go to the mountain. She will send her son on is bike to meet him.
John spent his Sunday evening not too good at all. He planned all types of excuses. She must not know it was because he had no suit. As fast as the excuses cropped up they were discarded. Soon he could find no more. And, inevitable as all men under stress, he decided to play by ear tomorrow. He was relieved, for the time being anyway; and he was not going to brood any more, now that he had his big plate crowned with rice and peas. This was his favourite. He ate it all. His mother gave a second helping which he did the greatest justice.

“Ah like to see you eat John…. You does make me feel good.” He grinned. He went outside, a big grin still evident. The other space between the house; one would hardly call it a playground. But, right there in a space about fifty by twenty feet there were football, cricket, rounders, marbles, dice, tick-tack-toe and skipping. Each man was concerned that he did not interrupt the game of an elder. The boys playing football constantly disturbed everyone. The cricket game was temporarily stopped, because one of the footballers threw away the windball.

These games usually ended in fights. This Sunday evening was not going to be any exception. With cricketers consistently interrupting the ball was already thrown away – now for the nth time. The footballers were determined to show just who was king. They ran all over the marbles and players too. Everyone complained about the brutishness of the footballers.

John’s presence was physical only. He sat there totally oblivious of the goings on around him; he let his now straying thoughts wander in complete abandonment. He, having now shelved his cares, can once more indulge in the fantasies of childhood bliss this was short lived. He was suddenly brought back to reality – a reality that is intriguingly prosaic. There was a fight in progress. A combatant “pelt” a stone which passed dangerously close to John. The fight raging in full spendour now – a veritable mini-carnival; carnival indeed it was! Just as we use displacement and sublimation on carnival day just so the kids are using it now – fighting among themselves when the true enemy is without.

*

It was fun. No one could be so imprudent as to try to stop a love fight. This was against the code. A ring would be formed and the combatants urged on as if they were prize fighters.
“Come on Jamey boy…. Flatten ‘e blanket blank man” came in curt yankee imitation.
“Tomy, squeeze the blanket, blank blank. Lock ‘e blanket blank neck. ‘E t’ink ‘e blanket blank bard. Hol’ ‘e wood and jerk ‘e blanket blank balls. ‘E always looking for noise man. Ah doh like de blanket blank man at all.”

“Wha you doh shut you blanket mout’ you wan’ yours too. Ah had it for you long.” This came loud and clear above the general uproar. This was a new fight in the awning. This one would be a treat: the two “bad” Johns” never came to actual blows yet. They always came pretty close though. They beat everybody else, but always manage not to come to blows between themselves. – just like America and Russia. These two local bullies – just like their international counterparts – failed to come to blows cheating the boys of some real fun.

“Try you luck you jail bait…. like day ha’ one at Simpson you like” this came from first “bad John”.

“You better watch you blanket case with me doh,” second “bad John” retorted.

First “bad John” got damn annoyed. He moved to with arms length of second “bad John.” “Rush in nuh man…. Rush in if you bad instead of talking shit. Ah’ll mince up you blanket blank you hear.”
Just then a little one from the crowd thrilled and expectant saved the day. The two ‘bad Johns” in combat parsley was enough to maintain a silence, a silence as loud as it was ominous. This silence was broken. The tense melodrama was abated. “Wha’ the blanket you laughing at eh? You laughing…. Way is the joke?” then everyone started “Shew-Shewing.” There would be no fight between these two.
The little boy laughed: “Eh he… eh he” high pitched.
First “bad John” simply said “Is only mout’ you have oui…. Only mout’ boy,” and he walked away.
John enjoyed the scene. It was dark by now and time to turn in. he thought of the morrow a bit. But he soon fell asleep.

CHAPTER THREE

It is Monday morning. Little John has been wide awake – thinking – since four, but his torments increase; not in the least because he did not go to church, but only because he could not find a suitable excuse. He felt dismayed as he was unable to please his friend Otina. But he will play by ear.
He arose lazily. Preparing for school was always delightful. However, today was ‘something else’. The boy went to the stand pipe. He filled two buckets with water, and started toward his “home”. Walking dreamlike, he stumbled, fell and the two buckets fell as well. He was unhurt; the water was lost. He returned to the stand pipe, now intending to bathe right there, no matter who vex. No one complained. They giggled, seeing that he had decided to join. They had observed his fall. It gave them a certain thrill.

“Woy Tom….. John bus’ ‘e arse.”
To which Tom replied: “‘E damn good fo’ ‘e, ‘e t’ink e’ white. Ah fus ‘e t’ink ‘e white ‘e should break ‘e blanket blank too.

John, rather self-consciously bathed. He avoided their eyes. Not saying a single word to anyone he bathed and left for “home”. Once more he carried his buckets in that nonchalant manner which gave one the impression of a person walking in his sleep. The little boy dressed – of rather put on clothes, slowly deliberately. He was slow yet unmeticulous; deliberate yet anything but refined and elegant in his manner. The little boy took his breakfast in the same manner.
On the road to school, it was the same. The little boy sauntered leisurely; now gazing towards the left; now gazing towards the right; now starting at the drifting clouds; now following a bit of wood as it races down with the gutter stream. He appeared to be going to no place in particular. The only book – a copy book – he pushed where his shirt should be. And he used the shirt for added cover, wearing it inside the pants at the back only. He bounced people – unconcerned and not even conscious of what was going on around him.

He took the longest route possible. He was in no hurry whatever. He felt that if he reached late as usual, he would avoid tanty Otina. But no matter how slowly he walked, the school – and tanty Otina too – seemed to be rushing towards him with the nauseating quickness. There was Otina as usual. There is tanty Otina. Tanty!!

She was a big round woman. When she laughed the flesh on her face and neck vibrated violently. When she smiled the dimples – one on each cheek, and on the chin too – look like craters of joy. That’s how John saw her that morning. She was joking with some of her little customers. John came right up to her before she noticed him. Her look changed to questioning. John was totally disarmed. He was not prepared for that. The poor boy blurted out: “Tanty Oti, Mamma say ah doh ‘a church clothes.”
“How dey call wey you ‘ave on dey?” the boy made no answer. She looked at him sternly, rebuke written all over her face. A loud silence pervaded then.

Just then the school bell rang. Without another work John left. And at full speed he made for the school. For then everything was o.k. he settled in class. Somehow he was still uneasy. His uneasiness grew as the break-time grew nearer.
It was then break-time and instead of going out as usual, he stayed inside the classroom. About three or four other boys remained too. They were in close conversation. So close were their conversation, that one feels compelled to eavesdrop. Little John was no exception. He did.
“You got the grass Jimmy?” one boy asked.
“Don’t be up tight man, it’s where I’m at” Jimmy replied.
“So what’s the big hold up man? Let’s split man. What you waitin’ for?”
With that, they left the classroom. So Johnny decided to “macro”. He went and stood at the door through which they made their exit. He looked at them, at the same time trying to appear as disinterested as ever. He noticed that they were heading for the latrines. Then he decided to give them some time. He really wanted to know what these guys were doing. They were the ones in vogue, they had the smart answers for the teacher; they dictated to all their classmates. What’s more is that they moved like an “in crowd”. In short they were the class elites. All the others aspired for their approval. Few got such approval.
As John approached the toilet, he caught and unordinary scent – unordinary yes, but not completely strange, not to John anyway. It was the unmistakeable smell of marijuana – John must have his share. Did not everyone say that the bush puts one on cloud nine and erased all worry? He continued stealthily; no point in scaring the quarry. He knocked on the door.
“Ah wan’ mine too….. otherwise…. Ah go tell.”
The trio inside were seized with panic. Then John rapped on the door, that time more vigorously and more purposeful.
It was Jimmy who spoke: “What you’ll tell…. You want something to tell about?”
“You t’ink a joking eh…. Ah say open up.” He was not making any skylark.
The guys opened the door, John stepped in and closed the door behind him. He was not going to be out done by their soul talk. Did he not hear a good deal of it at his very home? As far as he was concerned he knew soul talks as much as they if not more than they in fact. He looked at them; first at Drayton, then at Jimmy, and at Tim. His look was filled with all of the scorn, the contempt and the triumph, which he could manage to display. “Bring out the blasted candy, ah smell it,” he ordered.
“Buh, wey you talkin’ ‘bout John?” he paused for effect then started again.
“You wan’ you ass bus’ up eh?”
It was obvious he “tried to pull a bluff.” His bluff did not come off, John had a resolute look.
“Ok ah goin’ an’ tell,” and he made as if ready to open the door. With that the trio was busted. Drayton grabbed him by the arm, at the same time saying: “Wait!” and digging into his bag, visibly shaken, and completely possessed by terror he continued, stretching his hand out to John, “look!”
The three were almost in a spasm now. John was on top. And he will give them “soul talks” right down the line.
“Sulphur!” he said.
The boys pretended not to understand. At that, little John’s face became so menacing, and when he spoke, almost shouting, his voice so filled with threat saying: “Flint! Flint man! That’s where it’s at, you wanna be uptight I’ll let you be, you know!”
Drayton went back to his bag again, this time bringing out the matches with a flourish, saying “Look, boss man, at your service.” At that he took the matches, and with a whimsical grin he lit the cigarette. He took a deep, long draught, evoking a hissing sound as he did so. Then without a single word, he handed the stick to Jimmy.
Jimmy lingered with the stick in his hand, John took it from him and passed on to Drayt. Drayt took a draught, and passed it to Tim. Tim took a pull and John snatched it from him, taking his pull. He passed it to Jimmy who had by then caught on. And so the little vermints passed it on around and around. The bell rang. They put out the “joint”, stuffed it in the bag. They washed their hands and faces. The little miscreants then made for the classroom. John felt proud to be with the in-crowd. He decided that from that day on he would be one of them even though it meant blackmail. They took their separate seats in the classroom. They were all happy and serene – probably just on cloud nine.
The teacher spoke, they heard, but they did not listen. They paid no attention to what was going on. They became engrossed in their devilish hallucinations. They were on the psychedelic plane. They saw everything beautiful and they saw everything wonderful. Lunch time came quick for them. Little John detached himself from his new found pals, and, straight away went to tanty Oti. Then on cloud nine, he was no longer afraid.
With a broad grin on his face he went up to tanty. His grin was infectious; she grined too, happy, she knew not why. He at once fell to assisting her in her sales. Sale was brisk that day as usual. Tanty was so grateful for her little assistant that she gave up the idea of upbraiding him, at least for the present. He was so swift, so quick, so sleek in his movements, she thought admiringly.
She fed him with scraps of sweets, bits of broken cake and pastry. His ship was in. he excelled. He was so jolly; he was so funny – yet uncomical. He hummed the sweet tunes of the most recent calypsos. Some others started humming too. Tanty is one of those people who disapproved of calypsos – on moral grounds. She felt it put filthy ideas in people’s heads. She made no distinction between the clean, humorous calypsos and the smutty, dirty, openly suggestive calypsos.
“Calypso is calypso” as far as she was concerned. But she tolerated her little calypsonians; with at rather patronizing and embarrassed as usual. He ate in silence. Having eaten he took his leave of Otina. That is how it was – always. As soon as sales slackened he could go to play or just sit around. This was an unspoken, common understanding.
That day he did not go to the school’s free-lunch room, as was his custom. Instead he went upstairs and stood in the small square colonnade. He watched the children at play. Far away in the distance a figure held his attention. He then forgot the playing children. How familiar, yet how painfully distant – not in a physical sense – that figure was. As the man walked up the hill approaching the school closer and closer, John could see the great beads of perspiration streaming down the man’s cheek. So very profuse was the perspiration that one would imagine his bald pate to be a spring of eternal water. They formed in little beads; these little beads grew. Then they burst forth, the internal pressure having exceeded that due the surface tension of the bead. The little boy watched the man – his head teacher. How he hated this man! How often before did he wish this man with physique and an immense intriguingly prosaic rotundity among men of his ways.
He was sloppy and lazy. When he sat he slouched. When he sat he never liked the idea of getting up. He got up grudgingly – always. Today as John stared at the slob all these thoughts went through his head. John saw him with his handkerchief – dirty as usual – clumsily mopping his head, and at his face. Occasionally he took a big awkward swab at his obese neck. His big fat lazy arms were a most disgusting sight in the process. His shirts were always, one or two sizes too small. His pants the same.
The perspiration soaked him thoroughly. So thoroughly was he soaked that he gave the impression of one who has been dipped into a pool. He made his steps “one to to-day one to-morrow.” He lifted his hand to mop at his forehead in such a manner you would assume they did not belong to him. And ever so often, he would switch the handkerchief to the other hand, permitting the free hand to fall as if it were a leaf from a tree.
John thought of this man. He thought of how enraged and vicious this man can be. John remembered his sitting at his table with his glasses half-way down his nose; he would be reading the morning newspapers. He would be completely oblivious as to the goings on around him. The running of school – at least day to day – was left to his assistant. He took no classes. When a child was sent for correction, he would give a start, annoyed at such distrurbance. He would bellow out the lines from the bible: “When I am a child I as a …… “then the pupil is expected to say: “Child, sir”
Then he would proceed to let he child have the severest of beating for the most trivial of offences. And he always ended: “Don’t come back… hear?”
At one time a teacher sent a child to him to collect some chalk. He at once flogged the child. Protestations only made things worse. The teacher had to leave the class and go to stop the flogging. He pouted and simply said “All right next time they send you I’ll spare you…. But a little touching up is sure good for you little upstarts.” Having justified himself he sat in his chair again. He sat so heavily – as usual that his swivel chair almost upset backwards – as usual. He had long ago damaged the spring in that chair.
This is the man. This is the image John had of him. And all of it went through his little mind, bringing to the present his intense hatred for this man. His gaze followed the man all the way. He stared him fixedly as he approached the steps. He climbed the steps with no little difficulty. He stood at the platform. And turning around with a delicacy and slowness reserved for Hollywood, he gazed. He gazed at the children at play.
Someone is staring at you. Somehow you know it. That was how it was with that man. He became aware of John. He turned to face John. He looked at John questioningly. John then looked at the man. He looked at him vigorously and he stared straight through the man. It was as though the man was not there. He was taken aback.
“John, what ‘re you thinking about?” he inquired. John laughed,
It was a silly hollow laugh. It might have been a howl. It was a maudlin sound. It was devoid of mirth; it was devoid of gaiety, devoid of pleasure. It bespoke suffering, of pain, and sorrow, and shrouded in a child’s attempt to face up and be brave. It failed. He was discovered of rather uncovered?
“What’s on your mind boy?” the big man asked. More laughter! Almost a hysterical screech.
“What’s the meaning of this John? Wher’re you manners?” the man was very angry now. It was no longer a matter of casual interest. John was suddenly brought to the present. The big man in front of him was stern. His very gestures at the time spelt reproof. John then seemed completely dumbfounded. Then, he simply stared at the man. He seemed to be possessed by some evil demon. It was as though there was some deep inner struggle. The struggle seemed to be raging with utmost intensity. In fact, it was the effect of marijuana.

The principal kept on looking. He looked at John – so intently – that one might get the impression there was a mist of vapour separating the two. Just then the assistant head rang the bell. This seemed to break the “hot-wire” between John and his principal: everyone seemed be de-electrified; the children at play stood and leaned – petrified – into various positions, ranging from discus thrower to the most comic. The principal gave a start. He seemed embarrassed then. It was beneath his dignity to be caught so unawares by his own bell. Now, the bell is rung twice. The rule is: at “first bell” the pupils must “freeze”; at “second bell”, they fall into their respective class “line-ups.” The various class monitors supervise and maintain this “discipline” with an efficiency comparable to that of the elites of the German Gestapo. In return they enjoyed a privilege. It was the privilege of not having to take on the bells themselves. This privilege permitted them to look around; they spied on their fellows to see who disobeyed the “rule” – the rule which they did not have to obey.

People derive pleasures in different ways. Some enjoy football, some cricket, sex, dancing, eating, others travelling etcetera. This man had a singularly peculiar way. He liked to call school. When he rang the bell he exhibited much vigor – contrary to his habitual laziness. The fat on his face, and the fat on his neck, his shoulders, chest, belly all seemed to rejoice, vibrating vigorously as he rang the bell. After the first bell he will survey his domain for full five minutes. He derived his full pleasure by observing the not always successful attempts to “freeze”. This was his own thing. And he was going to dig the scene. After the five minutes silence he would ring the second bell; and then, giving the bell to any other teacher close by he would retreat to his chair.

The second bell went now. The children began to fall into their respective class lines. A very low, subdued commotion could be distinguished. The big man gave John a funeral smile; and parting company he said “I’ll give you a lesion; you need a touching up Johnny boy.”

~

BLACK DILEMMA!

We are the strength of the Nation
So Work! Work! Work!
We are the muscles of the Nation
So starve! Starve! Starve!
We are the builders of the Nation
So die! Die! Die!
CHAPTER FOUR

John was fed up with school. The weeks flew by and months piled up. The clandestine adventure became an addiction. It was an addiction that poor little John could not afford. He passed through boredom into frustration. The school going became a goal-less exercise – soon. So why continue? John knew that even if he continued there would be no job on completion of his schooling. So he might as well do the sensible thing: leave school and go in some steelband; get a contract to push weed; and anything may come after.

John was no Indian; he’s visibly negro with “good” hair. When John finally broke the news: “Mummy ah leave school oui,” his mother could not look worse if she had been struck by a bus.
“What you mean by dat?”
“Mamma is useless,” he simply replied.

“You following bad company boy…. You ha’ to go back to school,” she suggested controlling her rage with amazing majesty and composure. He said nothing. He was not going to take her on in any case.
She listened; but he would not break the silence. That silence as the mother faced the son, that cold silence pierced her ears like it were a thousand needles.

Suddenly, she screamed, and with that she darted towards him. Her rage then had no limit. She drew a glass from the old wagon; and she threw it at him. It struck him on the left side of his head – a little to the back of and above his ear. The little boy’s face went wild with shock and with rage. How could his mother do such a thing? She, for her part, was in no mood to cool down.

“You want to beat me?…. eh nigger man you wan ta beat me,” she raved, at the same time miming all the ferocity of a wounded lioness. She darted toward the kitchen. She returned with a pot spoon. Brandishing it like a sword she made for her then whimpering son.

“You feel you cou’d beat me…. Well ah’ll clip you blased wings you ‘ear…. Ah carry you for nine months so ah go train you little boy.” With that, one might have visions of impassioned slaughter and wanton cruelty… in the arenas of Rome. For this is what followed.

She stood above him and then she went to work! He like a defeated unwilling gladiator held his wound. By now the blood was really flowing – down his head, and his ear, into his ear, around his neck towards the back; down his face the blood and the warm tears united in their journey, some streaming into the mouth, some progressing down the chest towards the balls on its way towards the floor where more blood joined running down in one unholy confederation.

By now the neighbours arrived. They questioned and they probed; they wanted to know. John for his part remained crumpled. He looked from person to person. He searched the faces. He read the many eyes fixed on him – a pair at a time. He hoped that someone would offer compassion. This was not evident.
A fat mamma spoke: “You can’ tell us wha’ he do?”

It was then that the mother spoke. And when she spoke the words came like a torrent. If you can imagine the rush of waters when the walls of a dam is cut, then you have a picture of her words rushing from her lips.

While all this went on, blood made its ruthless way to the cracks and crevices. Blood seeped through. Blood dripped into the swampy earth beneath. Those in the yard noticed the dripping blood. A murmur of compassion swept through all the spectators now. They were all moved. They enquired “Wha’ he do so much?”

They commented too: “Bon je, she gonna kill ‘im.”
“‘E bleeding so much me Lord.”

It is significant; they wanted to know “wha’ he do?” the truth is, on the contrary what was done to him. He was a victim, not a sinner. He was a victim of the oppressive and dehumanizing society which he existed. That some bourgeois society which offers no hope to thousands of black little boys and girls throughout the world. That most cruel system which sets mothers to take their frustrations out of their children.

The system is so geared that we cannot talk back to “the man” because he is boss. Consequently we tear one another apart. We have been taught to indulge in self-hate; we have been told that we are too lazy, and that our salvation is dependent on the new “hardwuk” formula. Which is a big blasted insult!
Is there any race that has ever worked as hard as the black race? Who are these people trying to fool? Truth is, the black man has always worked hard, and what is more, without any reward. However, the black man never worked efficiently nor smartly. These were the reserves of the white man. So once the white man, or his servants and agents can keep us working harder and yet ask us to work harder all is well for him and the existing status quo.

We must tell the black man to stop working hard and start working smart and efficient. More than two thirds of our people are involved in some way or another in Agriculture. Yet still our Government is asking that more people get involved in agriculture. And what is worse is that our agriculture, is oriented primarily to supply foreign markets with Sugar and Cocoa – commodities of dubious economic future. Commodities which constrain out “leaders” – or are they beggars – to sustain such humiliations so often.

A very matronly woman stepped forward and took the little boy’s hand. He stood. He searched all the faces. The woman said: “Come wid me boy.” Without uttering a single sound he started to the door with the woman. As the two walked through the yard the people just parted – making a path way.
Then there was great chattering and commenting over the episode. It was not a strange thing for people of Shanty Town to maltreat their children. Born without love, and born into this world without love or preparation on the part of parents, the children were regarded like troubles. These “troubles” were merely the unpleasant physical side effects of sexual pleasures.

It is significant to not the comment, “Boy you want to get me in trouble,” at any time a boy approaches a girl. This “trouble” refers to the possible pregnancy of the girl. Many sociologists and psychiatrists and allied professionals endeavour to explain away this present situation. They invoke the slave experience; they talk of the destruction of family life; they remind us of the stud farms; these empty and most ridiculous excuses. These “fine, nice,” excuses are totally untenable in the light of objective and comparative historical analysis.

There is not a single people which as a race at one time or other were not enslaved, made subject, or colonized. Why should we continue to promulgate excuses for the black man? Is it because deep down these people feel that the black man is inferior? Well they are damn rude to feel so. It is tie for the black people to say “this is a fault… let us understand that fault, let us correct it, not try to explain it away.”

Consider the following: My father’s grandfather was a slave; he never walked on paved road so I’ll skirt the roads and walk in the bushes. He never sat in a car so I’ll travel twenty miles walking. He never knew of theatre, electricity, pipe-borne water, so I’ll not use these either. Dear reader it is your privilege to think of a lot more, the radio, and TV, the eight hour work day.

Yes dear reader, our parents having been dehumanized by the system continue to dehumanize our children. And some, under the guise of intellectual pursuits invent excuses; they are forever; and forever more putting the problem into its proper historical perspective. They make a whole lot of ridiculous talk about “unique historical experience of the negro.” Don’t these people realize that every race do qualify for that “unique historical experience”. What of the French, terrorized by the Hohenzollern and the Nazis? What of Japan – an entire nation held to ransom and spoliation, the entire population – even those yet unborn. What of the Germans? Germany is the traditional battle field of Europe.
The woman had taken John to hospital and returned. The boy got stitches at the hospital. As usual the doctor wanted to know, “how did it happen son?”

Whereupon, the woman, with lightening insight answered, “They been playing Doctor, you know them, and wrestling on the floor, dey bounce the wagon you know and a glass fell and broke an’ is poor liddle John head ged de worst of it all.”

The Doctor seems impatient, he resettled his glasses on his grease sweat nose. He began drumming his pen on the table. But, Mother May was not to be put off she will sock it right in to him.
“If you see de odder one, he cousin,” she went on, ‘e ‘fraid blood so much de child run out screaming he….”

The Doctor’s impatience was very obvious now. He asked “That so boy?”
Now Mother May held her breath and gave John one of the sternest looks that she could manage when viewing from the side, and at the same time she increased the force in the hand on his shoulder, he lowered his head and simply said, “uh, huh.”
Mother May shook him and said, “have respect liddle John, say “yes doctor” um, hum what!”
The Doctor probed “you sure boy?”
“Yes Doctor” replied John.

The Doctor was obviously dissatisfied with the answer. John’s wound attended to, the Doctor said “keep him inside” and to John “now behave yourself young fellow.”
Mother May gave the story of the incident at the casualty. And the listeners all laughed and felt gald that Mother May had outwitted the doctor.

So happy are they about it that even to this very day dear friend they talk about it. Mother May’s exploits are so well known and talked about that they destined to be enshrined in the village folklore. As soon as Mother May finished recounting this last exploit, the spectators in the yard burst into great chattering. One recalled to another an exploit.
“Saysay, you remember wha’ she do de Chiney?”….
“Eh… eh… yes gal how you mean. She ask the Chiney for bread and fry salt fish….. she stan’ up right dere an’ eat she sal’ fish, when she finish…”

At this point Mable was excited. She could wait no more she burst in laughing. “You know wha’ she do she ask Ching for another… so Ching ask she for ‘e penny…. Da was t’ing for so oui… she put she had in she pocket, an’ she face like if she loss an’ jus’ den she hear Ching pussy bal mew. So she look at puss and she declare ‘Ching! The cat eat the penny.’”

Now saysay cut in: “Ching say “Whlat ylou slay chlild?” and is now May get in form.”
May who was listening cut in: “Alh tlell thle Chliney. Thle clat ealt thle penny, and I florglet thle Chliney rlight dlere an ah glone ablout me blissnless oui.”

This was received with great laughter and much applause.

Similar stories were told. And the Jenns was treated to a serious scoulding from mother May.
“Wha’ you woulda say if ah di tell de doctor de trut…. You doh ain’ jokin nah.”
First person: “And wha’ worse de Government doh wan’ you to beat dem. Not even dem teachers can beat dem dese days.”

Second person: “An’ when you see dey wan’ to go an’ walk about in de street and lime gal, de jus’ pick up a piece of cardboard, dey mark up on it an’ is mass for so in town. Everybody ‘fraid o’ dem.”
First person: “Buh I never know Johnny to be in dat at all. Johnny always respectable an’ nice…. Eh Jen?”
Third person: “Cigarette!!? Bush man, bush, de weed. ‘E’s pushing too dat is why ‘e wan to leggo school. ‘E mixing wid de hoodlums man. You doh hear him wid ‘e soul talk dese days? ‘yeh man! Dig it man! Dat’s where it’s at man!”

Second person: “Come to t’ink of it…. Dis sould talk! Buh all ah dem have it. Some have it because day doh wan’ to soun’ to ol’ timish. Dey wan’ to be model man.”
A pause, the second person continued: “Buh if you really see ‘im smoking I’s different…. You sure?”
Third person seeming very annoyed replied: “So wha’ you mean ah doh know John den. Jon grow up in me han’ you know, ah go lie on ‘im just so for no reason at all?”

There were lots of talk and counter talk just about the good derived from smoking “weed”.
John’s wound healed quickly. He went to have the stitches removed. That time he went alone. For the few days he was confined to home the little boy was obviously restive. The walls of that dilapidated shack seemed to be closing in on him.

His mother would not permit him out. She was very strict and “up tight” with him. She preached and she lectured to him consistently about the value of and the benefits to be derived from school. But John was resolute. He would not go. If necessary he would leave home. He seemed more and more ill at ease with his surroundings. The people cajoled him daily concerning school; the rains fell in torrents.
It was a though all factors conspired to have him trapped. He hated what he ate. He hated where he lived. He hated the villagers of Shanty Town. He hated the people who lived in the beautiful houses on the other side of town – St. Clair. He hated himself too. In fact he just hated! This was the extent of his present depravity. He was no longer man. Rather he was the living hate! He breathed hate! He walked hate! He was hate incarnate. Oh what a pity. In his mind a raging campaign was uppermost. What could he do to them to shock and to hurt?

No more was anything in terms of we or us. It is I or me and they and them. He was alone – imprisoned by his frustrations – trapped by a society that has little to offer to those in his situation.
No one in his right mind would employ the boy; no one in his right mind would trust the boy. Thus, he joined the ranks of the forgotten souls. He was a living dead!

*

The little boy soon succeeded in alienating himself completely. In the following months, everyone left him severely alone. There was no room for anyone else; and he did this drug pushing. He got enough bread from his contact to buy himself sufficient “pot” to keep going. He fleeced his own customers, and threatened them, and blackmailed them sufficiently – to eat and to wear.
He could meet them in the streets and exchange their pretty jerseys for his worn jersey. He can always have a theatre fare on demand. He can always exchange his busted sandals for a new one. He was fast becoming a boss of the underworld. He was extending his network. He increased the amount taken from his contact. He elevated himself to “distributor contact” to a ring of four pushers, whom he himself had initiated and inducted. He got each one to get on to four “pushers” each. The new “pushers” were not to know of his (John’s) connection with their receiving drugs. This he did by a shrewd combination. On the one hand he bullied and terrorized them: threats of getting the “boys” to beat them; threats of being denounced to the police: threats of lessening or even cutting off their personal supply. On the other hand he dazzled them with promises of reward; their elevation to the position of “distributor contacts” and all sorts of thrash which they gladly swallowed.

He aimed at becoming a big time “pusher”. So he very carefully built his little Empire of Hoodlums. As things got brighter with Johnny Mobutu Enterprises Inc., he bought his bosses old car. This gave him great status in their sight. He was the symbol of success. Now he moved in real big circles. He played poker and billiards on the campus – for money of course. He moved easily with his newly acquired circle of university friends. He could “ground” with student and lecturers alike.

The guy was really going guns now. He organized some of the unemployed brothers into a small business. He bought three second hand machines. The plan was that these guys would make Afro-Jacks and “soulful sandals”. These he would collect and distribute to stores. You see, little John was little no more, he was now big Johnny Mobutu. The guy became so very conscious and so aware that he changed his name. to cap out everything, he acquired his own little apartment on Edward Street.

He rented the backroom to his tailors. He slept in the middle room. The front was a living room. He had very living thing in that living room. You name it he had it. Just like the peoples of Ellersly Park. He was doing real well man.

But of course his well being was only superficial. His every last straw was got by hire purchase. And what’s more he was lousy at paying the bills. But he had a way about him. He could talk his way out of situations.

For another thing, he could get his hire purchase goods from his drug connections; such people had o be careful with him. They approached him real nice and respectful even though it was to complain about his arrears.

~

FROM POWER TO FIRE!
“Power!
Brother Power!
Power to the people now,”
The leader said.
But lo!
They knew it not!
For they were the living dead!
Result? – FIRE!!


CHAPTER FIVE

He numbered among his friends, certain store managers, owners, and big business directors. Soldiers, policemen, politicians, all were his pals. He used all who came within his reach.
He even got a high Government Official to visit his small business. On that visit he confided to that high Government Official: “Sir I supply the bolt of cloth. I supply the leather: there are five machines, two for leather, three for cloth. We operated on a co-op basis. The brothers are always on the job. At any time at all that you come here a few of them are working. There are really fifteen of us. I take the finished product into my car and distribute them to the various stores. And sir, these store owners are very understanding.”

He did not tell that High Government Official why these big boys were so understanding. In fact all of them were not as understanding as he would like them to be. It was only those who were ensnared by his “pot” circle they were so understanding. And they were very understanding at that. Man, he could scare the shit out of them. And he knew it. They had to cover up for him. And he let them know that in no uncertain terms.

Johnny will take up the phone; and he would ring any of these chaps. He simply said: “this is Johnny Mobutu.” The answer on the other side of the line may be any of these “Oh hello big John what can I do for you. It’s just great you called. Drop in soon man.” This is said with a mixture of apprehension and delight: Big John! Business or social etc.

Invariably, Johnny’s reply was vey curt: “you ought to make the mother blankers shit their blanket pants.” He phoned one of these big, big wheels at his home once. When the guy answered he said: “This is Johnny, give the phone to Maria.”

Maria is the guy’s wife: he tried to pussyfoot. He said: “She isn’t home.”
Johnny started breathing hard. This was one of his regular methods of terrorizing these business brothers of his. But Mr. Onamon felt severely affronted. Johnny was rude.
“Go hang yourself Johnny boy. You’re plain ridiculous,” he shouted, letting the words literally explode into the speaker. Thereupon he dropped the phone.

At the other end of the line Johnny was terribly annoyed. Boiling within, he dialed the number again. The dial tone was heard on the other side. This guy Onamon was tough. He knew the ways and the rules of the underworld. Having made it up that quick but slippery ladder of crime, he knew how to deal with hoodlums.

This thing looked like blackmail, and so he was not going to bring Maria into it. Johny was bursting with annoyance then. How the hell could Ona try this thing man. He hung up. Hie lit a stick. He inhaled deeply, held the smoke in his lungs so long, until it seemed the walls of his lungs would burst. Then, in one blast he exhaled. What the blank man! That “pot” was class. He repeated. Again and again he sucked, the exhaled.

Disturbed by the results of his efforts with Ona; and with this “pot” being stronger than the ordinary stuff the guy sank into oblivion. He slept soundly. He had a dream. In that dream he was some great political figure, probably not in a government, but political figure he still was. He was addressing a crowd.

“My dear Brothers and Sisters, I exhort you to revolt. This I do with no reservation. The black man’s history is a history of revolutionary progress, and reactionary stagnation. We have the former: Butler in Trinidad; Bustamante in Jamaica; Byrd in Antigua; Papa Bradshaw in St. Kitts; Gairy in Grenada (1951); Williams in Trinidad; (1956). Further away from home we have: Fidel Castro in Cuba (1959); Jomo ‘Burning Spear’ Kenyatta of Kenya’ the Great Nkhruma of Ghana; Kamuzu Banda of Malawi; Mahatma Ghandi in India. This litany of revolutionaries is just too extensive to complete.
As examples of reactionary behaviours and their results of stagnation we have; Gairy in 1969; Williams in 1966; Bryd in 1969. And a staggering host of numbers whose names I do not care to mention. The history of man in any corner of the world is indeed a history of oppressor and oppressed. As such a history of progress in the world is indeed a history of revolutionary progress. It cannot be otherwise.

This history also shows that the liberators of the fifties can easily degenerate into oppressors of the sixties. Thus, the revolution to remain vibrant must always halt and critically re-examine its position or else it would fail. This is the very essence of revolutionary progress. Self criticism.
We know that man was born to be free. Any act which tends to reduce this freedom is an act of retrogression or of stagnation. A reversed act; a revolutionary act is opposed to this action of ‘unfreedom’. We know that man cannot function efficiently if his material needs alone are satisfied.
This guarantees only a type of perennial physiological survival. There are certain faculties that are specifically human – the need to love; the need to express tenderness, reason, joy, sorrow, grief, etc.

If a system tends to separate man from any of these qualities, that system is unacceptable to man as we know him. This system is external to man’s psycho-spiritual needs. It is these very psycho-spiritual needs that make man what he is. These and allied qualities distinguish man from the lion etc. they make man human. Take these away from man and he is reduced to a level of existence such that he has no possibility of moral choice. His misery weighs down so heavily upon him that the idea of freedom of choice gradually becomes meaningless;

Our present system alienates us all. Each day we are driven to be a little less human. We see ourselves as objects on a production chart. We are objects of marketing and advertisement campaigns. We are not allowed this year to wear the clothes we bought last year.

We see that the market ceases to function as a vital and determinant factor of production. The goal of production no longer is to satisfy needs. Now it is geared to augment profits. Artificial needs are fabricated. Alas, we buy not that which we need most, but rather that which the advertising agencies determine we ought to.

We observe that the impoverishment of the working class is not based on a simple decline in purchasing power. Truly, this is due to the increasing alienation of the worker. They do this by varied schemes; mass media propaganda, ideological warfare at every level are the tool. In their churches; in their schools; on the radio; programmes we have the same thing.

I am not offering ideologies. Ideologies constitute a sort of propaganda of final ends. On the other hand, my brothers and sisters I offer you various ideas. Ideas which are concerned with selecting the means available and capable of success, in the real world.

I am urging you to revolution. This is not to say that I urge the wanton, senseless destruction of other people’s property. The revolution must begin here.”
He pointed to his head. “We need to start to think. We must reform our ideas of work. This facist system has caused most of us to work because we are insecure. This is not the original purpose of work.
This same wicked system has brought an innumerable amount of frustration upon us…..”

*

Now John struggled in his sleep. He was sweating profusely; his face contorted into lines unseemly. It would seem he was in great pain. He jumped up. “What the hell man! I have been dreaming shit again. It’s all those university boys… their talk, and their books.”
Holding his head he went to the bathroom. He opened the shower and went in, and under the water started stripping. The cool water made him feel fine. He took off his jockey shorts. He held his dick in his hand playfully and then, he started to masturbate. When he came he laughed out loudly, hysterically.
Just then, there was a loud knocking on his front door. “Who’s it?”

“The police” a voice returned.
“What the hell you want? Johnny queried.
“To make a search.”

Just then Johnny thought, “Luckily I am out of stocks today. I’ll better get the rid of that blasted end, shave and let the pigs in.”
“Come on open up Johnny boy” the voice seemed impatient now.
“I am bathing man.”
“We can hear the water. Are you gonna take a year?”
“You got a warrant?”
No reply.

Then Johnny put on a shorts. He threw his robe through the bathroom window, turned on the shower and shouted, “I commin’.”

A voice answered, “make it quick.”

He landed with a bounce, picked up his robe and hung it about his shoulders. He felt for his keys in the right pocket, did not find it then looked around. A few seconds, then he found it. He walked around towards the front. On his way he took the end of marijuana from his shorts. He picked up a piece of wood from the ground. He held the wood and end together. Then he placed himself, with one leg on each side of the neighbour’s canal. He launched both end and wood together. Then going through the motions of a jockey horse in flight he carried on. “Come on Zchivago. Zchivago come on.”
Just then, insistent knocking, “We’ll break down this blasted door you know.”

“Go right ahead man…. What’s keeping you back?” Johnny confronted the cops, as cool as cucumber.
“What the hell’s going on?” the sergeant blurted out more surprised that ever.
“Read you warrant and start your search….”

The cop did not reply, but gazed deeply into John’s face. Johnny then said, “No warrant….no search…. Man it’s simple as that.” Whereupon he snapped his fingers at them. The cop must have thought that he had something good going. He left two of his men on the premises with the words:
“You don’t lose sight of him; and you keep your eyes glued to that house.”
As soon as the big black Holden went around the corner, Johnny went into the house. He got a whiff of “pot”. And he remembered that he was smoking. He made for the kitchen. The kitchen was a simple affair. There were the standard utilities – stove, fridge, cupboards, shelves. On the topmost shelf he saw what he came for. He took it. It was a can of shell tox insect spray. He quite casually strolled into the living room, and started spraying.

At that point one of the cops poked his head into the apartment. Johnny said: “Well, come on in, don’t stand there peeping, and looking silly.”

He went towards the kitchen, and over his shoulder, “What you fellas taking?…. I’ve Whisky, Old Oak, White Star, X M, Carib.”

The two officers came into the room. That type of room was not in any way strange to them. It was the type they’d expect any well to do bachelor to have. They sat themselves comfortably down to await their boss’ return. But glancing suspiciously at each other, they declined the drink.
John put an ice bucket filled with ice and the three glasses, which he brought out, on a small table. He went back to the kitchen and returned with an unopened bottle of Whisky. He also had an opener and a soda in his hand. Just then a cockroach crawled, half-dead from under the chair. “These blasted ill-bred vermins try to embarrass a man everytime.” At this both cops laughed. John was glad. He was humouring them after all.

He reached for the can and began spraying all over again. He sprayed until both cops began coughing. He laughed. “You chaps have weak lungs man!” he stopped spraying. He sat down, poured himself a drink, and added ice and soda.

“Why do you want to search me?” John queried the cop seated at his right.
“When sergeant Gonzales comes back he’ll explain to you,” the cop replied in a nonchalant manner. John felt dissuaded from any other questioning. The three man sat there silently. John stared deeply into his glass. Presently he placed his right hand index finger into his glass. He stirred the contents playfully. At times he tapped an ice cube, sinking it deeper into the liquid. He stopped this. Now he was looking more intently into the glass.

He looked so intently, one might think he was gazing at a magic crystal. A tune sailed over from his neighbour’s radio and he began tapping the glass with the little finger of his right hand. He alternated the taps of flesh with that of the gold ring he wore. This seemed to send him into a sort of hypnotic trance.

Music always had that sort of effect on him. The effect was more dramatic with soul music. He could really identify with soul music. And no matter where he was; no matter how drastic his situation that type of music turned him on in his own special way. It set him thinking. He could remember his early youth; he remembered playing and rummaging in the La Basse. He thought of how lovely it used to be to play barefooted in the mud. Suddenly it came upon him that this was the most important thing about him. That he had played in the mud was simply central to his life. That he was born literally in the mud was most vital. He recalled now that those who assisted him made quite clear why they did. It was because they wanted to help a poor chap from Shanty Town; it was because such a guy was trying to make the grade. When someone made things difficult, it was because they wanted to keep him in his proper place. And to these people, his place was back in Shanty Town, right back in the midst of the stinking garbage. That’s where he belonged; where he came from some told him, as if he could forget. A man does not forget the days when there was just nothing to eat in the house. Neither does he forget the nights when in the middle of sleep he had migrated – as it were – to another spot. And as if one migration were not enough, on some nights he knew what it was to be a nomad.

He remembered how he would move, and just as he was falling asleep, he would get the signal. One drop of water was enough. He remembered how the others competed for the dry spots.
Now, when he drove past Shanty Town the stench would kill him. Curious, in the old days the place never stink so much.

*
Meanwhile the constables were studying him intently. They realized that he was not there with them. One of them – the big fat one on his right – stretched his hand (and snapped his finger) right in front of John’s face. Johnny jumped. Both constables started laughing. The second constable said “Don’t fall asleep man – you got company.”

Just then the black Holden pulled up outside. The sergeant stepped out of the car accompanied by one other policeman. On observing that the door was open, with none of his men in sight, his face took on a stony expressionless appearance. The man was tall. He strode elegantly; his broad shoulders and massive pectorals, coupled with birdlike lats dominated his entire personal appearance. These went well with his powerful thighs and calves. He had to be that way because at forty he still frequented the gym – three times a week. He did a good deal of walking. The man worshipped his body for the sheer beauty of the muscles rippling one on top of the other. He strode with long purposeful steps – straight into the living room.

“What’s going on ‘ere?” he demanded. His voice went well with his body. The man’s voice sounds like that of a sea captain – accustomed to giving orders over the sound of waves. Fatso jumped visibly in his seat. He never liked that man. The feeling was mutual. Sergeant Gonzales took a sharp quizzical look at the three as though assessing the situation. “been tryin’ to bribe my men, eh? Ain’t that it little guy?” john volunteered no answer. Sergeant Gonzales cleared his throat. “Anyway ah’ve got the search warrant.” John sat there still not moved to words. Gonzales read the warrant. It was concerned with some search for marijuana. John sat there passive, and he seemed vaguely aware that the warrant had something to do with marijuana.

John stared into the glass and in a most passive and pitiful manner said: “harassment! Harassment! Police Harassment! A poor man trying to make a living! You come to search for marijuana. O.K. search, search….. search when you don’t get any, don’t forget to take from your pocket and plant here, you hear me copper head.”

Now he was raving; the act seemed to come over the PC’s well. But Gonzales was unmoved. He ordered the men to start their work. They searched the place four and a half.
All during the search john sat at the table mumbling to himself about police provocation, and the rights of a citizen. They searched the bedroom, the kitchen, the living room. They turned everything upside down, inside out. When they were leaving John called out to them: “You forgot sometin’ “he said. When they turned around he said: “You didn’t search the workshop.”

Annoyed, Gonzales looked at him and said: “I know my work punk.” This was said with great scorn; he made John look like shit. Man Gonzales is the no-jokes cop of the force. A man of business. And he had no friendships making with suspected hoods. “Where there is smoke there is fire.” Man, didn’t his Grandma always say so. Didn’t all the other folks say the same.

As the squad car drove off Gonzales took a last look at John. “You hoodlum, I’ll catch you” he intoned. They drove to the station and Gonzales made for his desk at the charge room. “I’ll make a study of you boy. I’ll know who your friends are. I’ll know how many of them are involved in what racket. I know you’re a racketeer. And I’ll catch you… soon.” These were Gonzales’ thoughts as he sat browsing through the files.

Meanwhile, back at the house John had dressed. He sat at the table; he was playing a game of patience. Whenever he played patience it was always a form of meditation for him. Today was not otherwise; on the contrary, it was special meditation. He thought of Onamon. He thought of the police raid. He could not separate these two. He felt that an enraged Onamon might have played police informer on him. What the X, Y, Z, man the police just don’t come searching for marijuana. Man, you’ve got to e a F-sharp suspect. So John was worried.

He took up the phones and dialed Onamon’s number.
At the other end Onamon took up the line. “Hello Onamon speaking.”
“I am coming to see you; this is Johnny talking, big shot.” He said the “big shot” with a stressed sarcasm. This had upset Onamon. But before he could say anything John was off the line. He gazed about his room. He studied the furniture. There was a look of earnest determination on his face. He was determined to keep them- all of them. As he stood there he thought he had a right to them. After all he had worked for them too. People may call him crook. But that was that. There was nothing yet proved about him. And what’s more these people – these same nice, respectable people – were robbing everyday. Everyday they robbed the Government. They and their accountants planned hard for false income tax returns. It is from this very group that you get people burning down buildings and then claiming for fire insurance.

He went into his car thinking these thoughts. He drove down the streets, thinking the same way. He seemed to see little. But, what was there to see?

*

The Messiah of ’56 – and his apostles – proved themselves to be prophets of a false hope. They was very little tangible results of their past prophecies of prosperity. Their present claims could not be substantiated either.

Port-of- Spain was and is still a city teaming with masses of unemployed youths.
The Government had failed to engender a prideful atmostphere in the agricultural industry. In fact agriculture was not truly practiced as a commercial, industrialized enterprise. On the contrary it reflected all the lack of expertise and technology that mark the rural, perennial, subsistence “gardening” in most underdeveloped countries. The lack of a properly functioning marketing and distribution system could only serve to discourage the few progressive farmers. Imaging pumpkins produced to a waste and corn imported into Trinidad from far off racist Canada. This backwardness goes right to the heart of the planning of the agriculture. These plans show a serious lack of any comprehensive and overall policy for the industry. The farmers are left largely to go their own ways, and of course to their own methods of trial and error. The science of agriculture is relegated to a position of a third rate subject. The facilities for research at the faculty of agriculture. UWI are left like white elephants – either unused, or where used, very much under used. The curriculum has comparatively little emphasis on extension work. Agriculture graduates find it difficult to find employment – some of them end up teachers of Chemistry, Botany, or Zoology, subjects taught better by graduates of the respective disciplines on any case.

All these merely augment the urban problems. The milling urban masses swell each year. The flight from the country side – of growing number of disenchanted youths, seeking employment and quick and easy cash in the city is quite different from the apparently similar phenomena occurring in England and USA during their respective industrial revolutions. There is the major difference – and it is most significant. Whereas in the English and USA flights (from the country side) the migrated populations were largely well absorbed by the industrializing centres in the early stages, the same is not true of the city of Port-of-Spain. Firstly, the ambient conditions are different here from what obtained in England and USA – with regards to methods of production, and demand levels for various skills and crafts. Secondly, there is no true revolution in the industrial thought or ideas of Trinidad. Here the concept of a factory for instance is still a rather hazy embryonic conglomeration, consisting of a large number of workshops housed under one roof – assembling cars at Neal and Massy etc. for instance is termed the motor car industry. These various assembly plants are truly small workshops – outcrops of the giant international monopolistic co-operations, controlled largely from without by beauracrats in whose very veins of the blood of racism fascism flows as certainly as does the waters of the Blue Danube. They control for their benefit. They merely set up a façade of local lackeys to present to the public.
So these unfortunate youths, crowding the cities, their minds and hearts pregnant with discontent constitute fertile soil for the cultivation of an unruly urban mob. A good mobster can therefore blackmail the country holding the rest of the law-abiding citizens to ransom.
Even before a society is born here we observe the traditional landmarks of decadence. The condition of the poor is unspeakable. The general life style of the rich is as though they belonged to another country. The affluent homes with two and three cars bear great witness to this decadence with projected against the insufficiency and inadequacy of the public works. The general depreciation permitted on the roads before repairs and made is a case in point. The position with respect to hospital facilities; is well publicized: the dilapidated condition of toilet facilities is widespread and legendary. The lack of public parks is well known. These evidences of the disparity between public and social expenditure on the one hand and the affluence evinced by the rich on the other hand is very much like that of the Ancient Greek and Roman societies during their period of decadence.

~

EPIDEMIC

Our House canals;
Not for you to clean eh!
Wha’ you expect.
If not epidemic?

Our house refuse;
Not for you to dispose!
What you expect
If not epidemic?

Our street and all;
Thee scavengers won’t clean!
Wha’ you expect
If not epidemic?

Our schools, cafes
Not up to scratch either,
What you expect,
If not epidemic.

CHAPTER SIX

Driving and seeing little and thinking a great deal Johnny went to Onamon’s place. He drove his car straight around the house and into the garage behind Onamon’s car. He got out. He slammed the door heavily and leisurely walked to the front. It was a though he owned the place man. He walked gingerly up the few tredders. He did not bother to open the thigh high gate at the verandah. Rather, he simply swung his legs over the gate, the left first, the right following. This was something which Mr. Onamon probably never did in all his life at the house.

From where he sat in the living room he saw that act. He did not take too kindly to it. In fact he felt it to be rude. And he knew that Johnny did that out of impertinence. This is why he greeted Johnny so cool “Mr. Mobutu, what can I do for you?”

“Cut out that shit,” was Johnny’s rejoinder.
“What’s your problem Johnny, what’s bothering you?”

Now Johnny looked at him straight. He stared hard. The wall of silence between the two men seemed to last ages. Onamon could not meet Johnny’s eyes. He seemed to be at great pains to stand in front of John. His initial air of self-assurance seemed to have left him completely. If you have ever seen the cornered rat – frightened, desperate, then you understand how Onamon looked. Really scared! He saw that Johnny meant business. So he was thinking. He knew what he had done. He was thinking of buying off Johnny. He would pay the price. He definitely did not want the scandal, being a minister and all the rest.

John’s tongue seemed of no particular use to him. He refused to talk for the time being. The rage boiling, right from deep down within his stomach seemed to focus all the rays of hate, disgust and evil on his eyes. And Onamon caught the reflection. Then he fidgeted, he twiddled, he blinked. The man was real scared.

Then John spoke. It was to announce in cool level tones: “I’ll go to the police.” Onamon’s eyes seemed to be ready to pop out of his head. His jaw fell – leaving his mouth wide open. ‘E really sweat plenty. The sweat streamed down his neck. His chest seemed to be on loan to WASA – simply belching water; it could put one of WASA’s pumps to shame. In no time his shirt was drenched.
At last he found his voice. “I’ve got pressure, and a bad heart.” John seemed to be looking straight through this wretched man. It was as though he was not there or he was not visible or something. There was no trace of compassion coming from John. The atmosphere between the two was as one supercharged with electricity, threatening to release magatons of thunderous energy, and lightening. The scene was just something else.

Then John in a moist impassioned tone said “You’ve got bad heart and pressure. Sorry pal, I’ve got bad colour: Black.”
With that, he turned abruptly. He flipped smartly over the gate. He was down the steps in not time leaving Onamon standing at the door as though in drunken stupor. Onamon turned around, and he saw his wife standing at the door between the bedroom and the living room. “How long have you been there?” he managed – half pleading, half accusing. His wife looking not completely awake replied:

“Who was here? The nose awoke me just now.”
“Never mind that,” he said. Going towards a chair he continued: “Bring my tablets.” And with a heavy sigh he sat down. He pressed a button on the left side. With his right hand he operated a lever. The chair back gently lowered. Now Onamon reclined – half sitting, half lying. He closed his eyes.
His wife came to him. She walked so softly on the carpeted floor; he did not notice her until she stood above him and said “here”. He took the tablet, and swallowed it with some water. His wife sat on the chair opposite. She looked at him intently. For full thirty seconds she just looked. She knew better than to ask questions then. Her husband was wrecked for a few days at least.
He sat in his easy chair for quite some time. Almost two hours he was undisturbed! The guy even managed to fall asleep.

On waking up, He complained of a headache. He requested some more tranquilizers. His wife discouraged the idea, but in a few minutes he confessed earnestly that his head was splitting. She then obliged; she performed her ritual once more. She went for the tablet. She filled a glass with water. On giving these to him she said: “here”.

“You’re angry with me Maria,” he said taking the glass.
“No dearie,” she answered full of contempt.

Meanwhile Johnny had driving to Belmont. He contacted a pusher there, and told him to keep low for a while. He did not explain anything to the guy.
“Tony, boy the cops made a social call on me to-day. A fellah came telling me how he wan’ to buy some shirts. But in talking, they tell me that they want me to help them out. Shit man, if you hear what they want me to help them to do! You’d be surprised!”
“What they want help in man?” Tony asked.
“They wan’ta catch you man.”
“Me?……. why?”
“They figure you pushing bush man.”
Tony said nothing for a while. Then “Shit man gimme de stuff. I’ll take my own chances. Doh ‘faid man. Wha’ you say…… eh?”

Johnny was pensive. Then, “sorry Tony; no,” he replied. “I’ll check you out in about a fortnight or so. You ‘ear?” and Johnny showed impatience and made to leave. Tony walked out to the car with Johhny. John started the car, and with the engine idling, he gave these further words of warning; “Remember they’re watching out for you. You ‘ear.”

Then he eased off the clutch and was moving. Tony waved to him as he left. There was a deep, sad nostalgic look about his face as he said: “You bet I would bredder.” Johnny was pleased with his performance up to now. He whistled to himself and drummed to the tune of “Bridge over troubled waters.”

The guy was really happy over his performance with foe and friend alike.
He drove to St. Augustine. He contacted his man there. He repeated his Belmont performance. He drove to Arima and he did likewise.

On his way he was struck by the extent of pollution permitted. It was as though the Government had no eyes. What! Shit man. With all these old junk right at the verge of the highway. Man, an old chassis here, a rotting suit case there. It would seem as though the crash victims were on some sort of campaign. They abandoned their smashed up cars right on the roadside. It would seem that they intended these to serve as some intriguingly prosaic warning that other motorists should exercise some care.

All to no avail though. The other drivers just keep on in their same reckless manner – adding to the optical pollution: they don’t even learn by their own personal experience.
Johnny later went to San Fernando. On reaching Savonetta, he asked himself “What if anything are the industries in South Land doing in the line of control of environmental pollution?” he thought of the horrible smell on passing Pointe-a-Pierre. He sincerely felt that something could be done – except that no one seemed to care.

Anyway, he continued his rounds. In the South he gave a different story from that in Port-of-Spain. He was taking it light for then.

You know when you are in such an enterprise you must operate with care. These days the cops were stepping up their campaign. So it was just wise to step down your own operations. He was not operating like a fool. He was protecting his men. He has been studying public activities these last few weeks. He has been checking the newspapers too. And you know he has friends in very high places to crown the matter.

He slept at Point-Fortin that night. Then he came in for the shock of his life he slept by a pal. This pal had a cousin at the Mount. The young seminarian visited his cousin that very night. They took a few drinks too.

Well, in conversation Johnny made quite sure that his language was fee from obscenities. They were talking about the oppression of the black people; they talked about the drug scene. The young seminarian, Brother Thomas was silent all the while. He volunteered a bow or a smile at intervals. The conversation inevitably rolled n to the role of the Priest in modern society. Priestly chastity, nationalism, Black Power. The fellows wanted to sound out Brother Thomas on these. But he seemed to prefer not to be drawn into the rapping. When they realized that he would not take the cue Terrance prompted him.

“Brodder Tom, say somethin’ nah Brodder, we wan’ to hear you man.” Brother Tom gave a wry little half smile. “Frig man ah prefer to listen,” he said. Man Johnny’s eyes shot up. It was as though he was suddenly aroused from sleep. He had that type of look about him.
Terry was not surprised because he knew Brother Thomas. He merely looked at Johnny and smile knowingly. Johnny then gave out an embarrassed little grin.
“Shit man, what so funny Johnny?” Brother Tom enquired. Johnny wanted to scream out with laughter then. He tried to hold back his laughter. He failed. He exploded hysterically. “Keep your C sharp quiet nah man!” It came from Brother Thomas.

Johnny was beside himself then. “Wha’ kin’ ah priest ‘e is Terry?”
Terry did not answer. Instead he prompted Brother Thomas again. This time Brother Thomas said: “The Pope could remain in Rome and talk about celibacy. All he knows of is those cold white bitches. Bu’ we down ‘ere is somethin’ else oui.”

There was silence. Brother Thomas looked from one to the other. He then became morose. “Da is why ah ain’ like to say anything wid all you young fellahs you know….” Silence! Silence! “All you too F sharp hypocrite,” he continued. “Ain’t is so all you does talk when you together….” More silence! John was now brooding.

Man Brother Thomas socked it to him. “How the mother C sharp can I relate to the Brothers in the ghetto if we have a communication problem? That’s the language of the ghetto. If Christ had come in the twentieth century in Trinidad wey you t’ink he would ‘a go? Answer man! I am tired of preaching. Answer!”
Johnny blushed “I doh know…. Bu’ ah doh t’ink ‘e would ‘a curse an’ ah know for sure dat you not Him.”
“You figure Christ is a conventionist eh?” Brother Thomas endeavoured a rebuttal. Silence again.
“Shit man Christ is a Rasta man. He is a real soul guy man. What you say man?” he was now deep in the thing. “All you shut all you C sharp no. All you expect the priest to just lecture his balls out eh! When ‘e done all you ain’t understand head nor tail of wha’ ‘e say.”
“Brother Thomas you talking about the ghetto. Wha’ you know about the ghetto? You must’ ‘e talking about book ghetto. You t’ink you know bu’ you ain’ even cousin to know. Why you ain’ keep you’self quiet and stop bringing orf about wanting to be a ghetto priest.”

“You still ain’ prove me wrong. You figure ah got to live in Shanty Town to know the meaning of and to experience the oppressions of this super-materialist society? Though not yet past the initial stages of its first industrial revolution, look at all its mores; look at all its norms. Its leaders – in politics, as well as in industry are straining hard to literally reap right into the technitronic age. You know what that means: alienation; alienation my friend. Yes from top to bottom right down the line…..”

At this point Terry interposed: “Well Johnny boy, ah sure you like the Brodder now eh?”
John just said cooly: “That was a lot of nice talk, big words techni-something or the other whew pa-pa…..”
“You see the same modder C’ sharp t’ing ah say! How the F’ sharp you wan’ me to talk? Eh? Ah talk you own, own language you declare I obscene. Ah talk Oxford English you say I using big words. Like you wan’ me loose me own cool man?”
John felt then that Brother Thomas had his twenty eight pounds between his fingers so he tried to side step.
“Anyway, so long as you have not lived in the ghetto you experience of ghetto life would not be….”
“I spent six weeks in Shanty Town, prick,” Brother Thomas cut him short almost shouting. Now the tables had turned and Johnny pursued the chase.
“Six weeks!?” he exclaimed rhetorically, and continued. “I was born there; my mother was born there; I lived there for sixteen years. I hate Shanty Town. The place stinks.” Brother Thomas was now engrossed in Johnny’s words. He seemed to be thinking hard.
“You talk of oppression of the people in Shanty Town. My black brodders oppressing deyself in Shany Town. Shit man!!” Johnny was cut short. A very dainty brown skin afro doll literally waltzed her way into the room. She said good night and went straight into Brother Thomas’ lap.
“Wha’ ‘appen Tommy? Man fete going on so long and ah cyan see you!” she said
“Ah digging de scene ‘ere with this new cat, baby, he replied.

This one was just too much for Johnny. He was just incapable of words. He knew that he was no good. However, he felt that a priest of a “priestlet” for that matter should be good; so he put Brother Thomas down in his mind as one of satan’s chief servants. He knew that there were many hypocrites passing themselves off as decent, honourable people. But a priest! A priest man! Are there many others like Brother Thomas? He was afraid to seek to know least he should get the answer. He knew of the constant references to the elasticity of the Arch-Bishop’s conscience. But he never took these to mean much.

Anyway, this time he had a real good shock. He, for the first time became certain of what the priest really is. A man! An ordinary man! Just like any other ordinary man. He was a fornicator, a thief, an extortionist, bad man; he was a chaste man; he was a holy man too. He was just a human. He possessed within himself all the human frailties. He possessed all the human virtues too! Within his soul – as within the soul of all men – there are the two forces. Some people refer to them as the two powers – even potentials. There is the positive potential; there is the negative potential.
The former is supposed to be the storehouse of all good; the latter that of evil.
Johnny paid very little notice as “brodder and his chick” split the scene. He was roused.
“Wha’ ‘appen Johnny? Man you behave like a lil gyrl tha’ jus’ loose she maid. Like you t’ink Brodder ain’ ha’ wood too. Behave youself like a big man nuh man.” This came from Terry. He knew the scores.
Johnny merely blushed. Terry sighed, and continued: “Man the Brodder know day jus’ now dey goin’ let pries’ married you know. You t’ink he stupid?” he asked rhetorically, and continued: “’E does make way way wid she pussy. And is so self she does go an’ boas’ how de Brodder very good too.” Terry concluded enviously.

“Ah still say dat ‘e is a disgrace to de church doh. Ah know dat de church doh stn’ for dem kin’ ah t’ing.” Johnny was now speaking with great confidence.
“Bu’ wey de arse is dat? Since when you become church defender. You figure all those Arch-Bishop, and those Bishop and pries’ and dem doh ha’ dey little vice too? Terry wanted an answer to this one. Johnny fumbled.
“Ah Knw dat ah ain’ good Terry. Bu’ dem people is God’s people man! Dey amoint to do ‘e work you know. Man ah cyan take wah’ you saying de….” Johnny was cut short.
“Dey only human boy. Dey only human. An’ we is God’s children too you know. Terry spoke these words and got up. “Let’s go by the fete Johnny. Boy don’t let them things bother you,” Terry concluded.
“You right in trute oui,” John answered and got up. The party was not far from Terry’s pad. When they arrived things were already in full swing. Walking to the party they had very little conversation.
Johnny found himself thinking of the next shocker to expect from the Brother. Anyway, he expected the worse. The music was of the type that the in crowd call ‘groovy’. Now John had his ideas of grooving, and he confided: “Terry, boy the Brodder must ‘e grooving like hell now eh”
“Mind your own business,” returned Terry laconically.
“Ah only talkin’ man, an ain’ mean nothin’ bad for the Brodder,” was Johnny rejoinder.
Sure enough Brother was on the floor, and he made a good picture too. There he was digging the sounds, his chick swinging, and twisting. The two of them together seemed to mock nature. Their movements in effect, emulated the simple harmonic motion of a pendulum. They did very little moving about on the floor. But their cumulative pelvic movement gave one the impression that the Brother would release himself of all his ‘come’ at any moment now. Well that did not happen. At least there was nothing to indicate that anyway. The Brother – obviously a young man of good endurance, stamina and great physical strength lasted out the set.

He saw Terry and Johnny. He made his way through the crowd. When he reached where they were, Johnny realized that true enough he had a devil of a stand. However, what was funny to Johnny at least was that he made no move to hide it. Johnny kept trying to keep his eyes away. But it was like when one is just learning to ride a bicycle. You see a post. You try to steer away. But the harder you try the surer it is that you will hit that post – smack in the centre. Just so, Johnny tried keeping his eyes away. But the inevitable! He caught himself again and again. He was staring at “the Brodder’s bifurcation.
“Wha’ ‘appen Johnny, lose something? How you gazing at me glad rod so man?” Brother Thomas giggled at his own rhetorics. The others joined in. Johnny gave no reply. But he was inwardly happy that his embarrassment was over. After all, the Brother was a swell guy he thought. Only thing, he must give up this priest business though. He would not make a good priest.

Johnny caught himself in his silent soliloquy. Anyway, just then the sounds started. Off went Brother Thomas and his chick on the floor again. The crowd went for the sounds.
The “sounds’ was provided by “BJ Glad Sounds.” This does not mean that “Glad Sounds” was any true true disc jockey. He was simply one of the black brothers who bought a tape recorder, a sound system, and took the trouble to tape a few songs – or buy a few taped cassettes. He was then a disc jockey – self proclaimed. He would arrange with a black brother then to make a soulful scene at his pad.
The billing would go like that: Black cats – a dollar. Black chicks – free. Bring your booze but leave your grass at home.

Now the DJ would split the takings. This macabre and heinous form of exploitation is flourishing. That it flourishes is a symptom of the general malaise and internal decadence that has been ripping the land apart. The veneer is what counts with the people. External refinement is often traded as cultural fabric. Hypocritical affections are fashionably accepted. On the other hand appropriated deportment and correct decorum are both frowned upon. “Ethics” – even in the medical scene. No on calls the counterfeit and fails to be punished severely – victimization is efficiently applied to shut the mouths when bribes and patronage have failed. The graft and the corruption of those highly placed is well known. But no one dares disturb the prevailing sound of silence. People complain of doctors taking “bed money”. But no one dares document their accusation. This leads one to figure whether doctors really demand “bed money”, or is it a truer picture if we assume that patients, scared that they would not get a bed at the hospital in fact do proffer “bed gifts” into the all too ready and outstretched hand of the doctor. This calls to question! If the demanding doctor can be prosecuted, what of the proffering patients- per chance reported.

The funny thing about all this is that no one would expose the counterfeiters. In the meantime everyone calls counterfeit. And so everyone ends up high, high – in the gum tree saying: “Monkey say cool breeze”; while the Prime Minister lays himself down line a bridge over all, playing: “craupaud say wait awhile”.

Anyway back to the fete, and it was a good time the fellows were having. Johnny stopped “macooing” Brother Tom and he started enjoying himself. There were a few loose chicks. So John – the stag had little trouble. Furthermore the sisters were – not too fussy. They were really groovy – whatever that means.

There was ‘pot’ in the place too. Johnny smelt it. He could do with some too. Who was the cat? Or was it a chick making the scene? He intermingled with the crowd in quest of the happy scene. He spotted a cat and a chick. He approached. “Liberate something to the man, soul brother.” He must have thought Johnny to be an ordinary beggar. And, anxious to get the rid of Johnny, he quickly placed a quarter in Johnny’s hand. He put on a broad smile, obviously very satisfied with himself. “Cut out that grin and liberate somethin’ man. Ad didn’t ask for a quarter. Ah jus’ wan’ somehin’ man.” John said all these letting the words come with an easy mockery. It was that type of mockery the little children use when they catch one another in the act: “Eh, eh, ah wan’ mine too. Ting, ting, ah go tell, tell.” The poor cat could do nothing, he is just got to hand up.

“Look mih bredds, you win,” he said, taking a stick of ‘pot’ from his pocket and giving it to John.
“Thank you very much indeed. I am quite obliged,” John mocked, gave a bow and sauntered off. He really let go ‘hisself’ after that. The happy stuff really had him feeling nice. And he made all around him feel nice too, he was drunk and the ‘pot’ combined with the liquor. This made him into “something else” and he did not mind at all.

Anyway, fete done! He and Terry going home. Man. Johnny singing loud. And he disturbing everybody. He enjoying hisself though. And he could not care less about any body else. “Man, how you so damn dead?” he asked Terry rhetorically, and continued. “What you need now is to sink you glad rod right into a happy hole, and what’s more ou must forget it right there too,” he concluded.
“You blasted skunk!” This came from the Brother. “Grog and grass loosen up yo’ tongue eh,” he continued. Johnny had to whole road to himself. It was his stage. He was giving a real show. A free show! And a fine show at that. Man, he roused the whole area. He sang in a high falsetto voice, threatening to split the heavens asunder.

To humour the drunk, the not so drunk ‘let go deyself’ too. We witnessed here the mini-carnival. There is the same spirit of careless abandon. There is the same built in tolerance. And there is more too. There is a fundamental continuity between the carnival and that night’s spree. The same is evidenced when we observe the general mores of the society.

The politics is masquerade. The statistics, the economy is carnival. The civil servants are play actors. They have to finish singing the calypso of lord so and so, before smartly telling you: “Next wicket please.” Everyone lives for the external splendor of the two days. These two days are for the people what Christmas is for Christians; what Divali represents for the Hindus; what Eid means for the Muslims. Yet, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, all come together when it comes to the celebrations of carnival. Further, the carnival is making inroads too. Divali is becoming a carnival of a kind. The same is true for Eid. The early Christians may have to look well to see Christ in the present carnival – that is Christmas in this place today.

What primarily were religious festivals have undergone change so much that certain sects abstain and brand them ‘pagan festivals of blood, flesh, lust, immorality and sin.’ This is the power of the carnival in this place. It reigns king. The very society is carnival.
So what happened after the fete is only ‘tough’ according to the ‘new language’. The people of the then generation – who spoke the then language – also thought it ‘tough’. But it was for quite different reasons. For them, it was tough because in two hours time they would have to be u p and about seeking the ‘daily bread’. It was also tough because there was nothing they could do about it.


CHAPTER SEVEN

When they got to Terry’s pad, John simply threw himself on the couch in the living room. He fell asleep immediately. He slept soundly. When the old time clock – directly over him – chimed eleven he only turned. He snuggled up to the back rest. He made himself comfortable. Then, he renewed his snoring with greater vigor than before.

Just then Terry, the Brother and his girl friend came in. the Brother mad some silly remark about the wanted to be the first black Pope. The girl obviously enjoying the intended mirth giggled luxuriously, displaying even rows of beautiful white teeth, in between her giggling she heckled “Don’t be stupid Tommy. You marrying me already. So you cyan be any priest.” He Brother grinned. He put on his smart looks.

“Dey ordainin’ married men jus’ now oui.”
“So?” interposed the girl.

Now the Brother became serious- perhaps a like anxious. “So?” he mimicked her. Then he paused. “So we getting married first, and I get ordained afterwards.”
“Da woul’ never work,” the girl said flatly.
“How?” countered Brother Thomas.
“Because de Pope woul’ never agree to dat,” she answered.
“Why?” the Brother was doing the barrister. He never liked to lose an argument. He always found himself in one. Apparently he had her in a spot. She was thinking hard. She suddenly curled her lovely lips into a very disarming smile.
“Tommy ah nah in court. We come ‘ere to old blag. Stop cross questioning me man,” she said with triumph. Tomy let out a big shriek of laugh.
“Ah hah, ah ketch you; so you back down eh? You know you lose,” he concluded satisfied.

“Shad up,” she snapped miming annoyance.
Just then Johnny turned. He groaned. He rubbed his eyes. He groaned again. “All you cyan le’ ah man sleep!” he complained. Brother Thomas laughed loudly, ignoring Johnny’s complaint. “Ah you cyan keep quiet! Ah want to sleep.” This was from Johnny again.
“Do so eh like do so eh,” the girl said, reinforcing her words with giggles. “Last night you wake up the whole village,” she concluded. He continued sleeping. He tossed. He turned. He fretted. No one paid him any mind. He was the subject and the object too, of their wisecracks.
“Boy, the devil fighin’ wid big John oui!” This came from Brother Thomas.
“’E could sleep on a knife edge,” the girl added, to the accompaniment of the ever present giggling.”
“De cat know ‘ow to toss man,” Terry volunteered his piece. But for all that, Johnny indefatigably slept on. He snored vigorously. His stomach heaved. In between his restless sleep, he made a few unintelligible sounds.

He slept until two o’clock in the afternoon. When he awoke he saw the others eating. He sat down on the couch; rubbed his eyes; cupped his forehead in his hands, and complained: “My head splittin”. You got cafenol Terry, he concluded.

“Nope” Terry answered. “Anyway there is some fish broth for you,” he concluded. John sat there and looked at the three, enjoying theirs.

“Man me head hurting me you know. Any drugstore around near here?” he asked. The three others laughed at that. He seemed displeased. He coughed. It was a nervous dry little cough. “Johnny boy, when we got headache down ‘ere is fish broth we does drink…. Hot fish broth,” the girl advised. That brought on great laughter again. “Ah noh joking nuh,” Johnny said as though he felt sorry for himself. “Ah serious, serious oui,” he concluded in the same manner. He looked from on to the other of his companions. But none of them took him seriously.

The girl continued her giggling. Brother Thomas drank his broth. Terry drank his broth too.
Johnny was beaten. He knew it. He could not impress them any more about the urgency of his head than he could about a knowledge of Greek. He got up. He went to the kitchen. He opened the pot. He then turned abruptly, made for the wash basin. He cleared his throat noisily. He then put tooth paste on his right index finger and used it. He went back to the kitchen. He shared himself a bowl of soup. On his way to the table he was already indulging himself. He sat. He drank his broth – his eyes on his broth. He seemed to be searching for something in it.

“Cry cry baby, walla walla pop,” the Brother mocked. He clucked his tongue in conclusion, and started laughing. Whereupon the others joined – even John. “It’s good to see you can laugh at yourself man. They say it’s a healthy thing. “The brother said.
“Uh huh,” John said unconversationally.
“You got a swim trunk with you John?” the Brother asked.
“Ah got one in the car,” John answered.
“How about a swim?”
“OK,” came from Johnny.

The girl started to tap the empty bowl. She was humming “The Lizard.” Brother Tom joined in. she stopped suddenly. She gathered the dishes and took them to the kitchen. She returned with a small towel. She cleaned the table. Then went back to the kitchen to wash the dishes.
Terry produced a pack of cards and the three men started playing romey. There was stakes involved as though by common understanding. Terry placed a five cent piece on the table, and Brother Tomy and John followed suite.

The girl had finished washing the dishes. She returned to the sitting room. She glared at them on the table. She sat with them. Just then: “Ah sing man,” said Terry. He put down the cards on the table. They were: A, 2, 3, 4 of hearts; and 7, 8, 9, of spades. He collected two five cent pieces from the table, leaving the third as his new stake.

The girl took the pack and shuffled it. She put a ten cent piece on the table; and she took five cents. She put down the pack. Terry cut. She dealt the cards.

Then played on. A little while. Then: “All yuh look out! Ah go do it just now.” Terry said laughing. Gemma let off a big “steups”. They played on two more rounds. Terry pulled his “shut card.” He let off an “Ahhh.” Look out man! Ah do it again!” and he spread his cards out on the table. He collected his cash and said “This boy is real cardist man!”

The others put up stakes. Johnny dealt the cards. Brother got a hand. They played on. Terry pulled a six. He smiled. “Boy if you you see whe’s dis card fit eh,” he let off.
“Right up inside you arse hole!” Brother submitted. He pulled his shut card then.
“Ahyee dat is cyard fadder man!” this came from Johnny as the Brother put down his two ‘hands’: Five, six, and seven of hearts and the four aces.
“Nah man dat is cyard god brodder. And all you go see cyard fadder just now,” he concluded.
“man le’ we play rap instead,” Gemma said.
“No!” Brother countered.

Gemma dealt the cards. They played on. Terry took up the four of spades and put down the 8. John looked at him surprised. “What you bounced dat for? You bouncing to jam eh.” He immediately slapped down five, six, seven and eight of spades. He put down the other three fours and the three of spades.
“Buh, wha’ you bounce dat for in trute man?” Brother asked.
“Low count man, low count. Ah couldn’t win again. Look,” and Terry showed them his cards.
“Anyway you musn’t bounce cards to jam when you playin wid big people,” Brother countered.
“Man le’ we play rap nuh,” Gemma said imploringly. “It’s a lot more interesting,’ she concluded.
“Ok let’s play rap….. a few games though,” Terry agreed.
Brother dealt the cards. Johnny played. Then Terry played. However giggling gleefully. Gemma rapped the table. She put down her cards. Two aces, two of clubs and two of diamonds, six, seven, and eight of hearts. Terry made a long face at her. He said: “Da ain’t take no skill nuh.” He put up a five cent. “Ah now start to use me own coppers again,” he said.
They played for a long while afterwards. No one really made any significant winnings by the time they finished. It was like a see-saw.

They left and went to Los Iros. There was quite a number of people bathing. There was quite a number too, who went for “eye food”; as well as there were quite a number who provided “eye food”. There were the boys – those handsome, those not so handsome – who went girl-trapping. It was not a one-sided affair though. There were the girls also…. They went man hunting.
There was Emily too. She belonged to Eperu. She was Gemma’s friend. She came down south for the weekend.

~

SPLIT

The words we use;
The deeds we do;
Dichetemous!

In appearance:
To the simple?
Uprightness

In we private
We do behave
Outrageous!!


CHAPTER EIGHT

Emily saw when Gemma and company arrived. She left a group of girls and boys with whom she was, and went directly to Gemma. “Gilr! Ah have something to tell you,” she seemed to be popping out of herself with sheer excitement. She is petite. She stood about five feet, four inches short. Her statistics: about 32- 21-32. Her complexion a potato brown – according to the long time scale of complexion guesstimations. Her lips very full, and inviting too! She sported a gold splice. “Gurl” she continued, “If you know what nearly happened to me de odder day,” she let out excitedly.

“Tell me nuh man…. Ah dying to hear,” Gemma said.
Just then Brother Thomas strolled up to them. He was a well built man. And the way his muscles rippled when he walked! He was obviously proud of his body. Emily, for a moment, took in all the sinuous contours he provided. “Tommy, you does still go to classes?” she enquired. Her question seemed to be urgent, he thought.
“Yep,” he answered, he looked at her quizzically.
“You know a fellah dey call Carlton Welis?”
“No wha’ he doing?”
“Agriculture…..’e from de North,” she said.
“Ah’ll hardly know ‘im den,” the Brother said.
“Boy ah had…. “ she cut short.
“One experience!” Gemma heckled Emily. “You said dat so many times already…. Come to de experience nuh,” said Gemma. She was obviously anxious.
“Ah was goin’ by Ken do odder day,” she began at last. “ Ah stood by Eperu junction. Sun hot….. like if de devil take over. Ah wait, ah wait…..”
“Why you din’ walk,” Gemma interrupted.
“Sun too hot girl,” Emily offered an excuse.
“Just in St. John?” Gemma argued. “Anyway, go ahead tell us.”
“Well ah see this car commin’; drivin slow, slow,” Emily said sweetly. It look like lyris and dem car….. and de person wave, so I go to wave back too….. Well when I look good ah see is not somebody I know……”
“So…..” Gemma interrupted.
“Wait nuh,” Emily was taken up with her history. She wanted no interruptions now. “Now I feeling lil bit cut up an t’ing you know. So I play ah passin’me hand on me forehead, and ah turn back. Den ah see people on de odder side of de road makin’ signs to me. When I turn around ah see is stop de car stop and de person callin’ me.” Emily gave a deep sigh and continued: “So I go to de car now. An’ ah see de man open de door,” she said opening her big eyes and revealing blood-shot white.

Gemma could not contain herself with excitement. “So what you do girl?” she asked. “Let’s sit down girl. De ting sounding creamy,” she added. The three of them sat dwon on the sand. Emily seemed happy about her role of narrator. “Girl you know you could just look at a man an’ realize dat ‘e look as a raper man?” she asked rhetorically and was about to continue, when: “Ah doh know about dat,” camd from Gemma between giggles. Emily was not put off though.
“Anyway,” she persevered, “the man looked like a raper man…. Like a real convict. If you see how de man face savage!” she exclaimed, opened her eyes big, big and virtually sped on: “Ah say is auright ah not goin’ far,” she managed.

“But you take de drive doh,” the Brother accused, heckling her.
“Anyway,” ignoring him she continued: “De man say ‘buh you’ are waitin’ for taxi. I can see tha’ in one kin’ a yankee twang…. She was interrupted again.
“So de yankee twang hol’ you eh?” the Brother heckled again.
“So me dear I go in do car. Well right away de man ask me my name. well I doh lie for people when de ask me my name. So I tell him Emily Ward.”
Gemma smiled, flushed slightly, “Uh huh,” she mumbled, and looked questioningly at Emily. She seemed to be saying: “Come to the point.”

“Now I was going by Ken. So when I reach St. John ah tell ‘im ah reach wey ah going. OK ‘e stop. You know de man open one long, long, conversation. He ask me if I goin’ by me boy friend. ‘E tell me he will bring me up de hill. Well now ah fraid, fraid.
Brother Tomas dug his toes in the sand. He kicked some sand in the direction of Emily, “What you fraid, fraid so,” he teased.

But she persevered, “Well I told de man is just dere ah goin’ and ah point to de second house up de hill. Well ‘e ask me wey ah staying. Ah tell de man. ‘E ups and tell me; “You don’t mind if I check you out sometime?” So I say is OK” Emily sucked her lips.
“I see, ah hah, you remember something nice.”
“Shut up Tomy,” Gemma shot at the Brother.

Emily passed her hand on her forehead. She smiled, her lovely lips- full, beautiful, suggestive of a lustful cunning. She looked at the lovely surroundings. She took in the people. Heard the waves breaking gently. The little group seemed to be in harmony with nature now. They actually looked beautiful.
“You know, to my great surprise, one day I sit down home in the gallery, and ah see dis car stop. Well girl ah couldn’t try to duck because ‘e see me a’ready. De man come up. ‘E talk. Den ‘e invite me to go to cinema. Ah tel ‘im dat ‘am a Christian, and so I don’t go to cinema.” Emily cocked her eyes. Bent forward: “But I does go you know,” she said in low, confidential tone. “I just didn’t want to go with him,” she said flatly.
“Eh heh, convenient Christian!” the Brother eyed her with contempt.
“You can say just what you want. You have you’ mout’” Emily answered annoyed.
“Ah didn’t mean anything you know!”
“Well keep you damn mout’ shut. Tight.” Gemma scolded the Brother.
“Den ‘e ask me which church ah belong. Ah tell ‘im. ‘E tell me den dat he attended a concert dere. Form wha’ ‘e say perhaps is true. Well ‘e stay dere, and ‘e talk an endless amount a chupidness. Eventually he left.” Emily paused again. Looked at one and then the other of her listeners. Smiled. And gave a sigh.
“All you come here to sit on the sand?”
“No, You?” Brother like the answer he gave Johnny. Then Brother signaled him to return to Terry. He caught on.

Emily, happy to be relieved of the intruder, smiled at Brother. She sucked her lips again. This time she did not dry them. It is that kind of something that caused the man to want to find out more.
“You know that one day I went to clinic with Ken, an’ when I come back mummy tell me dat he pass. She say ‘e passed in de morning and den ‘e pass in the evening. He sit down an’ wait, wait. He stay de and talk wid daddy long, long. And a few days after ‘e pass back. I wasn’t dere again.
“Like you an’ he playing hide and seek?”
“Tommy you start back again?”

“It’s OK Gemma. Am not taking him orn. I sit down home de Sunday evening. De man come. After a long, long ole talk he invite me to go have tea at de Hilton. So I tell ‘im da I don’t just accept invitations just like dat. Ah tell ‘im he would have to ask mummy. Den he press me. He tell me to ask her. Now I go and call out to mummy an’ she go answer ‘yes’!” She opened her eyes big – showing surprise.
“So wha’ you expec’ she to answer?” the Brother questioned now serious. “Steups!” he concluded without waiting for an answer.
“I say de lady woulda say to ask daddy!” returned Emily. “Anyway I couldn’t do anything so I tell him OK. He say he coming to meet me three o’clock next Sunday.
“Well papa next Sunday he reach, half past three. He tell me it kinda late so we should go to the Belair at Piarco instead. So I say OK. When we reach Piarco de man come out the car trying to hold me han’; well I kin’a pull away me han’ you know.” Now blushing deeply she continued. “And I tell him that I have my Christian principles to live up to….”

Now Brother bursted forth. “Emily!” he shouted. “How in hell can you be so naïve? I don’t wanta hear more of this damn shit!” he concluded and got up to leave the two girls alone. He looked at Gemma in such a way as though hinting that she should follow suite and quit the conversation.
“No one is holding you Tomy, sweet. Actually I was wondering how much more of this fitl talk you could take. I was beginning to have my doubts about your manliness. Go Tomy, you are a real darling. Am sure Emily would be much more at ease now.” Gemma said it with slowness and deliberation. She really caressed each word.
Now she smiled sweetly for Tomy and waved him off.
“Wey I was again Gemma?”
“Something about Christian principles. Then Tommy get vex.”
“Oh ho! So when we go upstairs now, de man go order wine. So right dere I tell ‘im I don’t drink wine.” Emily smiled cunnivingly then confided: “Buh ah does drink wine you know.”
Gemma her eyes open wide: “You lucky Tommy gorn.”

“But I does get kin a tipsy when ah drink,” Emily continued. “IF I go and geh tipsy dere you know where

I am wid dis raper man?” Emily said with dead ernest. She sighed, moistened her lips and left them wet.
Gemma looked at Emily as though searching for something. She was thinking. She wondered why is it that Emily should always draw attention to her lips the ways she always did. Her mind rambled on: Did Emily really realize how beautiful her lips were? Is her licking habit cultivated, or was it unconscious? Anyway Gemma envied Emily’s lips; further she though Emily vain to be always drawing attention to her lips – conscious or unconscious.
Emily caught Gemma at her musing. “Where are you Gemma?”
“Right here,” returned Gemma.
“For a moment I thought you were dreaming or somethin’ like that.”

They both laughed. Emily sucked again with great relish. Her big eyes sparkling she said coyly: “I am not boring you. Am I?”
“On the contrary!! Then in pensive mood Gemma added: “You’ve got me thinking.”
This seemed to satisfy Emily. She smiled. “You’ll have a good deal more thinking to do. I was where he order de wine eh?”
Gemma nodded.

“Well de man see ah empty boot and he tell me let’s go dere because it’s more cosy. You see me trouble. Like de man jus’ doh wan’ta understan’ or somethin’” Anyway, ah go. De man try to put he hand aoun’ me as soon as ah si’ down. So I duck. And ah tell ‘im I not the type, so he start ah ole talk. ‘E ask me what I t’ink ‘bout sec before marriage. Well look a’ me trouble now nuh me dear. I tell him dat dere is no salvation for fornicators. De man wanta pin me down now. He look at me straight in me eye, an’ ‘e say: “Alright ah know that’s what de bible says. But whadayou say,” she mimicked his yankee twang. She smiled and continued: “I can’t gie dis raper man de impression dat ah is miss innocent. But at de same time ah cyan le’ ‘im know dat I k now all about de repes an’ t’ing. Because ah jus’ fell dat ‘e goin’ try somethin’. So I jus’ tell de man: I cayan argue wid de bible nuh. I leave dat for dos bright people like you.”

Emily seemed pleased with herself. She smiled; sucked again. She sighed.
“Girl dat was a tight corner. You sure know how to defend that pussy,” Gemma said.
“Wll is mine oui. Since ah small ah defending. And ah does lose de battle only when I wanta lorse it. So no man must feel dey conquer me. Anytime I Emily Ward take a man is just because I want a man for myself,” she said, racing the words.
“You are a real bitch eh?” Gemma said – giggles like hell.
“Ah doh care what you say nah, da is you. You could go about an’ share your porky wid every next man – foreign man to beside.”

It’s not dat Emily. I just mean you make de thing sound so very much mechanical.”
“Anyways I won’t ever give in easy. Even Ken does have to fight me for it. And sometime ah does well want. Buh ah training myself.”
“Anyway, the story, the story. I am dying to hear how you tea end. You reach where you were defending the box – verbally.”
Emily looked out towards the sea. She seemed to be day dreaming. Slowly, she turned her head and faced Gemma. She sucked again.
“Girl de man talk more chupidness again. Well I finish my tea. So now I start making as though I ready to leave and I just waiting on him. You know de man go call de waiter to order again for me. Well look at me trouble now eh. Ah bawl: hol’ strain I’m watching my weight. So the waiter gone back.” Emily paused.

It was though she wanted the other girl to think; to consider the seriousness of what she just said.
Presently, “you see what the man planning?” She shot at Gemma

“No, ah ain’t follow,” replied Gemma.
“You ain’t realize de blasted man trying to make up time!”

“No, how?” Gemma put in excitedly.
“You damn dope! You’re a mental pigmy or what?”
“But how you mean?” Gemma asked, her brows knitting.

“You know what de man wanta do. He want to wait till I near half way through and then order for he self. And so he goin’ to order for me again. That way he can kill time – until I begin to make dark.” Emily made her point and stopped again as though to let it sink.
“You surely have an imagination,” Gemma said dryly, sarcastically.
“Anyway, you can say wha’ you want da is you oui,” Emily countered testily.
“So he finish drink de beer. She continued. “He tell me: ‘let’s go to do waving gallery.” So I agree, eacuse I know dat de place have plenty people. So I know dat I am quite safe while I am dere. ‘E cyant try a ting. We stay dere a lil while and ah tell him ah want to leave. ‘E say OK. De damn man move out of the car park and head away from Port-of-Spain. So ah ask ‘im wey de hell ‘e t’ink ‘e goin’. ‘E declare: “Ah gonna take you for a spin….. ‘ she was cut short.
Gemma bursted out in laughter and in between her laughter she said: “You’ld ah spin link ice cream can in trute.”

“So you see I was reading this man correc’ all de time,” she said as though pronouncing some words of great wisdom.
“It’s warming up though……”

“De man not making any move to stop. So ah ask ‘im if ‘e want me to jump out. He start to laugh and he ask how ah so touchy. Oh ‘e cyant just turn in de road so. ‘E got to come to a crossing to turn. Well ah start to pray. Ba dam! Ah see a gap ah tell him to turn right dere. “E burst out: “You crazy or something…. I can’t turn in people’s yard. That’s an offence.’ So I say OK. Then we came to a big crossing. He just turn and go back without a word. After we pass the airport he tell me let’s go by some shooting range or de odder. Ah tell ‘im OK because he say he can see de plane nice from dere. All the time I believing de place does have plenty people.”
“You not serious nuh….. joke you making oui,” said Gemma.
“Well I didn’t know!” Emily said with a puzzled look on her face.
“The man turn off on a dirt road,” Emily continued “and then he come to an open space. He park up and told me: “let’s go for a walk.” I told de man that it is getting dark and so I’m afraid of snakes. He laugh. You know, trying to look casual about the whole dam thing. Anyway ah say ah ain’t going no damn way. ‘E realize that I was dead serious tho’. He came ‘round the car, open the door on my side; so I move around over to the driver side. But the mistake ah make! Ah leave me foot on the passenger side.
“Well that is inviting anyway.”

“The man try to kiss me. You know he actually lay down on me….”
Gemma cut Emily short. “You look for dat,” she said flatly.
“Oh gawd girl eef you see how de man face looking savage! His eyes wild, wild! Girl ah ‘fraid, fraid, fraid!” putting up her hands to demonstrate her action Emily said: “Girl ah put up me ‘an so. Ah say: wait! Wait! Wait man! Is like you wan’ me to start screaming, and bawling rape here to-day?”
“That sound good…… what ‘e do next? Gemma asked excitedly.
“He get up; ‘e light a cigarette. And all of a sudden ‘e crust it out and he look at me with a big foolish grin on his face, and the man just say ‘bawl nah! In a kin’ a sarcastic way. An ‘e try again. This time de man han’s crawling all over me body. Me breast! Between me legs! He grab on to me panty! Ah hold it tight! Tight! As though is dat he did want. You see de position he had me in, my legs were open and he between. The man pull down ‘e zip. He take out his wood. Oh gawd ah say ah radder ah dead buh ah not giving dis man anyting at all.”
“Big talk Emily….. just big talk,” said Gemma. It was as though she was remembering some bad dream.

“Ah start to caress the scamp. He relax an’ he start to feel nice. Ah pass me ‘an down ‘e back. Ah hol’ ‘e arse an’ ah play wid it. All dat time ‘e fighting wid me panty. Then ah grab on to ‘e balls an’ ah sqeeze it – wid all me strength. The man bawl, and he went limp. Wid dat ah just roll ‘im off an’ ah get out of the car and ah start to run. He call me: “Emily, Emily, ‘ah weak, weak, lingering call. Girl I felt so sad I wanted to go back. But ah study: What de hell ah go do if dis man grab on to me again.”

“You sill good oui. You thinking of going back. “But I had to hope for the best,” she added. “so anyway I left ‘im dere saying: “Emily, Emily!” I ran full speed out to the road. Gawd help me ah see a taxi, an’ I go home you hear. An’ ah tell mummy all wha’ happen.”
Meanwhile Johnny and the Brother, and Terry were bathing – “It’s like your chick ‘fraid de water Brodder?” Johnny enquired.

“Dey talkin’ a pile ah shit about some boy da try ah t’ing by Emily,” the Brother returned. Then he dived into the water. He surfaced about ten yards away.
“Man, you fairly good you know. I can’t do that now nah,” Johnny called out.

The Brother smiled. “Gemma! Gemma!” he shouted. “We’re leaving now you know,” he informed her.
Gemma and Emily stood up. Then they broke into a run. They reached the water; they waded in – out of breath, and started swimming. They were a good distance out, when the three boys started pursuit. Bother Tom was the first to catch up. He shouted: “I’ll race you back to the shore.”

The girls turned around. By then Johnny and Terry had caught up. They all started towards the shore. The girls swam well. But of course neither won the race.
They remained in the water – playing. They dashed water on to one another. They competed to see who could remain under water longest. They played “duck”. They had a fine time. They played knights gallant. They really had a good time.

It was already dark when they left the beach. Johnny at the wheel, he cursed occasionally. “Shit!” he will ejaculate as he braked or swerved suddenly. “It’s a bloody shame!” he will burst out. “Damn disgraceful!” he will say in controlled anger.

The others knew what he was thinking about. They knew what was the “bloody shame!” They knew also what was “damn disgraceful!” and they knew why it was damn disgraceful. The difference? They had grown accustomed to the hazard; they had said it aloud so many times; they even said it in the papers. They said it everywhere until now they were tired. They said it in parliamentary language. They said it in French patois; they said it in the most vigorous and conventional Trinidadian dialect, literally sprinkled with American. So much, for so long, and in so many different ways did they let out their sounds of woe, that now they relented. Not that they were basically apathetic. On the contrary, they were now winded. Each time they sounded “help” it was the same as long ago. Someone from some high place will render sounds of promise. But now both types of sounds had lost their savour. Each time they called out: “End the disgrace” now; so did their call fall on ears – in some cases deafened by the tingle of toasting champagne glasses.

So now, they called no more. They thought of it – silently. “The disgrace” came up only when the strangers brought it up. The villagers then would make a joke about the whole thing. It is the type of joke which – coming raw and sadist – is nothing more than a psychotic condition resulting from years of efforts at adaptation.

“Our pot holes help many men on their way to the New Jerusalem. I am sure Brother Tom will tell you de same,” Terry said with a burst of laughter. He nudged Brother Thomas. He grinned. “Buh Johnny, I am not prepared form my Happy Home. I must tarry still,” he concluded on a note of marked sadness. “Look out Johnny, you reaching de Bocas now!” he almost shouted. “OK now easy, easy does it boy,” Terry concluded.
“Everything is a blasted joke for you eh?” said Brother Thomas.
“Don’t learn to laugh an’ kill you’self nuh? If you doh adjust you’ll go crazy….” Johnny was cut short.

It was the explosion of a blown tyre. The car swerved; then ran unto the narrow verge. The wheel was down in the gutter; the bumper on the embarkment before the car finally came to a stop. No serious damage was done to the vehicle. But it was clear that removal from the present position would be no very simple matter at all. It seemed to be delicately balanced.

All this happened so quickly the occupants had not enough time to say “Oh! Help me God” in the time of a wink of an eye it all happened. They seemed to be cemented to their seats. Their tongues could have gone down the road for a stroll for that matter too. Then some burst a fart and all bursted out laughing. The laughing was mirthless. It was pure and simple – nervous reaction. They stopped laughing. So precise! It might have been on the cue of a parade commander.

They got out of the car. Johnny walked to the rear of the car. He showed no signs of the recent adventure. He was cool. And so detached! He could have been in Timbucktu when it happened.
“Let’s bump ‘er out boys,” he said simply.
“That leaves me out eh?” Gemma heckled. She flashed white teeth momentarily. She ran her left hand on her biceps and deltoids – at the same time clenching the right fist. She grumbled. “Um.. muh.. h.”
“No. and you’re gonna have to lift like a Viking too,” Brother said with contrived sternness, and a certain amount of severity – thrown in for good measure. He saw her reaction – that she had taken him seriously. He was happy about that. He cleared an already clear throat. He turned away. He smiled. “I am very much in the saddle,” he thought.

Presently, Johnny said: “Let’s bump out de back first. Den, we’ll change de tyre. An’ ah go try a reverse t’ing to come out. If da ain’t wuk all you can push.”
After great effort they got on back wheel on to the road; then the other was on the road too. Johnny opened the trunk and took out his spare. Terry broke the tightness of the nuts in the wheel. Johnny produced a flash light and handed it to Gemma. “Shine it into the wheel,” he said.
“Uh huh”
“Where is your jack Johnny?” Brother Thomas said, while he searched the trunk tossing spanners, and other tools clanking into one another.

“I have enough man power man. Ah ain’ boun for no jack,” Johnny said, enjoying his own joke a good deal more than the others seemed able to. “Now you’ll unscrew all the nuts from de wheel, an’ jes’ rest your hand on it….. OK ….. finished?”
“Yep,” Terry said.

Now Johnny rolled the spare alongside the blown tyre. “Hold this for me. Just rest your hand on it,” he said to Gemma. “The two of you would lift the car while I switch the tyres. Right!…… he looked at them for some expression of agreement. He got it.
Terry nodded.
“Uh huh,” came from Brother Thomas with a click of his tongue.
“Ok! Ready?…. up! Two, three……”

They lifted. Johnny switched the wheels – expertly. He had two nuts unto bolts in no time. He was screwing them. “You can rest now,” he said simply.
“Boy you know hole too bad oui,” Terry heckled.
Johnny screwed in the other bolts. “OK Gemma, put your hand on the brake. The foot brake ah mean eh,” he instructed.
“Why not my foot?”
“Because I don’t want you to add your weight to the car. They have to lift.”
“All right then.”
“Ready fellows?”
They variously indicated.
“Ok Now! Lift.” Johnny gave the order.

They lifted. John tightened all five nuts. “OK that’s that.” He replaced the hub cap. He picked up the wheel spanner; placed it in the trunk. He closed the trunk with a slam. He rooted out a handful of grass. He rubbed his hand briskly keeping the grass between the palms as though it was soap. He opened the trunk again. He brought out a cyder bottle. It was filled with water. He gave it to Terry. “Pour for me,” he requested. He washed his hands. “Put de bottle in de trunk,” he said going towards the driver’s seat. He started the motor. He put in reverse gear. He tried to move off. But no! the engine made much noise as he depressed the accelerator. A good deal of smoke too. He eased off his foot from the accelerator. The engine coughed and conked. The motor stalled.

Johnny stepped out. “All you go ha’ to raise de front a lil bit,” he informed Terry and Brother Thomas.
“You crazy man! Two ah we to raise dat?” Terry complained. “We got to get help man. About half mile down ah know some tesses living in a bachy. I’ll check dem out,” Terry concluded and left walking briskly.
In what seemed an eternity he returned with three men. He introduced them to Johnny. It would seem that Brother Thomas and Gemma knew them.
“Buh ‘ow you reach quite dey?” the big one with all beard asked.
“A tyre blow man,” Brother Thomas said.
“All you lucky is not by the big mango stump,” another one said.
“Boy! Ah doh know why dey woon fix de road. Everytime is de same t’ing. You remember when Ma Otina sister geh kill.”
They went to look at the front wheels.
“You ‘ave search light?” the bearded one asked.
“Yeh” Gemma said producing the flashlight.
The chap took the flashlight. Crouching down he looked below the car. “Whew, whew!” He whistled. “Pardner, you crank case resting on the ground,” he informed.
“Oh shit,” Johnny ejected, dragging the ‘shit’.
“We have to raise. All of us. We’ll raise and carry towards the road.”
The six men took up position – squeezing shoulder to shoulder – along the bumper and fenders in front of the car.
“Brother Tommy, I don’t like where you are standing. Come over on this side.”
“It’s OK Jonny I can move fast.”
With that: “When ah say ‘now’ we lift OK? Ready! Now” the bearded on took control.
They lifted, and tugged the wheel out of the drain.
“Get in now an’ start. If anyt’ing w’ll push. Buh she must make it now.”
Just then a car ‘flying low’ from around the corner came to a screeching halt. The occupants immediately began swearing. They alighted and walked towards the little group, still cursing about the bad condition of the road.

“They lucky nuh arse you know,” one of them said addressing no one in particular.
“How you making out?” another enquired in a coarse voice.
“Progressing – so far,” the bearded on returned.

The engine hummed then. Johnny eased in reverse gear. He accelerated. Slowly – as though frightened at first he released the clutch. The car moved back – the front bumping and bobbing awkwardly. It reached the road. Johnny accelerated the engine greatly. It was as though he did it to show triumph. Then he left the engine idling. He came out and looked at the spot where his had stuck.
Then they all piled into the car. He allowed the other car to pass and then he followed. In a short while they reached the ‘bachy’. The three fellows dropped. Johnny thanked them and moved on. Now, he drove more carefully. He whistled. He seemed relaxed. There was just nothing to show for the recent ordeal.

Everyone else in the car was silent. Each one what thinking his own thought. It soon became obvious that all was too quiet. The uniform hum of the car provided the only semblance of life. Now and again grass hoppers call or frogs croak were heard. A few cars passed – in the opposite direction.
Now they came to the village proper. There was a small ram shackle shed. A lot of old tyres and rims were strewn around hap-harzardly. There was one door – suspiciously leading to what most people coyly refer to as: ‘a two by four.” Anyways it was not. With a small lean to extending for about three feet and running all around, the compound constituted the tyre repairman’s workshop. A bold sign: “24 hrs. Tyre repair service,” let no doubt as to its function.

Johnny stopped there to have the tyre repaired. “How soon ah could get it?” he asked.
The short bespectacled man raised his right hand and passed it, wiping his greasy face, shining with perspiration and grime. “It depends.” How soon you want it?” he would not have made a note as an insurance salesman. Too gruff!
“Now!” Johnny managed to convey a note of urgency.

The tyre man took his glasses in his right hand. He bent his head back. He rested the back of his dirty hand on Johnny’s chest. He opened his eyes big, big. He rolled it up! Down! Leftwards! Then right! Whew!! He whistled loudly. He withdrew his hand; he clasped his spectacles firmly on the top of his head. He put his right forefinger firmly on Johnny’s chest. “Now listen gov’nor, dat type ah t’ing doh wuk wid me. You got to learn some kinda respec’ for your elders….” The man was cut short in his sermon.
“Ah sorry uncle, sorry, sorry. Ah just….. “Johnny was cut short.
“Have some behavior boy! All you modern day people is too rude and disgustful. Wey de ‘ell you ever ‘ear two jackasses bray at de same time? Eh? Tell me!” the man was bringing off and he obviously was enjoying himself.

Johnny showed unease. His haste was evident. He appeared flustered too. “Doh bodder wid ‘e nah. Doh bodder wid ‘e at all, at all. Is so he like to elevate ‘eself on people oui….” She did not have time to finish. He turned round slowly, as a practiced actor. He glared on her. She seemed to lose her tongue under his gaze. He cleared his throat noisily.
“Yes, young fella! Le’ me ‘ear you now. When you wanna get the tyre?”
“As soon as you can let me have it.”
“There goes! Good boy! You found your manners.” He took the tyre and started working.
“Thank you.” Johnny left – relieved.
Johnny returned after taking leave of his friends. The tyre was ready. He paid the bill and started out of Port-of-Spain.

~

CHAPTER NINE

The journey was uneventful. He drove all the way to Port-of-Spain thinking! He thought of his escapade with Onamon. “I sure scared the shit out of his guts!” he thought of his youthful days; he remembered his tanty Otina; he thought of his mother; she is a good woman.

He thought of his grandmother. He remembered her as being very pretty. She had died. How great was his personal sorrow when she died. He saw her as the leader – SIN QUANON – in the family. She was old. But there never was any doubt. She was in charge. Her favour was something. But when you fall out of favour, she was just something else. She would make him sing hymns; and read from the bible. She had her moods.
Presently, he was in Port-of-Spain. He drove past his apartment. He made the block. He drove down Frederick Street. It was late. Except for the odd prowler, and the two cops the street was deserted. He turned left on Independence Square. Then, he went up Henry Street. He went west on Queen Street.
He felt somehow apprehensive. He realized that he was driving around in circles. That’s odd! He thought. I’m not in the habit of doing that. Anyway, he turned down Frederick Street. He parked the car. He lit a cigarette. Wish I had a blasted joint instead! He pushed his hand in his pocket, searched for change. He opened the door. He got out and sauntered leisurely towards the telephone booth near to the jewel store.

He dialed a number. He waited, listening and drumming. A car passed. He followed the car with his gaze until: “Hello!” came a woman’s voice, muffled and disinterested.
“This is Johnny!” he said flatly. He paused. “I want” he was saying.
When: “Wrong number sir!” the woman said, he voice now clear metallic. He was cut off. He looked for more change. He dialed again. The telephone rang and rang. He waited. He stood in the booth as though he had no hurry. After a while the telephone was lifted. But no one answered. Presently, he heard it rested down as though on a table. Then, footsteps – dying footsteps. He replaced the telephone. Went into his car and drove to Onamon’s house. He drove slowly pass the house. There was a solitary light on – in the sitting room.

Johnny made the block. Once more at Onamon’s gap, he swung unto the driveway. He drove up slowly. A light was switched on in the verandah. Presently, the front door was being unlocked. He could make out a woman’s figure silhouetted, daintily behind the front door. He took it in.
And for the first time he saw that woman as a beauty. He was roused from his musings though. The door was opened – held ajar by the woman. She stood there in a duster a size too small – hugging her body thoroughly. “Good night!” she said; clearly making an effort to sound pleasantly surprised. Therefore she failed. Beneath it all there was a clear and definite undercurrent of fear, worry.
“Good night senhora!” he said alighting from his car. He knew that she was always proud and happy to be addressed as ‘senhora’. He closed and locked the door. “It’s me – Johnny,” he said climbing up the steps – leisuredly – looking at her directly. He took her in entirely. How beautiful can these fancy things – made in Trinidad- yes this was the important thing “MADE IN TRINIDAD” – make a woman look. His musing was again disturbed…. this time rudely he felt.

“To what do I owe this special honour at this hour?” she said with a certain formality and self assurance – bordering arrogance. This was unnerving to Johnny. But he persisted up. On the portico, he faced her squarely. The two pairs of eyes met. They held for a while. He showed no anxiousness to take off his eyes; nor did he show any inclination to move. He could have been a statue! And so he was! For a few brief moments he stood there – in suspended animation. His face relaxed, expressionless. His eyes – focused at infinity; he seemed to be piercing through her’s to find the object. The Buddah in his most austere pose of transcendental meditation had nothing on Johnny.
Presently he was snapped out of his trance, momentarily.
“Well!” the woman said engagingly. She opened her eyes. He jerked back to reality. He smiled. Yet he stood still!

“Well, why won’t you come in?” Pause. The clock ticks away. He is now sheepish. He had lost his tongue. Or was it his nerve! Guess! “You stand there like a ghost… like someone possessed…. You scare me, why?….. Why do you do it? What do you have with us? The woman said, her voice rising in a crescendo.
“I have never seen such a beauty before,” he said, his gaze falling lazily down her body. “I beg your pardon,” he concluded trying to bring off his best. The woman was visibly taken aback. Her cheek coloured; and she stood there blushing – uncomfortable.

~


CHAPTER TEN

In a flash, the woman regained her composure. She titled her head slightly back, and to the left. She smiled. She seemed to be analyzing the man standing in front of her. “Well, I’ll be sugared – with a lump of salt.” She left the door opened and walked in.
He frowned. He opened the little gate. He followed her in. “I wanted to see the boss,” he said haltingly.

“Not possible,” she said, a slight bit of surprise rearing on her face.
“Why? He ain’t ‘ome?”
“You’ve sent ‘im to hospital!” she exclaimed, looking at him straight. She shifted. Her duster revealed a lot now. She caught Johnny ‘tiefing a peep.
“What did you say? Ah sen’ you husban’ in hospital?”
“Don’t pretend tha’ you ain know!”
“Buh, how you mean?”

“You come here, and you upset my husban’. He could have died. He had a heart attack after you were finished with him. You’re satisfied now! You happy now!!” she screamed at him.
“Don’t make so much noise, senhora,” he pleaded with her meekly. “You mean to tell me, you husban’ sick in trute?”
“Yes!” she shouted again.

At this time, Johnny sat there, sad, sad, sad. He really felt sorry. He sat there feeling silly and looking it. He felt in his pocket. “Do you mind if I smoke a little senhora,” he flattered her again. “This sad news upset me a lot. It is a surprise, believe me senhora!” he said. She shook her head.
Now the woman was taken aback. “You really mean you didn’t know?”
“No! ah tell you ah didn’t know at all, at all!” he answered the woman quickly. He lit his cigarette; inhaled deeply and blew smoke rings. He seemed concerned.
And she sensed it. “Anyway the worst is over now. He’ll be out soon.”
“That’s a relief.” Johnny said.

The woman yawned. She sighed too. She opened her legs a lil bit more. And his eyes darted there and back – furtively. She licked her lips leaving them wet. “You are uneasy Johnny!” she said teasingly.
:N-no!” he stammered embarrassed, surprised. He smiled. He looked away from her. He took in the beautiful furniture. He loved the decorations on the walls. He told himself that this drawing room was so much more comfortable than his own. The idea came to him to build his own in the same manner.

The curtains wave gently in the breeze. He gets a whiff of perfume. He loved the smell. And his attention was back on the woman. He thought: these frigging rich ‘oman and dem only fit to put on a heaping set of perfume on dem. He was about to travel further.
“Where are you?” the woman said,
“Uh,” he jumped. “Your perfume senhora! It smellin’ nice, nice. So ah was t’inking about it.”
“How nice!” she said, sarcastically; she made no attempt whatever to hide her vanity.
“What’s nice!” he countered, not willing to let her feel in any way superior.
“Why! You just came and told me how beautiful I am…. You keep looking at my legs… you tell me how my perfume smell nice, nice, nice. An’ now you askin’ what nice! You crazy!” she said it all with her air of poise and superiority very much intact. She rose up and headed towards the door. Interview ended, take your leave was what her manner expressed.

He rose too. He strolled out to the door behind her. At the door he stopped. He turned to face her. In a quick movement, he took her right hand in his left. And, with his right he patted it. This was the spark.
The woman’s hand trembled in his. She looked up at his face; then quickly she cast her eyes down. He anxiety and surprise were obvious to Johnny. She realized her condition and tried to pull herself together. She failed. Even her very effort was transparent. She sighed resignedly. Then she released her hand.

“Anything I can do senhora….. anything! Don’t forget to call me,” Johnny said.
“Yes! Thanks!” the woman said simply. Her eyes seemed to have a far away look. She seemed to be tormented and troubled within.
Johnny noticed. And in a very respectable manner said: “Are you lonely senhora?”
“I miss my husband…… yes!….. if that is what you mean,” she said.
“I can remain with you then,” Johnny said as a matter of fact. It would seem that this was the very statement that this woman wanted hear. Her eyes did not simply light up. They really seem to ignite.
“OK,” she said in a tone, intended to hide her pleasure for the company. Then, she turned and led the way in. Her graceful figure gave Johnny reason to use his imagination. He locked the door; crossed the key; stood there admiring; lusting after the woman; and looking rather stupid.
The clock struck: Ding, dong, ding, dong. It was midnight. Twelve bells! Johnny strode in. he sat on the couch. He took off his shoes. “You are not bashful senhora?” he asked hinting that he would take off his pants.

“I have been married for quite a number of years now you know,” she answered taunting him. She smiled.
He smiled. “Oho!” he said and slipped off his pants. And then his shirt.
“But! Dear me! You are a gladiator!” she said admiring his physique openly.
He grinned. He flexed his muscles for her pleasure. “I ain’t got much though,” he said. He sat down now. He rested his pants on the back of the couch.
“No need for that,” she said. “I’ll show you to the guest room.” She took up his pants and shirt from the couch and led the way. She walked conscious that she was being watched intently. She purposely twisted the buttocks – for his benefit.
They reached the room – through a little corridor. They got in.
“Make yourself comfo’table,” she said smiling.
“You ain’t ‘fraid me at all nuh?” he chuckled, looking directly at her now partially exposed totoots.
“What for” she asked. “Ah lorse me maid long,” and with a dreamy air she continued, “lo-ng-g ago,” her eyes closed.

He opened her eyes. She smiled; and she caressed herself. She cupped her totoots in her hands. She looked at John. Slowly – one by one she unbuttoned her duster.
“Oh gawd! You makin’ me hot you know. Ah getting hot, hot, hot!!!” John’s face – contorted and wretched – was like a ghost’s. He was obviously embarrassed. “That blasted bitch!” he thought to himself – forming the words in his lips.
“You’re cursing me – in your mind. That’s OK by me,” she said. “You have a dirty mind. That’s why you got carried away. I was just putting orn a little bit of art for you….. and there you go…. You start to bawl out. “Ah gedding hot, hot, hot!!!! Just like a liddle sixteen year old. Anyway if you hot, hot, hot!” she mocked “you’ll have to go and masturbate,” she said. “Oh!! You look surprise! Perhaps you never ‘eard o’ the word before. OK then go jerk….. fly kite.” She laughed. She said it all in good spirit, more heckling him than abusing him.
John sad on the bed – taking it in now blushing. “You finish?” he asked.
She smiled.
“OK suppose ah try to ‘raff’ you.”
“Try! Show me how brave you are.”

Johnny went up to her. She made not a single movement. He rested his hands on her shoulders. He embraced her. Still, no resistance. He piloted her to the bed. Still, no protest; not a single word. He undressed her – her body remaining limp, like someone unconscious. He laid down on her; he fondled her ‘totoots’. He nibbled the teats.
She laughed. “Not so, lover boy.”

He raised his head. He saw her index finger – pointing to between her legs. He made to comply with the command. His assumption was false. He had misinterpreted her command. In no time he found out.
The finger – the same index finger – was at work again. It stroke his head gently.
What he saw nearly killed him. The finger – this same damn index finger he thought – was telling him something. “Oh gawd! My good gracious gawd! His mind screamed at him. “Run! But how?”
This woman is sick. How the hell will he get out? This was too much for him. “You ought to be damn well crazy to think that I’ll do such a thing you hear,” he told her. He seemed very resolute about what he said.

“You’ll put you head right down there all right,” she said, the index finger doing its own, own thing still. She also seemed resolute, and sure of herself too. Her eyes now took on a casual mocking look.
Now, terrified, Johnny tried to get up from the woman, because he saw that his ideas were different from hers. His try remained just that – a try.

She held on to him. And looking into his eyes she said seriously: “I need it, I’ll pay you….. I know you like money. I’ll pay. Not much! Just a little…. To make a poor woman happy. I’ll pay…..
“Uh, uh! No! Not for all the gold in China,” he said. He felt sorry for the woman. He looked at her now, not with any hate, but with pity. “My finger? He pleaded.
She shook her head. “No! that won’t do!”

He tried to get up again. She braced him with both arms; and held him in a scissors lock. That woman was strong – the strength derived from insanity, he felt.
“You’ll do it my way first…. The you’ll do it your way,” she begged.
He shook his head. “No dice senhora! Nothin’ doin’!” he said.

She literally crashed her lips unto his. She caressed him genitally. I’ll play with it for you,” she said. “ and then you’ll sock it to me with all your power eh?” she appealed.
“No! it’s not right! I won’t do it,” he said flatly.

The woman – horror on her countenance – tossed him off from her. She sat on the bed – with legs wide open. She became very stern. She pointed with the index finger again. “Come on….. put your blasted head down there!” she raged.

He shook his head. “Nope! I want to leave now….. my clothes!”
“You’re not leaving now. You are going to do it. You’ll beg me to let you….. or else I’ll scream. And you know what that mean.” She waited on him now.
He kept still. He recognized the gravity of his predicament. The woman sat there: “Hurry up Johnny,” said she. “I’m waiting.” She pointed – now using that index finger.
John took a quick few steps. “Scream nuh!” he said sarcastically. He took his shirt. He put it on. He took his pants. He put it on too. During all this he looked at her with contempt. The total disregard for the situation is a grim reminder of the surrealism which may shroud and mesmerize the acts of a man in desperation.

The woman was down cast. Tears filled her eyes. Those big brown eyes which a little while ago were filled with contempt. She simply said “OK you may go.” She attempted to smile. She failed. It was more like a satanic snarl. She got up; put on her duster. She went to the adjoining room. She pulled open a draw from a bedside cabinet.

A pistol was there! She stood still as though unable to make up her mind. Her face was like something coming from Hades. All of a sudden she reached out for the pistol.
She heard John’s receding footsteps. She rushed out of the room. “Stop!” she said.
His hands was already on the front door handle. He froze.
She released the safety catch. He heard the click.
“Come right back here” she said. Pointing with the gun she motioned to the guest room. He could have been in a dream – a nightmare. His mind – a blank.
Like a sheep, he obeyed. There was a common understanding now. She unbuttoned her duster. Starting from below with her left hand – her right hand holding the gun. He undressed all over again. She sat on the bed, her legs wide open. This time with the gun she pointed between her legs.
Oh gawd! His mind was screaming at him. ‘You wouldn’t put away that.” He pleaded.
“When you are finished socking it to me I will… then we’ll do it your way” she concluded.

He resolutely set about obeying her wishes. He did it!! She caressed his head with her left hand. She was saying: “Good boy John. Nice my baby. Do it! Do it! Don’t you ever stop doin’ it.” She spoke these gen…..t….l…y….. caressing the words – mocking the evocations of the most highly trained contralto. Then she put the gun underneath the bed. Caressed him with both hands. Then her body went into complete spasm.
He kept on doing it for some time. He really ‘socked it’ to her as she requested. She started muttering then; and continued for some time. As she did so the tempo of her words increased. “It was going to j-o-h-n-….ny,” she concluded. Suddenly she slumped over him. She was kissing him – all over. “Thank you! Thank you Johnny boy,” she said. “You see it’s not bad as you thought! It is clean! Eh?” she raised up herself; at the same time she rested her two hands on his shoulders. Gripping on – she pushed him back gently. Beaming wildly – she shook him. “You see! We’ll do it again eh! She pleaded.

He did not answer her that. Instead, “You’ll be good enough to keep your side of the bargain now I hope,” he said.
She nodded.

They went to sleep immediately. Their sleep was like a riot. He talked in his sleep. He used an assortment of yankee and Trinidad passwords; he cursed her – certainly because of what she had done to him. He was sleeping though. So of course he could not care what he told her. “You bitch,” he was saying, “you blasted mother’s blanket you…. You…..” when he suddenly awoke from his sleep; it was after a mere three quarters of an hour. He was annoyed that his sleep was so short. Damn it he wanted more.
She, for her part, was something of a race horse in her sleep. She gasped. She panted. What, with her legs and hands flailing about wildly, and flapping all over John, she was bound to disturb his sleep.

Actually, she could have been at one of Rio’s posh night spots at times. At such times she expressed her latin soul with the greatest creativity and imagination co-ordination.
She could have been dancing the samba, or rhumba when she disturbed him and she made him come wide awake. She said then, “Honey!” still herself between sleep and wake. She patted him.

In a little while, they fell asleep again. They slept for quite some time.
The cock’s crow interrupted their sleep. A dog – perhaps Alsatian could be heard further down the street. As the early morning breeze blew – they cuddled under the silken sheet – the sound of ruffled palm branches sailed towards the room. The southward falling moon cast elegant ribbons of gold; filtered through the lush venetian blinds. A car passed; it seemed out of place. What, with all nature’s servants going in one grand communion, rejoicing, announcing the dawn of another day. The receding ‘vhro-o-om’ of the car soon gave away to the croaking toads. Just then, the cock crew again; it got competition from the clock – chiming four bells.

They turned over and slept, and slept. When they awoke it was eight o’clock.
“Good Lord!” the woman exclaimed. She shook Johnny.
“Uh” he said, “ah tired,” he managed. “Uh,” he said and started snoring.

She shook him again – this time roughly, impatiently. “It’s morning!” she said, “get up!”
He opened his eyes,

She held his face, shook it left to right a few times and had him fully awake.
He sat up; rubbed his eyes; and deftly began putting on his clothes.
He finished. He looked at the woman. Clean! A voice from within screamed at him. He was remembering what she had made him do. Again eh!? He thought, damn bitch. Never! Not on a life. You damn dirty shit; I’ll keep the wide off you. You can say it again, he mused.
Just then he felt nauseated. He belched. His mouth filled with spit; He spat on his way out. Everything he remembered that episode he just spat.

~


CHAPTER ELEVEN

It was already nine o’clock when John reached his pad. Three of his colleagues in the co-op were sitting on the pavement.
“But John, wey you been?” the tall thin one inquired.
Before John could answer, the short, fat brother said, “man we thought like you were in Splitville by now,” shaking his big fat shoulders as he laughed at his own joke.
John smiled. “Man, what’s been goin’ on ‘round here?” John inquired.
“Police man! Police provocation man!” the third fellow said. “It’s like they out to harass we man,” he concluded.
“What? What they did?…. John demanded.
“Put one o’ the most thorough search on us man. Left the whole place in a blasted mess,” the fat brother said now serious.

They went into the workshop. John looked around. He observed everything. Saying not a single word he came out. The others followed him. He sat on the pavement and started whistling. The others showed concern. John was their little tingod. They liked the way he could rag up the big boys. He was doing exactly what they would like to be doing themselves – but were afraid. They wanted to see how he was going to handle this one.

“Man tow foolish cops come here and play de arse so all you si’ down dere brooding an’ playing de arse in a general way!” fatso addressed them. “Johnny go straighten dem out man!” he concluded.
“Ah could handle dat man! Dat is joke,” John said in a pensive mood.
“Ah tell all you dat!” fatso said triumphant.
“OK well stay quiet nuh! You can see de man doin’ some t’inkin’ man?” the thin brother said. “In de meantime le’ we go an’ organize t’ings in de shop. Wha’ you say big John?”

“That’s right man! Go ahead!” John agreed. “You only feel you know, buh you is a giant when it come to production. You does really know how to ge’ t’ings done,” he heckled him.
They left John sitting out there on the pavement. From where John sat he could see children at play a little further down the street. Momentarily, he forgot his own woes. Instead, he was now thinking of these children. He knew that things for them would be no different from what applied in his case.
The scope of their difficulty would be of such a magnitude that all the reforms of the ‘Doc’ would be devalued. It is true that education is now free. But It is a fact that their bellies are still empty. Their homes are still in a state of unfreedom. Their natural tendency is to reject all authority; to ridicule every attempt at discipline. The teachers in school are at their mercy. He cut short his musing. He turned his mind now to matters on hand. He went inside the house; made some egg sandwiches; and sat down to breakfast. Then, he went to the shop.
“Fellahs!” he said, “ah t’ink ah goin’ have a lil word wid dem.”
“Wha’ you ha’ to tell dem man?” one brother asked.
“Tha’ is right John. Ah always say: doh trouble trouble if trouble ain trouble you,” the thin brother said.
John smiled. “That is what,” he said slowly, emphatically. “trouble trouble me already!” he concluded.
The fat guy laughed. “Ain’ ah tell all you da Johnny go fix dem?”
With that Johnny left the shop and drove to the police station.
“Morning!” he said to the officer at the desk.
“Wha’ you want? Was the rather gruff, uncourteous reply.
“Not to get arrested,” John heckled him in parley.
“Tha’ is no’ a place for joke you know!” another constable said, overhearing the conversation. “A note for you,” he said and gave it.
“Thanks!” he scanned the note, and put it in his pocket.
“Ah wan’ to see sergeant Gonzales,” John said.
“Wha’ you take so long for? Down the corridor; the third door on your right,” the constable told John.
John made his way to Gonzales. Knock! Knock! Knock!
“Wait a minute!” came from inside.

Someone strode towards the door. He opened the door a peek and poked his head through. John recognized the face immediately. The owner recognized John too. The owner was one of the constables involved in the first search. Their eyes locked momentarily; something went on between the two.
The police smiled. “Make yourself comfortable,” he said, pointing to a bench in the corridor.
John complied. He sat there, and his mind simply drew a blank.
Inside the room, the officer closed the door. Gonzales looked up from some files which he was pouring over. He said not a word. His look was enough.
“It’s that joker – Johnny the pusher,” the constable said.
“Come on Joseph! Cut that out!” Gonzales said sternly.
“Buh we know…..”
“We know what? We have no proof!”

The constable was visibly uneasy. He felt let down by his boss.
“Joe man you’re young; you got to alter your approach. We still do it the British way here. The man is no criminal unless you got proof. Leave your method for the Frenchman,” Gonzales scolded.
“In all my years in the force I never lost a case. Why? Because I always make sure that my case is unassailable,” he concluded.
“OK sir tha’ is a point.”
“It can mean the difference between a good cop and the bad cops,” Gonzales said resuming his study of the files. “Doh wild away the man, man…..” Gonzales was interrupted.
The officer’s face lighted “Oh I see!”
“Tha’ ain mean you mus’ buddy buddy wid ‘im you know,” Gonzales said and resumed his work. He selected a file; gave it to the constable and said “That’s it!” he leaned back in his swivel chair. He stretched.
“Send ‘im in sergeant?” the constable asked, leaving the room.
“Of course! Of course!”

The constable spoke to John. John went in through the door – left open. “to what occasion do I owe this special privilege?”
“Why you searching me premises so often?” John asked, getting down to business directly. He looked Gonzales straight in the eyes.
“My bout!” he sighed. “I am merely doing my duty,” he managed gallantly. “It is my duty! Nothing personal you know!”
“I know all right,” John replied. “Buh why me all the time like that so sergeant?” John asked. He waited. He wanted an answer.
“We are just simply making some routine checks. That’s all!”
“But twice you searched my place within sixty hours?” John complained. “Ah is a law abiding citizen you know!” John said finally, letting go of his ‘good english’. It was always bothersome to him anyway. Yet whenever he went on such missions as this one, he always endeavoured to speak ‘good english’ only to revert to ‘e true, true t’ing.

Gonzales was not a sergeant by fluke. He observed the change too. John had dropped his guard. Now is the time! So Gonzales made his thrust. He smiled. “Ah is law abidin’ too you know.” He paused. “So we go ‘elp one anodder! Eh? If you bounce an anyt’ing you go gi’e me a buzz eh? Wha’ you say?” Gonzales finished like a comrade.

John was shocked. This man expected him to inform! And what is more? The man wanted him to inform – on his own brothers and sisters. Well he will sock it to him. That’s all! The blasted scamp! If it is information he wants; I’s information ‘e go get. He go get so much, he’d not even have time to pee. Man, this man is a shit hound.

Now Jon only professed black power. He had no sound convictions on way or another. Like most of the other ‘brothers’ he cared nothing for Granger and the movement – as events later proved. It was convenient for him to shout power and stick his hand in the air at times – so he did just that. He – like many other scapish hypocrites – decorated their pads with the books. Call the author; ‘they read him’. Call the book they read it’. For one thing they had it to show: Fannon. Du Bois, Nkhruma, Che, CLR, Stokely, Hamilton, Cleaver, Malcolm X, Brown. Man they really acted superb. But what can be expected from such a situation.

But when it came to brass tacts John knows where his loyalty should be. And it was not with the police.
“Is anything wrong?” Gonzales asked noticing John’s sudden pallor.
“No! No! nothing wrong,” John replied snapping back to the scene.
“For a moment you had me frightened,” Gonzales said, “I thought you were sick. You sure you OK?” Gonzales asked, feigning anxiety. But little did he know.
John did not answer his request. John shifted uncomfortable in his chair. He wanted to leave – now. “I…. I thought all you wanted me!”
“What for?” asked Sergeant Gonzales. “I told you that the search was only routine,” Gonzales said, stressing the word routine.
“Ok then,” John said and got up to leave.
“Don’t forget what I told you eh!” Gonzales reminded John, as if he could.
“No!” John said leaving the office.

Gonzales smiled. He leaned back in his swivel chair; clasped his hands behind his head and rested his feet on the table. He was pleased. His smile slowly melted into a whimsical grin. In one quick movement, he feet was down from the table; he was sitting bolt upright; and with the telephone in hand he was making a ‘house call’. He dialed and waited. He listened to the dial tone.
“Police headquarters. P.C. Edwards,” came through the line.
“Edwards!”
“Edwards!” Gonzales said, “put on Joseph!”
‘Hello!” came over the line. “Joseph here!”
“Joseph! Let your pigeon fly for a while. We don’t wan’ to wild him. Gonzales paused. He waited. He grew stern. “That’s understood?” he demanded.
“Yes sir!” came the crisp reply from Joseph.

Gonzales put down the receiver. He resumed his former pose. And continued to relax. He heard the strains of a soul tune, sailing over from a nearby apartment; and at once he thought of pot and all its inherent evils. This man pursued his job – “Drug Division Chief” – with great devotion. Everything he heard, or did, he could associated with his job.

The job was more than the salary. He did his job because he considered it his contribution to the uplift of black people. He felt that the drug scene was the new line of the white people in their efforts to maintain the black masses colonized. He was always felt a deep compassion for the addicts. He never enjoyed prosecuting the addicts or the ‘kicksters’. He yearned for the day when he will catch a real ‘agent of dying imperialism’, as he thought of the ring men on the drug scene. He felt sorry for the ‘small time pushers’. He wanted the ‘agents’.

He felt, contrary to the recommendations of a high brow commission that the addict and ‘small time pusher’ should be reformed. He totally objected to the notion that addicts should be punished, in any way, as far as he was concerned ‘addicts are sick’ people; kicksters playing ‘round with drugs are misguided’. Sure, the government can set in motion machinery for the establishment of therapeutic centres – just like birth control centre. Another thing, the government can – if only they will – create an atmosphere conducive to the eradication of the prevalent and widespread frustrations experienced by a cross-section of the population. The social, moral, spiritual degeneration which seemed to grip the country by its very loins cut him to the quick. The degeneration of age old values he would not understand. The hasty impatience of ‘reformers’ who wanted to tear down the old façade entirely, good and bad – alarmed him. He was scandalized by people who try to explain away the drug scene; make excuses for drug users, and you encourage them.

The whole drug scene is a multi-million business scene. Black people don’t have that type of money. We are merely the exploited. Given the rising tide of violence – larceny, rape, felony – associated with drug abuse. Given the general lethargy – ‘cloud nine float’ – associated with drug abuse. It is impossible for any sane Black Man worthy of the epithet to give encouragement to drug abuse.
As Gonzales sat there he thought of all these things. His heart sank. He once more promised himself to catch John. He knew that John was in something. It must be something big too. Whatever it was he’ll find out.

Meanwhile, John had returned to the workshop. He called to the brothers in the shop. He went to his pad. The brothers joined him. He had a plan they had a part to play. He told of his morning’s experience. And he elaborated – for their benefit.
“Fellahs,” he said. “Gonzales playin’ smart!” Pause. “He feel ‘e smart too bad. Well! Well! Well! He’s played right into my hands,” John concluded.
“Wha’ ‘e do?” The thin brother asked seriously.
“Cool man, cool it man! When ahyou hear, ahyou go laff too bad,” John said and stopped for effect. “Brothers he want me to be a police informer!” he announced.
“What you mean ‘police informer’? the fat brother bursted out laughing his body now one big vibrating rotundity, rejoicing and sharing the happiness of its owner. He said the words ‘police informer’ stressing an’ prolonging each syllable. “You mean to tell me tha’ ‘e wan’ you to come ‘roun’ and pussy foot wid ‘im carryin’ tattle tales like some lil gryl?” he said all these stressing all the syllables too. When he finished,, he threw back his head and rolled his eyes about in the sockets. “Well yes oui!”
“Buh wha’ so funny ‘bout dat man?” John asked with mock seriousness.
The others laughed. Fatso was beside himself with laughter repeating John’s last question. The others stopped laughing. They were eager to hear more. Fatso would not stop laughing!
“Shit man! Fatso man! Come on nuh man! You playin’ de modder arse now you know,” the thin business like brother said.

“Fatso, you is just something else you know,” the quiet looking brother said. “Some people take the cake, buh you take the entire oven you know!” he concluded.
Pointing to him and between spasms of laughter Fatso said: “If I take de oven, you take de whole blasted bakery!”

“Anyway fellahs, I have ah plan. I’m going to be a tattle tale,” John said earnestly, “in fact we are all goin’ to be. And we are goin’ to be tellin’ ah hell of a lot. But we goin to know what we go tell,” John said. He paused and looked at his three companions. He seemed to be assessing the impact his little speech made on them.

“Oh ho! So you mean we goin’ to sen’ de fellahs chasin’ like wil’ gooses,” and making a wide arc with the tip of his index finger he rained laughter on the house, “here and dere all,” stretching out the ‘all,’ “over de place?” Fatso asked.

“That’s it! Da is de general idea anyway,”John said.
“Da could be dangerous you know, if de ketch you…..” the quiet one was saying.
When “nah man!” Fatso cut him off.
“Gonzales exac’ words were “If you bounce on anyt’ing you go give me ah buzz eh?” well ah bounce on plenty t’ings,” John said.
“Fus ah wan’ a list of all de suspects.”
“You go fin’ you name on da lis’ you know!” Fatso heckled him.
“Take it easy man, I go make out me own lis’ too,” John said.

“An’ you know somethin’ my lis’ go include all dose party fellahs an’ dem who does get wuk’ to go an’ play de arse by de road. Dey only jucking jucking and shittin’ round everytime and you still cyan get no damn water. Dat is a crime! My lis’ woon leff out dose who does give dem work to go an’ do not’ing buh heckle ‘oman walkin’ de road, and harass de water ‘oman to ha’ she bringin’ water as de time goin’. Man! You doesn’t see dem! As doh de authority pay dem to drink water. You know man like how dose cocoa people an’ dem does do to show us how nice an’ palatable dey bran’ is. Well, it look as doh dey jus’ have de fellahs workin’ – advertisin’ de water. And showin’ how water is a power when it come to hecklin’ ‘oman – like de stout nuh! Dat is a crime! My lis’ go have all dose liddle small time bad Johns dey have in de force now da believe dey eating we money to beat up and harass black people.
Dat is crime! My lis’ go have all ah dem figure dey gehin pay to come to ‘wuk’ wenh dey feel to insult black people in de ministry an’ in de hospital. Da is crime! My lis’ go have….. John was cut short.
“Dhose doctors da woon operate on you if you cyan pay up;and dose da sittin’ down an’ prayin’ for epidemic,” Fatso sad dead serious now.

“And dhose politicians da spreading false rumours and puttin’ funny idea in people head to go an’ spoil we water to make more epidemic for dem greedy Doctors to exploit us more and take advantage on us in a general way, makin’ us ‘fraid an’ den turnin’ ‘round and give us water injection on the bargain,” the thin business like brother said earnestly.

“And dhose merchants wid dey low, low declarations and dey sky-hi prices. And does magistrates – you know what dey does do! An’ all dose patriotic big shots an’ dem who acceptin’ unpatriotic salaries as high as two an’ t’ree t’ousand a month to make us ‘fraid just beacuase dey ketch de man in a jam. Dem so! When de dead dey go be upside down! De pocket full already. It overflowing now; buh dey still grabbing – to store up in Geneva like de t’ing going out ah style.” The quiet brother broke his quietness.

“Dat is crime brother; dat is crime; you get de idea!” John said.
“How about dhose Chinese people dat got all we lil gyrls an’ dem grin’ing out dey value below dirty, smelly, white sailors?” Fatso asked bitterly.
“Dat is also crime my brother,” John said with feeling.
“An’ you know who I want – personally to be on top dis lis’ of yours Johnny? Fatso asked.
“Who?” asked John.
“Dem two and t’ree t’ousand strangelers an’ dem.”
“Buh wey dey ‘ave fellas worse dan dem!” John retorted seriously.
“Like dhose people whay recommen’ da kin ah pay for dem – for instance! And de man da agree to pay dem dat,” the serious thin brother was saying.
“When!” “Leave da lil man alone, you hear me!” He shouted annoyed.

“It’s just because dey ketch ‘im in a funicurious position! ‘E had to do dat!” John said, stressing the ‘had’. “De man fin’ ‘eself in a blasted state ah emergency you know. If was you or de odders for dat matter dey nights be worse! Dey might run nuh arse. Buh, you know wha’ ah admire ‘im for? It’s because ‘e did not run. ‘E stan’ up an’ fight like a big man. You know dey ‘ave some fellahs who whey dey suspec’ de ship goin’ down dey does bail out? Well noh so wid he! Not so at all!” John concluded as though he considered the whole matter closed.
But the usually quiet brother would not. “Buh I still say da anybody who could expec’ dis poor country to gi’e dem two an’ t’ree t’ousand a mon’ doh have any blasted shame man! Wha’ you t’ink man! All ah we ketching we royal arse you know” he said bitterly.
“Yes man!” ah agree wid dat man! Dem kin’ ah fellahs so! Man, if you look sharp dey could follow a funeral naked,” Fatso said, pounding the table, “right down Frederick Street in the hot sun.”
“Perhaps dey have not’ing to hide you see!” John said sarcastically.
“Dem!” the business like brother said scornfully.
“Anyway dem fellahs spen’ a long, long time studyin’ you know; so if you wan’ to get dey services you go ‘a to pay for it. You jus’ got to compete to keep dem. Because……,” John was saying.

“Buh since when you defen’ing such people?” the business-like bother asked John, looking completely amazed. “An’ in any case it’s we damn blasted money self da educate dem you know! What de modder arse you talkin’ ‘bout man!” he finished obviously annoyed now.
“Anyway let us forget eh! Ah jus’ wan’ to be fair!” John said obviously wanting to change the subject, besides wanting to get on with the important matter at hand.
But no! He can’t; the others won’t permit. They wanted that that point straightened out first.
“Fair!” the businesslike brother said, “these people know anythin’ ‘bout fair!”
“How you mean?” John asked obviously flustered by the revolt.
“Not a single soul taking dis type ah salary from we country now could turn ‘roun’ and talk ‘bout fair,” Fatso said slowly, and as if he was making a most profound statement. But was he? Or wasn’t he?
“Anyway, is noh only for dat da dey giving dem dat kin’ ah salary you know,” John said. He never liked the idea of losing face with the brothers. So he hung on.
“OK give us one good reason why dey ha’ to give dese men an’ dem da kin’ ah salary; an’ on de back of it dey quibble when it come to give a lil poor fellah working hard, hard for two hundred dollars a dam lil tuty two dollars more,” the business like brother said.
“Boy dhose people mus’ be well placed you know. De commission ain’t want dem taking bribe an’ t’ings,” John continued his defence.

“Buh whey de arse is dat? John, you mean to tell me da you cyan see thro’ da kin’ ah argument. You mean to tell me da ah intelligent man like you cyan see dad is whole argument is shitty! Calculated to mamaguy an’ pappyshow all de lil fellahs like me an’ you!” the quiet brother broke his quietness, joining the onslaught.
“Buh how you mean?” John asked , flustered, impatient.
“Ah mean dis whole t’ing about dey not wantin’ de fellahs to take bribe is a joke!” the quiet brother retorted severely. He looked sternly at John.
“How you mean ‘joke’?” John asked.
“Because you cyant pay a man to ensure da ‘e won’t take bribe!” the quiet brother said flatly.
“I agree wid dat,” the business like brother said.
“Ah agree wid dat too,” Fatso said, “whedder or not a man takes bribe does not depend on de kin’ ah salary ‘e getting’……….”
“Buh da could make him more or less inclined, or you might prefer tempted to accept bribes, accordin’ as to whether or not he is getting a bad or else a good salary though!” John said, happy to get in a thrust.
“Da ain’t make one damn difference, you hear,” the quiet brother pursued his line, “da depen’s on de quality of de man. It’s his integrity!”
“Ah agree,” the quiet one said nodding.
“Da is true man,”Fatso said.
“You see, if a man go take bribe, ‘e go take bribe! Doh car wha’ de hell you do!” said the quiet one.
“Wha’ you ha’ to say ‘bout dat John?” said Fatso.
“Man ahyou is jus’ somet’ing else oui. Ahyou doh wan’ to see de point at all, at all,” John said as though he would argue no more.
“John you doh know de more de devil see is de more ‘e want?” Fatso asked.
“An’ John, you know if you say dat dey ha to pay dem men high so dey won’t bodder wid no bribe….. “ the quiet brother was saying.
“It’s noh me wha’ say so you know! Is dem newspaper people,” John climbed down. He wanted to end this – now.
“Well, whoever say it dey still talkin’ shit. You know what all of it added up to?” the quiet one asked rhetorically and went on, “dey still doh trust de fellahs and dem…..”
“And if you doh trust a man you got to have reasonable grounds…..” Fatso said.
“An’ givin’ a man a million dollars doh change de man basically. If ‘e got itchy fingers, ‘e got itchy fingers!” said the businesslike brother.
“If you put a pig in a palace, you figure it go turn into a prince?” it’s a damn pig ‘e go remain you hear!” Fatso said laughing.
The others laughed too.

“An’ anodder t’ing dhose people wha’ bringin’ up da kin’ ah argument questionin’ de fellahs integrity in any case. If it was one ah dem tessies, ah wou’da sue de whole damn country for hintin’ da I wou’da take any damn blasted bribe at all. Because, look at me in a poor, poor state if de come an’ give me dis whole house full ah money to squeal on you ah still ain’t doin’ it,” the businesslike brother preached.
At this point; knock, knock, knock on the door. All three inside seemed to lose the faculty of speech, which they indulged so copiously just a little while past. But this was only momentary.
John regained his composure first. “Who’s it?” he asked calmly.
“Waldron!” said the familiar voice.
“Come!” said John.

Waldron came in. he was short, muscular, flashy. His head was shaved, a contrast to the others with Afro hair styles. He smiled, looked around. “De fellahs ‘aving a conference or somethin’?” he asked.
“Nothing special,” John replied, his attitude – nonchalance.
Shaved-head Waldron patted the front of his head; smiled. And went towards the door. “I can see somet’ing is orn,” he said. He left. In a moment he was out on the road. He took a taxi. And, at the stated he reported to Gonzales. He told Gonzales that the fellahs must be planning. He did not know what. But he stood at Johnny’s door long enough. He heard them. He could not say what they were talking about. But he knew that the fellahs were not just ole talking. And what’s more his knock precipitated silence.

“Thank you. Keep an eye on,” said Gonzales. “Don’t scare them though!” he concluded.
With that shaved head took his leave. He walked onto the road, whistling happily, pleased with himself.
Meanwhile back at John’s pad the conversation changed. It now centered on the Wally’s of the world and what to do with them. The brothers agreed to cut his arse if anything funny or untoward should happen.
John concluded the little conference, outlining the plan which he had. The fellas were delighted. They would enjoy themselves by inaugurating a perpetual first of April for the police. It began the following Wednesday.
John went to pick up ‘supplies’ in Moruga. The three brothers were to make calls. And they made these calls – enjoying themselves too.

~


CHAPTER TWELVE

The time is ten thirty a.m. it is broad daylight. John is well on his way to Moruga. He is driving a rented car. He left his car at home. The businesslike brother will use it today. He would make deliveries of shirts, handbags, sandals and little odds and ends of handicraft.
As John drove he thought of his little Empire. It was an Empire of hoodlums and he knew it. The scums and riff raff is what the society may brand them. But they served his purpose and on their labours he thrived. He found himself hovering on the very fringes of society. He was pleased with the boys; and odd collection of small time bad Johns, crooks, scamps, ex-convicts, social drop-outs. Just the type of thing that some small island politician thrive on, he mused. They had one thing in common. They all feared him. They were blackmailed. They had to obey his every wish. A veritable replica of Napoleon. So to shit with what society thought. He drove on.
By now, he thought, brother Sammy would be on the phone. He smiled.
Meanwhile Sammy is in a phone booth at Maraval. “Sergeant Gonzales please,” he was saying. He waited while the operator put through the call.
“Gonzales here,” the sergeant said.
“Sergeant, you doh know me, buh ah got somethin’ her for you,” the speaker said.
“I don’t play games. If you have somethin’ to report, then report. Don’t waste my time.”
“When you hear about the name Johnny Mobutu…..”
A sigh came.
“You’ll be quite ready to play – police an’ t’ief.” Mike said slowly, deliberately.
“Ok, Ok! What’s up now?”
“Well you won’t get my name, because I use to operate for him; you’ll snatch me, an’ make you man beat me up. The truth is that I don’t know much to tell. Las’ week de man tell me dat we go ease off on operation for a while. Buh ah figure ‘e lie. ‘E only wan’ to take all de bread for hisself. Because ah sure, sure as day de man still operatin’. Ah jus’ see ‘e car pass up Maraval. Ah was in ah taxi. Buh ah know what ah tellin’ you. Ah know ‘e making ‘deliveries’”
He waited.
Gonzales started humming. “Thank you, I’ll play,” Gonzales said. It is worth a try he felt.
Gonzales dispatched a squad car. The car sped towards Maraval. Gonzales did not think it necessary to be present himself. He had half-doubted it anyway.
The businesslike brother – Mike – drove on. A song was playing on the radio and he drummed the time on the steering wheel. A blast of horn. He steered to the side giving way. Just on the corner he was overtaken. He saw the squad car. He was certain that he was their man. Ah little heckling will do them good.
“Aa, aa, is so all you does overtake!” he shouted at them. The squad car pulled up. Mike found himself slamming the brakes. Some people were sitting in a yard nearby. Forthwith they started.
“Aye, aye,” said one, “whay’s dat, whay’s dat now?” said another.
“buh if dey de’ make de man crash up now!” buh you ever see trouble so!”
The three cops in the back seat came out – in a giffy. They carried SMG’s. Mike – as calm as he could be – started moving off as though he did not connect the policeman’s presence on the scene in any way with himself.
“Not anodder inch!” the leader of the party shouted in a deep throaty threat – at the same time patting his SMG. He smiled. The driver was contacting Gonzales over the walkie-talkie. “Yes sir!” we just stopped the car! We’ll carry out the search in a minute.” He stopped talking and listened to Gonzales. Finally, “yes sir!” he said and hung up. He stepped out of the car, taking a camera with him. Immediately, he started clicking.
By then Mike was out of the car. “Wha’ happen! Da is routine too!”
“We’re gonna search this car four an’ a half,” the throaty voiced cop said.
“Any warrant?”
“Now look, don’t try to be funny,” the camera clicking cop said.
A big woman on the bank burst: “Steups! Buh da is shit oui!”
“Poor people ha’e plenty ah dat to undergo wid dese days you know,” another woman said. “Wha’ you see today is joke man. When you see de real t’ing you go bawl.”
Mike, after a little argument succumbed to the idea of a search without a warrant. After all that was how the things are these days. The police were simply indulging in this type of masturbation daily. But, he would have a big laugh on that today. Mike sat on the bank with the little group of people. “When all you finish, call me, ah cooling me head,” he said to them.
The throaty voiced policeman – in a low voice to the photographer- said “Ah want a snap of ‘im wid dem: you never can tell.”
Mike sat with the people as passive and as unconcerned as though he cared little of what went on one way or other. He did not even respond verbally to their words of sympathy. He merely smiled and again nodded.
They searched the car ‘four and a half’ indeed. One policeman took the front for himself. He searched everything. He opened the cubbyhole. In there, he saw a box of napkins. He took out the box to look. He pushed his fingers in between the napkins – probing. Nothing! He seemed surprised. Putting back the box he observed a few condoms. His you face blushed. Why not? He thought. He took two. He let them fall. He bent down; stuck them between his garters. He continued his search. The lower dashboard, between the seat. He lifted the mat. He saw the asphalt surface below. He opened the bonnet. He looked well. He seemed disappointed.
Another policeman impatiently went through all the shoes, bags, etc. in the back. Finished, looking harassed he lifted up the back seat; looked well; saw some roaches scurry about. Then he replaced it. The damn time’s wasted he felt. He showed it too. He packed back the shoes, the bags and everything else.
A third policeman had by now completed a meticulous search of the dicky. He finished packing. The throaty voiced officer seemed truly disappointed. He looked at Mike. “Let’s check him now,” the officer said to his men.
Mike burst out with laughter. At the same time, from his sitting position he simply rolled straight back; raising his legs and holding them above his body, he looked like a roasted fowl.
“Cut out your histrionics; we are not joking,” the office growled. Mike stood up. He was being searched. When the policemen loosened Mike’s belt, and pushed his hand, a woman could hold her peace no more. “Steups!” she sucked, “buh dis is plenty shit oui!”
The others held their peace. They scowled at the policeman. The policemen did their work taking little notice of their hecklers. They had grown accustomed to the idea of public hostility. Gone were the days when little children feared the police. To-day they would gang up to burst your arse. But it is your fault. Have they not seen how you operate! How you brutalize black people and protect white people generally! Have they not seen how tou guard the stores of the big shots in town – guarding inanimate good; while their own sisters and mothers are being attacked, assaulted, raped as you simply shrug you shoulders – disregarding the woes of suffering humanity. You have failed tehm and they despise you for it. No one wants you to switch roles either. A ship badly tilted to starboard is no better off by leaning badly to the lardboard. An even killer is what is needed. Square deal man! It is possible – if only you’ll try.
Gone are the days when the motorist would offer a lift. He remembers your false charge last month. He remembers to that a big shot broke the law last week, but got off with a warning. You failed him. You lost his respect as well.
Gone are the days when on your patrol at night you can expect the friendliness expressed in the steaming aroma of a cup of coffee. No. the tenants remember how casual you are when someone is hot down by a big shot in his street. He remembers too how long; drawn your investigations are when a poor black person is involved. He contrasts this with your frenzy when big shot white commanders are shot. You have failed him too. He remembers that in essence you are partial whereas you should be. He knows that you are brutal where you should be understanding. He knows too, that you and your superiors in particular pour scorn upon gentleness as something that is fit only for women. He knows that that your overemphasis on discipline combined with your apparent disregard for co-operation – as a matter of fact – produced a particular breed of policeman. A dehumanized police is what you unleash upon society. He is ever eager to quench his insatiable thirst to get even. He cannot attack the oppressions handed down by superiors. So society pays the price – a militarist machine like, bullying policeman. He is instinctively violent. He is not concerned with preventing crimes and discouraging criminals before the act. His consideration is that his charge book is filled with successful cases. He is concerned with the policeman – the punishment; he seems unaware of the policeman – the prevention. To him good and efficient police work is equated to the number of successful convictions notched up. It may be efficiency of a kind. But to the people it is just something else; in any case it is not good. The people want prevention. The people will not be impressed by any bull shitting statistics about the reduction in the rate of increase of crime. So do not give it. The people want an absolute reduction in the actual crime figures. The people want a human police with whom co-operation, minimal force, and mutual respect can and will be the operational method and modus vivendi.
John turned off the road; onto a little dirt tract he drove to a rendezvous. He drove in about two miles slowly. He reached a dead end. There, the road widened and rounded into something of a turning spot. John turned his car. He took out a dog whistle. He blew. No sound.
But a little distance inside three rugged looking men with hunting gear released a dog as its ear perked. The dog ran towards the opening. John put green ribbon about the neck; he tied the ribbon. It perked its head. John released the dog with a pat on the hind side. It ran back to the three men. John started to lace the jack at the right rear wheel. He slipped the jack in. he broke the tightness in the nuts. Then with the left hand unscrewing the nuts he operated the jack with his right hand. He finished.
A man with a tyre in the bush nearby gave a low whistle. John whistled back. The man rolled the tyre into the clearing. John and the man made no verbal communication. Their eyes met; and held. That’s all.
He took the tyre which John had removed. He started off rolling it back into the bushes. On seeing him return, one of the other two men opened his hands, palms out as though in question. He then held up his thumb of the left hand, continuing rolling his tyre with his right hand. The other man started deftly rolling another tyre towards the clearing where John was. On passing in the foot path one had to stand on the side.
At about this time John had the Jack on the left rear wheel. He worked deftly – repeating the initial procedure. He was cool!
The second man came. He whistled. John replied. He came out smiling – his eyes all aglow. They exchanged tyres, not words.
This same process was repeated until all four tyres were exchanged.
“Ah’ll see you later,” John told the man who brought the last tyre.
John took a bottle of water from the trunk. He uprooted some grass and with the grass and water he cleaned his hands. He replaced the bottle. He took the cheese cloth that was wrapped on the steering wheel. He dried his hands. He got in; replaced the cheese-cloth. And he drove off whistling. He grazed at the forest while he drove. He saw the mass of wooded thickness and thought of one day establishing himself in the lumber business. He heard the mottled calls of the forest dwellers. He inhaled deeply of the forest aroma of decaying organic matter. He thought of smells in general. He remembered his youth. He drove on – slowly. Out of the forest, he is on the public road.
He decided to return by way of Mayaro. He drove slowly. He stopped to give a lift to three school children in Princes Town. They chatted with him.
“You girls look real soulful,” he said.
“We are soulful,” replied the slip big busted girl obviously the leader of the group.
John smiled. That type of talk suited him. “I must be seeing some more of you,” he said. “I love to meet girls like you,” he flattered smoothly.
The girl like this pampering. “My boy friend doh make skylark you know!”
The others laughed. But John was not deterred. “I am not pushin’ move behind you, you know. It’s just that my spirit take to you,” he said offhanded. He was unruffled. They chatted light- hearted, until he dropped them.
He drove on, nothing spectacular happened. He gave a couple a lift from Mayaro to Sangre Grande. In his type of business it is necessary to make friends. He had acquaintances everywhere. He waved to various people all the time. He picked up a young girl at Waller Field. He dropped her by the Arima playing field. When she attempted to pay he smiled. “Buy yourself some ice cream my sister,” he said. He then drove off waiving with a flourish. The time is about 6pm.
He reached Tunapuna. He turned off the main road. He drove to a ramshackle building. In the front, rear and on the sides are a lot of cars mostly in bad condition, some beyond repair.

~
From Dialogue to Monologue

You had the world
What have you been at?
War! And more war!!
Look at you now
You are but a slave.
Just a plain slave.
Because of you!
Because you dig blood.
That’s what you’re at.
My son, take pride
To-day, you can talk
Because we fought.
You do not know
How happy we are
That you can talk.
Your talk is real
Most natural too
Yes! That is so.
Each succeeding
Generation must
Be critical
That’s progress too.


CHAPTER THIRTEEN

The door was closed. The place seemed to be without life. In such a place one can have visions of assassins, lurking in the dark amid this sea of junk and dilapidation, just ready to pounce and strike. The moon shone in the skies to compound this atmosphere of the uncanny.
At the sound of the car, a man came out from one of the old cars in the yard. He went directly to the door – largesh and obsequious – and he opened it. The hinges creaked. With the door wide open John drove in. the man entered and pulled the door shut. Inside, he bolted it. “How you did today?” he asked John. The man – very stout – opened his eyes big.
“No trouble man!” John replied.
The man pressed a button on the side wall. The button controlled a lift because no sooner had he pressed it than the car started rising. With the car about chest high the stout man pressed another button. It stopped. He handed something to Johnny in the dark.
“Remember, don’t turn outside,” he continued.
“Ok,” Johnny said.
Shielded torch were attached to their heads. They started removing the tyres. They finished at about the same time. They exchanged the tyres. Then they repeated the operation, exchanging the front tyres. The man pressed a front button once more; the car was being lowered. The torches were switched off.
A little way further inside the garage there was a sunk in – it is the type of hole so constructed that a car can roll over and a man stand to work on its exposed engine. The man walked towards this hole in the dark. At the edge of the hole he switched on his torch. “Roll ‘em in,” he said. The man descended a few steps.
John rolled all four tyres, one at a time to the hole. The man collected then. John joined him in the hole. There was a table. The man took a tyre and started letting off the air. A slight hissing sound! John did the same.
“We got to get rid of this noise!” he said
“Easy man, we’re a good distance from civilization,” John returned flatly.
“All the same…..”
John laughed slightly.
“You think I’m too careful?” the man asked guardedly.
“In a way yes.”
They removed a quantity of dried marijuana leaves from the tyres. They started crushing the leaves. When they finished, the man opened a parcel on the table. Grounded tobacco. In another parcel there was a quantity of tobacco. In yet another there was a quantity of cigarette wrapping-paper – obviously smuggled out from some cigarette factory. From a little box, John took out a small analytic balance. He placed some ground marijuana in the scale pan and he weighed. Then, he moved the rider half-way back, and he weighed tobacco. He placed both portions into a small clay-like container. The man took up the container and with a pestle he started mixing and grinding the two samples together. When he finished he daubed a piece of cigarette wrapping paper on to a damp sponge. Then he placed the mixture tobacco and marijuana on the paper, pouring it through a funnel and moving the funnel along the length of the paper. He rolled the paper over the mixture deliberately. Then, just as deliberately he passed his hand along the seam sticking the paper.
They repeated this same procedure quite a number of times. Each time the man finished with a stick he threw it into a blue box. They rested. Then John started weighing two tobacco to one marijuana. The man repeated the procedure, this time putting the finished product in a red box.
They repeated the entire procedure again and again – each time putting marijuana in less and less proportions by weight. Each time the finished product was placed in a different colour box.
Finally there was no weighing. A number of cartoons of cigarettes by a well known manufacturer was produced.
The man spread a piece of paper in front of him on the table. John did the same. Diligently, the men broke the seal in such a way that it would seem not tampered with. He handed a few packs to John. John opened them in like manner.
They took out the cigarettes. They rolled them between the fingers; a little tobacco fell off. Then they took a pinch of marijuana and packed into the space. The marijuana was then covered with tobacco. The cigarettes were then packed back, so neatly one would not guess they were tampered with in any way.
John yawned. The stout man smiled. He glanced at his watch. It is 3:45am “You dead out!” it was half question, half exclamation. John yawned again. He did not reply.
The man took then sticks of marijuana from the blue box; he took a blue rubber band. “You’ll write eh?” he said to John.
“Ok”
He called a number of names. John wrote them down.
The man placed a blue rubber band around ten. He did the same with the red, and the blue and the other colours. Ten to a band. Finished, he replaced them in their respective boxes. He stood up. John stood up too. They carried the boxes to a cabinet in a partitioned section. The man unlocked the cabinet. Placed them there, and now stretched himself. He locked the cabinet.
They came out and the man locked the door. “That was some rough going,” he said.
“Man!” was all he got from John. John got into the car. The man went to the door; opened it and took a peep outside.
The moonlight bathed everything. The place was very still. No living presence was in evidence. Frosty dew drops formed on the metal sheets in the yard did not in any way reduce the ghostly appearance of this roost. A roost, haven for scamps! High heaven alone know what other demonic procedures this man harbours. Abortions, scrap yard for stolen cars, bank robbers!
The man walked down the little gravel tract. He returned to the garage. “All clear,” he said opening the door.
“See you tonight!” John said, reversing the car out of the garage.
“Cool!”
John turned the car. He drove out, waving goodbye to the man. Sleepy, he drove fast.
He parked the rented car behind his own car, on reaching his apartment. He went straight in, and to the bathroom. He only kicked off his sandals. He went below the shower with all his clothes on. The coldness of the water took effect. The damp clothes clung to his body. He took them off, quickly. He just let every piece fall at his foot. Stepping from under the shower he soaped himself furiously, unmeticulously. He wanted to get the job over and done with. Then going under the water once more, and still ‘soaping’ he surrendered his body to the then not so cold water. He stopped ‘soaping’ his body. He rinsed.
Stepping out of the bathroom he pulled a large towel and started drying. He dried his body rapidly. He seemed as though he wished more hands than two. Now drying his head; then drying his belly. Back to his face. His arms. His back. His neck. His head. Between his legs. His balls. Dried! He hung the towel. Naked, he went to the kitchen. He made a snack. He had a drink. He went to the bedroom. In bed, under his covers. He lifted the receiver off the hook. In a flash, he was back in bed fast asleep. He slept restlessly. He dreamt.
He was in a churchyard. He had never seen the churchyard before. But yet it was a familiar scene. He had dreamt of this identical place many times before. It was a cool morning. The golden rays of a rising sun, streaming through a nearby wooded windbreak caught and held his attention. In his dream he felt it strange. The churchyard, sloping gently from the church to a cricket pitch was most beautiful to behold. The green grass was ‘out of this world’ as the now generation would say it. He beheld the beauty. But he turned away from the beauty. He looked at the rugged woodland. And he felt strange. Then sheep and goats came rushing out. The goats seemed to have some form of control over the sheep. The sheep was with black wool; the goat of white fur. The goats fought and beat the sheep. He wanted to help. But the walk of dream prevented any such assistance. He saw the sheep become humble; the goats grew arrogant. Now and again he saw a white sheep. But this white sheep would be in trouble. It would try to join the goats. They would take him for a while then they would turn upon him. Then he will head furtively for the black sheep. Not resolute as to where to go he would keep taking equally furtive glances – backwards at the goats. Then he would wander off.
All of a sudden fire seemed to come from the eyes of the black sheep. From their noses fire! From their mouths fire! They directed this fire to the goats. It was massacre.
They the white sheep returned. He seemed then to replace the goats as the power in the pasture. Gradually, he began to lose power. But he held on. The sheep, one day it seemed unanimously decided to call him: “Billy Goat! Billy Goat!” meaning that he was not really one of them. He got damn blasted vexed. He took a trip to a nearby woods. He brought back a goat with him. The sheep feared. Would they be free now or ever? He made some black sheep shed their wool. He had it replaced by white. Then they joined him in his power roll.
One day again all the sheep bleated: “Bi- i-ly, Bi- i-ly!” Then suddenly “Bi-i-l! Bi-i-l” the sheep bleated. A frightening sound.
He jumped. He seemed terrified. “What de fo’! he went back to sleep. He slept soundly; it was troubled, restless sleep though.
It was evening. The rays of sun glittered in his room. He turned. He got up. He went to the kitchen. He prepared a meal. He ate.
He went over to the workshop. Mike told him of the incident with the police. They had a good laugh on it. They promised to give the police a few more rounders.

~
BEAUTY OF AFRICA

Blond, blue eyed Gustav
Loves to be
Brunnette, cat eyed Ramona
Loves to be.
Flat nose, small eye He
Loves to be.
Brown eagle nose Shastri
Loves to be
So black basket nose Africa,
Just why can’t we?
Have you ever seen Gustav
Knot up his hair?
Have you ever seen Ramona
No! you’ve never.
Have you ever seen He
Raise up his nose?
Will you ever see Shastri
Flatten his? No!
So why destroy you basket Africa?
Why should you? Eh?
What e’er you have is yours
Gustav is beautiful.
Ramona in her own ways as well.
He is beautiful – as he is.
Shastri, the same apply to you.
Africa, oh Africa! It is not so with you?


CHAPTER FOURTEEN

In the months to come, they did that. John’s operation became almost impossible to figure out as far as the police were concerned. They decided to ease their surveillance. He had prepared his little list. He presented it to Gonzales, “Courtesy Crime Busters Associates Inc”. it was signed: From Johnny with love.
It was then that Gonzales blew his cool. He called his men. He cursed them off. He told them that they must bring in “an addict a day”. They were to use whatever means they could to make the addicts talk. Just don’t kill them. He wanted pushers.
From then Gonzales permitted his department to deteriorate. His men were little more than interrogators – petty ones at that. They just held anyone looking suspicious, so long as there were no one else around. You could not even dispute their charge. They always had some form of drug around. And if ‘push come to shove’ everyone knows what the police do! That department was gradually reduced to a chamber of torture. This type of daily in service violence had its effect on the mental state of the man. Their respect for life gradually dwindled. They took this very disrespect to their homes – even into their very lives. If they have a problem they go berserk. That’s how they are trained to solve problems. Blind terror.
Some of the men started complaining. But to no avail. The campaign persisted with unabating furry. This department was a veritable ‘madhouse’. Men began handing in their resignations. Complaints about the department’s method of operation were rife.
Meanwhile Johnny and his little band of scamps flourished. The stout man in Tunapuna spent many sleepless nights making and assorting ‘sticks’! Peddlers trod up his gravel path in the dead of night to receive their ‘supplies’ Despite the police frenzy sales – in fact – boomed. In order to keep police off the tracks of their true plantations they gave the police a few little gardens here and there. Then the police would pose with the find. The newspapers would say what find cops these fellows were. John would take up the morning’s papers; he would show the caption to his followers:
“MASSIVE GANJA HAUL!”
The headline would scream. They had endless laughs that way.
John met the young novitiate. Of course, he had opted out. He was working in a down town firm. He was thinking of marriage too. Actually marriage notices were already up. He quite offhandedly invited John. It was arranged that he would escort Emily.
On the day of the wedding John woke early. He bathed and shaved. He liked going to weddings. It was not because he liked the ceremony. He did not even consider marriage a Sacrament anymore. To his mind, whether or not the marriage was truly a Sacrament, time alone could tell. He could not see anything sacramental in Hollywood style – today for tomorrow marriages.
What he liked was the light heartedness, the gaiety and the general frivolity. He suited his purpose. He had made many contacts on such occasions.
That particular wedding was a morning affair. It was to be soulful he heard. He looked forward to it.
He drove to Emily’s house. He parked the car and went up the flight of steps with a certain jauntiness befitting the occasion. The door was slightly ajar. He did not knock.
Emily was ready. She sat on a couch educating herself on American comics. That did not surprise him. Everyone did anyway. She had a few magazines of the type that women generally enjoy. It appeared to him she might have been trying to browse through all – perhaps at the same time. She looked like a frantic last minute student trying to pass an exam by studying five minutes before it started. She did not see when he came through the door.
“Emily you ready!” he said.
She jumped. Then she regained her composure. “Ages!” she said. She stood up. She went through the motions of a model. She bowed.
“My prince charming, do I look gorgeous?”
He smiled. He was about to say something but –
“Would you kill for me?” she continued.
John got the message. “Nope!” he said simply, still smiling. He realized that she had been nourishing her brain on some ‘one liners’ for the occasion. He detested that bull shit. He did not dislike the girl but he was going to bring her down to the earth. If she wanted to be pampered he was the wrong man. He would make sure too.
“Let’s go!” she said.
They left the house. Stepping into the car she said: “The rest of the family is gone on a picnic. They left quite early.”
Just by the way of making conversation “Where to?” he asked.
“Maracas!” she answered.
“A nice little village up there,” he said as a matter of fact.
“You know up there then?”
“That’s right!” he said flatly.
“How nice!” she let out.
There she goes again he thought. “What’s so nice about that?” he asked sarcastically stressing the ‘that’.
She was disconcerted. She stammered. “We-e-ll,” in a falsetto.
“Forget it!” he said
She sighed and behaved herself.
They drove to Point Fortin. Everybody seemed to be out on the road, and gaily dressed.
John parked the car in front of Tommy’s house. The house was small. But it wa very beautiful John thought. There was a lovely lawn; almost at the centre of this lawn there was an almond tree. It was well pruned. For about eight feet the trunk rose majestically from the ground. Then, the branches spread out producing a most regal effect – a crown of green leaves – supported by a natural cantilever. Beneath this tree was facing the road there were two high-backed chairs made of green bamboo. The chairs were covered with roses. From this view point the tree seemed very much like a canopy. John was taking in all that.
A drum rolled, from somewhere within the house. It seemed a surprise to everyone in the yard. All conversation ceased. The place seemed extremely quiet then. The front door was opened. Two little boys could be seen. They were facing inside. They started stepping slowly backwards. Then, they were out of the house. Tommy appeared in the doorway. He wore a brown robe. It seemed the robe was wrapped around him – like a toga. The little boys continued towards the throne. Each little boy carried a tray. The tray was hung in front about waist high, from a cord around the neck. From the trays they took blue and red roses. Tommy’s path was strewn with roses. He went directly to the throne. He remained standing.
More drums! Two little girls. The bride appeared in the doorway. A tall handsome man was with the bride. Their outfits were in similar veins to Tommy’s. The little girls strew the bride’s path with pink, and white roses. The bride carried a garland in her hand. She went directly to the groom. She placed it about his neck. She went to her seat. They both sat together. The little group of guests in the yard stood amazed.
They were told that it would be a wedding with a difference. But no one expected just so much difference.
Drums again! The priest appeared in the doorway attended by two acolytes. He walked directly to the throne. On his way he dipped a rose branch into a calabash with holy water. He sprinkled the guests, at the same time praying that Almighty God may bless them. Some made the sign of the cross; others did not. But all the same there were no irreverence. The priest then asked blessing for the bride and groom.
He proceeded with the marriage ceremony in the usual manner, cameras clicked! They were man and wife. They went inside to sign the marriage register to the accompaniment of a solemn drum beat.
They came outside – showered with roses. They met the guests. Lunch was served. A calabash served as plate. Coocoo, canke, callaloo, ochro, chicken, unprocessed cocoa, orange juice, pine apples, ice cream, home made mange wine, cashew wine, rice wine, golden apple wine, even corn porridge were served.
Lunch was quite informal – outside in the yard. Then the party moved to the beach to bathe and to celebrate for the rest of the day. Evening time they returned home.
Music, and eats and drinks, soft light! Fete! John and Emily enjoyed themselves. For one thing, she had cut back on her ‘one liners’.
At the party John spotted Dave. He recognized Dave. They chatted. He found out that Dave have been to Canada on some Business Course. Dave was a Director at the firm where Tommy worked. Some director! John thought scornfully, enviously.
Wedding over, he drove up. He promised to take out Emily again.
“Make it soul!” she said.
“Cool!” he replied. He drove to Port-of-Spain – thinking. He was thinking that his life was like a perpetual carnival. He was impressed by the ceremony that day. He would one day like one just so far himself. Emily, he thought. He liked the girl. But he would have to change his carnival life style.
Months passed. Years passed. He dated Emily regularly. He never let her know the true nature of his activities. He recognized his life style. And then that he was in love he detested it. He wanted to change it. He was well off then. He won the lottery. He was young, he had his own house. He built one for his mother. He had two apartments rented. His business assumed the aura of respectability. He bought off some cops. He was no longer harassed.
He visited his mother regularly. “Mummy,” he said one day. “I want to get married.”
“Married!” she said.
“Yes!”
“Now you make de grade for you to help you’ little brodders and sisters and dem, you wan’ to married!
“I’ll still help dem,” he said flatly.
“Some liddle jammet ‘oman fool you! Papa behave you’self eh!”
But look who passing judgment! He though alarmed. At fourteen years she had him, he thought. He knew how she got him too. The villagers had insultingly told it to him on many occasions. How could she suggest that his Emily might be a jammet? He would sock it to her.
“Mammy, up to now my life had been like a carnival. I want to change. I am fed up of the carnival. It was not a situation of reality. I want to face reality. I have to face reality. We all have to some day. It’s better if we do so voluntarily!”
His mother was silent. She had turned away. She looked out of the window.
He went to her. She was crying. He embraced her. She smiled. So intense was her relief, so complete her joy, she flushed. Emotion welled up.
“But, you are a child of the carnival!” she said emotionally.
Did he hurt her. He felt sorry. “What mother?” he asked.
“Never mind….. I never heard you speak so well before,” she said. “It’s just htat you sound so beautiful!” she concluded.
He looked at her puzzled. It was his turn to be relieved.
“Never mind John. I’ll give you away.”
“Thank you mother,” he said as he left the house.
“A CHILD OF THE CARNIVAL,” he thought and smiled.
Black rage

Go home sisters,
And think sisters
Go home, go home!
And think sisters.
Go home sisters;
Sisters and think.
Go home sisters;
And think, think,
Go home brothers,
And do the same.
Go home, go home!
And then, and then.

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The Cry of an Old Used Tool

The Cry of an Old Used Tool.

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