Morning have broken, the skies are slowly turning from gray to tropical blue. The rooster was perched in the plumb tree crowing its head off. The yard dog stood under the tree barking at it. A gray white cloud lazily floated across the sky. Island boy stretched and yarned, ahhh yes, it was the beginning of summer holidays. A whole summer to go simmer down on the beach, go diving, wind surfing, sailing, and lets not forget the cook ups on the beach. Ahhh some fried fish, fish cakes, lobster, crab and calaloo. Man, all this day dreaming about food was making him hungry. He looked around the kitchen, what will he have for breakfast this morning. Ahhh yes, some saltfish souse sounds real good this morning, fry it down with some onions, garlic, tomatoes and yes a little pepper. And I do believe Mommy Charles had made some bakes last night, that will go real good with the saltfish souse. Oh and yes, I can make a hot cup of coacoa tea to drink with that.
Yes, this was a hearty breakfast for a busy island boy.
Ohhh the days when I was young, I would go to the beach sit in the sunshine and look out at the ocean. All that tropical heat made me thirsty, oh what will have ever drink to quell this nagging thirst. Oh yes, how about some coconut water, but how can I get that. I stood underneath the coconut tree. Damn it was tall. I say about Twenty feet maybe more. I had never climbed one before, but damn it I wanted coconut water. Then I thought, hey, I can climb up there, get me a couple of them and bam, my thirst quenched. I hesitated, man that was tall, but you know how it is, a fourteen year old boy, wanting to prove he was a man. I grabbed the trunk of the tree, shimmered up about two feet and stopped. I felt myself slowly begin to slide down so i wrapped my legs around the trunk. I felt the rough surface of the trunk dig into my skin. My feet hit the sand, the inside of my legs burning. I looked around to make sure no one saw my clumsiness. Looked up at the beautiful green coconuts, no doubt they had some real sweet water in them. I jumped on the trunk, hugging it and began to pull myself up. At ten feet I stopped, damn it i thought, did not believe ten feet could look so far up. I kept going ascending, at fifteen feet I was burning up, sweat poured down my forehead getting into my eye. They stung really bad but I was too afraid to let go of the trunk for fear of falling. A nice cool breeze whirled around me, I closed my eyes and let the cool air tickle my skin. I took a deep breath and pulled myself up, was so hot I stopped to feel that gentle breeze again. I closed my eyes, only this time, only this time it was not a gentle breeze. The coconut tree rocked back and forth. In my mind I can hear it cracking as the gusts whistled through the leaves. I hung out feeling a little nauseous. I wanted to slide down, get to the safety of the ground, but I was so close to the coconuts I could smell them. I opened my eyes, I felt like I was parachuting, only I was not descending, I was being blown from side to side. I took a deep breath, looked down, the bloody beach was moving. I looked up at the coconuts, I tried stretching to get on, thats when it happened, I rubbed against the tree trunk and the button that was holding up my [pants popped out and my pants started slipping off. So here I was, twenty feet above the ground trying to make a decision, pull up my pants or get that damn coconut, I decided to get my damn coconuts, hell, I will quench my thirst and my bum will be cool. I was able to knock down three of the coconuts. I slide down, I tell you, sand never felt so good under my feet. As I sat drinking my coconut water I promised myself, no matter how thirsty I got, the next time I will walk myself back to the house and get as glass of water.
Neighbouroooooooo wake up nah gul, its carnival Tuesday. I have to go fix me costume, gul I jump up so much yesterday me costume done rip up and ting. I don care if you have hang over, gul get up and help me wid dis nah. Bunjay!!! I don have time for dis you know. I already hear some calypso jamming down de road, me hips already moving and I eh even try to dance yet. Gul I know it still quiet, you see how the road empty now, the boat and dem bobbing in de sea, how de houses and dem still, nobody up yet. Well dat going change real soon, the steelband and dem go hit de road, the DJ on the big truck go be blasting, and I don plan to miss none of dat you hear. So get up, take me costume to Fatty Derek, tell de man to find someone to fix it real quick, cause when I hit de road, it go be real bacanal I tell yuh.
Over the years my dreams have become a pepperpot of confusion. Last night I dreamt I was back in school on the island. The school was not in the usual schoolhouse. The desks and chairs were set up on a hilltop, among the fruit trees and lush green bushes. Birds flew overhead, the tropical skies were clear, and the ocean in the distance was choppy with small foaming waves rushing to shore. I sat at my desk and looked around, I was surrounded by people I met while living here in West Virginia and Kentucky. They were not wearing uniforms like we do on the island, they were wearing jeans and T-shirts, some in the latest fashion. They were laughing and talking like they belong on the island, like it was their home. The cows mowing and the donkeys braying did not seem to phase them. I sat at my desk and suddenly became sad. I knew I was home, but it did not feel like home. Then the teacher walked onto the hilltop and stood in front of the class. He was tall, white and was more like a coach than a teacher. I recognized who he was, he was Kevin McHale, the former Celtic basketball player. I don’t know if it is possible to get confused in a dream, but I sure did feel confused. I got up and walked down the hill, they tried to talk to me but I did not respond. I walked around the desk and chairs, the fruit trees and the bushes and came to a place where there was a barbed wire fence. I stopped trying to figure out how to get over it. Someone called my name and I looked around. Standing at the top of the hill was a group of students, boys and girls, chattering, laughing, some were even dancing. They were wearing cocoa brown pants or skirts, white blouses or shirts. I recognized some of them, they were my old classmates from my high school. They were calling me telling me to follow them because I was going the wrong way. I was even more confused, I tried jumping over the fence but did not jump high enough, I stumbled and fell, rolled down the hill, over the edge a cliff. As I floated downwards I saw flashes of my life’s journey, From Grenada to Kentucky, from Kentucky to New York back to Kentucky and then here in West Virginia. I woke up just as I hit the cold ocean. I sat freezing, the air conditioner humming in the background.
In my dreams, I was back in my little hut, no electricity, no running water, no modern day distractions just the sound of the stream rushing through the rocks, and the birds singing in the mango tree. And ever so often, the wind would whistle through the weeping willow that sat at the top of the hill, that hill where I can look out at the forest, past the waterfalls, through the valleys and out at the ocean. Where I can sit and watch the lightening flash out of the dark clouds, hear the rain pound the volcanic soil. Listen to roosters crow and pigs squeal. Here the laughter of young men playing cricket in the pasture. I do not want to wake up, life is too simple in my other world. Ahh yes, its a Spice island kind o dream.
Yesterday I took the taxi from the grocery store to my place. This time, they were surprisingly quick in getting there, usually it would take them an hour or so. I packed my groceries in the trunk and sat in the back seat of the cab, because there is more room back there, and we took off. The first words out of the driver was, “What part of Kenya are you from?” I guess I looked like Obama’s relative or something. Anyway, I told him I was from Grenada and he stated he had never been to the Caribbean, and then immediately went in stories about his special forces covert adventures in South America. He stated he remembered having to go in after , and this is his words not mine, “These stupid Christian missionaries,” who would go into rebel territories to preach and would get kidnapped. He stated it was simple to find them, they would call the rebels and ask them where they wanted something delivered, then they would follow the delivery, kill the rebels, and rescue the captives. I thought his story telling was done but noooo. He told me that once they were in Africa chasing some Muslim extremist when they got lost. They had walked for days when they came upon a primitive tribe. He stated that “The Natives” were very friendlyand were happy to see them and were more excited that they had guns, you see a hippopotamus was terrorizing the village, even killing some of the livestock. The chief of the tribe told them that they would give them directions on how to get out of the jungle, but first, they must kill the menacing beast. They obliged, but after killing the beast and they tried to leave ‘The Natives” insisted that they stay and feast on the hippopotamus. When they were almost done eating, they were told that their captain had unknown to them chosen to get the tongue of the hippopotamus, he said that it was not bad eating. Luckily for me, we pulled up in front of my place, I had to tell him where to turn because he had passed the turn off. He was so engrossed in his story that he drove past my place and had to retract. I got out of the cab, got my food and he looked out and smiled, “Have a good day sir.” He said, and thus ended another taxi ride with a very strange conversation. .
Good marning Mis Mabel, you see me ltccle boi, tell me nah wey he dey? oH gard, don tell me he dey in de Chennete trre again nah. Dat boi always indey yuh know. Boi come down dat tree, is sunday marning, time to get ready for chuch. Wah yuh say, yuh back talking me, bunjayyyy, boi do mek me come up dey and get yuh. Yuh better carry yuh liccle tail dung here and take a bade, get yuhself clean for chuch. Gaud do want no dirty child in chuch you know. Yuh hear what I say boi? Yuh tink I wouldn’t climb dat tree and get you dung, hurry up, de mass go start soon. I going back inside and if you duh ready I go bust yuh tail. Miss mabel, have agood Sunday girl. God bless, Hurry up boi.
Ahhh yes, it was another Saturday on the beach. All the pretty girls and them were on the beach. They were all modeling with they bikinis and short shorts. Here I was, sixteen years old, my testosterone rising like the tropical sun did this morning. I had no shame, I mean I was in really good shape. Running twelve miles in the morning, twelve miles in the early evenings, the six miles of swimming, push ups, sit ups, I mean my daily routine was working wonders on my physic. The girls and them were talking, giggling, all excited for the week end, but damn it they were not paying attention to me, yes me, this African Godly body standing next to them. I had to do something to get their attention.
I walked down to the ocean, I jogged in place, I did some shadow boxing, nothing, them damn girls will not pay attention. I walked away from the ocean, walking as close to them as possible, making sure cleared my throat, nothing, they were too damn busy chattering. I walked past them, stopped, stood behind them for a second. Hmmm, what should be my next move, what can I do to make them see this Adonis they were missing out on. That was when I made up my mind, oh yeah, I will make them pay attention. I took my stance, rocked back and forth like a high jumper about to make his approach, took off and ran past them, I reached the sea, right were the ocean broke onto the sand. I jumped, floating through the air like a Boeing 747, I felt my body cutting through the wind, saw the ocean going by beneath me, felt my heart racing, I mean it was a beautiful sight to see, well from my point of view. I sliced through the oceans surface, did the Man From Atlantis kick, going smooth through the salty Caribbean sea. I stopped, kicked my feet until I felt the sand beneath them stood up. I was only knee deep in the water. I was so proud of myself, I bet that that dive, that graceful bird like flight, that absolutely flawless cut through the surface was the best damn thing those girls ever say. After the water had drained from my ear, and I felts the water drip off my body. I heard the laughter. I wiped my face, shook my head, that was when I heard the laughter. I wiped the water off my face, looked towards the beach and saw my swim trunks rolling in the surf. I looked down and what did I see, my manhood, and because of shrinkage, my boyhood dangling for all to see. I mean how can they miss it, the sun glistened off the water draining off of it. I immediately dove into the water then began to scramble to get my trunks, but a boy about ten years old ran down the beach, picked it up and scurried off, waving it above his head. I had to stay there, listening to the laughter, people pointing, screaming, drunks falling down holding their stomach, proclaiming to urinate on themselves. Oh yes, I remember that day, I had to wait for two hours before that little scamp brought my trunks back. Needless to say, I did not go to the beach for months after that.
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Oh dear lord, here they come again, damn humans, and I was sooo close to that trash can, try some of that unhealthy crap they eat. I know, I know, I should not eat it but damn those hot dogs are great. Oh hell, its a bunch of girls, looks like they on some sports team or something. Oh dear lord, I don’t know who is worse, the humans that try to kill me, or those that think I am cute. Let me just hide under this bench so they don’t see me. Oh damn, they are sitting down, now I can’t move. Oh I see you going eat that damn food right in front of me? Don’t you know your toes look mighty tasty right now. Damn humans, a brother can’t even eat in peace around here. Watch this, watch this, am going make they day. 1…. 2…… 3…… yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Look at them scatter, look at them. Little old me, what they think I can do, look at them scream and run. Yeah next time, share your damn food. Damn humans.