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Storyteller

Ahhhh Daydream moment

Ahhh yes I have traveled this road many of times. It goes from the north of the island where my Father is from through the center of the island where my mother is from to the city where I was born. Go ahead on this cold day daydream you are drivi8nbg through this tropical highway.

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Storyteller

De Bus Stop

De Bus Stop

Neighbourooooo Ah see yuh liccle man at de bus stop yuh know, he chatting up all ah dem guil and dem you know. I tell you girl, dat boi go bring back a baby one ah dese days yuh know. He better leave dem pickiney and dem alone. All dey want to do is trap a nice young man like he yuh know. Yuh remember Miss Jones son, nice young man, well one ah dem fas guil dem trick he, next ting yuh knew she belly swelling and now dey have a baby, all he future mash up mash up. I telling you, keep you liccle man away from dem bus stop busy bodies. Mark me words, gurl, mark me words.

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Stories Storyteller

Wide Awake

I heard Mommy Charles singing, “There will be blue birds over, the white cliffs of Dover, tomorrow when the world is free.”  It seemed so real, I can hear every note, every lyric. I sat up, looked around, and I was in that little house in Grand Anse with the scent of the rose bushes sweeping through my bedroom. In that moment, I felt safe for the first time since January the first 1986. She was still singing, now echoing like she was in a cave.  I got up, still somewhere between Huntington West Virginia and Grand Anse Grenada. I stood in the middle of the room turning slowly trying to figure where her voice came from. I walked towards the back door fully expecting to look out onto the vegetable garden, the star filled Caribbean sky, the chickens rustling around in their coup. I must find her, I need a conversation, I need to feel safe again, like that ten year old boy she protected from the bullies. I walked up to the window and looked out. There were no stars, no vegetable garden, just the bus station on 4th avenue. Her voice was fading now, a car drove by drowning out the melody, and I was annoyed, because it just destroyed any sense of safety I felt, and that ten year old boy was a man again, looking out the window in the kitchen of his apartment.

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Stories Storyteller

Green Leaf, the beat down.

When we were kids, there is this game we used to play called green leaf, the objective of the game is to always have a green leaf on you because if the person you are playing with walks up to you and said green leaf and you don’t have one, you will get the beating of your life, and you can’t fight back, you just have to stand there and take it. I know, I know stupid game, but that is what happens when its an all boys school. I had this fried named Desmond, he was evil when it came to the game. He would wait for weeks, and when you least expected, there he was, a big smile on his face. I would reach into my pocket, pull out a leaf, but after weeks in my pocket, it was a dead brown. I would get punched, pinched, slapped on the back of the head. I always avoided that boy.

Years later, I went to Wesley College, a Methodist high school. I did not know Desmond was going to be there, all I know is I am walking down the street when I heard, “Green leaf,”  I was stunned, I mean it was years. I took off, my skinny legs turning as fast as they could. Desmond gave chase, we ran through the streets, down alleys, through the market square. I ran down a side street and stopped, thank god I lost him. I walked out of the side street and turned back to the market square, hell, I was going to get on my bus and head home, but boy I was wrong, Desmond knew who my favorite mini bus driver and was waiting for me. He unleashed a hurricane of punches and kicks on me, my skinny body felt like it would break under the blows. He walked away smiling, strutting like he just got his first kiss.

Ten years later, I am walking down Utica Avenue in Brooklyn minding my own business when I head someone shout, “Green leaf,” at first I did not pay attention, that is until I heard footsteps coming towards me, they we hitting he ground heavy, and was more of a trot then a sprint. I looked over my shoulder and there he was, an older Desmond, the same bloody afro hairstyle only part of it was white. He was smiling real big. I did not stop to think, I took off running. So here we are, two grown men, running down a busy avenue one screaming “Green leaf!” The other dodging people trying to escape a beating. I got to an intersection and stopped, I mean what the hell was I running from, I am a grown man. Desmond caught up to me, but instead of the beating he usually meted out, he bent over, breathing hard, sweat rolling down his face, his shirt stuck to his back. He reaches out and tapped my shoulder, “Green lead,” he said in between trying to catch his breath. So now anytime I go back to Brooklyn, I was on the look out for Desmond, straining my ears over the noise hoping that I do not hear the dreaded words, “GREEN LEAF!!!!

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Pics with verse Storyteller

Good Morning Neighbours

Good Morning Neighbours

Out of the darkness, the tropical city stirs, with the sound of a small fishing boat going out to sea, the crow of a rooster, the splash of someone taking a shower in their back yard, the scent of lunch being cooked for the workday, the loud calypso music blasting from the mini busses, the voices of school children as they walk to school. Its a tropical morning in my head, even though I woke up in a city in the Appalachian mountians.

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Parts Dirty Immigrant Storyteller

Mobbed From the novel I am a Dirty Immigrant

In the fall, an incident transpired that totally turned me off from playing ball. I was walking to the dorm when two school buses drove by and all the kids screamed at me. Their voices echoed through the small city as the busses rounded a corner just down the road. I thought nothing of it until the busses came back, stopped and all these kids ran up to me. I was a little unnerved and almost took off running. This one red headed kid frightened me so bad, all I thought was “Children of the Corn”. Bloody kids were like vultures, jumping and screaming, pushing notepads and pencils at me and basically treating me like I was a big star or something. You would have thought that I had just stopped a hurricane, or brought peace to the Middle East or something. Their faces were red from the cold. Yeah that is something I noticed: lots of red faces, their little eyes wide with excitement. Hell, I had not even played a game yet.

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Cool Runnings

6th Installment La Diablesse Chapter 3

Early afternoon was always busy on the island, the streets were buzzing with traffic as people rushed to and from work and school. There was a policeman at the intersection just down the street from the school directing traffic, he stood in a small booth perched fifteen feet up on a wall dividing two streets, from his vantage point he looked down onto an intersection with streets that ran at a strange angle into each other, the constant stream of cars kept the policeman busy as he tried to keep them moving in an orderly flow.

The streets were lined with old English and French styled buildings they wooden walls beginning to deteriorate from years of mechanical weathering, at night, a still darkness engulfs these relics as if trying to hide the secrets of their past occupants, I used to live in one of them houses, inside, metal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, I tell you what, them bloody old time metal fixtures were always malfunctioning. I remember we handyman being electrocuted the poor fella was hanging from the bloody thing he eyes so big he looked like a sick fish.

I walked past the policeman his white gloves signaling the cars as they went by their horns blaring, he black pants were pressed with a sharp crease, the red stripe that ran down the sides a great contrast to the black and gray pinstriped shirt, he hat was tipped down over he eyes a futile attempt to keep them protected from the sun.

Anyway I loved living in the old house because of its history, but it was built into the side of a hill and bullfrogs and rats used to get into the back room. Once when I was nine years old I woke up in the middle of the night and was accosted by two beady red eyes staring at me, man, I swear that stinking rat was smiling at me.

I was almost hit by a car as I crossed the street, jumping out of the way just in time as the driver yelled at me as he went by and I shook me fist at him, bloody idiot. I stood there me heart pounding like crazy, and it was then I got a strange feeling that someone was following me. I looked round and there she was standing on the sidewalk staring at me, she eyes locked to mine as if trying to hypnotize me or something. The crowd of students walking by was like shadows, inconsequential to the psychological war waging between Alison and me. I wanted to go over and talk to she, but instead I turned and walked down one of the side streets. I did not feel hidden enough so I turned down an alley, its cobblestone surface was real slick and I was cautious not to slip, seven feet was a long way to fall.

I passed small shops as I walked trying to concentrate on them so I don’t think bout Alison. There were colourful displays of tropical shirts and shorts neatly placed on racks sitting on the sidewalk in front of the stores. The names of the shops reflected the Middle Eastern immigrants that live on the island; names like Abuds and Kerpalanies were painted on the glass windows and on the walls above the doors. I walked by a Barbour shop, a small boy was squirming in the chair he mother stood beside him adamant that he get he hair trimmed, Music filled the air from one of the stores a clerk was singing lyrics to a Jimmy cliff song as he swept the sidewalk in front of he store.

I left the Alley and walked into the market square, there was a cluster of mini buses in they designated area, red, green and gold colours reflected off they metallic bodies. Each bus had a name painted on the front or on the side, names like Charlie’s Pride and Hurricane Victory, I mean, them fellas really took care of they busses. There were also big wooden busses made from flatbed trucks and they traveled mainly to the Northern part of the island, they were real practical for the venders who carried big loads of fruit and vegetable to the marketplace.

I stopped and surveyed the venders me mouth started to water a little, I mean, there were Mangoes, Guavas, pawpaws, chinups, oranges, red and yellow plumbs, Mammie Apples and bananas all displayed on wooden trays or on the ground on caucus bags, venders haggled over prices with their customers they gestures emphatic, they voices rose above the melee. There was a large building behind the venders, inside, different types of meat were being sold, pig snout, Blood pudding and salted fish, even some of the wild meat on the island could be found in there. The fresh scent of Manique, Tatoo and Mountain Chicken filled the air; I tell you what, smelling that fresh meat always brought me to the verge of being sick. I walked across the square and onto the street that ran parallel to it and I stood in the doorway of a shop that sold chickens and chicken feed, the fowls clucked and chirped as workers and patrons walked by they cages.

There were lots of students from various schools milling round the square, it was one thirty in the afternoon and all of the secondary schools had let out for the day. The mixture of uniforms made it seem like there was a student rally going on, some of them wore white shirts with dark green pants while the girls were dressed in white blouses and dark blue pleated skirts. I smiled to myself as I looked at their uncomfortable faces, poor bastards, eighty degrees out here and they had to wear ties and blazers aimlessly walking about waiting for they respective buses.

People who worked in the stores nearby mingled with the students and I could tell by the looks on their faces they were annoyed by the student’s presence. Most of the young men were sporting big Afros and bellbottom pants, they hair fluttering in the slight breeze.

I was a little more relaxed now, observing the activities in the square was one of me favorite things to do, still, I found meself thinking bout Alison. It was not uncommon for some of the islanders to practice the religion that came out of the slave trade, most of the practitioners lived on the Northern side of the island where all those county people live, Alison grew up with she grandmother in a small village where the old lady was known as an Obeah Priestess, I had never met she, but some of me students who lived in the same village were truly afraid of she. I was interrupted from me thoughts by the sound of the young men round me whistling, so I turned me head to the right trying to see what was causing the commotion and found meself looking directly into the eyes of this beautiful young lady. She beige coloured blouse barely able to cover she bosoms, she full lips complimented she perfect Afro centric face, she skirt came to just above she knees showing off she long brown legs. As she went by, the scent of she perfume filled the air surrounding me, she hips swaying from side to side as she made a path through the hoard of admiring young men. I closed me eyes trying to store that image in me mind but when I opened me eyes I was startled to see Alison standing in front of me, man, why wouldn’t this obeah princess leave me alone? For a moment I did not move, the image of the young lady’s swaying hips bounced round in me mind like a tennis ball at Wimbledon.

“She go come back,” Alison said she eyes wild and shifty.

“I hope so,” I said unconsciously.

“Not she, Ah talking bout de La Diablesse, she go come back and take you away.” She was close to me now she mint scented breath tickling me face.

“You have to stop this nonsense right now. Those stories are just that, stories, there is no La Diablesse, no spirits that would come and take you away at night!” I shouted and started walking across the street to the buses, I bet me damn face turned dark purple as she followed me shouting.

“You go learn, and when you do, it go be too late.” I climbed onto the nearest bus trying to hide meself in the small seats. The bus driver climbed in behind the wheel and to me great relief drove out of the square, Alison stood at the corner, she face contorted with determination as she watched the bus pull away. The driver navigated his way through the narrow streets and out of the market square.

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Storyteller Storyteller's Videos

School Days in Paradise

Storytime. An island boy’s after school day.

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Stories Storyteller

The ole time bus

The ole time bus

Through the winding roads, lines with sugar cane, or banana trees, up and down, round sharp corners, dangerously leaning towards the precipice. Racing along, watching the coconut trees flash by, children running alongside the bus waving and screaming. Stopping to let the young men playing in the streets to scamper to the banks of the road, as the bus tooted its horn. The sputter of the clutch as the driver fights to change gears. The hum of the engine, the clank and thump as it hit potholes, the creak of its wooden body. Ahhhh traveling the ole bus was always an adventure.

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Parts Dirty Immigrant Storyteller

Lady from Cinci from the novel I am a Dirty Immigrant

Now if you think that story was bizarre, on my way back, I stepped onto the bus and the only seat available was next to this lady. The people sitting behind her looked at me and laughed but I thought nothing of it. The second I sat down I knew I was in bloody trouble. There was a stench coming from her general direction. It smelt like fish that sat in the sun too long. I looked around for another seat but the bloody bus was filled to capacity. No sooner had I sat down than she started talking. Now don’t get me wrong; I am not one to look down on people, but this woman looked like she belonged in a mental institution. She was in her early thirties and by the deep crevices on her face one could tell that life had kicked her around. I acted like I could not speak English but the damn woman was persistent. I looked over at her and I hate to say it but her face looked like God had lost patience sculpting her, squatted and farted, thus leaving this unfinished product I saw before me. Now that was not so bad but my suspicions were confirmed when she spoke. Her breath smelled like an outhouse in the middle of the back woods. I spent the whole trip looking the other way, holding my breath. Now you would think that I would get some relief but hell no. Early in the morning I heard a moan and a gentleman came running to the back holding a baby. I smelled it before he got there. Bloody baby had a full diaper, brown mess dripping out, landing on the floor. The baby’s ass came to within an inch of my face

When we arrived back in The Blue Grass City, I hurried and grabbed my bags and started making my way off the bus. Well the crazy woman started screaming, saying that I should take care of my kids. Seemed she believed that I had left her with our kids to fend for herself. Looks like even some black people believe that black men all look alike. You should have seen the looks of reproach I got. And the fact that no one knew if we were together or not made for a bigger scene. Some of the sisters yelled curse words at me, saying that I was just like a black man abandoning his kids. I was so flabbergasted I fell off the bus, landing on my knees in the same parking lot of that same city I almost froze my ass off in. When I looked up, there was a group of rednecks looking down at me. I felt like I had jumped out of the frying pan right into the fire.