There is no road to redemption, when there is a war on redemption road.
I hear laughter in the cemetery, they are enjoying the comedy of the living
While walking through some bushes, I heard a rustle behind me. I pulled out the pistol tucked into my waistband and looked around. It was quiet except for the sporadic gunfire in the distance. I realized that the rustling came from some thick bushes ahead. I walked in that direction, my fingers tightly wrapped around the pistol. Before I got to the bushes, a deadly scent filled the air. I wanted to stop walking because I knew deep down what I would find. Still I continued, my heart pounding hard, causing my vision to be blurry. My mother always said I was too bloody inquisitive. I parted the bushes, my eyes closed at first. Even though I saw what I expected, I felt like someone had punched me in the gut. There was a body lying on the ground, its green uniform, brown with dried blood. I stared at it as an army of nature’s scavengers helped themselves to the rotting flesh that was left. I stood there horrified, my heart racing, my body tingling. It was as if I was waiting for something to happen. I closed my eyes, I guess I was trying to see myself in that man’s place.
Bob Marley lyrics exploded in my head, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery none but ourselves can free our minds”. I swallowed hard, trying to stop myself from throwing up. Then another quote ran through my mind. It was the Karl Marx statement “Everyone is a victim of the system.” I wanted to be that body, feel free, no political system to tell me what to do, no religion to watch my every move. At that moment, feeling nothing would have been like paradise. Another Bob Marley lyric came to mind “If you know what life is worth then you will look for yours on earth”. I was not about to die to attain the freedom I seek. I had to stand up and fight for the life that I wanted. That moment was like becoming born again, a born again human being.
I was jolted back to reality when a helicopter swooped in and hovered over the bushes. I pointed the pistol at it, my hand shaking, beads of sweat rolling down my forehead, settling in my eyes. I wiped the salty liquid off and kept looking up. I was afraid they might have seen me; I was prepared to defend myself. The mosquito-like machine glided towards the hills on the other side and opened fire. Leaves and dust flew into the air, soldiers shouted, and birds flew from the chaos. I took the opportunity to run in the opposite direction. AK-47 rifles barked angrily as pockets of the local army fought back. I ran until I reached the dusty highway and I stopped to catch my breath, my chest burning. I realized I was still holding the pistol and tucked it into my waistband. The shooting stopped, and the helicopter whizzed by, its rotors creating a whirlwind of dust. I went home and sat in a chair on the verandah, my heart still racing. I got up, took out the pistol and looked at it. I placed it, along with an AK-47 and a couple of other guns, in a can that used to hold Lard, filled it with grease, dug a hole, and buried it next to a Paw Paw tree. That was the last time I held a gun, forever elevating the false sense of safety I once felt.
From the dark side, he watched, he waited and now, he got stories for you.
Stay with me
Don’t let me drift in
For there are shadows around my soul
Its what remains of the martyrs
So if you leave me alone.
I will drift into recent history
Left alone with the angry dead
“Sit down Kwao,” she said without looking at him. He stopped and looked over at the two warriors.
“This is crazy, she doesn’t know if this is going to work, “he barked, Akosua turned to him, the bamboo chair creaked as she did.
“Have faith Kwao,” she said, the boy plopped down in the dirt sending a small dust cloud into the air. Akosua got up and peeped out the door. The guard looked at her, his red and blue face pronounced in the light from the torch in front of the door. Everyone in the village was wearing red and blue and their faces were painted the same. Some carried food, while others carried wood for a bonfire in the middle of the village.
“Help me,” a woman screamed as she reached her arms out to Akosua. Akosua turned to her warriors,
“Let’s go” she said and walked out the door. The guard turned to block her, but she reached out and touched his shoulder, and his resolve seemed to melt, and the spear hung loosely at his side. She pushed past him and followed the screaming woman. Kwao and the two warriors followed her. The blond woman managed to escape and the Bokor chased after her and grabbed her by the hair. She fought back, but to no avail.
They walked to the middle of the village. The woman was being tied to a pole next to the bonfire. She was crying and screaming, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. Two Bokors stood next to her wearing red and blue robes. The bonfire popped and cracked sending sparks everywhere. The Bokors were busy preparing for the nights sacrifice. Akosua stopped in front of the woman. The woman looked at her, tears rolled down her sun tanned face, her blue eyes pleading. The Bokors tighten vines around her. Akosua took a step towards the woman just as the drummers began playing. The Bokors began to congregate, their faces expressionless, their eyes not moving. Their leader walked in from the darkness. He too wore a red and blue robe but with a hood on it. The bottom of the robe touched the dirt giving the illusion that he floated across the uneven ground. Akosua started to walk towards him but Kwao grabbed her arm. The Bokor leader stopped in front of the crying woman. The Bokor congregation became silent.
“To the great Pedro Loa we bring this sacrifice. We implore him to wreak vengeance on those who seek to destroy us,” he said. The drummers played faster whipping the Bokors into a frenzy of dance. The leader danced over to one of the guards and took a machete from him. He danced towards the woman; the hood on his robe covered most of his face giving the impression that he was faceless.
He stopped in front of the woman; she pleaded and struggled against the vines. She looked up to the sky tears rolled down her face, then down her cheeks. The Bokor leader danced, spinning round and round, the bottom of his robe created a cloud of dust. The sharp edges of the machete glittered in the pale light of the bonfire; the drummers played even faster chanting as they did. The Bokors exploded into wild dances. The shadow of birds circled over the village, wolves howled in the jungle, crows’ squawked as they circled the night sky. The Bokor leader stopped in front of the woman and raised his machete. Akosua stepped forward,
“Stop!” she shouted, the Bokor leader stopped and turned around. At first the drummers kept playing, but when they realized their leader had stopped dancing they stopped. A tense silence came over the proceedings as Akosua walked up to the leader.
“I heard you were doing this, but I did not believe it,” she said. He did not move, surprised that she had interrupted the ceremony.
“Is this what you have come to?” she asked looking from the leader to the crowd. Small fireballs popped around the burning wood.
“You used to be Hougans, good people, but you had to form this Angajan, seek vengeance by forming an alliance with the Pedro Loa. Do you want to sell your souls to Baka,” She said, the Bokors mumbled, some of the men took a menacing step towards her. Kwao came forward spear at the ready. Akosua waived him off and turned back to the Leader.
“You knew my mother, you were friends, and people respected you, why have you gone so far into the dark?” She asked, the leader turned and faced his followers.
“We all know why, your too good spirits can’t fight the Ligaroo. You have to fight evil with evil, and you, and your soft spirits, you cannot defeat the Ligaroo. Look around you; look at this village, burnt huts, sad faces. The Ligaroos came and took our families, our children. What do we have but our Pedro Loa and his dark spirits to get the vengeance that we all seek?” He shouted, Akosua listened then responded.
“How long have you been offering sacrifices to the Pedro Loa, where are your families, have you gotten them back?” she asked, some of the Bokors hung their heads not wanting to look Akosua in the eyes. The leader stuck the machete in the ground next to Akosua’s feet.
“They are dead, all dead and we want vengeance.” He screamed. Akosua looked around; behind the Bokors she saw the silhouette of the burnt huts.
“Look at your village, it is obvious that this barbaric behavior has not brought you peace nor has it brought an end to the attacks of the Ligaroos.” She said. The Bokors were silent, a dog howled somewhere in the village.
“It is time we come together it’s the only way we can defeat the Ligaroos, Yemaya says so,” the Bokors mumbled and turned to each other. The leader laughed and stepped in between Akosua and the villagers.
“Why should we listen to you a mere child? Why should we?” he shouted, a man in the village stepped forward his face hidden by the hood of his robe. Akosua looked at him, his eyes shifted from side to side. Their leader raised his arm and the man spoke.
“Years we have suffered, and the Bakas, the great evil spirits have promised that we will have our vengeance, and as you know from our history we can only overcome by inflicting vengeance on those who do harm to us,” the man said. The leader turned around like a preacher on his pulpit yelling,
“Baron Samedi will give us our vengeance,” The Bokors erupted into yells, screams and chants. Akosua waited until they were silent again.
“Baron Samedi is also helping the Ligaroos, how are you so sure that he will pick you over them?” she asked, the Bokors mumbled among themselves. Akosua continued talking,
“But we can defeat the Ligaross, free our people. Shedding the blood of this innocent woman will not bring freedom to anyone. Just because we were slaves, and the masters consider us animals, does not mean we should act like animals. We should be together as one people, one free nation. But here we are fighting among ourselves like so many of our ancestors. For once let us stop history from repeating itself, or we will end up losing this struggle and with it our freedom. I promise you there is a better way.” She said. The Bokor leader stepped towards Akosua his eyes ablaze with anger,
“How? How will you a naive girl, a novice witch defeat the Ligaroo King he is powerful and is more powerful with the Bakas on his side? Do you think that your good spirits can defeat such a powerful evil? What are you going to do slither across the jungle like Obatala, crawl up the Ligaroo’s feet and lick his face with your forked tongue?” He asked sarcastically, the Bokors erupted into laughter,
By the end of the summer she was so homesick she started singing country music and no she was not singing the song “Coal Miner’s Daughter” either. Keep in mind that this is that woman who hated country music. Ironic since I was the one who grew up listening to my mom sing country songs all the time. The one incident that pushed us out of The Melting Pot City was the day one of the stores was almost robbed. Both stores were on the same block, one an everyday retail store, and the other a Victoria’s Secret-like store: expensive as hell. Why they would put such a store in the ghetto baffled me. These people could not afford a bloody nightie for one hundred dollars. I was working in the retail store one day when the Colombian worker at the pantry store called me.
“The cat is having its kittens – come over here right away.” I was confused. Hell, I had not seen one bloody cat in this city since I moved there; just rats as big as cats. She finally broke down and told me to get over there, so I hurried and went.
As soon as I got to the door I realized what was going on. I stuck my hand in my shirt like I was packing a pistol. My heart was pounding hard, my head spinning. Hell, I thought I was going to faint for sure. I heard about the crime in The Melting Pot City, but damn, the thought of guns took me back to a place in my head that I thought I left on the island. There were three teenagers in the store. One stood at the cash register: bloody kid did not look more than seventeen. A girl was in the middle of the store, her handbag open and her hand in it. Another boy stood at the door to the storeroom, peeping in.
I walked behind the counter and stood there, my skin tingling with fear. I had no gun, no knife, nothing to defend myself. That same helpless feeling as when the fighter jets were bombing the island engulfed me. After about ten minutes, they came up to the counter and bought some items. As they were leaving, the kid that stood at the door to the storeroom stopped and looked at me and opened a small sack revealing a pearl handled pistol. I looked at him; his eyes looked dead. “They lucky you came in bro or we would have jacked this bitch up.”
After they left I half expected a volley of gunfire to erupt around me. There was no marijuana to calm my fears here. I guess it was time for me to go back to good old Blue Grass city. Great; I can give the bible bangers another chance to convert me.
There was one statement that solidified my decision to leave The Melting Pot City. One of the ladies informed me that I should wait until the new semester for the high school started. She said the students had no regard for life. I thought, hell no. I did not survive all that I had just to end up dead in some rat infested store. Despite this, let me add this tidbit: some of the shoplifters did not steal from the store as they said they could not in good conscience rob from another brother. It seems they thought I owned the stores so they felt it was their civic duty not to rob from one of the only black-owned businesses on the block. Funny thing; I used to stand at the door and watch them steal from the stores owned by Koreans, Jews and other ethnicities.
Keep moving!” Donkor said, as he prepared himself for the attack. Yaw pushed the group faster and Henry watched as his sister disappeared in the pale light. Figures began to emerge from the coffins, one stood up in front of Henry. He raised his spear as the figure took a step towards him. Its whole body was red, its eyes were yellow, and when it opened its mouth, its tongue was black. Two large red horns protruded from its forehead, curving backwards. It reminded Henry of the goats they had seen earlier. Its yellow eyes gleamed in the flickering light from the torches. It stepped towards Henry, removing a sword from its belt. Henry stuck his spear in the ground next to him, and pulled out his machete. The devil looked at him for a second, as if sizing him up, then charged. Henry lifted his machete just as the red devil brought his sword down. The clinging sound was loud and it was followed by a chorus of clinging sounds across the cemetery. Henry grabbed the devil’s free hand and they struggled. The devil had its tongue out, and its eyes sparkled with determination. Henry pushed the devil back, and swung his machete slicing the beast across its chest. The devil stood for a second looking at Henry. Its mouth was open, and slowly the rest of his body was sucked into the wound that Henry’s machete had created. Donkor bumped into Henry as the devils surrounded them,
“I hate Jab Jabs,” Donkor shouted over the sounds of the battle raging. He charged at one of them, his machete rose above his head his yelling blended with the chaous. Henry looked and saw that Yaw had managed to get the freed slaves to the jungle, and then turned back to the battle. All around him, the red Jab Jabs were being sucked into the air as they are struck or cut by his fellow warriors. Henry came back to him,
“Lets fight our way to the jungle!” He shouted, and they began making their way to the trees where Yaw and the others had disappeared. The Jab Jabs came in waives, they were not screaming, or yelling, it was a strange silent attack.
Henry and his friends managed to make their way close to where the jungle began. Suddenly, the ground moved, like waves on a stormy day, and more Jab Jabs began to crawl out of the ground. One of the Jab Jabs sat waist deep into the ground. From his waist up he was flesh and bone, the rest of him blended with the mud. As he slowly moved to get up, his legs transform from mud to flesh and bone. He looked up at Henry, the young warrior kicked at the Jab Jab’s feet, and chunks of mud flew into the air, and the Jab Jab fell, he sat, half man half mud. The Jab Jab flopped back to the ground the parts of his body that touched the ground, immediately turned into mud. He began to rise again and Henry kicked at him and his body exploded, and chunks of mud flew into the air, and then landed on the ground next to Henry. The chunks moved a little then dissolved into the ground. Henry got to the jungle just as a red Jab Jab came at him, he turned swinging his machete, the Jab Jab stopped, looked at him as the rest of his body was sucked into the wound.
Henry heard a scream and saw Donkor and some of his warriors being overwhelmed by the Jab Jabs, he ran back towards them swinging his machete. Mud flew everywhere, the drops sounded like large raindrops as they hit the ground. A rad Jab Jab jumped onto Donkor and he stumbled backwards and fell. Henry was surprised at how easily the giant went down. The Jab Jab jumped on him and sat on his chest. Henry ran as fast as he could to get to them. The Jab Jab was pushing down on Donkor, and slowly he sank. The half of him that touched the ground began to turn into mud. Henry got to them and swung his machete, the Jab Jab looked up at him, as if surprised, and then like the other Jab Jab he was sucked into his own body and disappeared. Henry stretched his hand down to Donkor. The giant reached up and Henry’s hand disappeared into his mitts, a mixture of flesh and mud fell off of him as he stood up, moved around on the ground for a second, and then blended with the earth. They heard a scream and turned around to see a Jab Jab standing on top of one of the Bokors. The Jab Jab stomped, and slowly the Bokor’s body sank, turning into mud, and both he and the Jab Jab disappeared into the ground. The surface moved a little as if they were still struggling under the surface, then it was still.
Henry turned around just as a mud Jab Jab came towards them. They swung their machetes at the same time, and the upper half of the Jab Jab fell to the ground and dissolved into the mud.
“Come on, lets get out of this field.” Donkor said. They headed to the jungle swinging their machete. Around them warriors were being dragged underground. They were almost to the jungle when the ground beneath Henry moved, and a Jab Jab grabbed Henry’s feet, and before he reacted, he was knee deep into the ground.
“What the devil,” he yelled. He swung his machete at the ground. The mud churned, like large rodents were running around just under the surface. He looked ahead; Donkor was in a fierce battle with two Jab Jabs. In an instant, he was waist deep into the ground. More hands grabbed his legs, and he clawed at the ground as he slowly descended. Then he was in darkness. His brains felt like an opened sore rubbing against the course material of a poor man’s knickers. He tried to scream, but the taste of mud overpowered him. Then eyes surrounded him, green, yellow, red and purple. They chanted,
“Byenreni nam lakou an,” Henry tried to kick, but he had no legs. The eyes moved around him turning into a blaze of colours. He had almost lost consciousness when he was jerked out of the ground. Donkor stood next to him. He bent over and a projectile of small pebbles and mud exploded from his mouth. Donkor slapped him on the back.
“Get it all out,” he said, turned and swung his machete at an advancing Jab Jab.
“Come out lets go,” Donkor screamed. Henry took a deep breath, his throat burned and he felt remnants of pebbles rolling around in his head. Donkor pulled him and he ran gasping for air.
Sweet confusion embrace me
For today I want to feel sorry for myself
I will cry until the fog clears
And I see the human race for what it is
What I find I will accept until the darkness takes over
For I am a reflection of everyone else
I feel every emotion that travels in their souls
Because life for me, is walking with the living dead.