Last night I dreamt I was laying on my back looking up at the sky and there were kids playing soccer using the moon as a ball, and Jupiter and Saturn, Mars and Uranus served as goal posts, St Peter wearing all white was the referee, and the stars were the fans, blinking and falling across the dark abyss, and the rings around Saturn flashed when there was a hard tackle, and wormholes open up to swallow the angry erupted. St Peter would laugh and the planets would shake, sending raindrop size star dust floating into space. and at the end of the game, when the children shook hands, the sun exploded, sending orange, gold, yellow and red streaks of light to the far corners of the universe.
“Umpireeeeeeee!” That was the scream that echoed through the small village nestled between two lush green hills. Yeah man, it was the regular Sunday cricket match in full swing. Boys used to come from other villages just to play. i mean bragging rights was big round here. This was no official cricket match, noooo, nobody wore white spotless uniforms, I mean look at Dexter, his shorts was ripped and one hole was right where his bamsi was, he would not have to pull down his pants to do a number two. Most of us were bare footed, our toes caked with dry dirt. The wickets were pieces of galvanize with a stick behind them to prop them up. The cricket bats were homemade, some of the boys and them took great pride in who could make the best bat. The ball was a tennis ball, that damn ball would swing in heavy wind, bounce unpredictably off the pitch, and the pitch, let’s talk about the pitch. It was a path that led up to the houses, it was cracked and had what looked like small craters on it. It was on the part of the path that had a slight incline to it. The faster bowlers would always want to bowl from the top side. Oh how them boys and them used to love running up to the wicket and flinging that damn ball at the batsman. Many of us got plunked in the head, I know, i know, you saying, how can a tennis ball hurt, trust me, you get hit in the head with one of them and then come tell me it does not hurt.
This Sunday was no exception. A group of like twenty boys were gathered playing. Thar was when the happy, peaceful Sunday afternoon was interrupted with the shout,
“Umpireeeeeeeeeee! The bowler, Ricky, was insistent that the ball hit the wicket, the batsman, Randy protested,
Nah mon, no way that ball din hit de wicket atall atall!”
“Boi, you is tiefing, dat ball hit the damn wicket.” Ricky shouted back, tell him Tall boi,”
“Ok ok,” Randy said. ” If de ball hit de wicket, how come we doh hear no sound?”
Ricky stood speechless, I mean Randy had a point.
“It don matter, yuh out man, give Tall Boi de bat.”
“Bomboclat, I eh giving him notton, I tell yuh I doh out atall!”
Ricky walked up to Randy. I never knew what anybody let that boy play with them. He always cheating and starting fights.
“Give him de bat or I go tek it from you.” He said reaching out and grabbing the bat. Randy refused to let go. They started pulling the bat. All the boys and them started making a circle around them. Soon they were on the ground rolling around, dirt was flying everywhere, curse words pepped the air. Out of the crown comes Batto, the village drunk. He tried to break up the fight but only managed to end up rolling around on the ground with the two boys. Ricky let out a loud grunt then jumped up, the bat held over his head as he screamed in triumph,
“I have it, i have it!” That is when it happen, in his moment of victory, his worrier like scream echoing through the valley. His pants dropped to his ankle. At first it did not seem to bother him because he was wearing under pants. But that underpants was old so the elastic in the waist lose and slowly it also dropped to his ankles. There he stood, his scream trailing off and was now replaced by a roar of laughter. He looked around, as if trying to see if anyone noticed. He looked down at his exposed penis and did the strangest thing. Instead of dropping the bat and pulling up his pants, he started to run. He tripped on his fallen garments, bamsi high in the sky, and dropped face first on his face. The bat flew into the air landing at Randy’s feet. He picked it up and stood over Ricky.
“Boi, you bamsi stink for so, you wash up.” That Sunday the laughter echoed through the valley, to other villages causing dogs to howl, chickens to cluck and pigs to squeal.
It was round eleven in the morning of the Saturday I was taken, Jane walked into the house calling me name. I had not called she the night before like I was supposed to so she thought she would come over and surprise me. She went up to the bedroom and looked round then went back down into the kitchen. She stood there for a second puzzled, I mean, she knew that I would always grade papers round that time. She walked out into the back yard and went into the garage me bike was still sitting in there, she turned and went back into the house and back up to the bedroom, sat on the bed took out one of she books and began reading she was determined to wait until I got home.
Round three o’clock she started to get a little worried so she got up and walked over to the window, Ken’s brother was walking cross the yard heading to they house wearing he army uniform he boots shining in the sun, she called out to him and asked him if he had seen me, he shook he head no and continued walking.
She went back to the bed and sat down, but got right back up and went to the window then back to the bed again she was thinking real hard bout where I might be.
When five o’clock arrived and I still had not gotten home she left the house and went to the beach, she walked the length of it asking a couple people she thought I knew if they had seen me, then she thought bout the place where I had taken she and she started to walk faster, I mean, if I were anywhere it would be there.
When she arrived at the edge of the island where the grass was tall and the waves crashed against the rocks she stopped and looked round before going down to the beach. She stepped onto the black and white sand and saw Ken and some of his friends playing soccer on the beach. She walked up to them and asked Ken if he had seen me he told she he had not seen me since yesterday and she walked towards the ocean kicking the water in frustration. Little Ken walked over to she asking she if she was all right, she told him she could not find me and he tapped she on she back with he sandy hand and told she not to worry that I would come home soon, she smiled at him and he smiled back, showing teeth yellow from eating mangoes. She left the beach as Ken and he friends went back to they game of soccer yelling and laughing for so.
Night was beginning to fall when she got back to the house. She went inside tuned on the living room light and called me name. When she got no response she sat down in the Victorian style couch and laid she head back and looked up at the ceiling. She spent the night pacing through the house or sitting at the window looking out at the ocean thinking that maybe some emergency had occurred with me family and I had gone to visit them. She walked to me desk and rifled through the papers trying to find a telephone number or address for them, underneath a book was a stack of papers, she picked it up and began reading, it was the poems I had written.
When she was done reading she held the papers close to she chest mumbling, asking the wind where I was. She lay down on the bed looking towards the window the sky was dark, no moon or stars, a car went by on the road outside and she sat up listening to hear if it would stop but was disappointed when it kept going. She ran the events of the past few days in she head trying to remember if I had told she anything bout going anywhere, but she could not think of a single thing. Then she remembered what I had told she bout the La Diablesse, she sat up she heart racing, surely that could not be it. She thought bout it for a while then smiled and shook she head she knew that I really did not believe the damn folktale anyway.
She got up and walked to the window, there was a storm coming in from the ocean and she could hear the roar of the wind and the rain beating down on the surface. She stood and watched the storm for a while then went back to the bed and lay down listening to the rain bounce off the tin roof, she finally fell asleep thinking of where next she would look for me.
Here we were , three of use, Roach, Smakarootii and me, we were playing a hotly contested game of marbles. We were only eight years old, all of us small and skinny. I tell you what, I was beating the pants off them fellas, they did not stand a chance against a pro like me. I had a pile of marbles sitting on the ground, you see we were playing for keeps. Any marble you knock out of the circle, you get to keep. Roach was already vexed, I had won his favorite Iron marble, that boy would shine that marble like it was a gold chain or something. But now it was mine, it sat there sparkling in the afternoon sunshine. Roach was trying his best to win it back but I was in rare form today, hitting marbles out of the circle from impossible angles, smiling at the groans from my victims. I was just about to pitch my marble when I heard footsteps, they were coming fast. Then I heard someone shouted “Raaaafffff!” and four older boys rushed in, knocking Roach and Smakarooti over, grabbing all the marbles, it only took them a second to gather all the marbles, then they took off running, giggling like school girls. Roach went into a rage, that boy was cursing for so. Smakarooti started to cry, then took off running, his hands loosely swinging at his side, we heard him scream angrily as he disappeared into some bushes. Roach was still cursing, “Leh we go get we marbles!” He shouted, I looked at him, “Boy, yuh crazy or wah, is dem big bois dat tek de marbles you know,” I said then turned to walk away, “Ohhh I see how it is, you is a fraidy cat eh?” Roach said, I stopped, nobody challenges my manhood. I turned to Roach, “Leh we go den,” I said and walked in the direction the older boys ran, Roach hesitated, a little surprised I agreed. He followed me as we searched for the older boys. We were standing in front of a house when we heard laugher and an argument. We walked around the house and into the back yard. There were about seven older boys playing marbles. We stood there for a second not knowing what to do, one of the boys had Roach’s iron marble spit shining it. “Dat is me marble,” Roach said, his eyes red with anger, one of the boys looked over at him, I tell you what, he had the biggest nose I ever seen, he took a step over to us, “All yuh go come tek it from we?” He said, I did not pay attention to what he said, I was too busy afraid that I would get sucked into the two wormholes on his face. Roach immediately jumped behind me, as is that would do any good. “Well wah yuh waiting for eh? Come get yuh precious marble,” Mr. Big Nose said, and I swear his nose opened even more. It was then I realized that the heat from Roach’s body was no longer behind me, I turned around and saw the heel of his foot disappear around the house. Mr. Big Nose was still walking towards me. I turned and ran out of the yard so fast dust kicked up liken smoke behind me.
These are my friends, my buddies, my pals, oh how I miss them so, its been a while since we have played together, its been a while since I saw them soar over my head, its been too long since I feel them bump against me playfully. Hmmm I wonder if they miss me, do they sing in the open ocean, calling me, their old friend, their best bud, Have they ever come to these shows seeking my conference. oh beautiful gentle friends, my journey is almost at an end, soon, I will be home, and you will have to teach me how to swim again.
Days like today reminds me of rain storms in the villages in the rain forest. The scent of the wet mud, and bushes. Splashing around in the wet mud, rock slides and rivers over flowing. Fun for the kids but worrisome for the parents. Mud tracking into the house, replanting the flower garden, crops destroyed, goats, cows and sheep missing. Yet still, us kids would make searching for the animals fun. We were a posse, hunting Indians, shooting our make believe guns at anything that moved. Getting stuck in the sticky, volcanic mud, screaming for help, finding the animals, struggling to get them back to the yard. It all was hard work, but like I said, we always turned it into a game.