Here Raphie was, standing at the top of Cooper Hill, not able to move, not able to scream, his heart racing, sweat pouring down his face, his back, his chest, hell sweat was even pouring down his legs. He started to run but realized he was not going anywhere, in his head he started to pray, “Oh God, if I escape dis I go never drink rum again,” He tried talking, but all he managed to do was sound like a rooster was stuck in his throat. Why you ask Raphie was in this predicament, well he was standing at the top of Cooper Hill, just before the only lamppost on the whole damn hill, drunk and face to face with, the Cooper Hill ghost. Yes the Cooper Hill ghost. Romour had it the ghost was that of a World War Two Veteran who came back from the war and spent his nights standing under that lamppost as if keeping guard, but when he died, months later, people started seeing him there, his gun on his shoulder, still at attention. See Raphie did not believe, he thought all the talk about a ghost was pure nonsense, but here he was, face to face with the weary soldier. The old war man turned to him, then slowly brought his rifle down to his side and saluted. Raphie suddenly was able to move, he took off, stumbling down the cobble stoned hill. At one point he fell on his bum, but he did not stop, he used his legs to drag himself like he was rowing a boat, totally destroying his brand new pants. So I asked him, “Did de ghost chase yuh?” he said, Damn boi I du know,, I was just trying to get away from dere you know.”
It was 1981, I was standing outside the Ministry of Finance building waiting for Mommy Charles to get off work. It was November and we were going to the town to do a little window shopping, a tradition we had during the season. I looked across the small parking lot, standing on the other side were three People’s Revolutionary Army Soldiers or PRA as we called them. They seemed to be looking at me and talking. I did not pay them any mind, they were showing off with the A K 47 rifles slung over their shoulders. I looked away and to the public library, a woman and a little boy walked out. The little boy had a book open trying to read and walk at the same time. He stumbled down the steps and almost fell. His mother caught him and they walked past The PRA members. One of them looked at me then slowly began walking towards me, the rifle hung loosely over his should from a strap, I pretended not to look at him. Soon he was standing next to me, his eyes red from standing in the soon, his Russian made green uniform pressed, his boots sparkling in the tropical afternoon sun,
“Dat woman wey work up dey, dats you sista eh?” He asked. At first I did not respond not knowing why he was asking.
“wah woman?” I asked, he smiled and shook his head,
De one call Mis Charles,” he said, adjusting the gun on his shoulder.
“Dats me mudda mon, why you asking?”
“she used to be A Garyite,” Mommy Charles was a prominent supporter of the former Prime Minister, I used to go to parties and political rallies with her all the time,
“Yea mon, we locking all ah dem who used to support the old government, yuh mudda is one ah dem. One day we go come tek she to jail,” I sttod speechless, the thought of Mommy Charles being carded off to that dungeon they called a prison flashed before me. Then I felt my face get hot, and a sharp throbbing around my eyes. The PRA soldier smiled, adjusted the rifle, turned and walked away. It was at hast moment I decided that I needed to arm myself.
Two weeks later, after I made sure no one would be home, I sat in my room looking down and two Avtomat Kalashnikova rifles, a Russian made pistol. Several rounds for the weapons lay next to them. My heart was racing, I have held guns before even shot them, but this was different, sweat trickled down my face, my back, my chest even though there was a cool breeze sweeping through the house. I took the guns, wrapped them in plastic and hid them in the chicken coup in the back yard. Weeks later, just after Christmas, I was once again standing outside the Ministry when I saw the same PRA soldier, I walked over to my, propelled by fear and anger. When I got to him I stopped, looked him in the eyes, then leaned in,
If all you come get she, dere going be a blood bath.” Before he responded, I turned and walked away, my knees felt like they were rubber, my heart was beating so fast it hurt. Luckily, they never came to get Mommy Charles because in my opinion, not much in this life is worth dying for, but Mommy Charles, well that was a whole other story.