Living like a run on sentence.
I was walking dung de road, de sun was high in de sky, it was surrounded by white clouds and endless blue. Seagulls flew overhead, somebody was playing some real good music on top de hill. It was a fine day, a really fine day I tell yuh. I was mid way down the street when I stopped in front of old Mis Chase’s house and sniffed de air. Wait a second, wah is dat I smell; oh dear lord, she making she famous sweetie, oh me lawd, I have to get home, i have to break that piggy bank. Dem fudge is calling me, i could smell de nutmeg, the Cinnamon, the brown sugar, oh lawd, come on skinny legs, move, move. Oh I can taste it, me mouth watering. Dat old woman know how to make some fudge. I tripped, fell, but forget the pay, forget my bleeding knees, I was Jonsing for some ah dat heavenly fudge. After all that trouble, all tat running, the frantic search for a hammer, here I sat, at the window overlooking the ocean a place full of brown, dark brown and pink sweetie. If this is not heaven, well hell must be real sweet.
Ohhh the sweet creamy deliciousness, Oh yes, its Saturday afternoon and a group of boys are all scaling the tree trying to find the ripe ones. They were running around the tree scrambling over the fallen fruit, sometimes destroying it before anyone could get to eat it. Soon there were way too many boys trying to climb the tree, the branches sagged to the ground as they swung from branch to branch. Then there was a loud booming voice.
“All you get out ah me yard!” The boys stopped, all was quiet, an old man charged out of the house, he moved fast taking into consideration his age. Above his head was a switch and before the boys could react the old man was among them swinging the switch, connecting on anyone he could. Oh the screaming the laughing as the old man chased them out of the yard.
“You little hooligaans!” he screamed. “I know who you are, i know all all yuh muddas, I go tell dem and all yuh go get a good licking. Stay out me yard I tell yuh.” The boys were laughing, some checking themselves for marks from the switch. oh yes, the things us boys used tio do for some sweet sweet sugar apples.
The sun was blasting down, so hot when you walk in the sunshine you skin would tingle. Here i was, eight years old on summer break. Mommy Charles had stayed home from work that day and it was just me and she in the house. I don’t quit remember why our nice quiet day deteriorated into a battle of wills, I mean it could have been because i had stolen the freshly baked bread and hid it in the dresser draw, or, i could have said a word I should not have said, or even I may have stupes (suck my teeth) or looked at her crossed eyed when she tried to discipline me, but here I was, bolting out the back door, Mommy Charles in hot pursuit. I burst out the back door, down the flight of stairs and onto the cobble stoned alleyway. Mommy Charles stood at the doorway looking down at me.
“Wey you tink you go go? She asked, that wait till i get hold of you look on her face. I realized she would not come out after me, she did not have her shoes on. So feeling confident i was safe, i wagged my tongue at her and did a little dance, my skinny legs pumping and twisting like James Brown, I mean it was footwork that even he could not duplicate.
“Ohhh so you mocking me now eh? You just wait.” she said, shook her head and sat down. thus began the staring battle, Mommy Charles on the top of the stairs and me standing in the alley. People walked by, some saying hello others looking at us real strange. Mommy Charles got up and was about to go inside and me and without thinking I committed the most heinous crime an eight year old could. I turned my back to Mommy Charles, bent over, pulled my pants down and skinned my bam bam at she (mooned). I felt the warm tropical sun brush off my bare bam bam sending chill bumps all over my body. I heard Mommy Charles growl, i swear, i say smoke come out she mouth. I pulled my pants up real fast as if afraid to be scotched by she fuming breath.
“Wey yuh tink you go run to eh? Wah you go do, swim to de nex’ island?” That was when all the bravado drained out of me. i thought, lord, where am i going to go to get away from Mommy Charles. She shook her head and walked back into the house. I sat there , on the hot cobble stone alley, my heart pounding as i tried to figure out where i can go. Back then, running away was not an option, I mean where would I go, not to my father’s, hell no. Maybe i can go live on the beach, but damn it the police would catch me and take me home. I can go to the other side of the island, but Mommy Charles had family there. They would not just take me back home, they most likely would have spanked me and then take me home. Either way i was going to take a good licking. I looked around, like an animal caged and about to get spaded. I decided to try and make it to the bedroom that my brother and i shared. i started walking up the stairs but stopped, surely she would be somewhere up there waiting. I went around the house to the front door. I listened pressing my ear against the wood. i heard nothing so i gingerly placed my hand on the door knob and turned it. The bloody door squeaked as I pushed it in. I poked my head in and looked left and right. A shiver of joy rushed through me. Mommy Charles was nowhere in sight. I moved across the living room floor on my toes trying not to step on any loose floor boards. i was really excited as i reached the bed room door. I was whispering to myself,
“Oh yes, she tink she smarter dan me, well I go show she.” I was so relieved I was giggling uncontrollably by the time i had the bedroom door opened. I was not going to escape the spanking, but i sure was going to put it off as long as I can. I pushed the door open, leaned in and looked inside, she was not going to trick me by waiting in there. I stood there for a second trying to decide if this was the best hiding place when suddenly i felt a stinging sensation on my bum. I hesitated to look back knowing what i would see. I slowly looked around just in time to see the belt above mommy Charles’s head then closed my eyes and clenched my teeth anticipating the next lash. That damn belt, I had hidden it a few days ago, but here it was, reappearing like voodoo magic, gracefully swinging through the air. I rushed into the bedroom, Mommy Charles stood there for a second as i danced and jumped rubbing my bum with my hands. I tell you what, I learned my lesson, i never back talked or skinned my bam bam at mommy Charles ever again.
One of the funniest incidents happened one hot summer day. I had become good friends with one of the ball players because when I first saw him, I thought he was from Africa. He had that purple-black complexion that glittered in the sun and always had a ready smile. He was about five feet ten inches tall, from Hoosier City, and was a really good person. We were sitting on a wall just up from the main street that ran through the campus. Around 4pm every day, truckloads of coal miners would drive through on their way home. My friend got off the wall he was sitting on and started doing the Pee Wee Herman dance. I did not think anything of it until I saw one of the trucks stop and back up. I turned to say something to him, but all I saw was the back of his head because he was halfway to the dorm, running like a mad man. I had never seen anyone run so fast, not even when we were running from the soldiers during the invasion or from the secret police during the riots. Let’s just say that Carl Lewis had nothing on this brother. We laughed about it later and he explained to me that for some reason, the rednecks would get really upset when a brother did that dance. That’s when I got an understanding of the impact that popular culture had on society.
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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.
So here I was, in the middle of the night, walking through the bushes. Tress lined the sides of the foot beaten path, it was real dark and I was sweating with fear. I bet you wondering how I ended up walking in the bushes at night eh? Well it all started when me friend Ras Burtrand ran into me in the city. He was all excited, his eyes that was usually dull from smoking ganja was dancing all over the place. He grabbed me hand and said, “Tall boi, leh me tell yuh, I just harvested some ah de best ganja ever, mon, you have to come over and tek a taste,” Well I for one did not need a second invitation, I mean Ras Burtran was known to cultivate some of the best weed in the whole damn country. I mean that man did not just have a green thumb, I mean this man had the golden touch when it comes to growing weed.
Later that afternoon, I went over to the village where Ras Burtran live. His house sat on a small incline, there was no grass, nor trees, just dirt. That man could gross some bad ganja, but he could never get the grass ton grow around his house. He saw me coming and jumped right up. I sat on a big rock next to the door of his one room wooden house waiting. He came out with two of the biggest joints I ever seen. I took the first puff, inhaled and boy did it hit me. and I swear to you I heard African drums playing, lions roaring, monkeys barking. That damn ganja took me back to Africa, I repatriated in me head. Ras Burtran leaned in and smiled, his teeth looking as big as a donkey’s, “What I tell yuh, I bet you feel real nice right now EH?” he said, inhaling a cloud of smoke. All I could do was smile and shake me head, well I believe I shook me head. Me stomach started rumbling and before I could say anything Ras Burtrand went into his house and came back with a bucket full of freshly picked mangoes, plumbs, sugar apples and guavas. We sat there eating and smoking and before I knew it, night had fallen. Around eleven or so I decided to get back to me village. I did not wanty to take the highway home so I decided to use the short cut through the bushes and boy do I regret that now. Here I was, high as can be, walking through this thick bushes.
I thought I saw someone ahead of me so I stopped, the person seemed to stop too except they seem to be rocking back and forth. I tell you, me whole body went numb and I heard meself breathing hard. We stood for a second, I wanted to turn back but that would have just made me trip longer so I braved up and started walking, the person did not move. As I got closer, I realized that this was no ordinary person, they seemed to have several hands all sticking out from their sides. Me heart almost stopped beating and without thinking I bolted, if they were not going to move I was going to run right through them. Just as I was almost on the person, beast, evil spirit, whatever it was, I changed me mind and took a sharp right, bolting through some vine. I was in full stride, being smacked in the face by branches, bushes with thorns ripped at me arms. I heard rustling in the bushes next to me, something big was running step for step with me. I heard what sounded like growl that echoed through the trees. Something big was after me. I speed up, me legs burning, me heart pounding. I busted out onto the highway and narrowly escaped being hit by a car. I heard the driver curse and watch the back lights fade away. I stopped and bent over trying to catch me breath. Suddenly the bushes from where I had come shook. I was too tired to run so I braced meself to ward off any beast, evil spirit or devil that came at me. I heard the hoofs before I saw the sheep standing in front of me, looking at me the way I was feeling, surprised. I remember saying to meself, not that explains what was chasing me, but what kind of monster did I see on the path. It was then I remembered, that was the plumb tree I used to climb when I was a boy. Ras Burtrand ganja was way better than I thought. I made a pack, never to smoke and stay late at Ras Burtran’s house.
Ahhh haaaa, What yuh doing boi, why you don have on yuh diaper. Yuh know yuh doing sumting wrong, look at yuh face. Running round here wid yuh nakid bamsi, boi yuh got give me high blood pressure you know. I better not see any wet stains on me good carpet you hear, or crapo go smoke yuh pipe. Andy, Andy, come get yuh child before he mess on me good carpet nah. Ah sit dung here reading nex ting ah know child butt naked, wid diaper in he hand, walking round like big man. Yuh din tell me he was mobile. Bunjay, all yuh go give me heart attack you know.
The time, 1 pm, the place, on Grand Anse beach, under the blazing hot Caribbean sun, the event, the race between the brothers. It was me, Raphie and Desi. I don’t know how the chalange was made, but i remember a lot of, “Yuh tink you could be me?” “Boi ah go bust yuh arss real good,? “In yuh dreams nah boi,” Then there was standing up, and jogging in and flexing and stretching. Strutting and threats, Then the short sprints to really show off form. I was not going to have any part of this, i know i was not fast enough, but Raphie wanting someone he can talk trash too after the race, insisted that I join in. We got a little boy walking by to serve as starter. We all went down, “Ready, set goooo!” the boy screamed. Right away I saw the backs of my brothers. Desi had the lead, Raphie was trying to catch up. Their feet splashed into the ocean that rolled up on the beach and i found myself inhaling salt water. When the sea washed out of my eyes I saw the most imaculate thing ever. Raphie was gaining on Desi. oh the speed, the form, Carl lewis had nothing on this sprinterman about to pass Desi. i saw the strain in Desi of a man about to lose a race in the movements of Desi. i forgot i was part of the race and became Raphie’s cheer leader. “Beat he arss, Raphie, Beat he arss!” I screamed and in my excitement I realized I too was gaining on Desi. To my surprise just before the finish line, i found myself neck and neck with Desi, and as the angels sang I crossed the finish line before him. Oh the jubilation, the celebration, you would have thought Christmas came early, or the government had moved carnival up and we were dancing in the streets in the middle of June. i tell you what, that was the last time we ever beat Desi in a race. He always came ready after that.
Andre ran down Eastern Parkway, he ran until none of the buildings looked familiar to him, and then he stopped and stooped over breathing hard.
“Boi, you run fas for so,” The shadow said. Andre looked around; there was a bodega on the corner of the street. Some older boys were standing at the door. They looked over at Andre and started walking towards him. Andre looked at the shadow; its eyes were suddenly bright red. The boys walked up to Andre,
“You lost little man?” One of them asked. Andre did not respond.
“Whats wrong homeboy can’t you talk?” The grease from the boy’s hair ran down his forehead leaving dark spots on his denim shirt.
“Why are you in our hood, you trying to move in on our turf?” the boy said advancing,
“I is just teking a walk,” Andre said, The boy looked at his friends.
“You one of them island boys?”
Where do you live young blood?”
“On Eastern Parkway,”
“You want to have some fun?”
“Don interfere wid me, I is a good fighter,” Andre said as he stepped back and raised his fists. The boys laughed,
“Come on little man, you can hang with us,” the boy said and put his hands on Andre’s shoulder. They walked past the bodega and down a side street.
They arrived at an abandoned apartment building and went inside. As they walked by open doors Andre saw people lying on broken beds or mattresses on the floor. A young man sat scratching himself as if a colony of ants were crawling all over him. Some shook violently, cursing as they did,
“Wah wrong wid dem?” Andre asked
“They want the white ghost,”
“Eh?” Andre asked,
“They want crack,” the boy said. Andre followed them into an empty apartment with other boys and girls walking around aimlessly. They stopped and looked at him. .
“Who dat?” one of the girls asked,
“This here is island boy,”
“He cute,” the girl said,
“Back off crack whore,” The boy said pushing the girl away, she fell to the ground,
“Screw you G-money,” the girl said,
“Want to have some fun island boy?’ He asked as they sat down in a corner. G-money opened a cooler, dug around in it, then handed Andre a forty ounce beer bottle. Andre hesitated. The shadow eyes appeared next to him,
“Go on me boi, tek it, me, I is a rum man meself, but tek it, it go make you feel real good” Amdre took the bottle and took a drink,
“Ewww, dats nasty, Andre said, The Shadow snickered, its red eyes bounced up ands down. ”
“Keep drinking shorty, it will make you feel nice,” G Money said and tilted the bottle up towards Andre’s mouth. Andre coughs,
“Don want anymore,”
“Come on bro drink up,” G-Money insisted, as his friends laughed and chorused his encouragement.
“Yeah man live a little,” one of the girls said
“Like dey say, live a liccle,” the shadow said. Andre closed his eyes and tilted the bottle,
“Chug chug chug,” the boys and girls shouted.