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Cool Runnings Storyteller

26th Installment of La Diablesse

                                                                                          CHAPTER 9

Days turn into months and the government kept a tight leach on the opposition and the young people, well they seemed real defeated. I went bout me daily routine of teaching during the day and spending most of me evenings with Jane, she would come over with she books and study while I grade papers as the sun set over the ocean. Sometimes we would talk for hours Jane asking all kinds of questions bout the voodoo culture, I tell you what, it was real nice talking she, I mean, she melodic voice kept me mind off all the crazy things going on round me. The woman in white had not shown up for a while, so I went back to sitting at me window enjoying the Caribbean nights, the smell of food cooking in the early evening, the children playing in their yards, music playing and the wind slightly brushing against me face, paradise was back.

December Nineteen Seventy eight was a real lonely month, Jane had went home for the Christmas holidays and the island was packed with people visiting they families from America or England. The opposition leaders were becoming restless again I mean it seemed like every week there were meetings or rallies, everywhere I went on the island pockets of young people were standing round talking, they were becoming more and more discontented with the political situation. There were some scrimmages between them and the secret police but the worse was when an Inspector on the force was assassinated, man I tell you what the whole bloody place was in chaos, I mean them damn police was arresting everybody, people were leaving the island like crazy afraid they would be locked up too. One of me friends took a job on the banana boat just because there was a rumor that he was the one who shot the policeman, but soon enough things calm down a little and the people tried they best to go on with they lives.

I had let me hair grow out and it was fast becoming as long as Mr. Hopson’s pretentious Afro. Me relationship with some of the teachers had become strained for so, I mean, I did not really care because I too was becoming fed up of the colonialist rule and I even attended some of the opposition rallies. The encounter with Alison’s grandmother and the people in they village made me aware of a side of the island that me mother tried she best to keep me away from. She used to fight with me grandmother every time I came back from a visit with tales bout spirits and curses.

In late February of nineteen seventy-nine the atmosphere on the island was real tense so tense I had stopped going to the political meetings and was writing more than ever, me hair was long, to me shoulder dreaded up, yeah man I was Rasta now. Much to the disdain of the other teachers and the education board I had started following the Rastafarian faith, I mean I even started smoking up the herb with the fellas and them, listening to Bob Marley and other reggae artists all the time hell, I even started attending Rasta ceremonies; I tell you those boys had the best ganja anywhere. Jane and I were still seeing each other and that was the only true stable thing in me life. The woman in white had not approached me, nor had I thought much bout she thank god because for a while there I though I was going crazy.

One morning I was preparing for the days teaching and listening to the radio when it suddenly went silent so I walked into me bedroom and smacked it a little when suddenly a voice I had not heard before started talking.

“Is de dawn of a new day, de people and they have taken control of their destiny,” I stopped and sat down, the voice was that of a young man and there was a disturbing urgency in he tone, man, I tell you what, I sat there numb for so. He went on to say that the people had had enough and the opposition party had taken control of the island and will not be oppressed by the colonialist dogs anymore. I was real stunned, me heart pounding as I listened.

“De people should rise up and take up arms to fight the tyranny dat dey have endured over de last twenty five years now is de time me comrades. Power to de people.” Then the song Get Up stand Up by Bob Marley played, I sat there looking down at the floor, man all hell was about to break loose. Then I thought bout Jane and got up and ran all the way to she dorm and I knocked on she door,

“Who is it”? She asked and when I answered she opened the door and immediately reached out and hugged me, I squeezed she trying me best to calm she down. The radio was on and the announcer was talking frantically sometimes not making sense, in the background I heard rumblings like someone was going through papers. He was giving details of where policemen can be found and giving the revolutionaries’ instructions on how to capture them. In the distance we heard the faint sound of gunfire, man I tell you what that was the angriest sound I ever heard in me whole damn life. Outside medical students ran back and forth to each other’s room trying to get more information bout what was going on, I got up and opened the door a little and peeped outside, people were running along the beach, across the crystal blue ocean smoke bellowed out of a burning building, I closed the door and went back inside.

“I think we should go to my house, it will be safer there,” Jane nodded she head but did not move reluctant to go outside, I took she hand and gentle guided she to the door.

“Wait,” she said, “Let me take some of my things, she hurried over to she dresser and grabbed some of she clothes and stuffed then into a knapsack. She hoisted the bag over the shoulder and picked up some books that were laying on she desk, then she looked at me took a deep breath and said,

“I am ready,” I took the backpack from she walked over to the door opened it slightly and peeped outside, there were still some students running round out there. We stepped outside just as another medical student came running down the corridor.

“Where are you going Jane?” he asked, looking at me suspiciously.

“I am going to his house it should be safer there,” The man looked at me he blue eyes shifting from me to she, Jane brushed past him running down the stairs, the man and I stood and looked at each other two cultures on the verge of colliding, and then he shrugged he shoulder and walked down the corridor and went into the room next to Jane’s. I ran down the stairs to where Jane was waiting on me an impatient look on she face. We headed in the direction of me house passing jeeps laddened with young people carrying A.K 47 riffles. Some of them recognized me,

“Power to de people! They screamed some of them shot off they riffles into the air Jane jumped and grabbed me hand squeezing it, I mean she was used to guns but the idea of maybe being the target put the fear of god in she. By the time we reached me house I was a lot less concerned because I realized that the young people were so jubilant bout they liberation to harass anyone, Jane too realized this and was fast becoming a little more relaxed.

We got to me house and sat in me room listening to the reports of the takeover, one by one the revolutionaries were taking control of the police stations and government offices. I thought bout me students and I wondered how many of them were involved with this action, I mean I knew how upset they were bout the attack by the hooligan’s months ago, I even heard some of them talking bout revenge. I thought of Alison and she grandmother did they agree with what was going on or were they concerned bout what the young soldiers would do. Jane was sitting on me bed and I still saw a hint of fear in she eyes so I got up and walked over to she.

“Why don’t you try calling your family and let them know you are alright,” She slowly got up and went down the stairs and I heard the sound of the old rotary phone and then she was talking in a hushed tone so I walked over to the window and looked outside. The backyard was silent the sea still, no boats no seagulls, not even the sound of children playing. I looked over at Ken’s house it too was real quiet it was like the calm before the eye of a hurricane blast across the land. Jane walked up behind me and wrapped she arms round me, I took a deep breath, it seems like every time she touched me I had to struggle to catch me breath. I turned round and looked at she a teardrop rolled down she left cheek and I gently wiped it away with me thumb.

“The phone went dead when I was talking to my dad. He was so worried when I told him what was going on.” I kissed she on the forehead, it was the only thing I could think of doing. I thought bout me mother I bet any money she real worried too and now there was no way I could call she to let she know I was fine.

“ I told my dad where I was and he felt a little better that someone on the island was looking out for me,” I hugged she, squeezing gently I mean I wanted she to know that I would not let anything happen to she.

We spent the day listening to the radio all the reports and reggae music echoed in me head. Round six o’clock the revolutionaries had mopped up what they though were the last remnants of resistance and the leader of the opposition was named Prime Minister of the island. When the announcement was made, we heard cheering coming from Ken’s house and loud music suddenly erupted all over the village as more people ventured outside. Jane and I left the house and walked back to she dorm she wanted to get more of she things. We passed groups of young people laughing and dancing singing the praises of the new leader, the older people seemed a little more concerned with what had happened but even some of them joined in the celebration. When we got to the dorms there was a large group of medical students standing in front of it, the blue eyed man from earlier came over,

“Look at them,” he said pointing to a group of young people celebrating on the beach, the pungent scent of marijuana filled the air, Rastamen was having a celebratory smoke. Jane brushed past him and went up to she room while I walked over to the Rastamen and began talking to one of them I knew.

“We take over, Dickie bouy,” he said a big joint in he hand. He reached it out to me and I shook me head. He pulled it back up to his thick lips and sucked smoke floating out of his mouth when he spoke.

“Yeah man, tings go be a whole lot better now,” he said as Jane walked up to us holding a small briefcase. I said goodbye to the Rastaman he looked at Jane,

“Don worry lady, dis here is a peaceful revo. No one go hurt you and you American friends.” Jane smiled a nervous smile and looked at me, the Rastaman looked at she he droopy eyes indusive to smoking way too much damn Ganja.

“Any friend ah Dickie bouy is ah friend ah we, I used to lime wid ‘im in school man. We used to get into all kinda ting wee,” and he laughed a roaring laugh, Jane’s smile grew bigger, I don’t know if she was tickled that he wanted to protect she or if she was laughing at the bellowing sound coming from such a little man. I took the suitcase from she just as the Rasta stretched he hand out,

“Me name is Ras Itran,” Jane took he hand and he shook vigorously.

“If you need anyting jus come to me O.K.” Jane shook she head.

“Later Rasta,” I said and walked away. Jane waved at him.

“Jah, guide me bredrin, come by me house and see me sumtime, tell me how you family doing and ting,” he said and then he looked at Jane he waist length dreadlocks twirling round he body, the joint in he hand popping as seeds exploded falling to the ground.

“Don let the system get you down me little sister,” he smiled showing big white teeth then turned and joined the other Rastamen who were singing a Jimmy cliff song

“Treat de youths right or you playing wid dynamite!” They voices trailing off as we went

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Pics with verse Storyteller

Reflection

Reflection

These streets I have roamed, when heavy torrential rain bounces off your skin like a natural massage.
These streets I have roamed, in the mid afternoon when the sun stings your skin.
These streets I have roamed, when chased with hooligans with machetes and sticks.
These streets I have roamed, when strange soldiers with strange weapons barked orders at me.
These streets I have roamed, dancing to the steel drums, or to a DJ on a big truck blasting calypso music,
These streets I have roamed at night, looking over my shoulder for jumbies and dupes.
These streets I have roamed at night, when the moon is full, casting shadows of boats across the ocean’s surface.
These streets that I roamed, now roam around in my head, reflection comes with age.

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Stories Storyteller

The Gray World (1983)

The Gray World (1983)

As the war raged, I tried my best to cope, but nothing worked. One day my oldest brother walked into the room and placed eight cigarettes as big as Cuban cigars on the kitchen table. I looked at them, a little skeptical, but he swore that they would calm my nerves. I took my first draw on one before I realized it was the most potent joint I’d ever had. Needless to say, I must have smoked a pound of marijuana a day until all the fighting was done. We would get high, then go out into the front yard and watch as helicopters hovered over the city. They sometimes shot at targets, and I wondered how many were killed. One afternoon, when all was quiet, we stood outside watching the Navy ships come in closer. Suddenly a volley of gunshots rang out. I was standing next to the door, high as can be. Before I could react, I felt someone grab my shirt and pull me. It was my brother’s wife. That bloody woman was strong for her size. The look on her face was classic: she did not care how big I was, she was determined to move my big ass out of her way even if she had to huff and puff. I landed on my back looking up at my size seventeen feet. I remember thinking how big and ugly my feet looked against the tropical blue sky. Yes, that was my ganja voice talking to me. Before I could gather myself, she had disappeared into the house; I was the butt of jokes for a while.

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Storyteller

Wake Me Up Please

I lay on the bed looking up at the ceiling. Sleepless nights were now part of my life. I was running through the forest, an AK-47 rifle in my hand. I heard the voices of soldiers as they chased me. The forest was dark despite the sun being high in the sky. My lungs were on fire as I maneuvered through the trees and bushes. Bullets whizzed by my head, hitting the trees, creating a buzzing noise in my head. Leaves flew into the air; branches fell in front of me. I hurdled over bodies. Some were still alive, begging for help.

I kept running as the footsteps of my pursuers grew closer. I was so panicked, I did not see the wounded man step out in front of me. Part of his face was blown off and one eye had tears of blood pouring out of it. He lifted his arm as if asking for mercy.  I bumped into him and he fell backwards. I stopped and looked down at him. He was trying to get back up, his voice a mere gurgle as blood oozed out of his mouth. I reached out to him, but he fell back to the ground. I looked back and saw the approaching soldiers; I turned and ran off, my legs feeling like they would freeze up. I ran until I came to a precipice. It was about a sixty-foot drop, so I looked around for another escape route. Sweat poured down my face, getting into my eyes. I wiped it off and looked up just in time to see the soldiers standing in front of me. I wanted to run, but I knew I was cornered. I closed my eyes for a second hoping to block out my fate, but I opened my eyes and they were all pointing their M16 rifles at me. I watched as the bullets shot out of the rifles. The closer they got to me, the darker the scene became. I closed my eyes just as the bullets exploded in my body. I screamed, my voice disappearing into the darkness. I sat up in bed, my heart racing so fast, I almost fainted. My ex-wife moved a little asking me if I was alright. I mumbled that I was, got up and went to the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror. I was white as a red-headed step child. Sweat rolled down my face as a sudden chill went through my body.  I splashed some water in my face, then walked back to the bedroom and stood over her for a moment. She looked so peaceful, that smile on her face. I hoped she was having a better dream than the one I’d just had. I crawled into bed and snuggled up against her. I always felt better when I was close to her. The scent of Egyptian Musk on her skin, the slow throbbing of her heartbeat; quite frankly, it was those moments that kept me sane.

Categories
Parts Dirty Immigrant Storyteller

Nightmares of war (From the Novel I am a Dirty Immigrant)

I lay on the bed looking up at the ceiling. Sleepless nights were now part of my life. I was running through the forest, an AK-47 rifle in my hand. I heard the voices of soldiers as they chased me. The forest was dark despite the sun being high in the sky. My lungs were on fire as I maneuvered through the trees and bushes. Bullets whizzed by my head, hitting the trees, creating a buzzing noise in my head. Leaves flew into the air; branches fell in front of me. I hurdled over bodies. Some were still alive, begging for help.
I kept running as the footsteps of my pursuers grew closer. I was so panicked, I did not see the wounded man step out in front of me. Part of his face was blown off and one eye had tears of blood pouring out of it. He lifted his arm as if asking for mercy.  I bumped into him and he fell backwards. I stopped and looked down at him. He was trying to get back up, his voice a mere gurgle as blood oozed out of his mouth. I reached out to him, but he fell back to the ground. I looked back and saw the approaching soldiers; I turned and ran off, my legs feeling like they would freeze up. I ran until I came to a precipice. It was about a sixty-foot drop, so I looked around for another escape route. Sweat poured down my face, getting into my eyes. I wiped it off and looked up just in time to see the soldiers standing in front of me. I wanted to run, but I knew I was cornered. I closed my eyes for a second hoping to block out my fate, but I opened my eyes and they were all pointing their M16 rifles at me. I watched as the bullets shot out of the rifles. The closer they got to me, the darker the scene became. I closed my eyes just as the bullets exploded in my body. I screamed, my voice disappearing into the darkness. I sat up in bed, my heart racing so fast, I almost fainted. My ex-wife moved a little asking me if I was alright. I mumbled that I was, got up and went to the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror. I was white as a red-headed step child. Sweat rolled down my face as a sudden chill went through my body.  I splashed some water in my face, then walked back to the bedroom and stood over her for a moment. She looked so peaceful, that smile on her face. I hoped she was having a better dream than the one I’d just had. I crawled into bed and snuggled up against her. I always felt better when I was close to her. The scent of Egyptian Musk on her skin, the slow throbbing of her heartbeat; quite frankly, it was those moments that kept me sane.