The traffic was sparse as I rode back to the city, that was normal for a Sunday but I sense that something was different. At times I passed groups of young people standing on the side of the street talking in hushed tones, bloody troublemakers. I dismissed what I saw happy that the ordeal of the frigging rituals were over.
I arrived at me house later that afternoon and went straight to the kitchen, I was real hungry. I got out some fish I had seasoning in a plastic bowl and tossed them into a pot, added some cabbage carrots and a touch of rum, yeah man, time for some real good eating. I turned on the stove and went to the bathroom the scent of the fish cooking filled the house almost immediately. I stepped under the shower letting the water run down me body cooling me down, I was sore and the gushing water bounced off me skin giving the effect of a massage, Ah yes, it felt real good to be home, for some reason the Obeah rituals had given me a strange sense of security, damn, I sure hoped it was not a false one.
I got out of the bathroom dried meself and put on a fresh suit of clothes, man, I loved the scent of clothes washed in Ajax. I went into the kitchen to cheque on the fish it was simmering real nice into a broth so I added butter and left it to cook some more. I poured meself a glass of limejuice and went out into front yard the sun felt real good on me skin so I sat on a bench in the middle of the flower garden sipping the juice. I thought bout the events of the last two days, I mean, I was a little pleased that I had participated in the islands subculture, I knew that in some small way it would affect the way I thought me history classes in the future.
A humming bird flew by and hovered over a flower, its wings a blur in the hazy afternoon sunlight. I thought of Jane and me heart jumped a little so I got up and went inside picked up the telephone and dialed she number, man, she was real excited to hear me voice. We talked for bout ten minutes and made plans to spend the next weekend together. I loved that Appalachian twang in she voice, I mean, it was so melodic it made me skin tingle with excitement. I heard the food bubbling in the pot so I got off the phone and went to the kitchen, the room was filled with steam and the smell made me mouth water for so. I ate half the food saving the rest for the next day, man I tell you what, there is nothing better than a good fish broth to settle the stomach.
Slept was peaceful that night I woke up only once to go to the bathroom. I felt rejuvenated the next morning looking forward to a good day of teaching. I arrived half an hour early at the school so I can go ahead and plan for the days work, the students were strangely quiet but I did not try to find out why, I mean, teenagers who know what was on they mind. The bell rang and they filed in to their classes all with real serious looks on their faces.
All went well until bout ten o clock when I was sitting in the teachers lodge when I heard the sound of chairs being pushed round, this was not unusual but this time it sounded like every bloody chair in the building was being moved.
I got up and went into the hallway and looked round, students were filing out of the building and onto the streets, I walked over to the window trying to see what the hell they were up to. They walked down the street mingling with students from other schools, some of them were chanting but I could not make out a damn thing they were saying, others were holding banners stating they discontent with the way the country was being run. One banner read,
“The police are murderers” Further down the street I heard someone with a microphone leading the chants, he was urging the crowd to stand up for they rights fight against the oppressors, great, just what they needed a communist leader to fill they head with rubbish. Other teachers joined me at the window all talking in urgent whispers. Mr. Hopson stood next to me shaking he head.
“These young people will destroy this country with their communist ideas.” The rest of the teachers nodded in agreement. The chanting grew louder as more students joined the impromptu rally, everyone knew the opposition leaders were behind this action, I mean, there were rumours bout a demonstration against the government for weeks now, but no one expected the students to join in. The parade filed down the street and disappeared round the corner but they voices echoed through the small city, I mean, the whole damn thing was so surreal. Drivers honked their horns as they tried their best to negotiate the congested, narrow streets.
I left the window and walked back to the teachers lodge it was strange for the school to be this quiet in the middle of the day, no chairs being pushed, no coughing or sneezing just quiet like a ghost house. Mr. Hopson walked into the
lodge and sat down at his desk. I did not turn round because I had nothing I wanted to say to that bloody windbag, he mumbled to heself throwing pens and papers round on him desk.
We sat in silence for what seemed like hours when suddenly screams filled the street outside the school. I got up and ran to the window and saw students running their faces filled with fear, Smoke bellowed out of a building from the waterfront where they had gathered, men with sticks and machetes chased the student’s intent on punishing them. I saw a student running from the commotion she white shirt covered with blood, but no one paid any attention because they were busy trying to save theyselves. I heard the sound of a gun shot which sent the fleeing crowd into a bigger frenzy. I ran to the door pulling in as many of the students as I could, sticks of the attackers pounded against the door as I shut it, sharp edges of machetes bore through the thin wood and I thought for sure them bastards were going to cut their way in. Some of the students used desks to barricade the door and the men stopped trying to get in and turned they attention to the poor bastards outside.
The screams were deafening as the men attacked them, I mean, there is nothing worse than a child screaming in pain and there was nothing that could be done bout it. I looked round the classroom and instinctively began tending to the wounded, one student was bleeding profusely from the head he eyes rolled back in its sockets, I tried me best to stop the bleeding using he white shirt as a
bandage, I motioned to one of the students to grab hold of the make shift bandage and went round making sure that the rest of the students were all right. I was shocked at what I saw blooded bodies and frightened children clustered together, I mean, even some of the teachers were crying. I heard the door being dragged open so I ran over expecting to see the hooligans charging in, but instead some of the students had moved the desks, I cautiously followed them outside looking round for any attackers.
The machete wielding hooligans were nowhere in sight and Policemen were walking round trying to tend to the wounded. I stumbled across the street being careful not to step on any of the fallen students. Just as I was bout halfway across the street I saw Alison lying on the ground, I ran over to she and cradled she head in me arms, blood streamed out of she mouth mixing with the black lipstick. She was mumbling something, but I hushed she and reached into me pocket took out me handkerchief and wiped some of the crimson red from she eyes. The sound of sirens bellowed through the chaos as doctors and nurses arrived from the hospital on the other side of the small town. Someone pulled me away from Alison and knelt down beside she.
“Is she going to be O.K?” I asked. He waved me off shaking his head letting me know that she would be. I walked away aimlessly trying me best not to get in the way of the medical workers, policemen tried to contain the anger of the students, just like the damn police, they got to the scene after the damage was done, I mean, them police and them were not some of the most popular people on the island. They have always been accused of being part of the hooligans that routinely attacked young people.
I saw mist from teargas rising from the buildings on the waterfront it settled above the houses like rain clouds about to burst, screams were coming from down there as the hooligans mopped up the remnants of the protesting students.
I walked back to the teachers lodge and sat in me desk, Mr. Hopson came through the door and I could tell by the look on his face he though the students got what they deserved. I tried my best to avoid eye contact with him as he sat down in his chair and mumbled something I did not ask what, then he slowly turned he chair to face me.
“You are such an ass,” I screamed. He looked at me surprised he eyes were big and he had this bewildered look on he face.
“Do you think those children deserved what happened to them,’ I screamed, he started to get up but I placed the palm of me hands on he chest stopping him.
“Don’t,” I shouted, pushed him back and walked out of the lodge. I maneuvered me way through the students in the hallway and out onto the street. I had no affiliation with the opposition party in fact I grew up with parents who were supporters of the ruling government but this was barbaric.
I walked down the street being bumped by men in uniform hurrying to help the students, it was real hot and my being angry did not help. Me mind was racing thinking bout all the political rallies I had went to with me mother, back then the leader seemed harmless enough. I never really paid attention to his politics I guess I was safe from any hassling from the police or the hooligans because my parents were supporters of the leader. My mother was not one to condole violence but I had heard stories of me father, damn man was known for beating up young people who would disagree with the government.