Aunt Fern was a little surprised when I told I was going back to school. She was very supportive and even mentioned my mother told her I was a good student.
The school registration school process was a little difficult. It was a good thing I started early. I had to get all types of papers from Jamaica because I did not graduate from high school in the US.
My parents were excited that I was going to school. They thought it was college. When they learned I was going to a vocational school to learn to drive a truck they were upset. I had to carefully explain to them using code that it was a plan to get my drivers license. They were able to get everything I needed sent to the school from sealed from Jamaica.
I was registered for the September term or semester as it was called. I would be attending school Tuesdays and Thursdays. The week before school I took the bus from work to do a “dry run”. It was a 45 min ride and the school was actually the bus terminal, so the route started over. I had to get off and wait until bus driver took a break. I took that time to walk around a little but. The campus was nice and clean. It was not as big as UWI.
The ride back was a little longer as there seemed to be more people on the bus. I actually enjoyed the long ride as I would be able to listen to some my tapes on the bus ride.
As the start of school drew near I was very excited. I had school bag (never understood why Aunt Fern’s children called it book bag). I actually bought a brief case so I would look different. I told everyone at work that I was going to school. I did not tell them which school but they assumed it was college once they saw the brief case.
Day 1 of school came quickly. I left work and headed straight to the bus stop. The bus was a little more packed than when I did my “trail run”. I did not have a seat until 2 stops before school so it was a little tiring as I was on my feet all day.
The first day was mainly orientation. I took my picture for my school ID which was the highlight of the day. I knew this would be a key part of my plan. I soon learned that my first class in the trucking course had nothing to do with driving. It was an English class. I also had homework the first day.
The first week went by quickly. Adjusting was not as easy as I thought. I came home most nights after school had a bath and just went right to sleep. My dinner was normally a chocolate bar and a soda on the break. The evenings where I did not go to school were spent doing homework. It was not until I got into a routine I would speak to Sherri-Ann on school nights.
Week 2 brought an unexpected surprise. On a break I was tapped on the shoulder as I was in front of the vending machine getting my favorite chocolate bar.
It was a guy about my age. Very muscular in some of the hippest clothes. He had some nice gold chain around his neck.
“Yuh nuh memba mi?”
At first I did not but as I looked closer I realized who it was.
“Richie?” I asked
“Yeah man, whappen mi yout?”
He grabbed my hand and was ‘chopping it’.
“Which class yuh a tek?”
“The trucking course.” I replied.
“Whaaaa, you parents know”,
“Ohh” he replied with a shocked look on his face.
“Mi yout mi haffi flash. Mi class deh pon break. Link mi right yahso afta school.”
As I started walking back to the classroom I began to reflect.
Richard Brown was the son of our first helper, Shereen. We practically grew up together. After school he was at our home. My mother had fired her when some money in the house went missing. I never thought it was her as we had a gardener who used to come in the house occasionally for water. He had disappeared when she got fired.
We had a lot of fun during that time. He was my age and we were like brothers during that time. He taught me how to make ‘baigey’ kites, sling shot and ‘bokkle stopper cutter’. During the summer his mother brought him to our house all day. I learned all the latest ‘patois’ slang from him. The first ‘playboy’ magazines I every saw were his. The first blue movie I saw was one he brought to house.
The helper’s son provided the material for my sex education. For some of my friends it was the helper who provided the sex education.
After class Richard was waiting for me.
“Yeh mi yout. Wha a gwan.”
We talked about how long I had been here and so on. I learned that he left Jamaica 4 years ago when his father filed for him. His mother was still in Jamaica and worked for a family in Beverly Hills. I soon realized it getting late and I had to catch the bus.
“Richie, I have catch the bus give me your phone number.”
“Bus! Mi yout yuh safe mahn. Mi can drop yuh off a yuh yard.” He beckoned me to follow him to the parking lot.
I was thinking. He drives. It was not really a big deal here but in Jamaica it was. Many of my friends at school drove but their parents had lots of money.
We walked up to a brand new black BMW with rims.
“Ah mi dis yuh si mi”
“Yeah.” I said in shock.
“Yah man. Mi fadda ave 5 cars an im gi mi dah wan yah” he said as he got in the car.
The seats were leather. He turned on the car and the dancehall music was blasting. The car was shaking. I was still in shock as Richie proceeded peel out the parking lot.
He drove really “hard”. We were doing 60 in a 40 mile zone. The car had some ‘juice’.
“Wheh yuh guh pon de weekends”
“Work and sometimes mi check mi girl friend.” I replied
“Yuh wan fi guh a party wan night”. He asked
I knew it would not work because of Aunt Fern but I did not want him to get wind that I could not do what I want.
“Yeah, when we can go?” I replided
When I told Richie where I lived I knew he would take the Palmetto express highway. At this time of the day there was barely any traffic.
Richie sped up as we entered the highway and was weaving in and out as he passed the other cars. Some of the spaces he weaved between cars were really small and I thought we were going to hit the car.
“Yow, dis ting fast nuh ra#” he said with a smile.
I was a little scared but excited. I had never been in a car going 100MPH miles before. We got home really fast.
“Mi can tek yuh home pon de night dem wi ave class together”
As I walked in the door I could not help but think of why that could not be me. The feeling of jealousy stayed with me for a few a while.
Richie an I picked up where we left off. The difference now was that the things we did had repercussions. He picked me up from work that week to visit his father’s house. We drove into a very nice Miami Lakes gated neighborhood with mansions. There were Mercedes’ and BMW’s in the driveways. The houses were nice and some even came close to the mansions I used to see on Miami Beach.
Richie pointed to a mansion.
“Dan Marino live ova deh so” he said
Even if you did not know American football you knew who Dan Marino was. He is the Miami Dolphins quarterback whose face is everywhere on billboards, TV commercials and newspaper ads.
We pulled off the road into a long driveway in front of a mansion. It was a 2 stories with a 3 car garage. Well-kept lawn with a statue on it.
Richie had a remote he pulled out of the car pocket on his side. He opened the garage door. We drove in. There were a few boxes in the garage.
“Is where you live” I asked.
“Naw, mi jus check dis place once a week fi mi fadda. Is also mi likkle hideout fi mi girlfriend them. Ef yuh ever need a place fe bring a girl mek me know. “
“What you father do” I asked
“Im buy and sell houses” he said with a sly smile. “ Im do likkle hustling here an dere”.
I did not know what to think of the ‘hustling’ part but something in my mind said I needed to be alert.
We entered the house and walked around. It had 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. There was big pool screen in the back. It was empty except for a bed and TV in the gigantic master bedroom. There was a strange but familiar herbal smell in the house but I could not put my finger on it.
“Mi an wan a mi Puerto Rican ting did deh yah last night. Ef da bed ya could talk. Mi a bring a ting ya latah tonight”
Richie always liked to brag when we were younger. The bragging was more prevalent now. He loved to talk about his car, his girlfriends, sex and money. All his girlfriends were of Spanish.
He even talked about hooking me up with a Spanish girl. I was still committed to Sherri-Anne even though I knew her mother did not approve. I think her mother not approving has even driven her to me more. She calls more often, I visited her more often and we have gone out a few times in the afternoons when I am off.
We left the house and sped through the neighborhood. Richie took the long way because he wanted to hit the Palmetto to ‘drive hard’. Unfortunately we could not go very fast as his radar detector went off as soon as we hit the highway..
As we pulled up to the house Aunt Fern was just going through the front door. I got out the car and Richie ‘peeled’ out.
I wished he had not done it as I knew Aunt Fern was going to say something.
”Who is that” she asked.
“A friend from Jamaica”’ I said. I knew another question was coming.
“What is his name and where in Jamaica you know him from” she asked.
I explained the whole story. I know she was probably going to tell my parents the next time she talked to them.
Then she said something that caught me a off guard.
“Where did such a young guy like that get a such a nice car.”
“His dad gave it him. He sells houses,” I explained.
She had a skeptical look and said.
“Be very careful of the company you keep especially with your situation. Remember if police stops you then you will be sent back home“
“Yes Aunt Fern” I replied. I did not like the comment at all. Sometimes I felt like my situation was used to control me.
It was not long before I figured out how important this warning was.
Richie and I became really tight friends. We were now sparring partners. We never went out to the any night parties. I think he figured out the Aunt Fern “thing” so he would not pull up in the front of the house.
One day after’ loafting’ at the mall watching girls Richie said he had to check one of his fathers houses.
This neighborhood was nice but not as upscale as the one we went to before. It was a modest home in Scott’s Lakes neighborhood. It was dark so we could not really see much.
When we entered the house and there was a scuffle in the back like someone was trying to get out. Richie turned on the lights and there were open boxes everywhere. We heard a car peel out from the road.
Richie ran to the window and looked out.
It was obvious some one had broken into the house. What was more obvious was the content that was in the boxes. It was ganja.
It started to come together in my mind. The familiar smell, the empty houses and the car. Richie’s father was a “jugglist”.
Richie rushed to the car trunk and pulled out a cellular phone. I never knew he had one. I was still in shock and heard him talking rapidly to someone.
“Dem bruk inna de house”
“Dem get a few boxes’
As I stared at the boxes from the front entrance my mind was racing. If the police was the come by I would be a going to jail and eventually Jamaica. My parents would kill me. I needed to get out of there. I was in a daze. I was in shock.
“Yow..lets go” Richie screamed as he tapped me on the shoulder. He closed the door.
I was relieved we were leaving. I felt like I was going to pass out.
I jumped in the car and we sped away in silence. As we were pulling out to the main road another car going in our direction was flashing their headlights. When we passed the car Richie nodded. It was dark so I could not see who was in the car. I was a black BMW.
The drive home was tense. We said nothing to each other but he knew that I knew what was going on. He dropped me at the top of the block and was gone.
The next day we saw each other on the break at school. We talked about the usually things. It was like nothing happened. Richie was the same Richie. We made no mention of the incident and I he took me home after class as normal. I know I should not be riding with him but I did not want Richie to think I had some type of fear. Call it my ego or the feeling of knowing I had a “bad man” friend.
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