Uncle Teddy made a stopover in Miami on his way back to New York from Jamaica. He had spent a month in Jamaica. He now had a green card and had recently filed for my father. To him it was great news but to me it was a slight window of hope. It would take over 10 years before my father would get a green card. Then it would take another 7-10 years before I could get a green card through my father. I was not going to count on this as my way to a green card.
Uncle Teddy was staying with us for 2 weeks. It was winter in New York and he wanted to enjoy the warm Florida weather. That first week He seemed to be a changed man. He spoke differently. No more patois. He did not drink or spend late nights out. He did not bring home any ladies. His wife, Annetta had him do rehab for drinking. He was a responsible married man. He called Annetta every day. I would hear him telling her how much he missed her and wished she was here. He also seemed to make a lot of business calls. He had over 10 properties he owned in New York. With the help of his Annetta they bought properties, fixed them and then sold or rented them. It was a very lucrative business for him. On his arrival to Miami he rented a nice BMW. He also took us to dinner a few times at some of the most expensive restaurants on Miami Beach. I was caught off guard seeing him like this. I know he was a better man but in a way I missed the old “Uncle Teddy” because it was what I was used to.
In week two of his stay with us things changed. I am not sure what happened but the old Uncle Teddy came back. I came home one evening to a house filled with liquor bottles on the dining table. Uncle Teddy was drunk and sleeping on the couch.
I did not say anything to him. I got ready and left for work.
The next day it was the same thing. The difference this time was that he was awake.
I think he sensed I was apprehensive about seeing him like this.
“You know addiction is a disease, right”
I did not know what to say. There was an awkward silence.
“I just had a relapse. Don’t tell Annetta” he pleaded with me.
”Okay”, I nodded and then went to change to go to work.
The next morning I had no school. Uncle Teddy was completely back to himself. He wanted me to take me to lunch. I agreed. We were probably going to an expensive restaurant and I also liked driving around in a BMW. We ended up at a high end strip joint on Miami Beach. The strip joint served lunch.
He had a few drinks before the meal came.
He called one of the nude dancers over to where we were. He slipped her some money. And she started to dance for us.
Then he started to talk.
”Ooman a trouble yuh nuh,” he was back to patois.
I shook my head in agreement. It was good that the dancer did not understand him as it was awkward talking about women with one right there.
Staring at the dancer, he said “Ooman will convince yuh fe do anything”
I shook my head again in agreement. I could relate to that one as I was having some “Ooman issues” of my own.
The stripper was dancing closer to Uncle Teddy and he was giving her more money.
”Dis a wha get me inna chobble in Jamaica.”
I wondered what he meant.
”Mi tell de gal fe mek mi put awn de boots but she neva waawn wait. De young gal bady did nice so mi guh through.”
I had no idea who he was talking about but it seemed he had sex with someone without using a condom.
He kept talking.
”Yuh know she call me fram Jamaica 3 days ago ah tell mi seh she ave belly. “
He was sleeping around while in Jamaica. This is what led him back to the bottle. The girl was pregnant. I tried to keep a straight face as he continued talking.
”Nuh fe ar ra** fault. Mi tell ar fe dash whey da bumbo cl*** belly cause dah baby deh a nuh mine.”
He put his hand on my shoulder to stress a point.
”She mussy think mi a idiat. Mi nah tek nuh Jacket. Ah money she a look from mi.”
He continued to tell me how he met her at a party and she came on to him. He spent a lot of time with her during his month in Jamaica. She was in her 20’s and made him feel young.
The stripper dancing in front of us moved on as Uncle Teddy stopped giving her money. He was engrossed in a one way conversation with me trying to justify why this baby was not his and he was not going to support it.
By the time we left the strip joint Uncle Teddy was “wasted”. He could not drive so I drove the BMW home. I loved how the car felt.
As I helped him into our apartment to the couch he grabbed my arm and whispered.
“Don’t tell Annetta”
”I won’t,” I replied.
There was no way I was going to mess up anything that could remotely affect his ability to complete the process of having my father get his green card. It would be our little secret. One I would probably share with Sue (smile).
Seth my ex-coworker called. We always kept in touch. He had a breakthrough with Krystal. Him learning about Jamaica and even speaking some patois helped to win her over. He also recruited Sue for help. Krystal was going back to Jamaica in less than 3 months. He wanted me to go on a double date with him and Krystal. I got the impression it was a send off for Krystal.
I told him about Elena Rodriguez my new “friend”. I told him how possessive and paranoid she was. He gave her the nickname “fatal attraction” after the movie. I did not love her but did not want to break her heart. I was afraid she would do something silly. In fact she had joked many times that she would kill herself if I ever left her.
Sue hated her. She still thought there was hope for me and Rosa. She called her the “mad ooman”. My mother heard about her and instantly hated her. She would compare her to Rosa. She was especially harsh when she learned that Elena was an artist. What a drop in status compared to a doctor. No matter how much I tried to convince her that it was not a serious relationship, she kept referring to her as my future wife.
Elena’s parents did not like me. I met them briefly when she “conned” me into taking her “somewhere” to pick up a package. When I got there I learned it was her parent’s home and she was picking up mail that was still going to their house. I did not get out the car but they came outside and greeted me.
After that visit she told me they did not like me. I think it was a racial, religious and nationality thing. Her parents also thought we were in a serious relationship. I was not sure what she was telling them but in my brief meeting with them I never gave them that impression.
Elena said her dad wanted her to marry a nice white catholic Cuban boy. She said he used to refer to himself as a Cuban “redneck” because of his love for Cuba and all things Cuban. She said he was very patriotic. He hated Castro. He was forced to leave his mansion and wealth in Cuba when Fidel Castro came into power. I was not Cuban. She mentioned that he said Jamaicans loved Castro and communism. She said he talked about one of the Jamaican Prime Ministers who was friends of Castro. I figured he was referring to Michael Manley.
She called her parent hypocrites. She said they supported the US embargo and hated Jamaicans. However, they traveled to Cuba via Jamaica a few times. Air Jamaica traveled to Cuba and it was a convenient way for Cubans to go home. Traveling to Jamaica was a way to get around the US embargo.
I never told Elena that my family did not like her but she always reminds me that her parents did not. I think it was her way to convince me of the sacrifices she was making to be with me. It was her way of saying she loved me regardless of what others think.
She was very “clingy” and brought a lot of baggage from her previous relationship. Her last boyfriend was a drug addict who abused her physically and verbal. They both attended Miami Lakes high school and started dating then. Their families knew each other from Cuba. She said the abuse started with heated arguments and verbal abuse. It escalated to physical abuse where he punched her in areas that were not visible. No one believed her because he was very nice. She kept thinking he would change as he would be very apologetic after each incident. He would tell her it was the drugs that caused him to abuse her and she would believe him. She thought that once he stopped doing drugs he would change and the abuse would stop. He never did and the abuse never stopped. He was later arrested for selling coke to an undercover officer. She broke up with him when he went to jail. She said he still writes proclaiming his love for her.
I tried to keep busy to not let her to think that this was a serious relationship but she was persistent. She called me everyday. She would page my beeper when I was at work. She would stop by the store to bring food and little gifts.
She had done quite a few very good paintings of me. She would show up at the apartment unannounced. Any club I went to for my boy’s night out she would be there with her friends. I wanted to break up with her but having someone around was nice. I also think the more my family hated her the more I wanted to be with her. I think it was the same thing on her side.
When I told her about the date she was very happy. It was our first “real” date. She called me “every second” about what to wear and if my friends would like her.
We met outside the Bennigan’s restaurant. Krystal looked different. She was glowing and seemed very happy. I was surprised being that she was leaving in a few weeks. Seth also seemed happy.
The conversation was very awkward during dinner. Elena was trying hard to fit in with my friends and just could not find a topic that interested them. It was especially weird when she started talking about the Japanese comics she read. She was artsy and my friends were not. She then started to talk about how she can predict the future and her weird dreams. I wanted her to stop talking as I am sure my friends were thinking she is a weirdo. I liked her artsy weird stuff but not in public.
Dinner was being served.
Krystal reached across the table to clear some space for the server. That was when Elena said loudly.
“That is a lovely ring. When are you two getting married? “
Krystal had an engagement ring on her finger. I did not notice if before. Women are normally quick to notice these things.
”I guess the cat is out the bag, “Seth said with a big smile. “I proposed last week. We wanted to share the news with you.”
”How sweet. Where did he propose?” Elena asked while holding Krystal’s hand and inspecting the ring.
”He proposed to me on the beach. He took me to a specific spot on the beach and when we sat he said he felt he was sitting on something. It was a small box that he opened and got on his knees and proposed”
”Awwww how sweet. That is so romantic. I hope my proposal is as romantic.” She was snuggling her head against my chest and giggling. It was a hint. I was thinking to myself I have to break up with her soon.
”Congrats,” I told Seth as I shook his hand. I hugged Krystal.
”When is the big day”, I asked.
”A year away in Jamaica”, Seth replied.
“Jamaica, that is great,” Elena exclaimed.
Seth looked at me. “We want you there. I wanted you as my best man.”
I almost choked.
I nodded in agreement even though I knew there was no way I was going to Jamaica.
Elena hugged me. “Yay we are going to Jamaica honey. I get to meet your parents. I can’t wait.”
I lost my appetite
“We have more news” Seth said.
I was thinking he was going to say Krystal was pregnant.
“When Krystal finishes school I am moving to Jamaica with her”