A gentle wind sways the limb of a coconut tree against the window of the board house, where I lay in bed gazing through a missing pane at the moon lit sky. The chu-chu engine of a train passes along the railway track located about150 meters down the lane, sending a tremor all through the house. Alas, the room becomes very quiet except for the small transmitter radio on and cries from a croaking lizard in the ceiling.
Slowly, I raised my upper half from the bed, trying not to wake Tamazena ( Mi Granny), leaned forward and dimmed the kerosene lamp on the small table next to the bed, almost spilling the glass of water soaking Granny’s denture on the King James Holy Bible opened on Psalm 23. As far back as I could recall Granny and I shared the same bed.
The Home Sweet Home Lampshade was giving off a dark orange glow as tiny little bugs swarmed around it. Suddenly a mosquito buzzed at my ear, I clapped at it but instead of squashing that parasite my palm collided in the side of my head. Noh Problem Man, I thought to myself for in a corner of the house in an old paint pan the smoke from burning dried orange peels and sulfur fills the air and would soon take care of those mosquitoes and that blasted croaking lizard.
Outside a pack of dogs were barking and I could tell a big stone had just crashed landed in the side of one of them as the perpetrators burst into laughter. My guess was that two of the dogs had become “fastened” or hitched from an erotic encounter and as a result were pelted. A punishment meted out and justified in my youthful mind.
Eric Donaldson’s winning festival song, “This is the land of my birth” was playing on the radio as the voice of a woman, echoed in the room from the street, “ Ho sah! Tell me sumting, a wey de drapan man play tinite?” “ Me noh noe” replied a man as their footsteps and voices faded down the lane.
No sooner had both voices distance itself from my ear I heard William, drunk as usual and in the company of his rum drinking, domino playing partner Busha, arguing as he makes his way pass my gate towards his house three lots up the lane. It is often said Busha and William are cousins. “Me neva say Charvis is not a barn yah eno and to say I have said so would be a deliberate act of blood ***** cruelty, but him sailing in de rang boat” said William. Now Charvis was one of the local lads that grew up in the lane, took to his education and became a local politician running for councilor. All the people in the area loved Charvis, nonetheless; the election results were not in his favor and he had loss to a female representing the other party, loosing by one ballot. It was to the elections outcome William was referring.
The count down had started, it was two weeks to the Independence Day Celebrations and every jack man was looking forward to it. Earlier in the day scores of people were busy chopping, sweeping and white washing the side walks under the supervision of William. Lard as William was often called is a carpenter by trade and the area’s political activist. A die-hearted comrade. He was well spoken and much respected within the community and even in the adjoining communities where the other political party had a strong hold. He was a just man and had connections. When Lard’s political party is in power he was always in charge of the Crash Program work and would give work to anyone, be you a supporter of his political party are not.
These two cousins were always at odds with each other, always arguing, nonetheless, no sooner they’d finish arguing no sooner both would be heading to Miss Chin’s Bar at the corner of McVickers lane and Old Harbor Road for a drink and to settle the score with dominoes. Busha would be riding his old bicycle nicknamed Bluebird by children in the community while Lard would walk along side. According to Busha is bicyle had out run a bus all the way from Spanish town to Old Harbour Road and for that it was then called Bluebird.
Busha had an awkward way of riding his bicycle with his thigh partly seated on the saddle and his buttock leaning over, he uses the tip of his toes to slowly pedal the bicycle as Lard stroll along with each step synchronize with Busha’s feet rotation on the pedal and still arguing along the way. At the bar and in a back room hours and hours would be used up trying to give each other six-love with the looser paying the tab. This often ended in a shouting match, as each would accuse the other of cheating yet they never physically fought each other.
William and Busha both lived in the same yard. Lard, is wife and children lived at the back in a large three-bedroom board house while Busha occupies a small green painted room by his-self at the front of the yard that was once his Bicycle Repair Shop. Inside hangs all sorts of metal parts from the ceiling, sprockets, spokes, rims, pedals, old tires and on the floor in the centre of the room is an old single bed on which he sleeps. The flooring is the earth and the windows are permanently shut by pieces of board nailed diagonally across its frames.
I now recall on one occasion Lard was in charge of zinc distribution to the Indigents after Hurricane Gilbert. The recipients had to complete a form stating how much zinc was needed to roof their dwellings. Busha citing an avenue where he could hustle few hundred dollars through deceit by overstated the amount he required, with the intention of selling the extra sheets of zinc. Upon securitizing the completed form from Busha, Lard asked rhetorically, “ Busha how much sheet a zinc blow aff fah y’u roof? 52? Aff fah wah? Dat dey ole piece a tattoo wey only needs a monkey in dey fe mek a perfect museum.” Busha in his defense argued that Lard was going on as if it is coming out of his pocket.