Chapter XVI – BACK TO MONTEGO BAY
He came out shortly afterwards, drying his reclaimed hands with a towel he had taken off the line.
“So what did mama say?”
“She said ‘O.K.’ what did you expect her to say?”
“I thought she would come up with something… something that might make you stay.”
“No, she just said, ‘O.K.”
“So iz what time now?”
“Me naa get back until midnight an me ‘ave fe go a Kingston tomarro.. [That’s right, Uriah, put me on a guilt trip]. … h’an me naa drive back by meself..”
Two girls had congregated into Uriah’s ‘apartment’ and had taken over playing the records. They were no more than 16 or 17 years of age. I think they had come to visit Uriah’s sons, as opposed to Uriah himself, although Uriah looked as though he was the one serenading them.
When I went in the room to collect my bag [which I had hidden under the bed], they were all taking turns with the spliff.
“Yu wan’ come fe a drive?” he asked them.
“Where to?” one asked.
“Dat too far.” she responded unconvincingly.
“It not too far, we’ll be back by 10:30.” (I knew that was not true but I did not interfere with his negotiating plans.)
One of them looked at her watch and then she looked at her friend. The other nodded. Uriah looked at his brother.. sign language was going on… they understood, they were all in-sync because they had all pulled on the same spliff. His brother nodded. Good I thought, we were in business.
I gave Uriah another $200JA to take me home which he prudently placed in his back pocket. Remembering the earlier journey, I got into the back of the car.
It wasn’t long before I heard a loud scream. The car swerved in a distorted fashion:
“Me caan see man, dem a bline me wid dem headlight!”
“Do you want me to drive?” asked one of the girls.
“No, man, iz alright, me don’ know how dem expect people fe see when dem a bline dem with dem bright light…” he continued nervously.
Now, I not only had the gullies, the pot holes and overtaking at corners to contend with, he couldn’t see either. I crouched lower in my seat and whispered the Lord’s Prayer.
I must have dozed off because the next thing I knew, we had jolted to a halt. I was told to get out the car, we were getting a drink.
“This a nice nightclub.” one of the girls said.
I didn’t want to go to a nightclub, I wanted to go home. I hope they were not expecting me to spend any money — I knew that when ‘tourists’ were around they loved to make them spend money. I went inside and gritted my teeth as I sat at the bar. There was no-one there but us and the bartender.
“So what yu want to drink?” Uriah asked gallantly. (I could see him waving one of the 100 dollar bills in his hand that I had given him — he was obviously trying to impress the young girls.) As he was paying for the drinks, I asked for a soda. “Drinks all roun an’ a pack a cigarette.” he boasted.
(‘Drinks all round’ my foot, there was only four of us!) If he was so hard up, why was he spending the money he had asked me to give him for petrol on drinks AND cigarettes!?
“De customers dem pay me $1400JA fe tek dem to Montego Bay..” he had said casually, earlier, appealing to my conscience and that was why I had given him another $200JA. I figured, what with the $20US I had also given him, he didn’t do too badly, considering I was his cousin!
They all converged in the car after a little while and I crouched again in the back seat. I fell asleep, it was about 10:30 in the evening when I reached back to the hotel. I went straight to bed, appreciating the hotel more than ever now.
Part 10 will be published next month….