We had a visitor was arriving from Jamaica today. My father called 2 months ago to tell us our Uncle Teddy was visiting us for 6 months. He was a “drunkard “and but good carpenter. He was a lot of fun. He got a carpentry job for 5 months for a rich Jamaican that lived on Miami Beach.
Even though he was a heavy drinker I was looking forward to seeing him. Anytime someone comes ‘up’ from Jamaica I get a little excited. I get to hear about the latest happenings in Jamaica. The politics, the hardship, the scandals and a few good Jamaican jokes.
I got to the Miami Airport about 50 minutes after the Air Jamaica flight was to arrive. Air Jamaica is always late. I was giving myself time for Uncle Teddy to clear immigration & customs and any Air Jamaica flight delays. It did not work. I drove around the airport arrival terminal 3 times. The police were moving people along so went up to the departure terminal and parked there.
Seeing the planes coming in and going out had me thinking about Jamaica. I yearned to go back home. I had a flashback of the Bahamas. I soon got back to reality.
After waiting for 20 minutes I went back to the arrival terminal. The international area was now packed. I could see Uncle Teddy standing outside smoking a cigarette. He was talking to young lady who was dress in the most provocative way. She had red and blue hair. She had large earrings in her ear and one in her nose. She looked like a dancehall queen.
I pulled up in front of him and got out the car to help him with his bags. He had a big smile when he saw me.
‘Bwoy yuh get big’ he greeted me with a handshake.
As I took his bag and put it in the car I could see him slipping a note to the “dancehall queen” before he got in the car. Uncle Teddy was a womanizer. He had 6 children he recognized as his own. Rumor has it that he had 12 others which he never recognized.
As we drove off we started to talk.
“Mi need a drink. Any bar near yuh house”, he asked.
“No”, I replied. The only time I drank was when I was out at the clubs. I was not going to take him to the club with me.
“Mi know wan place” he replied “go this way”
He started to direct me to this “bar”. He used to visit Miami frequently in the early 1980’s so I believe he knows his way around.
We arrived at a place called Tootsies. It was a standalone building on a main road called State Road 7.
There were 2 men at the door just like a night club. They checked us for weapons then let us in. The place smoked filled with loud music. I could see the women dancing nude on tables. It was a strip joint or as they say in Jamaica a Go Go dancing club.
My uncle seemed to be in a very familiar place. He had a big smile on his face. He nudged me to on of the stages with 2 women who were in the process of stripping. I had looked at girlie magazines before and even seen a few blue movies but this was too much. The women were not the best looking and it was clear they were only paying attention to anyone with money.
My uncle ordered a few beers.
“Yuh a big man now, ave a beer”, he handed a bottle to me as he focused on one of the dancers.
I had a beer and pretended I was having fun. For an hour I nursed 1 beer while he ordered drink after drink.
My uncle did not know when to stop drinking. After about 2 hours I kept telling him I had work in the morning but he was not listening. He kept saying ‘Let’s see one more girl’. He kept putting $1 bills in the garter of the dancers so they could dance for him.
He would them turn to me and say “We leave in 5 minutes”.
Finally he said he would meet me outside. He needed 5 minutes to finish his last beer and go to the bathroom.
I walked outside and waited. Five minutes turned to 30 minutes.
I had a difficult time figuring out how I was going to “order” my uncle into leaving. This was the uncle that would discipline me with a “beaten” when I was young. It would feel weird “ordering” him around.
I went back him and he was still drinking and watching the ladies.
I had to do something but was scared. I waited beside him.
After he had about 2 more beers and showered a few more girls with money I had it.
“Let’s go”, I ordered.
“What yuh mean”, he was challenging me. His breathe was “stink” of the beer. I think he could get anyone drunk if he breathes on them.
“I am leaving now” I said in a stern voice.
“Yuh cyan leave me” He was laughing.
“Watch me”, I replied. I was angry and I am sure he could hear it. I was not sure where it came from but it did.
It worked. He was too drunk to walk out on his own. He was leaning on me.
When we got into the car he passed out. He was snoring all the way home.
When we arrived home I woke him up and we walked into the apartment.
As I opened the door I heard some noise in my Suzanne’s room. The door was closed. I could hear a male voice whispering. I wanted to ask her who was in there but my uncle started to mumble. I did not want to start him up again.
He asked to use the bathroom. He was still leaning on me.
As I took him down the hall into the bathroom I heard the front door close.
Suzanne was now in the living room.
While uncle was doing his “thing” I went back to the living area. Suzanne was sitting on the couch.
Who was that? I asked.
“It’s just a friend. No one you know.” She replied.
I left it alone. I knew she had a few male friends. Many of them I did not approve of. Maybe I was being the protective brother.
Uncle Teddy came back out the bathroom to the living room. Suzanne ran up to him and hugged him. I did not warn her about how he smelled. The look on her face when she released him was one of disgust.
Uncle Teddy wanted to talk. I needed to sleep. I left Suzanne and Uncle Teddy talking.
Adjusting to Uncle Teddy was hard. Suzanne and I wanted him to go and could not wait for his contract to be up. We wanted him to go back to Jamaica badly.
Every morning he woke up everyone. You would hear him making funny noise trying to “scratch” his throat. It sounded like a turkey. If we needed to use the bathroom we had to beat him to it. He would stay in the bathroom most of the morning and when he got out you would have to use an air freshener. His too brush looked like it had not been changed in years. The bristles were all bent back.
He would leave his clothes everywhere. He walked around the house in“holey” underwear that barely covered his “butt”. He never put anything back after using. He never washed a dish.
In the evenings he would come home drunk and talk loudly for the rest of the night. The neighbors would give us dirty looks every morning. I remember one neighbor even knocking on the walls asking us to be quite.
He would smoke in the apartment even though we told him not to. Suzanne was having a hard time studying. She would stay out late at the library. I was already having a difficult time at work as Hector was promoted and was determined to push my “buttons” to quit. Suzanne and I could not take it anymore.
After 1 month we called our father and tried to tell him “diplomatically” that it was not working. The message was clear. He told us that he is family and we should talk to him about his behavior. I hung up the phone thinking we would have to endure this for 4 months.
That very evening Uncle Teddy came home drunk with some news.
He lined up a second job once he completed the first one. He would be with us for an additional 3 months.
That day could have ended badly with that news; however I received a call from Ritchie that made things better. Ritchie’s father found a contact that could help me get some “papers”.
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