“Hey Man, how you doing? It’s been a long time.”
I was startled by the greeting from a man two doors down as I entered the apartment. I could not see him clearly. He was coming out of his apartment and I was going in mine. He was dressed in a “security” uniform.
“Hi” I was thinking to myself. “Did I know this guy?”
“You don’t remember me do you?” he was now approaching me. I could see the patch on his uniform. He was working for Miami Dade Corrections.
“No I don’t”, I replied. I was nervous.
As he came closer the face started to look familiar.
“We worked together at McDonalds,” he stated.
“Oooh”, my heart skipped a beat. Everyone there knew me by my cousin’s name as I was using his social security number.
He started to talk about all the people we used to work with. He moved to the apartment a month ago. He explained that he lived there with his “baby mama” and his 2 children. We spoke for about 20 minutes. During that time I kept thinking of how to handle my old identity. It never came up that day. I was relieved. I would now have to avoid him.
I was able to do that for about 2 weeks but then it happened again. I was opening the door and he greeted.
“Hey Man, whaz up?”
There were 2 children and a lady with him. I assumed it was his children and “baby mama”.
“Meet my girlfriend, Sheqwana”, I was waiting on him to say my name. He didn’t.
“Hi nice to meet you” I did not mention my name.
It was an awkward moment. Then I realized what was going on. He did not remember my name and was trying to get it.
“What did you say your name was” asked Sheqwana.
For a split second I wondered what to do. Then I figured it out. I told her my real name.
There was now a look on his face. He remembers my real name. I expected it. I was thinking this would probably happen at some point.
“Is that the name you used to go by at McDonalds” he asked.
“No, I use my pet name when I worked there.” I replied.
“Ohh, okay”, I see. He believed me.
There was no need to avoid him anymore.
One of my classmates, Sidney, from high school tracked me down through my mother. He was visiting Miami to buy auto parts for a business he started in Jamaica. He wanted to stop by and see me.
He was a show-off. He was born into money. His family started in the haberdashery business and had shops all over the island. Then they went into distribution and wholesale. They have a few other businesses including a travel agency and a flower shop. The family ancestry was Syrian immigrants. He had an uncle who was a politician in the early days after Jamaica independence. They are not into politics anymore. They were all about the “green”. He was privileged. At Campion there were many students in 5th form and above that drove. He drove a new car every year. Even though he was an uptown boy he had a downtown streak in him. He had a few friends from Calabar that he hung out with. I remember him telling us about his trips to Tivoli to see his friends. I think he did this to prove something. He had girlfriends everywhere. Most people at Campion needed 8 subjects to get to six form. Other schools required 5 subjects. He got six subjects and still got into 6 form because of his family. He spent one year there and then went off to London to study.
Sue was in Jamaica when he returned and recalled that he now had an English accent. She said it was a hit with the girls.
I really did not want to see him. He was going to show off about his life in Jamaica.
He stopped by one afternoon when I was off from work. He was on his way to a relative. He brought pictures. It was painful looking at the picture of my friends and Jamaica. They seem to be living a great life. They were a few beach pictures. There were pictures of them on Lime Cay. I loved going there when I lived in Jamaica. We would go to Port Royal and eat fish after a day there. I missed my friends. I missed Jamaica.
Why haven’t you come back to Jamaica” he asked directly looking in my eyes.
“Time,” I replied” I have been so busy at work. I am a manager there so I have a lot of responsibilities” I was lying.
“They must be paying you well. “He responded with a little sarcasm in his voice.
I laughed it off.
You know I can get you a good Job in Jamaica with my company. You would get car and house allowance”
I smiled. “I am going to school for my Masters. As soon as I complete that I will be home. I will certainly call you. To privileged Jamaicans living in Jamaica the lifestyle you live in the United States is looked down on especially when you can live a better life in Jamaica. He has helpers and workers that do everything for him.
“Alright then. I just wanted to make sure you did not runaway” he smiled ever so sly. He knew what he was doing. In Jamaica they use the term runaway for someone who leaves the island and lives in another country illegally.
I had to act calm.
“Yuh a wan joker”, I laughed
He was now looking around the apartment. Like royalty inspecting a African hut. His helpers quarters is probably larger than the apartment.
He picked up a picture of Rosa.
“Who is this girl”
She looks good. Maybe you can set me up on one of her friends. I would come more often and we could hang out.
I was thinking in my mind. “Yeah. Right”. I just smiled.
The front door opened and Sue came in. There was a gleam in his eyes.
“Sue, how are you?” he now had this semi-fake British accent.
“Sidney, long time”
“My you have grown up” he was looking at her like she was a piece of meat.
“I know” She replied. She was giggling. It was very flirtatious.
I had to step in.
“So Sidney is you wife and children visiting Miami with you?”
I watched the look of disappointment on Sue’s face.
“No, they are in Jamaica. I will bring them next time I visit” he replied “Sue tell me what has been going on with you”
“School, school and more school” she replied.
It was obvious that he was trying to make a move on her. I had to do something.
“Sidney, if you are going to your relatives you should leave soon because of traffic on the I-95 going North is bad in the evenings”
I think he got the hint that I was not happy with the way he was behaving around my sister.
“You are right” he replied. I was happy. Then he took a fire back “Sue, can I call you when I come back in town”
“Sure” she replied with a big smile.
I was livid.
Sue was vulnerable. She and Ritchie were still seeing each other but the long distance relationship was taking a toll. It was almost 2 years since they last saw each other. I was sure he had a girlfriend there. He was calling her less. There was less mail coming to her from him. I am sure Ritchie had a girlfriend or a few girlfriends. When we use to “hang out” he use to brag that he could not go a month with out sex and that is why he had so many girlfriends. If one held out he could go to the other.
I think Sue knew he was seeing someone. She went out a couple times with a guy from Haiti who went to school with her. He was nicely dressed and brought her a bunch of roses. He seemed like a great guy the few times I saw him. He seemed to worship her.
She talked to me about him and told me not to tell Ritchie (like I ever spoke to him since he left). She liked him but there seemed to be something stopping her from taking the next step. It could be Ritchie but I think there was more. She mentioned him being Haitian too many times. I wondered if she was prejudiced against him because he was Haitian. The stigma of Haitian having AIDS, poverty and them traveling on rickety boats to escape their home seem to have many Jamaicans looking down on them. I know many Jamaicans who would never go out with a Haitian. It did not help that some Haitians would say they were Jamaican. It was the class system that we grew up with in Jamaica.
I came home early one day as I was not feeling well. Sue was at home.
“I think it is working. You should bring up marriage with him again” I was just outside Sue’s room when I overheard a conversation she was having on the phone. I knew she was talking to Rosa.
I was frozen at her room door.
“Do it this week and see what happens” Sue was telling the person on the other line.
After 7 months of this game my ship finally coming. I felt like a lizard in a “cat and lizard” game. In Jamaica I would watch our cat catch a lizard and play with it. Each time the lizard tried to get away the cat would pounce on it. The cat loved the game. The lizard kept getting weaker until it stopped moving and gave up.
I was coming out of the dog house. I hated the idea that my sister and Rosa were conspiring however I wanted a green card more. If I wanted to get back at Rosa I could however I did not blame her. I blamed Sue. I knew she put her up to the whole thing. It is the typical thing a Jamaican woman would do. She was “boosting up” Rosa to put me through this. I wondered why I was trying to protect Sue when she had done nothing but sabotaging my love life and our future. She needs to realize that if I get a green card she would eventually get one.
As I kept eavesdropping I felt good that I knew what was next. I would be ready this time. I was going to take the engagement ring with me everywhere. I would wait until she brought up marriage and then I would propose right there. It felt good having a plan.
I left when Sue hung up the phone and went to my room.
Ten minutes later the phone rang. It was Rosa. She wanted to see me.
Facebook: For feedback and comments please join me at my facebook fan page .