Editor’s Note: Maintaining a site is hard work (boy is it ever) and this is a deterrent for many people starting one. This doesn’t mean they don’t like to write. Ever since I posted the short story “Serendipity” I have gotten quite a few submissions. I love showcasing talent, especially Jamaican talent. This one is from a male writer. Hope you enjoy it
The day was getting blisteringly hot, it could be felt even under the blue tarpaulin stretched between 3 poles, the fourth end lay inert waiting for an errant breeze to resurrect it to flapping glory. The tarp covered part of a small dry ditch, barely waist deep, but with banks rounded by the wear of many bottoms, seeking a small respite from the heat while waiting for a passing taxi. Under that tarpaulin sat Remo, Mikey and Fatta. They sat against the banks of the ditch, Mikey and Fatta on one side, facing Remo on the other.
From Remo’s position he could see across the road, into the. front of his mothers wholesale/bar. It was empty, save for his mother who sat on an old plastic chair, leaning her weight onto the matching plastic table in front of her. She glanced furtively between the bible she held cradled in her hands and the ditch across the road, where her only son, Remo, sat with Mikey and Fatta. Her lips moved in silent prayer.
Mikey and Fatta moved in closer to each other, Fatta occasionally glancing up and down the rd, Mikey almost never taking his eyes off Remo. He also did most of the talking. Quietly, but urgently he said to Remo, “Bredrin, mi cousin, hear wah mi a seh. Ah our likkle ting a start up now, as it set a me and di boss,” gesturing to Fatta, “run right yah so fi now, and when dah war ya dun, we aggo run di whole a Stanbury”, an almost automatic double-nod jiggled Fatta’ jowls.
“Dats why mi need yuh fi inna di ting”, continued Mikey, “from u a likkle yute a play wid me yuh used to smart, mi did always know u wudda get someweh inna life, u a di perfek brains fi mi, a you mi need fi help me run di ting”, Fatta’s eyes glanced worryingly to Mikey at the last part, but he added his voice of assent to Mikeys point “Mmmhmmm”. “Yow”, started Mikey again, “and u nah go haffi worry bout nuttin edah, money affi mek, and u well protected wid we”.
“Protected?” asked Remo, his brown elongated face was topped by eyebrows that crumpled upwards, giving support to the doubt that he felt. “Yea, dat mi seh, nobaddy cyaan fuck wid wi, a me run yah so, and like mi seh, wi aggo run everyting soon as we done wid dem bwoy deh”. Remo’s eyebrows remained crumpled, there was that “we” again, he thought. His thoughts raced back to the day when he had decided to come back to Jamaica after college, to see his mother again, and to “do my part to help raise the country out of the muck it had found itself in”. How grand it had seemed to him in that small college dorm room in Utah, explaining it to his then girlfriend, feeling the blood pumping through his veins and his mind full of hope, secure in his self-righteous decision. The island could be saved from the quagmire it was in and he could do it on his own. How quickly things change.
He got back home, and reality had its way with him. Most if not all of the hubris had faded, the country was in deeper shit than he had imagined, and he didn’t even have one of the prerequisite “links” that you needed to get anything above basic accomplished. As for “raising the country”, his letters to the M.P had so far gone unanswered, much like his job search. Magna cum Laude from an American university apparently didn’t go as far anymore. It wasn’t so much that everything had changed, as much as it was that his view of it all had shifted, in fact he’d swear that things were much the same as they always were, with only the gradual slide towards the worse in the economy, and ofcourse, crime. The last one was staring him in the eyes now, silently mocking him for his initial, now dissipated hope, and issuing a challenge to change things the only way he could, by joining.
“Yuh no tink seh yuh safe wid wi?” Fattas high pitched voice brought him back to the here and now. “Wi deadly enuh!”, he continued, emphasizing the point by patting his bulging belly, the extra bulge off to the side made itself a little more obvious. “U see the gyal weh mi done off yah so las’ week? A fear mi a fling inna dem boy deh, lick off one a dem ooman mek dem bawl.” His thin nasal laughter topping off the sentence. Remo had seen the murder happen, the young girl, no more than 19 had just exited a taxi and was walking up the road, her short skirt flicking from side to side with each step, offering a peek of the firm thighs underneath, just then Fatta had walked up and grabbed her.
Remo was staring thru one of the windows of the shop at the girl when he saw Fatta grab her and start shouting, Remo couldn’t hear what was being said, but his blood ran cold when he saw the overweight man pull the gun from the spot he had just patted and shoot the girl twice at close range, her screams cut short when the first bullet hit her throat, the second, hit her head. The spot where she had landed still bore the now fading marks of her blood. When the police had finally come, covered the body and asked for witnesses, Remo had shook his head along with the rest of them, slowly joining the same complicity he had flamed against so vehemently while in college.
Now impotent against the conspiracy of silence.
“Bredrin, u mi need and u a di perfek man fi di job, like mi seh. Matter a fact u no need no money or protection, a smart man like u know wha really good”, he reached into his own waist and came out with a gun and placed it in Remo’s hand, “Power!” “Feel it boy, the strongest feeling in the world!” Remo looked down at the gun in his palm, it was a Glock. The black polymer frame seemed to fit perfectly in his hand, it almost radiated power, flashbacks of the murder he had witnessed ran across his mind. He realized the many things, good and bad, that he could do as an area leader, a “don”. But Remo was no fool, he knew that a gun was merely a tool, nothing more, nothing less, just merely as dangerous as the wielder. The gun on its own wouldn’t bring him power, that required effort from him, that required his mind, his drive his will. In that moment, while holding the gun, he realized he had it all, if he bent his mind to it he could easily run this community and the surrounding ones. There would be some opposition at first, but that could be easily dealt with, the girl wasn’t the first of Fatta’s killings, between him and Mikey they had been running a heavy war with the other gang in the community, and whether by luck or skill they had been partially successful at it, many of the opposing gangs members had graced the nightly newscasts as the latest dead, enjoying their first, and last 15 seconds of fame as a national newscast piece, destined for immortality as a drawing on a wall in some obscure corner of the garrison..gone but not forgotten.
Remo gripped the pistol properly, still staring at it, he knew he had the opportunity to effect his own change, place his will on the people surrounding him. His mind easily jumped the gap also from the simple starting of this gang right here in the dry ditch, to a major organization which could bring in millions, he remembered reading articles on the income simple “protection” rackets garnered, and that was by people without his skills. He knew that with that sort of income, and more, coming in he would be able to effect considerable change, there may be some bad, but he could and would handle it. He knew he could handle this destiny. And who knew where it could lead? Many of the current leaders in government were rumoured to have started off in much the same way. He knew this could be the entry he needed, the start.
He looked at his mother across the streey, clingly foolishly to her religion, hoping that somehow blind prayer, faith and church attendance on a Sunday would fix the myriad of problems they all faced. He looked at Fatta, the gleeful killer, who seemed to be a gunman first and a person after, he saw through him, he was easily led, which was why he listened to Mikey’s orders, and there would be many more like him who would hang on to Remos every order like manna from heaven. There was power to be had indeed, Mikey was right. Fatta still smiled his idiot smile. Remo looked back down at his palm. The gun’s weight felt comfortable in his hand. He had made his decision. He looked up at Mikey “You know, Mommy was worried from the day I came back that you wouldve wanted to get me in your gang, she’s been giving me a headache ever since then with the constant begging, beseeching and praying.”. Mikey hissed his teeth “Boy Auntie can gwaan yah man, she live her time already, ah our time now. Plus she safe, me mek sure nobaddy nuh bodda har at all”.
“Yeah I noticed”, replied Remo.
“Yea man we keep har safe from u gone a farrin till now man, we nah mek nuttin happen to wi bredrin madda” was Fatta’s contribution.
“So wah yuh say Remo, you ready fi set off the thing, a our year this enuh, time wi mek we name known”.
Remo laughed lightly, “Yes Mikey. Immortality beckons, gentlemen”.
Fatta laughed also, but not as lightly “Rass, seet deh, the boss all a buss big quote, a now di ting set”.
Mikey smiled and started to laugh along with him, “Mi tell u seh mi cousin a brains, man!” He looked at Remo and their eyes met. His laughter stopped suddenly. The bullet hit him a little above the thorax. Coming up from the angle it did, it buried itself easily in the back of his head. He died on the way down to the ground. Fatta looked at Mikey on the ground in disbelief. His paralysis suddenly released and he reached for his own gun while cursing, “Bombocl-“, two bullets slammed into his chest from close range, both over his heart. He crumpled slowly, all the while looking Remo dead in the eyes.
Remo stepped over both bodies, dropping the gun on top of Fatta’s body in the process, climed out of the ditch and walked across the dusty deserted road to his stunned mother who sat there, still cradling the bible. “Change only comes to those who start it Mommy, I’m starting mine right now”. He walked past her and went inside to go call the police, he told them that 2 gunmen had shot each other and were now laying dead in a ditch across from his house. They didn’t take long to get there. He had made the right decision. Change was coming to his community, he would see to it.