In celebrating Indigenous Heritage Month, Kaieteur News is featuring literature with themes about our First People. Today, we feature an excerpt from the supernatural novel, Kamarang.
By Michael Jordan
His mother was in the sitting room listening to It’s a Woman’s World, when Michael entered the house. He mumbled a greeting, and was heading to his room, when she called him.
He turned. She was looking at him with that penetrating, all-knowing stare.
“Everything alright, boy?”
“Yes,” he said.
“So, what the doctor said?”
“That the tests show that I was just run-down.”
He turned away and headed to his room. He took off his boots, removed his jersey, opened the windows to let the heat out, then lay on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
It didn’t make sense. Yet, someone that the girl had known had fallen ill and died… apparently after having the same symptoms that he was now showing. The pork-knocker had said that the boy’s name was Leon. Had she slept with him for free, too? Had she sat with him in a corner holding hands and gazing at him with those passionate eyes?
But the encounter with the pork-knocker had cleared up some of the things that had puzzled him, but which he had preferred to push to the back of his mind. Like, why she was staying in the ramshackle brothel. The answer seemed obvious now. She was hiding where she thought the pork-knocker would never dream of looking. He thought of the dimpled scar on her back. Was it a wound? Had she picked that up in Kamarang?
Yes, something wasn’t right about the girl. He didn’t need the pork-knocker to tell him that. It would be hard, but he had finally made up his mind.
He would call it quits with Lucille— Carmelita—whoever she was. …
After seeing her one last time.
The entire block around Harel Street was in darkness when he reached the Ritz. No music, just the faint sound of voices drifting down to him. Lamplight flickered at one of the windows. The gap leading up the flight of stairs looked like a long, black tunnel.
He hesitated. What the heck was he doing here?
He was here because he wanted to know, once and for all, what was going down. Because—and the real truth now struck him—he had to know if Lucille really cared, even a little, for him, or if she was just using him for some sinister purpose, as the pork-knocker thought.
He took a deep breath and entered the doorway…
*Candlelight flickered beneath her door. He rapped.
He had heard no one come to the door, but just as he was about to rap again, someone fumbled at the inner bolt. The door opened, and she was standing there, naked. The shadows and lamplight highlighted her cheekbones and wide mouth, giving her a feline, hungry look. Even in the lamplight, he sensed a bright, unnatural glint in her eyes.
“Uh…goodnight,” he said.
She didn’t answer. Instead, she shifted forward, pressing herself—no, rubbing herself against the open doorway; saying nothing, staring at nothing. And just as he was wondering what to do, she smiled. “Hi stranger”. A warm, lilting whisper. She stepped back from the door. He entered the room, seeing now the lamp on the small table. He felt a rush of desire as he watched her walk to the bed.
He sat next to her. She turned to him. Her eyes were almost closed. She reached out, guided his fingers to her.
He jerked his hand away.
He saw the slanting eyes widen in surprise, then narrow, and for a second, he thought he saw a flash of anger in them. Then she was sitting up and staring at him with hurt and concern.
“What happen, Michael?”
He looked at her, sitting there, her eyes filled with puzzlement, and he felt an ache in his heart. “I gotta ask you something.”
He thought he saw a flash of watchfulness. “What?”
“You—” His throat felt clogged. “You ever went to a place named Kamarang?”
Her eyes narrowed slightly. “Yes.”
“You know somebody named Leon?”
“Yes.” A pause, then she said, looking down at her hands: “He died in my room…”
He felt goose bumps break out on his skin. He wanted to run from this woman. From this
She reached for him again. He edged away.
“Michael, why you asking me about this boy?”
He felt tears at the back of his throat. Tears of dread and –jealousy?
“The pork-knocker. He said that—that you— killed his friend.”
She was staring at him, shaking her head. “No…no!” She stared down at her hands again. “I didn’t kill him. I came into the room and he was dead.”
“You saw him dead, and you just left him?”
She said nothing. She just sighed.
“Why?” And why was he questioning her? He should be running from this place. Instead, he was sitting here, begging her, in his mind, to come up with an answer that would reassure him.
“Why?” he asked again.
She stared at him for a moment, then said simply: “Because I was afraid.” She sighed,
looking down again. “I was afraid of what the men would do to me if I told them that one of their friends had died in my room.” She sighed again. “Those men in the bush…they were rough… ignorant…always drunk. Some of them hated me because they couldn’t have me. They would have hurt me, and nobody would have done anything about it, because I am just—a—”
She looked at him again, and he was alarmed to see that there was a hint of tears in her eyes. “You don’t have to be afraid of me, Michael. I didn’t kill the boy. And I won’t hurt you. I would never hurt you.”
Then she was silent, just looking at him, and, without thinking, he reached out to her, squeezing her tight, his fingers in her tangled hair. He felt her tears dampen his shirt as she whispered, over and over, I would never hurt you…
He squeezed her tighter. “Is alright,” he said, forcing back his own tears. “Is alright.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t see me anymore,” she whimpered into his shoulder. “I don’t want to get you into trouble.”
“Nobody can stop me from coming here,” he said fiercely. And at that moment, he didn’t care if she had killed a man at Kamarang. All he wanted was to know that he could keep on seeing her, anytime he wanted to.
She released him, and looked at him doubtfully. “You mean that, Michael?”
“I mean it,” he said. Suddenly, he remembered his last visit to the brothel. “You got more of that cassiri?”
She stared at him, then smiled. She went over to the small table, and returned with the earthenware bottle. She uncorked it. He reached for the bottle, but she said: “Me first,” tilted her head back, and drank. She smiled, then passed the bottle to him.
As he raised it to his lips, he seemed to hear a screamed warning in his head; but then he was drinking deeply … feeling the heat spreading through him, then the sweet, almost painful rush of blood. … Then he was reaching for the girl.
(Taken from the supernatural novel, Kamarang by Michael Jordan. The author can be contacted at 592-645-2447 or [email protected])
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