Dec 02, 2019 News
By Harold A. Bascom
(During their investigation into the four Port Kaituma suicides, Yvonne Holder and Brent learn that all of the victims had gone for a jaunt into Jonestown and may have encountered something…)
One father recalled his son’s sobbing words, “Ow-Ow—doan do that to me—please!”
“It was after that…” the father shook his head. “My son stop talking…and he would not meet me or his mother eyes. He stop seeing his girlfriend. He became a different person. He mother tried to talk to him—but he just stop communicating with everybody…stop eating… start using drugs to keep awake…
“Then this night—I hear he crying out in he sleep again…” The father looked at his common-law wife. There was something very sheepish about his demeanor. He bent his head and his words were more or less mumbled.
“Please? I didn’t get that,” Yvonne Holder said gently to the man.
Then the wife spoke up: “It start to sound like somebody was ‘sexing’ he in the room—”
The man’s voice shook now: “I start to rap on the door—pound on the door—but ah couldn’t get it…That was when ah decide to throw me shoulder against it—to break it in—but just about then a hear a sound…”
“That was when,” said his common law wife, “Colin throw heself bodily out the window—and break he neck on the concrete slab by the stand pipe…”
“Vonny … even I have to say, that what’s going on here is ‘weird’ with a capital ‘W’!”
“Definitely so…” Her cell phone rang. It was the regional Chairwoman. “Hi, Shelley.” She listened. “Okay—we’ll be ready. Thanks.” Yvonne put down the cell phone and tuned to her brother. “That was Shelley. She’s picking us up tomorrow—around midday.”
“Where are we going?”
“Matthews Ridge. There weren’t four of them that went into Jonestown. They were five—and the fifth is alive.”
“And in Matthews Ridge.”
“Yep … his name is Chauncey Timmerman.”
“You’re telling me there’s another person who may well want to take his own life.”
“God knows what state of mind this fifth young man might be in. I most definitely need to be talking to him.”
Matthew’s Ridge was Port Kaituma minus the waterfront. The home of Chauncey Timmerman rose aloof amidst the dereliction of simple houses in the street, hemmed in with overgrowth. It stood on concrete pillars; and built under it was an enclosed room. What stood out from it was its verandah from which a stocky, light-skinned man disappeared when the Land Rover pulled up. He reappeared through a door in the lower room, and greeted the Holders cheerfully, and invited them into his home. His name was Darrel Timmerman—father of the surviving Chauncey Timmerman.
After the introductions, Mr. Timmerman took the psychologist and her brother into his living room, and then he called out to his son. “Chauncey!—They have some people here to talk to you!” Then he turned to the psychologist. “I was so sad to hear that four of my son friends kill themselves.” He shook his head. “Up to now I don’t understand it—all I know is that my son and everyone o’ them been into that place—and whatever it is that they do there or touch there or dig up there…” He shook his head. “Make them do what they do—maybe.”
“Your son,” Yvonne Holder said.”Is he okay?”
He turned and called out again. “Chauncey!—Boy they have people here who want talk to you!” He turned back to his guests. “Yes, he okay; very okay.”
A slow, deep voice came back: “Coming, Daddy—I’m putting on something presentable!”
And a young man—stocky like his father, and with a trace of beard that ran up to his sideburns came out, adjusting his T-shirt. He sat in a single chair next to his father.
Yvonne Holder and her brother introduced themselves.
“Please to meet you…”Chauncey Timmerman shook hands, while smiling and making eye-contact with them both. “But I don’t need crisis counseling.” He sat back, and for a moment stared to the ceiling.
“Are you okay?” Yvonne asked.
Chauncey Timmerman sat forward and interlaced his fingers as he gazed to the floor. At last he said, “I’m okay. I really, really, really don’t know what happened…” He took a deep breath. “But now …four people dead.”
“Would you …” said Yvonne, “tell us about it—about what exactly happened?”
The young man shrugged. “I don’t know what exactly happened—I can only tell you what we did…” He shrugged again. “Sean wanted us to make out as if we were on an expedition—a dig.” Shook his head sadly. “Sean thought that the big utensil that those people had to drink that cyanide-laced Koolaid from should be considered a dark artifact that ought to be in a museum or something—even if we only found the rusted bottom of it.”
“You guys found it?” Brent asked.
The young man nodded. “We did—but most of it was rusted.” He sighed deeply. “Now… all I can think, is that everyone who touched it now dead.”
“Didn’t you touch it?” said Brent Holder.
Chauncey Timmerman chuckled grimly. “I never expected to be talking weird stuff like this… never thought that anybody would connect these strange dots…” He shook his head. “But here we are…”
Yvonne noted how he interlaced his fingers, and reached forward and held his hand. “It’s okay, Chauncey.”
“Thank you,” he whispered.
“So you didn’t touch it.” Brent Holder concluded.
“No-no—he touched it too,” his father said. “But nothing affected him—and that was because when he grandmother heard where he was going into Jonestown, she mix something together, tied it in a little bag, and hung it on a fine leather cord like a necklace around Chauncy neck.”
“A guard!” Yvonne Holder blurted out, much to the disbelief of her brother.
Mr. Timmerman looked at her with a curious admiration. “Yes,” he said. “A guard against spirits or anything evil!—and that is why you folks from Town, is the only people we ever telling this to—and please don’t put our name in your supernatural article, Mr. Holder.”
Brent was pleasantly taken aback. “You know about me?”
“The Village Chairwoman told me who you were, and I checked you out, Mr. Holder,” the young man interceded. “I told dad about you. If it was somebody else, I wouldn’t be telling you what happened.”
“Well… I’m flattered,” Brent said. He took a deep covert breath. “One key question, Chauncey…”
“I know,” the young man said, nodding. “Where is the poison vat—or what is left of it.” He took a deep breath. “Strange thing. After we brought it out, we left it at the back of Sean’s house. … And the next day when all of us met by Sean…” He shook his head. “It wasn’t there—it was gone.”
“It just—disappeared?” asked Brent.
“Mr. Holder … all I know is, that it wasn’t there anymore. We presumed somebody stole it.” He shrugged. “After that I left Port Kaituma and came back here … and the night following the day we went in—the madness started.”
When they were dropped off at the guest house later that evening, the siblings were in their own thoughts.
“A penny for your thought, Vonny…”
“Brent… I don’t know what to say.”
“When are you flying back?”
“The day after tomorrow—Debra told me that I have to do something for the Ministry—something hot and sweaty that came up.” She turned to him. “When are you leaving?”
“I might fly back with you. But tomorrow …” He sighed. “I think I’m taking a trip into the ruins of Jonestown—”
“What?” Yvonne Holder was aghast. Then her brows furrowed. “And why would you do that?—are you out of your mind?”
“Come’on, Vonny!” He said chuckling—You think I’m going to come all the way here and not go into Jonestown? Wouldn’t that be expected of me?”
“Of course, Brent!”
She became paternal: “So who taking you to that jombie place, boy?”
“Ah few guys I made friends with at the Police Outpost.”
“You do get around, eh?” she said yawning.
Deep down she wanted to tell him about Beulah’s guard necklace she was wearing; wanted to tell him what Beulah said about its power to protect from the vilest evil. She wanted to insist that he wore it on his trip to Jonestown. But she was ashamed and let it be.
The friends Brent Holder made at the Police outpost used ATV’s. He rode pillion with an Indian police corporal; they bounced along behind another lawman, Sergeant Downer, an ex weightlifter—a big, dark man, from Georgetown City. The burly sergeant rode ahead with a visible bravado. Soon they passed the airstrip. In less than half an hour in from the airstrip, the lead ATV slowed down and stopped at a signboard that stood above a break in a wall of tangles bushes. It was a locally painted sign that read, ‘WELCOME TO JONESTOWN’.
“This is it. Buddy!” the sergeant on the lead ATV said, and continued into what, for many, was a red-dirt track into a forbidden place—a haunted place—a place of earth-bound spirits milling in wretchedness.
Brent Holder felt a thrill. But what was there to be thrilled about. The sergeant soon stopped, and fished a cutlass from the back of the four-wheeler. The corporal with whom Brent rode, dismounted also, and fished the two cutlasses he carried on his ATV. He handed one to Brent. “Town man,” he said grinning. “I hope you could use a cutlass. We got to chop a path in—every now and again.”
“I could chop—no problem.” Brent had once been in the Guyana National Service and did his share of chopping up at the Kimbia National Service Centre, in the upper Berbice River.
And thus they progressed: chopping away at tangled vines and bushes that had grown, intermittently, across the way into Jonestown—the very way that had been the way out for U.S Congressman, Leo Ryan, and the people who had opted to leave Jim Jones’ ‘paradise’… the very way out to the airstrip where the congressman and others were followed and gunned down on the airstrip where the Guyana Airways twin-engine plane had waited. The three men worked together—slashing until they had made a path in that could have accommodated the ATVs. And so they rode in—dodging bushes and vines whipping close to their faces.
At last they came to a turn in the overgrown path. There was a sign on a pair of staves. The sign turned out to be a site map of the facility that was. They dismounted and walked past the sign and found themselves at a wide opening in the forest; and in the center of it was a concrete monument—about six feet tall, with a marble slab at the lower half of it, onto which the words, ‘In Memory of the Victims of the Jonestown Tragedy … November 18, 1978’, were inscribed. The monument was surrounded by a field of daisy flowers.
“This is it, People!” the corporal said.
To Brent Holder, he said it a bit too loudly. Was the policeman afraid—nervous?
The columnist looked around. There was a huge metal frame with a steel drum lying on its side. Brent read the raised letters on the metal drum: ‘The Cincinnati Milling Machine Co’.
The sergeant looked around. “Right here,” he said. “Used to be the pavilion!” He threw his arms out. “This here is where—”
“Most of the bodies were?”
He looked at Brent and nodded. “Yes. I was a young GDF soldier then…” He made a face. “I saw them—they were here—there—swollen tight all over.”
Then the Indian corporal pointed and spoke: “What’s that?—that look like the bottom and some of the sides of that vat thing they mixed all that poison in—”
“Where?” asked the sergeant.
“That thing—turned down there.”
The three men approached it.
It was indeed the rusted remains of the poison vat—the very metal container Chauncey Timmerman said that he, Sean La Cruz and the three others had taken out of Jonestown—the same vat that had disappeared.
The sergeant bent to it—started reaching out to it—
“Don’t touch that!” Brent snapped.
The cop straightened up and looked quizzically at Brent. The Indian cop was clearly curious also.
“Why?” the sergeant cop asked pointedly—aggressively.
And Brent told them everything he learned from his talk with Chauncey Timmerman—everything—leaving nothing out.
“Wait-wait-wait, budday!” the sergeant said. “You telling me and my squaddy here, that everyone o’ them chaps who touch this thing commit suicide?”
“All except the Chauncey Timmerman—who touch it to’—but he had some kinda spirit guard around his neck!”
The corporal swore.
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