Jun 15, 2020 News
By Michael Jordan
He was in dai dai country.
He couldn’t remember how he had gotten there, how he had strayed to this dead-silent place of forest and mountains.
Lost. No sound. Bilious sunlight. A huge, bat-winged bird circling overhead like a silent plane.
He walked on, his shotgun, which had suddenly become a withered branch, to the ready. He was on a rocky expanse of land, and now he heard the faint roar of running water. He looked over to the west, and saw the woman.
She stood below a small waterfall, her back to him. She was naked; her hair black and loose and long to her wide, fleshy hips. She was singing the strangest song he had ever heard, in a fluting, bird-like voice; no words that he knew; a sweet, lost, happy, sad enchanting sound as the water cascaded down on her head.
He did not want to go to her in her nakedness, but he needed to find his way out of this enchanted place. Without moving, it seemed, he was near to her, clearing his throat in embarrassment. He was about to speak when she turned, and he saw her long, yellow catlike face, caught between a snarl and laughter, and it only then that he saw that her feet were turned the wrong way.
He shrank away from her and hurried down a trail, with shoulder-high grass at the sides. And a little further on, he saw a troolie hut, and there was a woman hanging out blankets, while her daughter stood by a large, bubbling fireside pot.
They were both clothed, both good, ordinary forest people, he thought, waiting for a father to come home from hunting. They would give him a meal and guide him back home.
And he was about to speak when the girl dipped her claw into the bubbling pot, and removed the head of the man they had killed. She cracked the skull open against the side of the pot, then expertly hauled out the brain. It came out with a sharp ploop!…came out without tearing…she had done this a thousand times…
(“soft and sweet like snot” she fluted to herself)
And she turned and smiled sideways at him, and he looked at the mother and saw that the clothes-clips were finger-bones, and what he had thought to be blankets were strips of skin from the man they were cooking. And her feet were yellow-nailed and turned the wrong way.
He hurried away from their laughter, back down the grass-flanked trail, and round a bend in the trail, he saw the dia dia’s basket.
Something scrabbled around inside. Perez. His shotgun lay broken in two nearby, the shells scattered on the ground.
Old Perez peered out at him through the basket, his eyes red from fear and weeping; a smile of embarrassment and desperation on his creased face. “Help me, Vibert,” he said. “Help me. The magic word…”
It was on the tip of his tongue, the magic word that would free his friend, but the word died on his lips as he heard the sharp thump of footsteps. He forgot about his friend and scrabbled off into the dark of the jungle and wriggled into the hollow trunk of a fallen silk-cotton tree. A shower of dust and wood-ants rained down on him.
He tried to still his breathing and the beating of his heart, while the thump of twisted feet came closer; the dai-dai sniffing the air, trying to sniff him out, while he lay hiding in the log with wood-ants and dust down his back.
He saw the cannibal now. He was lifting a wild-boar, its stomach gone, the torn skin flapping soggily. He came closer now, lifting not a wild boar, but Perez’s great-grandson; lifting not Perez’s son, but Leon, his face grey, his eyes lolling in appeal at Sealey, who was hiding in the log and trying to still his breathing and the beating of his heart.
The dai-dai lifted Leon with one blood-smeared hand, while, with the other, he poked into the boy’s stomach, pulling out his entrails, then sucking a portion into his mouth as if it were a long and delicious noodle. Leon gave a thin shriek of agony.
Sealey stared at the boy from his hiding place. Get away! He shouted silently. Get away!
“Tired, Mr. Sealey,” Leon said sadly. “Tired…”
Sealey’s eyes fluttered open. He felt a moment of panic as the images of the enchanted forest still floated before him. Then he heard the creak of his hammock cord rubbing against its post; saw the yellow-glow of the flambeau. He was in the logie. Just a nightmare…
“Tired,” someone whimpered next to him. “Uhhhh…tired…”
Sealey groped for the flashlight on the crate next to his hammock. He trained the beam on Leon. The boy lay on his back, tossing in his sleep. He raised a hand to his face, as if brushing away something. “Uhhhh…”, he whimpered. “Tired…” His breathing quickened. He began to heave upwards in his hammock. Sealey sat, rooted to the spot, torn between fascination and an urgency to wake the boy before he fell. But before he could, the boy emitted a long, shuddering sigh, slumped in his hammock, and lapsed into silence…
Vibert Sealey awoke with a sense of unease, the shadows from his dream lingering like a bad hangover. He pretended to be under the weather when Ovid Kingston came around hollering for him. Bap Reggie and Jerry Mentore gladly joined the young miner. Sealey continued feigning sleep, and they left him in the logie.
Surprisingly, the boy stayed too.
Usually, Sealey hardly remembered his dreams; but somehow, he couldn’t shake off this one. It had all been so damn vivid…the feel of the rocks under his feet… the golden texture of the woman’s skin…even now, her strange, wordless song echoed in his head. …
Then there was Perez’s apparent death, in the dream. He couldn’t get rid of the shame he felt at how he’d deserted his old friend. He felt a strong, foolish urge to go over the river to see if the old man was alright. … And to cap it all, he had awoken and heard that whisper in the dark near him. … He glanced at the boy. Leon was sitting up in his hammock and staring at the roof. Come to think of it, the boy, too, seemed out of sorts.
“Leon? You alright?”
The boy gave a short, embarrassed laugh. “Not really. Had this freaky dream last night.”
“I know. You was groaning.”
That embarrassed laugh again. “I dream I was lying in my hammock, and this woman—this really, ugly, white-skin woman—was dancing in front of me. I know that I was dreaming; and in this dream, I could hear my mother telling me to wake up, because this woman wanted to kill me. But I couldn’t wake up.” He twisted his mouth in disgust. “And then, she come up to my bed—and—and start to—”
“Make love to you?”
Again, that grimace. “It was—like real. I could feel her fingers on me. Cold. Clammy.” The boy was silent for a while, lost in the memory of his dream. Then he shrugged, swung himself out of the hammock, removed a jersey from a hanger. He slipped it on, pushed his feet into a pair of track-shoes. “Going for a lil walk, Mr. Sealey.”
He took a long time checking himself in the mirror before he left.
Sealey walked aimlessly, trying to shake off the memories of the dream; walking past the Jaguar’s Den, just wanting to be alone. And that was how he bumped into Golden Bishop, standing by the government rest-house; his gold arm-bands glinting in the sunshine, his shirt unbuttoned to display his array of gold chains. He held a half-full bottle of whiskey.
Sealey suppressed the need to curse. The Bishop was the last person he wanted to see. But the man had spotted him. As he came closer, Sealey noticed that, for once, the Bishop wasn’t his usual dapper self. The white shirt was rumpled. There were sweat-stains under his armpits.
Bishop raised the liquor bottle in a sort of greeting as Sealey passed. “Hey, how you doing, brother?” he asked in his annoyingly false American twang.
Sealey mumbled something. He was about to walk on, but the Bishop put a hand on his shoulder. Sealey turned. Golden Bishop was staring at him. The grin was still there, but there was a hint of appeal in his eyes.
“Something bothering you, Bishop?” Sealey asked.
The Bishop ran a hand through his hair. “Know you a long time, bush-man. Respect you a lot.” He paused, as if hesitant to continue, then said: “Ah need to know…who is that girl that ah hear one of yuh men sleeping with.”
Sealey felt his earlier unease returning.
“Why you want to know that?”
“That bitch know me. Know me good. But I swear to God I never see her in my life.”
He scratched his unshaven chin. “You was at the Jaguar Den the first night when she come to the landing?”
“Uh—yuh see what happen when I went over to her?”
Sealey nodded again. “What that woman tell you, Bishop?”
The Bishop glanced around him. Licked his lips, then whispered: She said: ‘I am not Razor Blade’. She say it in Carib. How she know I could talk Carib?”
He took a quick, nervous sip at the whiskey bottle, then wiped his mouth.
In Sealey’s opinion, the rumours that the Bishop had killed the prostitute Razor Blade—maybe shot her—made some sense. It was on the tip of his tongue to ask. Instead, he said: “But Bishop, all of this happen donkey years back. I don’t see why you fretting about what this girl tell you.”
The Bishop took another nervous sip, then looked at Sealey directly for the first time. “I telling you this because I feel that I should warn you.”
“Warn me about what?”
“About that girl. Keep that young chap away from she. Something not right about she. Where she come from? What she doing here?”
“Maybe she thief somebody money and sporting it out.”
The Bishop shook his head insistently. “She got a bad aura. Is strange. That night, when she turn me down, afterwards, I feel like—glad.”
He paused, then leaned forward and touched Sealey on the arm. “You believe in dreams, bush-man?”
The question caught Sealey off guard, stunning him into momentarily silence. “Why you ask?” he said at last.
“Since I come on the landing, I getting some really crazy dreams. A long-hair woman without face calling me to the water-side. Something chasing me through the jungle. And last night–” He paused to stare intently at Sealey. “This is between you and me, bush-man.”
“I dream Razor-Blade last night. I could see her plain, like if it was real. But at the same time, she wasn’t really Razor Blade. She was—that girl. She was calling me out into the night to kill me. And I was that young boy in your camp…”
“Anybody see Leon?”
Bap Reggie and Jerry Mentore glanced up from their table. Bap Reggie waved Sealey away impatiently. “Wha wrong wid you, Vibert Sealey? You come on the landing to enjoy yuhself, or to baby-sit?” He sucked his teeth. “Were else Leon gun be, but with he girlfriend?”
Mentore grabbed Sealey’s arm drunkenly and drew him to the table. “Hear, man, siddown and stop fretting about that young chap. Leon can take care of heself.”
“I got an urgent message from Georgetown fuh he,” Sealey lied.
Shirleen had been leaning back in her seat with her eyes closed. Now she opened them and said, “He was here ’bout an hour ago. Then he just get up and leave.” She waved her lighted cigarette southward. “He went in that direction.”
Sealey nodded his thanks. He headed in the direction of the houses where the prostitutes stayed, driven by an illogical fear for Leon that the Bishop and his own dream had planted in his head.
Miss Coreen’s house, where the girl was staying, was the last building before you reached the jungle and the river; a two-storey building with flaking white paint. The house was set some distance away from the others. It was usually a noisy place, with prostitutes drinking, cooking or cussing in the yard. But today, silence enveloped the house. The coals from an old fire were scattered on the ground. He hesitated, suddenly struck by the folly of his mission. Here he was, on the verge of intruding on a young man and his girlfriend. And for what reason? Because of a premonition?
How was he going to explain his presence? With a shock, he realised that part of him was excited at the thought of seeing the girl again, seeing her up close, in daylight; hearing her voice. Would she be in there? Was this real, or a continuation of his strange dream?
He shook off his thoughts and walked up to the door. Like the other houses, where the girls stayed, this one had a rough bottom flat. He knew there would be four rooms inside, a latrine at the back. The two plywood windows were shut. But despite the silence, the padlock was not on the door. That meant that someone was inside.
He took a deep breath and rapped. The sound of his knuckles echoed hollowly in the house.
He rapped again. Harder this time. He cleared his throat. “Leon?”
This is foolishness, he thought, and was turning away when the door opened.
A sweat-drenched face peered out at him. Red-rimmed eyes, half-hidden by a mass of tangled hair. For a second—through some trick of light—the face seemed haggard, wrinkled, so unlike the face he’d expected to see that he thought he had come to the wrong house. Then, behind the tangled hair, he saw the familiar high cheekbones, the wide, haughty mouth. Her musky odour assailed him, and he felt a rush of lust such as he had not experienced since boyhood.
She pushed the hair away from her face. The slanted, red-rimmed eyes were strangely blank, the way Shirleen’s looked when she was on a ganja high.
He heard himself mutter an apology. “Uh—I looking for Leon. He inside?”
A long pause, while she stared at him. Then, just as he thought that she would not answer, she said: “Yes.”
“Uh…can you call him for me?”
“Leon…” her voice was slurred. “Leon is—” She broke off, baring her teeth as if in pain. She shifted forward. He caught a flash of breast and thigh. Now her body was pressed against the inner wall near the door. “Leon is…is…” She shifted again, and with shock he realised that she was caressing herself against the doorway. “He…”
…a flash of breast and thigh…
She shifted further into the doorway. He felt a roaring heat in his brain. He thought he heard his own inhaled breath as he saw the soft contour of her hip…her thighs…
He felt the hairs rise on the back of his neck. For a second, her exquisite thighs had parted, exposing her nakedness fully to him. But he had seen something else, too; something with pin-prick eyes; something scaly, something that clung to her thigh. But he wasn’t sure what he had seen, because the girl had placed a hand on her thigh, and was staring at him with open hostility. Then, in a flash, she slipped back into the shadows of the house.
(Taken from the supernatural novel Kamarang by Michael Jordan. Book design and illustrations by Harold Bascom.)
The illustrated edition of Kamarang is on sale at Austin’s Book Store, and on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.
The author can also be contacted for autographed copies on +592 645 2447 or by email: [email protected]
Dec 02, 2020– Residents promise to re-ignite the flame of the game with youths being center stage – GFF pledges support for football development, coach and referee training Kaieteur News –...
Dec 02, 2020
Dec 02, 2020
Dec 02, 2020
Dec 02, 2020
Dec 02, 2020
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – Human rights and constitutional violations in Haiti have been ignored for too... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]