Grant had made a date with Gena. They lived in the village of Jackson, about five miles north of Spanish Town. She worked with the Sinclairs as their assistant in the medium-sized grocery they operated at their home. She was a young woman going on thirty. She was a well propotioned girl and was a few inches shorter than him, Grant thought. She had a five year old daughter living with her mother in rural Trelawny.
Grant is a twenty seven year old man. He is tall, and athletic looking. Some women consider him handsome.
Grant could remember Sadie Jobson. She was a woman in her
late twenties when he was just finishing up high school. She had
always told him that she liked him. She lived with her boyfriend, Cliff,
who worked in Kingston. It was she who had taught him everything
he needed to know about a woman. He regretted when she moved
with her man to live in Kingston. He had gone to see her a few times
but she told him that most of the people in the yard were friends or
relatives of her boyfriend. Grant didn’t know if she was telling him the
truth or maybe she just wanted to get rid of him. So the relationship
had ended, but he didn’t mind.
Women, older than him had often wondered at his skill in
bed. They said that he was performing way ahead of his age. He had
simply laughed and told them that he had read a lot of books about
sex. But word soon got out about him, but although some of the
women loved him for his virility, they also pointed out that they had
needs. Gradually his relations broke up as some of the women were
too demanding. Some of them wanted money and other gifts like
cell phones and household appliances before they continued the
He was therefore glad when Gena came to work for the
Sinclairs. He found her to be not too demanding, although he didn’t
know if that would soon change. Sometimes he wondered if that had
been the reason why Sadie had run him away.
He lived at his mother, Miss Dina’s house. She is away in the United States, working as a nurse. She sends him food and clothing on a regular basis and also things to sell. The profits from the sale of these goods are shared between them.
“I don’t want Miss Lena to know that I’m talking to you, Grant.”
Most of the people in the village knew him and his reputation with women. This was especially so after what happened between him and Sadie.
He had been the man who had made Lewis turn out his woman, Dahlia. While Lewis was on the farm work program he used to sleep with her most nights. Her teenage daughter had squealed to Lewis about the men her mother was having while he was away. Grant knew that he wasn’t the only man going to Dahlia as there were other men too.
“I’ll climb the mango tree and drop into the yard. Listen for me knocking on your door tonight. I’ll knock three times, wait for two seconds, then I’ll knock two more times.
This was the first time he was going to sleep with her at her house. All the other times she had managed to slip away from the house unnoticed to be in his arms. Jasper had in fact left the house keys with her, saying that he was going to play dominoes with friends. Gena knew that he was going to sleep with some woman and would only be back before his employers woke up.
“Come about eleven o’clock. Come after Jasper has gone to bed, he’s too fast.”
She had already told him that she had heard him say that he wasn’t going out tonight.
He knew Jasper, the Sinclairs’ caretaker, as a very loud individual. He knew that he had been the man who had taken Leta away from Brim, a local barber. Rumor had it, that she had a child for him, although he had denied it. He wasn’t sure if he hadn’t been one of the men going to Dahlia.
“I know that guy, Jasper. I don’t trust him. Has he ever tried anything with you?”
“Are you mad? I would box him down. He doesn’t have enough money to deal with me.”
“I don’t like that guy. He has a very big mouth.”
“He has too many women, you mean. I’ve seen all kinds of women coming there to him.”
Grant wondered. Jasper was a tall, slim built man in his middle thirties. Rumor had it that he was from Portland, but had run away. Again, rumor had it that he had to be on the dodge because of the amount of women looking for him for child maintenance. Grant didn’t rightly know the amount of children the man had fathered. Frankly, it was none of his business so he left it at that.
So that night Grant climbed the mango tree at ten o’clock. It had started raining after he left Gena and the tree was slippery. He made sure that he wore rubber sole shoes. He looked over the wall. Gena was sitting beside Jasper but he couldn’t hear what they were talking about. He didn’t want to stay in the tree less Jasper saw him. He took his time to climb back down the tree. He would try again later that night.
It wasn’t until twelve o’clock before he tried again. He was sure that Jasper had gone to bed and Gena to her room. He hoped that she was awake and waiting for his coded signal.
She had told him where to find a small ladder. Once he dropped into the yard he found the ladder and set it up against the wall. It would do nicely as he could use it to climb the wall when he was leaving and drop down into the tree.
He made his way up to Gena’s door and knocked three times, then two more times as they had agreed. There was no sound and he began to wonder if she was sleeping so soundly not to hear him knocking.
He was moving away from the door when it was jerked open and a man shouted.
It was definitely Jasper’s voice.
Not waiting to hear any more, Grant sprinted for the ladder and was in the tree and on the ground in a second.
He sprinted for his house, which was half a kilometer away, not sure if Jasper was running after him. When he reached, he saw that there was no sign of pursuit.
There was a big rumor the next day that somebody had tried to break into the Sinclair’s house by climbing the mango tree and jumping down into their yard. All the branches hanging over the wall were cut down.
Grant didn’t see Gena again that week, but he heard that Miss Lena had fired her. He heard that she had been accused of inviting her lover into the house.
One day the next week he saw Jasper. The man stretched out his hand to him.
“I want fifty thousand dollars from you, Grant or else I’m going to Miss Lena.”
“I don’t owe you anything, Jasper and you can go to hell.”
“When they lock you up, you’ll be singing a different tune.”
“You won’t get any money out of me. You don’t have anything on me, guy.”
“We’ll see, Grant, we’ll see.”
Grant hissed his teeth and walked away.
He received a call from Gena the next day that she wanted to see him. They agreed to meet at his house.
“So you stole Miss Lena’s money and Jasper found out. You know I don’t believe you.”
They were at his house. Outside it was drizzling
slightly. They were sitting on chairs on the verandah.
She was wearing a jeans skirt, a tank top and slippers. Grant was wearing a jeans pants, a t-shirt and slippers too.
“You believe that I was sleeping with him because I like him.”
She was crying.
“He’s a blackmailer. He wants money from me or else he’s going to Miss Lena,” Grant told her.
“He’s trying to blackmail you and yet you don’t believe me.”
“Okay, you know what was happening, so why didn’t you warn me? You told me when to come and at the same time you were having sex with Jasper.”
“He forced himself on me.”
She was still crying.
Grant didn’t feel sorry for her. He felt she had been sleeping with Jasper all along. He was still disturbed by the fact that she had invited him to sleep with her, but she went to sleep with Jasper. Jasper could have chopped him that night. He could even have killed him.
A new girl came to replace Gena. Her name was Avrill. Grant heard that she was from St. Thomas, a parish in eastern part of the island. He saw her going in the direction of the pharmacy, but Jasper was always with her. She was very shapely he thought and looked younger than Gena, althouh they were probably the same height. Her breasts seemed to be very firm. He was sure that Jasper was checking her. After those two first weeks he didn’t see him with her again. He thought he knew why. He had heard that she was a Christian.
He saw her coming from the pharmacy one day and decided to approach her.
She was wearing a long pleated blue skirt and a long sleeve white blouse and slippers.
“Hi, I know your name, you’re Avrill.
“And you’re Grant, Gena’s former boyfriend.”
”My name is Grant, but I’m not Gena’s former boyfriend.”
“That’s what I heard.”
“He isn’t the only one who knew that you were friends.”
“All I know is that Gena used to work where you are now working. I talked to her a few times, but we were never lovers.”
“You’ll have to excuse me, but I have to go now,” she said and left.
Grant tried to see her again, but she hardly came out. He went to the shop, but there were always other customers there. Most of the times he simply bought what he had come for and left.
One Wednesday afternoon, he saw her in the small restaurant in the village square eating and he joined her.
She was eating fried chicken and potato chips.
“Mind if I join you?”
He had bought rice and peas and country style chicken.
“I wondered what happened to you all these weeks I haven’t seen you.”
“Haven’t you seen me in the shop?”
“I don’t mean there. That’s hardly seeing you.”
“You have so many women. Why would you want to see me?”
“Because you’re the most beautiful girl in this village.”
“Am I? Please don’t flatter me.”
“You should become used to it by now. How about going for a drink with me on Friday?”
“I’m a Christian, Mister Grant. I’m not used to drinking hard liquor. It’s strictly against my religion.”
“Grant is my Christian name, my surname is Harper. I wouldn’t invite you out to drink hard liquor. It’s just some soft drinks we would have.”
They continued eating.
“What would your friends say if they saw you out drinking soft drinks?”
“They would laugh, but I don’t mind. I hardly drink strong liquor, anyway. So, are you game?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t go out with you.”
“You have a boyfriend?”
“If it’s any of your business, no.”
They had finished eating now.
Grant wanted to ask her if she was sexually active, but decided to wait for another time.
Grant and Avrill met constantly over the next few weeks and became friends. He wanted her to go to bed with him, but she refused.
He learned that although she had some good grades in some of her subjects, she had found it hard to pick up any meaningful job. She told him that it was because she didn’t have Mathematics or English. She also told him that she wanted to be a pharmacist so she would soon have to start studying again. He learned that she had been a Christian for six years now and was twenty four years of age.
She was actually from Dalvyey. Her surname was Thames. Her mother and father were still alive. She was the middle child in a family of three girls. One of her sisters was married and living in Ocho Rios. The other one worked in a jewelry store in Downtown, Kingston. Her father was an overseer at a farm in Yallahs while her mother worked in a haberdashery in Morant Bay.
“Okay, so you’re not a virgin, so what are you afraid of?”
They were sitting on one of the concrete benches in the park in the village.
“I’ve made up my mind that the next man I go to bed with has to be my husband. Grant, any man who wants this girl’s body has to be prepared to marry her first.”
“Suppose no man is prepared to do that? What will you do,
remain a single woman?”
“Why not, if God wants it that way, then so be it.”
The next month Grant’s mother came out for a visit and met Avrill. She thought that she was a lovely girl and encouraged him to marry her. She told him that it was time he settled down.
Grant didn’t know if he agreed with her. Several of his classmates were still unmarried. The last time he checked, the only ones who were married were those who lived abroad.
Grant told Avrill what his mother had told him. She laughed
“I sincerely hope that’s not a proposal because I couldn’t marry you.”
Grant became serious. They were sitting on a bench in the local park one evening.
“I thought you were in love with me?”
“Before you marry a woman, Grant, think of how you are going to maintain her. You’re not even working. I’m not making that much money where I am. Listen, I’m still young. I don’t want to tie up myself with any man. The next thing you’ll be asking is for me to have children with you.”
“Why do people get married?”
“There are a lot of things to consider before getting married. I want to have my career before I think about marrying any man.”
Grant felt that his mother wasn’t serious about him marrying Avrill.
He told her that if they got married, she had to come and live with him.
She had refused, telling him that she didn’t want to live under
his mother’s roof. She also said that she could never marry an unemployed man. He countered that he was in business with his
mother. She would send out goods for him to sell at the house. He would also take some of the goods to sell in major towns. He drove a 2010 Toyota Townace minivan. They would share the profits. She told him that she could never call what he was doing, work.
Grant thought about what she said. He knew he could get a job as he was a trained chef with over five years experience. The last
place he had worked was at Dickson’s Restaurant in Old Harbour. He had only left when his mother proposed the scheme to him. He would talk to his mother and then give Josh Dickson a call. Once he got a job he would rent a room.
Something still troubled him. It was Avrill’s continued refusal to sleep with him until they were married.
There was Jasper, he would spread it all over the village that he had never slept with Avrill. He knew that the man was watching her like a hawk. He would invite Avrill to spend time at the house with him.
Austin's blog: stredwick.blogspot.com