Kerry Young


For my father, Alfred Anthony Young (1924-69).

My mother, Joyce Young.

And Jamaica, land we love.

People ‘make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past’.

Karl Marx



Me and the boys was sitting in the shop talking ’bout how good business was and how we need to go hire up some help and that is when she show up. She just appear in the doorway like she come outta nowhere. She was standing there with the sun shining on her showing off this hat, well it was more a kind of turban, like the Indians wear, only it look ten times better than that. Or maybe it just look ten times better on her.

She got on this blue dress that look like it must sew up with her already inside of it, it so tight, and a pair of high-heel shoes I never before seen the like of. I almost feel embarrassed that she come here and find me like this, sitting on a empty orange crate, in my vest with the beer bottle in my hand.

So we all three of us quickly jump up and ask her how we can help. And what she want is for me to go visit her sister in the hospital so I can see what some white sailor boy do to her.

‘What he do to her?’ Hampton ask.

‘He beat her. He beat her so bad I can hardly recognise her, my own sister.’

‘So what he beat her for?’

‘Just go see her. That is all I am asking of you.’ And then she look directly at me and say, ‘Can you do that?’

And I just say yes even though I don’t know why.

Then she say, ‘Thank you,’ and hand me a piece of paper with the details of the hospital where the sister at. The sister name Marcia Campbell. Then she say, ‘Marcia will tell you how you can contact me if you decide you want to help.’ And she turn and walk outta the shop.

No sooner than she gone Hampton start, ‘The sister a whore, man.’

‘How you know that?’

‘Sure, man, sure. What you think she doing with the sailor boy? They most likely arguing over money. And this one, she probably a whore as well even though she look so good and I bet she taste good too, but she a whore, man, sure.’

‘So what you saying, if she a whore it don’t matter if she get beat?’

‘It come with the territory. Like should I get vex if somebody try my patience? No, man, it come with the territory.’

I ask Judge Finley, ‘You think she just a whore as well?’

‘Yes. I think most likely Hampton right. But if this white boy really beat her like the sister say then you have to ask yourself what kinda man this is and if it OK for a white man to beat a Jamaican woman and it pass just like that.’

‘Cho, man, white men been beating Jamaican women for three hundred years.’

‘That is true,’ I say to Hampton, ‘but this is the first time anybody come ask us to do something ’bout it.’

The next day I go up the hospital to see Marcia Campbell, and she is in a state. The boy break her arm and two ribs and he mash up her face so bad her own mother wouldn’t recognise her. Then she show me the bruises and fingerprints he leave all over her body, and her back where him kick her. Is a wonder the girl still alive.

I ask her, ‘You know the name of the man who do this to you?’ And she tell me, and I say, ‘How can I get hold of your sister?’ I didn’t ask her nothing ’bout what happen because I reckon no kind of argument could justify the condition this woman was in.

When I catch up with the sister she tell me her name Gloria and she ask me what I going to do. So I say to her, ‘You don’t need bother yourself ’bout that. You just leave it with me.’ And afterwards I tell Hampton to go sort it out.

A week later Gloria Campbell come down the shop with money to pay me. She hear ’bout what happen to the sailor boy and how him in the naval hospital. I say to her, ‘I don’t need no money for that. The bwoy had it coming.’ So she put the money back in her purse.

Then she say to me, ‘You know what happen with all of that?’

And I say, ‘No, and I don’t need to neither.’

‘But you know the business we in?’

‘I can have a damn good guess.’

‘We have a house in East Kingston. We got four girls living there. Men think that just because we a house of women they can come there and do whatever they want. That’s how come what happen to Marcia.’

So I tell her, ‘This got nothing to do with me. Yu ask me to help yu and now it done. Yu don’t need to come here to talk ’bout it or explain nothing to me.’

‘I wanted to ask you if you would keep an eye on us. You know like you watch over Chinatown.’

This is the first time I look at this woman properly. Look her in the face because it suddenly strike me that she is a serious businesswoman. And when I look at her she catch me the same way she did that first day. And even though my head is telling me not to get involved with her, my mouth is moving and I hear myself saying, ‘What do you have in mind?’

When I tell Zhang he say, ‘They have a name for that.’

‘I am not pimping these girls. They running their own business. All I am doing is trying to make sure what happen to Marcia Campbell don’t happen again. They paying me the same as Mr Chin and Mr Lee and all the rest of them.’

‘Chin and Lee run honourable business. What these girls do not honourable.’

‘They making a living. You want me not do it?’

‘Is your business now, I tell you that the day I retire. You must run it way you see fit.’

The first time I go over to the East Kingston house Gloria invite me to dinner to celebrate Marcia coming home from the hospital. They make a traditional Jamaican dinner, stew chicken and rice and peas with coleslaw and cho- cho that Gloria cook herself. The only people that is there is me and these four women. And what I discover is that these women are just ordinary people who talk ’bout everything from the price of rice to how Bustamante come outta jail and go set up his own political party and win the election from Manley. And that was after a year and a half detention at Up Park Camp because his union call so much strike him nearly bring the country to a standstill and Governor Richards couldn’t take it no more.

Вы читаете Pao
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату