Saturday, August 29, 2015

Fiction Series: For Coffee: Part 2


Part one and the series can be found here! We'll be updating every week. 

Let us know if you like the series, using our hashtag: #forcoffeewithlove

Summer 1985—Brooklyn, New York, USA
Julian

"And if you don't come quick
You not gonna see your son
So I grab a bunch of roses
And I started to run"
--Barrington Levy, Here I Come

I waited on the steps of my home, for my father’s arrival. Sometimes he showed, other times my mother would come out and tell me that he called to say that he’d visit another time.

This time he showed.

As usual, I heard him coming before I saw the car. The pulsating beat of reggae announced his arrival, to the neighbors.

I grabbed my knapsack from the steps and walked to the passenger side of the car. When I opened the door, I realized he was blasting Ranking Dread’s “Fatty Boom Boom.” He was obsessed with my mother’s culture, but could barely look her in the eyes.

“You’re not coming in, to say hi to mom?”

He looked at my front door and put the car back into drive, “Maybe next time.”

My father, Delroy Williams, was American born. His family hailed from the Deep South, Alabama to be exact. His mother, my grandmother, often told stories of cotton farms and disenfranchisement laden with her beautiful accent. My father garnered his love of Caribbean culture from my grandfather. His mother moved to New York, whisked away from Monroeville by a man in a pickup truck that blasted old Jamaican Ska. They ended up in New York City, where she gave birth to Delroy in a tiny South Bronx apartment and he’d grown to be a DJ, a spinner of his father’s records, and in charge of the tunes at the party repass his father requested.

My father turned down the music, “This is what I want you to play, when I die. Don’t mourn me, dance.”

I laughed, “Going out like grandpa, huh?”

“That’s right.”

My father wore a Jamaican flag around his sienna wrist and a small hemp pouch hung on the front mirror; it held souvenir coffee beans and was painted green, yellow, and black. For a man, born here, who’d only visited the Caribbean on vacation, I was amazed at how authentic he tried to be. He’d met my mother on one of these visits, became enamored with her smile and sway, and decided to marry her right away. A few years after my birth, she’d revealed to him that she only married him to make her way to America. Although they speak, mostly about me, I don’t think he’s ever forgiven her.

“How’s school, Julian?”

“It’s cool. I’m at Erasmus now. Mommy didn’t think Wingate was a good fit for me.”

“I hear Erasmus is just as bad, now.”

“I guess, but the English teachers are really amazing. A lot of students are getting published, early on.”

“I guess you still want to be a writer.”

I chuckled, “I guess you’re still sad that I don’t want to be a DJ.”

“Selector.”

“Okay, dad. You have to be a true yardie, to earn the selector title.”

His father turned left on to the Interboro, the way to the Bronx, “I’m a yardie at heart…”

“And so was your father…we know.”

They both smiled, finding themselves doing the push and pull of writing versus music once again.
I continued, “I’m having some trouble with The Crew.”

Delroy looked concerned, “Do you need me to come down there and talk to those boys?”

“They’re not all boys, dad. Some of them are grown men. They hang around the school, some of them know mommy from back home and they keep asking me to be down.”

“No son of mine will be caught up in that foolishness.”

“I don’t want to be a part of any of it. I’m just trying to make it through this last year.”

Delroy reached over and pinched his son’s shoulder, “That’s my boy.”

I took in the scenery around the curvy highway that spun through the border of Queens and Brooklyn. Headstones peeked out from the side shrubbery. The cemetery was large and took up about a half a mile of the highway. I wondered, if my peers continued down the road they were on, how many of them would end up with their names engraved on one, before their time.   

Summer 1985—Blue Mountains, Jamaica, West Indies
Selam

Sammy followed me around the backyard, while I tried to hang up the laundry on the clothesline. He was persistent, annoying really, inquiring about our new visitors.

“I saw him and his mother come last night, Selam. They look like they’re from foreign. Which part your mummy know them from?”

I continued hanging up the clothes, “You’re too fast, Sammy. Your house is on a completely different hill and yuh find complete view of my yard.”

“Boredom.”

“He’s mommy’s childhood best friend’s son.”

“He has on Adidas! They rich!”

“They’re not rich, Sammy. That is just trend in America.”

“You like him?”

“Is that you really want ask! You come over here to fast about my love life.”

“No.”

“Sammy, I met the boy last night.”

“Which part him sleep?”

“In the guest room, with his mother.”

I looked over at Sammy, he was sitting on overturned laundry basket with his arms across his chest.

“You want to get to know him?”

“I don’t care about anything but my studies. I want to go UWI.”

“Is that right? Your mother set on you going to foreign with mummy and I.”

I stopped putting laundry up, “Excuse me?”

“We’re going up before high school finish. They’re going to put us a grade back anyway.”

“When is that?”

“The end of the summer.”

“Wha? Who told you this?”

“I overheard my mummy and your mummy talking about it.”

“Fast, just fast.”

I was suddenly extremely nervous. How could my mother plan on my departure, without a word to me?
Summer 1985—Blue Mountains, Jamaica, West Indies
Julian and Selam

Selam could hear the music through his headphones. It was music that she hadn’t really taken a liking to, but her mother seemed to enjoy it. Julie, Julian’s mother, sent tapes for her to listen to. Julian sat on the porch, bopping his head, writing in a book, and scratching his skin.

“I see I’m going to have to burn some bush for you.”

Julian took his headphones off, “What?”

“I see that you’re scratching up a storm and your arms are getting red. Mosquitos love new blood.”

“I’ve been using this spray we brought, but it’s not really working.”

Selam looked at his outfit. He seemed so out of place with his tracksuit and sneakers, in 90 degree weather.

“You’re not hot?”

Julian wiped his brow, “No.”

“A lie yuh a tell. You’re burning up. There’s no one here to look cool for. I can’t even wear my hair down, in this weather.”

Julian looked up at her bun and took off his jacket. He wore a white tank underneath.

“I’m sure you feel better now.”

“What do you do for fun, here? Milk cows and sharecrop?”

“Well, this isn’t a dairy farm, so there aren’t any cows here. We have staff that farms the land. My mother and I just do the tours, now.”

“You still didn’t answer my question.”

“What do you do for fun, city boy?”

“You can’t answer a question with a question.”

“I just did.”

“We listen to music, cool out, hit the park, skate, or catch a flick.”

“We’ve been to Kingston to Carib Theatre a few times, but you see those movies in America way before we do.”

“I’m sure.”

“We do the same things. Listen to music, make food, cool out, pick fruit. We’re not all that different.”


Julian looked around at the farm and sneered, “Right.”