Friday, April 13, 2007

Face Value - Chapter Seven

Disclaimer: Face Value is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental.


This frigging woman goin’ bankrupt me if I doan be careful. Why the hell she would want flowers imported from Martinique? Flowers don’t grow in Barbados?
I slapped the bills on my desk and picked up the phone.
“Cherie,” I yelled as soon as my wife came on the line, “wuh de **s you think it is? Two thousand dollars for flowers? The guests gine eat them?”
My wife sucked her teeth. “Please, Patrick. As if we can’t afford it. Even without the raise you’re getting we still have the money Daddy left for me.”
“Exactly. For you, not for me. I had to work hard all my life for whatever I want. I ain’ had no rich parents to leave no inheritance for me!”
“Watch your language, darling. When you get upset you lapse back into dialect so horribly. What would the Attorney General think if he heard you now?”
It was my turn to suck my teeth. “Wuh foolishness you talking? You spending too much time wid those West Coast expats you work with. I tell you already, you might be selling villas but you ain’ got neither one, hear?”
Cherie grumbled her goodbyes and exited the conversation hastily. She hated to be reminded that she had not yet achieved her ultimate aspiration: to be the equal of the rich, white British women who owned the real estate agency at which she was employed.
I shook my head and replaced the receiver. Those foreign women were a bad influence on Cherie. Their false sense of entitlement was rubbing off on her. Though to be honest, Cherie had possessed that sense before. The only child of a prominent landowner family, Cherie grew up with maids, housekeepers, and nannies at her beck and call. While the majority of Barbadians were outside squatting on pit toilets, Cherie’s plantation home had three indoor bathrooms.
However, bad investment decisions drove her father into debt and the house and its acreage were snapped up to Trinidadian conglomerate. My father-in-law regained some of his faded glory before passing away from a hear attack, but he never again became a plantation owner. The house was later torn down and multimillion dollar condominiums were built in its place. Ironically, the company Cherie worked for managed that property.
My poor wife. She want to be back on top of Barbadian society but she can’t compete with this new high class with its pounds and US dollars.
Worrying about Cherie’s lavish spending was the last thing I needed right now anyway. My recent promotion to Director of Public Prosecutions meant that my workload had doubled and was directly in the line of whatever fire was blazing through the Attorney General’s Chambers.
A few more years in this job and then I could start thinking ‘bout running in the elections. The Party wants me now but I need to establish myself more publicly first.
I glanced at my wife’s photograph on my desk and sighed.
Whatever stress you put me through is my fault ‘cause I ain’ had no right marrying you in the first place. If I wasn’t such a coward I would have Peter’s picture on my desk now, not yours. But I know there ain’ no way Barbadians goin’ vote for no bulla man


“Jesus Lord, it ain’ no wonder people so poor now, they got to buy everything they want. You think we had any right buying lettuce in a supermarket? We should be growing it in the backyard at home!”
Cherie cut her eye at me and grabbed the iceberg lettuce out of my hand.
“Trust you to turn shopping into a sociological debate! Look around, this isn’t Budg Buy or Julie N’. High end goods cost money!”
I grunted and pushed the trolley towards the frozen foods aisle. “Fair enough, but if I serious ’bout representing the masses I have to see things from their point of view.”
She rolled her eyes. “Whatever. Once you don’t expect me to start bargain shopping, dear.”
“Never, Cherie, I wouldn’t want you to go against your principles,” I mocked.
She walked away in a huff and I pushed the trolley slowly after her. Sometimes I wondered why she put up with me. If I was honest with myself I would admit that I often tried to see how far I could push her, to force her to make a decision that I was too cowardly to make.
Just then my cell phone rang and I halted the cart and glanced at the caller-id. I smiled and flipped it open.
“Hey love what’s up?”
“F**k you, Patrick, you lying, two-faced w**re. You have the gall to be promising me that you breaking up with Cherie and throwing a big bash to renew vows! How you could do this to me!”
I hastily scanned the supermarket for Cherie but she was nowhere in sight. “Pete, let me explain…,” I began, but he stopped me in my tracks.
“Explain my **s. You go long and have your renewal of vows. It’s only a matter of time before she finds out what a down-low piece of sh**e you are. Forget you ever knew me.”
He rang off and I disconnected dejectedly. Oh Jesus what I gone and do now? I gone and wreck the only worthwhile thing in my miserable life. And what if he tells somebody about us?

That's it for now see how these crazy characters end up you gotta buy my book, haha. Take care for now!

Face Value - Chapter Six

Disclaimer: Face Value is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental.


Lord Jesus I don’t believe this! My mother was a common prostitute! My mother, who could recite the bible from cover to cover and so…so holy!
I pulled into the parking lot of Barbell Gym and sat staring into space, my hot head being cooled by the air-conditioning wafting out of the Vitara’s vents.
The shocking news that Pearl had angrily blurted out had started a sea change in my life. Deflated and ashamed, my mother had left without saying another word once she recovered from fainting. She even refused a lift home. My mother, the fallen Madonna.
Pearl filled me in on the rest of the story, told to her by her own mother. My mother had been a prostitute in Nelson Street when she met my father Sinclair, a seaman. Against his family’s wishes they had married. By all accounts they had a happy marriage up until his death when I was 10 years old. His death must have warped her somehow, for it was around that time that she became a judgmental, sanctimonious bible-wielder who turned her back on her sisters and other family members.
I rubbed my weary eyes and checked my watch. I had 10 minutes to change before I trained my first client of the day. I sighed and hopped out of the vehicle, pulling my duffel bag behind me.
I nodded hello and smiled at several persons as I passed through the gymn’s lobby on the way to the employee locker room. I changed quickly into my official trainer’s t-shirt and Nike shorts, smiling as I came across a toy rattle that one of Pearl’s kids had no doubt snuck into my bag.
Children. Well, I guess I can kiss them goodbye. No way is Government going to allow us to adopt a kid, even if Patrick wanted them.
I frowned at the thought of my boyfriend. He was due back today from a business trip and still didn’t know that I had come out to my mother. I wasn’t going to tell him about the other drama though. No, I was going to keep that close to my chest.
I had first met Patrick three years previously at a party thrown by a mutual friend at The Ship Inn. I was immediately attracted to his athletic build and dark, striking looks. During our conversation I discovered that he was 37, nearly 10 years older than me, a public prosecutor and married. I heard his voice telling me he was committed to a woman, but his eyes told a whole other story. I never dreamed I would find myself in the position of “the other man”, but here I was. If being a homosexual didn’t send me to hell, being an accessory to adultery would.
My first client of the day was waiting for me in the weight room and I smiled when I saw his tall, dark frame standing on the matted area in front of the mirrors.
Oh boy, if I wasn’t spoken for I would definitely try my luck….a definite hottie.
I took a moment to admire the muscular biceps, calves and thighs I had helped to create before moving to knock fists with the young man.
“Hey Paul, what up guy, ready to sweat?”
It was then that I realised that Paul was not his usual jovial self. Instead of his trademark grin he looked grim as he acknowledged me.
“Yeah, Pete, what’s up. Look, I just passed through to let you know I’m not really up for the workout today. I have some business to deal with.”
“Must be bad for you to miss a workout. You okay?” I asked concernedly. In the past two years I had been training Paul we had developed a friendly rapport, even though he always seemed rather guarded about some aspects of his life.
He clenched his jaw. “Only time will tell. I gotta run.”
I bade him farewell, glancing back at him worriedly. Typical Paul, so secretive. I wonder what’s his problem?


Around midday, my cell phone rang and I my heart skipped a beat when I saw the number on the caller id.
“Wuh happen, n**ger man ? You now remember me?” I teased as I answered.
“Hey Pete. Man, since I came back Cherie was stuck to me like glue. I now get a chance to call you.”
I sucked my teeth at the mention of Patrick’s wife.
“Look, you don’t think it’s time enough that you put that poor woman out of her misery? When you were away I told my mother, so the ball is in your court now.”
“You ain’ mention my name, nuh?” he asked gruffly.
“No, I didn’t,” I retorted angrily, “and she didn’t take it very well, thanks for asking. She nearly broke every piece of glass in the house. I had to move out to my cousin’s house.”
“My poor baby. You want me to come over and talk?”
I snorted. “Talk is all you want now? Man, you know how badly I missed you? I’m tired with all this sneaking around too.”
“Look, be patient. I goin’ tell Cherie soon and then we can be together. I promise.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it. Anyway, where are we meeting later?”
We made plans to meet later that evening at a little hideaway in St. Joseph and I disconnected.


My mother was not at home when I arrived to collect some of my clothes. Good. I really don’t feel like facing her right now. We definitely need a break from each other.
I stuffed several jeans, t-shirts and undergarments into my duffel bag and headed back out to the front room. Ma had cleaned up most of the mess, although I could still see the spaces on the whatnot where ornaments used to stand. I picked up a photo of my father and touched the yellowing paper through the broken glass.
You were a good man, Da. I’m sure you know how I feel, going against what society dictates. I hope you understand.
I was locking the front door behind me when I heard raised voices. I glanced next door and saw our neighbour Frank Simmons and a young, pretty, dark-skinned girl engaged in a heated argument on the verandah.
I wonder if that’s his daughter? It looks like she’s in the same boat as me, pissing off the parent!
I eased over to my Vitara, not wanting to seem as though I was eavesdropping. They turned when they heard the vehicle start and I could see that the girl was crying. I raised my hand, reversed out of the driveway and pointed my car in the direction of the St. Joseph country-side.


“Oh girl I’m gonna look so hot on Saturday night! I’m gonna set that party on fire! All I need is a hot date and I’m good to go.”
I looked up from my lunch in the gym cafeteria to see one of the trainers, Natalie, striding into the room. Her honey-blond locs swung from side to side in a chic ponytail.
She and her companion, our resident yoga instructor Lisa, retrieved their salads from the refrigerator and sat at my table. They smiled hello, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Lisa nudge Natalie and nod in my direction. Natalie sighed and shook her head, stabbing at her salad.
I refocused on my lunch and the newspaper spread out in front of me and ignored the two girls. Both had flirted with me when they joined the gym staff and both had been gently rebuffed. They no doubt assumed I had a girlfriend to whom I was strongly committed because I always seemed to fly below most “gaydars”. I never gave off the treacherous vibe that sparked poisonous whispers and accusations.
“Anyway,” Natalie continued, “this party is going to be the talk of the town. I hear he’s spending nearly $20, 000 on it!”
“Wow, all that for a renewal of vows? That’s like getting remarried if you asked me!” Lisa, rolled her eyes and sucked her teeth.
“Well, I don’t think money is a problem for him right now. I hear he’s tipped to be the next Director of Public Prosecutions, and he has friends in the reigning political party so you know he’s gonna get it!” Natalie snickered, waving her fork in midair.
That last statement caught my attention. Wait, Patrick always on and on about getting that big job one of these days. Looks like he has competition! I wonder if he knows?
I cleared my throat and spoke up. “Natalie, excuse me, whose party are you going to this weekend?”
“My neighbour’s. You may not know him though. He’s a prosecutor for the Government, Patrick Miller. He and his wife are renewing their wedding vows and planning a blow out party.”
Pride was the only thing that held back a stricken look from appearing on my face. So much for worrying about going to hell when I died. I was in hell right now.

Face Value - Chapter Five

Disclaimer: Face Value is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental.


Dear Lord in heaven, why have you forsaken me, your faithful servant? You know I’ve done my best with that boy, and look how he repay me.
I threw myself into the only piece of furniture left upright in the front house and held my head in my hands.
How I goin’ face my sisters and brothers at church? I’s a pillar in that place, people respect me. I ain’ like some of them poor-great pew warmers.
A thought crossed my mind and I bolted from the chair to peer through the curtains. I saw the lights go out at Frank Simmons’ house next door.
Lord, I hope he ain’ hear nothing. Though he should be the last to talk. Wuh he daughter and he doan’ even speak. I feel he trouble she when she lived there, yuh know. Why else them stop speaking so?
I started to tidy the room, repositioning chairs, sweeping up broken vases and ornaments. I picked up the framed photograph of my late husband and checked it carefully for damage.
Sinclair, I wish you was here to help me. We son heading for eternal damnation.
Just then, the telephone rang and I searched under the cushions strewn about the floor to retrieve it. The caller id revealed it was Peter calling from his cellphone.
“Where you is, Peter? You ain’ hurt your poor mother enough, you decide to run off God knows where at this time o’ night?”
“Ma, I just calling to make sure you alright. I can’t talk to you when you in that state.”
“State! State! You is who put me so! You expect to tell me you is a buller and I would feel good? You forget that is an abomination in the sight of the Lord?”
He sighed, or maybe it was static on the line.
“That God you always talking about is a forgiving God, too. You of all people should know that. I sure he wouldn’t want me to live a lie to please you or anybody else.”
“Look, come home leh we talk. I doan’ trust these cellphone things, yuh does get too many cross lines,” I pleaded, worried about the direction the conversation was heading.
“No, not tonight. You cool down and we goin’ talk in the morning I goin’ stop by Pearl tonight.”
I bristled at the mention of my sister’s youngest daughter. “Why there? You ain’ goin’ get no proper night sleep wid all them bastard children she got ‘bout there.”
“Look, I gone. Tomorrow.” I listened to the dial tone for a few seconds before the realisation dawned on me that he had put down the phone.


“Wait Sister Walker, where that handsome son of yours is today?”
I frowned and turned to Sister Doughlin who was helping me place the Holy Sacrament on to silver platters.
“Oh, he had to work today. He’s training a big client at the gym, one of those West Indian cricketers.”
She oohed and aahed as I reeled off some of the names of Peter’s clients at the large, modern gym where he had worked for five years.
That’s probably wuh make him so, all them half naked men sweating and straining, I thought.
“My niece Sandra really likes him, you know. He’s not going out with anybody right now?”
“Not as far as I know. I could arrange a meeting between them, if you want. It’s high time that son of mine settle down anyway,” I laughed, but my mind was working furiously. If I could find him a nice young lady, maybe he would forget this gay business. Sandra ain’ all the pretty pretty, but the love of a good woman and plenty prayer might exorcise them demons.
Later, after an eerily-appropriate sermon on the prodigal son, I assisted the other servers in distributing the Sacrament at the communion rail. I smiled at Mr. Salankey, a prominent businessman who often slipped a hundred dollar bill into the collection plate. He and his wife were resplendent in their church attire, and one could smell the money and success wafting off them along with their expensive colognes.
Now that was the kind of congregation member we encouraged, not these two-dollar cheapskates who populated the church. Half of them only come in here to say they go to a big church anyway. You does only see most of them at Easter and Christmas.
There was a slight buzz in the congregation and I turned to see what all the fuss was about. I sucked my teeth quietly so Reverend Small couldn’t hear when I saw a musty looking vagrant who often came into the service approach the rail. On this particular Sunday, he wore a stained, olive green vest and a beige three quarter pants, the hems of which were completely frayed. On his feet was a pair of fluorescent-green, high-top Converse. He attempted to dignify the outfit with a filthy-looking beige (perhaps once white) polyester jacket. In a strange way, his outfit matched.
That’s what I dislike ‘bout these town churches. All these paros always coming in to disrupt the service. Why he can’ go and jump in the Careenage or something? The vagrant knelt to the right of Mrs. Salankey, who gave him a tense smile and shifted closer to her husband. The man held out a calloused, grimy hand for the small symbol of Jesus’ body, which I reluctantly dropped into his palm.
“Thank you,” he mumbled, then accepted the wine and placed the glass on the tray I held out.
I got to remember to scald this, I thought as I placed the glass face down so I could distinguish it from the others. I looked up and met the eyes of the vagrant, who regarded me solemnly. A sense of guilt washed over me, as he stared from the glass to my face.
“God bless you, sister,” he said as he left the rail and went back to his seat.
Ashamed, I headed quickly to the church kitchen to rinse the glasses before going to the vestry to count the collection.


Later that afternoon, I got off a ZR van and walked briskly towards the housing unit rented by my niece Pearl. I shuddered and clutched my handbag a little tighter as I passed a group of young dread-locked men sitting on a makeshift bench under an apple tree and tried not to breathe in too much of the ganja cloud surrounding them.
Blasted druggies, all wunna want locking up! I don’t believe my taxes going to look after people like them.
I was relieved to see Peter’s jeep was still parked outside the rental unit; I was praying that our quarrel had not driven him into the arms of his “boyfriend”.
I kicked a toy truck out of my path and rang the doorbell. The sound had barely faded away before the door was pulled open.
“Who’s you?” a scruffy-looking little girl who looked around four years old asked, her hands akimbo.
“Little girl, that ain’ no way to answer a door! Where your mother?”
“Shaquesha! Who it is?” I heard Pearl shout from somewhere in the unit. Seconds later I heard laughter and footsteps coming down the staircase. Pearl and Peter came into the room, Peter cradling one of his cousin’s children as it fed from a bottle. Two more children trailed them into the room, one of the boys pulling a grungy-looking blanket behind him. Both my son and niece pulled up short as they saw me standing at the front door.
“Carmeta, I never thought I woul’ live long enough to see your shadow darken my door,” Pearl began, “you must really be hurt to come here.”
“Look, I ain’ here to argue with you, I just want to speak to my son, if you don’t mind,” I rolled my eyes and folded my arms.
Peter handed over the baby and motioned for me to sit on the sofa. Pearl grabbed the other children and went into a connecting room, though I knew that given the size of the unit she would not have a problem hearing what we discussed.
I removed my hat and gazed sternly at my son. “I see you enjoying yuhself.”
He shrugged and smiled. “The kids are fun, a bit rough around the edges, but nice. You should get to know them better, Ma. They’re family after all.”
I gazed disdainfully around the shabby living room, taking in the pictures hung haphazardly on the wall, the stained sofa and dusty space saver. “I think I’ll pass. Come home, son. This ain’ no way to live!”
Peter sighed deeply. “Look Ma, I’m a grown man. I made a decision that I’m not going to live a lie anymore and I hope you understand. If not, I don’t see how we can live together anymore.”
I was becoming more irate by the second. Lord God, give me strength.
“The fifth commandment says: Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be prolonged. If you won’ do it for me, do it for yuh poor dead father. He must be turning in he grave!”
Peter sprang from the couch in anger. “That isn’t fair! You always bringing up Da and spouting scripture to get your way! And besides, my father was never a man to judge other people. He wouldn’t care that I’m in love with another man, once I’m happy!”
“Lower yuh voice! You want Pearl to hear you?”
“She knows already, she knew for years I was different. You’re the one still in denial.” He sighed and rubbed his hands over his closely-shaved head.
I snorted. “I bet she loving this. My handsome, brown-skinned, Christian son turning out like this. Now she not the only disgrace in the family anymore.”
As suspected, Pearl was within earshot, because she stomped around the corner into the room and stopped in front of my chair.
“Who the hell you calling a disgrace, you hypocritical **tch! Nothin’ ’gainst Peter, but all yuh deceit coming back to haunt yuh! Parading roun’ like Jesus reincarnate when you ain’t nothing but a ole fair picker!”
The breath left my body as if Pearl had punched me in the stomach, and through misted vision I saw Peter staring incredulously from Pearl to myself. Before he could ask what she meant by that statement, I felt my knees weaken and I slumped into blessed darkness.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Face Value - Chapter Four

Disclaimer: Face Value is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental.


I keep telling this boy to fill back up the water bottle when he put it back in the fridge. Jesus, I got to do everything ’round here? Where he is though? I thought he would be home by now.
I refilled the bottle, then grabbed a few grapes before closing the refrigerator door. I headed to the living room and turned on the television. Ian Bourne’s chubby face smiled out at me and I glanced at my watch.
After seven and this boy ain’ get in here yet? He must be stop to watch sports or something.
Just then, I heard the side door open.
“I now get here, old boy. I had some books to carry back to the library and then I couldn’t get a van at all.”
I got up and head to the small dining room, where my 16 year-old son was removing his shoes and socks.
“Good Lord Ryan, you could of still call and let me know you alive. School finish since 3 o’clock.”
“Call how? I ain’ got no cell phone.”
“Don’t make me smack you, boy. How I could afford to give you a cell phone? I could barely pay the rent and put food on the table. I could buy the phone, but you might be too starve out to talk on it.”
He tried to remain serious, but laughed despite himself. “If you would stop being so stubborn and let Veronica help out, things wouldn’t be so tight ’round here.”
I frowned at the mention of my older child’s name. “Look, case closed. We don’t need her money, we getting through very well. Hurry up and come and let we get something to eat, I was waiting till you got home.”
I entered the kitchen and began to spoon out rice and peas and fried chicken on to two plates.
Veronica. Jesus, where I went wrong with that child? I know it was hard on her when her mother died, but God knows I did my best. Maybe I should have sent the children to their grandmother in St. Lucia. At least they would have had a female influence.
I filled two glasses with ice-cold mauby and placed a fork next to Ryan’s plate.
No, I don’t think staying in St. Lucia would have made a bit of difference. Veronica’s problem is that she like too much money and big life.I couldn’t give her, so she got it for herself. But look how she got it. No man can’t feel good knowing that his only daughter is a prostitute.


Two hours later, while Ryan snored peacefully in his room, I grabbed a Banks beer and headed to the verandah for some fresh air. The neighbourhood was quiet, the flickering of television sets behind drawn blinds the only sign of life.
“Maggie, forgive me for not doing a better job with our child,” I whispered softly to the night air.
For the first time since her death, I was glad my wife was not alive to witness what her family had come to. My relationship with my daughter had hit rock bottom. Since I had discovered last Christmas what Veronica did for a living, since I confronted her with that married, big guts politician, I had cut her off entirely. She still phoned Ryan; it was easier to let her continue speaking with her brother than to explain to him what was gong on.
I could of killed that r***hole. The way he was looking at her, touching her, it was obvious she was his outside thing. She ain’ even frighten that shite Paul find out.
I sucked my teeth when I thought of Veronica’s boyfriend. That girl never had much sense when it came to men. Anybody could see that boy was a frigging drug dealer. How else a young black fella who ain’ went school nowhere afford an Escalade and that big-tail house in St. George?
I was just about to finish my beer and head inside when a shriek broke the stillness of the night and interrupted my thoughts. Next door at the Walkers I heard a voice repeatedly sobbing “why, Lord” and the sound of furniture being thrown about and glass breaking.
Wait, wuh gine on in by Ms. Walker, bosie? That doan’ sound like one of them prayer meetings she does keep over there.
I ducked from view instinctively when my neighbour’s front door opened and her son hurried out. He climbed into his white Suzuki Vitara and sped off.
Children. He must be gone now and do some ignorance to upset he poor mother.
I drained the bottle, belched and headed inside to bed.

Face Value - Chapter Three

Disclaimer: Face Value is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental.


Place three drops of urine on the sample well. One, two, three. Wait three to five minutes, yadda yadda. One bar signifies a negative test, two bars a positive result. Okay, breath girl, breath. Lord, I know I don’t deserve to call your name, but please let this test be negative.
I gripped the platinum Cartier timepiece tightly and stared at its second hand as it slowly ticked around the watch’s face. I turned it over and read the inscription engraved on the back. “To V from Paul. Love Always.”
I smiled instinctively when I thought of my boyfriend of three years. What was the line from that movie again? Oh yeah. He had me at hello. From the time I placed my eyes on Paul at a Boatyard happy hour session, I knew I had to have him. His muscular six-foot frame decked out in Sean Jean gear, he stood out from the business-attired yuppies who usually mingled at the Bay Street venue on Friday evenings. Boss man did not look intimidated at all by the upwardly mobile, who tended to look down their noses at anyone outside their cliques. I sidestepped a group of young lawyers appraising me with their eyes and asked Paul if I could buy him a drink.
When our first meeting ended over breakfast at the Lucky Horseshoe the following morning, I knew I was in love. I had never met a man who was as driven and ambitious as Paul. We were so alike, it was scary. The years following that night were a romantic, thrilling roller coaster ride. I admit I was a bit apprehensive when he finally admitted what he did for a living, but it wasn’t like I hadn’t guessed anyway. A player like myself always recognised a master of the game. It was a pity now that I wasn’t as open about my source of income.
Wait, three minutes gone. Breathe. I looked at the white stick lying on the bathroom sink. Oh crap.


I stumbled from the Ob-Gyn’s office and headed to my silver gray Skoda Octavia. The doctor had just confirmed what I already knew. Six weeks pregnant. Knocked up. A bun in the oven. Up sh*t creek without a paddle.
I rested my head on the steering wheel as hot tears streamed down my cheeks.
What the hell am I going to do? I can’t tell Paul, that much is clear. I have to get rid of it. No…I can’t. I can’t destroy this little life just because I was stupid enough to get raped. If that bastard gives me AIDS! And those blasted antibiotics I took had to go and break down the pill…God!
I wiped my face and was about to start the ignition when there was a knock on my window. I hit the power button to lower it and looked enquiringly at the elderly lady holding out a piece of paper. I hesitated.
“Don’t worry. Jesus loves you,” she said as she placed what looked like a religious tract in my hand.
“I don’t deserve it, if he does,” I replied and thanked her. As she turned to leave, I examined the green pamphlet with a photo of Jesus with the lost sheep in his arms. The tears started to flow again.


“I don’t understand. What you mean not tonight? You’ve been putting me off for weeks now!”
“Look Roger, I’m sorry, but as I told you, I’m not well. I have a colleague I can refer you to if you want,” I pleaded. I felt my stomach tumble ominously and a bitter taste enter my mouth. I didn’t know why the hell they called it morning sickness. I was sick 24/7.
I managed to convince Roger that my friend Sahara would fulfill his every naughty desire and hung up. I scrolled down the palm pilot to Peters, Dean. I sighed. He was going to take a lot of convincing.
Feeling a surge of acid rise up from my stomach, I dropped the electronic gadget and rushed to the bathroom, where I barely made it to the toilet bowl. Exhausted, I slumped to the bathroom floor.
Forget it, I’m not calling a soul else. I’m going to empty my bank account and disappear, maybe to St. Lucia. Yeah, I love St. Lucia. I remember when Daddy took my brother Ryan and I there in the 90’s….
At the thought of my family my heart sank. My life was a nightmare. Paul would never forgive me, and as for my father, he already hated my guts. The sorry state in which I found myself was further proof of the wh**e he thought I was. He would definitely not be greeting his grandchild with open arms.

Face Value - Chapter Two

Disclaimer: Face Value is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental.


I could swear I just saw my father, then. If the idiot behind me didn’t start to blow he horn, I woulda had a better look.
Nah, that couldn’t be him. Not that musty, paro-looking… thing. But, something ’bout the walk looked familiar, and I swear the man duck he head when he saw me. But then again, for all I know he could be dead, ’cause I ain’t see him for nearly 10 years.
But if it was he for truth, what I would do, though? Hug him up? Well no, not to nasty up my gear. I should knock him down for real, after what he did to my mother. Yeah, I better turn around and go back and see if it was him and knock him to hell down.
I wonder if I should tell Mummy? She might think it funny that she living large now and the bastard living on the streets. Then again, if I tell she, she might tell Beverley and that softy I have for a sister might start looking for him. Nah. I goin’ keep this to myself
I turned left on to Spring Garden Highway and let the Escalade cruise.
Mummy. She deserved a good life now after that son-of-a-**tch use she for a punching bag. Beverley too young to remember, that’s why she always Daddy this and Daddy that. Who the hell want a father who would burn you with an iron if you get back in the house five minutes later than he told you to? He brutalised my mother for fifteen years, that’s why his backside like it on the streets now. Or dead. If I wasn’t in a hurry I would really turn back.
Anyhow, I got business to mind. If this deal goes as planned, I goin’ be set for a while. My boo could open her own salon and spa, Mummy could go on that world cruise she always talking about and Beverley could get to study overseas. The mortgage done pay for on the house so I clear.
Wait, look Wayne Skeete who used to live up by us. Look at muh, yuh brute, you think you could drive wanna these? Better drive long before I ram that ole Baleno. I could never stand him, then. He always thought he was better than everybody else ’cause he went to Queens. I only went to St. Leonard’s, but I could buy and sell he now, the so-and-so
At the top of University Hill, I turned left and headed towards Clermont.
I hope this fellow home,‘cause I ain’t have no time to waste. I need to get this done.
I pulled up outside the cream and brown two-storey mansionette and parked behind Tony Griffith’s green 7-series BMW. I took a package out of the small compartment beneath the floorboard of the vehicle and stepped outside.
Damn, it’s hot today. I hope the Met office right about this rain coming, ’cause we really need some right now.
“I was looking fuh you every since, old man,” Tony said as he opened the large oak door.
I stepped into the cool entryway, and pushed the door closed. A flicker of fear passed his face and he held up a hand to speak.
“Before you start up, I ain’t get through,” he began, “my contacts lying low after that big bust a week ago and things just dead right now. I need more time.”
“Things dead? You’s some kinda **ite or something? The same way I waiting on you, I got people waiting on me fuh their cut and I doan’ plan on disappointing them. So I doan’ know who you goin’ kill but I want my money now.”
“Paul,” he started to back up as I unwrapped the brown bag in my hand, “look, you know I would never con you, old man. We raise up together and thing.”
“That’s why I ain’t goin’ kill you,” I replied as I pulled the .45 from the bag and shot him in the right kneecap. He fell to the floor screaming as blood and soft tissue spilled on to the white ceramic tiles.
“Now I want my f**king half million by next week or you’s a dead man.”
As I slammed the door behind me, I could hear him sobbing from his position on the floor. I blocked out the sound, placed my piece back into its hideaway and pulled out of the driveway. Some days I hated my life. But business was business.


“Paul, I giving serious thought to becoming a Christian.”
I lowered the Sun on Saturday I was reading and stared at my mother.
“God might have a big problem wid that, Mum. You’s the one that always say He doan’ like ugly, so I ain’ know ‘bout that!”
She frowned and curled her legs under her body as she sat on the cream leather sofa.
“Well, all I know is that I can’t keep on like this. Look how Esther Brathwaite just up and dead sudden so last week. I need to make things right wid my Lord.”
I rolled my eyes. It was no wonder that among her friends my mother had earned the nickname “grim reaper”. An avid listener to the “deaths” on CBC, Mummy had a photographic memory of the dates on which everyone we knew had died, and kept the funeral leaflets as confirmation. Now that she was headed for her “sunset years” as she put it, her preoccupation with death had grown to an obsessive level.
“So wuh you suggest?” I asked, “give up all of this and move back to some rickety board and shingle in Chapman Lane? You could really give up all this?”
She stared around at the lush drapery and matching carpeting, the leather upholstery and the walnut entertainment centre with its 57 inch plasma screen television.
“You enter this world with nothing and you leave with nothing,” she replied, “and as for you, you need to hurry up and marry Veronica and get out this business before you get yourself or that sweet girl killed. Don’t forget I know where all this come from,” she added, waving her hand at the objects in the living room.
I hastily raised the paper and pretended to be engrossed in yesterday’s news. Once my mother got started on a topic, she was like a dog with a bone. She had never forgiven herself for turning a blind eye to my “business” for the sake of our financial betterment. Poverty was no joke, and we had experienced our fair share. I had seen how an easier lifestyle had erased the creases of time from her face, and we both knew it would be nearly impossible to give up the vehicles, cruise vacations and designer clothes my money could buy.
“Besides, you ain’t hear what they do to that fellow last month? I hear how he did owe somebody money or something. They like they break every bone in he body.” She shivered at the thought.
I kept my face impassive. Not every bone, just the critical ones, I thought. Dwayne was one of my distributors, and a tough nut to crack. When
I discovered he was skimming off a bit of the profits for himself, I knew I had to make an example of him. Otherwise, every dealer, buyer and schoolboy lookout would think I was an easy mark. I took no pleasure in the beating, but after all, business was business.
“Anyway, it’s not like this life’s a bed of roses anyhow. I can’t sleep worrying ’bout you, and when I hear a car outside I think the Task Force coming to kick down the door. These heights and terrace snobs we have for neighbours would love that.” Mum unraveled herself from the sofa and started to pace the living room.
I snorted. “So wuh? Even if I was a banker they would still act cold, ’cause to them nobody our colour should be living up here. I’s a Bajan, and I got even more right than a foreigner to own a big-ass house on a hill in my own damn country. I ain’t care how I get here, I here now and to hell with them!”
“So wuh ’bout Beverley? She got her whole life ahead of her and I don’t want it tainted with this drug business.”
“Well, this drug business is wuh goin’ send her to some fancy college overseas,” I retorted.
Just then, the front door slammed and we heard the sound of footsteps running in the hallway.
“Mummy, Paul, you all home?” I heard my sister Beverley call out excitedly.
“In here Bev,” Mummy replied, raising an eyebrow questioningly. I shrugged, folded the paper and waited to find out what the fuss was all about.
Beverley burst into the room, her shoulder length twists swinging around a beaming face. In her left hand she clutched a white envelope.
“Guess what! I got accepted to John Jay College! New York City, here I come!”
I frowned. “John Jay College? But I thought you applied to one of them fancy Ivy League universities I hear so much ’bout?”
Beverley plopped down on the sofa. “Yeah, I did, but John Jay was my first choice. Now I can study what I always wanted: criminology and forensic science.”
Mummy stared at me in shock as I sank back into the sofa. If there was a God, I’m sure he appreciated the irony.

Face Value - Chapter One

Disclaimer. Face Value is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental.


Now I wake and see the light, Christ has kept me through the night,
keep me well, Oh Lord I pray, guard and guide me through this day, in Christ’s name, Amen.

After kneeling to perform my morning devotions, I closed my small New Testament Bible and attempted to stand. The floor of the cramped wooden shack began to spin, a sign that I had to find food before the day was over.
What’s today though? Tuesday, I think. Or maybe Thursday? Wait, it’s Wednesday. I now remember seeing those fat cat politicians going in Parliament yesterday. Now some of them could really miss a meal or two. One guy was struggling to button his jacket. Useless rasses, the bunch of them.
I tidied my bed of discarded newspapers and damp, musty smelling cardboard. I need to change these sheets, I smiled wryly, they’re dated March 21.
Hey, maybe I can get some of that soft sponge from the store on Swan Street. If I lucky, the owner might throw some water on me again, save me having to walk all the way up Bay Street for a sea bath.
I really hated sea baths. They dried out my skin and woke up all the cuts and bruises I had forgotten. But the salt water beat trying to find a standpipe in the City. The few that remained were now used by youths washing their fancy cars or overheated pitbulls. Once, I managed to find one near Suttle Street and a lady called the Police, saying I was exposing myself. Was it my fault the standpipe was next to the road? Or that the secondhand clothes I got from the Salvation Army almost dissolved when the water hit them? Besides, I was careful to keep my back to the traffic. At least the Officer was kind enough to get me some fresh clothes.
Food, food, food. I licked my cracked lips and rubbed my rumbling stomach. What I feel like eating? Chinese? Local? Fast food? So many trash cans, so many choices. And now that Bajans didn’t appreciate a chicken bone like the true delicacy it was, more meat for me! Saturdays were especially nice, plenty of children in town. And they never finished a meal.
I crawled through an opening in the abandoned shed that had been my home for the last few months. God was good. No one else had discovered it as yet. Hopefully my luck would hold for a while longer, at least until the rainy season was over. The last place I found, I was only there three days before it was invaded by a group of paros. In two twos my humble abode was littered with needles, foil and trash. And the smell! It was like living with a pack of zombies. Not even rats messed their own nests. That’s why I never touch that drug stuff. I already lost control of one part of my life, no need to lose everything else. Besides, if I had any hope of getting off the streets some day, a fried out brain was the last thing I needed.


“Mummy, mummy, look at dah man eating out de garbage!”
I turned to see a little boy, probably four or five, tugging on his mother’s pants leg and pointing in my direction. I could have fed myself for a few months on the gold jewelry both he and his mother were wearing. What do they call it these days? Bling bling? That must be the sound the cash registers make when ignorant black people make other people rich.
“Wuh happen, you want some?” I asked the child and stretched out the styrofoam container. He shrank back and started to cry.
“You’s a **ite or wuh? Watch yuh musty so-and-so from roun’ my chile!” the mother yelled, her swaying weave punctuating each word.
“Pardon me,” I mumbled, and gripping the remains of rice and chicken, I shuffled off to eat my first meal in two days.
The air seemed to become fresher as I moved away from the Careenage towards the restored buildings of Hincks Street. The area was cheerfully busy as usual, with people in and out of the bookie on the corner, heading to Mrs. Ram’s place to catch a sale or to buy fish further down at the Market. As I passed Furniture Limited’s car park, I heard a “whap, whap, whap” sound and looked up in time to see a helicopter lift off into the afternoon sunshine. I envied its passengers. They got to leave reality on the ground, if only for a while.
Now that cruise tourism had taken off, that was also the way tourists headed to the cool, fragrant duty free stores in Broad Street. I played my part and smiled and said hello when I passed them in their shorts and straw hats, sporting new tans and relaxed smiles. Many recoiled in fear at the sight of my cracked, bare feet and rotting teeth, but a few actually gave me money. Even though I had been on the streets for years, I was still reluctant to beg anyone for money, least of all tourists. My friend Simon, another veteran of the streets, laughed when I told him that most white people thought we were dirt already, so why belittle my race by begging them for anything?
“DaCosta boy, when you get hungry enough, you goin’ change your mind,” he replied.
I still didn’t beg, but nothing was wrong with accepting the generosity of strangers. I had accumulated about $50 in different currencies, which I kept in a little plastic bag tied to a string around my neck. I still hadn’t gotten around to spending it yet though, because every time my shadow darkened the door of a shop I was yelled at and chased off.
One time, a woman struck me with a mop bucket when I went to buy a cheese cutter and Frutee from her shop in Baxter’s Road. The words couldn’t come out quickly from my parched throat because I hadn’t eaten or drunk for a day and a half. She thought I was playing the fool and ordered me out of her shop. The other customers’ eyes slid off me in embarrassment as I hoarsely whispered “cheese cutter”. She thought I said “yuh mother”, and threw the bucket at me. Because I had little body fat the impact of the bucket felt like a cement block had been dropped on me.
I made it to Trevor’s Way and sat on a bench under a large flamboyant tree. The waves crashed against the piles of gray rocks packed up along the shore. I opened up my salvaged lunch and, after saying Grace, I tucked in, savouring each bite and pretending I was at a five star restaurant on the Gold Coast. I had been on the streets long enough that the sour, pulling rice didn’t bother me. Survival was all that mattered.


I had just passed Chefette on the Harbour Road, heading to visit a friend who washed cars at the Harbour Master docking area, when I saw a big, blue jeep at the entrance of a street up ahead. I was nearly blinded by the sun reflecting off its fancy spinning rims.
The eyes of the driver appeared to flicker with recognition and he paused. I instinctively lowered my head, even though I doubted anyone would recognise me under the unwashed locks, grimy beard and moustache. I had discovered long ago that grime was a perfect shield; clean, decent folks tended to be too uncomfortable around the homeless to look them in the face. As suspected, the driver turned away his gaze and accelerated.
I breathed deeply, not realising I had been holding my breath. What a tragedy it was when a man was too ashamed to face his own flesh and blood.
I had nothing to offer anyway. Even if I did, it would be too little too late.
I changed my mind about venturing to the dock. I wasn’t in the mood anymore. I made a u-turn and headed back to the City and home.

Story time: Face Value - the synopsis

Well folks, it's that time again when I have to head off and do some studying. This is my last lap and I hope to be the holder of an Msc. in Publishing in a few months. Wish me luck!
Anyway, since I'll be gone for at least three weeks, I thought I'd post some chapters of a novella I wrote a while back to tide you over. The story is called Face Value and it won a Silver medal at NIFCA 2004. Also, look out for the NCF'S Winning Words anthology, hitting stores soon. My Bronze-winning novella Two Days in July from NIFCA 2005 will be featured.
I'll be checking in from time to time to read comments, but after tomorrow, regular posting will be suspended. So, from now till then, enjoy Face Value. First up, the synopsis...

Face Value is the story of seven seemingly unconnected characters who are linked in more ways than they could ever imagine. Dacosta Matthews is The Vagrant, a spiritual, down-on-his-luck bum who yearns to reconnect with his family. His son is Paul Matthews, The Dealer, who will go to any lengths to protect his family and his drug turf. Paul's girlfriend is Veronica Simmons, The Lady of the Night. Veronica's real occupation is a secret but now she has another secret that refuses to stay hidden.
Veronica's father Frank Simmons is The Single Father. Frank knows Veronica's secret, but will he choose to help his estranged daughter? His next door neighbour is Carmeta Walker, The Christian. Carmeta's life wasn't always on the straight and narrow, but retribution seems to have caught up with her. Her son Peter is The Homo. All Peter wants is to be loved; is it his fault he finds that love in the arms of another man?
And Patrick Miller is The Prosecutor, Peter's married lover. Patrick finds himself caught between his political aspirations and his love for Peter. The main conflict of the plot is set in motion when Veronica is raped by a client and Paul Matthews is accused of the rapist's murder. Each chapter is narrated from the viewpoint of the character featured. Got all that? Enjoy!

More on the updates

Hi folks. Hope the new changes are user-friendly and meeting with your approval. To those wondering about the videos - the video function scans the internet for all videos on the requested topics, in this case Rihanna, Prison Break and 24. Rihanna's are mostly music videos. The videos for 24 and Prison Break are either trailers for the episodes or fan videos comprising footage from those shows. The computer chooses them randomly. As I said before, if you have videos you want to see on rotation (haha I like the sound of that!) just let me know. Nothing obscene of course!!! Just thought I'd add that part.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cheese-on-Bread updated!

Don't worry, folks, you're on the right blog. I spent most of the evening updating to this new version and I hope you all like it. I have videos for all those Rihanna, 24 and Prison Break fans like myself. Click on the videos and they open at the top of the page. Just tell me what videos you want to see and I'll add them, providing the content is suitable.
I've added a picture element, which I'll change from time to time. There's also a news ticker running stories from Google, CNN, MSN and Yahoo at the bottom of the page. Have fun!!

I blame rap music

Hope everyone had a blessed Easter season. We prayed for the West Indies team but no luck, huh? Ah well, moving right along...

Most of you would have heard about the ruckus going on right now in the US between the African American community and radio talk show host Don Imus. He referred to some members of the Rutgers Women's Basketball team as "nappy headed hos" and made other racist and sexist comments. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are gunning for Imus, who's been suspended for 2 weeks. Two weeks! This guy deserves to be fired immediately! CBS and NBC, who broadcast Imus' show, have tried to distance themselves from the comments but they deserve to be boycotted along with Imus. What, people can boycott the Dixie Chicks and burn their records for dissing George W. Bush but no one can stand up for Black people's rights? And all these trite apologies are getting tired too; first Mel Gibson, then that crazy man from Seinfeld, who's next? At least some advertisers have pulled their money from CBS and NBC.

I blame rap music, because rappers make it seem alright to call women "hos" and "*itches" and have them gyrating like pieces of meat in their videos. And the same goes for every 'blaxploitation' comedy or urban drama made. They perpetuate negative stereotypes of Blacks that are so pervasive we start believing them. If we women don't demand respect no one's going to give it to us on a platter. Ditto for Black people. As for Imus, he must yesterday!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Happy Easter!

I want to wish all you Cheese-on-bread readers a Happy and Blessed Easter. Be safe while you're enjoying the long weekend ahead. And remember to keep leaving your comments!! God willing, I'll be back with you on Tuesday.

Prince Harry's in town

Chelsea Davy and Prince Harry

You never know who's in Barbados. According to the Daily Mail, Prince Harry, the third in line to the British throne, is currently holidaying here with his girlfriend Chelsea Davy. The couple is reportedly staying at Coral Reef Club, St. James, enjoying a break before the Prince is shipped out to serve in Iraq at the end of the month. Prince Harry is apparently loving our Bajan rum, a lot.
Click here for more.

For those of us who can't afford to stay there, here are some pictures of Coral Reef Club courtesy of

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Hit me back

Hi folks. I'm considering taking the blog to a higher level and I hope to introduce some new features in the near future. To do this, however, I need to get an accurate picture of Cheese-on-Bread's demographic: the ages, genders and places of residence (Barbados, Mexico, USA etc) of readers.
I know a lot of you just read and don't comment, but please leave a quick comment with the above information. No real names are necessary, just age, gender and where you're at. Thanks much!

Rihanna's asymmetrical at the Kids' Choice Awards

Rihanna ditched the flowing weaves and rocked an interesting aymmetrical cut at last weekend's Kids' Choice Awards in Los Angeles. Reminds me of Charlize Theron's haircut in Aeon Flux. Cute. I wonder if she stood all night? She was likely to flash all those kids if she sat in that dress...

Rihanna and Nelly


All we can do now is pray...

A disappointed Brian Lara after the West Indies' loss to Sri Lanka on Sunday

"We've tried the physical, the psychological and the financial. All we can try now is the spiritual". I laughed when my husband said this to me on Sunday, after we watched despondently as the Windies crashed to another defeat. But now I'm convinced that prayer is the only thing that can save the West Indies team from being knocked out of the CWC!
So, let's rally roun' the West Indies and pray hard as they prepare for their remaining Super 8 matches next week. Pray without ceasing.

While on the topic of the World Cup, have you all realised that every day some other official is jumping on the finger-pointing, blame-shifting bandwagon? Panic has set in and it ain't pretty. It's really beginning to look as if the islands got screwed over in their negotiations with the ICC. The ICC sucked all the Caribbean flavour out of the tournament and now we're all fighting over the dry bones. Bookings are below expectations, stands are half-empty and Barbados has gone and leased a whole cruise ship! Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch is optimistic that since Barbados has the Finals our experience will be different. I hope and pray so. Something tells me elections aren't going to be called too soon after all....