Mr. Henry sighed at the tragedy that had befell his family from out of nowhere. Cecile, his wife had died, and he was so grief stricken it felt as if his heart would burst. It all began five weeks ago when his daughter Sharon woke up one morning and fell ill. Doctors had no idea what was wrong. Some said it was the flu, others said it could be Malaria, but she kept getting worse.
Maureen, his sister-law, had convinced him to call in some revival poco people, who had come and jumped poco in the yard for one whole day and night. They had built fire in the yard and had even killed some goats and rabbits. They had used swords and machetes, men and women all colorfully dressed, that night was an experience for him, the likes of what he had never seen. The jumping was intense and the energy was powered high and he remembered a particular song they sang, he had caught the tune and even caught himself singing along with them:
“For de enemy ah come like ah snake unda grass,
One more river fi cross
Yeah, de enemy ah come like ah snake unda grass
One more river fi cross,
One more river Journey man, one more rive fi cross,
One more river Journey man, one more river fi cross!”
It seemed to work, but just as Sharon was recovering, he had no idea that there was indeed one more river to cross.
One night as they slept, Cecile just shouted out suddenly.
“Help mi fadda God!” she screamed.
She began vomiting on the bed and gasping for air. She looked into her husbands eyes, which then lolled back into her head as she died. The whole house was in mourning. After she had been buried, he was sitting outside the yard one afternoon in deep thought, still saddened by his loss.
“Cecile…” his heart lamented. He was not getting any sleep. Maureen had left to go to the country, she could not stop mourning her sister, and Sharon had locked herself in her room still in shock. As Mr. Henry sat trying to make sense of it all, (because the autopsy showed nothing as the cause of death, nothing unnatural) he wondered at some of the things Maureen had said. When the poco people were there praying for Sharon, one by the name of Prophet Sheldon had used a machete and slapped the walls of the house outside shouting, “Death and Destruction, why oonuh wicked suh!! Oonuh nah get dah one yah, she will be released from oonuh wicked hands, judgement!”
And the rest of his crew would follow suit. A crowd had gathered at Mr. Henry’s gate, but he was too worried about Sharon to care. Cecile was in another bedroom from shame at the noise of these obeah people in her yard. She never liked crowd and did not believe in such things, but Maureen had insisted and when Cecile would not hear it, she had gone to Mr. Henry who told her to do what she wanted, because Sharon was only getting worse. Cecile did not believe that Obeah existed, “Foolishness made up by ignorant people,” she would say. “Onnuh ever si white people ah carry on bout dis foolishness, black people too backward man!”
However, Mr. Henry’s reply when she argued against the Poco people coming was, “Cecile, when all things fail, try something else, it cannot hurt.” To which she responded with a fretful look on her face,”Yes, but what about mi neighbours?”
Mr. Henry admonished her. “Wha bout dem Cecile?” he asked. “Dem live fi dem life, and we ah live fi wi. Yuh cyaan watch people.”
But it seemed to have been the correct decision because Sharon had eaten off a full plate of food that day and could stand on her own. The revival people had brought Kumina drummers and the drumming had gone on until the wee hours of the morning. Yet three days after they had left, Cecile died. Sharon recovered, but his beloved Cecile died, thought Mr. Henry, and water stung his eyes. Why couldn’t he be the one who had left? A daughter needed her mother, and Cecile was a good one. Something flicked in his peripheral and he turned around to see Madman Bugsy at the gate.
“Lawd,” thought Mr. Henry. “De poor mad bwoy mussi hungry.”
Since all that has happened, he had not given Bugsy any food or money. The whole neighbourhood took turns looking out for Bugsy, and when the Poco people was at the house, Bugsy jumped and clapped with them.
Mr. Henry beckoned him over. “Bugsy, come here and come tek dis, yuh eat from mawning?”
Mr. Henry held out a fistful of money. Bugsy came when called, but he did not take the money.
“Is wha happen to you? Tek de money and guh buy food mi son,” said Mr. Henry.
Bugsy reluctantly took it. “Ah kill dem kill Miss Cecile, sah?”
A renewed pain shot through Mr. Henry’s heart at the memory of that night. He had not slept in his room since then. “No Bugsy… she passed away here at home, nobody killed her.”
“No sah, ah kill dem kill har wid Obeah. Mi si when dem come inna night and dweet,” Bugsy insisted. “Dem gi yuh dawg sawdine fi kip him quiet and sprinkle de yawd wid powder.”
But Mr. Henry was dismissive. “Ok Bugsy, ok thank you, I will keep it in mind. Yuh can gwan now, and come sweep fi mi tomorrow, yuh hear?”
“Missa Henry,” said Bugsy. “Please lissen to mi sah, and guh look bout oonuh self. De death nah stop yah so, ah de whole ah oonuh aguh dead. Miss Cecile dead and mi nuh waan no more body pon mi conscience since mi did fi talk from long time, guh out guh look bout oonuh self man.” said Bugzy sternly. “Mi si ah who, but mi aguh wait fi tawk dah one deh, just no wait Missa Henry, nuh wait,” and with that he left.
Mr. Henry stared after Bugzy, he could not say anything. As long as he knew this madman, he had never heard him say a full sentence. As a matter of fact he barely spoke. This was why the community liked him, and he was very helpful to everyone. He was probably getting worse and needed medication, thought Mr. Henry. What he was alluding to was Obeah, but who cudda waan hurt mi family dat way?
“Nutten nuh guh so yah…”
But Mr. Henry made a mental note to call Maureen.
Maureen sat in front of Killfuss, someone had told her about him and she had made the trip to see him. Her sister had died suddenly, after Sharon was getting better.
“No man, mi madda neva bawn no eediat” thought Maureen. “And if ah lick dem send, mi ah guh tun it back.”
“Yes mi dear, is how mi can help yuh?” asked Killfuss.
Maureen opened her mouth to speak, but he held his hand up and shouted,”Bunny! Bunny! Come yah!”
Maureen looked around, slightly frightened of who he was calling but breathed a sigh of relief when she saw a short black man come from around the corner.
“Yes sah?” answered a sweating Bunny, who looked as if he was chopping wood.
“Go roun suh guh tell Mary fi put on de black pot. De big big one deh wid water and chrow de green ting whey inna de plastic backle in deh fi mi. Mek up de wood fire far from de house doe Bunny, nuh suh close like last time,” said Killfuss.
“Alright sah,” answered Bunny and he left.
Killfuss turned his attention back to Maureen. “Alright, mi ah ear yuh.”
“Yes… hokay… hawm,” prattled Maureen. “Well it all began over five weeks ago…”
Maureen told Killfuss all that had occurred. About Sharon waking up sick, the poco people coming to the yard, and when Cecile died suddenly in her sleep. When she finished, she said “Mi nuh have your powers sar, but mi anuh fool needa. Dis ah blow, Obeah blow, and mi nah mek it guh suh. Mi sista cyaan juss dead an gone suh an mi nuh do nutten bout it.”
Tears threatened to come, but her spirit told her that the man wouldn’t like it, so she blinked them away.
“Well mi ah de solution man enuh, so mi supposed to tell yuh sorry fi hear dat, but ah waste ah time and strength dat caws she done dead already. Everybody muss go at one time, ah suh life go, nuh suh? Suh weh yuh waan me fi do bout it?”
“Mi waan yuh fi tun back de blow. Mi nuh care de cost, mi waan who eva do dis fi dead, but nuh dead suh easy, mi waan dem suffa before dem dead, mi waan dem suffa!” said Maureen, becoming angrier with each word.
Inwardly, Killfuss liked this woman, although he would not show it or tell her. He liked her because she did not beat around the bush. He liked her most of all because up until now, she did not ask him who did it and why. She was wise. Most people were always concerned with “Den ah who do it? And why”, these were the ignorant fools. Who did it and why was not his business and when he told them this, they would ask, “Den ah how yuh aguh know whey fi send di blow?”
He hated those ones.
But this woman was a breath of fresh air, something he had not experienced for a while. But his face showed no emotion.
‘Yuh waan dem suffa before dem dead… Ok, mi have de remedy fi dat.” And he named his price.
Maureen had heard that he was expensive, and so she had brought all her savings with her. She gave him the money in full, and then asked “How mi aguh know when it happen?”
To which he responded, “Nuh worry bout dat man, when pee pee waan come out from de body, it find de hole it fi pass thru widout map. Yuh wi know,” and with that he got up signalling the end of their conversation.
When she left, he went to his work room which was always dark. He had washed and cleansed himself before he entered. The room was sparse with not a hint of light, which did not bother him. He had been blind for seven years before, yet he never knew that the blindness was an initiation into the darker side of the moon. It gave him the ability to move around in a room like this, being able to work without light. Darkness became his friend, he loved it. People of the world did not know that darkness gave birth to light, so who is the elder? He laughed at this thought.
In the room, he did some things and chanted a few words, then he called “Baby G, Baby G, Baby G,” and then a sound of a baby crying could be heard, followed by the sounds of children’s laughter. He smiled, as he felt Baby G hold his leg, and rub her head against him. She sucked her finger, but by now Baby G was in her twenties although her spirit was still that of a baby. When he sent her on a mission, she was a terror to all she haunted. He had not used her for a while, and had planned to send her on de Moravian Pastor, but she would be a special gift to the woman who just left.
Not only did the woman not stress him with foolishness, but she had paid him without murmur, and that hardly happened.
“Dem waan destroy people an waan bawl when dem fi pay,” he thought.
Yet this woman did not even blink her eyes. This was why he came straight to do her bidding and had brought out his special girl and her companions. He had given Baby G her mission and she had agreed and told him what she wanted. He had told her she would get it after the job was done, and she happily set off with her friends to Kingston, where the evil mastermind of the woman’s problem was. A thought came to Killfuss and he wondered if this was one of his works? But it did not matter “ah who come fi wuk and pay get result” he laughed to himself. “Baby G, galang out mi dear. Come back to yuh papa safe o,” he sang and laughed as he said the words.
Fatty was washing out back. She was in distress of all the things that had occurred over the last few weeks. Cecile had died, but ah never suh it did fi guh, she thought. And now her conscience was bothering her. Sandra had bothered her everyday to call the man, and after the last experience, Fatty decided for once to stand up to Sandra, and told her to call him herself, which she did.
Killfuss had hung the phone up on Sandra with a bang when Sandra asked how much longer. He told her if she wanted to know come ah him yawd and with that, he ended the call abruptly. They had heard through Bumpy face Marlene that Sharon was sick and poco people came to the house to jump Poco and she got a little better, and also Mr. Henry had called them to come to the funeral when Cecile had died. Sandra had gone to the funeral, Fatty pretended she was too distraught to go.
“Mama, she get a big turn out. All kine ah highfalutin people did deh deh,” said Sandra after she had returned. “Mi rass mama, all madman Bugsy mi si ah de yawd inna real clothes and look like him bade. Yuh waan si him ah watch mi, mi nuh know fi wha, mi gi him money and de mad man nuh tek it. It look like him ah get sicka ei nuh,” laughed Sandra. “De food did nice still, mi nah lie. De one Sharon she guh straight inna har room guh lock up after de church service. Mi bringsome food fi yuh mama, ehin, taste dah fry chicken yah how it sweet!”
Fatty fanned her away.
“Mama, mi nuh know wha happen to yuh ei nuh,” Sandra said in between chews, she gulped some beer and continued. “Yuh ah weep an mourn like sey yuh nuh have han inna dis.”
Fatty covered her face and bawled loudly. Sandra gathered her food, hissed her teeth and left crossly. Fatty’s conscience was eating her alive, and she wondered if it was a moment of madness why she became the co-conspirator in the scheme to kill her family. She felt as if she was losing her mind… probably she should, she thought, because dealing with this everyday was very hard.
Sandra looked through the window at her mother sitting in front of the basin full of clothes. The woman was losing her mind. Fatty was not even eating, (and this was saying something, according to Sandra) because anybody cudda ketch Fatty wid food,”Craven!‘ thought Sandra. “She nah disgrace mi ei nuh. Mi preffa kill har tuh, she nah disgrace mi, cause it look like she wi buss pon wi anytime nung, and mi cyaan afford dat, awaoh,” thought Sandra as she went into deep thought.
Maureen had been home for three days now, and she could not sleep. She was worried, most especially with what Mr. Henry had told her what Bugsy had said to him. She was a woman who loved to investigate things and she especially did not forget the white powder she washed off the morning Sharon got sick. De poco people had helped, but no revelation other than death and destruction came about and when Sharon began to heal, she thought all was well, until Cecile died suddenly. She remembered when one of the revivalist Mother Miriam banged on Cecile’s closed bedroom door and shouted for her to come out, so she would be cleared. Cecile refused to acknowledge anyone outside her door and never came out.
Madda Miriam had shouted “Deliver her fadda, deliver har!” and she had crashed cream soda on the door three times, one refused to break after several attempts. Madda Miriam had muttered “Hard ears pickney will feel,” and had spun away. Before she had left Madda Miriam had fixed baths for everyone in the household, Cecile refused to take it and told Mr. Henry when she eventually let him in the room, that “her Jesus did not bath people, de bible has no passage of that, so she will not do it!‘ She said to employ these people with “them jumping foolishness” was to show no faith in God and in Jesus who already shed his blood for us, so no, she would not partake in this!
Maureen shook her head. Her sister had always been stush and head strong. Her education, made her feel that she was a cut above the rest. She had always been like that from they were small. Their mother condemned Obeah, their father had no opinion, Maureen was the so called Black sheep, she did everything the family disapproved of and had discovered she had spirit one day when she was passing the market and a revival woman was singing and playing her tambourine. Maureen had always loved the drums, and the woman played the tambourine like a drum. Maureen stopped and listened, then all hell broke loose.
She felt hot and sweaty, she was in spirit. “De madda work mi out dat day” she thought fondly, and after that she had baptized in the Zion Church and although she did not attend it regularly, that was her belief.
She went to the gate to see if she saw Bugsy, she didn’t. She saw Brucie washing his car.
“Brucie, mawning” she said.
Brucie, a coolie man, answered. “Mawning Miss Maureen, how yuh duh? Lawd so sorry ’bout Miss Cecile”
“Yes mi love,” answered Maureen. “All now mi cyann believe. Mi did love mi sista ei nuh, lawd…” she hung her head and blinked back tears. “Hawm, whey Bugsy?” Bugzy always did chores for Brucie.
“Yuh want him? Him inna de yawd ah chop out some grass fi mi.”
Maureen chuckled. “Lawd, anybody outside ah Jamaica hear sey we gi mad man machete mout muss drop ah grung.”
“An yuh know sey, mi nuh tink him mad Miss Maureen? Him just need help,” said a compassionate Brucie. “Mek mi call him fi yuh deh, ah coming.”
Maureen sat at the gate and watched Bugsy walk toward her with a machette in his hand. He had on clean jeans and a dirty white t-shirt.
“Mawning Miss Maureen,” said Bugsy.
Mauren replied the greeting.
“Bugsy come in ah de yawd, mi waan talk to yuh,” she said as she opened the gate.
Bugsy looked around and sighed before he went in. He must be wise he told himself as he walked in.
Sandra was in the kitchen when she heard the baby cry. She was making tea for herself. The cry became louder and seemed as if it was coming from her room. She went to look, she saw nothing, but still heard the crying. The she heard her name called three times. The voice was Fatty’s and so she thought her mother came from the market and wanted help with the bags. She answered and went to look. But no one was there. She frowned, confused.
The crying had stopped and she thought perhaps it was Merkle next door sister visiting. “De ooman nuh stop breed” she thought as she sipped her tea.
Her name was being called again and she jumped. “Yes! Ah who dat?”
Her name was called again and again, but nothing, no one. Sandra heard a crashing sound and went to the kitchen where the noise came from. All the plates she had just washed were now on the ground broken, as if someone had smashed them deliberately.
“Is wha dis?” said Sandra simultaneous with Fatty behind her who had asked the same question out loud.
Both women looked at each other. A glass from the cupboard crashed loudly before them, and they both jumped and ran from the kitchen, incontinence once again following Fatty in a stream.
The nightmare had began.