About the Author
Merlin James, Senior Accounts Clerk at the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) is a passionate writer at heart. Her reiterations of old folk tales and non-fictional stories awakens the soul and provokes her reader's imagination.
Something's gone down in Graveyard... Happy Reading!
Ps. wait for it...
“Police! Open up the door!”
The sound of footsteps could be heard on the porch of the house as the occupants opened up and the law-men barged inside and began to search the interior. Police vehicles were parked nearby as more men from the Special Services Unit, with weapons in hand, alighted and spread out through the area, barking out orders and searching houses at random.
A short distance away, a young man stood peering out his home window, taking in the familiar scene before him. Such was life in the ghetto, life in Wilton’s Yard, or the Graveyard as it was called. These police raids took place occasionally, resulting in one or two arrests. In other instances the gangs of the area would get into fights and gunfire would ensue, leaving casualties or corpses behind. These days the gunfire was more frequent and the corpses were piling.
The young man was no stranger to all these incidents for he had grown up in the Graveyard. Whilst some of his family had remained in their hometown of Micoud, the rest had moved to Castries and had settled in Wilton’s Yard. Others had gone in search of ‘a better life’ and had migrated overseas.
“Dimitri, you going to work or you standing by the window all day?”
His grandmother’s voice came from the kitchen and jolted him from his thoughts. He turned around.
“Am starting work at three o’clock, Mamo,” he replied. He still had an hour before getting ready. He had worked at Sandals Halcyon for almost two years now since leaving Leon Hess and it was the only thing in his life that he was proud of. Quite a few of the young guys in the area were unemployed and were content with hanging around the block, smoking, joining gangs or getting into crime or mischief. Some of those young men had never even gone to secondary school. Others had dropped out before completing their five-year term. Dimitri had been fortunate to complete his studies and quite successfully at that, and with Mamo’s help he had gotten the job at Sandals. He enjoyed assisting the restaurant supervisor and was thinking of doing a course in the Hospitality Division of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College.
But he needed to save up for the school fees and he couldn’t let Mamo pay all the bills. She had done enough already, taking him and his older brother, Dwayne, under her wings when their mother died of cancer. He was only eight at the time, his brother, thirteen. Their dad, who was no great hero when it came to living up to his responsibility, had left the Graveyard, never to return. Dwayne had been the epitome of rebellion since then and
it was no wonder, for all around them were live and perpetual replays of family break-downs, betrayal, delinquency and disrespect for authority. He had set up his own gang and gained himself the nickname ‘Trigger’.
But Mamo, who was a stickler for obedience and respect in the home, let him know in no uncertain terms that it was either her way or highway. Dwayne took up residence with an older cousin and occasionally came by for a visit. Dimitri, on the other hand, had somehow stayed with Mamo over the years and although his brother suggested living with him, he just couldn’t bring himself to abandon the old lady.
Bang! Bang! Bang! The shots rang out loud and clear followed by shouts and a commotion a few yards away. Dimitri ducked instinctively and waited for a few seconds before peeping out of the window again.
“Oh God, what now?” came Mamo’s voice as she rushed from the kitchen into the living room.
“Father, put a hand,” she mumbled, and Dimitri wondered how the old lady had survived in this hostile neighborhood over the years. Life was no easy joke in the ghetto yet she had managed to fend for herself, care for her dying daughter and look after her grandsons.
“Boy, you better get away from dat window, you hear,” as she knelt down on the living room floor and continued her prayerful mumblings. The wailing of sirens could be heard in the distance.
Dimitri peered out the window again and noticed a crowd gathering way up at the entrance of the Graveyard near Chaussee Road. Something had gone down of which he had no intention of finding out. News was bound to reach him sooner or later. He glanced at his watch and got ready for work.