Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

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News & Features » May 2013 » “Pot Luck” by Lisa Allen-Agostini (from Trinidiad Noir)

“Pot Luck” by Lisa Allen-Agostini (from Trinidiad Noir)

Pot LuckTrinidad Noir
by Lisa Allen-Agostini
Sans Souci, Trinidad (from Trinidad Noir)

She always left him, wandering off like a cat without provocation or explanation, returning just as suddenly and without comment after a day or a week or a month. He loved her, but it was hard to keep track of where he stood in her life. He kept her clothes neatly stacked in a chest of drawers and hoped for the best.

One day she just didn’t come back. He only found out by accident after six weeks that she had actually moved in with another man in his—their—neighborhood. It was a guy he knew well. They had smoked together and that made them friends of a sort. Not very good friends, evidently, as this guy had had no problem taking his woman away.

After that Trey lost his appetite, partly because eating usually meant buying ingredients at the shop at the corner opposite her new home in Diego Martin’s mostly working-class suburb of Rich Plain Road. He saw her through the fence sometimes in a tiny pair of white short pants, new ones that she didn’t have when she lived with him, hanging kitchen towels out to dry on the lines strung outside. The pants were skintight and he recognized the imprint of her labia through their dense denim folds. The lower curve of her round ass hung just under the frayed hem. Instead of wanting to eat potatoes and corned beef, he’d taste her memory, salty sweet. He grew thin.

Tabanca like that has two cures—new love or exorcism. He chose the latter, only because he saw her in the face of every woman he met and feared that any new partner would also prove fickle and desert him for another man.

Leaving her clothes in the drawers and her compact of cheap brown face powder on the dresser, the only things she had left behind, Trey took off from Diego Martin’s close houses and cramped streets and headed north.

*

Trey pored over the small pile of dark green herb in his left palm. Nimbly, he shredded the sticky, soft leaves and brown flowers hidden in the mass, picking out the polished black seeds and putting them aside. When the mix was cleaned to his satisfaction, he reached into the front pocket of his colorful nylon shorts and extracted a balled-up piece of white paper. This he unfolded into a two-inch square and poured the cleaned herb onto it. Behind his ear was a single cigarette. Trey pulled it from its nesting spot and broke off about half an inch. He sprinkled the tobacco onto the herb on the paper, then placed the end of the cigarette on the smoothed-out sheet. Rolling the herb into the shape of the cigarette, he meticulously straightened the emerging cylinder. When it was perfectly flush, he wrapped the paper around it, put it to his lips, and licked the flap shut.

“Danny!” Trey called to a similarly clad young man lying on the beach in front of him. Danny had dozed off, his long, pencil-thin dreadlocks trailing in the golden sand. The hair was almost as light as the sand itself, in contrast to the owner of the hair who was midnight black. Danny jerked up, only to subside nearly immediately. “Danny,” Trey said on an intake, “you want some of this, man?” He extended the joint and held in the smoke to better absorb the THC into his lungs. Danny stretched out his hand and took the cigarette without opening his eyes. He put it to his lips and drew deep. It was his turn to hold in the smoke. As they sucked in the heady marijuana, passing the joint back and forth, the sea roared in the background. “Good stuff,” Trey murmured, his eyes reddening and narrowing as the weed took effect.

“Yeah, I get it from a partner in the village. Not the usual suspect,” Danny replied. He sat up and looped his waist-length dreadlocks with one hand, tucking them into a knot. He looked over at his cousin, his eyes as red as Trey’s. “This man have it sick, horse. Only quality weed he supplying. No compress, only fresh.” He took another hit. “I trying to get him to sell me some more but he brakesing. Say the man who he getting it from gone away for a week.”

The waves continued to roll up on the sand. Trey’s orange surfboard, leaning on the fisherman’s shed next to him, cast a long shadow across his deeply tanned face. His olive skin was freckled across the bridge of his nose, complemented by his short, nappy Afro, the color of brown sugar. Full lips curved into a slight smile as he contemplated the surf. His hand reached out to lightly caress the board, which was rough with a thick coat of wax. “You going and hit that again before it reach cigarette?” he asked Danny, who shook his head and passed it back to him. Trey nursed the joint until the weed was burned off and passed the rest of the funk back to Danny. “I ent feeling for no cigarette right now.” They were quiet for a few minutes. “Thinking of going back.” Danny said nothing. “Two months in the jungle is enough, man.” Danny smoked without comment. The murmur of the waves continued. “I go have to call them men to pick back up a little end in work.”

“Is so you is a work jumbie, boy?” Danny finally replied. “Two months of surf, weed, and country food, and you ready to go back in the rat race?” He shook his head again. “Me, I wouldn’t rush back to go and work in no factory assembly line.”

“Is not no assembly line,” Trey snapped. “I tell you, I is a technician. Is skilled work, man. And the two months was good, partner, but is time I go back. I have things to do.”

“Like what? Tack back by that slut?” Danny rolled onto his knees and to his feet.

“Don’t talk about she so.”

“But she’s a slut, Trey. She leave you for your partner. How she go play you like that?”

Trey’s golden eyes, about the color of his skin, gave him a ghostly appearance. Right now they were cloudy with weed and budding rage. “She make a mistake, all right? That don’t make she a slut.”

Danny sucked his teeth in disgust and grabbed his own board from the sand. “I heading up the road. Later.” He flicked the butt of the cigarette into the blue ocean. “Tasha real chain you up, boy,” he muttered as he walked up the track leading to the main road. “If I was you, I would have shoot both of them.”

Trey scowled and lit another cigarette from a pack in his pocket. “Is not Tash, is Garvin. That man is the one who is to blame,” he told his cousin’s broad back. Danny wasn’t listening, focused instead on scaling the rocky path without dropping or dinging his board on the huge stones on either side of the track. “Is Garvin who pull she in!” Trey swiftly sucked on the cigarette. “Is he, not she. Is he fault.”

Danny’s blond locks disappeared over the top of the steep path. Trey was left alone with the rocks and the waves, the sand and the fisherman’s hut.

Beyond the road, the Sans Souci forest towered, dim and green and forbidding. In two months, Trey had only been in the forest twice, both times with his cousin. They had gone to find a certain spring which Danny swore had the sweetest water in the world, but they had become lost in the undergrowth and never found it. They made do with the chlorinated water piped in by the public utility, but Trey craved the fresh, untreated water of the spring. He stubbed the cigarette out in the sand and rose, grabbing his board and heading toward the forest in bounding strides.

Bareback and barefoot, his lean, muscular body quickly maneuvered the path. His calloused feet barely registered the bumpy pitch of the Toco Road before he was in the cool mulch of the forest. It was rainy season, but the ground wasn’t sodden, only damp and spongy with fallen leaves and topsoil. He had no idea where he was going, but with a quick glance around for a landmark, Trey moved into the woods. He passed a giant immortelle tree, a clump of stunted cocoa trees, a dead one stretched across what could have been a track. The gloom deepened as he walked, the trees becoming larger and taller, the ground softer and cooler despite the mid-afternoon heat.

The light changed. It was somehow brighter, more airy. A sloped clearing appeared full of lime-green, leafy shrubs about a head taller than his six feet. “To ras!” he breathed, breaking into the space gingerly and leaving his surfboard behind.

The weed was planted in even rows, smelling pungent, sweet, musky. As far as he could see, marijuana trees were coming into bloom, their small orange flowers just starting to show—plants ripe for the picking. Making his way through the rows, Trey tenderly brushed the leaves and stems. He almost missed the hut in the center of the field, stumbling when he noticed the galvanized steel sheeting that made up its walls and roof. The double gate, also corrugated sheets of steel, bore a heavy iron padlock threaded through a thick steel chain looped into a pair of holes in the gates. The message was clear: Keep out. To Trey that was as good as an invitation.

He walked the entire field until his feet were sore and covered in mud. There wasn’t a soul in sight. He picked his way back to the galvanized shed and peered through the holes in the gate. It was dark inside and he couldn’t see much, just large hanging shapes. The smell, however, was unmistakable—it was exactly the same weed he had just been cleaning. Trey turned and ran for the road, leaving his surfboard behind as a bright orange marker to light his way back to paradise.

*

Jimmy the maxi-taxi driver was cagey, driving extra slowly on the winding country road. Though a large banner on the back windscreen proclaimed it Jah Bus, the real owner was a Christian who wanted no part of Rastafari. A keen businessman, he recognized that popular culture glorified all that was Rasta, from dreadlocks to Bob Marley and marijuana use, so he latched onto the trend to make his business popular. He warned his drivers, the men he hired to work the vehicle on a twenty-four-hour rotation, that he wasn’t going to allow weed smoking on the job. What they did in their own time was their affair, but behind the wheel of Jah Bus they were to be clean and sober.

It was close to 10 and Jimmy, an occasional Rasta, had finished his last trip with only $100 in pocket after oil, gas, and the $300 child maintenance he had to pay his ex-girlfriend every two weeks for their three sons. When Trey and Danny flagged him down and put their unusual proposition to him, Jimmy had been of two minds, thinking about the maxi’s owner and the prospect of being out of a job. But the offer of a bonus payment was irresistible. It wasn’t every day that someone offered to rent your maxi for five pounds of weed. Though he doubted the resurrection of Haile Selassie I, the late Ethiopian emperor whom Rastas acknowledge as the descendant of Christ, he certainly agreed that smoking weed was an ideal part of livity. Five pounds of it—a whole black bin liner full of the stuff—would keep him high for quite some time.

Trey and Danny directed the driver to a small house on a hill off the main road. It was where Danny lived and where Trey had been hiding out from the world for two months. The house was like most of the others around it, a humble concrete dwelling with a small front porch, a neat garden behind a chain-link fence, and three pot hounds skulking around the yard. “Rambo!” Danny shouted affectionately at the first brown mongrel to reach his feet as he pushed open the rusty gate. Hiding behind a lush ixora was a black bitch, marked like a Doberman pinscher but with none of the grace of the breed, and lounging on the front steps, just below the porch, was a dog that resembled both its parents, half-brown and half-black. Trey shot a warning look at the one behind the bush. Sarah was prone to snapping at strangers and Jimmy was already nervous enough. “Come nah, Princess,” Danny was urging the dog on the step, nudging her aside with his foot. “Move and let people pass. You feel this is your house, eh, girl?” Trey stayed in the yard between Jimmy and the growling bitch.

“That is you, Danny?” a woman’s voice called from the house. Aunty Zora leaned over the bottom half of the Dutch door leading to the kitchen. Her arms were covered in flour up to the elbows. Jimmy eyed her long salt-and-pepper dreadlocks with admiration. “Full some water and bring it for me, nah. This pipe giving trouble again.” Trey’s maternal aunt glanced at Jimmy with little curiosity. The boys were always bringing friends home. “Good evening,” she said mildly before disappearing back into the kitchen.

Danny changed direction, going around the house instead of through the front door. “Give me a minute, man,” he tossed over his shoulder as he headed to the kitchen, reemerging in a moment with a plastic pail in each hand. As he filled the buckets at the standpipe outside the kitchen, Jimmy edged closer to Trey.

“So, where the thing?” Jimmy asked, lighting a cigarette and peering around the yard.

“Cool yourself, nah,” Trey muttered. “We go handle it. Let the man see about he queen first.”

“Scene,” Jimmy agreed, swiping his brow with one finger and flicking the stream of sweat off to the side. “What she making?” he asked Trey, sniffing the fragrant air that smelled of vanilla.

“Sweetbread.”

“So much’a sweetbread? Is all up by she elbow I see flour. Allyuh have a bakery or what?”

Trey was growing testy. “She does make and sell. Sweetbread, cake, drops. All of that.”

“Which part she does sell it?” Jimmy was a talker. Trey was tired of it already.

“In the village there. In the shop.”

“Scene,” Jimmy nodded. The loaves of sweet coconut bread, full of raisins and cherries, were very popular. Aunty Zora was quite the businesswoman and had placed her products on shelves all up the Toco Road, a string of communities that curved in a rough semicircle around the northeastern tip of Trinidad from Valencia to Matelot. Danny, when he wasn’t surfing, delivered the goods in their old beat-up Land Rover.

After their visit to Aunty Zora’s, they stopped by the fisherman’s hut on the beach to load the maxi to the roof with stuffed black garbage bags. Then they drove off to town in Jah Bus.

*

Trey lay on his back in his dusty bedroom surrounded by bulging black garbage bags. His bloodshot eyes and slack expression told his mother the story when she opened the door. That, plus the unique aroma of twenty pounds of fresh weed.

“So, is so you come home and ent offer nobody nothing?” His mother sized him up. “Didn’t see your mother two months and you haven’t said a word. Smoking inside here by yourself.” She crossed her arms over her slender chest, tossing aside long dreadlocks with an angry flick.

Wordlessly, Trey reached into an open bag and grabbed a handful of weed. “Here, Mammy. Smoke. Have a time.” When she saw the quality of the herb, she smiled.

“Where allyuh get this? Danny farming now?”

Trey shook his head. “The less you know about this ganja, the better. Trust me.”

His mother hesitated, her smile slipping slightly. “Is tief you tief the weed, Tracy?” Trey took a pinch of herb from the same bag and started building a spliff. He didn’t answer. “So when they come looking for you, what we go do?” Her voice grew shrill.

“Let me study that. Besides,” he flicked aside a seed, “that ent go happen. The place was deserted and we didn’t tell nobody nothing. Is one man know and he ent go say nothing. That is the maxi man. And we pay he off good.” She looked skeptical.

“I hope you know what you doing.” She paused, watching him lick the spliff and light it. “And what you going to do with all this weed?” There were five or six bags, each two feet high and two feet wide.

“Don’t you worry about that,” Trey said through a cloud of smoke.

*

From the time Trey let it be known, through a hint dropped at the corner shop, that he had product to sell, the calls started coming. Man, hook me up with some of that was what he heard every ten minutes on the phone. Then there were the customers, mostly men, who drove or walked up to the house at all hours asking for a ten-piece or a five-piece, conveniently measured buds rolled into tinfoil fingers, just enough for a spliff or two. His neighbors were smokers themselves, so there was little chance they would turn him in to the police. As long as he kept things quiet, he would be fine.

The talk of Trey’s new hustle had to come back to Garvin, a man whose appetite for weed was exceeded only by his appetite for luxury. Lying in bed next to Tasha, Garvin inhaled the smoke from his fat, short joint. He passed her the channa pack, a marijuana cigarette resembling the paper cones vendors used to wrap channa in years before, when boiled chickpeas were a popular snack. Tasha took the cone and drew deep. The room was silent. The fifty-two-inch plasma TV was muted, showing images of gyrating bodies, rappers, and singers. Silk sheets slid noiselessly from her naked body as Tasha rose and padded across the plush white carpeting to the bathroom.

She surveyed herself in the mirror as she washed her hands after using the toilet. Same full breasts Trey loved. Same high, round butt. Same long, jet-black legs. Better makeup, definitely a better weave. Garvin wasn’t pretty but he was generous to a fault. And that fault was stupidity.

Sliding back into bed next to him, she asked, “So what now?” Garvin frowned, shrugged. He smoked some more. “Antonio coming back in five days,” she said pointedly. “He going to want to know where the weed is.” Again, Garvin shrugged. “What you going to tell him?” She didn’t wait for him to shrug again. “You going to tell him you lost five pounds of weed? Just so? Like magic?” Garvin looked genuinely troubled. His pale brow wrinkled, his thin lips folded into a scowl, even his nearly transparent ears looked upset, blushing bright red. “You forget how he get on the last time—”

“How I go forget?” Garvin snapped. “Is my ass he shoot!” Reflexively he grabbed for his flat behind, finger dipping into the round scar of the bullet wound. It was still pink and raw, a fresh reminder that he shouldn’t tamper with his big brother’s stock. But was it enough to stop him from “redistributing” over two Ks of compressed, high-grade Vincy weed while Antonio was on a buying trip to St. Vincent? Nope. Garvin frowned again, wiggling yellowish toes until their joints popped, a habit Tasha loathed.

She thought of Garvin’s pale body against hers and shuddered. No doubt Trey, that honey-dipped lover of her past, was twice the man in all respects. Trey was smarter and more complex too. But he was also poor. He lived with his mother, he worked in a factory, and his only ambition was to surf, smoke, and “reason” with the other Rastas on the corner, talking religion and livity late into the night and leaving her home alone. Flicking a glance at her $200 pedicure as she kicked off the covers impatiently, she knew that Trey’s was the wrong family for her.

Garvin’s, on the other hand, was perfect. Behind the modest façade of their house was an upscale, even posh home, equipped with every modern convenience and luxury, all paid for by Antonio’s job as a marijuana agent. He imported and wholesaled the stuff, keeping a relatively small amount for recreation, bribes, and retail sales. The boys lived on the proceeds of Antonio’s part in the lucrative marijuana trade, sharing everything except women.

Living around the corner from them, and buying weed from Garvin, who handled the retail trade for Antonio, she had gotten to know the brothers well. It wasn’t hard to see that they liked the chase, both of them, so she teased them into wanting to steal her away from her undeserving man. Though it was Garvin who took the bait first, it was Antonio she really wanted. As rich as he was, he would be able to afford a lifetime supply of the Baby Phat jeans, Timberland boots, and Gucci bags that Tasha craved. If she never wore another knockoff it would be too soon.

Sitting at the edge of the bed, she sucked her teeth in disgust. Antonio had balls. He was no Trey, who had too much damned integrity, but Antonio was a strong man who knew his responsibilities. Antonio would never have grabbed and sold his brother’s weed to take her on a shopping spree. Idiot, she thought, tossing an annoyed look at Garvin.

“You think I want him to shoot me again? I can’t take that pain. Besides, he might kill me this time.” He wasn’t joking. Antonio had a wicked temper, hence the bullet wound, an emblem earned a few weeks before when Garvin had accidentally-on-purpose forgotten to give him a bag of cash. Antonio had come looking for him with a grim look and a gun. When Garvin lied, Antonio hit him in the buttocks to remind him who was in charge. Although the wound was still healing, the lesson had already been lost. Garvin imagined he could take Antonio in a fight. The poor fool.

“So what you going to do about it?” she repeated. Garvin thought for a minute, sucking on the joint.

“I go have to replace it.”

“With what? You feel weed does grow on trees?”

Garvin grinned. “Well, yes. Besides, you ent hear your ex-man have a new sideline?”

She was slow to respond. When it hit her, she did a double take. “Trey selling now?”

Garvin nodded. “And I hear is some real high-grade.” Tasha’s eyes lit up.

*

Danny called Trey with bad news. “The man come back. He asking questions.”

Trey wasn’t sweating. “Jimmy irie, right? We ent have nothing to worry about, brethren. Is cool. Nobody ent see we and nobody don’t know nothing.”

“They don’t have to know nothing to lick we up,” Danny said cagily. “He only have to suspect is me and my ass is grass.”

Trey laughed at the unwitting pun. “Don’t fret yourself, cousin. We safe like Selassie I briefcase, man.”

On the other end, Danny was biting his lip. “Man . . .”

Trey, blowing out a thick cloud of smoke, repeated his assurances.

Danny wasn’t appeased. “I coming down. We have to deal with this man or he go find we and mess we up bad bad, brother. I coming down tonight.”

Trey hung up the phone just as a voice called, “Good afternoon,” from outside the house. Ambling to the door in shorts and a plain white undershirt, he jumped visibly when he saw his visitors—Garvin and Tasha. He walked to the gate.

“What going on?” Trey greeted Garvin. “Tasha.” He couldn’t help his eyes, which drank her in. She smiled lightly and held Garvin’s arm tighter.

“Trey, my brother!” Garvin was all fake good cheer but his eyes were flint. His grip around Tasha’s waist contracted. “I hear you have some excellent smoke. I was wondering if you could make a deal with us. I need two kees. Will you give it to me?”

“I don’t know about give,” Trey said coolly. “But I could certainly sell it to you if you want.” Garvin was half-listening. His eyes were busily roaming the façade of the house, trying to bend around the corner to see what lay on the other side. In time, his brain churned the information around. “How much?” he asked. Trey called his price. Garvin whistled. “Even with the employee discount that sounding high,” the drug pusher said with a small, cold laugh. Tasha stood up taller, bristling.

Trey was casually taking out a sample for them. “Smoke that and tell me it not worth it.”

Garvin rubbed the thick, fragrant leaves between his fingers, pulling them apart to feel the stickiness of the plant. It was perfectly dried, and full of illegal goodness. He didn’t have to smoke it to know it would be a sweet, potent ride.

They were standing at the gate in the fence surrounding the yard, Trey on one side and Garvin and Tasha on the other. Garvin jerked his head in farewell and pulled Tasha down the road after him into a black Lexus SUV.

Tasha was livid. “What the hell was that? You don’t have to pay he for that weed! Just take it!”

Garvin sucked his teeth and drove faster. “Hush your stupid mouth, nah,” he mumbled threateningly. “What you think I planning to do?” They reached his house, drove through the electronic gate past the half-dozen dozing Rottweilers, parked, and walked through the triple-locked front door with its alarm system. “But I had to find out if he had the weed. No sense robbing he for a ounce. And look, he have it. Nice grade too.” Tasha waited in silence for him to get to the point. “So while you bulling him to distract him, I go find the weed and take it.”

She recoiled instantly. “What you mean?” She pushed a finger into his face. “What you take me for? Some kinda ho?”

“Aye, take it easy. What, you can’t bull the man one more time? I sure when you was living there allyuh wasn’t playing patty-cake when the night come. What is one more, for this? For me?” He paused, giving her a canny look. “Or I know what it is. You want me to get lick up. You want Antonio to shoot me.”

Tasha’s face grew hot. She slapped him hard. “Don’t be an ass, Garvin. I done tell you already, me ent no ho.”

Rubbing his face, he cut her a sideways look and lifted his hand to hit her but stopped. “Why you always have to slap me, Tasha? I tell you don’t do it. One of these days I will slap you down.”

Instantly contrite, Tasha snuggled a hand on the reddened cheek. “Sorry, darling.”

He sucked his teeth in disgust. “Anyway, you go have to distract him somehow. Whether you sex him or not is your choice. Me ent business with that. Just make sure he don’t come out. I go handle it from this end.”

But she doubted Garvin could. “Why you don’t distract him and let me tief it?” Garvin shook his head, but before he could speak, she interjected, “I know the house better than you. I know where he does like to hide things. It make more sense this way, Garvin.” She pressed her round breasts into his chest and thrust her hips forward until their pelvic regions touched. By the time she kissed him, Garvin had changed his mind.

“No scene.” He couldn’t maintain a blood flow to both his brain and his penis, so he aimed low.

*

The knock was soft. It was close to midnight. This time Trey wasn’t surprised to see Garvin outside his window. “What’s the scene, man?” Trey asked.

Garvin grinned. “I come to do the deal, partner.” Trey rubbed his eyes. He had been napping before the visit. He yawned and stretched as he closed the window and went to open the front door. His nemesis was still grinning. “Two kilos, man. Look, the money there,” Garvin said, gesturing at a small package on the steps of the front porch.

Trey didn’t move from the doorway. Something felt wrong. “Look, man, I change my mind. I not selling you again.” As he moved to close the door, Garvin sprang forward with surprising grace and speed.

“How you mean you ent selling me? Man, don’t talk foolishness now. Two kilos. Go and bring it.”

Trey shook his head. “Nah, partner. I done. You go have to get that someplace else—”

The report of the gunshot silenced them both. Blood drained from Garvin’s face and he was as white as the wall he had to lean against to keep from falling.

Leaving him standing there, Trey ran to the back of the house from where the noise had come. Tasha’s still body was sprawled on the ground by the kitchen door. Danny was standing in the doorway, dazed, a .38 in his hand. Trey rushed to his side and grabbed the gun.

“She was picking the lock, Trey. She was coming to tief the weed . . .”

“Boy, you mad or what? What we going to do now? Eh?” He turned to his dead ex-girlfriend. Knowing she had probably been trying to steal the ganja was no consolation. He stooped and stroked her silky, dark cheek. It was still warm, unblemished, and as soft as it had been in life.

Danny sprang to action. “Boy, we don’t have no time for that. We have to move she.”

Trey nodded. At least he had some garbage bags at hand.

*

When Garvin got home he was trembling and pale. Antonio found him there, still jittery and sickly yellow, four days later. Tasha was gone, and so were two kilograms of product. Antonio wanted an explanation and he wanted one quickly.

“Is-is-is Trey!” Garvin stammered, breath cut short by the fingers tightening around his throat. “He trust the weed and then tell me he don’t have the money.” Antonio relaxed his grip. Trust the weed? Why would Trey want two kilos of weed on credit? Antonio glared at his brother, but Garvin just gave an anxious smile.

They pulled up at Trey’s gate in Antonio’s Lexus SUV, a shiny black monster that Antonio probably loved more than he did his whiny, dishonest little brother. It was nearly 1 in the morning.

“Trey!” Garvin bawled at the top of his lungs. “Trey!” There was no answer. Antonio leaped from the van and strode up to the house. Kicking in the front door, he entered. There were no signs of life or weed, except for endless ashtrays overflowing with cigarette and spliff butts.

Garvin murmured weakly, “Like they gone.”

Antonio, a stronger, larger version of Garvin, was not amused. He pulled his Magnum Desert Eagle from his waistband and put it to his brother’s temple. “You go find them, right? And find my weed. If I only find out you had anything to do with this—”

“But how you go say that, Antonio?” Garvin whined.

“You like to tief too damn much. You feel I don’t know you?” Antonio flicked off the gun’s safety and rubbed the chrome muzzle against Garvin’s cheek. “If I only find out,” he repeated. Then he uncocked the gun and stuck it back into his waistband. He turned to look at the contents of the house again. It was on the dresser in Trey’s bedroom that he found what he was looking for—a block of board wax wrapped in a plastic bag labeled, Zora’s Sweetbread and Cakes, Toco Road, Sans Souci. He grinned. There was no humor in the smile.

*

Once again, Trey was surrounded by black garbage bags. This time they were empty. Danny, sprawled in a beanbag next to the bed, was nearly unconscious. Trey was feeling no pain himself. It was the last of the weed, a nearly impossible amount to smoke out in three days, but with dedication and a lot of help from their friends, mothers, and Jimmy, they had done it. The evidence was up in smoke. Mostly, anyway. Aunty Zora had seen her way to baking a most excellent batch of sweetbread with an unusually strong herbal kick.

Trey stumbled to his feet and zigzagged to the bathroom. As he let a stream of urine hiss urgently into the toilet bowl, he vaguely heard a car pull up outside in the silence of the Sans Souci night. Moving to the window, he saw the moonlight bouncing off the glossy surface of a familiar black Lexus. “Shit,” he muttered. Danny was bleary-eyed when Trey tried to shake him awake. “Danny, boy, get up. Garvin and he brother come looking for we.”

This was instantly sobering. Danny shook his head to clear it. “What the hell we go do?” he asked in a whisper.

Trey was down on his hands and knees, avoiding the windows. “Well, first thing is to get to ras out of here.”

They slipped silently out the back door as Garvin and Antonio walked through the front gate. The three dogs, rushing at the strangers, kept them occupied, and at first they didn’t see the two figures running down the road. It was Garvin, shaking Sarah off his left ankle, who spotted them.

“Look them running!” Antonio and Garvin gave chase into the bush. But the dark night, even lit by a full moon, confounded them. They were soon lost. There was a rustling to their right. Garvin, who had never been in a forest before, whimpered, “Antonio, what was that?”

Antonio sucked his teeth and kicked at the undergrowth. “What you get me in here, Garvin? You’s a real clown, boy. I don’t know why I does trust you with anything.” They kept walking for about an hour, drifting further and further into the bush. Then they spotted it—a sloped clearing planted with lush marijuana trees higher than their heads. Garvin was the first to rush in.

“So, is here he get it!” he exclaimed. In the quiet forest, his voice was a cannon.

“What you talking about?” Antonio asked, fingering a leaf with admiration. Even in the dark he recognized it was good weed.

“Trey. This is where he get the—”

Too late, he realized his mistake. But Antonio already had the gun to his head.

“I thought you say he tief the weed from we.”

Garvin gave a sickly smile. “Well . . .”

“I tell you already, I go kill you for tiefing from me.”

“But Antonio, listen, this is the weed, man! I smoke it myself!”

Neither of them heard the footsteps behind them. A pair of gunshots shattered the quiet of the night. Antonio never had time to turn and fire a single bullet.

The tall, bald-headed man with the smoking gun spat on the two bodies before turning on his heel, saying, “Come back to tief my weed again, you bitches. Not one fart of that.”

*

In the fisherman’s hut on the beach, Trey and Danny shivered for a few hours until dawn before creeping back to the house. Garvin and Antonio never came back for the Lexus, so eventually it replaced the battered Land Rover as Zora’s delivery van. And in Zora’s backyard, a new bed of ixora bloomed unusually well that year.

***

Lisa Allen-Agostini

 

LISA ALLEN-AGOSTINI is a poet, playwright, and fiction writer from Trinidad and Tobago. She is the author of a children’s novel, The Chalice Project, and coeditor of Trinidad Noir. An award-winning journalist, she is the Internet editor and a columnist with the Trinidad Guardian.

Posted: May 21, 2013

Category: Short Story Month | Tags: , , , , , ,



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