“The Boss” by Paula Lennon
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Paula Lennon shows us who rules Montego Bay, Jamaica.
by Paula Lennon
Montego Bay, St. James, Jamaica
Everybody has a right to life apparently. I disagree. Some people deserve to die. People like him.
I had been hearing about his troublemaking for weeks, you see. It was a large project we were all working on in the city of Montego Bay, building a new housing complex downtown with over a hundred apartments. He was not from the city like most of the crew. I think I was told that he came from the parish of St. Thomas, but I later found out that this was a lie that I think he perpetuated to throw people off. He was from right here in St. James, from some sparsely populated inland district named Flamstead, where everybody seemed to have a variation of the same surname: Wills and Willis and Wilson. I swear these people just change their names to avoid getting prosecuted for incest and all kinds of nastiness.
When I gave Devonte Willis work on the site, I was told not to take him on because nobody knew him. Better to stick to the ones we know, Bossie, they said. The ones who would take money under the table, cut corners with quality control, steal cement from the Chinese businesses, remove cartloads of sand from the beach, raise no complaints about health and safety. People who would just get the project done, collect their pay, and move on to the next one. These were my kind of people. So what if the eventual apartment owners complained about snags, leaking pipes, unlockable doors, uneven work surfaces—what were they going to do? The building surveyors were in my pocket, and the parish councillors would always turn a blind eye too.
I mean, this Willis had the gall to say he had been shortchanged because I had agreed to pay him twelve US dollars a day and I had paid him in Jamaican dollars. Not only that, I had given him an exchange rate of one hundred Jamaican dollars to a US dollar instead of the bank rate of one hundred and twenty dollars. He just came out with it as soon as he counted the cash in his envelope, demeaning me in front of the other workers. Some snickered. I frowned—and I try not to frown as it usually stays imprinted on my skin. Then the next day he was complaining about us using plastic pipes instead of copper pipes throughout the properties. The final straw was when he said that we “Bay boys” didn’t know who he was and that he would mess up the faces of anyone who messed with him. A thin chuckle escaped my lips when I heard that. I smoked a spliff and downed a Red Stripe while thinking about how careless some people could be.
He begged for his life. With the sun blazing and the waters of the Caribbean Sea lapping at his ears, he lay in my speed boat. At first he had tried to be calm and talk his way out of trouble, but when I trussed him up like a wild hog, he changed. His eyes popped and darted everywhere. I guess it was the certain realization that this life was over. He plaintively called me Bossie, or rather, Barsie, which was cute. Told me that he wouldn’t talk if I let him go.
I let him plead and scream and watched the salt water course down his face. Then I allowed him to pray to the God who was not going to save him. After that, I shot him. Right through the temple. Yes, he did admit to being an undercover policeman just before I pulled the trigger, and yes, I believed him. But it is very important that no one comes to Mo Bay thinking they can infiltrate my world and get away with it. There’s always somebody wanting to bring down my empire, but I rule this city. I rule downtown. I have ruled it for the past twenty years, and will do so for the next twenty.
I will get away with it. I have done it before. That’s the luxury of being a white, middle-class, middle-aged Jamaican, you see—you get away with it. You get away with lots of its. Certainly no one suspects you of any vicious crimes. There are more than enough usual suspects for that—Mr. Black, Mr. Poor, Mr. Desperate, Mr. Evil, sometimes all rolled into one miserable person. Jamaica. No problem.
PAULA LENNON was born in England to Jamaican parents. She currently resides in Jamaica, West Indies, where she has been actively writing for the past three years. An avid reader,as well as a ghostwriter (not of duppy stories), Paula is currently working on her debut mystery novel Murder in Montego Bay (Jacaranda Books 2017).
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jun 27, 2016
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