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News & Features » June 2013 » “Crab and Dumpling” by Lisa Allen-Agostini

“Crab and Dumpling” by Lisa Allen-Agostini

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, Trinidad Noir coeditor Lisa Allen-Agostini sets her murderous scene in Store Bay, Tobago. Next week, Adam Rosen takes us on a hunt for bleached grass in Asheville, North Carolina.Lisa Allen-Agostini

Crab and Dumpling
by Lisa Allen-Agostini
Store Bay, Tobago

Miss Jo ladled an extra spoonful of golden brown stew over the fat, long dumplings in the bowl before sliding it across the counter to George. His mouth watered at the sight of the red crab legs glistening in the curry. “You fix me well nice,” he said, beaming at the food.

Miss Jo beamed back at him. Her gold tooth with its tiny diamond winked at him from between her full, brown lips. “You know you does get it special,” she said. She leaned her heavy, middle-aged bust over the counter. “I go get my special later?” she whispered.

George didn’t answer because he was already cracking a crab leg and sucking down its sweet, flaky flesh. A pair of tourists, their skin as red as the crab legs, strode up to the counter and Miss Jo dished them up two servings of her specialty. They swept their covered bowls into plastic bags and walked away holding hands. George sucked on another crab leg.

The next girl who sidled up to the counter next had deep black skin, just like George’s, just like Miss Jo’s. This girl’s bottom was a heavy, buxom curve inside skintight jeans. George, still sucking on a crab leg, let his eyes roam from the tips of her pink-polished toes to the slender column of her neck. Her face was a flawless sculpture in dark mahogany. George sighed a little, cracking another crab leg.

“Miss Jo, me hungry like dog,” the girl said. She was talking to Miss Jo but she was looking at George. A little smile played on the corners of her lips. George swallowed, and choked.

“Look, get your ass back inside here,” Miss Jo growled. “Is who you feel you is, take two hours for lunch and still come back hungry?” The girl insolently swung her long, red weave over one shoulder before sashaying around the side of the shack to put on a yellow-stained apron. George didn’t look at her again. He could feel Jo’s eyes burning holes in the back of his head. He ate the rest of his meal in silence and wished Jo a hasty goodbye, scuttling off through the drizzle to the beach for his mid-afternoon rounds.

Weak sunlight strained through sullen clouds. The light rain had turned the white sand dark and the clear water cerulean blue. The beach was nearly deserted, and George stepped around empty beach chairs as he made his way from one end of the bay to the next. He rousted a couple of weed-smoking teenage boys from the mouth of the caves at the southern end before he made his way back to where the glass-bottomed boats set off for the reef. He saw the tourist couple on the sand, wolfing down Miss Jo’s crab and dumpling.

“Boy, this is really good,” the woman called to George in a German accent as he passed them. “Miss Jo is a national treasure,” the man added in a similarly guttural inflection. George gave a friendly overhead wave of his baton as he passed, grinning and nodding. The smell of curry clung to his hands.

George dozed off on a beach chair under an abandoned umbrella after he made his rounds. When he woke up, the drizzle had stopped and the sun was an orange ball hanging low over Store Bay. George stood and stretched before tramping across the damp sand back to the side of the beach where the boats had come in. They rocked at anchor in the shallow waves. The tourists were gone. The men who rented beach chairs and umbrellas were packing up. Strolling to the caves again, George spotted the same teenagers he’d shooed away before.

“You nah listen or what? You can’t smoke that here, man.” He felt like a joke when they dashed away, giggling at the baton he brandished at them. Sucking his teeth, he glanced into the mouth of the nearest cave just to make sure there were no other boys hiding there.

His baton stopped in mid-swing. George lowered his arm. He didn’t feel the leather thong of the baton slip from his fingers. In the fading rays of sunset slanting through the mouth of the cave, he could see two things: a pair of motionless feet with pink-polished toenails, and the glint of a tiny diamond in a gold tooth cap.

He turned and ran like hell.


LISA ALLEN-AGOSTINI is a writer and editor from Trinidad & Tobago. In 2013 she was short listed for the Hollick Arvon Prize for emerging Caribbean writers. She is the author of the young adult novel The Chalice Project and is the founder of The Allen Prize for Young Writers, a Trinidad & Tobago non-profit that trains and gives prizes to writers aged 12-19. She is the coeditor of Trinidad Noir.


Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—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.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jun 10, 2013

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Short Story Month | Tags: , , , , , ,