“Hard Ears Junior and the Hurricane” (Excerpt #6) –

 

CHAPTER SIX

 

While the wayward boys were making their way down the fearsome incline as swiftly as they could, Mummy and Pinky continued their frantic quest to find them.

Pinky had gone back into the house to fetch a large, red and black plaid umbrella before leaving her yard.  This, she used to shelter them both as they scurried from house to house asking everyone whether they had seen the missing boys.

“WHOOO!” Pinky bawled out, grabbing the handle of the umbrella as a sudden violent gust of wind swept it from over their heads and threatened to rip it from her grasp.

They were getting drenched as the rain poured down in buckets and the breeze whipped them vengefully from all directions.

Miss Thelma was locking up her shop and Blacka was giving her a hand.  She crossed the road and intercepted them.

“Where the two of ounu going in this storm?” Miss Thelma wanted to know.

Mummy stopped walking and poked Pinky in her rib so that she halted as well.  “Wi trying to find Junior, André and Romario! Yuh see them?”

Miss Thelma planted her plump arms on her broad hips and screwed up her face sternly.  “But, V, you not easy!” she scolded.  “Yuh mean to tell mi say hurricane a come and yuh don’t know which part yuh child deh? How yuh manage make that happen?”

“Miss Thelma, mi leave this morning to go collect the money to buy Junior school things and when mi come back, mi can’t find him!” Mummy explained, wiping rainwater from her face.  She was growing more distressed with each passing second.  “And Pinky can’t find André either!”

Miss Thelma hissed her teeth loudly and cut her eyes at the young girl.  “That a common assault! This ya pickney ya never know where her little brother is at any point in time and she nuh care neither! Dionne will deal with her case when she come home later.”

Pinky pouted as she wrung water out of her skirt tail.  “But Miss Thelma, a sleep mi was sleeping when him sneak out,” she whined.  “Nobody can’t blame me.  Plus him don’t listen when me talk and Moms spoil him so mi can’t lick him neither!”

Blacka finished securing the tarpaulin and came over to them.  “What a gwaan, Miss V?” he asked casually.

“Wi a try find Junior them –”

“What! Yuh want to tell mi say them still up a bush!” Blacka exclaimed.

“What yuh say?” Miss Thelma asked with great surprise.  “Bush?”

“Yes, Miss Thelma!” Blacka insisted.  “Mi see him and André and Romario this morning when mi down a river a carry sand.  Them tell mi say them going up pon di hill go pick guinep!”

Mummy whacked Blacka on the back of his head angrily.  “How yuh so fool-fool, Blacka!” she exploded.  “Yuh see hurricane a come and yuh stand up and make the pickney them gone up inna hill instead of stopping them! Yuh is a mad man?”

Blacka covered his head and darted out of her reach.  “A what kinda thing that, Miss V?” he grumbled.  “Mi try stop them but yuh know how them hard ears.  The three of them just laugh after mi and go bout them business same way! But that was from after nine this morning – mi think them would come back long time!”

Mummy grabbed her head and almost fell to the ground!

Her knees were suddenly weak.  Blacka jumped in and caught her beneath the armpits before she could slide to the wet pavement.

“Lord Jesus! What is this on mi!” Mummy bawled.

“Relax yourself, V!” Miss Thelma said gently.  “Maybe them soon reach down now.”

“But…the river!” Mummy gasped.  “With the rain a tear so hard, it soon come down! Suppose them can’t manage to cross?”

Pinky started to cry.  “A true, Miss Thelma! Look how much water on the road already! What mi going to do?”

Miss Thelma hugged her and patted her back soothingly.  “Lawks, Pinky…nuh bother with the cow bawling, man!”

Blacka spoke up.  “It nuh make sense wi stand up here in the rain wasting time – wi need to go down there and see if wi see them.  Mi going to call Redman and find out if him can go with wi!”

Mummy straightened up as she fanned herself with her hands while taking deep breaths to regain her composure.  “Thanks, Blacka,” she said.  “Mi going to put on mi water boots and raincoat and come back.  And I’ll check if Missa Roy can come with wi too.”

Miss Thelma started back across the road to her house.  “All right.  Ounu make mi know when ounu find them. And be careful.”

******

Meanwhile, the adventurous threesome was having a difficult time coming down the hill.  At that altitude, the effect of the rain was even more disastrous.

Every other minute or so, a bolt of lightning would flash across the sky.

“WOIIEEE!” Junior bawled out. He stopped running and ducked down, arms shielding his head.

Another clap of thunder rented the sky. It was so powerful that it felt like the entire hill was shaking under the effects of an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. Romario grabbed onto André and Junior, pulling them down to the ground.

“Oh, God! Oh, God!” Romario was saying over and over, shaking his head and flashing his hands wildly. He kept looking up towards the heavens like he thought the sky was about to fall on them.

“How you trembling so, Romario?” Junior asked in a timid voice as Romario squeezed his arm a little too hard for his liking. “Ouch!”

Romario’s hand slackened but he did not let go. When another bolt of lightning lit up the place, he yelped like a wounded puppy and flung himself down on the bramble-covered ground. “Mi fraid a lightning! Gee-eeee-eeez!”

They had grown up hearing that lightning was more likely to strike a person when he was standing under a green tree.  Since they were in a forest, they were acutely aware of the potential danger. It was the last place they wanted to be. André and Junior comforted their big friend and then they both helped him get back to his feet.

“Come, Romario! We have to hurry up!”

The rain started pelting down.  The trees were still very close to each other in the section through which they were now passing and they were being sheltered to an extent but enough rain was filtering through to make them quite wet.

The ground beneath their feet was getting muddy too.  With each step he took, Junior felt the rubber soles of his old Reebok sneakers sink deep into the moist soil.  They were trying to move fast, Junior out in front but the going was rough.

Junior made one determined leap over a small tree that had been beaten down under the pressure of the downpour and was lying across the track.  But when he landed, he slipped on a loose patch of wet dirt and stones! Before he could realize what was happening, he had lost his balance! The next thing he knew, he was tumbling, head over heels, down the hillside!

“WOOOIIIIIIIEEEEEE!”

He screamed as he felt his little body crashing uncontrollably through the undergrowth.  As he got his bearings, he fought desperately to stop his speedy descent down the steep precipice by trying to grab hold of the little shrubs around him.  But, each time he managed to seize one, it uprooted and came loose in his fist!

André and Romario were racing pell-mell after him now, shrieking hysterically as they went.

“Hold on, Junior!” Romario bellowed.

“WOOOIIIIIIEEE!” Junior continued to bawl as his body collided with the limbs and branches of saplings and debris that had washed down the hillside in the recent heavy rains.

Just as he thought he must soon be at the bottom of the hill and would most certainly plummet into the river below to his death, he crashed headfirst into something solid!

“OWWW!” he howled, grabbing his head and wincing in pain.  He dared to open his eyes to look around.  He had rolled into the trunk of a huge mango tree and come to an abrupt halt!

The insistent pain at the front of his head made him reach up to touch his forehead.  When he lowered his hand, he saw that his fingers were a bright crimson – he was bleeding!

Moments later, André and Romario appeared beside him.

“Geezam-peez, Junior!” Romario exclaimed as his eyes landed on the gaping gash on his friend’s face.  “Yuh head buss!”

Junior rose shakily to his feet, reaching out to hold on to the bark of the tree to balance himself.  “Mi know.  How it look?”

“It don’t look good, my youth!” André exclaimed, as he began to rip off a piece of his t-shirt.  He pressed it on the wound.  “Hold this down.”

André was a cub scout and, in the face of adversity, his training seemed to have kicked in.

“Don’t move!” he ordered.  Junior looked up at him in surprise.  The boy was totally transformed – like a completely different person.  It was as if alien beings had possessed him!

André rested his hands on Junior’s shoulders now and pressed gently.  “Just sit down back – yuh have to stay still for a few minutes,” he instructed.

Romario shifted impatiently as he looked up at the sky.  All three of them were drenched to the skin now as they had reached a part of the hillside where the trees grew sparsely.  Looking down into the valley, he saw that they were almost at the bottom.  He could see the river flowing below and listening keenly he realized that he was able to hear it rumbling loudly.

He knew that that could only mean one thing: the river was in spate – it had come down!

“André!” he said.  “Wi can’t wait.”

“Why?” André demanded.

“The river come down! Look!” Romario pointed at the muddy waters rushing by below and André gasped loudly.

Lord God! Wi DEAD now!”

Junior clutched the piece of fabric more firmly to his forehead and scrambled back onto his feet.  “Mummy going MURDER mi now!” he bawled.

Romario trudged off in the direction of the pathway.  “Ounu come!” he commanded.  “Maybe if wi hurry up wi can still cross.”

******

Copyright © September 2011 by Mandisa M. Parnell

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“Hard Ears Junior and the Hurricane” (Excerpt #5) – Hurricane a come! Where is My Son?

CHAPTER FIVE

 

Mummy arrived home sometime after noon.  When she called for Junior and he did not come to open the gate for her, she shook her head and proceeded to let herself in.

“What a little pickney can sleep!” she mumbled to herself as she unlocked the grille to the verandah.  “Junior!”

The sky was growing darker with each passing minute.  Thunder rumbled in the distance and the wind was starting to blow.  Mummy had not expected to spend such a long time in Halfway Tree but the lines inside the Western Union had been five times longer than usual.  It seemed that everybody was collecting money from overseas today.

“Thank God mi reach in before the rain break!” Mummy said as she opened the front door and leaned the umbrella against the doorjamb.  “Junior?”

When silence greeted her, she slipped off her water boots and hurried into the house.  Since Junior was not napping on the settee where she had expected to find him at that time of day and he was not watching television, she figured he must be in his bedroom sleeping.  But when she pushed the door and peered inside, the room was empty!

She made a quick run-through and it became evident that her son was not in the house.

“But you see mi dying trial, Jesus!” Mummy threw her arms up in the air as she stopped in the kitchen and spun around hopelessly.  “Mi know say mi tell that little hard ears pickney say him must stay inna the yard till mi come back! Where him could really gone now?”

She ran to the verandah to look out.  The place was getting bleak now.  Looking towards the nearby hills, Mummy saw that the rain was rapidly approaching.

She turned on the radio just in time to catch a weather update midway through.  She listened intently for the next few minutes. The meteorologist said that the satellite imagery showed that the centre of Hurricane Gwen was located some five hundred kilometers east of Morant Point.  The system was travelling at a speed of two hundred and twenty kilometers per hour.  At that rate, the hurricane was estimated to start moving across St. Thomas and Portland within the next two hours.

Mummy and Junior lived in the parish of St. Andrew, which shared border with St. Thomas.  If the forecaster’s calculations were correct, they would begin to feel the effects of the hurricane in a short while and she had no idea where her young son was!

She jumped up horrifiedly and ran out of the house.  “JUNIOR! JUNIOR!” she yelled as she flung the gate open and bolted down the lane like a duppy was chasing her.  She banged frantically on Ma Lou’s gate.  “Ma Lou!”

The rain was starting to drizzle now.  Ma Lou stood up on her verandah and looked alarmed at the flustered young woman.  “What happen, V?” she asked.

“Yuh see Junior?”

“No, mi dear.  A don’t see him from morning!” she replied.  “Check round by Romario them yard.”

Mummy sprinted through the lane like an Olympic 100-metre runner, not caring that she was getting wetter with each step she took.  She pounded noisily on Sandra, Romario’s mother’s, gate.

Sandra! Romario! JUNIOR!” she bellowed.  When there was no response, she headed down the road to André’s house.  His teenaged sister, Pinky, came to the gate with a towel on her head.

“Pinky! Where André?” Mummy asked, panting heavily.

Pinky shrugged her shoulders carelessly as she stretched and yawned like a hungry lioness.  “Mi just wake up, Miss V,” she said.  “Mi nuh know where that little walk-bout bwoy gone.”

“Where is yuh mother?”

“Moms gone a work…as usual.”

“Yuh hear say Hurricane Gwen coming now?” Mummy asked her.

“It coming for true?” Pinky’s arced eyebrows raised in genuine surprise.  “But a thought them did say that it turn back!”

Mummy threw up her hands in frustration.  “Turn back what!” she snapped.  “See the rain coming down harder…is Hurricane Gwen this! Wi have just one hour before she lick wi!”

Pinky clutched the towel as it slipped from her head.  “Lord Jezas!” she shrieked.  “Mi have to find André now or Moms kill mi when she come tonight!”

******

The loud explosion of an ear-splitting thunderclap and something cold splashing on his face caused Junior to jump out of his sleep!

He looked around groggily as he climbed shakily to his feet.  The rain was coming down and big droplets were hitting him over and over.

André! Romario!” He scampered over to his two friends and started to shake them roughly.  “Ounu wake up!”

The boys sat up slowly; completely oblivious to the fact that they had been sleeping in a forest and the rain was falling down on them.

“What happen to yuh, Junior? What yuh wake mi up for?” André grumbled, rubbing his eyes disorientated.

The hurricane a come!” Junior shouted as he grabbed the bag that held the guineps and june plums that he had not eaten.  “Wi have to go home now!”

“What!” Romario glared up at him angrily.  “Stop talk bout hurricane – yuh don’t hear say it turn back?”

Just then a bolt of lightning flashed across the sky, illuminating the area in which they stood. André and Romario sprang to their feet, eyes bulging with terror, and grabbed their own bags.

“Geezam-peez!” Romario exclaimed, cowering behind a tree trunk as another roar of thunder boomed above.  “It a come fi true!”

“Bongo-natty!” André cried as he dashed towards the pathway.

“Come, Junior!” Romario yelled as he pelted after him.

Junior hesitated before following them.  He was wondering how long they had been sleeping.  What time was it now? Neither he nor his friends were wearing watches.  He had no way to be sure but something told him that his mother had arrived home from Halfway Tree long ago. Instincts were telling him that he was in big trouble.  Mummy was going to kill him – if Hurricane Gwen did not do it first!

 

            ******

Copyright © September 2011 by Mandisa M. Parnell

“Hard Ears Junior and the Hurricane” (Excerpt #4) – Young Bud Nuh Know Storm!

CHAPTER FOUR

 

The walk up the hillside to where the guinep and june plum trees grew was a long one.  They had to hike very far up to the top.  Usually Junior did not mind the length of time it took them to reach the grove where the sweetest of all the fruits grew.  It was always worth the trip.  But today was different.  He was worried and it seemed to him like they were taking an eternity to get there.

The further they went, the thicker the trees grew and their branches and crowns formed a heavy canopy overhead.  Soon it was impossible for Junior to see the sky when he looked up.

hill

About forty-five minutes later, the boys arrived at their destination.  They sat down in the shade to rest for a little while and then each boy selected a tree to climb. About a half an hour later, the plastic bag each boy had brought with him was full of big, juicy, golden june plums and bunches of plump, green-skinned guineps.

Then Junior, André and Romario sat down to eat some of what they had picked.  The fruits looked so tempting that they could not wait until they reached home to enjoy them.  Junior even forgot that he was in a hurry to get back to his house before Mummy did.

Romario had a delighted grin on his face as he used the ratchet knife his godfather had given him for his last birthday to peel off the yellow skin of one particularly large, fat june plum. He used his tongue to lick the long juice trail that ran down his wrist and curled around to the back of his elbow.

“Mmmmmm!” he nodded his head before taking a gigantic bite out of the yellow flesh.

Junior eyed one guinep that looked like it was about to burst out of its skin longingly before cracking it with his teeth. The tangy taste of the pulpy pinkish fruit surprised his palate like it always did. He tilted his head back and turned the little round ball around and around in his mouth, savouring the taste on his tongue. “Oooooh! This one sweeeeet nuh bongo-natty!” he mumbled, after tucking it safely into one corner of his mouth.

Everybody knew that if you talked with a guinep in your mouth, the slimy little fruit could slide down your throat and choke you. But, when he was little, Junior used to see Mummy and Daddy doing that and so he had practiced how to do it too. Now, he could without even thinking about it. He was really turning big man now!

They ate and ate until their little ten-year old bellies were full.  But, of course, as soon as the hunger was satisfied, the need to sleep took hold of them. So they stretched out at the foot of one very large mango tree and soon all three were dead to the world!

            ******

Copyright © September 2011 by Mandisa M. Parnell

“Hard Ears Junior and the Hurricane” (Excerpt#3) – Hurricane Gwen turn back?

CHAPTER THREE

 

As predicted, the rain persisted until Sunday afternoon and then the skies cleared up and the sun came out again.

The Weather Report that evening stated that Hurricane Gwen was still a threat to the island and, in fact, was just a relatively short distance away from Morant Point.

Due to the dramatic change in the weather, however, some persons were convinced that the hurricane had changed its course.

That night Junior’s Daddy called from Canada.  He had heard the news and was checking on his family to make sure that they were adequately prepared.

“Veronica, yuh sure that you and JR going to be all right?” he asked with great concern.

“Yes, Brian.  Mi tell yuh already to stop worrying yuhself,” Mummy insisted.  “Is just another storm – wi will be okay.”

“And yuh sure that yuh have enough food in the house?”

“Yes, B! Plenty food is here.  Wi went to supermarket yesterday and purchase some supplies.  Matter of fact, Junior even tell mi that him think wi buy too much things!”

“So yuh buy matches and drinking water? Remember that the light and water might go away yuh know, V!”

“Brian, relax yuhself nuh man!” Mummy laughed and tried to reassure her husband that everything was in order.  “I have things under control…”

“What about the ackee tree and the almond tree – yuh get somebody to trim them?” Daddy was starting to act like a teacher who was giving a student a pop quiz now.

“Cho man, B! Mi deal wid that from last month.  Yuh know say mi don’t like wait till last minute to do anything!” Mummy replied.  “Remember is Veronica yuh talking to, you nuh.”

Daddy laughed with Mummy for a few seconds.  “All right, V…yuh right! Mi send off the money to buy JR back-to-school supplies this morning.  Make sure yuh try and collect it tomorrow because wi don’t know what going to happen after the storm pass.”

Mummy agreed.  When a hurricane or tropical storm hit the island it usually left lots of damage in its wake.  It was a given that infrastructure would be affected.  Some businesses would remain closed for days on end until they were able to restore computer networking systems, telephone circuits and so on.

“If I go early in the morning I should be able to reach home back before Gwen make landfall,” Mummy told him.

“All right. Do that then.”

And so it was that Mummy awoke at the crack of dawn on Monday.

She prepared a pot of banana porridge and roused Junior out of bed for his breakfast.

“But, Mummy, is holiday!” he protested. “Why a have to get up so early?”

“Because a need to make sure that yuh eat before a leave, little boy,” Mummy scolded him.  “A can’t afford for gas to take yuh up at a time like this.”

The news said that the Government had declared a state of emergency to be effected at noon that afternoon.  They had also ordered all businesses closed by that time.  Subsequent weather reports confirmed that Hurricane Gwen would hit the island around about two o’clock. Mummy told him this meant there would be no going to work for her that day.

They ate together and then Junior watched as Mummy got dressed to go on the road.

“Junior!” she spoke to him sternly.  “A going to Halfway Tree to collect the money that yuh father send to buy yuh school things.  A need yuh to stay in the yard until a come back.  A would take yuh with mi but a not sure how far away the rain is. And the last thing I want is for yuh to get wet up and catch cold. Mi not into the doctor thing in no hurricane.”

“But it don’t look like the hurricane coming again,” Junior said.  “A hear Missa Roy them saying that it turn back, Mummy.”

Mummy rested her handbag and the mega-sized umbrella on the settee as she sat down to slip on the fashionable pink patent leather water boots that Daddy had sent in the barrel for her last Christmas and sighed wearily.

“Little boy, is not all the time yuh must listen to big people, yuh nuh,” she told him.  “Sometimes wi talk foolishness!”

“But, Mummy, it must be true!” Junior insisted as he ran to the front door and pointed outside.  “See the sun coming out there!”

Mummy picked up her bag and umbrella and walked towards him.  “Junior, don’t yuh was listening to the weather report with mi a while ago?” she asked gently.

Junior nodded and knitted his brow thoughtfully.

“What did the man say?” Mummy asked.

“Him said that the storm coming and it will reach by two o’clock,” Junior replied.

“Good.  So who yuh going to listen to? The bright man on TV…or Mister Roy?”

Junior pouted stubbornly and bit his bottom lip.  “The man on TV,” he mumbled, hanging his head and using his toe to play with a dead leaf that lay on the verandah floor.

“Good boy,” Mummy said.  “I’m going to hurry and come back.  Make sure say yuh DON’T-LEAVE-THE-YARD…mi warning yuh cause mi know how yuh hard ears and who can’t hear will FEEL! A don’t want nothing to happen to yuh.  Yuh hear what a say?”

Junior fiddled with the hem of his t-shirt.  “Yes, Mummy!”

“Come and lock the gate for mi!”

******

About twenty minutes after his mother had gone, Junior’s playmates – André and Romario – came calling.

Junior went to the zinc gate, slid back the bolt and opened it so his friends could enter the yard.  “Where Miss V?” Romario asked, craning his neck to see into the house.

“Shi just gone to Halfway Tree,” Junior answered.

“Good – that mean say yuh can come with wi then!” André said happily.

“Where ounu going?”

“Wi going bush go pick guinep!” Romario revealed.

One of the boys’ favourite summer past-times was the many treks they made down to the river and up into the nearby hillside to raid the tamarind, mango, guinep and june plum trees that flourished there.

“Now?” Junior asked, eyes bulging horrifiedly.

“Yeah,” Romario replied, roughly.  He was the biggest of the three boys and the ringleader.  “Remember when wi go up a bush last week, them did a ripe up, yuh nuh! Yuh want David and Greg them pick them before wi? Plus my mother gone downtown! This a the best time to go!”

“And my mother gone a work,” André said, boastfully.

His mother, Miss Dionne, was a nurse and so she had to work all the time.  Nurses were always in great demand at the hospital especially when storms were threatening to lash the country.  There were sure to be many emergency situations.

Most of the time André was left in the care of his sixteen-year-old sister, Pinky, who could not manage to keep her little brother under control.  Because of this, the boy got into trouble very often.

“But the hurricane a come!” Junior reminded them.  “Wi can’t go bush now!”

André and Romario looked at him like he was crazy and started laughing loudly.

“What ounu laughing about?” Junior folded his arms and glared at them.

“Which hurricane yuh talking about, bwoy?” Romario sputtered.  “Yuh nuh see sun shining bright?”

“Ehhh!” André jumped in.  “Look on the sky, Junior…not even one cloud!”

Junior looked up and saw that his friends were right.  Not a single cloud was in sight.  The sky was a beautiful azure.  And just as he had pointed out to his mother earlier, the sun was rising fast, shining so brilliant that Junior had to shield his eyes.

And there was no breeze either.  The weather was perfect!

Surely the Weather Man had to have been wrong.  Hurricane Gwen must have turned back.  After all, the rain had stopped yesterday afternoon and not another drop had fallen since.

It was after eight now.  If the hurricane was supposed to be there by two o’clock, surely the rain would have started to come down already.

Plus, it was just last week on Independence Day that Mummy had cancelled their plans for an outing at the beach after that very same Weather Man had forecasted thundershowers for the entire day.

They had stayed home, to Junior’s great disappointment, and aside from a light drizzle early in the morning, the weather had remained fair all day long.

He must be wrong again, Junior thought.  There was no hurricane coming to Jamaica! And, anyway, they had never come before.  Since he was born, there had been numerous hurricane threats but they always bypassed the island and went to Cuba and up to Florida or out over the Caribbean Sea or to Central America instead of hitting Jamaica!

Ma Lou always told Junior that it was because Jamaica was “God-bless country”!

And, Mummy was wrong too.  He wouldn’t miss out on all the fun with his friends and those big, sweet, gummy guineps that melted against his tongue when he popped them into his mouth simply because she was fretting over a hurricane that was not even coming again and wanted him to stay locked up in the yard like a house-rat!

He would just make sure he came home before she returned from Halfway Tree.  He was sure that the lines at the money transfer center would be very long – they always were.  He was confident that they would make it to bush and back before his mother did.

“So, Junior, yuh coming or not?”

Junior took one look at Romario’s ‘I-dare-you’ expression and made up his mind.  “Of course mi a come!” he said.  “Just let mi go put on mi sneakers.”

The three boys crept stealthily through the lane taking extra care that none of the neighbours saw them.  When they got to the main road, they broke out running until finally, just as they were growing breathless, they reached the fork in the road where a little pathway was located.  They walked along this path for a few minutes until they arrived at the little dirt track that sloped down a steep bank covered by small trees and shrubbery that led to the river below and the hill that loomed majestically on the opposite side.

When they reached the bottom of the slope and were about to cross the river, a voice called out to them. Romario, who was leading the way, jumped with fright and slipped on one of the smooth, flat river rocks that was used as a stepping-stone and lost his footing.

André and Junior reacted impulsively, each grabbing one of their friend’s arms and pulling him upright as they looked behind them to see who had spoken.

It was Blacka, a young man who lived next door to André.  Blacka was an unemployed hustler who earned his living by doing odd jobs around the community.  He chopped grass and bush, cleaned up yards, ran errands, trimmed trees, burnt and sold coal, built and fixed fences and worked as a labourer when persons were doing construction on their houses. But he sometimes came to loggerheads with some people when he broke into their yards in their absence to raid their ackee, apple, banana and breadfruit trees.  Blacka was usually seen walking around Hope Town with a long bamboo hook-stick that he would use to pick these fruits that he would sell.  On the rare occasions when Junior saw him without his trusty ‘hooka’, he always found it funny how strange the man looked.

blacka

Blacka was shoveling sand and emptying it into a big, white flour bag.  Nearby stood a wheelbarrow in which several full bags already lay in a small pile.  Junior knew that persons with zinc roofs used these to secure them during the hurricane season.  The logic behind this practice was that sand got heavier as it got wetter.  So when several bagsful of sand were evenly arranged across the surface and around the perimeter of a roof, hurricane winds – no matter how strong – would not be able to lift and blow off the zinc.

During the hurricane season, Blacka was kept busy as many residents scrambled to utilize his services in that respect. He always made decent money from this activity.

Blacka stopped digging and leaned on the handle of his shovel as he looked at the three little boys with curiosity in his flashing black eyes.

“What ounu doing down here?” he asked.

“Nothing!” André and Romario blurted out quickly.

“What ounu mean by ‘nothing’?” Blacka said as he sank the shovel into the sand leaving his hands free now.  “Mi never born big so, yuh nuh! A can see that is bush ounu going!”

“So what if wi a go a bush?” Junior folded his arms and stuck out his bottom lip in a combative fashion.

“Ehhh!” André backed him up.  “So what?”

“Yeah! If wi want to go a bush that is not your business, Blacka!” Romario said defiantly.  “You is not wi father!”

Blacka shook his head in disbelief as he looked back at the youngsters who were all glaring stubbornly at him.

“Listen.  Is ounu business if ounu want to go bush but, tell mi something: ounu don’t hear say storm coming?” he said as he walked over to the trio.

André and Romario started whooping.

“No hurricane not coming again, Blacka!” Junior told him as if he was speaking to a five-year old.  “Them say it turn back.”

Blacka stared back at him like that was the stupidest thing he had ever heard anybody say.  “Junior!” he spoke in a commanding tone as he planted his hands on his hips.  “The weather report say the hurricane going to reach by two o’clock! Who tell yuh say it turn back?”

André had stopped laughing.  “Blacka, how yuh so fool-fool?” he exclaimed, rudely.  “Sun a shine! The sky blue and pretty! Look there! No rain not falling! It look like storm a come to yuh?”

Blacka folded his muscular arms across his bare chest that glistened with sweat and set his feet apart in a no-nonsense stance as he looked down intimidatingly at the three little boys.

“Little bwoy! Maybe mi never finish school and get a good education but mi know when storm a come!” he roared.  “This is what the scientist them call ‘the calm before the storm’! Ounu teacher never learn ounu that?”

André and Romario glanced at each other, then at Junior before looking quizzically back up at the tall, jet-black adult.  A split second later, they dissolved into loud raucous laughter while slapping their knees, clutching their tummies and pointing jeeringly at poor Blacka.

“Come yuh hear!” Romario said when he had finally stopped laughing.  He proceeded to walk across the river once more.  “Wi waste enough time with Blacka already.”

Junior sprung to life at the mention of the word ‘time’.  “True thing! Come, Dré! Wi have to hurry up!”

“Later, Blacka!” André sang, sticking his tongue out at the man mischievously.  “Mi promise to bring back couple bunch of guinep for yuh, yuh hear!”

“Ounu gwaan, man!” Blacka shouted after them.  “Ounu little youth-man nowadays think say ounu too big to take telling.  Just remember say who can’t hear will feel!”

“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” André and Romario mocked him as they reached the other bank.

“Gwaan same way, yuh hear, Missa André!” Blacka called out as he went back to his digging.  “I going tell Miss D when I see her later.”

“Then gwaan then. My mother know that me a go bush already,” André lied with ease as he started running towards the pathway that meandered up the hillside.  “Come, Junior! Don’t pay Blacka no mind…him is a mad man!”

            ******

Copyright © September 2011 by Mandisa M. Parnell

“Hard Ears Junior and the Hurricane” (Excerpt #2)

CHAPTER TWO

 

Every time there was an impending threat of a hurricane, Jamaicans would converge on the nearest supermarket, wholesale or corner shop to stock up on food items and provisions in anticipation of the possibility of basic necessities becoming scarce.  This was sometimes the case when factories and distribution companies remained closed due to lack of electricity or water or staff shortage after the storm had passed.

It took more than ten minutes before the security guard allowed another batch of persons to enter the supermarket. Mummy held on tight to Junior’s hand and pushed her way to the front making sure that they got in.  Junior was surprised to see that the place looked like a circus! The aisles were packed with so many people bustling about that from where he stood by the entrance, it was impossible for him to see the shelves.  The lines at the cashiers were as long as anacondas and almost everyone had big trolleys half-full and in many instances, nearly overflowing, with goods that they were waiting to pay for. It reminded him of Hope Road during Carnival or Festival Road March.

crowd-suprmarket

“Okay, Junior,” Mummy looked down at him as she eased her way between two women who were engaged in a heated quarrel and grabbed three baskets.  “Yuh need to stay close to mi.  There’s so many people in this place, yuh could get lost!”

“Yes, Mummy,” Junior answered as he held onto the hem of his mother’s red cotton blouse with one hand and clutched the handle of the blue, plastic basket she had passed to him with the other.

Nearly three hours later they emerged from the supermarket.  Junior felt like he had just fought a battle in World War II.  Mummy’s hair was a mess, sweat rolled down her face and her blouse clung wetly to her back and chest.

But their mission had been a success.  They had gotten all the items Mummy wanted as well as everything on Ma Lou’s list.

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Junior carried two large, black scandal bags that contained their neighbour’s groceries. They were very heavy and already the plastic was starting to cut into the joints of his fingers.  Inside were three cans of Brunswick sardines, three cans of Grace corned beef, three cans of Grace Chunky Jack mackerel, three cans of tuna, two cans of Betty condensed milk, one jar of Blue Mountain coffee, one loaf of National sliced whole wheat bread (the kind that Junior hated), ten pounds of brown rice, ten pounds of whole wheat flour and fifteen pounds of brown sugar.

There was a pack of Comet matches and three packs of Duracell batteries.  Junior knew Ma Lou wanted these to operate her radio when the light was switched off.  Mummy had also picked up some for their Sony boom box as well.  Then there was a pound of salt fish, a pound of salt mackerel, a pound of salt beef, a pound of salt pork and a pack of sea salt – Junior had raised an eyebrow questioningly when he saw that item.  Sea salt? He never knew that people ate salt that came directly from the ocean. When Junior had asked Mummy why Ma Lou was buying so much salty meat, she explained that it was because they were “cured”. That means they did not need refrigeration and would not spoil when the electricity went off.

And, there was also a roll of cellophane plastic – Mummy said that Ma Lou would use that to wrap and secure her important documents.  But Mummy did not need to get plastic for that purpose.  They had a big metal box, which was always kept locked, in which she kept birth certificates, her passport, marriage certificate, the certificates from school with her credentials, the land title, passbooks for the bank accounts, the contracts for their life insurance policies, health insurance cards, Junior’s school records and Immunization Card and even receipts for all the furniture in the house.  And, finally, there was a big bottle of kerosene oil that Junior carried in his next hand.

Mummy had made a lot more purchases than Ma Lou had.  Her goods filled three large plastic bags and included similar items.  In addition though, Mummy had bought two large bottles of spring water.  That was for them to drink when the public water supply was turned off.  And, she had also purchased new wicks for the lamps, a new lantern and a medium sized flashlight.

Junior was glad when a taxi man who had been camped out in the parking lot of the plaza, came rushing over to them.

“Taxi, sweet lady?” he asked.

Mummy had barely nodded before the man was taking the large blue-and-white plastic bottles of Pure Catherine’s Peak Spring Water from her grasp and rushing over to a white Nissan Sunny motor car.

Junior placed his bags into the car trunk and exhaled with relief. He was not sure he would have been able to carry all that stuff all the way to the bus stop.

The place remained overcast until Mummy and Junior reached home.  No sooner had they stepped into the house than the pregnant nimbus clouds burst and the rain came pouring down in torrents.

Mummy turned on the small TV set, which she kept on the kitchen counter to see if she could see any weather updates as Junior began to unpack the merchandise.

tv-weather

Within twenty minutes, a bulletin came on.  The island had been placed under a Hurricane Warning.  “Fisheries” – Mummy explained to Junior that this meant fishermen – “and other marine interests” were being cautioned to exercise discretion. That meant they were being asked to think carefully before they acted. So, if a fisherman wanted to go out and catch fish but he saw the rain falling, it was his responsibility to decide if it would be wise for him to do so knowing that he could get swept away.

Persons living in “flood-prone and low-lying areas” were being urged to evacuate – Mummy said that meant “leave their homes to go to a shelter or stay with relatives who lived in communities situated on higher ground”. And a representative from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management was telling people to stock up on “non-perishable food items” and plenty drinking water.

Junior had already learnt that non-perishable foods were food that would not rot if they were not put into the refrigerator.  Back at the supermarket, Mummy had told him that when he asked why she and Ma Lou were buying so many ‘tin things’ that day. The salted meats fell into the same category.

Junior got a chair and stood on it so that he could reach the food cupboard.  “Mummy, guess what? Maybe wi could give Papa P some of these things!” he said.  “He probably don’t have anything to eat and this is a lot of food for just me and you.”

Mummy smiled at him.  Sometimes he really surprised her.  “It’s nice to know that you’re being considerate of others, Junior! But, Papa P is old and he has difficulty opening tins – his fingers don’t function well because of his arthritis.  So, guess what? I will cook and take dinner for him until this whole thing blow over.  In the meantime though, yuh can take this pack of raisin bread, a pack of tough crackers, this butter and three instant coffee for him.  All right?”

“All right, Mummy,” Junior grinned as his mother reached out and rubbed his head with pride.  “Soon as the rain stop, a will take them around!”

 

******

Copyright © September 2011 by Mandisa M. Parnell

“Hard Ears Junior and the Hurricane”(Excerpt #1)

CHAPTER ONE

 

Mummy and Junior were sitting together on the settee one night in August watching the news on television.

It was the hurricane season and Mummy had been anxious, fretting constantly that Jamaica would be hit by a storm before November came to a close and the danger was averted.

Junior felt the hand, which his mother had draped around his shoulder, tighten as the weather report began.

Just as Mummy feared, another storm was brewing and was fast approaching the Caribbean basin.  The meteorologist announced that if the system continued on its current path, it would become a threat to the island within a few days.

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“Lord, have mercy!” Mummy closed her eyes and put her hands on her head.  “Jesus! Please don’t make it come here!”

Junior was ten years old and he had never experienced a hurricane.  Mummy had often told him the story of the last one that had come while she was pregnant with him.

“Hurricane Pansy! That was a terrible storm, Junior!” she would say.  “A whole heap of rain and breeze!  And light went away for nearly a week!”

It had been a particularly trying experience for Mummy because of her physical condition.  At that time, the house had a zinc roof and she had been living alone.  Junior’s father had departed to Canada on the farm work programme a couple months earlier.

Mummy had always been independent and a bit of a tomboy.  She believed that women should be strong and capable of helping themselves without relying on men. So if there was work to be done in the yard, Mummy did it.  If a tree needed pruning, Mummy pruned it.  If the house needed painting, Mummy painted it.

And, of course, when the news had come about Hurricane Pansy barreling towards Jamaica with her powerful Category Four strength, there were things that needed to be done in preparation for it. In the aftermath of the formidable hurricane, water had been disconnected for more than a week because many pipes had sustained damage and the supply Mummy had stored had run out after five days.  Luckily, Hope Town, the community in which they lived, was situated a short distance away from a river.  Mummy had had to carry buckets full of water for bathing and dishwashing purposes.

“Mi say Junior, it was a pity yuh wasn’t able to see yuh mother chopping down tree limb with her big belly!” Miss Tiny, one of his neighbours laughed as a group of them congregated in the lane two days later after the weather report confirmed that the system had developed into a Category Five hurricane – Hurricane Gwen – and was heading straight for the island.

“Ehhh!” Ma Lou joined in.  “And she did want to climb up on the house top to batten down the roof too! But mi had was to put mi foot down, man.”

“Yes.  But Veronica was very determine!” Mr. Roy said.  “Even when mi volunteer to do it, she still insist that she never need no help!”

“Then mi have to ask her if shi want to lose the baby!” Ma Lou exclaimed, patting Mummy on the shoulder.  “That was when she come to her senses.”

Mummy laughed and hugged Junior around the neck.  “Yuh hear them, Junior? Them never stop meddle in yuh mother business yet!” she joked.

Mr. Roy nudged her playfully.  “So what happen? Yuh don’t want yuh neighbour them to care about yuh?” he asked.

Mummy rolled her eyes and ignored him.  “Anyway!” she said loudly, moving away from beside Mr. Roy to lean on Ma Lou’s gate.  “They say that Hurricane Gwen is going to be wickeder than Pansy, yuh nuh! Mi just glad that this time around mi won’t have to worry about the housetop.”

Junior’s father, Brian senior, had been able to make quite a bit of money by working on apple orchards in North America.  He had sent remittances over the years and Mummy had been able to pay to have extensions done on the house.  The zinc roof had been replaced with a concrete slab one over five years earlier.

“Yes.  Thank God for Daddy. Don’t it, Mummy?” Junior said.

“Mm hmm! Him work hard to make sure that wi can live comfortable,” Mummy agreed, patting her little boy on the head.

“Good thing say most of we have slab roof now!” Mr. Roy reinforced.

“Yeah.  Is only poor Papa P we have to worry about now.” Miss Tiny was concerned about the ninety-two year old gentleman who lived beside her.

“Him still have the little piece of zinc roof what leak like strainer when rain fall!” Ma Lou shook her head sympathetically.

“And him worthless daughter, Jean, refuse to fix up the place for him!” Miss Tiny hissed her teeth irritably.

“The worse thing is that she have money can do it – look on the big house what she and her husband live in up the road,” Ma Lou said.

“A so them young people stay, man! So stop acting like ounu surprise,” Mr. Roy told them.

“Roy is right,” Mummy declared.  “Most of these young people nowadays don’t care about the bigger heads.”

The forecast was that rain would start to fall later that evening and continue straight back to the following afternoon.

Mummy looked up as the place got shady.  A huge grey cloud had covered the sun and billowing black ones were moving speedily across the sky.

It was a Saturday.  She had gotten her salary the previous evening but because the rain had been drizzling she had jumped into the first route taxi that came and headed straight home.  So, Mummy had not gotten the chance to go to the supermarket.

“Listen, people!” she spoke up as she continued to eye the sky warily.  “The rain setting up and I need to go to Liguanea to get some grocery and storm supplies.  So, I’m going over to change and hurry up and go to come back.”

Ma Lou started walking towards her door now.  “Wait, Veronica! Mi need some tin things.  If mi write the list and give yuh the money, yuh could get them for mi?”

“No problem, Ma Lou,” Mummy took Junior’s hand and started off up the lane to their house.  “Just get it ready till mi come.”

“I can come with yuh, Mummy?”

“Yes, Junior.  I going to need yuh to help mi carry the bag them.”

When Mummy and Junior arrived at the supermarket, there was a small crowd gathered at the entrance.

“Lord, have mercy!” Mummy gasped and lifted her hands to the sky.  “This is what I was trying to avoid.  Wi not leaving here for now, Junior!”

supermarket-line

******

Copyright © September 2011 by Mandisa M. Parnell

EXCERPT FROM THE BOY NEXT DOOR – CHASING NOELLE

CHAPTER FIVE

As Noelle hurried down the avenue, taking long strides,the only things on her mind were, one: the tongue lashing she wanted to give to Ryan Reece for depriving her of yet another night’s worth of sleep and, two: telling Danielle– once and for all – to get that crazy idea of hooking her up with him out of her head!

The sound of footsteps approaching fast behind her interrupted the somewhat violent thoughts.

“Hey, Good-lookin’! Wait up!”

Noelle sighed and quickened her pace. She did not have to look around to know who that voice belonged to. After all, that smooth, sultry sound was part and parcel of why she was late.

“Hey, Noelle!” He called out again. “It’s me – Ryan Reece! Slow down, girl!” He jogged and caught up with her. “You really know how to give a brotha a run for his money, uh, Sweet Thang?” he grinned, staring down at her with his devastating eyes.

“What are you, Ryan Reece?” Noelle spat, glaring at him. “A stalker?”

His smile got even wider. “Only for you, babe! By the way, you’re looking great today.”

Noelle glanced down at her school uniform. “I’m in my u-ni-form, Ryan…the same one I wear everyday! The same one that all the other girls at Halfway Tree Academy wear eh-ve-ryday! What’s so great about it?”

“You’re the only one who makes it look sooo hot!”

Noelle felt her heart swelling with pride despite herself. Lord God now! He thinks I’m hot!

As she felt her cheek grow warm with the rising blush, she sent up a prayer of thanks to God for blessing her with dark-brown complexion. She was glad that he could not see the effect he was having on her. “Really now?” she said, trying to act as though she did not care.

“Yeah, girl,” Ryan insisted. “You are too fine. I swear you have gotta be God’s greatest gift to men!”

Noelle’s eyebrows rose appreciatively but she remained speechless. At that moment, she was unable to form any coherent thought least of all one of her usual caustic remarks.

chasing noelle

Ryan capitalized on the opportunity when she did not reply. “So, Noelle, are you always this late for school?”

“Are you always this late?” Noelle shot back, defensively. She couldn’t very well tell him that the reason she was late was because thoughts of him had kept her up all night.

Ryan shrugged his broad shoulders and made a slight face. “Well, believe it or not, I couldn’t sleep last night cause you were running a marathon through my mind!”

Noelle’s pulse rate quickened and she almost tripped over a crack in the sidewalk as they turned onto the main road.

WHAT! Is this dude serious! “Really now?” she heard herself say again.

Ryan laughed softly. “You seem to say that a whole lot. What? Don’t you believe anything I tell you?”

Noelle stopped short and straightened to her full five foot six height as she placed her hands on her hips. “As a matter o’ fact, I don’t!” she glared up at him. Wow! Him tall, eh!

Ryan came to a stop as well and looked down at her with a big smile on his luscious lips. She was even more attractive than he had thought initially. Her face was a feminine heart shape and she reminded him of a younger, darker version of the popular American singer, Ashanti. “But what reason have I given you not to?” he wanted to know.

“None. But –”

“Nuh-oh!” Ryan held up his hand. “No buts, Baby-Cakes– just gimme a straight answer!”

Noelle gaped at him for a steady five seconds and then her assertive nature kicked in. She glared up at him, looking directly into his eyes despite the disarming effect they were having on her.

“Okay, fine!” she hissed, her voice full of venom. “I thought it was obvious that I don’t – like – you! And I don’t know yuh from Adam so I don’t trus’ yuh! An’ since I don’t like, know or trust you, then I can’t be-lieve any – thing – that – you – say!”

Ryan shrugged, shook his head and looked unconvinced. “How do I know you’re not lying about that?”

“Trus’ mi, Missa Man!” Noelle said firmly. “I’ve never been more honest in my life!” Lord, forgive mi!

“Okay…but why don’t you like me if, as you say, you don’t know me?”

The unexpected question caught her off guard and for a second or two she was rendered speechless as she gaped at him, a sitting duck. Then, because she could not think of anything else to say or do, she cut her eyes at him and summoned the skills she had acquired thanks to the Drama Club. “Oh, whatever!” Noelle threw up her arms and started walking again, glancing at her watch. “It’s 8:30! I have to go!”

Ryan’s counter-move was, again, unanticipated. He reached out and grasped her wrist gently. “Come on, Noelle…all I’m asking for is a chance.”

She exhaled, heavily, for his hearing still she was quite taken aback by the fact that he was pleading with her.

“Will you go to a movie with me tomorrow!” he asked, as she shook off his hand and proceeded to dash across the road to the Bus Stop.

As she reached the opposite side, a route taxi slowed to a stop at her feet.

“One an’ drive! Half o’ tree, Schoolahs?” the driver leaned across the steering wheel of the white Nissan wagon and peered at her expectantly.

Ryan was jogging across the road towards her now. “Whadduya say, Noelle? I promise. You won’t regret it!”

Noelle hated herself for what she did next. “Get a life!” she hissed a fraction of a second before she jumped into the vehicle.

Ryan laughed and knocked the side of the car as it started moving. “Keep that up, babe! I love challenges!”

* * *

Copyright (c) Mandisa M. Parnell 2014

THE BOY NEXT DOOR – NOW AVAILABLE IN SELECT JAMAICAN STORES

He says…

RYAN’S REFLECTIONS

OHH-MYYY-GAWWD!
Mmm-mm-MM!
Dang! If all the Jamaican chicks are as fine as that one, I
just know I’m gonna love living here!
But, on a serious note though: I could tell she was mad
at me for running into her like that. Awww man! That’s a
no-brainer if ever there was one – she was not accepting my
apology at all. Dang! She’s got a mouth on her, fo’sho! I can’t
recall ever being cussed out like that by anybody before, not
even my Moms. Whooo! But, I gotta admit: I preferred her
giving me all o’ that attitude and lip to all those chicks who’re
always falling all over themselves when they see me for the
first time, y’know.
Yo, I’m not being big-headed or nothin’ but I’m a good-lookin’
guy, y’know…the girls back home always call me a
hottie. Plus I run track and some babes got mad weakness for
jocks. My homies always try to tell me that I should be like
a dawg and get with all them chicken-heads who be comin’
at me all the time. But, that’s not my style, y’all. My mama
raised me better than that, y’know – do unto others and all
o’ that and my Dad taught me to straight-up respect females.
So, I keep my nose clean, man – one girlfriend at a time,
that’s how I roll. Ryan Reece don’t play that player’s game.
Man! But, that girl was gorgeous! Perfect chocolate skin
and pretty dark-brown eyes. And, that shape! Dang! Sexy as
hell…and so ferocious!
Man, I don’t even care that my handle bars got dented
and I don’t even care that my elbow hurts from banging it
on the pavement. Only thing I’m concerned about right now
is how long it’s gonna be before I bless my eyes on all o’ that
Nubian beautiful-ness again.
Mm-mm-mm!

*********

She says…

NOELLE’S REFLECTIONS

My head and my body are telling me that I like this guy. But I don’t want to like this guy. It’s obvious to me that he’s a jerk…although he seems like a lovable jerk. Somebody needs to put his name as the definition for the word “handsome” in the dictionary. Hmm. Seriously. He is perfect; such pretty eyes…green, green…I could just drown in them. He’s so blinking mischievous and annoying though…but I think deep down a part of me likes that anyway. Maybe it’s because I like the attention. I mean, which girl in her right mind wouldn’t enjoy getting attention from a hot-bwoy like him? Lawd Jezas! He is sooo cute! My-my! To think that Danielle thinks me and him would make a great couple. Ummm. I don’t think so. Cute boys like him are always players. And, on top o’ that, is America him come from and dem wild like wha’! So that’s definitely not a road I wish to trod. Once bitten, twice shy. Another thing is that him too full o’ himself. Yeah, I know some people would say he’s just self-confident or self-assured and yada-yada but me call it cocky! Plain and simple. He acts like he’s used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants and I detest people like that. He won’t be getting anywhere with me – not because him look good. But to tell you the truth, mi heart skip about a million beats when he was near me. True-true! This is crazy. I’m usually cool and in control around boys like him but, he…I don’t know…he does something to me…not sure what, but whatever it is has me feeling as helpless as a newborn baby.

And, I definitely hate that.

* * *

THE BOY NEXT DOOR is now available in select Jamaican stores.

BRYANS

KB

bnd @ LMH

Ask for it by name at:

Kingston Bookshops – Pavilion Mall, Springs Plaza and Sovereign Center, Liguanea

Bryan’s Bookstores – Springs Plaza, UTECH, Island Plaza in Ocho Rios & Fairview Mall in Montego Bay

York Pharmacy – Halfway Tree

The Books & Stationery Place – Portmore Mall

Lee’s Books & Things – Morant Bay & Great George Street in Port Antonio

GO GET YOURS TODAY! !
One love!

HOW TO GET A COPY OF “THE BOY NEXT DOOR: A JAMAICAN TEENAGE LOVE STORY”

cover (1)

The Boy Next Door by Mandisa M. Parnell is the very first authentically Jamaican teen romance novel.


About the Story

Ryan Reece is a babe magnet. This handsome, self-assured 18-year-old American is used to getting what he wants, who he wants, when he wants. Until he moves to Jamaica and crash-lands into the life of a beautiful native girl…Ryan’s heart, mind and body tell him that this dark-skinned hottie is meant to be his forever angel. No way will she be able to resist the infamous Reece charm but…BAM! Noelle Goodison is rejection personified – completely immune to his spell. She treats him like poison and lashes him with a razor-sharp tongue every time they run into each other. The funny thing is that this only makes him want her more…

Noelle Goodison is mad at the world. First, she is dumped by her boyfriend. Second, her lifelong best friend migrates to New York. Then, just as Noelle is starting to feel like things couldn’t possibly get any worse, a demon spawn named Ryan Reece waltzes into her life and becomes a royal pain in her butt. Although she sees him as a nuisance, she cannot help noticing his drop-dead gorgeous face, heart-stopping smile and quick-sand green eyes. He becomes the star of her dreams. But since she is still smarting from heartbreak and too deeply mired in melancholy, her defiant nature surfaces and forces her to play hard-to-get…

It is a tale as old as time – a battle of the sexes: completely smitten boy VS girl who hates his guts! Who will emerge victorious?

Want to find out?

Then, get your copy of THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Mandisa M. Parnell today!

If you are in Jamaica, you may purchase special, signed copies from the author. Just call, text or whatsapp 445-7279.

If you would like to purchase an eBook or if you are overseas, get it here from Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Next-Door-Mandisa-Parnell/dp/1628576928

Check out the website today: http://www.jamaicanboynextdoor.com

ONE LOVE,

Mandisa

Final Episode: “Jaded: Restoration” (for now…)

tears poster

“Why this happen to me, Miri?” Jade moaned, sitting up to look her best friend in the eyes.  “Um…Damian rape mi off! Him buss up mi pum-pum; ah was in pain for days! Him box mi inna mi face so many times; black an blue up mi eye! Swell up mi ears temple! An knock mi out! But, yuh know what was the worst part? Him discharge all over mi body like ah was some kinda slut-dog…like a pros’ on di street…Why, Miriam? Why him hurt mi soh? Ah didn’t do anything to deserve dat.  Ah never ask for this…”

Miriam stood up and walked across the room to stand before the dresser.  She looked at Jade’s reflection behind her.  She knew she was not being true to herself; not facing the facts fully.  Miriam knew she would never heal completely until she did.

“Tell me what happened…how did it start?” she asked cautiously.

“We did the restaurant thing an’ then he told me that he baked a special cake for mi an’ want mi to stay over his house for the night so we could cut it together and start celebrating as midnight strikes.” Jade spoke in an up tempo tone as though the memory made her happy.  “So, we get to his house and I go to the bathroom and change into something more comfortable…”

“Something more comfortable?” Miriam tried hard to keep her tone emotionless.

“Yeah…we went to a fancy restaurant so ah wore the same dress that ah did wear to the Graduation ball…minus the train cause that mek it look too fussy…and dat dress is kinda tight soh when wi reach his house, I changed…”

“What yuh put on?”

“The little blouse dat him did give mi for Valentine’s Day and a skirt…”

“What kinda skirt, Jade?”

“A little P.E.-skirt-looking one.”

“A short skirt?”

Jade lowered her head and looked at her hands but not before Miriam saw her biting her bottom lip.  “It wasn’t extremely short, just a little above ma knees…”

Miriam heard the edge in her voice and decided not to push her any further.  “And, then what happen?”

“Ah sat down on the settee to watch TV and then he sat down beside mi.  We were there watching “McGyver” and then he put his hand on ma leg and start telling mi that mi look sexy…” She trailed off and hung her head again.

“Yes.  And then what happen after dat?”

“He started kissing mi…but he was kissing mi harder than usual…but it was nice…”

She trailed off again and didn’t speak for about two minutes.

“Yuh need to talk about it, Jade,” Miriam coaxed.  “Just take your time.  If you don’t want to talk about anything specific, just leave it out.  Okay?”

Jade nodded and licked her damaged lip before continuing.  “So, we were kissing and then he took my hand…and put it on his lap…”she swallowed hard and coughed before rushing on.  “I felt him for the first time…I felt him growing hard in ma hand and…and…ah panicked!”

Miriam saw the tears brimming in Jade’s eyes and felt the growing lump in her own throat.  She had had the premonition and she would have prevented it if she could. Jade had clearly suffered a traumatic experience but Miriam realized that she was not an altogether innocent victim in the whole sordid affair. Jade needed to acknowledge the role she had played in her own rape in order to get over it.

“Jade,” Miriam turned and went back to sit beside the silently weeping girl.  “You went through a lot.  And, yuh didn’t deserve it.  No woman deserves to be treated like how you tell me he treated yuh.  But, yuh need to try and put yourself in his shoes for a while.”

Jade’s head jerked upright.  “What yuh mean, Miriam? Why I must put myself in his shoes!” Her voice rose threateningly.  “Is him rape me! Is not me rape him! I was the virgin! I am the victim here…not him! That friggin’ bastard beat mi up an ram imself up inna mi like mi is a bitch dawg an’ you want me to put myself into his shoes? The shoes of a friggin’ rapist! Ah shoulda goh to the police an mek dem lock him up an throw weh di key…instead mi deh yah a keep secret fi him while him probably deh one side a laugh after mi! Ah can’t believe you telling mi this, Miriam…yuh suppose to be mi best friend…a same soh yuh did tell mi seh him only a treat mi good fi get what him want from mi…what yuh trying to seh now? Eh? Yuh suppose to deh pon my side!”

Miriam attempted to hug her but Jade flung off her arm and hopped up.

“Calm down, Jade,” she said instead.

“Don’t tell mi to calm down after yuh trying to blame mi for what that monster did to mi!” Jade exploded.  “I blame myself enough already.  I don’t need you doing it, too.  He told me that before him lose control enuh…that ah owe him.  After him spend so much money on mi an gi mi everything, him seh I don’t give him nothing in return and tell mi seh him a teck it now! Yuh tink I don’t tink bout that morning, noon and night? I know I was wrong; I know I played with him; I know I bit off more than I could chew but, Jesus Christ, ah never deserve this…ah never deserve this…”

She stopped in mid-rant and bent over at the knees; even before she heard the blood-curdling scream Miriam knew Jade was about to break.

“Ah never deserve this! Ah never deserve this! Jezas! Jeeezas! Jeeeeeeezas!”

Miriam felt the goose pimples jumping up and down on her skin and felt her own tears sliding down her cheeks.  She rose and went to her friend and grabbed hold of her around the middle.  Jade struggled but Miriam stood strong; she stood firm for her friend as the tremors rocked her body and the tears and snot flowed.

“Forgive mi, Laaawwwd! Forgive mi, Jeeezas! Give mi strength to deal with this, Lord! Ah never wanted this Lord…a baby, Jesus, by the Devil, Lord! Help mi, Jesus! Give mi the strength, Lord!”

And, Miriam stood firm as the Rock of Gibraltar with Jade and they prayed like that, huddled together in the middle of the semi-dark room of a Constant Spring Road Apartment.

angel

“Jesus loves you, Jade,” Miriam whispered as she rocked Jade into silence, wiping her tears with the hem of her blouse.  “He forgives you and he’ll never give you more than you can bear.  You just trust in him, girl.  Damian will get what him deserve; you just leave him to God…remember, what goes around comes around!”

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Copyright © 2013 Mandisa M. Parnell