Chapters:

Chapter 1

Vincent Island

The Tracking Board’s 2016 Launch Pad Manuscript Competition

SYNOPSIS

The year is 1845. It’s been just over ten years since the British Empire decreed the

abolishment of slavery within its colonies, including Vincent Island; which is based in the

West Indies.

SAMUEL X, an American runaway slave, washes up on the island with dreams of

blending in amongst the rest of the islands "free blacks". He quickly realises that the island

isn’t that different from his homeland. While some freed-slaves have chosen to relocate to

DEVIL’S TOWN, nicknamed the ’wild west’ due to the drinking, voodoo worship, gambling

and gangs, all controlled by a brutish, black thug named CUTLASS, most freed slaves have

chosen to continue work as indentured servants on one of the two plantations run by the

BALL and ELDER family dynasties.

JACOB ELDER, family patriarch, hasn’t succeeded in quelling the spate of murders

that have been committed on Cutlass’ orders against prominent white families on the island.

Jacob thought appointing his former manservant, ISAIAH GODWYN, as Governor General

would be enough to appease the island’s black community but to no avail. He’s also having to

deal with a bout of shame that has been cast on his family by his youngest daughter, ROSE,

who has just given birth to a baby, fathered by one of his ’indentured servants’. Due to a spate

of small uprisings on the Bell plantation, Jacob organises a deal whereby Isaiah gives up his

Governor General role to GEORGE BELL in exchange for sole ownership of the Bell

plantation. Isaiah Godwyn has now become one of the few black plantation owners.

On the other side of the island, a religious commune has been formed by a man named

PASTOR FREEMAN, alongside his mentally retarded younger sister who he also enjoys

sexual relations with. At the news of hearing that Isaiah has been decreed the Bell plantation,

Pastor Freeman, and most of the islands black majority are ecstatic and sense change will

finally come. Alas, Isaiah proves to be just as ruthless as his former white masters. He’s only

concerned with how he can measure up in the eyes of the white elite and has no use for

sympathising with his fellow black man. Samuel X sensing tension amongst his fellow workers

starts to plant seeds of an uprising.

In an effort to raise money for his religious cause, Pastor Freeman pays Isaiah a visit on

the Bell plantation and offers the services of his men to act as "security" in order to keep

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Isaiah’s workers in line. This causes the tension to be heightened when the workers realise

they’re now being controlled by men of their own skin colour.

The book concludes with a violent uprising on the Elder plantation which spreads

throughout the island. During the commotion Rose takes the opportunity to shoot Jacob in

the head for murdering her newborn. It is spring when the violence has finally been quelled

and Governor Bell has those caught during the uprising hung in public. He also announces a

law that freed blacks each got a parcel of land so they can attempt, at least, to become self-

sufficient.

Though the foundation of the book is based on the aftermath of the slave trade in the

Caribbean, it also touches upon topics such as homosexuality, racism, poverty, loyalty and the

basic human desire to survive.

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Epilogue

DOLLY

LONDON

1905

How the rain does come down in this here place. I’ve never known nothing like it. Its

like God is having a bath but didn’t mind it overflowing onto the rest of us. And why would

he? He’s God after all. I like to sit by the large bay window and look out upon the busy street.

I only do this at night because, you know, the lady of the house isn’t here during the evenings.

So while she’s off playing bridge with her friends I pretend that I’m the lady of the house.

Sometimes a smart gentleman in his smart clothes does pass the window, swinging his walking

stick like so, and he does sometimes tip his hat to me. Maybe it’s the glow of the candle that

makes me look white. Like them.

But I’m not white. Just in case you didn’t know. But in certain shades of the sun my skin

does get lighter than it is. And the way my eyes does brighten up like the dance of a thousand

jewels. My eyes, my jewels, are the most precious thing left on my body. My skin has been

weathered though not as much as the Lady’s. Her years are way less than mine but she looks

like she’s been boiled in hot water. Almost pickled. Sometimes she does say to me, “Dolly, I

wish I had that good Negro skin of yours”. But deep down I know she don’t wish that at all.

For then she’d be in my place and I’d be in hers. If I was lucky. And what person would want

to be me?

The Lady is childless. It’s a damn shame too because this house is so big that the wind

blows through it like it’s chasing the spirits. It would have been nice to have some pickneys

running around. Death seems to follow me everywhere. From my young years to now. When I

arrived to the Lady’s house more than fifty years ago I thought I was free from death and

heartache. But me and the Lady got close because she had no-one else. And it was I who

mopped the sweat from her forehead during her days of chills. And it was I who had to

spread her legs wide open to soak up her blood with cloth because the babies just didn’t want

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to live in this life. And it was I who begged Master not to leave her after the fifth baby was

taken from the world.

The Lady isn’t strong like me. She wouldn’t be out playing cards and drinking whiskey

every night if she had on my skin. Just the thought of the Master leaving her caused her to

drink a bottle of opium that the doctor said was for small emergencies. “If this isn’t an

emergency, then what is?”, she did holler at me whilst placing one hand on her forehead as

she tilted her body backwards the way these good breed women do. I watched her as she

drank that bottle like so. Next thing, there was all kinds of doctors watching over her. Master

realised then that he’d rather not have a death on his conscience. So now they live separate

lives in separate rooms. And so it’s been for the longest time.

You must be wondering what its like to live fifty years with people that aren’t your

family. Well, let me tell you, you born alone, you die alone. That’s what I was taught as a

pickeny. You foolish? I have one mother and one father. So there’s people out there in this

world with the same blood running through their veins as mine. Maybe some done past on to

the other side. Maybe they’re the ones that are joining God in bath at that moment.

Presumptuous. That’s a big word I learned from Lady. She tells Master he’s presumptuous all

the time. Maybe I’m being presumptuous thinking that all my blood relatives are in heaven.

Many of them sure don’t deserve to be.

Before I washed up on this cold and fog ridden island I was walking the soil of an island

that was a warm as the heat from my candle. The leaves on it’s trees didn’t change colours

and fall to the ground. Snow didn’t cause feet and hooves to get stuck. And ice didn’t line the

streets causing even the most refined lady to do a clumsy ballet while her attendant tries to

keep up with her. No. My island was blue skies until they turned dark grey to allow the rain to

briefly cool us down. The trees were forever green and every few months would bless us with

the richest of fruits.

On cold nights like this I squeeze my eyes shut and imagine I’m stood back on that

island. The warm air circling my body. Sometimes I’ve even prayed to feel the beads of sweat

run down my body just once more before my end comes. It’s funny how when things are

taken from you, no matter how much you hated them, you always want them back. But isn’t

that always the way when you’re not given a choice? When things are just forced upon you.

To be where I stand today has been through the choices of other people. Even my birth

wasn’t my mother’s choice. Her encounter with the man who also breathed life into me was

his choice. So here I was born. Into a life of no choices of my own. But don’t believe

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everything I’m telling you. I have fallen in love. And that was my choice. Well, I used to think

it was but can we ever help who we fall in love with? Sometimes I look at the Lady in all her

beauty, shrivelled up as she is now, she once was the most desired woman in London. But here

she decided to go and fall in love with Master. A short, pot-bellied dumpling of a man with

black marbles for eyes and a nose that has its own supply of the air I does breathe. So possibly

even the only time I fell in love wasn’t my choice either.

It was the year 1845 that everything started to change for me. You might think that just

because some nice white people in England decided to get rid of slavery that things magically

turned around. But how could they when the now free-slaves had no money or land of their

own. Would you take a lion from the jungle and place him in the middle of the ocean and

expect him to suddenly grow fins?

That’s what it felt like for most once they were ‘free’. Only the ones that made money

from whores, booze and opium were truly free. The rest of us? Well, we just stayed in the

same place we’ve always been. Only now, they were no longer our ‘massa’ but our ‘employer’

and we were no longer their property but ‘indentured servants’. At least that’s what it said on

paper.

I, at least, didn’t have a care in the world. I had about fifteen years and all I’d ever

known was the plantation I was born into. What else could there be for someone like me?

And I had privileges that most girls my age didn’t have due to me being prettier and my hair

being golden with a nice kink in it. It would make me proud to watch the other children fight

amongst themselves to see who would get to play in my hair.

I spent my days under the watchful eyes of my aunt Cici, a woman so round that

sometimes I imagined rolling her through the sugar cane fields. At night as we lay on our

straw beds I would be scared of her large bosoms suffocating me or the strong wind from her

tunnelled nostrils blowing me away. Cici is the reason, like the Lady, I’m also childless. No

man, slave or massa, could even look at me without Cici quickly whipping up ah obeah spell

on them. She was so known for cursing people that as tar-black as she was she was allowed to

be head cook in the Elder kitchen. Even plantation owner Jacob Elder stayed away from her

as much as he could and forced himself to finish his meals just so he didn’t insult her cooking.

It was my friend Lizzy who informed me of Cici’s feared reputation one day. I enjoyed

Lizzy’s company because it meant I could chat with someone my own age. But because she

was a few shades darker than me she was only allowed in the house to change the bedpans in

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the morning; which didn’t work in her favour because the sun beat down the hottest at 3 ‘o’

clock.

“Yuh hear bout Willie?”, she asked me as she lifted a bedpan full of bright yellow urine.

“No”.

My mind hadn’t crossed on Willie since we had a quick fumble on the hay in the stables.

He had been on me for months before and each time I shoo shooed him away like a fly. Then

one day he just looked different to me. More manly looking. Even the sour odour that seeped

from his pores made him seem more handsome to me. So the next time he whispered to

follow him to the stables I happily followed him. Even all these years later I still remember

that kiss. His nervousness as he leant in towards me. The way his teeth accidentally bit my lips

causing me to jolt back. I thought he needed help so I pulled the string on my top causing it

to loosen and I slid it down.

Willie nearly had a heart attack when he saw my small breasts staring back at him. He

fled out of the stables as if he was one of the horses that lived there. I never saw Willie after

that.

“They found him dead dead in the creek”. Lizzy brought me back to her story.

“Dead how?”

“Drowned”.

“Yuh can’t drown in the creek. It’s shallow shallow”.

“They’re saying it was Cici,’.

I kissed my teeth long and hard.

“Cici don’t pay him no mind,”.

“Cici knew about you and him at the stables”.

“How she knows?”.

“He started to run his mouth. Next ting. Dead”. And with that Lizzy marched out of

the room. The piss swirling around in the pot.

But don’t let me stray from my story. In my age all I can do now is sit and reminisce

about how things used to be and hold on for dear life to the memories I does have.

The Lady won’t be back till the last carriage disappears from these streets so I guess I

can tell you a story.

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CHAPTER ONE

Elder Plantation

1845

The trees talked to each other in whispered tones the way trees do when the wind

rushes between their branches causing their leaves to stir. The sugar cane stalks swayed too

and fro under the moonlit sky as if responding to their taller cousins. The Elder plantation

was most beautiful at night. Its yellow and white coat of paint that adorned the plantation

house exterior seemed even more majestic under the moonlight. As if the million stars in the

sky focused all of their illumination on it. There was always an erie silence except for the

trees, the symphony crickets and the isolated lonely howls of the plantation dogs who would

prefer to roam through the fields than be kept couped up in cages.

Such a difference the blanket of darkness can turn a place into. Almost like a night spell

that causes people, places and things to freeze for a few hours. Just casting an eye over this

plantation at this moment would lead one to believe that it had been abandoned. But one

would have greatly misjudged its appearance. For what is a man who has worked till his back

almost snapped in two under the sweltering sun to do but sleep? It is nightfall on this

plantation when most of the indentured servants can close their eyes and not think about

tomorrow. It is nightfall that allows them to escape this world through the power of their

dreams. So yes, the plantation come sunset always seems like a different place.

Jacob Elder knew that it was nightfall that would protect him from what he was about to

do. Having prayed months earlier, he decided to wait until tonight to go through with his

plan. So there he stood in the doorway of his youngest daughter’s room. His long shadow that

mimicked his tall, slender build, stretched out before him as the moonlight intruded through

the shutters on the windows and landed on the floor in front of him.

He watched his daughter breathe softly under the protection of her mosquito net that

covered her grand four-poster bed. Her legs and arms seemed delicately placed as if posed

like a ballerinas. Jacob touched his silk cravat tenderly. It had been a present from Rose as a

memento upon her return from London. He had missed her dearly then. Of his two

daughters, Rose was the spirited one who didn’t see the world in just black and white. He was

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suddenly overcome with a wave of anger for it was her flawed personality that had put him in

this precarious situation. And for a Christian man like he, it was going to take a lot of praying

to feel good about himself again.

Rose stirred in her bed, her red-hair spread out amongst her pillows. Jacob quietly

stepped back into the darkness of the hallway in preparation for the opening of her eyes. He

watched cautiously as she turned over on her side. She remained peaceful and unaware of his

presence.

A quiet gurgle sounded from the far corner of the room. Jacob looked in its direction

and set his piercing blue eyes on his reason for coming to the room. He locked eyes with Cici,

the plantations head housemaid and current milk nurse to the baby. Being that the room was

dark, Cici almost blended in, save for the white of her eyes. She clutched the baby who had

now started to coo in her arms. Smiling at the bundle in her arms, a tear rolled down her face

as she let it gently suck on her finger.

Jacob slowly walked towards her, floorboards creaking with tiredness, his arms

outstretched. They exchanged no words. Cici didn’t need an explanation for she was too

black and too wise to be ignorant to this situation. The bundle was passed from hand to hand

in an unspoken knowing. It looked at Cici and smiled. Her heart melted. Two weeks old and

that was it’s first smile.

And just as quickly as Jacob Elder appeared in the doorway he disappeared into the

darkness that was beyond the room and beyond the walls. Cici looked out of the window and

started humming to herself.

*************

Jacob walked as briskly as he could without the aid of his walking stick. He thought it

would slow him down but he was starting to realise that it would have been a great help. At

sixty-five years old he was no longer the man he still told himself he was. And the stick would

have been a great help knocking all the sugar cane out of the way. If the bastard negroes

weren’t so inquisitive he would have taken the regular path but that would have taken him

past the slave quarters and he couldn’t risk being seen. Not because he gave a damn about

what the negroes thought, but he couldn’t let his act of mercy get back to his daughter.

Maybe he should let it get back to her. After all he was doing God’s work. No. It would break

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her, he thought to himself. So here he was slithering through the vast sugar cane fields hoping

not to come upon a bed of snakes.

He could feel beads on sweat running down the skin underneath his shirt and waistcoat.

His initial thought was to leave his jacket behind but then what if someone caught him

without it on. Blasted inquisitive negroes. They’ve never seen him underdressed and he’d be

dammed if he started tonight.

You would think that a man such as he, born and raised on this island, would be

climatised by now. But the godforsaken heat still feels brutal to him and every other white

man and woman who live here, as if they just stepped off ships from the continents. The

same goes for his own father. God rest his soul. And his father before him. The Elder men put

blood, sweat and tears into making this plantation one of the most profitable in the Windies.

But it was Jacob’s father, Archibald, that ruled the plantation with such an iron fist, no slave

would dare run away for fear of the consequences if they were caught. Archibald Elder had a

taste for punishing slaves by skinning them alive in front of their peers.

When Archibald passed away, rumoured to be from a severe infection he picked up from

his negro whore, Jacob took the reigns. What Archibald Elder would have thought about the

events of the past five years. Jacob couldn’t imagine. Free negroes! There must have been

negro whores sucking on the powers at be across the seas for them to sign off on legislation

that allowed them to go free. The Elder plantation still hadn’t been properly compensated for

the ones that decided to leave and start news lives elsewhere, both on and off the island.

Luckily, most of them didn’t know any better so they continued to do their jobs and he

continues to be their ‘massa’. He knew that they would all abandon the plantation if they had

the chance. But with no source of income, food and a roof over their heads they would never

survive. They know that and he knows that. That’s the train of thought that keeps them all

glued together. Just how God decreed it should be in the Bible.

Jacob paused momentarily and looked up as two shooting stars crossed the sky. He

glanced down at the bundle and noticed that it was no longer moving. The bundle was

sleeping. It’s slow intake of breath through it’s nostrils reminded Jacob that it was still coming

to terms with being alive. It seems we’re forever learning during our lifetimes, Jacob pondered

and continued on.

Soon the cane stalks came to an abrupt end and Jacob stepped out from between them

into a clearing. The quiet trickle of water was disturbed by a few spontaneous splashes. Jacob

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squinted as he walked closer the creek. He noticed two large black frogs. The field negroes

called them ‘crappos’, getting themselves wet. He proceeded with caution, not wanting to

accidentally step on them for fear that their poisonous milk would squirt up towards his face

and cause him to go blind. He kneeled down by the shallow waters edge and watched it

trickle downstream. It would later probably join a river then meet the sea and will forever be

tainted by the saltwater. Tainted. Like Rose.

Jacob removed the lace cloth from the bundle and it momentarily wiggled in his arms

before settling with its hand over its face. Jacob touched the dark, curly hair on its head. He

hadn’t realised how brown its skin was until now. He couldn’t bear to bring himself to look at

it even when the midwife ran to tell him that Rose might die in childbirth. Even then he

couldn’t face the magnitude of her sin.

And so, as he lay the bundle face down in the stream, he closed his eyes and said a

prayer for its eternal soul. It started to wiggle around under the weight of his hand but at such

a young age it still had no survival skills. A few seconds later all movement stopped. A crappo

splashed by. Jacob opened his eyes and looked down at the limp body. He looked around for

ruffage that could make a cross to place on its grave.

He was a Christian man after all.

VINCENT ISLAND 11

CHAPTER TWO

Port Victoria

The washed-out blue, clipper ship, sails blowing in the wind, made Samuel X look

minuscule in comparison as he stood on the gangway in front of it. His feet firmly placed on

the ground that was still muddy from the morning’s rain. The skies were bright blue now and

the clouds seemed to have disappeared over the tall green mountains that wrapped themselves

around Port Victoria. It was the busiest part of Vincent Island and it needed all the protection

it could get.

As soon as Samuel X stepped confidently onto the port’s crowded jetty he felt a forceful

jolt to his frame that caused him to stumbled to the side, dropping his battered suitcase in the

process. It fell into a puddle of muddy water with a thump. A local cart pusher was struggling

to control his cart that was loaded with expensive looking, colourful suitcases. Samuel

assumed that the owner of those particular bags had no doubt taken residence on the ship’s

upper levels. He and countless others who could barely scrape the money together for their

fare were banished to the lower decks. If he never smelt another man’s piss, shit and bad

breath ever again, it would be too soon.

“Get outta my way Nigger!”. The cart pusher refused to reverse and go around Samuel.

Instead he stood there, his face getting redder and redder, as the sun hit his white skin.

Samuel couldn’t help staring at the cart pusher’s mouth as the words fell out. He looked white

but he sounded like the negroes from the Windies that Samuel had met along his journeys.

“Say that again,” Samuel requested in amazement.

“I look like your puppy show?”, responded the Cart Pusher. He moved his cart forward

again causing Samuel to step back.

“You sound like a negro”. Samuel let out a laugh. The cart pushers face got even redder

almost purple.

“I ain’t no fucking nigger. Yuh hear?”.

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As if from nowhere, a young woman appeared next to the suitcases. She was being

faffed over by her two black attendants. One cautiously held an umbrella over her head while

the other hoisted the many layers of her silk dress in the air so not to get it covered in mud.

“Why aren’t my bags in the carriage yet?”, she demanded as she delicately patted her

face with an embroidered handkerchief. The heat had caused her cheeks to turn a bright

pink. The cart pusher suddenly seemed to wither like a rose without water.

“I was just on my way ma’m”.

“Doesn’t look like it to me”.

The cart pusher shot Samuel an accusing look.

“I was waiting for this nigger to get out of my way, ma’m”.

The lady looked Samuel up and down with suspicion. She stepped back landing on the

feet of one of her attendants who winced in pain.

“Is he trying to rob you?”, she turned back to the cart pusher not wanting to waste her

energy looking at Samuel and his scruffy clothes any longer.

“I’m not sure ma’m”.

Samuel stepped forward and gave the lady a warm gapped tooth smile that presented

the dimples in his cheeks.

“I’m a negro. But I’m no thief ma’m”.

The lady ignored him and quickly spun on her heel as one of her dress attendants tried

to not get tangled up in the swathes of cloth she was in charge of.

Samuel stepped out of the way so the cart pusher could get past him. He watched them

walk towards the end of the pier. He picked up his own suitcase and started to follow them. I

suppose I should be making moves, he told himself.

He hadn’t realised how many holes the soles of his shoes had gotten over these past few

months but coming from the Virginia heatwave where the ground was all dust and gravel that

wasn’t surprising. He walked so proudly, that if it wasn’t for his clothes that looked like they

belonged on a shorter man than he, Samuel could have been mistaken for someone of

importance. His mother had always said to him that it’s not what’s on your body but what’s in

your soul. And he understood that, but he still wanted to have the finest clothes money could

buy. For now he had to make do with keeping his thin moustache trimmed to perfection and

his hair kept low. After all, he didn’t want to be at risk of catching lice.

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As soon as Samuel got to the opening of the jetty it was like the bustle of the island hit

him full force. Carts both being vigorously pulled by horses and people rushed two and fro.

Carriages that shuttled the islands elite around casually trotted by. Samuel caught a glimpse

of the carriage passengers who looked like they were being baked inside by the sweltering

heat. High society women walked past him with permanent looks of frustration on their faces.

Frustrated that their husbands had been sent to work by the British government to this

godforsaken place. Why couldn’t he have been assigned a nice desk job in London? America

even! Their corsets caused their breathing to be laboured but no amount of fanning from

their black helpers could cool them down. The attendants all had permanent looks of worry

on their faces because they couldn’t risk having the wife of their employer die from heatstroke

on their watch.

Port Victoria was a mixture of trade and socialising for both the whites and blacks of

the island. Of course, like everywhere else, the long stretch of buildings that lined the port

were segregated. The centre of the port hosted government house, a grand, three-storey grey

and white building held up by four columns, that housed the Governor General and his

family, the court house, and a small naval barracks. It was surrounded by various European

shops that sold the latest fashions imported from London and Paris. There was also a cluster

of restaurants where residents could select delicacies from continental menus while sipping on

champagne. It was here that the elite white residents would sit in the shade as they waited for

their provisions or family members to depart from the ships.

To the left of government house and leading to the end of the port, were the buildings

that housed the Vincent Free Press newspaper, shipping consignment offices, a pharmacy and

two doctor waiting rooms; which was usually filled with women who were sure they were

going to expire from the heat after a day of shopping.

It’s the buildings that start to lead off from the right of government house that cause

people to be most alarmed. Well, people with a sense of righteousness and morality, that is.

For it is these buildings that lead to an area of the island called Devil’s Town. But before one

reaches Devil’s Town you have to walk past the bars, whorehouses disguised as music rooms

and opium houses disguised as eating halls, where the uncouth man, black and white, mix

without prejudice. It has been said that this side of Port Victoria is like God preparing you

before you enter through the gates of hell into Devil’s Town, situated just over the other side

of the mountain. There is only one road in and it’s been said that not many people come out.

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Samuel X didn’t have to worry about the perils of Devil’s Town just yet. He’d been

drawn to a sudden commotion that was happening on the grand steps that lead up to the

entrance of government house. A group of seven elderly black men were standing in what

was probably their best clothes even though the front of their shoes seemed to have mouths

and the cuff of their pants and white linen shirts were frayed. At least they looked clean,

Samuel noted to himself. Their heads were bowed, hands clasped gently in front of their

chests.

“Give us money. Let us go free. Give us money. We will truly be free," the peaceful

protesters chanted repeatedly.

A crowd of mainly white island residents had started to gather in front of the steps but

they didn’t seem interested in what the protestors had to say and soon their chants were

drowned out by the chatter of the crowd. Their dark-skinned bodies diluted by a sea of white.

Samuel soon lost all sight of them.

Samuel moved closer to the crowd and stood next to two young gentleman that held

leather bound notebooks under their arms. They were the epitome of a British civil servant

sent to manage government affairs in the colonies. One of them removed his spectacles and

gave them a wipe with his handkerchief before placing them back on his face.

“I told Harry this was a bad idea” Spectacles commented.

“That’s progression for you, young chap” his friend replied.

The friend raised a pipe to his mouth and carefully lit its tobacco contents before

inhaling deeply. He blew the smoke in Samuel’s direction as if he was invisible. Samuel

spluttered.

“A nigger for Governor General. Ha! And they wonder why things are falling to shit

now”.

“You can’t abolish slavery and keep things the same Harry”.

“I say we should”.

“We have to look as if we trust the niggers to manage themselves. Even though it’s

understood by all that they can’t”.

Spectacles scratched his head. “I want to know what that dammed Jacob Elder is doing

about this”.

“He only looks out for himself Harry”.

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“And his plantation”.

“Hear, hear!”.

“I heard his daughter gave birth to a nigger”. Spectacles lowered his glasses as he passed

on the gossip to his companion.

His friend took in another long draw from his pipe as he pondered on the news before

blowing the smoke onto Samuel for a second time.

“Did you send a report back to the mainland?”.

“I did. I’m sure the boys in Whitehall are kicking themselves for ever listening to him

now”. Spectacles smirked at the thought of those self-righteous bastards arguing amongst

themselves about how Jacob Elders idea to appoint a negro for Governor General would be

best for all concerned. It’s very easy to rule from across the seas when you don’t have to get

your hands dirty. But every so often decisions will explode like two hundred barrels of

gunpowder.

A hushed silence quickly descended upon the crowd who had now turned their

attention to the doors of government house. That was when Samuel witnessed the man who

had been talked about all the way across the oceans to reach his own ears in Virginia. A man

that he thought was some kind of “passa passa" story told to him by his friend, Geronimo, to

wind him up. It was Geronimo’s story about this man that caused Samuel to pack up his few

belongings and set sail overcoming sickness and the stench of death on an overcrowded ship.

Samuel dropped his suitcase once more and smiled that broad smile of his. There

before him appeared his new ruler. A man whose skin was even darker then his.

VINCENT ISLAND 16

CHAPTER THREE

Port Victoria

Isaiah Godwyn stepped out on the mahogany podium that had been placed at the top

of the government house steps. Behind him stood Jacob Elder, who clutched tightly onto his

marble walking stick, probably in anticipation of waiting to hear Isaiah read aloud the speech

that was written for this day. To Isaiah’s right was his wife Gwendolyn. Isaiah admired her

confidence as she stood dressed in the finest purple and cream dress that had delicate lace

covering her corseted midriff. She’d somehow managed to get her thick afro hair pulled

smoothly up in a bun. He wondered how long it took the maid to get the style so perfect.

Isaiah tugged on his own dark green waistcoat that seemed to suppress his portly belly

and caused him to feel a shortness of breath. Even he, a negro born into this hot climate

wondered how the whites ran around the island dressed in so many layers of clothing. He

couldn’t even recall ever seeing Jacob without his flowing tailcoat. He thought back to his days

as Jacob’s manservant, yet still, he’d never seen the great man underdressed. It was yet

another thing he would have to teach himself in order to survive this new life he’d been

handed. Maybe he should write a handbook for the negro man. How to remain cool in the

white man’s clothes.

Isaiah felt a gentle nudge forward and he looked down at his smiling wife who, with her

large dark brown eyes, coaxed him forward till three quarters of his body was hidden behind

the podium. He carefully placed a single cream piece of paper down before him and squinted

at the large swirling words that had been beautifully inscribed on the page. He noticed that

his name had been scrawled in the way that signatures usually are. Carefree and lazy. Though

these weren’t his lazy swirls as he unfortunately was unable to write his own name. Not for

lack of trying. He’d just never mastered the English language and it seems that he was too late

in his years to start now. So here he stood. About to read from words that weren’t his. Signed

by the hand of a man that wasn’t him.

The Elder Plantation was all Isaiah Wilcox had ever known. Born to a woman

nicknamed ‘stick’ because her build was that of a stick. Isaiah remembered her being all skin

and bone with long, sagging breasts that lay tiredly just above her belly button. By the time

Isaiah came along her breasts were so weary that they refused to produce milk to feed him.

But after feeding fifteen children before him you couldn’t blame them. Because of his lack of

VINCENT ISLAND 17

food Isaiah was a weak and noisy baby. Oh how he would cry! This in turn caused his mother

to hate him because he was a distraction as she carried him on her back as she pulled the

weeds from around the sugar cane.

As soon as he could walk Stick no longer bothered with him. Secretly hoping that he

might stumble in the creek and drown or be bitten by a poisonous snake as he ran through

the cane fields. Well, she had fifteen boys that were all of great stature and who were the pride

and joy of their owner Archibald Elder. Upon each birth of her children Archibald Elder

would come to her hut to inspect his latest addition to his workforce, and Stick would be

rewarded with a basket of food outside of the staple slave diet of provisions, chicken and rice.

After a few of the births she was even given some new linen with which she sewed herself

some loose flowing dresses.

When Archibald set eyes on the meek Isaiah, he promptly turned on his heel and

marched up the path towards the main house with a not a word exchanged with Stick. He

didn’t have to mention his disappointment to her. She instinctively knew that this time around

there would be no basket of food or cloth to make a pretty dress with. She blamed her choice

of man that she lay down with that time around. From the moment he took off his clothes

and she saw his cock, weighed down by his balls, lazily hanging between his legs, she should

have known no good would come of their lovemaking. Stick had had many men in her

lifetime and that didn’t even include the fifteen different men that had fathered each of her

children. She understood that for her to stay in favour with massa Elder she needed to keep

contributing to the Elder plantation workforce.

The disappointing Isaiah spent most of his childhood banished to cleaning out the

stables; which most would consider a good place to be since it was away from the sweltering

sun. But in a time when a slave could be sold from one day to the next it was imperative that

you showed your owner how valuable you were to them so that you could remain with what

little family you may have left. When planation profits started to falter it was the weakest

slaves that would be instantly chained together and taken down to the port for instant sale.

Where one would end up could never be guaranteed. No one would buy a weak or ‘broken’

slave lest it be for the worse jobs. Some were also procured to satisfy the sexual appetite of

white men that didn’t enjoy sleeping with their female counterparts. For a slave, there was

always uses.

VINCENT ISLAND 18

Isaiah however, quite happily mucked out the horses stables. He enjoyed their company

and seemed to thrive of the attention they showed him by rubbing their faces against his. It

was more than he got at home where Stick seemed to always be entertaining a new man in

the bed whilst seven of her children including Isaiah pretended to be sleeping around her.

He had about sixteen years when Archibald Elder showed up at the slave quarters one

night and whispered an order to his mother. The next morning she pushed Isaiah out of the

front door and resentfully informed him that he would be going to live and work in the main

house. His brothers commented on how unfair it was and he would have easily switched

places with them if it meant he could stay with his beloved horses.

“Make sure yuh don’t embarrass me with yuh useless self,” Stick spat at her son. She

could only dream of working in the sprawling yellow mansion but the darkness of her skin

made that impossible. Not that Isaiah was that much lighter than her.

As luck would have it, Jacob Elder, Archibalds only son had returned from his studies in

England. He was an avid horse rider and as much as the heat hindered him he refused to give

up on his passion. In the same way that Isaiah found solace from feeling like the family

outcast, Jacob could escape from his over bearing father who was keen to keep him under his

thumb. Not that the two young men had much to say to each other but there was a sense of

knowing that each had a connection with the animals.

When Archibald suggested that it was time Jacob had a manservant he quickly

requested Isaiah.

“The manure nigger?”, Archibald spluttered in his morning coffee.

“Yes,," Jacob replied matter of factly not looking up from his poached eggs that he

noticed were overcooked inside.

“He’ll be frightful at the job! He hardly speaks. He could be deaf and dumb for all we

know. Even his mother finds him detestful and she bore him!”.

“He can learn”.

“I don’t know if he even has a brain that can take anything in”.

“I’ll train him. Like a horse”.

“A prize stallion he won’t be”. Archibald took a long sip of his coffee and shook his head

in disappointment.

VINCENT ISLAND 19

And so as fate would have it in the life of Isaiah Godwyn, it was Jacob that made all the

decisions that created the great turning points.

For it was Jacob, who stood slightly behind him on the very day that he had to address

this angry crowd, that had placed him in this position of power.

A gust of wind blew past causing the paper to lift up mid-air. Isaiah slammed his hand

down on it causing a loud thumping sound. The crowd went silent and all eyes were on him.

He stretched opened his mouth in a way that actors do when they’ve preparing to warm up

for big speeches. He hoped that this would help the words leave his mouth sounding

somewhat intelligent. He visualised Jacob standing in front of him. His stern face barking

orders at him.

There was a firm tap on the back of his leg. He turned slightly to see Jacob glaring at

him while swinging his stick back and forth.

“What are you waiting for?”, he hissed at him under his breath.

Isaiah cleared his throat and squinted at the first line of words. He couldn’t read them

of course. Jacob informed him that he had to pretend to be reading because people wouldn’t

respect a Governor General who couldn’t read. They’d both spent the last few nights until the

last of the candle wax had burnt, going over the words he was to say by committing them to

memory.

“Good afternoon," he cleared his throat again afraid the words would get stuck.

“Fellow ladies and gentlemen of this great island”.

“Not so great now there’s a nigger in charge!”. A male heckler shouted causing the

crowd laugh.

Isaiah looked to Gwendolyn who nodded her head at him to motion for him to

continue.

“Fellow ladies and gentlemen of this great island," he started again. “I stand before you

as your newly appointed Governor General who will help to steer Vincent Island forward in a

time when all residents are still adjusting to change”.

He closed his eyes briefly as he imagined his rehearsals in Jacob’s grand ballroom

surrounded by the scowling faces of portraits that adorned the walls. He must have repeated

this speech over a hundred times.

VINCENT ISLAND 20

“I know that many of you are concerned for your wellbeing and of that of your family.

But I am here to assure you that in my role as your Governor General I will work tirelessly to

hunt down the perpetrators of the cruel violence bestowed upon your friends and families. I

—”.

Isaiah’s sentence suddenly got cut short due to a commotion that is taking place in the

crowd beneath him. A forceful parting appears causing his audience to split in two much to

their annoyance. And just as Moses miraculously parted the red sea, William Rain had made

his presence known as he come face to face with the Governor General.

******************

William was used to courting unimpressed looks from people due to his messy

appearance. An untucked, and usually, carelessly buttoned shirt peeked from under his

waistcoats that somehow seemed to always attract the ink of his quill. He didn’t see the need

to walk around Vincent Islands’ rugged dirt roads in shoes made from imported Italian

leather, so his feet have had the same scuffed, brown leather shoes home for the past five

years.

It had already been five years since his ship docked in Port Victoria’s harbour and

William had never returned to England once since then. It had been difficult for him to

outrun the scandal he caused amongst London’s elite. Though he seemed to have done a

good job starting a new life in the Windies.

As the only journalist covering the island’s news for the Vincent Free Press he was

usually the only thing that all residents could agree on. His constant investigating and

intruding into peoples lives be it gossip or fact ensured that the majority of Vincent Islands

residents found him to be extremely irritating and tiresome. He didn’t understand why they

detested him so much. He had a weekly paper, six pages long, that he had to fill with words.

And as simple as that may sound, for a singular journalist who is left to his own devices by his

boss, it’s a hell of a task.

Today he was out to capture the first public word’s of the newly appointed Governor

General. Everyone knew he couldn’t read or write but for most it was seeing the novelty of a

negro, dressed in the finest threads, and trying to sound like the white man that drew the

VINCENT ISLAND 21

crowd. They all new that Isaiah was the monkey and Jacob the organ grinder but on an island

with so little to do it was almost like watching a variety show back in London.

William’s wistful brown hair blew into his eyes and he quickly removed it with a quick

sweep of his hand. He waved his left hand that clutched a leather bound notebook with the

initials W.R embossed in gold on each page. A gift from his lover and which never left his side.

He was regretting absent-mindedly leaving his coat at the office because he could feel his

sweat seeping through his shirt under his armpits. As Isaiah glared down at him from the

podium William was sure he could see the large patches too.

“How can we be sure that you’ll protect us, when just two nights ago three children were

hacked to death as they slept? Their parents just down the hallway”. William shouted up at

Isaiah promptly cutting him off.

The crowd murmured in agreement.

Jacob loudly cleared his throat behind Isaiah.

“I...can...a-asure you," Isaiah stuttered. He kissed his teeth in his head. Blasted

newspaper man, he cussed in his head. This wasn’t in the script.

Jacob stepped closer behind him and whispered in his ears.

“I can assure you that the people of this island need not worry about any ongoing

violence. The matter is firmly under control”. Jacob coached Isaiah.

“I..can assure...you...that the persons," he started.

“People," Jacob corrected.

“People. My apologies. People of this island need to not do any other worrying about

any killings”. Isaiah rushed through his sentence.

Jacob angrily prodded him in the back of his leg with his cane. Isaiah knew he had

failed at his task. The sun was at its peak and the heat was causing beads of sweat to roll

down his face. He wanted to tear off his clothes and run down the pier and jump into the

blue sea just like he would do when he was younger. He watched as the small waves softly hit

against the sides of the ships. They seemed so calm today. Not like when the sky is grey and

they rise up because the clouds have covered the warmth of the sun.

“Maybe you’d rather let Mr Jacob Elder speak Governor General?” William shouted up

at him.

“I can talk for myself," Isaiah meekly replied.

VINCENT ISLAND 22

“Is it not true that Mr Elder wrote the speech you are to give today?”, William

countered.

Isaiah drew in a sharp breath. He wondered if the podium was fastened to the floor.

Maybe he could give it a quick knock with his knee and cause it to land on the newspaper

man’s head. Then he’d be dead. And his mouth would no longer move.

He felt a soft squeeze and he looked over to see Gwendolyn steering him away from the

podium. He looked at Jacob, like a dog that pleads with his master not to banish it outside for

not heeding to his calls. Jacob averted his gaze to the crowd and stepped forward to take his

place behind the podium.

“The Governor General has decided to postpone today’s meeting due to the continual

harassment from certain members of this audience," Jacob singled out William with a stern

look. The crowd disappointedly muttered in unison having not received the reassurance they

wanted that would enable them to sleep peacefully in their beds that night.

“Good day”. With that Jacob turned on his heel and marched through the doors where

Isaiah and his wife had disappeared just seconds earlier.

Samuel X stood rooted in his spot feeling confused about what just happened. The way

Geronimo spoke about the Governor General and the man he just witnessed seemed like two

completely different men. He didn’t seem like the man who cut down two hundred white men

to take his place as the island’s leader. He seemed like a meek mouse who’d been given cheese

but was too scared to eat it.

“Well, that’s certainly something to report back to Whitehall," Spectacles chuckled to

his friend as the crowd dispersed around them.

“I could train my dog to read and write better than any nigger," his friend commented.

William Rain proudly sat on the government house steps clutching his beloved

notebook. He had accomplished his mission of increasing his papers word count for the week.

And this story would certainly be worthy of the front page.

VINCENT ISLAND 23

CHAPTER FOUR

Devil’s Town

Devil’s Town is the kind of place that even the Devil himself would turn his back on.

For all the sin and sinner’s that are drawn to it you would assume it would be his kind of

place. But sometimes there can be too much darkness in one place and well, even the Devil

enjoys the sunlight every so often. Here lies a place on one of the sunniest islands in the

Windies. Except, for maybe the odd tropical storm, rain shower and hurricane, it’s skies

remain blue. Everywhere that is except Devil’s Town. It always seems to have a permanent

grey cloud hanging over it as if the rays of the sun would somehow provide hope for it’s

residents. And hope in Devil’s Town is like drinking sea water while your stuck in the middle

of the desert. Sometimes there’s just no point.

Finding your way to Devil’s Town is easy enough. It’s finding your way out that starts to

cause problems. For once you’ve been afflicted with an opium addiction or charmed by the

diseased love of a whore you start to look at your former life differently. A respected

gentleman that ends up there could never really return to his family home as the man he was

before he left. He’s usually too embarrassed to kiss his wife and children with the same lips

that caressed the woman who lured him into a dark room by just exposing her full breasts to

him in the street. How easily he was convinced! And after having his first taste of opium the

love of his family could never be enough. His children’s innocent laughs and his wife’s musical

humming could never replace the floating feeling that he got when he closed his eyes—

surrounded on the floor by others like him.

But how did Devil’s Town come to be you wonder. A place where whites and blacks mix

freely without prejudice because they all understand each other’s flawed characters. A former

man of respectability and sometimes nobility can be found sipping crude rum next to a

former slave. This is the consequence of freedom. For the man of respect has lost his property

and his property has lost his chains. And both men ultimately lost their identity.

The road that leads to Devil’s Town tends to give the travellers of the muddy trail a false

of security. Surrounded by trees overflowing with green leaves, colourful birds that sing

calypso-like tunes whilst dancing from branch to branch you wouldn’t be reprimanded for

thinking that you’ll be coming out the other side to face an oasis of natural beauty. But just as

VINCENT ISLAND 24

soon as you get comfortable in the seat of your carriage your journey seems to take a turn for

the worst. You’ll notice that your horses will get jittery and start to whine to let their rider

know that they want no part in this journey anymore. As you know, animals have a great

sense of danger and the horses are certain of the perils that lay ahead. And just as soon as

you get comfortable during the brief journey through the small rainforest, you are out of it.

Perched on the top of a hill and looking down on a vast sprawl of wooden shacks. Some one-

story high. Some two.

That’s when you’ll realise that an oasis in paradise it’s not. There is a familiar stench of

urine, faeces and pots of food that sit cooking over an open fire. These scents waft through

the dirt streets that become rivers of mud when the rain hits the floor. Mulatto children with

soft curls of golden hair run rampant and barefoot through these streets. Their skin and eye

colour, usually only found on the European or white Americans, tell the true history of Devil’s

Town. The mixing of souls.

It was here that many found solace after the uprooting of their worlds. It began with just

a few freed slaves camped out in pastures with only sticks and worn canvas to shield them

from the blazing sun and the merciless rain. Soon word began to spread, and many freed

slaves started nervously drift down from the plantations and their former owners into a world

that they weren’t accustomed too. Their counterparts that chose to stay behind questioned

the recklessness of their behaviour.

“How yuh gwan eat?”. A question that all current Devil’s Town residents have heard at

one time or another.

And a valid question that was. Even though it usually only was answered with a blank

stare of emptiness. Nearly all of the first residents of Devil’s Town had been born into slavery

and knew nothing apart from doing what they were told. Within the first five years of its

existence numerous bodies of freed slaves lay dead in the dirt roads having died from

starvation or from the simple inability to survive.

You may be thinking that for people to starve on a bountiful island, filled with fruits,

provisions and the reckless wandering chicken, they brought it on themselves. But it’s not just

about the kind of starvation that causes your belly to rumble and groan, twist and turn, as if

worms are playing the Olympics inside it. Sometimes starvation can afflict the mind. And it’s

that hunger of the brain that stops the oxygen flowing. When man can’t do what they’ve been

trained to do. The only thing that’s been their life’s purpose. They get hungry. And soon that

VINCENT ISLAND 25

hunger starts to eat at them. Sure. They’ll try to survive by trying new things. Maybe as a

blacksmith or a ship porter or even a fisherman. But for some that causes too much thinking.

You probably think that slaves started to run through the cane fields singing hallelujah

once they heard they were free. What if I told you that many of the ones that left for Devil’s

Town would give an arm and a leg to return to their massa? Would that cause goosebumps

too rise on your skin? It must not make sense to you that a man who has lived such an

insufferable life would want to return to it. But that was the case with many freed slaves who

decided to dip their toes in other waters.

You had to be born with a natural instinct to survive outside of your chains if you really

wanted to be free. Examples of this would be the same slaves that would repeatedly be

whipped for their defiance over and over while others kept their mouths shut. Their faith so

strong that no whip or dog or cock could ever break them. These are the freed slaves that

turned Devil’s Town from sticks and canvass to a town of wooden shacks and lawlessness.

************

Maxine White stood at the wooden entrance to her establishment. The name written in

a white scrawl above her head as crudely as the patrons that frequented it each day. She took

in her surroundings as she pulled in a deep breath from her tobacco pipe. Her breasts, slightly

exposed by her loosely buttoned shirt that she hastily tucked into her breeches. She blew the

smoke in the direction of the shop opposite her. Pa Colonel’s Store. A building so lopsided that it

seemed to be permanently sleeping. She didn’t know why she found that so humorous

because her own establishment was just the same. Hell. The whole of Devil’s Town seemed to

be leaning one way or another.

An unkempt and drunk white man burst through the swinging doors behind her and

stumbled towards her, his arms reaching out for stability. She stepped out of his way causing

him to fall flat on his face knocking himself unconscious on the floor in front of her. She paid

him no mind due to this being the normal occurrence at her bar. It was when they walked out

sober she started to get worried.

Maxine ran her hands through her curly hair in a half-assed attempt to stop the curls

from landing in front of her almond-shaped green eyes. A male mualtto riding his horse in a

precarious manner, straw hanging from between his teeth, tipped his hat at her in a sign of

VINCENT ISLAND 26

respect. She returned the acknowledgement by forming her pink lips in a perfect pout and

blowing him a kiss. She knew him well enough that he would deserve that at least. He’d been

inside her enough times to know what made her cry with pleasure or pain. Maxine wasn’t like

some whores who took their customers money and forgot about them. No. The reason why

she was able to now be a successful madam was because the men around here trusted her.

Those that had laid with her knew that she had the capability to make them feel like they

were the only ones in her universe. And she groomed her protégées to be the same way.

Maxine blew another cloud of smoke into the humid air and glanced up at the overcast

sky.

“Is like yuh have to escape dis side of the hill to catch sun in yuh face," she muttered to

herself as she turned to walk back into her bar.

The Devil’s Table was the best name that Maxine White could have come up with when

she first set eyes on the place. She imagined it to be the kind of place that the Devil would

walk into and have a drink or two. It’d had previous owners, some that got trapped here and

died and others that sobered up and left. Before Maxine it wasn’t fortunate enough to even

have a name. Maxine liked to think that it was because no one loved the place the way she

did. It was her lover and child all packaged up in the rickety old boards and dilapidated tables

and chairs. It was the previous owner that handed it over to Maxine free of charge. Well, not

so free since she’d spent a lot of time laying on her back for him. But he suddenly found Jesus

Christ and figured that he’d never get to heaven if he continued living in hell. So with a swift

goodbye he left the rotten building and it’s patrons for Maxine to deal with.

She knew how the place ran well enough. She lived upstairs in one of the five bedrooms

that provided any sexual service a man could ever want. Twosomes, threesomes or

moresomes. Anything your heart desired Maxine would arrange and she usually took part in

the misgivings too. As soon as she became The Devil’s Table’s new owner she promptly closed

her legs and set about running the bar and the upstairs whorehouse like a true madam. She

still kept her room upstairs but only because the best rooms to have in Devil’s Town were

those on the second floor. And only the most successful inhabitants of the town had those.

The less fortunate remained on the ground floor and went to sleep praying that the rain

didn’t cause the mud and sewage to seep through their rotten floorboards.

The noise of the bar hit Maxine’s eardrums like a passing freight train as soon as the

doors swung shut behind her. For eleven in the morning the place was overflowing with drunk

VINCENT ISLAND 27

men and the odd woman who just loved the taste of rum. The rum that caused them to act

like whores but come the time when it’s no longer running through their veins all of a sudden

they seem to have a problem with everything but themselves. Maxine always thought they’d

be better off as whores. Then at least they’d be getting paid for having men grope their breast

and sticking their hands up their skirts to squeeze their cunts. Most of the time Maxine had to

kick those particular women out because they made her lose money by showing their wares

for free when she had a stable of girls upstairs.

She looked up and noticed two of her girls, Filly, a buxom redhead and Carrie, an

American blonde girl, skinny by anyones standards, looking down at the crowd. Maxine had

taught them to keep an eye on the men that were the most inebriated.

As soon as you latch eyes on them. Show yuh cunny for di money, she had taught them.

In the corner of the room was a small stage where a three-piece band made up of a

guitar, an african drum and a harmonica was being set-up on the stage. Maxine nodded to its

leader, a lanky negro in charge of the drum, in acknowledgment. His two white band

members were carefully cleaning their respective instruments.

As Maxine wandered between tables to collect empty glasses and top up others with

dark rum, everyone seated was given an eyeful of her curvy figured only accentuated in her

tight breeches. One of her customers gave her a naughty slap on her firm bum which she

laughed off. Just as she was about to make it to the bar she felt herself being pulled

downwards.

The smell of stale rum and rotten fish hit her face as she landed in the lap of one of her

regular patrons who now had her pinned down on his knee, his arms around her waist. She

could feel his cock grow hard underneath her.

“Where you going my golden nigger?”, his large, pointed nose rubbed against her

cheek. Sweat dripped down onto her hand from his long brown hair.

“I look like ah nigger to yuh?”, she responded in an annoyed tone while trying to break

free from his grasp. His arms were wrapped tightly around her.

“Sorry honey. I forgot your mammy had some white cock in her.”

Maxine dug her nails in his arm in an attempt to loosen his grip. He didn’t budge.

VINCENT ISLAND 28

Maxine could feel her blood boil inside her the way it did when she felt like she was

under attack. She doesn’t mind a man being rough. As long as it’s her choice. And he’s

paying.

“ Lemme go!”

“Can I just feel that juicy cunt of yours?”. One hand drifted down to her crotch and she

felt his fingers give her a squeeze. And just like that she picked up a glass from his table, rum

and all, and brought it down hard on his head. His grip on her fell limp and he fell back onto

the floor almost bringing her down with him. People in the bar started whooping and

hollering. Bar fights were what they lived for.

Maxine stood over him and he lay on the floor groaning as he clutched his head. She

brought the square heel of her shoe down hard on his crotch and was rewarded with a

piercing scream from him. She smiled and made her way to the bar and sat down on a stool.

“Yuh causing all types of trouble”. Willie, her elderly barman, was leaning back against

the bar, rag slung over his shoulder.

Maxine slammed an empty glass down in front of her.

“Fill me up”.

Willie obliged. His brown, wrinkled hand shook as he filled her glass up with a light

rum.

“Some people have no damn respect," she complained after downing the glass of rum.

“Yuh think dey should?”

“Should what?”

“Have respect for yuh”.

“Dis place is all mine. Most of dem don’t have a pot to piss in!”.

“Don’t matter. You still ain’t white”.

Maxine shoots Willie a dirty look and slams her glass again. Willie obliges for the second

time.

“Yuh might wanna go easy," he suggested.

“I ask for all dem words to leave yuh mouth," she shot back in an annoyed tone.

“Why people just can’t leave me be?”, she moaned as she looked around her bar. She

noticed her victim dragging his body through the doors and curled her lips up in disgust.

VINCENT ISLAND 29

“Yuh forget the reputation you have round here?”, Willie reminded her. He leaned

down across the counter from her, propping himself up with his arm, that is covered in healed

welts, by placing it under his chin.

“That I’m a decent whore”.

“At least yuh good at something”.

“Yuh think that’s all I’m good for?”.

Willie kisses his teeth loudly. “I know yuh better than that. But remember I known you

since yuh born”. He gives her a reassuring wink.

“Maybe I should just leave”.

“And go where?”.

“Anywhere. I got money. I could get ah ship”.

“And end up in England or Merica’ where you gon’ end up right where you started. You

think they gon’ let you own your own bar there? You probably couldn’t even be a whore”.

“So this is it for me, eh Willie”.

Willie took her hand in his and stared deep into her eyes.

“Look chile, at least yuh know what’s coming round dat corner”.

“Sometimes is best not to know what’s coming for yuh”.

“If yuh don’t ever know then yuh can never prepare”.

Maxine turns her head to the three-piece band who’ve started to warm up their

instruments. She looked upwards and noticed that Filly and Carrie had disappeared behind

their bedroom doors. She hadn’t even noticed them drag their intoxicated clients up the

stairs. They’d probably done their job by now. Most men that drunk ended up singing to Jesus

as soon as they entered whores paradise. Maxine imagined the girls rummaging through the

men’s coat pockets and turning their boots upside down with the hope of finding extra coins.

Just like she’d trained them to do.

**********

Cutlass carefully stirred his pot of souse soup in the manner that one would caress a

woman. He leaned forward and inhaled the delightful smell of the pig’s head that boiled

VINCENT ISLAND 30

away in a salty stew of hot spices. People all over Devil’s Town came to his small souse shop to

eat his delicacy. Some women had even been known to whore themselves out just to get a few

coins to taste the peppery flavours on their tongues.

It was a strange business for Cutlass to be in. Not when you truly knew his character

and other business dealings. But he truly loved cooking. A skill he was taught by his aunt

Grace who used to be the head cook on the Bell plantation. God rest her soul. He found the

method of cooking to be therapeutic in a way that made him forget about the violence that

surrounded him.

People liked to talk about Cutlass in hushed tones and whispers. He’d become a

mythical creature without being a myth because everyone could see, hear, and if they dared to

no longer breath life, touch him. He presided over Devil’s Town like the de facto ruler he’d

come to be by turning it into a sort of organised squalor. He wasn’t the first man to step foot

in the place and call it his home but he was the first to unite the small town. Since he laid

down his rules even the powers that be of Vincent Island started to take notice.

There were swirling rumours of him marching on Port Victoria, backed by a small army

of men with machetes, in order to overthrow everyone in Government House and take his

place behind the large wooden desk with a portrait of the Queen Victoria scowling down at

him. But Cutlass wasn’t a stupid man nor was he naive. He was aware that once the British

and American ships came to the defence of the island’s elite he’d be arrested and hung or if

he was lucky, killed from the explosion of a cannonball. No. He would rather remain king of

the part of the island that no one else wanted anything to do with. This way at least, he was

guaranteed a few more years of living.

It was said that the stench of evil followed Cutlass wherever he went and many of the

obeah men and women of the island had proclaimed to see dark wisps of smoke leaving his

pores. He raised from hell, they theorised. He didn’t look too bright in the face either. A six

inch scar ran parallel across his dark forehead and his right eye seemed to be permanently

resting. But it was his height that promoted the most fear. Standing at six and a half feet tall

with the build of a heavyweight boxer, most people had the good sense to keep out of his way.

He was quick with his hands too. Few men had survived a blow to their head with his

bear knuckles. If you were assigned to be part of his gang that enforced his rules in Devil’s

Town then it’d be best if you learned to duck and dodge.

VINCENT ISLAND 31

Never one to get his hand’s dirty, unless it was food related, Cutlass delegated all Devil’s

Town activities to his tight knit inner circle of five men. Of course, there were many more

ruthless men that lay dormant until he called on their services. But for the day to day running

of his home he relied on his chosen few. Just because the place was a shithole it didn’t mean

the residents got to live here for free. Cutlass saw himself as the landlord and they were his

tenants. He knew that they couldn’t really complain because they had no where else to go.

Since most of them turned their backs on their former masters, even after being begged to

stay, they were too ashamed to turn back up at their former plantations with their tails

between their legs.

By default many of the residents ended up working for Cutlass in exchange for being

allowed to remain. It was they that filled the Sunday slave market in Port Victoria with food

that was sold to freed slaves that remained on the plantations and who had drifted down to

the port after Sunday worship. Treating themselves to souse, plantain and cane juice was their

respite after a week working their fingers to the bone.

Cutlass made a lot of money from essentially following the methods of his former

masters. He knew that he had to make people reliant on him. They had to feel like they

needed him in order to breathe. It was an entrepreneurial spirit that he picked up from his

Aunt — Tantie Grace. He never knew either of his parents and neither did his beloved

Tantie. She took him under her wing and raised him. Partly because she felt sorry for the boy

and partly because she never had children of her own.

Cutlass had heard talk growing up that his Tantie Grace was cursed by an obeah man

which was why she was barren. It was unheard of for a female slave to not bear children.

Unnatural almost. But he never paid that no mind. He was just grateful that she took a liking

to him and saved him from growing up in the world truly alone.

Tantie Grace was a large, robust woman and almost as white as the massa himself. If it

wasn’t for her broad nose that was covered in freckles she may have been able to live that lie.

She was highly favoured by the Bell planation for her cooking and would even be loaned out

to the Bell’s family and friends to cater their dinner parties. It was with her talent in the

kitchen that enabled her to lead a somewhat independent life.

Seeing the great reception that her food garnered she started to make souse to sell to sell

at the slave market. Little by little she saved the earnings she made on the side and before you

could say souse soup she requested to buy the young Cutlass’ freedom. He was only about five

VINCENT ISLAND 32

years old at the time so even though he remained on the planation with Tantie he never truly

suffered the trials and tribulations his fellow man went through.

He was aware that if she were here today, she wouldn’t approve of the path he’d taken

in life. Pimping out whores, pushing opium to the already weak-minded and extorting the

small businesses that made Devil’s Town seem like a town were not activities she would have

thought were in the destiny of her adopted son. She’d made sure that he learnt to read and

partially write in the hopes that he’d someday become a doctor. So that at least, the negroes

could have someone taking care of their health. She was smart enough to know that herbs

plucked from the ground weren’t the only things that could make a negro better. She’d seen

the miraculous recoveries from malaria, dengue fever and chills that most would have died

from if it hadn’t been for those liquids in brown glass bottles that were dispensed by the white

doctors.

Cutlass liked to think he still carried out part of his aunt’s wishes. He was in the business

of making people feel good. Even the white man, and sometimes woman, travelled to Devil’s

Town to lose their souls for a few nights. The euphoria that the opium provided combined

with a whore’s lips wrapped around your cock could surely cure any number of ailments. In

this sense, Cutalass had succeeded in his life. And no one made a better souse soup than he.

All was missing in his life now was the love of a good woman. He didn’t want to leave

this earth without any trace of himself. As if his life meant nothing. He wanted some sons and

maybe a daughter if she was pretty enough, to take the reigns from him. What he’d built in

Devil’s Town only deserved to be passed to another member of his family. He almost had

thirty years and not a seed planted.

He stepped away from his boiling soup and glanced up the road. In the distance he

could see the side profile of the Devil’s Table bar. Cutlass didn’t understand why he wanted

that whoring cunt so badly. Aunt Grace would have never approved of a woman that was a

whore and dressed like a man. But there was something about Maxine that drew Cutlass to

her. Maybe it was her independent spirit that reminded him of his aunt. And her whores

rivalled his own even though she still had to hand him over a percentage of her profits.

At nights, he dreamt about ripping her breeches off and making her stand in front of

him, her bush in his face, whilst he smelt the scent of her cunt. Dreams that would be so

realistic that sometimes he’d be embarrassed to see her the next day. Angry at her for making

VINCENT ISLAND 33

him feel so exposed and vulnerable. He’d contemplated raping her. After all, he was Cutlass

of Devil’s Town. People feared him. She should just roll over and take all of him inside her.

He saw her smoking her pipe behind her bar one evening. There was nothing but lines

of washing blowing in the wind around her. He knew that he could walk top behind her and

cover her screams with his large hands. He wanted to bend her over one of the old tea crates

and force his way into her from behind. He had thought about how loose she’d be once he

was successfully inside. But then he thought about Tantie Grace again. And he disappeared

into the dusk kissing his teeth. It was like Tantie Grace was haunting his thoughts.

The sound of a quiet whistle behind him reeled his presence from his daydream about

Maxine back to reality. He turned around to see Mashfoot, one of his trusted lieutenants,

signalling him from behind the souse shop. West Indians like to offer up nicknames that state

the obvious. So if you’re fat, you’re know as Fatboy. If your foot is deformed in some way

then it’s Mash-Up Foot or simply, Mashfoot.

Mashfoot wasn’t as disabled as he could have been due to a childhood accident that saw

his leg trapped between a fishing boat and the jetty. However, it left his stocky frame with a

limp that made it difficult for him to run, so he was generally assigned the role of Cutlass’

footman. Though, due to his depraved nature he sometimes came in handy for any acts of

punishment that Cutlass needed to be distributed.

“Is what yuh want?”, Cutlass asked him. He quickly walked towards Mashfoot.

Mashfoot responded by tilting his head to the side and motioning to the back of the

shop.

“I look stupidy to yuh?”, Cutlass continued in an annoyed tone.

“That thing yuh wanted. It’s here”.

Mashfoot limped around the corner while Cutlass followed with a confused look on his

face. Cutlass stood behind the shop and looked around with a blank expression on his face.

All that surrounded them was old tea crates and mud. Cutlass instinctively reached for the

large knife that was tucked away in the back of his waistband. He swiftly drew it out towards

Mashfoot in a threatening manner. Mashfoot threw his hands up in surprise.

“Is what yuh doing?”, he hollered at Cutlass.

“Yuh bringing me back here to kill me," Cutlass accused him.

“Like yuh mad? Why the hell would I kill yuh?”.

VINCENT ISLAND 34

“There ain’t nothin’ to see round here. Yuh think yuh gon’ ambush me?”

Mashfoot kicked one of the larger tea crates.

“I wanted to show yuh this”.

Cutlass lowered his knife and eyed the crate suspiciously.

“What’s that?”.

“Open it," Mashfoot suggested.

Cutlass raised his knife again.

“Yuh open it”.

Mashfoot gave in and bent down to lift the lid off the crate. The stench of rotting flesh

hit Cutlass immediately and he covered his nose with a piece of cloth.

“A little something to make you smile," Mashfoot said in a proud tone as he beamed

from ear to ear.

“I look like yuh fucking woman?”, Cutlass shot at him. He leaned forward and came

face to face with what he assumed was the body of a white man. There was so much blood

and bruising on the corpse that he wasn’t really sure. He scanned the crate for a head but

soon realised that this gift from Mashfoot came without one.

“Where him head?”, Cutlass inquired not really wanting an answer.

“I gave it to Queenie. She gon’ make me a nice brew with it. Yuh know how much

powers you can get from a white man body parts?”.

“I told yuh to stop messing with that witch long time”.

“She ain’t troubling no one”.

“She’s troubling spirits that should stay sleeping”.

“Anyways this one won’t be trying to get cunt for free anymore”.

The remembrance about his loss of earnings made Cutlass glad that the headless man

was in the crate. For weeks now, he’d been acquiring the services of Cutlass’ whores and then

refusing to pay. He had remembered mentioning in passing to Mashfoot that the man needed

to be taught a lesson. He also remembered that he forgot to tell Mashfoot not to kill him.

Mashfoot saw the world in black and white. Alive or dead. If you double-crossed him or

Cutlass it was an instant death sentence, unless he was told to do otherwise.

VINCENT ISLAND 35

Cutlass motioned for Mashfoot to put the lid back on the crate and finally moved the

cloth from around his nose and mouth.

“Yuh happy with me?”.

“Yes, Mashfoot. Just don’t bring the dead round here no more. The scent gon’ fuck up

my souse soup”.

VINCENT ISLAND 36

CHAPTER FIVE

Elder Plantation

Rose sat, her body sprawled out, on a flowery, chaise chair in the Elder Plantation’s

drawing room. She loosely gripped a crystal tumbler of whiskey in her hand as she slowly

turned it causing the contents to almost spill over the sides. It was mid-afternoon but here she

lay in her white cotton night dress with her red hair falling around her shoulders. She stared

off into the distance, eyes glazed over by an overconsumption of whiskey, deep in thought.

The glass slipped from her fingers and crashed onto the floor causing the dark liquid to

glide across the shiny, oak floors. Cici, who had been keeping a watchful eye on Rose under

the guise of polishing the silver, dashed over to scoop the glass off the floor. Rose looked down

at the mess she created and feigned exhaustion by placing a slender hand on her forehead.

Cici, on her hands and knees, soaked up the whiskey with a rag while her mistress threw

her head back with her eyes closed.

“Oh Cici. Why is this happening to me? I just feel so...so empty without him”. Tears

started to run down her blush pink cheeks.

“That’s how the spirits work sometimes, Miss Rose. Yuh know that”.

“He was my son," Rose cried.

Cici stood up and brushed off her apron.

“How about we go upstairs and put yuh on a nice dress of yours. Maybe do yuh hair?”.

Rose lazily tugged at a stand of her hair.

“I hate my dresses”.

“Yuh got that nice purple one that came from England the other day”.

“Get me another whiskey Cici”.

Cici hesitated but knew better than to advise that more alcohol probably wasn’t a good

idea. Rose noticed the reluctance in her maid so she waved her along.

“Now Cici”.

VINCENT ISLAND 37

“Yes, Mis Rose”. Cici rushed over the silver drinks caddy, situated in the corner of the

large room, that held numerous crystal decanters of various alcohols. Cici poured a fresh

glass with her back to the rest of the room.

Both of the large oak doors swung open into the room. Rose lifted her head slightly only

to see her elder sister Amelia Elder. Rose rolled her eyes in annoyance. As sisters, they’d never

gotten along due to their personalities being as different as chalk and cheese. Where Rose was

free-spirited, Amelia was cold and rigid. Most of the planation workers had a soft spot for

Rose who showed them warmth and spoke to them in a manner that suggested she had some

form of respect for them. Amelia, on the other hand, was nearly driven to suicide when

slavery ended thinking that the black beasts would surely eat her in the way African cannibals

do.

Most people did whatever they could to stay away from Amelia. Even her father, Jacob

Elder, with all the money in the world, couldn’t persuade a man to be betrothed to her. Now

she was in her late thirties, he’d given up trying and allowed her the space to live in bitterness

on the plantation.

Amelia waltzed into the room, her ostentatious jewellery, glittering in the sunlight that

streamed through the windows. Even her looks were very different to the English rose

qualities of Rose. Amelia looked more like a bird with a pointed nose, pressed lips and dark

eyes that were placed quite close together. Her dark hair was always pinned up in a bun on

her head. Given that she walked around with a permanent smug look on her face, a bird who

just caught the worm, would be a more apt description of her appearance.

“Cici," Amelia trilled. “Don’t you think my dear sister has had enough for one day? The

sun hasn’t even set yet.”

Cici ignored her and walked over, head slightly bowed, to give Rose her drink. She set

about busying herself with the polishing of the silver.

“Go away, Amelia," Rose muttered as she sipped from her glass.

“You look like hell. When was the last time you were drawn a bath?”. Amelia stood over

Rose in an imposing manner.

“I’m in mourning. Can’t you see?”.

Amelia smirked out loud.

VINCENT ISLAND 38

“You’re lucky that we’re not mourning you. Sleeping with niggers," Amelia said to her

sister in a disgusted tone.

Cici briefly paused fervently polishing a silver bowl she held in her hands before

continuing. Rose glanced over at Cici feeling embarrassed on behalf of her sister’s choice of

word.

“Leave me be," Rose hissed at Amelia as she took another gulp of whiskey, the burning

sensation ran down her throat, causing her to screw up her face. Amelia reached down and

snatched the glass from her sister’s hand.

“Don’t!”, Rose shouted and tried to retrieve the glass but in doing so she fell off the

chair and landed hard on the floor.

Amelia looked down at the crumpled heap which was her sister and gave a haughty

laugh. Cici ran over and attempted to scoop Rose off the floor but Rose pushed her away

choosing to lay in a dishevelled heap.

“Don’t touch me!”, Rose shouted at Cici.

“Miss Rose you can’t just stay on the floor so”. Cici tried to coax her mistress into her

arms.

“I said leave me be Cici!”, Rose hollered at her.

“You heard what she said Cici”. Amelia shoved the glass into Cici’s hand. “If she wants

to embarrass herself, let her. She’s used to it after all”.

Rose’s head hung forward into her lap and she started to loudly sob. Her hair covering

the tears that ran down her face and fell into her nightdress.

“If I must suffer through babysitting my sister in her time of need I might as well have a

drink. Make me a gin and tonic, Cici. Strong," she ordered as she perched herself on the edge

of the chaise.

“I don’t need your help Amelia," Rose looked up at her, hair stuck to her wet face.

“Father asked me to check on you and that’s what I’m doing. If it were up to me you’d

be left to your own devices. Hurry with my drink Cici”.

“Yes ma’m”. Cici, her back turned to the Elder sisters, slowly lifted Amelia’s glass to her

mouth and silently spat in it before giving it a quick stir. She walked over to Amelia and

casually handed it to her with a smile on her face.

VINCENT ISLAND 39

“I hope it’s to your liking ma’m”. She waited obediently as Amelia sipped her drink.

“It’s fine. Go back to your polishing now”. Amelia waved her away as she stood up and

walked over to one of the windows and looked out at the immaculate lawn filled with pink

hibiscus flowers.

“You’re a lucky girl Rose. Do you know that?”, she mused.

“Am I?”. Rose dragged herself back onto the chaise. Cici started to walk towards her to

make her more comfortable but Rose motioned at her not too.

“Why father bothers with you I’ll never know. Are you even aware of the

embarrassment you caused this family?”.

“I was in love”.

Amelia turned to stare at her sister incredulously.

“With a nigger?”.

“Negro”.

“And what were you both going to do? To survive?”.

“Is that really your business?”.

“It becomes my business when it affects this family”.

“We didn’t think that far ahead Amelia”.

“Oh but you never do. Your head is always in the clouds. Do you really think that just

because those people have some form of rights now they’re equal to us?”.

“You got what you wanted Amelia. Father got rid of him. I don’t know where he is.

Now can you leave me be?”.

“Father did more than just that for you. He’s redeemed your reputation”.

“What are you talking about?”.

“You’re to be engaged”.

Cici looks up from the silverware, a shocked expression crosses her face.

“What are you talking about?”, Rose rolls her eyes, dismissing her sisters remark.

“To Luke Bell”.

Suddenly, the seriousness of Amelia’s information sinks in and Rose sits up straight in

the chair.

VINCENT ISLAND 40

“You’re lying”.

“It was discussed and formalised last night. Father has had to pay more than he wished

to George Bell. But like I said, you’re very lucky to have a father who cares so much for you”.

Rose stands up in astonishment.

“This can’t be true. Father would never-”.

“Father never thought his daughter would lay with niggers! This is what he’s had to do

to save this family. And it’s what you will do as your formal apology to him," Amelia shouted

at her.

“I won’t. I’ll refuse his hand in marriage”.

“And if you do I will make sure that you’re disinherited and working as a drug-addicted

whore in Devil’s Town before you can even say Rose Elder. We shall see then how much the

Negros love you then without your money or family name”.

“You bitch!”, Rose screamed at her.

“You’ll thank me later dear sister”.

“I will never thank you for this”.

“I must admit I was surprised to learn that Luke would actually marry you after all the

talk that surrounds you. But everyone has their price, I suppose”.

Amelia took a long drink from her glass before stretching her arm outwards towards

Cici.

“Cici, take this away”.

Rose sits back down hard on the chair with a hand resting on her forehead.

Amelia walks over to her and gently pulls the messy hair back from her sisters face.

“Don’t worry darling Rose. We all make foolish mistakes in life. I’ve heard the whispers

about how good the niggers are in bed. You’ve had your experience and now its time to come

back to reality”.

“It wasn’t just about sex”.

“I can’t imagine you to be having intellectual conversations with one of them," Amelia

nods her head in the direction of Cici.

Rose slaps her hand away and stands up to face Amelia.

VINCENT ISLAND 41

“Please leave”.

Amelia breathes out a long sigh and looks at her sister.

“Just as long as you snap out of whatever it is that this is. I need to you look like the

beauty you are, not some destitute washer woman. I hope you hear me Rose”.

Rose turns her back on her sister in a sign of defiance.

Amelia turns on her heel and vanishes through the oak doors.

“Get me another drink Cici”. Rose stares out into the garden.

VINCENT ISLAND 42

CHAPTER SIX

Freetown

They say in life there are no coincidences. Only paths that each person in the world

have chosen to make through their own free will. If that is really the case then Pastor

Freeman had been willingly making calculating decisions that would lead him to his current

place in life. He wouldn’t say his life was full of coincidences either. Everything he’d done was

so that he could be elevated above everyone else. Just like God wanted for him. Since he was a

bare-bottomed child God had been speaking to him through visions. Helping to guide his way

forward.

It was God himself that lead Pastor Freeman to the pentecostal church that was lead by

the English Pastor Michaels. Oh how that man couldn’t bear the heat! He’d be up on the

pulpit in the crumbling church with all kinds of vegetation creeping through the walls,

sweating, his face almost turning purple. He preached about how even though negroes were

now free they should never be disobedient or disrespectful to their employers who had

provided them with food, shelter and work.

Of course, he didn’t preach about the whippings and the rapes and the murders that

had occurred over the last four hundred or so years. Be grateful that ye have come through

the other side alive and well, he would say.

Pastor Freeman knew there was something wrong with what Pastor Michaels had to say

even though his fellow Negros didn’t see it. He knew that were blind and still somewhat afraid

of the white man. Most of them still willingly worked on the island plantations and to have a

white man preach to them was a blessing. Pastor Freeman knew he was special because he’d

never looked up to the white man nor had he really hated him. Indifference was what he felt

towards his former masters. He knew that he had been put on this earth for a higher purpose.

God had given him his mission and it was his righteous duty to follow it.

It was almost three years ago that God told him to rise up and go forth to gather his

flock. He knew it wouldn’t be easy but with God’s blessing and encouragement he would

persevere and succeed at his mission. And that’s how the murder of Pastor Michaels came

about. Not that Pastor Freeman would call it a murder because you can’t sin if its God

himself giving you directions.

VINCENT ISLAND 43

He remembered the day of Pastor Michaels demise clearly. Even now when that day

crosses his mind he gets all sweaty as if the heat has transported through time to warm his

memories. The way his brown clothes stuck to his body made him smile knowing that soon

he’d be wearing a nice suit with a collar.

Lori, his mentally challenged younger sister, had accompanied him on that morning trip

to the church. The sun was just waking up over the horizon with no clouds for friends. This

was a tell-tale sign that the sun would give no respite that day. As the brother and sister duo

pushed the heavy iron door of the church open a chorus of cockerels started to sing their

morning tune.

Once inside, Lori grabbed onto her brother’s skinny arm nervously. Her large brown

eyes darted around the eerily quite holy space. Freeman was her only living guardian and he

was all she’d ever known. She knew that he was special and had been touched by the hand of

God. She’d even bore witness to his many visions that caused him to shout and curse in his

sleep whilst beads of sweat ran down his black skin. She had always agreed with her brother’s

every decision. So there she stood surrounded by silence watching her brother go forth,

quietly surveying the church.

Freeman walked up the two red steps that led up to the small altar. The large cross on

the wall behind it was intertwined with what looked like ivy that had welcomed itself into the

church. He stood behind the pulpit and ran his hands over the large bible that was opened in

front of him. He closed his eyes and breathed in the warm air into his large nostrils. A smile

crossed his face as he imagined himself giving his own sermons here to an adoring

congregation.

“Who are you?”. The voice seemed to echo around the room. Freeman opened his eyes

to see a flustered looking white man dressed in a smart suit and white collar standing below

him next to Lori, who looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

“What are you doing in my church?”, he demanded. Freeman realised that this man

must be the pastor.

“Excuse my rudeness. I was just looking around," Freeman said trying to mimic the

proper english language. He flashed the pastor a broad smile.

Pastor Michael quickly walked up to survey the altar, possibly to check that nothing had

been stolen. Freeman took a few steps back.

“Nothing to see here but a bible and a cross. Come back tomorrow for negro mass”.

VINCENT ISLAND 44

“You from England?”, Freeman asked ignoring Pastor Michaels suggestion.

“Yes”.

“How you finding this heat? Pastor”.

“Well, it’s unbearable like most things in the Windies. But one has to do the Lord’s

work”.

“Is it hard to do? The Lord’s work”.

“Not when you have a calling”. The Pastor smiled smugly at Freeman.

“I think the Lord has been speaking to me”.

“You?”.

“You don’t think so?’.

“I think that the Lord prays for the negro soul but it is the white man that must show

them the way”.

“So a negro can’t lead a negro?”.

“If the Lord wanted it that way I would have been working the plantations instead of

you. Now, I must get on so if you and your—”, Pastor Michael pointed in Lori’s direction.

“My sister,” Freeman acknowledged her proudly. “Beautiful isn’t she?”.

Pastor Michael shot Lori an uninterested look and said nothing. Freeman took a few

steps towards the Pastor.

“You don’t agree?”, he asked the Pastor in a calm tone.

“You forget I’m a man of God," the Pastor responded.

“So you have no feelings inside you?”.

“I’m human after all”.

“You ever want to go back?”.

“Back where?”.

“To your own homeland. Country of your birth”.

“There’s too much work to be done here. Now you really must leave. The church isn’t

open to visitors at the moment”.

“I don’t see myself as a visitor Pastor”. Freeman slowly walked over to the back of the

pulpit and reached for a silver candle holder that was covered in dust on the altar shelf.

VINCENT ISLAND 45

“Put that down!”, the Pastor ordered.

Freeman stepped menacingly towards to him, raised the candle holder in the air and

brought it down hard on the Pastor’s head. Pastor Michael fell to the floor, clutching his head

as he screamed. Lori let out a loud shriek and threw her hands over her mouth to prevent

anymore sounds from escaping. With the Pastor on the floor half-conscious, Freeman

continued to hit him over the head until a wide opening appeared on the pastors head,

exposing the white flesh that gave way to a red river of blood.

“Freeman stop!”, Lori screamed but stayed rooted in her spot overcome by fear.

Freeman breathed heavily and stood up straight as his eyes looked down at the dead

body before him. He wiped the splattered blood from his face with his sleeve.

“I ain’t no visitor no more," he told the corpse.

Freeman watched the blood trickle down the altar steps.

“Come here," he motioned his sister towards him. She shook her head.

“I said come here!”.

“I can’t. He dead Freeman. He dead”.

“It’s part of God’s plan”.

“God don’t like no killing Freeman”.

“He was in my way and God accepted that I needed to get rid of him”.

“Yuh killed a man of God”.

“I’m a man of God, Lori! Yuh hear?”.

Lori started to sob loudly.

“What we gon’ do? They gon’ hang us”.

“Who gonna tell them?”.

“He a white man, Freeman!”.

Freeman noticed the blood starting to run towards Pastor Michaels suit.

“Come help me with this”. Freeman dropped the bloody candle and kneeled down next

to the Pastor. He started to carefully remove the blazer and shirt.

“Yuh deaf or what?”, he shouted at Lori.

“I’m scared”.

VINCENT ISLAND 46

“Take these," he held out the clothes towards Lori. She hesitantly walked forward and

took the items from her brothers hand.

“What if someone comes in?”.

“Pastor said the church is closed today. Go lock the door just in case”.

Lori rushed towards the iron door and closed it shut. She twisted the key in the lock

before walking back to Freeman who had just removed the Pastor’s trousers. He stood up and

shook them out before holding them against his body. They seemed a bit long for him but

they could easily be altered.

Pastor Michaels body lay on the hard ground in just his white undergarments that were

slowly turning red. Freeman thought about taking those too. They looked like they were made

of the finest cotton. The type that keeps a man nice and cool in this heat but he thought

twice. He couldn’t send a man home to God looking indecent. Freeman handed the trousers

to Lori.

“Yuh gonna need to wash them”.

“What we gon’ do with—," Lori meekly pointed to the body.

“We gon’ say a prayer for his soul and send him home”.

Lori broke down crying again. She covered her face with the Pastors’ clothes that smelt

musky from his morning sweat.

“This feels real bad, Freeman. Real bad”.

Freeman walked up to his sister and placed his hands on her shoulders. He gently

removed the clothes from her hands and put them to rest them on a pew. Placing his right

hand under her chin he lifted her face to meet his direct gaze. He stroked away her tears with

his left hand.

“I told yuh I will always take care of yuh. We meant to be here. Yuh think God really

wants a white man preaching to us negros?”.

“It’s always been so Freeman”.

“And why yuh think I’ve been having visions. Yuh think I been lying all this time?”.

Lori shakes her head violently.

“No. No. I know God does speak to you”.

“So believe me when I say this had to happen. Yuh believe in me?”

VINCENT ISLAND 47

“Yes”.

Freeman pulled his sister even closer towards him so that her nipples brushed up against

his chest.

“I told yuh I’m going to give you the world. A world that no white man can come and

take from us. Yuh hear?”.

Lori nodded her head. Freeman slowly pulled her dress below her shoulders causing her

small breasts to be exposed. Her brown nipples stood at attention. Lori looked shyly looks

away and tried to hide her exposed body by crossing her arms over her chest. Freeman’s gaze

continues to penetrate her as he lets her dress to continue its journey down her body. They

both watch it fall to the floor around her ankles. Freeman rested one hand below her navel

gently running his fingers through her bush of hair. Lori flinched.

“Freeman...”.

“We gon’ be together for ever. You’re mine and I’m yours”.

“Yuh my brother”.

“And yuh my sister”.

“God gon punish us”.

“Not if I had a vision about it”.

“Yuh saw us doing...things?”.

Freeman leaned forward and places his lips on Lori’s. He starts to slowly kiss her. Their

tongues intertwine as the hunger inside them quickly grows. Freeman feels his sister’s body

relax in his arms.

He whispers in her ear.

“From now on. Call me Pastor Freeman”.

******************

The day Pastor Freeman announced to his flock of forty men and women that he was

going to set up camp inland, north of Port Victoria, he didn’t expect an unanimous

agreement. But he’d learnt to prepare for the worst so the positive outcome proved to him

that his visions directing him to set up his own commune were correct.

VINCENT ISLAND 48

Having blindly worshipped at his feet for the past four years, his flock lacked the ability

to guide themselves, and so did not think twice about leaving their old lives behind. So eager

were they to surround him on this new adventure that those with children left them behind to

appease his wish of no children allowed. There were many rules that he ordered them to

follow that one could almost hypothesise they were replacing one master with another. At

least on the plantations they were free to love.

Pastor Freeman had suddenly had a vision that excused his followers from being

intimate with one another. You should only have love for him and God, he informed them.

Being with each other would only drain that love from their bodies enabling them to falter in

their devotion. Plus, he went on to say, he couldn’t risk any of the women falling pregnant.

This rule did not however, apply to him, who continued to enjoy an intimate relationship with

his sister.

Other requests made of his devotees were for the men to only wear white pants and

loose fitting white tops made from cotton and the women were to wear loose white dresses

that were unflattering for the shape with white wraps that covered their hair. The women of

the commune sometimes found the white dresses worrisome during their time of the month

when the blood had the tendency to leak through their undergarments. And with no money

to go round there wasn’t an opportunity to replace their stained clothes for new ones. So, in

order to prevent future stains, they resorted to overstuffing their undergarments with enough

cloth that would hopefully soak up the blood, even though it caused them to walk as if they

were about to push a baby out.

Everything in Freetown was under Pastor Freeman’s control. From the building work to

the food they ate. No meat. Only fish. Their days were spent harvesting the land that

surrounded the fifteen huts to provide food for them to eat. They spent any down time either

praying in a group or listening to Pastor Freeman praying or preaching, usually with Lori by

his side like a supportive wife.

Wanting to create his own niche as a pastor he shut down any suggestions of the

recreation of an actual church building. Instead, he requested of his men that all huts be built

in a circle with a large fire pit in the middle. That is where they would cook and pray, he said.

If it rained, they would still remain outside during their sermons because it meant that God

himself was washing them. The heat of the sun had even caused a few of the ex-plantation

workers to collapse but Pastor Freeman wouldn’t allow for them to be picked up and moved

VINCENT ISLAND 49

to the shade. God has put them to sleep so he can send them messages, he revealed to the

standing flock.

He was finally content with his life. Away from the prying eyes of the white man he was

able to bring his own people together to do God’s work. He was destined to build his

Freetown into a Christian town that will welcome all Negros that wish to be saved. Unlike it’s

anti-thesis Devil’s Town, this would be a sacred place, with him as it’s true leader. From here

he could take revenge on whoever he saw fit. Protected by the surrounding hills and forestry,

he was certain that he would be left alone by the white man’s rule of law. They couldn’t care

less about a group of Negros shacking up together in what they thought to be the ‘wilderness’.

They were of the opinion that savages tend to enjoy living in the wild.

It had been a year since Freetown had been established and the money was slowly

running out. They’d travelled here with the wages and savings of his loyal church members

but having spent most of it on building the huts and purchasing some live stock, the coffers

were almost empty.

The women had been selling some of their harvested fruits and vegetables at the

weekend market from time to time, but it took four hours each way by foot to get into Port

Victoria, and Pastor Freeman thought that that was valuable prayer time being wasted. He

needed to find a way to sustain his new kingdom but he hadn’t had a vision in over a week,

and truth be told he almost didn’t know what to do with himself without God’s guidance. He

worried that maybe he’d done something wrong and God had moved onto someone else. But

surely God would have destroyed Freetown because what purpose would it serve?

He needed to recruit more Negros that were willing to put their hard-earned money

into his cause.

Pastor Freeman needed to do something that would make everyone take notice.

VINCENT ISLAND 50