Decisions – short story.
By Omilla Mungroo. Jason rocked the hammock harder as he thought of the way Amanda quarrelled with him the night before. He could only hear her voice in his head now more than the baby crying in the hammock.
“Shut up, chile!” he shouted, to which the baby cried all the more louder. Anger welled up inside him and for a short fleeting moment he pictured himself sitting in a jail cell, crying. He steupsed as he brushed the thought aside. “Not me and you nah girl!” he spoke into the air but it was a statement he directed at Amanda, the baby’s mother, his live-in girlfriend, without noticing she had walked into the room just in time to hear him.
“Not you and who?” she asked in a stern stiff tone. Jason almost tipped the hammock over as he turned to see her glaring at him, hands on her hips and her brows creased.
“But you coulda make me kill de blasted chile girl!” he went on, “You always doing this stupidness! You couldn’t call?”
“But eh eh! This is my house! I could walk in and out whenever I well please. You have a problem with that?” Amanda hotly protested as she flung her work bag on the table and stood with her hands on her hips.
The baby had stopped crying as Amanda spoke, but as if knowing they were quarrelling now, she started to cry louder than before. Jason got up, mumbled something under his breath and walked out of the room while Amanda picked up the baby from the hammock.
“Hush sweetie, hush. Mommy love you.” She bent over and kissed her daughter. “My pretty pretty Sian. You know Daddy love you too eh. He does just play stupid sometimes.”
Amanda’s anger subsided as she cuddled and spoke to Sian, who seemed relaxed now and stopped crying. It was nearing 7 pm now. She heard the theme music from the television in the next room, signifying that the Beyond The Tape programme was ending. Jason had turned up the volume on the television, waiting for the news to begin.
Amanda carried Sian into their room now, and gently put her on the bed while she undressed to go the bathroom, all the while never taking her eyes away from the baby. It was a long day at work. She was tired. Jason still had not found a job and she felt stressed.
Sian started crying again. She was four months old now, and already weaned off breast milk and Jason was still not working. Baby formula was expensive. Amanda felt like crying. With her bath towel wrapped around her, she picked up Sian and carried her to Jason in the living room. She was angry because she felt Jason could do more.
“Here. I going and bathe. Make some tea and feed her nah.”
Jason looked up from where he sat on the couch. Putting the remote control down, he held out his hands for Sian without saying a word. Amanda walked away to the bathroom without talking too and Jason watched her until she was out of sight. Sian started to cry. He turned up the volume again on the television to hear the news headlines. There was a double murder and suicide in Moruga. He had had enough. He turned the television off and went to the kitchen, while trying to make Sian hush. Thoughts of he and Amanda, before Sian came along, went through his mind.
He could not remember the last time he shaved and suddenly he realised why Amanda was so brutally angry lately. He was scooping milk from the tin into the baby bottle of hot water while holding Sian. Of course, he thought, Amanda had not seen the amount of old newspapers under the couch which he daily perused, looking for a job. “She must think I am lazy,” he thought aloud. Sian sucked on her thumb almost as if she knew he was getting her tea ready.
Jason heard the shower running as Amanda sang aloud. It was a habit she never gave up, no matter the circumstances. She would hum, sing or whistle in the bathroom as she showered. He was amazed that she could easily switch from being so very angry and then sing! What a spirit! He thought.
He was feeding Sian when she came out the shower and headed to the bedroom to change. He could imagine every ritualistic movement. Lately, their quarrels had been a series of verbal attacks. They started out as sarcastic jokes, which Amanda directed to him for not being able to find a job yet. He had retaliated every time. But the last two weeks he began to detest her coming home from work. It played on his mind now. Amanda obviously did not have any faith that he will start working soon. He just could not take a low paying job right now. He felt frustrated every time the thought came yet he hid it from her. No wonder she thinks I am not trying, he thought aloud again.
As he sat to feed Sian the doorbell rang. Amanda shouted from the bedroom, “Who the hell that could be now eh? People now come home from work!” Jason was already getting up to go to the door when he heard an angry voice outside, “Jason! Jason! Is me boy!” Then the person knocked the door loudly and continued, “Open de door quick nah! They come for me boy! They come!”
Amanda appeared at the doorway of the living room halfway pulling over her top, “What happen? Who come for Brian?” Jason shrugged as he opened the door. Amanda gasped as he walked in. Blood oozed from his right shoulder as he clutched it with his left hand leaning slightly to his side. “Is just ah graze doh worry.” He lowered his voice as he saw Amanda, and headed towards the bathroom.
“Boy! You come here with your stupidness again? You can’t see I have a family to see ‘bout now?” Jason followed him shouting, whilst he held Sian. “Look you dripping blood all over mih carpet boy!”
He turned to look outside the door, saw no one, then locked it and strode to the bathroom.
Amanda followed them and spoke, “So what happen this time eh? Who come for you?”
“Them boy and them from up de road. They come looking for me and Anthony sayin is we who cause de police to start patrolling de block every day now. But is them and they blasted turf war!”
He was washing off the blood from his shoulder as he spoke. Amanda replied, “So what happen? They shoot at you alone?” She got antiseptic and bandages but he protested, “Is jus ah graze ah tell yuh.” He paused and then continued, “No, they was shooting at both of us. But Anthony? I doh know nah.”
“How you mean yuh doh know?” Jason cut in, fuming, “So you leave him there and you seeing bout yourself and you ent care if he dead there?” Brian was silent. He asked Amanda if he could take a shower, to which she laughed, “But I never! You bolt in here like if you own de place and asking me to use de shower now?” She took Sian from Jason and walked out of the bathroom to her room, mumbling to herself as she did. “I don’t know why Brian have to come here now at this time.”
Jason was still upset and raising his voice in the bathroom whilst Brian showered. “You lucky you are my little brother eh. When you get your arse in thing you always know where to find me. When I need your help I don’t see you neither Anthony or nobody eh! Look how long I not working!”
“So who fault is that? Mines and Anthony’s? When I ask you to make some runs with us you ‘fraid!” Brian retaliated as he was drying himself now. He pulled the shower curtain and walked past Jason, who continued to argue, “And you never check me once since my daughter born boy! But you show up here on de run! I have a good mind to call de damn police!”
With that Brian grabbed Jason by the throat and almost breathed into his face, “You make that mistake Bro you will regret it the rest of your life.”
Then he relented, “Look Jason man, sorry eh. But who you want me turn to? You know how Ma sick already. I can’t go by her. I not frighten for Anthony neither. He is a fighter. I sure he run over by his girlfriend brother.” He turned to see Amanda standing by the kitchen counter listening, and he asked casually, “Where Sian?”
“She sleeping,” Amanda answered. Then she walked to Brian and helped him adjust the bandage on his shoulder.
Jason felt a pang of jealousy grip him. He thought how different she seemed when Brian came by. Although Brian was younger than him, he was more muscular and fitter, and he always had money. Despite the fact that he called it drugs money, he had given Amanda some financial assistance a year ago, to help pay some bills. And she accepted it, against his wish. She had told him then that she preferred he “work” with his brothers than do nothing at all.
He watched his brother and his live-in girlfriend/common law wife, and still felt a little irritated yet he could say nothing. The thought came back now and he waited for Amanda to leave the room.
“So where you and Anthony drop off de last time? De man pay alyuh?” he asked Brian.
“How you mean? You think I playing or what? Man is work I working! Was in Central we went. Boy them Central people buying coke like first time! If you think the north slack! Central is where de money is! So long I tell you come and link up but nah. You have a nice independent woman and all, and you ent working yet? Like you want to lose that or what?” Brian was looking him straight in the eye as he spoke, and Jason knew he was serious.
He started thinking again as Amanda walked to them and threw Brian a blanket. “Here. You could sleep on the couch with this.” And she went to the one bedroom in the house and turned out the light.
Brian turned to Jason, “You see what I mean? Man, get your act together. Tomorrow we have to go Point Fortin with a little 900. If you go I will give you a cool grand, just for so.”
“A thousand dollars? Just to go with alyuh? And why you want me risk my life? And my daughter is only four months old eh?”
Brian ignored him. He was already trying to make himself comfortable on the couch and was opening the blanket over his half-naked body, the bruise on his shoulder he kept away from touching the couch as he lay on his left side.
Jason got up. He double checked the lock on the front door and turned out the living room light, then casually walked to the bedroom.
“One thousand dollars just for a run down Point.” He whispered aloud, thought of Sian and gazed at Amanda’s pretty face as she lay sleeping, breathing softly like an angel at his side. He then turned and fixed the sheet over her body, gently resting his right hand across her waist.
Suddenly he felt that everything will be okay. He will go with Brian in the morning to meet Anthony. Then take them to Point Fortin with the old Mazda. He was glad he didn’t sell it yet.
That night he fell asleep early. He could think of nothing else but a happy Amanda and a comfortable Sian.
It was Thursday night then. Friday night he did not return home. That night as Amanda put on the television for the news, as Jason habitually did, the headlines said there was a shoot out at Point Fortin. Three brothers were shot and killed on the spot. They had not yet been identified. Sian was crying in the crib, as Amanda shouted, “Shut up, Chile! I don’t even know where your father gone!”
October 2016 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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