All Hallows Eve – Barbadian Tales of The Unexpected: Jennifer & Leroy

Tonight was the Hellraiser’s Ball at Surfer’s Cafe; Saturday is a Disturbia theme at Xtreme and I think Jumbies has their Pathology as well… Sheraton Centre now has Hallowe’en costumes for adults and children! When I was a kid here in Barbados, if you said “Hallowe’en,” it usually drew blank stares… I would go to places like Rum Runners (I had a ninja costume made that year and had my first slow dance with a witch – ah, 18 ’til I die?), Caribbean Pepperpot or the Ship Inn to ‘celebrate‘ mainly with Canadian or American tourists, who were the main ones here really to know about the season.

I like All Hallows’ Eve, although for the most part I detest horror films – my tastes run along Blade or Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Night Stalker stretched the limits of my childhood but now in my adult years I return there and wonder WTF was I so worked up about? I mean, it’s really nothing compared to the evisceration found in Midnight Meat Train with Vinnie Jones!

On the internet there is webcomicsnation, where you find everything else apart from Kitty Litter, like Cinecomics’ Zero Hunters – set in the future where Seattle is semi-submerged due to global warming and uncovered a whole pile of bloodsuckers!

Another series I was thrilled and reviled with at the same time was “Tales Of The Unexpected” on tv, most of them stories from Roald Dahl –

  • A microphone so sensitive it heard plants scream when chopped or plucked and pruned; an artist who lost one lady by suicide took another and when she was jealous she didn’t realise the painting was Masonite not canvas and did herself in;
  • An accountant married to a real loudmouthed and brawly kind of gal was really a cover to deny himself a company promotion so he could continue to safely embezzle and get away quietly with his wife – who’s actually suave and cool;
  • Then there was a bit of a chiller when a guy on a motorbike gave a girl a ride and it seems she’s been dead for a few years (It’s a repeated theme really, used again years later in Nomads with Pierce Brosnan, which is also the basis for Midnight Meat Train and Harvest Home – a guy follows evil and ends up becoming the prey he sought)!
Obviously he was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, well, let’s see… Last year, for Hallowe’en I let you read one of my stories on a character called the Night Slayer, but this year I will let you read what shocked my entire Lamming Fiction class, a Bajan tale of the Unexpected? We had this assignment, write about Jennifer and Leroy/ Jennifer broke her ankle/ Leroy offered to take notes for her/ Jennifer ate breakfast/ Jennifer had a bad dream, we could link the aspects in any sequence we liked, but had to include these elements.

Alvin Cummins had a surreal approach in his version with a Purple Submarine at a University and by far the most original was Melissa Goddard’s where Leroy is a guitar and Jennifer was a singer, but then there was my approach, which they still avoid referring to even now, do you agree? Here’s the evidence for your verdict –

The lava-tipped fingers and toes of hunger crawled up her esophagus again and Jennifer knew it was time for breakfast, but she did not want to leave the safety of her bed after the dream she just endured?

Always about Leroy, more and more, this time ? she just arrived outside of a blue bungalow with pink trimming, which, for some strange reason, is where he lived in this dream.

Somehow, this time he knew the reason for her breaking up and rather than leaving her alone, he wanted to tell her mother. The very last thing she wanted.

That?s why Jennifer was here at this ugly house. She came to plead, cajole or command him not call her mother. As she arrived, she saw he was already on his mobile. She screamed at him to put it down, he just smiled and mouthed to her if she will finish what she started instead?

Jennifer?s rage sprang out in the dream in the sudden appearance of a large bamboo bow using kite twine as the drawstring and some long sharpened bamboo stems for the arrows. She fired two in quick succession and landed each in both of Leroy?s eyes. Even as she watched the dream, she knew she never went near an archery club, so this display was beyond her.

It was his turn for screaming as he dropped the cellular now, yet his screams changed into her own as she awoke into the pangs of wanting breakfast yet afraid to face the day?

In the aftermath of what she now acknowledged was a nightmare of her most current fears, she eventually pushed herself out of bed. Annoyed at the whole development, annoyed at Leroy, but really annoyed at herself all the while realising it was no one?s fault at all and she must have done the right thing, didn?t she?

Still feeling very bitchy, she perked a whole pot of Maxwell House. She?d really like to support Lavazza, but they?re too damn expensive she mused. Jennifer then put two eggs to boil as she selected her outfit for classes that day.

Class was ironically how she met Leroy; she was a freshman and he a sophomore at the St George?s UWI Campus. As one of only a few Barbadians at the new campus, there she was sitting under a frangipani tree trying to make head and tails of her first Mass Media homework assignment.

It was to either disprove or prove that old TV shows like ?Wild Wild West,? ?Adam-12,? ?Dragnet,? and ?Emergency? were really subliminal tracts to encourage the public to accept the gay community.

Then a loud American voice trying to sound Caribbean blurted, ?Oh lord, that crap again?? It was a statement that jumped her out of her reverie, as she didn?t even know half of these programmes.

Leroy, as his name turned out to be, was a Theatrics Major ? so not only was he a little older, but his specialty was doubly helpful for her assignment.

The problem was he?s tall, ruggedly handsome in a Brad Pitt way, a shock of bronze-red curly hair and freckles. Not the sort of thing you can carry home to a Mother who speaks of Garvey and Malcolm X as if they?re still alive.

But then again, why not, isn?t Jennifer herself the result of mixed heritage? Hell, she has auburn hair ? not that far in texture or look to Leroy?s. It was just that Jennifer?s skin matched the tresses.

They spent much time looking at DVD?s learning the dialogue and Leroy sharing his notes from the same matriculation when he was a freshman. Eventually, they shared more than schoolbooks and ideas, their passion for education became passion for each other.

But the paradise soon fell apart almost as soon as it began; she was late for class one day and was heading across the Ronald Reagan quadrangle when she saw her cousin?

Her cousin she had not seen since childhood, the same one who mentioned in an offhand way that Leroy is Jennifer?s half-brother from her father, a famous American soldier who stayed in Grenada after the Bishop murders in ?83.

Jennifer?s world imploded slowly, like crumpling a large piece of newspaper into a small ball. It could have been spite as she was also intrigued by Leroy, but using the guise of a typical weekend call to her mother back in Barbados and making it part of the chat they always had, her mother confirmed her worst fears.

Her father was a US lieutenant, her mother even said ?lou-tenant? like Americans do, and when she was 23 she was madly in love with him and that?s how Jennifer came about, but his family forced him to return home and marry ?some stinking white bitch? as they had a child from before and she came from a wealthy family.

Her mother said that was why she reverted to Black Nationalism all up to now, but why is her Jenny asking such odd questions? Jennifer passed it off as wondering about her family history and brushed it aside?

Nevertheless, her mother added that even though the American got married, he still wrote to her privately until his death. Jennifer?s mother was not sure but swore his family found out and had him sent to Iraq in 1991, which was as good as murdering him. Like what David did with Uriah, when he lusted for Bathsheba.

After some other digging about, Jennifer learned from a teacher at the campus that Leroy came to Grenada as his father said that was where he was happiest. Now, Leroy won?t leave her alone and she is too embarrassed to say why she broke up.

He even offered to keep it platonic, Leroy told her he?s willing to do more research for her course just to continue being friends. In walking fast from him she tripped and when she tried to get up and move on, it was then she discovered she had snapped her ankle.

Ever the hero, Leroy lifted her into a jeep to ferry her over to St George?s University Hospital. As much as she knew of their true relationship, it still gave her an erotic thrill to be hefted in his powerful arms, but this was a feeling she knew she had to firmly crush like a used cigarette.

While staying at the hospital, she had to find out how she could quietly get a pregnancy test? Then make the next important decision?

Those weeks and days at St George?s almost took a toll on her, but were an enlightenment in and of themselves, she was a student, after all and did research. This led to some unusual decisions.

It was the consequence of that choice before the cast came off that led her this morning to be so irritable. Her conclusion was that even though siblings sleeping together is legally and morally incorrect that she is still in love with Leroy? Leroy himself is unaware of what happened, so far?

Neither does this child know that, Jennifer thought, and that?s why she is willing to take a chance to see if the baby will be born healthy since in her mind the child has as much right to life as anyone else. Did not the Egyptians do this? People take cattle and dogs to improve the stock and put them through similar strains, even cats do it.

Hell, if she can talk herself out of the shock of the baby growing in her, then she might change her mind and may even go with Leroy somewhere, somewhere where no one should know them? Love this good should never be destroyed.

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