Once Upon A Time In Jamaica

old-wooden-houseTheir daylong trip out of Kingston, Jamaica over the winding, mountain roads led to Treasure Hotel, but the treasure was long gone. Weeds grew thick about the grounds and invaded the quaint, old wood-frame building whose paint peeled and shutters needed fixing, but never would be. The front desk was smashed in, and the lobby reeked of salt. The rooms were ransacked. Outside the sky was low and dark over the troubled sea, its final ripple viciously pounding the darkish shore. The pool was an eerily empty, rectangular, concrete hole. The older man shook his head in disbelief saying to his friend,

“This here was once a fine place, you see, masta.”

“Oh yeah? You used to come here?”

“Yeah mon, a few times well,” he said shaking that gray head, remembering fancy times in times past.

“Well, what happened to the place?”

“Certain people out to tear up this country. That is what,” came the enigmatic answer.

The young man did not press the question. He saw the conversation heading into politics. And so he left him there with his memories in the shambles of the once ornate ballroom, and went wandering off on his own through the enchanted, moody ghost of a building.

On the way out, the old man sailed over the pitted road, through parched fields dotted with black grazing cows. Just before they began to ascend the hills, they passed a house with a crowd of ominously, well-dressed country people spilling out the front, milling about and hardly talking. Others came up the road dressed in dark finery too, shoulders stooped as they headed sadly up the hill.

By the time they reached the long, rolling plain that led to Kingston, epicenter of the island’s violent political struggle, it was the tail end of twilight. The sky was just about wholly consumed with night, but at the horizon, there was still a whisper of blue, albeit dark blue. They passed a sugarcane field afire. The air smelled sweet. Big sparks popped above the heavy, orange tongues of crackling heat. . . (by Arthur Lewin)


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