Bronx River Road: 4th segment

INT. FATHER APT – morning

TS

Weeks pass. Dad and Mama Clar work day and night shift sometimes, so I never know when I’m gonna see them. Sometimes when I wake up in the mornings, daddy’s on his way to bed, and other times he’s leaving to pick up Mama Clar from work. One morning when I get up, I see him fumbling with the door. He’s using some tools from his toolbox.

Steve

Morning, dad.

father

Morning. Letter from your mother.

Steve’s father hands him an envelope.

steve

Thanks dad. Hey dad, how can I get in contact with Geneva?

father

What kind of stupid question you asking me? Don’t you know how to contact your mother?

steve

No dad, I mean my sister.

father

Which sister is that?

steve

Your daughter Geneva. Remember last time we were talking? You told me you had a daughter, Geneva. You named her after my mom?

father

I never had any such conversation with you.

STEVE

What are you talking about dad?

FATHER

The only Geneva I know is your mother.
TS

It’s true. Mama Clarissa IS right: my father IS crazy. I mean, one minute he’s laughing and friendly with me, and the next minute it’s like I’m the enemy. I can’t figure this guy out, but I’ll take this over the churchyard any day.

steve

I’m going for my morning walk dad.

TS

Dad opens the door for me.

father

I’ll be here.

ts

I go outside and walk up to White Plains Road. This is getting boring now. When will I start going to school? I open the envelope from my mom.

mom

Dearest son, I hope that when these few lines reach you, they may find you in the best of health. It was a pleasure to receive your letter the other day. The Lord has answered my prayer for journeying mercies. I asked Him to watch over you and cover you in his blood while you were on the plane.

ts

(trails off, scans 4 pages)

Her handwriting is beautiful, but Jesus! This is four double-sided pages! I skip to the end.

MOM

And remember to stay away from drugs, and give your heart to the Lord.

TS

Give my heart to the lord. Yeah, I’ve been hearing that for 15 years now. “Sincerely, Mom.”

(shakes head, beat)

Guess I’ll just head back upstairs and read the encyclopedia some more. I stick my key in the apartment door.

steve

(shakes key)

Dad, dad! Dad it’s me, my key’s not working.

ts

I go back downstairs to check my father’s parking spot. That’s his car heading up the road. Maybe he just went on an errand. It’s freezing out here. I’ll just go back upstairs and wait by the apartment door until he comes back.

Steve lays down and falls asleep. Beat.

CLARISSA

Steve, what yu doin out here sleeping in the hallway?

Steve sits up.

TS

Man, how long was I sleeping?

STEVE

Uh, I couldn’t get in Mama Clar.

CLARISSA

How you mean you couldn’t get in? Did you lock yourself out?

STEVE

I have my key but it’s not working.

clarissa

What you mean your key not working. Junior how come Steve’s key not working?

My father opens the door with his key.

FATHER

Because I changed the locks, that’s why.

CLARISSA

Bancroft Anthony DeCorcia Bryan, why are you doing this to this poor child?

FATHER

Because I don’t want him here. I called the army today for them to take him, but they said he has to be 18. So the only place for him to go is right back to Jamaica.

TS

Jamaica? He wants to send me back? This is crazy. My father and Clarissa walk in. I try to follow, but my dad stops me at the door.

father

Yu tink I’m joking? Is joke yu tink I’m joking? I don’t want you in mi house.

clarissa

Junior, he just got here five weeks ago. After almost ten years to get him here. Are you coocoo in the head? Going back to Jamaica to do what? To sit on his ass and smoke ganja? I got this kid in this country and over my dead body he’s not going back.

(beat)

Steve, never mind you hear sweetheart? Yu father need to get him head checked. Come on inside.

Steve

You don’t trust me, dad? Is that why you changed the locks?

FATHER

This is why I don’t want you here. The trouble with you is you have too much talk.

STEVE

I think the trouble with YOU dad, is you’re an irrational person.

Steve’s father attempts to slap him. Steve blocks the slap.

father

This is my apartment, I pay the rent. I can do whatever I want. I can put a lock on the refrigerator if I want to. You know what Clarissa, this boy definitely has to go. Tomorrow we’re taking him straight to the airport.

ts

My dad hisses his teeth and storms off into his bedroom. He puts a new lock on his bedroom door and then leaves the apartment. He slams the door behind him.

Steve

Mama Clar, why does my dad hate me so much?

clarissa

Steve? Your father is mentally ill.

(beat)

Let me tell you something, he didn’t even want you here in the first place.

Steve

Really?

clarissa

Why do you think it took so long to get you here? Because he kept dragging his feet. I got you here. I figured If I’m going to sponsor my own children, I would not be able to live with myself knowing you’re down in Jamaica suffering and I’m married to your father.

ts

And all this time I thought it was my dad who got me here?

clarissa

Don’t worry mi son, there is nooooooo way in my lifetime you are going back to any Jamaica. Except if you want to go back.

Steve

No way! I’d jump out the window before I go back to my mother and that churchyard.

clarissa

But Steve, I have an idea. I’m going to tell your father to let you go and visit your mother’s family in Colorado before he sends you back. And when you go to Colorado…

(whisper)

…now this is between you and me, when you go to Colorado, don’t come back.

Steve

Are you serious?

clarissa

I’m as serious as diarreah! That man is the devil himself. He doesn’t have a decent bone in him. The things your he has done. Your father took advantage of my daughter when she was only 17 years old. For 2 years, he was having sex with her in this very apartment. I didn’t find out until she was pregnant and had to have an abortion. You have no idea the tyrant that man is. He’s ruined my credit trying to live big with all of these expensive cars and stereo equipment, this fancy lifestyle that he can’t afford. I’ve wasted 13 years of my life with this man.

Steve

Mama Clar, why are you still with him? Why don’t you leave?

clarissa

(reflect)

Au boy, easier said than done. Stevie, you don’t know the half of it, you hear?

(beat)

Believe you me, you’ll be much better off with your mother’s family in Colorado. Get some sleep and be ready to leave here tomorrow.

TS

So much for my fantasies of my dad teaching me how to drive, long trips together. The only long drive I’m having is on a Greyhound bus to Denver. My Aunt Ann, my mom’s sister meets me at the bus station when I get there.

int. aunt ann’s apartment – colorado

TS

I stay with Auntie Ann in Colorado. I start high school and tell everyone to call me Stefhen, not Steve anymore. It’s time to turn a new page. After several weeks, I call my dad to tell him what’s been going on.

Stefhen puts a phone to his ear.

Stefhen

Dad it’s me. I have some good news.

father

Who is this?

Stefhen

It’s me, dad. Guess what, I got a girlfriend. She’s 12 years older than me.

FATHER

How did you get this number?

Stefhen

Mama Clarissa gave it to me. I also dropped out of high school, but I got a really good job at the newspaper paying me 10 bucks an hour plus overtime.

FATHER

Why you calling to tell me this? Don’t call my house again. You will never amount to anything.

Father hangs up the phone. Stefhen does too.

TS

Half of me believes him, that I’ll never amount to anything. But I’ll show him. Fuck him. Over the years, Mama Clar regularly calls with their new numbers. She begs me not to tell him that she gave them to me. I start calling him just to piss him off. I’d hear his voice for a moment when he picks up. But when he finds out it’s me, he hangs up and changes the number immediately.

(beat)

I spend the rest of my teenage years pissed off at my dad. I hate him, but I find myself trying to be like him. At 18, I buy McIntosh stereo components I can’t afford. I wear plaid boxer shorts and white T-shirts around the house. I try smoking so I can smoke Kool brand cigarettes.

(smokes, coughs a fit)

I try drinking, so I can drink Beck’s beer.

(drinks, cringes)

Tastes like piss! When I turn 19, I even buy a Lincoln Town Car, with the diamond in the back and the sunroof top, just like the one dad got after he torched his Mercedes to collect insurance money before I left New York. But mine gets repossessed when I can’t make the payments.

(beat)

Every time I look in the mirror I see my father. I’m disgusted and pleased at the same time. The part of me that hates my dad, makes me want to be better than him. So I do what my dad never did. At 22, I start going to community college and psychotherapy.

int. grandmother’s house – jamaica

TS

When I’m 25, I visit Jamaica during Spring break from school. This is my fourth time back. Every time I go, I revel in my newfound status. Everyone calls me “foreigner” and treats me like I’ve made it. Whenever I go back, I stay with my grandmother. She lives in a nicer neighbourhood. I hate staying in the ghetto with my mom.

grandma

Boy, you look so much like your father. When last you heard from that wretch?

Stefhen

I haven’t talked to him in years, grandma. He keeps changing his number so I can’t get in touch with him. I don’t know what his problem is. I’ve stopped trying.

grandma

Dat no good, good for nothing cruff! I would wring his neck if he was standing in front of me. Dat dirty rapist.

Stefhen

Rapist? Did his wife tell you what he did to her daughter before I lived with them in New York?

GRANDMA

No, what did he do?

Stefhen

I was just wondering because you called him a rapist.

grandma

Bancroft Bryan IS a rapist. If he wasn’t a rapist, you wouldn’t be here. Did he rape Clarissa’s daughter too?

ts

Wait, what? My dad raped my mom? I’m the product of a rape? Man… what a fucking asshole. He raped my mom and then he treats me like shit?

Stefhen

Yeh, he raped Clarissa’s daughter when she was 17. And got her pregnant.

grandma

Lord have mercy! Poor child. What a heartless and worthless scum of a human being your father is. So how old is your brother or sister?

Stefhen

She had an abortion.

grandma

That ole dirty dog! You should know who your father really is. The first time I left Jamaica to do domestic work in Nassau, dat bastard held down your mother. Right after I left, he tore off Gene’s clothes and took advantage of her. That poor girl was never the same after that.

TS

I want to beat the shit out of my dad. I want to introduce the back of his head to the blunt side of a shovel, then finish him off with a pick axe.

grandma

Then then, hear him nuh when I came back from Nassau. Hear him nuh. “Sista D, a did a terrible ‘ting while you were gone. I did a terrible ting.”

ts

Man, I wish I could see this fucker right now. I’d stomp on his head until his brain comes through his ears and nose. If I had known that while I was living with him, I would’ve killed him.

(beat)

I’ve gotta talk to my mom about this.

int. mom’s two room dwelling

TS

I walk in through mom’s tenement yard.

MOM

Is that my foreign son?

TS

That’s what she likes to call me: her foreign son.

stefhen

(smiles)

Yes, in the flesh.

MOM

Thought you’d be on the North Coast like all the other tourists.

TS

I try to hug her and she actually hugs me back. What’s this? She’s actually softening up. We go inside and sit on her trunk bed.

mom

You want some brown stew chicken?

STEFHEN

(laugh)

Nothing’s changed. That’s ok, mom. I just had dinner at grandma’s.

MOM

I know you never liked my cooking.

STeFHEN

Yes, that is true.

STEFHEN

So Mummy, I was talking to grandma just now, and she told me something I had to ask you about. Grandma just told me that… my father… raped you… and that’s how… Is that true, or is grandma just senile?

Silence.

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Bronx River Road (3rd Segment)

int. airport

Steve walks through immigration and sees a big sign.

ts

Wow, welcome to the United States of America. That’s Jimmy Carter on the wall. Why didn’t we step out onto the tarmac? Where are all of the cameras and paparazzi I always fantasized about? I walk out to the greeting area. Is that piece of cardboard with my name on it for me? Is that my dad? I walk toward the man holding the piece of cardboard.

father

Stevie? Is that you?

ts

This is my dad. Mummy was right: he’s tall and skinny like a coconut tree. I haven’t seen him since he bought me my tricycle. He’s much better looking than I remember. Mummy always told me I look like him and everybody always told me I was ugly. So I thought he’d be ugly too. Is that a Rolex on his arm?

dad

This is your stepmother Clarissa.

ts

My stepmother is beau, ti, ful. She’s tall and looks like a model. She’s wearing brown bell bottoms and platform shoes. Nothing like the long ugly church clothes mummy wears. I hate when she shows up at my school.

Steve

Nice to meet you Ms. Clarissa.

clarissa

You don’t have to call me Ms., just Clarissa. You’re not in Jamaica anymore.

ts

Oh no, I can’t do that. I can’t call grown people only by their first names. Are you kidding me? My mom and the church sisters would stretch their arms all the way from Jamaica and slap my teeth down my throat.

Steve

Can I call you Momma Clarissa?

clarissa

Ok then, that’s fine.

father

How was the flight son? Was it fun?

Steve

Yes sir.

father

Yes sir? You’re not going to call me dad?

STEVE

Ok mom..I mean dad.

ext. jfk parking lot – continuous

Steve begins to shiver.

ts

We make our way outside to the car. It is frrrrreeeeezing. There’s snow all over. If I had some red syrup, I could make a big snow cone, just like I used to when I scraped the ice from grandma’s Westinghouse freezer.

clarissa

Junior, give your son your jacket nuh?

father

The car is right over there, he’ll be fine.

clarissa

But he’s not used to this weather, he just got here. Do you want him to get sick?

father

Clarissa, you worry too much about everyting. Why yu cyant just relax? How is he gonna get sick from walking a few feet in the cold?

Ts

My father unlocks his door and all the other locks slowly go up. Wicked. We all get in.

(teeth gnash from the cold)

My frozen butt is in contact with the back seat of my father’s car. My father puts his thumb and middle fingers together to turn the steering wheel. That looks really cool!

Steve

What’s that smell? It’s really nice.

father

That’s the smell of the leather. I just bought this car a few months ago, so the leather still smells new.

Steve

Wow, really?! It’s a Mercedes Benz, right?

father

That’s right. So you know about cars?

Steve

A little. But mummy said you had a Cadillac.

father

Oh no! Done with Cadillac a long time ago. This a Mercedes Benz 450 SEL 6.9.

ts

I’ve seen this car in magazines. This is a $50,000 car. I can’t even imagine $500 US dollars much less 50,000.

father

One of these days, we’ll take it out on the road.

Steve

Really, dad? You mean like a road trip?

father

Oh yes, she loves the road. I’ll teach you how to drive, too. Just you and me, son.

Steve

Yeah? Can’t wait, dad.

ts

We pull into the parking lot to this really tall building. It looks like the building that the Jeffersons on TV live in.

(beat)

We take the elevator to the 8th floor. I remember his address. I’ve known it since I was a little kid. His apartment is 8F.

int. father’s apt – continuous

Steve

You have a McIntosh stereo?

father

Whaaat?! You know about sound systems too?

Steve

I love McIntosh stereos. All the big sound systems in Jamaica used them.

father

You used to go check out sound systems?

steve

Mummy didn’t let me, but sometimes I went. When I grow up I’m going to buy a McIntosh.

father

Alright, the first ting I have to tell you is that, I don’t want you touching this sound system. This costs way too much money for you to be meddling around with. This system is $20,000. And this TV is off limits too. You hear me?

STEVE

Yes, dad.

ts

My father is in America, living in a George Jefferson apartment, with a $20,000 McIntosh stereo system, driving a $50,000 Mercedes Benz, but he’s written to me only four times and sent only $100 in the last 15 years. That’s… six dollars and sixty six cents per year. How could that be?!

Clarissa

This is your room Steve.

FATHER

And the toilet is right next to it. Don’t fall in. Your mother told me what happened to you and the tricycle in the doodu pit.

clarissa

Junior, why do you have to mention that? We’ll see you in the morning, Stevie. Get some sleep. You must be tired.

STEVE

Goodnight Mama Clar. Goodnight dad.

ts

I can’t wait to hang out with dad tomorrow.

int. father apt – day

Steve

Good morning Mama Clarissa. Where is dad?

clarissa

He went to work.

Steve

He went to work? Think we could go for a drive when he comes back?

clarissa

If he’s not too tired. I made you some breakfast. Here is the key and one of your father’s jackets to wear so you can go outside and walk around the neighborhood.

Steve

Thanks Mama Clar.

ts

I eat breakfast and put on my father’s jacket. I can’t believe it, I’m wearing my father’s jacket. It smells like old cigarette smoke and beer. I write my mom a letter.

Steve

Ok Mama Clar, I’m going outside.

CLARISSA

Make sure you button up, your body is not used to this cold.

ext. bronx river road – continuous

TS

I’m standing in the cold, on American soil, my first morning in America. I try to go for a walk around the neighborhood, but it’s too cold. I find a blue box that mama Clar told me about, and drop in the letter to my mom. I head back upstairs and let myself back in the apartment. I do this everyday, but I can’t stay outside for more than five minutes. How do people live in this cold?

(beat)

When Mama Clar and dad go to work, I can’t do anything. Everyday I just sit here and read the dictionary and the encyclopedia. I don’t know what the problem is, but dad won’t let me do anything else. At least we don’t go to church or read the bible. Dad isn’t into any of that religious stuff. So that’s cool. But he barely talks to me. When are we going to hang out?

INT. FATHER APT – evening

TS

A couple of weeks later, Clarissa is cooking dinner when my father walks in. He’s carrying a bunch of plastic bags and a deli sandwich. It’s always a deli sandwich or pizza.

Clarissa cooks dinner.

CLARISSA

Did you bring home enough for all of us?

father

I don’t think you guys like my kind of food.

CLARISSA

I made dinner anyway. Here you go Stevie, have some curry chicken.

Clarissa places a plate on the table in front of Steve.

FATHER

Clarissa, what are you doing? I told you not to feed that boy in this house!

clarissa

Are you out of your dog gone mind? What do you want me to do, cook and let him starve?

father

I’m not arguing with you about this again.

TS

Dad walks out of the kitchen into the living room. This is not quite the father I was expecting. I hear him turn on the TV.

FATHER (o.s.)

That’s not wrestling! How can Hulk Hogan smash a chair over somebody’s back and call that wrestling?

clarissa

What did you do today, Steve?

STEVE

Oh, the usual. Read the encyclopedia and the dictionary.

CLARISSA

We need to get you in school, huh? Did you go for a walk?

STEVE

Yeah… but I can’t stay out long. It’s too cold.

CLARISSA

(hisses teeth, loud)

Junior, when are you going to buy Steve some clothes? He didn’t come here with anything.

FATHER

(shouts)

I got some of my clothes adjusted at the cleaners for him to wear.

TS

Is he serious? My father comes back into the kitchen and hands me 2 plastic bags.

FATHER

Try on these.

ts

I put on a shirt and pants. Oh man! I can’t go out in public in these clothes.

CLARISSA

Junior, what’s the matter with you? Those clothes are too big for him? He looks like Ronald McDonald. I’m taking him shopping tomorrow.

father

Clarissa, a don’t want to spend any money on this boy. These clothes are good enough for him.

clarissa

Junior Bryan, if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that you’ve lost your cotton pickin’ mind.

FATHER

I don’t think you understand. I DON’T think you understand! Bringin that boy here was a big mistake!

steve

Mistake? Being here is the only good thing that’s ever happened to me. What’s he talking about?

TS

Dad storms off into the living room again. I see him light up a Kool brand cigarette and sit in front of his expensive stereo in a T-shirt and plaid boxers. He drinks Becks beer.

Dad turns on the stereo. He broods in silence for a moment before the music comes on. Then he starts to sing with the choru

father

(singing)

Gaaauuud don’ like uuuuglyyy, he’s gonna make you payyyyyy, for what you done to meeee. Yeh yeh yeh.

Steve’s father calms down after a bit.

father

So Stevie, how were you and the girls in Jamaica?

steve

Wh… what do you mean, dad?

father

Did you have a girlfriend in Jamaica?

steve

Yeah, I did.

father

You have to be cyareful, you know? You’re getting to be a big man.

STEVE

Yeah, dad, I know.

father

(smiles)

You see any girl you like here?

steve

Uh, no, I just got here.

father

Don’t worry. You soon find a girl.

steve

Hey dad, when I was at the embassy, they said that I had a half sister. Is that true?

father

Oh yeeeesssss, your sister Geneva. I named her after your mother.

steve

So I really have a sister? How old is she?

Father

Bwaii, that’s a good question. I haven’t seen or heard from her since I left Jamaica. Clarissa how old is that girl?

clarissa

Junior, your daughter was born in August 1969. That makes her 11 years old. It’s a shame how you treat that poor girl.

father

Listen, I have to guh get some sleep.

STEVE

Ok Dad. Nightie night.

TS

He turns off the stereo, goes into his bedroom and closes the door.

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Bronx River Road (The 2nd Segment)

INT. NEW TWO ROOM DWELLING – DAY

TS
I turn 9 years old. My mom treats
it like any other day. But now, the
church sisters think I’m too old to
sleep in the same bed with mom. So
they move us to the church tenement
next door where we get two separate
rooms. I can finally have my own
bed. We’re rich now. We are moving
up. But while we’re moving up, my
uncles and aunts are moving
out….. to America. So we inherit
some of their appliances. Wicked! A
toaster, an electric iron, and even
a stereo with a turntable and radio
built into a briefcase! But we
can’t afford the electricity for
any of them. But we can’t afford
the electricity for any of them
except the stereo. When my mom
isn’t around, I listen to devil
music like Stevie Wonder and
Roberta Flack. I put the toaster
and the electric iron on display on
our dresser. Everyone in the
tenement is impressed. The only
appliance Mom uses is her Singer
sewing machine. It doesn’t need
electricity. It’s powered… by me.

INT. TWO ROOM DWELLING – DAY

Steve pedals the sewing machine. Mom is sewing.

MOM
Is that the fastest as you can
pedal? This school uniform is not
for me y know, it’s for you.

TS
(sighs, exasperated)
This is one pedal I wish my legs
weren’t long enough to reach.

STEVE
Mummy I have to go to the toilette.

MOM
You’re not going anywhere until you
try on these new school clothes
(MORE)

MOM (cont’d)
when I’m done. It’s starting to
rain anyway. Wait until the rain
stops.

TS
(sniffs)
I love the smell of the ground
outside when it rains. It smells so
delicious.

MOM
OK, almost finish. Keep pedaling.

STEVE
Mummy, my leg is tired.

MOM
Well, use your other leg. Pedal
like yu have some life. All that
brown stew chicken I been feeding
you…

Steve sighs and pedals harder. He sniffs and relishes the
air. Beat.

STEVE
Mummy, is daddy rich?

MOM
I don’t know Steve.

STEVE
What kind of work does daddy do?

MOM
Will you stop asking me all these
questions and pedal di machine?

STEVE
I know he’s rich, everybody in
America is rich. Wonder what kind
of car he has?

MOM
Well, I heard he has a Cadillac.

STEVE
Wow! Really? Like the Chinese
shopkeeper down at Windward Road?
Daddy must be rich.

TS
It’d be wicked to go on a drive
with him! Like from here to the
countryside. Or have him pick me up
from school in his Cadillac.

MOM
And we can’t even afford shoes.

STEVE
Mummy can I just go outside and
pee?

MOM
A said to wait.

TS
(smells air again)
It’s driving me crazy, all that
delicious dirt out there waiting
for me and I’m stuck in here
pedaling.

STEVE
(mumbles)
I wish I could live with daddy.

MOM
What you mumbling under your
breath?

STEVE
I want to go live with my daddy in
America.

MOM
You want to gu to your father? Yu
want to go to your father? See how
ungrateful you are. KEEP PEDALING!
I’m here struggling with you day in
day out. Has your father ever sent
you one red cent since he left?

STEVE
No.

MOM
Then how do you know your father
wants you to live with him? Let me
tell you something, riches aren’t
all. It’s easier for a camel to
pass through the eye of a needle
than for a rich man to enter into
(MORE)
MOM (cont’d)
the kingdom of heaven. ’Bout you
want to go live with your stinking
father. Yu look just like him!

Mummy finishes the sewing. She holds up the article of
clothing.

MOM (cont’d)
Here, try on this shirt.

Exhausted, Steve stops pedaling. He tries on the shirt and
hates it.

TS
Khaki shirt and khaki pants. Every
Jamaican schoolboy has to wear this
same stupid uniform from
kindergarten to high school. But
only poor people wear homemade
clothes. I tell everyone at school
that my mother buys my uniform at
some store downtown and they don’t
know the difference.

MOM
(fixing the shirt length)
Perrrrrrfect. I know you’re ashamed
to wear the uniforms that I make
for you, but until you start to
earn your own money, this will have
to do.

STEVE
Why don’t you ask daddy for some
money?

MOM
I’m not asking your father for
anything. Alright, take it off
before you mess it up.

TS
I really just want to go outside in
the dirt. It smells so good.

STEVE
Mummy the rain stopped. Can I go to
the toilette now?

MOM
Jesus saviour pilot me. Put away
the sewing machine first.

STEVE
Mummyyyy.

MOM
Alright, go on.

TS
I dash outside. Mmm, I love the
smell of dirt when it rains. We
don’t have grass, just dirt all
around. So much dirt and so little
time.
(Steve licks his lips)
I stoop down to start my feast. I
scoop up a handful.

Steve puts a handful of dirt in his mouth. A look of disgust
comes across his face. He gags then spits the dirt out.

TS
Eww! It never tastes like it
smells. It’s always terrible. Why
do I keep forgetting that even
though it smells good when it
rains, it still tastes like, dirt?
(beat)

Steve keeps spitting and rubbing his palms together to get
the dirt off. He looks down at his clothes.

TS
Jesus! I got dirt on my new shirt.
What am I going to do, I can’t go
back inside.

Steve starts pacing around the yard.

MOM
Steve, hurry up and come take off
your new clothes before you get
them dirty.

STEVE
Bumbuclaut! I’m dead. She’s going
to kill me.

MOM
Steve! Did you hear me?!

Steve resigns and walks back inside.

MOM (cont’d)
Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Look at the
shirt I just made. How did you get
dirt all over your clothes?

STEVE
I don’t know mummy.

MOM
Were you out there eating dirt
again? Uh?! Answer me!

TS
Mummy reaches for a belt hanging on
the wall.

STEVE
(wide-eyed)
Mummy mummy mummy, I didn’t mean to
dirty up my clothes. It was an
accident. I’m not going to do it
again.

MOM
Take them off and go wash them in
the pan right away before I give
you a beating!

STEVE
But mummy, I want to go on the
school trip with my class today.

MOM
Since when do I allow you to go on
school trips?

STEVE
But mummy, my whole class is going
to see that movie ’Sound of Music!’

MOM
Yu not going anywhere. Didn’t I
tell you, the movie theater is the
house of the devil.

TS
She never lets me do anything!

Steve stares at the ground. His breathing becomes heavy.

TS
I grab her scissors from the sewing
machine.

STEVE
When I turn 13, I’m gonna be a
giant, and I’m going to kill you!

Steve stares at his mother. There is a long silence.

MOM
Steve, if I wasn’t so tired.

Steve’s mother gets up.

TS
My mom leaves. After a second, I
see her in the churchyard through
the window. I storm back to my room
for my skateboard.

STEVE
What is this cat doing in my bed?
Come here, you little bloodclaut!

TS
I grab him by his neck.

STEVE
OOOOOW! He scratched me.

TS
I grab my skateboard and start
beating him with it. I smash him
against the door and start pounding
his head.

Steve beats the cat with his skateboard.

STEVE
Why don’t you let me do things
other kids do? I can’t listen to
regular music, you burned my
science book. I can’t go to
parties. Everything is god this or
god that. I’m tired of going to
these dead church sisters’
funerals. I hate you, I hate going
to church 7 days a week and 3 times
a day on Sundays. I wish you
weren’t my mom. I wish I lived with
dad instead.

Steve stops beating the cat with his skateboard. He stares
at the cat in silence. It feels good. Steve smiles.

TS
I wrap his body in newspaper. I
leave and walk down Wild Street to
the cemetery at the corner of
Windward Road. I put the dead cat
in the bushes near a tombstone.

Silence. Steve sits down on the low brick wall next to the
cemetery. The smile fades to melancholy.

TS (cont’d)
I hate this neighborhood. This
ghetto, these broken down shacks,
doodu water in the middle of the
street. I hate this place! It’s
like living in a prison. I bet
daddy lives in a much nicer place.
Why did he leave me in this? I wish
I wasn’t even born.

EXT. WINDWARD ROAD – CONTINUOUS

TS
I look out onto at the four lane
road in front of me, Windward Road.
My back is to the cemetery. I can
barely hear my thoughts above all
the traffic.

Steve contemplates the cat. The release it brought was only
temporary. He’ll have to go right back to his mom now.

TS
Cars, trucks, buses whizz by. That
blue redimix truck. I’ll run in
front of it. I jump off the wall
toward the road. The driver lays on
the horn. It’s deafening. I step
back onto the sidewalk. A city bus
and a yellow cab speed toward me.
In no time before I can get up my
nerves, they swoosh by. The bus
leaves a big breeze behind. That
thing was moving. Ok, the blue pick
up truck. I’m jumping in front of
the blue pick up. My heart starts
racing. I move closer to the edge
of the sidewalk. I’m going to do
this. I’ll show them. Wish I could
see all the church sisters faces at
my funeral. I close my eyes and
dash out into the street. I feel
(MORE)
TS (cont’d)
the hot pavement with every step. I
see the doodu pit, my tricyle
sinking. I hear screeching tires.
Something fast and heavy hits the
back of my hand. It whips me
around. I’m in the air. I see mummy
and I laying in bed together. I try
to hug her. She pushes me away.
Mummy always pushes me away. I hear
metal crumbling, glass shattering.
My mom once told me my dad was tall
and skinny like a coconut tree. My
head smashes onto the hot asphalt.
I see daddy’s smile. The sound of
smashing glass and crunching metal
stops.

INT. TWO ROOM DWELLING

MOM
Is the Mercies of the Lord why you
only got hit by a motorcycle. Don’t
you know you must look before you
cross the street? Yu si how God
keeps protecting you. And you won’t
give your heart to him.
(beat)
You almost didn’t live to see the
letter from your father.

STEVE
You got a letter from my father?

MOM
He wants to know if I’d be Ok to
send you to go live with him.

STEVE
Really?!
(cover up excitement)
Really?

TS
I get to go live with my father!
We’ll go to the park and drive
around in his Cadillac. I’m going
to learn to drive. Wait, she’s not
going to let me go. Never in a
million light years. She’s
definitely not going to send me to
my father.

 

STEVE

Mummy, would you send me to live

with daddy?

MOM
Well, I don’t know about that. You
know, everybody is on drugs in New
York. When the good Lord comes back
for his earth, the first place he’s
going is America and the first
place in America he’s going is New
York.

TS
That’s what I thought. I knew she
wouldn’t let me go.

MOM
You know Steve, when you were born,
I gave you to the Lord. I gave you
to the Lord so you could be a
vessel for him.

TS
Yep, I’m going to have to stay
here, in this shit pit.

MOM
The question is, do YOU want to go
and live with your father?

TS
Of course I want to go live with my
dad. But I don’t want to hurt her
feelings.

STEVE
(pretend)
I don’t want to leave you mummy.
Can you go to America too?

MOM
I have to do god’s work right here.
You can go live with your father.

TS
Did I hear her right? I can’t
believe she’s doing this.

STEVE
You’re really sending me to live
with my father?

MOM
Yes.

STEVE
You are mummy? Why?

MOM
Maybe you can do God’s work in
America. The Lord works in
mysterious ways. Just remember what
I told you about drugs.

STEVE
I won’t forget.

TS
Mummy is really sending me to
America to go live with daddy. This
is it. My life will be perfect. But
it takes forever to get my visa.
They started the paperwork when I
was 12. I’m 15 years old and still
in Jamaica! After 3 rejections by
the American embassy, I finally get
my green card. I find out during
the interview, that I have a
sister. Her name is Geneva, the
same name as my mom. I always
thought I’m an only child. How can
I meet her? Soon after, I get a
plane ticket in the mail from my
dad. I say goodbye to my mom at the
airport. She cries and hugs me. I’m
not really sad, but I feel bad for
leaving her. I tell her I’ll write
as soon as I land.

INT. AIRPLANE

TS
I get on the plane. It’s packed,
it’s like a nice bus with wings. I
can’t believe this is happening.
Finally no more mom, Sister Gene.
The plane starts down the runway.
I’m in the air! Jamaica gets
smaller and smaller. In 3 hours I
will start a new life at 15 years
old with my dad.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

‘Bronx River Road.’ It’s written in screenplay format.

Int. one room dwelling – Jamaica – morning

Steve, a 4-year-old Jamaican boy, sleeps in a small bed with his mom. Something painful pricks him and he wakes up.

THOUGHT STREAM

Oww! I hate this kaya mattress. Why do we have to sleep on a mattress made of coconut husk? It always prickin’ me!

(sees audience, whispers)

Good morning. My name is Steve. I’m 4 years old, and this is my mommy. We live in one small room on top of the church and sleep on a likkle likkle bed against the wall.

Steve looks at his mom in bed, asleep beside him. He hesitates and then puts his arm around her.

MOM

Take yu han’ offa me! Why you always tryin’ to hug me up?

THOUGHT STREAM

I wish mummy would give me a hug sometimes.

A lizard CROAKS. Steve cowers.

Oh, there’s a big brown croaking lizard crawling up the wall! The green ones stay outside, but the brown ones like to be inside. Mummy says they only eat ants, but they’re long and scary.

MOM

(sighs, gets up)

Steve, time to get out of bed.

STEVE

Mummmmy….I want to pee mummy.

MOM

What am I supposed to do about that? Yu want to pee in my mouth? You know where the chamber pot is.

STEVE

Yes mummy.

MOM

Time for prayers.

Steve

Mummy, when daddy coming?

Mom

I don’t know Steve. Kneel down and clasp your hands and close your eyes.

(waits for Steve)

Thank you mighty Jesus for giving us yet another day……

TS

I hate all this praying. I wish daddy would come early to push me on my new tricycle he bought me yesterday. It’s red and white and it has his name on it: “Junior.” He said one day my legs will be long enough for my feet to reach the pedals.

Steve

(opens eyes and looks out the window)

Ouuch!

mom

Close ya eyes.

ts

Mummy’s always pinching me. How she know my eyes are open if her eyes not open?

MOM

……You could’ve taken us in our sleep, but you were merciful instead. We ask you to continue to cover us under your blood, In Jesus name. Amen.

TS

Finally! I rush to the window. Mummy goes downstairs to make breakfast on a wood fire out in the yard.

MOM

Come eat yu breakfast.

Steve

Mummy I want to see when daddy comes through the gate.

mom

Forget about your father, eat your breakfast before it gets cold. I made your favorite, fried plantains.

Steve

Is daddy riding his bicycle mummy?

mom

Steve, listen to me. Junior not coming to see you.

STEVE

Why not mummy?

mom

Yu father went to America.

Steve

America? But America is far. When is he coming back?

mom

I don’t know Steve. To tell you the truth, I don’t even know if he’s coming back.

Steve

But he said he would push me on my tricycle today. Why did he leave?

mom

Will you stop asking me all these questions and hurry up and drink yu chocolate tea? Don’t you know I have to go to work? And I want you to dust the church benches spic and span this morning.

Steve

Yes Mummy.

mom

A don’t want you to leave not even a speck of dust on them.

Steve

Yes mummy.

mom

Alright, I’m gone to work. Don’t give any trouble today.

STEVE

Yes mummy.

int. church – continuous

Steve cleans benches in the church.

TS

I hate cleaning these benches. Mummy and the other church sisters are always making me do something for them. They call it chores. I call it child slavery. I wish my dad took me with him to America. I hurry and finish cleaning the benches.

(walks out)

Time to ride my newwwww tricycle.

(smiles)

Junior! Maybe daddy can push me in America one day.

Steve pushes himself on the tricycle while he steers and makes car sounds.

TS

What is that huge piece of tin? I’m going too fast to avoid it.

(turns sharply)

The tricycle flips over and I crash onto the tin. It collapses and I fall into a big, black hole. The tricycle falls in with me. I land, plop in this mooshy greenish brown stuff. I’m up to my knees in it. The tricycle is next to me. I’m sinking in it. Where am I?

(beat)

The wall is moving. No, thousands of drummer cockroaches are moving on the wall. I can hear them crawling over each other.

Steve

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

ts

They all start flying around.

(bat away roaches, sniff)

It’s so stink in here.

(realization)

I’M IN THE DOODU PIT! It’s deep like from here to the ceiling times 2, and wide like from over there to over there, and it’s full of poop! Everybody’s poop from the churchyard. Holy crap!

Steve

Tek mi out. Somebady tek mi out!

Sister Henry

Oh Jesus! Steve drop in the doodu pit.

Steve

Tek mi ooooooouuuuuut! Somebady tek mi out. I’m sinking!!!!

ts

I’m up to my waist in poop. I’m sitting in everybody’s poop. I can see toilette paper mixed with the green/brown poo.

Steve

Tek mi ooooooooooooooooout!

ts

I can see the square hole I fell through. The sky is blue blue blue. I hear a bunch of people running around. Sister Henry is staring down at me.

sister henry

Somebody soon come for you. Call Brother Claire, Steve drop in the doodu pit.

ts

I keep sinking. I’m up to my chest in mooshy, slushy stinky poopoo. I watch my tricycle disappear. My feet couldn’t even touch the pedals and I’m going to drown in poo.

Steve

Somebady tek mi ooooooouuuuut! Tek mi oooooouuuuuut quick!

Brother claire

Alright, stop di cryin! The more you cry, is the more you move. And the more you move, is the more you sink! Hold on to the cloth!

ts

I’m trying to stop crying, but I can’t wipe my eyes or my nose. There is poop all over my hands and arms. I hold on to the cloth and begin to rise. I’m going up out of the pit, with everybody’s poop all over me.

Steve

What about my tricycle?

brother claire

Just hold on tight and forget about that tricycle.

ts

I’m going back through the hole I fell through. I’m back on dry land. All the church sisters are here. I’m not going die.

MOM

Steve!

TS

(turns and see Mom)

Jesus! Mummy is here too, I’m going to die.

mom

Why you always give so much trouble?

ts

Mummy grabs me by the ear.

Steve

Ooooooooou!

MOM

Thank you Brother Claire, thank you so much. This troublesome little boy owes his whole life to you.

brother claire

Is not me Sister Gene, is the Lord yu have to thank for that. Believe you me, it could have been much much worse.

mom

Praise the Lord.

ts

Mummy twists my ear and marches me over to the cistern in the yard. She puts a hose on the pipe and starts to spray me down from a distance.

mom

Tek off your clothes.

ts

I do what she says.

(takes off clothes)

She mixes Jays, Dettol, Pine Sol and Lysol in a bucket of water and scrubs me down.

Steve’s mother scrubs him down with a rag.

mom

Didn’t I tell you not to give any trouble today? Go get a switch from the tamarind tree.

steve

But mummy I was just riding the tricycle!

mom

A said to go and find something for me to beat yu wid!

Steve starts to cry as he walks slowly to the tamarind tree.

TS

Why do I always have to go get something for her to beat me with? It doesn’t make any sense!

MOM

Hurry up! Is that how slow you were walking when you drop inna di doodu pit with the tricycle?!

Steve’s mother hisses her teeth.

ts

I stop where I am and she rushes past me. She comes back with some branches from the tamarind tree.

mom

Why, are, you, so, trou, ble, some, Ay? WHY? Yu know yu could, a, dead, in here, today?

STEVE

I wasn’t giving any trouble, mummy. I was…

mom

Look, what, happen, to, di, nice, nice, tri, cy,cle, yu fau, tha, buy, for, you.

Sister henry

Sista Gene, don’t beat him, after what he just went through. Don’t beat him Sista Gene.

mom

Sister Henry, the bible says, spare, not, the, rod, and, spoil, the, child. I’m doing this so he can learn right from wrong. Put down yu hands, Steve! I said put down you hands! You, love to play too much. Do, you know, how, much, you, made, me, worry, about you?

Steve

Woii mummy! Woii mummy! Mi not doing it again. Ay, yes mummy. Mummy, mummy mummy!

mom

Don’t, mummy, me. Stop the screaming! And speak proper English. I’m not going to do it again.

Steve

Woiii mummy! Woiii mummy! mi naw do it again.

Steve cries and then falls silent.

TS

It’s not like I fell in the poop on purpose.

(beat)

Daddy, why did you leave? I almost died today. Can you come and get me so I can live with you? And can you buy me a new tricycle?

(beat)

Over the years, I write to daddy all the time, but he never writes me back.

(beat)

Everyday I hate mummy more and more. Last week she caught me playing with my friend’s wooden dominoes and gave me one of the worst beatings ever. She said I was playing with tools of the devil. After that they prayed for me in church. They pray about everything! One time I couldn’t go poop and they prayed for me.

Bishop Brown shakes as he places his hand on Stefhen’s head.

bishop

Heavenly father, you told us to suffer the children to come onto thee. You see the situation dear Lord, Likkle Stevie cyant go to the toilette. We ask that you bless him with a bowel movement dear Lord, in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

sister henry

Doola Sooola makooola. Salla malla matoola. Answer prayer Lord!

bishop

In the name of the son and of the holy spirit, free the bowels of this innocent child. Free them. Free them! Hallelujah.

TS

When am I going to leave this place? Why me? Why did I have to be born in this?

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Hisashiburi desune. (Long time no see)

After an absence of several months, I’m pleased to inform everyone that I’m almost finished writing the solo performance. I have completely changed direction and title, deciding to tell a more universal story about a boy’s longing for and rejection by his father. Of course I was that boy. But fear not, there is a section in the performance which is based on my book ‘Black Passenger Yellow Cabs.’  The working title of the show is ‘Bronx River Road,’  which is where my father lived when I first arrived in America at 15 years old in 1980. Actually, this solo performance is chapter which I couldn’t include in ‘Black Passenger.’ It was already the size of a telephone book, hence another chapter would’ve repelled readers.

In a few days I will be posting segments of ‘Bronx River Road,’ until the entire show is posted. Naturally your responses are welcomed. You may not be able to attend the final reading in a few weeks, but I will most likely be taking the performance to your city wherever you are.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Black Passenger Yellow Cabs: Making of a Sex Addict

MAKING OF A SEX ADDICT

“Steve, put down that magazine and find a book to read.”

“Yes Ms. Chambers.”

Another reason I love to go next door is to see Ms. Chambers’ magazines. Ms. Chambers is a teacher. She has many National Geographic magazines. I like the ones with the bare breasted African women on the cover.  I wish I was in Africa. I wish I could live with these women in Africa. How come these men don’t want to do it all the time with these women?

Sometimes the church sisters ask me to undo their brassieres for them and I get to see their breasts. They are big and they hang down. They are not nice like the African women’s breasts.  Ruth Anne and Peter-Gay show me their breasts sometimes too. I nag them every day to show me them.

“Why don’t you stop touching me and following me around? I’m going to tell yu madda.”

“Just show me them nuh, pleaaaase?”

Ruth-Anne is Sister Cordell’s grand-daughter and Peter-Gay is Sister Lindo’s daughter. Ruth-Anne is 16 and Peter-Gay is 15. I am 7. We are the only children on the church commune. Sometimes they come and help me with my school work.

“Ok Steve, mi will show you if you show me your own first.”

“Pinky swear?”

“Thunder roll and break my neck. Ruth-Anne stand up by the door and tell us when big people coming.”

I am nervous and excited at the same time. If grownups know what me and Peter-Gay are doing, they will beat all 3 of us with the bamboo cane or the leather strap, or tree branches until all of us dead. Peter-Gay lifts up her T-shirt. She raises her bra over her breast. My 7 year old teapot is trying to break through my shorts.

“Somebody is coming.”

This is it, we dead now. This is the worst thing we could be doing. Peter-Gay pulls down her brassier and shirt and pretends she’s helping with my school work.

“Ok, let’s practice your 2x table again. Two times two?

“Four.”

“Two times three?”

“Six.”

“She went back downstairs, it was Sister Rose.” Ruth-Anne notices the front of my shorts.

“Jesus Christ! Take it out so we can see it nuh?”

“You have to watch out for the big people, mi will show it to Peter-Gay if she takes off her panty and show me down there.”

Peter-Gay is taking off her panties, I’m pulling down my shorts.  Her panties are at her ankles. I reach out to touch her down there. She slaps my hand.

“Where is yours?”

I start removing my white fruit of the loom briefs. I can’t believe she’s going to let me see her downstairs parts. I’ve peeked at them before when they take a shower. But now she’s going to let me see everything. My little teapot is now a big teapot.

“Jesus Christ! Where did a little child like you get that thing from? I wouldn’t want to meet you when you become an adult, you will be killing women with that weapon. Ruth-Anne, come here. Come look at this!

“Jeeeeezas father! Peter-Gay, can you believe this?”

“Steve, you want to do the thing?”

“With you and Ruth-Anne?”

“But how you so greedy? No, wid me.”

I really want to do the thing with Ruth-Anne. She’s pretty, black like tar, with meat on her body. She has a small nose and a nice round bottom. Peter-Gay is too skinny and ugly even though she’s a fair skin girl.

“For true?”

“Yes, tomorrow.”

Sister Rose is coming up the stairs. We can hear singing, ‘Onward Christian Soldiers Marching As To War.’ I pull up my shorts. What am I going to do with my teapot? It’s still standing up. I put my hands in my pockets. Peter-Gay pretends to help me with school work.

“Two times eight?”

“Seventeen”

“No, sixteen. You know the answer, but yu just not concentratin.’

Sister Rose is in her room next to ours.

“You helping that lazy boy with his homework? All he likes to do is play. Play play play, that’s all Steve likes to do.

Next day, Peter-Gay and I are under the house. We are going to do it under the house. It’s dark, it’s dusty. There is cardboard on the ground.The cat is under here with her kittens. We scare her. She starts to carry them in her mouth. I’m even more nervous than I was yesterday. If the church sisters catch us, they will crucify us. I know the word crucify. That’s what they did to Jesus.

“Put it in nuh?”

“Put it in where?”

“Right here so.”

I can’t find the hole. Peter-Gay helps me.

“Right there, just put it in.” Peter-Gay pulls my butt toward her. Jesus Christ! Lord God! I shouldn’t take God’s name in vain, I will go to hell. It feels good. It’s the bestest feeling I ever had. Scorpions and centipedes live under here. Usually I am very very afraid of them. Not today. Today is the best day of my life.

When I see dogs doing it on the street, I always wonder what it feels like. It feels like I’m in warm jello. I don’t want to kill myself anymore. I want to do this for the rest of my life.

“Move up and down. Hurry up. Move like you have some life in yu.”

“Alright, we have to stop now before somebody catch we.”

“Wait nuh?”

“No we have to stop now. Somebody will catch we.”

I don’t want to stop, this is the most enjoyable thing I’ve done in all my 7 years.

Peter-Gay pushes me off her.

“We have to stop now. Is kill you want them to kill we? Next week we do it again.”

I’m 7 years old, next week will take a year to come.

“I will go out first and see if there’s anybody there.”

Peter-Gay crawls through the opening we came through. Sister Davis is there.

“Peter-Gay what are you doing under the house?”

“I went to get my ball, but a couldn’t find it.”

“Yes, we need to cover those openings with some mesh so that your ball doesn’t keep going under there.”

I’m waiting for the all clear signal from Peter-Gay.

“Come out now, hurry up.”

I rush out and brush myself off. I don’t want to do anymore school work, I don’t want to go to any more church services; no more Sunday school, no more young people’s meetings, prayer meetings. I just want to do the thing everyday. I want to do it with the church sisters. Not all of them, some of them are old. Jesus, if they know what I am thinking, they will murder me. I want to do it with women in the street, with my friends’ mothers, with my friends’ sisters. How come my friends don’t want to do it with their sisters? I wish I had a sister, I would do it with her everyday. I can’t get it out of my head. I’m always thinking about doing it.

Maybe, I can do it with the cat. One day I’m home from school, sick with fever.

“Come ‘ere kitty.”

“Where is the hole?” (trying to remove my pants)

“OOOuuch! Kitty scratch me.

In a few weeks I start to feel something in my teapot.

“Mummy, my teapot scratching me.”

“I will have to take you to children’s.”

“No mummy, I don’t want to go.”

I hate children’s hospital. I go there all the time. I’m always sick. Last time I went there was the worst. I was 6. Peter-Gay was picking some soursop leaves to make tea. I put my hand up her dress and touch her downstairs parts then run. She got angry and chased me. I ran fast fast fast to get away, I turn around to see how close she is, but she stop. When I turn back around to look in front of me, the church wall is right in front of me. I stretched out my hands. My left wrist is broken. Laying on a bed at Children’s Hospital, two doctors hold down my legs, one doctor hold down my right arm and mummy holds down my body, while two doctors pull my left wrist back into socket.

“ Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaooooo! Mummy why you letting them do this to me?

“We know it hurts, but this is the only way we can get your wrist back into socket. It not going to take long.”

That’s why I never want to see children’s hospital again.

“Look, don’t start with your foolishness. We are going to Children’s Hospital.”

The doctor gives mommy a light brown liquid in a pepsi bottle with a cork.

“It is very important that you pull back the little boys foreskin and wash beneath it everyday. I think that is the cause of this problem.”

“Yes doctor. Yu hear that Steve. No matter how much it hurts, we have to wash under your foreskin, eeeeeeeeeeeeveryday when you bathe. Thank you doctor.”

I don’t like it when mommy pulls back my foreskin, it hurts. It really hurts. I don’t care about pulling back my foreskin when I bathe, I just want to do the thing, or look at Ms. Chamber’s National Geographic magazines. Ms. Chambers is not a Christian. She wears pants, she wears make up and she creams her hair. She is the only person with a TV in the area. I see her in her nightgown when she lets people from the neighbourhood watch TV from her window. The next person I want to do the thing with is her.

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Black Passenger Yellow Cabs: The Solo Performance. (The Exorcism)

I almost died in that doodu pit, but mummy beat me anyway. I think my mummy is a very frustrated woman. Until I was 3 years old, we lived with Brother Claire, his wife and three daughters, in their big house on a big piece of land. Mummy was going to be homeless, so they let us stay with them. The yard was full of trees and grass. There was even a river nearby.  I loved that house. Now we live in one little room on a church commune. We live on top of the church and sleep on one little bed. Sister Aspy and Sister Norma are in this little room too.  Sister Henry’s really small room is separated by a curtain.  Mummy and I sleep on a mattress made of coconut husk. They prick me every night I go to bed. Every morning when we get up Mummy picks off the chinks from me and her. Mummy says these bed bugs are little vampires, like Barnabas Collins. They suck your blood and kill you. I’m afraid of chinks. Then we kneel down by the bedside.

“Steve, clasp your hands and close your eyes. Heavenly father, we thank you for sparing our lives through another night of slumber.”

I hate praying, my knees hurt. I’m tired of all this praying. Everyday, all we do is pray, pray, pray. First thing in the morning, last thing at night. Sometimes if somebody is sick, all the church Sisters pray in the church at 4 o’clock in the morning. And then the person they’re praying for dies anyway.

“Thank you mighty Jesus for giving us yet another day. You could’ve taken us in our sleep, but you were merciful instead.

“Ouuch!”

“Close your eyes.”

Mummy is always pinching me. How would she know my eyes are open if her eyes weren’t open too?

“Lord you see the conditions we are living in. The nightly hails of gunfire, the killings, the black heart men who prey on little children.”

When I grow up to be a big man, I will never pray or go to church.

“We ask you once again oh Jesus of Nazareth, to cover us with your blood. Guide and protect us with your mighty hands oh Lord, until you come to reign again amen.”

Then we select a bible scripture from the promise box.

Mine reads: “Blessed be the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.”

I hate all this praying and reading the bible. I hate church. I hate church, just like I hate the broken down houses in the neighbourhood; the stinking dead dogs on the streets; the sewage running in the middle of the street. I hate this place! I hate everything about this place. I want to go to America. My father is in America. He’s rich. Everybody is rich in America. My father has a Cadillac in America. A Cadillac is a big American car. We don’t even have shoes.

In America, everybody has a gas stove with an oven. We have to cook on a coal stove or wood fire out in the yard. It’s smoky, I can’t breathe and it makes my eyes water. And if we want to bake something, we have to put the pot with the batter on the wood fire, then put a piece of tin on the pot, then put some burning coal on the tin. That’s why Mummy never bakes. Everybody has an electric iron in America. We have to iron with a triangle piece of iron, that says “iron” on it, that we have to make hot on a wood fire or coal stove out in the yard. In America people eat at McDonald’s everyday. We have to go to the market every Saturday morning to buy food from people who come from the countryside. Then we have to cook the food on the wood fire outside. People have toilet and bathroom  inside their house in America. We have to pee or poo in a pot at night time and I have to take it out in the mornings. Sometimes I forget to take it out and mummy waits until night, when we come back from church, to make me take it to the toilet downstairs out in the yard. When I’m taking it out at night time, the boogeyman scares me and the stinking pee splash on me.

“Mummy I want to go to daddy in America.”

“You want to gu to your father? Yu want to go to your father? Has your father ever sent you one red cent from America?”

“No.”

“Then how do you know your father wants you?”

Mummy is right. Since my father went to America when I was 2 years old, he wrote only once, a long time ago. I don’t even know my father. I don’t know what he looks like. He’s never even sent me a picture. Mummy doesn’t have any pictures of him either. All I know is, every time mummy gets mad at me, she tells me I look exactly like him.

“Mummy, I want to roll off the bed and die.”

“Is what kind of foolishness you talking boy? You know it’s the devil in you making you say these things?”  “No mummy, it’s true. I really want to kill myself.”

Mummy yanks me by the arm.

“Come here to me!”

I know I’m going to get a good beating.

“We are going across to the churchyard. I’m going to ask Bishop to cast this demon out of you so you can stop talking all this rubbish.”

At least I’m not getting a beating. At least not yet.

Before I know it, I’m standing in front of Bishop Brown and many church sisters.

“Bishop, can you believe that Steve, at this tender age, is talking about killing himself? If that’s not the work of Satan himself, then I don’t know what is.”

The news shock the church sisters.

“That Sister D, this is the work of Lucifer and all his angels. Let me get the consecrated oil.”

Another prayer meeting. That’s ok, I was expecting a beating. Praying is better than beating any day. Bishop Brown comes back with a small bottle of oil. It says, ‘pure virgin olive oil’ on the bottle. I recognize that oil, Bishop uses it when he’s christening babies. They’re marching me back across the yard to the church. Sister Diviney starts to say something. “Little Stevie, you need to give your heart to Jesus and accept him as your personal savior. See how he saved you from the doodu pit? You need to get saved and give your heart to the Lord.”

Me and my big mouth. Next time I feel like killing myself, I won’t tell anyone. I’ll just kill myself. I’m pretty sure I’m going to kill myself before I get saved. Sister Diviney starts to ask me some questions. She’s a very important evangelist in the church.

“Steve, when did the devil start making you think these things?

“I don’t know.”

I’m standing at the altar in church. Bishop Brown, my mom and the church sisters are all around me. Bishop Brown has his very large hand on my head. He’s very old. His hand is shaking. He puts some Consecrated oil on his fingers and rub them on my forehead.

“In the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy spirit, I command thee Satan, to leave the body of this innocent child.”

Sister Diviney speaks in tongues.

“Doola Sooola makooola. Salla mallakai matoola.”

I think she’s crazy. I think they’re all crazy. Every one of them, Bishop Brown, the church sisters and mummy. I wish I could tell them they are crazy, but I’d lose all my teeth and the prayer would be longer. I want to tell them that I don’t believe in any of this foolishness. I just want to leave here and go to America. I want to run away. I want run away to grandma and my uncles and aunts in Mountain View. But I’m sure they’d just take me back here and beat me for running away.

“Oh heavenly father, drive out Lucifer from this innocent child, in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy ghost. Amen.”

I still hate this place. I’m still sad. I still want to kill myself .  I want to kill myself or go to America.

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