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The following story is for adults and contains graphic descriptions of sexual contact between adolescent and adult males and the power imbalance of these relationships. Like so many of my stories, this is a voyage and return.
If you are a minor, then it is illegal for you to read this story. If you find the subject objectionable, then read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my overactive imagination. I hope you like it and feel free to respond.
Fourteen runs through five progressions, with frequent interludes. If you would like to comment, contact me ail.
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Thanks so much to Philip Marks for his contributions and the background conversations that bring the story onto the page. I also want to add a shout-out to Mischief Night who answered my call for a proofreader. Thanks to those who keep Philip and me updated on your interest.
September 24, 2018
A manicured finger opens the collar one extra button so there is just an invitation to the bralette when a shoulder is twitched back. The lacy artifact is only the abstraction of a young bust. The tangerine shirt dress with its black peacock lines and blue-eye pattern extracts Dil’s mood. It was his dress when he stepped on board High Grade, unlike so much else in the VIP stateroom that were gifts for Dov’s amusement. Dil plans to step away the way he came.
Perhaps not quite that clean, Dil allows with a glance to his open carry-on bag. The lingerie picked up at Sandals on Turks and Caicos is too fine to leave behind. One needs one’s necessaries, and Dil never had the like in Kingston or Miami. The other dress for dining, Dil earned that over the weeks. It is tucked in its garment bag beside Dil’s carry-on, ready to go.
Dil trembles, draws in a long breath that fills the almost-bustline proudly. With a final sweep around the understated elegance of the power yacht’s V-berth, Dil turns to the en-suite head.
The bathroom reflects a deception of greater space. Mirrors across the port-side sink counter, the entire aft wall above the tile wainscoting is a mirrored doubling of space. The mirrored ceiling lifts the deck above Dil’s head. A girl can glitter in all this careful flattery. Dov likes to take Dil here against the vanity, their entanglements reflecting endlessly about the small room.
Dil sits on the fuzzy cushioned stool at the vanity. Another long breath to steady his hands. The face contemplating Dil in the mirror is refined, still adolescent-androgynous. The tangle-glory of his midnight mane is pulled severely back into a large bun at the nape of his neck.
Farding is a peaceful ritual for Dil. He loves the alone time with makeup where he can sit in front of a mirror, concentrate, and think about nothing else but applying, smudging, outlining, winging, and dabbing. It is not a languid pantomime of performance art. There are moments of slow, thoughtful application. There are aggressive advances suggesting surgical precision.
Makeup is all about personal expression and it”s one of those things you can change depending on your mood, your goals, or your thoughts. That”s why the moment Dil starts his makeup is so exciting and calming at the same time. He can sit down with his thoughts and literally paint them on his face. This morning, Dil applies defiant.
Dil considers this morning’s canvas. Dil has lime, and golden undertones — which is why the golden-tan foundation stick he”s holding works for his skin tone. Urban Decay Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup, Dil turns his head back and forth. The bruise on his cheekbone is still angry from the night. It will need extra consideration.
Boys of color, like Dil, have lighter tones in the center of their faces, while their jawlines and the areas around their hairlines tend to be darker. To give his skin depth, Dil selects a lighter foundation for his T-zone area and applies a darker shade around his hairline and jawline to create a structured contour. The bruise begins to fade into insignificance.
Dil pauses to assess his progress. This is Jody’s island. Dil wants to step ashore with confidence and shine. Jody represents the opportunity cost that always overwhelms Dil. Oberyn Norrell, Dov’s banker uncle-mentor, taught Dil that phrase. Oberyn prefers his ladies, but Dil made him curious. He caught Dil tout naturel in the flybridge jacuzzi. High Grade was the man’s yacht, so Dil obliged. “Why not be what you are?” Oberyn asked, a man who never was anything but what he was.
“This is who I am,” Dil answered. A seventeen-year old boy, Dil of so many faces.
“Opportunity costs, boy.” The immediacy of that was Dil giving the man head in payment for his ride out of Miami and through the islands. The larger point was what a man like Oberyn could only view as a counterproductive lifestyle indulgence he could never relate to. Convention rewarded Oberyn his 100 Hatteras Motor Yacht and a seven-figure income. Oberyn understood the cost to his life was no attachments, not even to his obsequious-disappointing nephew Dov. Dil’s utterly atypical behavior brought no fiduciary benefits. Dil might agree, but then, that was why he decided he was Dil.
Any rich eyeshadow shade will really make your eyes pop. Dil tended toward jewel tones like the purple, bright blue, emerald green or a deep burgundy that stood out against his complexion. Gold to contrast the dress, Dil decides. At the moment, while Dov is paying bills, Dil is loving the Urban Decay Naked Ultraviolet Eyeshadow Palette. The gold and bronze tones instantly warm his skin tone and brighten up his eyes. He is going to shine for Jody’s island.
Antigua, hardly better than Kingston in Jamaica; another fine example of Oberyn’s opportunity costs. Miami was the dream opportunity. His mother’s aspiration for her only son, and her son’s dream of freedom-acceptance. Since he is here, and not there, Dil wants to see Jody’s Antigua, absorb it for at least a while. Consider Dov Norrell’s proposition.
Keyshia Clarke sowed opportunity’s seed the day she realized she was pregnant in Florida. She carefully tended her dream as her naturally born citizen of a son grew up different on Kingston’s unforgiving streets. With his birthright US passport in hand, Dil finally escaped the trauma of Kingston and returned to Miami, where he started life. Freedom and acceptance were not so simple. There was a cost to being Dil, Rolando Solīs, his reluctant father, could not accept the son he met.
“Qué Pinga te pasa a tí? You’re not a girl! Is that what it is? You think you’re a girl with a polla?”
Details, details, Dil would have answered. Rolando’s son simply replied, “No, I’m a mon.” Understanding, acceptance, never came. Dil could define himself in Miami, but never be himself with his Cuban-American father. It was easier for both of them if Dil simply stayed away.
If there is one thing that causes cosmeholics anxiety, it is liquid liner. Either you cannot get it to apply in an even line, or it smudges, or it just doesn”t match on both eyes. In the tranquility of the VIP stateroom’s en suite, Dil draws four perfect lines. He tries a sultry look in the bright light, knowing that the streets of Falmouth Harbour are not the smokey pub-assignations of his movie obsession. Dil in daylight, he could do that. Dil could pass, he knew that.
Red lipsticks look fantastic on dark skin. Dil has berry red, siren red, bright red, deep red, plum red in his makeup kit. Plum red this morning. It will definitely look good for his first day in Antigua. Dil avoids looking at the mirror as he packs his makeup kit. Done is done, his mother would say.
From St. Kitts to Falmouth Harbour, Dil knew this was the reason he had set foot on the 100-foot yacht in Miami. Dov Norrell’s interest, certainly; but somehow, Dil must have sensed destiny intended him to visit Jody’s island. Boys playing cricket on a dusty field, Dil remembers.
You’re back in the Caribbean, Dil warns himself as he zips the travel kit. Antigua would not be Jamaica, but it is not South Beach clubbing. Cruising with the Norrells has insulated him from island culture reality. Dil is stepping away from money-buys-acceptance, going back to the gay-son-of-a-hotel-maid reality that was his life in Kingston. A reality where he was only safely in his bedroom. The apprehension comes back to Dil.
When you love makeup, the finished face is an accomplishment. You”re done. You look good. You”re happy. You know you”ve spent your meager allowance on all these items and you don”t mind. Dil takes a moment to admire his work in the mirror. He tries a world-wise look of mystery. It cannot hide the youthful joy that always bursts from his face. Adventure, opportunity, defiance! Dil will need his stubborn pride when he faces his Aunt Ronica.
Dil turns to the mirror over the sink, “See that, Col? He gave me the look. Just cut his hair, you know.” Dil is studying his expression, calculating his effect. “What do you think?” Dil has his face turned away from the vanity mirror, but he sees the possibility of him in the reflection. “There, he did it again,” Dil finishes with a coy smile. That”s the confident feeling he needs. He needs some space away from Dov. At least a few days to decide if he is making the right decision. You either know it or you don”t.
It is the lipstick effect. His Jamaican and Floridian schoolmates got it sometimes from drinking or smoking weed. Dil’s makeup gives him a confidence boost. He feels more physically attractive. It gives him attitude and personality. It gives him Jaye Davidson’s Dil.
Time to go, Dil reminds himself. He takes his makeup kit and puts it in the battered carry-on. He changes his mind about the money. Dov has $1,000US plus change in the drawer. Dil puts it all in his shoulder bag, then closes the hard shell. Last night’s backhand across the face, not the first time, seven weeks with Dov, the money seems fair. Taking the fucking jewelry would be fair. Paste, like his affection for Dov Norrell.
You go girl, Dil tells himself. He takes the small carry-on and the garment bag off the queen-sized bed. The galley is empty when he walks through it. Oberyn and Dov are clearing customs. Dil is not sure what the captain and crew are doing. Krystle, Annika, and Cherry will be promenading their svelte bodies on deck. Nothing stops Dil as he passes through the dining room and salon. He almost expects Jasper Munoz to step through the crew door when he walks down to the swim deck. The man might stop him, even if Dov knows he wants to think about the offer. He steps off the gangway joining the swim deck to the dock. Done is done, Dil takes a breath that might be freedom.
Oberyn’s three ladies are on the flybridge clad in swimsuits. Dil hears Annika’s call, but ignores it. It is a long walk from Oberyn Norrell’s High Grade to the Antigua Yacht Club Resort. His travel case rattles along behind him as it jumps each crack in the dock boarding. Dil looks determined ahead. The mega yachts at every turn don’t interest him anymore. Antigua is where he needs to be for the moment.
He tests his Dil out on an older man at the marina cafe before he tests the streets of English Harbour. He ought to have a cigarette with the coffee he orders. The dark glasses, bright dress, leg primly draped over the other, a cigarette would complete the look. Smoking would not be so bad, Dil contemplates. He never will. His bright orange dress is a standout eye-catching. There is a chance that Dov will see him sitting there with his luggage. Dil sips coffee from a paper cup and waits for Dov and Oberyn to cross back from their business at Antigua customs. Perhaps Dil is hoping Dov will see him with his bags, understanding that he might not return before High Grade cruises out of port.
“Oberyn is meeting clients at the airport. We will stay here for at least a day. That will give you time to see your family. I expect you back tonight. Maybe you will get a few days more. I need you when we sail for Barbados.” Dov just assumed that Dil would be back. Perhaps he will.
They are both a treat with their summer tourist togs. Dov tries too hard and comes off Ugly American abroad. Oberyn Norrell is the real Ugly American. His every thought is finance and investment. “It’s a hot market here,” Oberyn comments as his ladies titter about the expanse of beach and the mega yachts littering Falmouth Harbour. Dil is trying to imagine Jody here. Dil lifts the coffee cup to his face, as if that will be enough to elicit a casual glance his way. The two men walk back to Oberyn’s yacht, intent on plans for the investors landing at the airport.
When Dil clears customs and immigration, coolly staring down the not yet jaded, evangelical disapproval of the officials, he pauses to assess this latest tourist oasis. The street is predictably inviting for the yacht owners. Not the cruise-ship carnival-street Dil comes to expect from travelling on High Grade with the Norrells. Not his before Kingston neighborhood, either. Money shys from working class Jamaica.
The rum shop Theo’s grandfather liked to frequent was always crowded and loud. Theo would go around the back into a narrow lane with piles of garbage. He would sit on a box, listen for his grandfather”s voice, but it was always too hard to hear any individual voice. His grandfather’s friends would shout-curse and slap down dominoes. Outside, too shy to pull his grandfather away from this man’s world, Keyshia Clarke’s sensitive boy would wait as the heat of the Kingston day subsided into night.
English Harbour looks clean to Dil. He likes the brightly painted buildings set close to the road, or shaded amidst palms and trees. Chandler’s Caribbean Cafe, the sign hangs ornate by the gate. There are people eating breakfast on the multi-levelled pavilions between the restaurant’s two buildings. There is a sign announcing open mike night. Dil notes the times.
Aunt Ronica, as best as Dil can recall, lives in Swetes farther inland, and works at the front desk of the Carlisle Bay resort. The sisters parted ways before Dil was born, one to Florida and the other to Antigua. He has to step into Chandler’s Caribbean Cafe to borrow a phone.
The bus drops Dil off on Fig Tree Drive in front of Swetes Wesleyan Holiness Church, steps from his aunt’s rented home. It is a weathered yellow bungalow that seems too small for a family of five. Four, his gyalis Antiguan uncle had moved on, as Dil recalls. A white Suzuki Swift recovering from a fender bender is parked in front of the half porch.
“Oh my oh my! Kwenga Star boy, now just look at you, hmm, hmm!” Aunt Ronica huffs critically. A cousin pokes out from behind her back to examine Dil’s bright dress curiously. “Chubble an grief dat a wah yuh a,” Ronica shakes her head, “Wah a unnu poor madda gwine duh wid you? Come in off the street.”
“You”re pretty! I’m Jasmine.”
“Thank you, you’re pretty too.” Dil graces his twelve-year-old cousin with a smile.
“This is your cousin Theo, now stand back and let the boy find his way in!”
Dil would stay until things were sorted out, that was a certainty in his aunt’s mind. The bungalow was tight. His cousin Martin had fixed up a shed beyond the market garden. He was off island now, so Ronica allowed that Dil could use it. Dil settled into the small space while Jasmine and a little boy named Barack O peppered him with questions.
“You talk like a toff.”
“Mum says you come from America. How come you don’t talk like an American?”
Dil talks posh, and anyway, his American stepfamily cling to their Cuban roots. “Now let me change!” Dil finally exclaims.
Dil hangs the bright orange dress in the garment bag from a hook. He remembers buying it at Xanadu Boutique in Fort Lauderdale. It was the last straw for his conservative father. There were blows. He accepted that. Dil took blows, he understood that part. Taking them cebeci escort from his Cuban-American father, and then from a Dave like Dov Norrell, that just made him that much more like Dil.
With Rolando Solīs’ ineffectual rage branded on his face, Dil knew staying another year censoring himself in Miami was not going to work. Dil haunted State Road as often as he could, managed to slip into the Palace a few times. His first year in Miami put Kingston and the police station out of his mind. Each step he took in the company of accepting companions took him one step farther away from his begrudging father. The dress was the end of it.
Dil made it to summer vacation, then without really understanding what he was doing, he started to look for a way out. The beach and the clubs always called to him. Fleeing north took money. Dil never needed money or a place to stay down by the beach.
Walking through a marina, Dil noticed a man washing down the decks of the nearest yacht. He wondered what it would be like to go to sea on a boat like that. He could see tables and upholstered seats through the hatchway. He wondered if they needed crew, if they fished, or if they just moved around from place to place, marina to marina. Dil wondered what it would be like to own such a vessel.
The yacht was not the 100-foot Hatteras High Grade, but it was the first boat Dil was invited onto. It introduced a boating subculture the seventeen-year-old never imagined. Money brings acceptance, money brings license to those who have it. He played Dil to a T. His stepfamily was glad to see the back of him for days at a time. Then Dil met Dov Norrell.
His Aunt Ronica nods approval when he finally rejoins the family for dinner. Dil’s hair is down and she likes the 3D sweatpants with their bright paint splashes and ambiguous top he has changed into. There is no water in the bed-shed, no toilet. Dil vanishes into the bathroom without comment. Studies his face in the mirror; you know your makeup looks perfect, and in the back of your mind, you always feel like you will never be able to replicate it; so, taking it off is a hard decision. You sigh. You do it.
“You’ll phone your mother right now!” Ronica commands from the range. The cousins are doing homework at the table.
“My phone is empty,” Dil tries. He only has the data plan from Florida and any credit he had is long exhausted. “I’ve money,” Dil lays one hundred US dollars beside Barack O’s scribbled notebook. “I will get a new SIM tomorrow.”
Ronica nods her thanks for the cheddar offered. “You’re planning to be here for a while, then.”
“I’m not sure yet.” Dil replies. He can discover the throw-away details of Jody’s life. Here with his conservative family, Dil feels the pull back to Oberyn’s yacht where he is free to be himself, appreciated for himself. Three days to think it through, Dil reminds himself.
“You’ll FaceTime your mother soon as she’s done work. Two months since she has heard a word from you! My god, I’d be slapping your fresh face silly. Break her heart, your leaving like that. Off to who knew where, dead in a Florida swamp, like as not, my god!” She continues muttering to herself. “I’ve got to go to work. Clear the table, you two, supper is ready.”
“You think you can find me work at that resort?” Dil tries. That brings a snort reply.
A hearty chicken soup. Made from chicken neck and back, with garden yam, cho cho, and large solid dumplings; it strays a little from his grandmother’s Jamaican palate. The two children eating with Dil complain that it would be nice to just have yam chips and ketchup. Ronica will not leave until she sees Dil sitting at a tablet waiting for his mom’s connection.
“Theo?” Keyshia Clarke feels the tension slide away. Her boy looks fine. The soft halo of his hair pushed back to his shoulders. Seventeen, and she can still see the little angel face, free of his life troubles. “You turn fool?”
“Mada,” Theo pauses to collect himself. She sees him pulling away from the little boy, being this Dil character he has been cultivating he left for America. “Mum, I had to get away. It isn’t going to work, my staying with him.”
“Till you are eighteen, till you go to university, foofool bwoy. All you had to do was one more year and then a scholarship. What were you thinking?”
“He doesn’t want me there. He never wanted me and I don’t fit in.”
Keyshia looks around the small apartment in Kingston’s Mountain View. She moved into the one-bedroom the month Theo left for Miami. She had not needed the space, and Theo needed the extra money. Eighteen years since she gone drunk with her baby boy.
What was I to do? No green card, twenty and pregnant with Rolando Solīs’ baby. Her American dream was shattered. Keyshia did the best she could. She passed her dream on to her son. She picked Jackson Memorial. Rolando was a handsome devil with no interest in a family with her. When she had a boy, he was glad to put his name to it. Glad that Keyshia was going back to the island. You’re being deported, they told her. But my Theo is American, right? She paid a lawyer to see that through, but not one to fight the deportation.
After the police station in Kingston, Keyshia knew Theo had to go. Rolando took her money, promising Theo could finish high school in the States. Now this, Keyshia groans.
“What we dreamed, you do road go and mess it all up!”
“Mum, I have my passport, all the papers. When I’m ready, I can go back. Just, not to them,” Theo warns.
“I sent him a month’s room and board. He said nothing about your leaving. You said nothing in your phone calls last month. Where were you?”
“A job,” Theo begins, “I have a job on a boat. I thought maybe some time away, but mum, I just couldn’t go back! I thought I’d just go away for a bit. Well, it went on and I simply couldn’t go back. It was a good job. I have money saved. I can keep working for them.”
“Don”t chat rubbish inna me ears, bwoy. And now you’re in Antigua! You couldn’t have gone to someplace else?”
“Like back to Jamaica?” Theo asks reproachfully.
“No, I don’t suppose you can,” Keyshia allows, “no, I don’t want you on the street either.” Her anxiety surfaces. Rolando accused Theo of dangerous things. “Theo you can”t mix up mix up inna these things. A big man things.”
“It is just a job,” Theo assures her. “I’m thinking I might stay. Auntie will help me find another job here in Antigua.”
“She will not! You always beat dem bad surpass in school, not going to stop short of it now. You march yourself right down to the nearest school and register for your O-levels. Three years and you’ll have your A-level.” She paused to think. “Oh you child of trouble! Not a private school, well, tell me the fees. I can make do, somehow. Your aunt will tell me if you don’t.
“Rolando says you’ve been a bad chargie.” Running the streets, maybe doing drugs, Keyshia worried about that. Sleeping with men, her boy admitted to that leaving Kingston. He was in his manhood now, Keyshia accepted that. “A who you man? What are you up to? You mixing with some Russian you know better than?”
“Breathe easy, mada,” Theo replies exasperated enough to lose his Dil-posh. “A dat wid me? That”s how you think?”
“Do yu ting go ahead! Memba mi tell yu.”
“I an I bait you up. I know. Keyshia Clarke’s frass fish boy, all lakka ah gyal.”
“Stop run up you mouth after you no know nuttn. The evil thrive like the green bay tree and evil is abroad in the land.” Keyshia was a tiger for her boy and the world was never kind to her Theo. Theo ran down this path since sweet seven. Antigua would be better than Kingston, but her Theo would be how the good lord made him, militant.
Mother and son frowned at each other. Keyshia knew he needed her support. Theo knew that his mother and aunt had gone their separate ways, each determined to succeed in their different adopted homelands. His mother took the greater risk, hoping for the greater reward. Alas Babylon! Theo knew what his birth had done to his mother’s dreams. She would never be allowed back in the United States. Theo was supposed to go back for both of them.
“Mum,” Dil says softly, “I’ll be fine. If I quit my job, you can visit me here,” he consoles her.
“True-true, you young fool, what a crosses!” Keyshia replies just as softly. “Don’t go sailing away again on some boat about the whole Caribbean. No sensible plan in that! You’ll get yourself in school?”
“Yes, mum,” he smiles softly, if I decide to stay. “You’re right, they were Russians, waste men.” Dave-Dov was rough in his possessive way. Theo dreams of better.
“A mi fi tell yu!” she scolds him. “You find yourself a good Antigua boy. If him cute one more time, maybe I’ll like him for my boy.”
“Bill chill,” just a quick lapse back into the street language of his childhood. “It will be cool runnings here.”
“Your aunt says you looked goodaz hot when you showed up at her door. I’d love to see that.”
“I looked maad,” Dil agrees smugly. For years, his mother was his only appreciative audience, always supporting her little boy’s crazy compositions.
“Get your phone working, then knock mi, zeen?”
“Zeen. More life, more strength,” Dil assures his mother. Maybe I’ll find a reason to stay on Jody’s island.
October 15, 2018
Jeremy steps past the no nonsense doorway of C.E. Bailey’s supermarket and pauses to shift his bike bag onto his shoulders. The rain started just as he reached the store and he decided to wait it out under the storm shutters forming the awning over his head. He leans against the heavy security gate and watches the other shoppers running from their parked cars. A month in Falmouth town and he is beginning to understand the weather. The heavy cloudburst will pass quickly.
He swings the heavy canvas bag against his leg. Jeremy tries not to be impatient. He tries to live in Falmouth as he would on Anton’s boat at sea. A sailor is out of reach of help, entirely self-reliant. Jeremy is solo-sailing. Each detail needs attention or trouble follows. To-do lists in your head, do a task, tick it off, move on to the next. Rest self-sufficient in the silence. Emancipation looks like this.
A micro-flatbed delivery truck waits along the street for C.E. Bailey’s receiving and shipping. The Nissan would be an oddity in Chillicothe. Here on Antigua, it makes perfect sense. Jeremy waves at the familiar driver. The black scooter beside the Nissan is an oddity. Jeremy thought he would see more on the narrow roads; more bicycles too. It is not the scooter Jeremy rented from Winston’s Jet Ski below Fourteen Gates.
Jeremy as much as paid Cynthia for scrap metal. Then Vinny at Shekerley helped him put it back together just because tangerine needs wheels and Jeremy is not a waste man about the boatyard. Jeremy Gates runs short-tethered between Falmouth and English Harbour along Matthew’s Road and Dockyard drive, prouder than Shane Andrews with his first car.
“Hey, hey, hey, Jeremy!” a voice calls from behind him. Jeremy glances back. A young woman is holding out a cardboard box. “Run this up to Lek-uh.” Lek-uh is Lekker Braai. Jeremy points at the Nissan delivery van waiting for just this job. “It’s on your way,” the woman reasons.
It is a juggle. Branko says, “You wear the damned helmet or I see you off the road, Chi Chi.” His groceries go in the tail bag and he bungees the box on top. The rain is passing, so he decides it is time to go.
Jeremy is carefree-invincible as he boots his battered 2003 Zuma 125 down Matthew’s Road. Driving Antigua is dangerous and it takes a fifteen-year-old who has escaped serial killers, scrambled Arizona cliffs and hung whale-watching from a sailboat’s mast to shrug off the menace of Antigua traffic. Remy Gates would-will be appalled. His usual commute is under two miles (mostly). Half a mile to Lekker Braai Restaurant, half again to Shekerley where Sirocco lies.
Bare masts rise past the roofs of goods and services. Jolly Harbour is swank. Falmouth and English Harbour are rural-sprawl strung out along the road. The posh look down from ocean vistas to Jeremy’s right. It’s hardly urban. Jeremy slows at the two-story hotel where he usually gets his petrol.
The road runs straight from the Dockyard Drive intersection to where it curves right and up the hill to Falmouth township. Yellow, blue, white structures slip by. Most hug the road, others lie back in the trees for privacy. There are no commercial zones. Like Japan, homes sit beside businesses with barely any signage.
Lekker Braai is an almost anonymous shed with the fast-food feel of a roadside fruit stand. Sunny seating is under yellow umbrellas. At night they put storm lanterns on the busy tables. It is quiet now. Jeremy carries the box into the dining room half of the restaurant.
“Thanks, Jeremy,” Claark van der Merwe calls from the kitchen. “Listen, Rog says he won’t come in at 5:00, I could really use you tonight.”
Jeremy sighs. He has just worked three shifts in a row, and Lekker Braai is just his bonus job. The blush-euphoria of wage-work is bad-tripping from the grim reality of more Jagger Hearne grasshopper-frolic. Jeremy tries to do his ant-earnest best. It is disillusioning to learn there are more people in his path who think work and commitment are for ant-suckers.
At Lekker Braai, Jeremy is a dishwasher. Fair is fair, but why is he the one sanitizing prep surfaces and cleaning the grill when the cooks go home? Build a good name. Do good work and protect your own work. Don’t worry that some will do their work part-time, Jeremy’s dad tells him philosophically when Jeremy complains. He did not feel like doing schoolwork anyway. “Yeah, sure,” smile upbeat. Protect your work, the van der Merwes could easily hire someone new. Jeremy needs this job badly.
Shekerley Boatyard sprawls out across the road from Falmouth Cricket Club. Jeremy passes the pitch each time he comes or goes. Gonna have to learn that game, Jeremy reminds himself. That is a certainty. The fanatical perfection of the bowling green. He has stopped to watch a practice. Cricket is serious, in Antigua. Men throw balls into nets like field-goal kickers warming up on the sidelines. Wickets and a white rectangle, Jeremy is wise enough to see the skill in it.
It is not a pretty marina like Antigua Yacht Club. A line of palms runs from the busy road down to the water. Not yacht club posh or Nelson’s Dockyard historical. The barn-red shipping-container office is at the end of the gravel road, a fuel tank away from the start of the docks. It is a no-frills dockyard like the one below Fourteen Gates in English Harbour. There are paint sheds, rows of boats pulled from the water. The blue scaffold of Shekerley’s boat lift goes into slow motion with a troubled boat. Jeremy’s friend Vinny waves. The old boat is due for painting and a fresh coat of anti-fouler below its water line.
Kenroy Jean-Baptiste is watching Vinny move the Hunter over to drydock. Vinny and Fourteen, coming in from the road on his scooter, will start prepping the 25-foot sailboat for painting after it has been put down in drydock. Kenroy flags Fourteen over. The boy coasts past him and stops closer to the bar off the office. Kenroy follows after.
“I’m working at the restaurant tonight. Is it okay if I take the morning off?” Jeremy asks hopefully.
Kenroy talked Claark and Anna van der Merwe into giving the American boy some work at their restaurant. It seemed a smart move, given Kenroy’s business arrangement with Anton Schroeder. Kenroy thought it smart to keep the unwelcome American boy out of his way. Who knew the kid was going to be a quick study and such a hard worker? Fourteen soaks up everything anyone has to teach. Kenroy could almost feel guilty he is taking the rich American’s money under the table. Fourteen needs a job, Schroeder explained. Lots of people need a job, Kenroy replied. So if he works for me, but works for you? The American skipper laid substantial cash on the office desk.
“Just take the day off.”
“No, really,” Jeremy begins çeşme escort to protest. “I just need to get caught up on some stuff.” The boatyard work fell into his lap by accident just after Anton kissed him goodbye. One morning he saw Vinny moving a boat out of the water. Vinny asked him to help for a minute. Before Jeremy knew it, he had been helping Vinny for half the day. Kenroy offered him a job. Just whenever we get busy, since you’re sitting about listening to the devil. His St. John’s friends remind Jeremy how lucky he is to find a job.
“You take the day.” That’s final. Kenroy clears his throat, “Could you move your boat out to number 21? Just for a week. The marina is crushed this month.” This is not a fair ask. Kenroy thinks the American boy knows it. The American owner of the ketch paid for dock service indefinitely. Shifting Sirocco into the bay lets Kenroy Jean-Baptiste double dip.
“I’m good with that,” Jeremy grins. “Gonna split it with me?” he adds with a shrewd look.
It is not like Sophie Wright in San Diego waiting weeks on Born to Run while Graham Sumner does a family thing. Whenever Jeremy rides away, he gives Sirocco a careful look. Shekerley Boatyard is secure enough. The ketch feels abandoned-dejected. The helm instruments are covered and the sails wrapped against the UV rot. After her long voyage from Seattle, Sirocco’s wings are clipped. She is caged in Falmouth Harbour. Jeremy is sad about this.
He casts a look at the salon table strewn with schoolwork beside his open tablet. Ms. Clement still has a way of making him squirm like a sixth grader in the hallway talking circle. She never pushes him, not really. Rita Clement and Mary Rule, listen to the one, work to make the other proud. He lets his latest contract with his teacher slip from his mind.
Jeremy sleeps in the V-berth, despite the vacant stateroom. He keeps the stateroom ready for Anton’s return. After four weeks, this seems less likely. The messages are rare. Jeremy steps into the stateroom to open the hatch for ventilation. He stops at Anton’s desk and pulls the drawer open. Despite Jeremy’s protests, Anton left two thousand US dollars in the desk drawer. “It’s for boat emergencies,” Anton argued. Pocket change to Anton Schroeder, Jeremy’s sense of independence is affronted.
It is possible to rationalize boat sitting on Sirocco. Jeremy maintains the ketch. He hates the relief he feels. His parents mailed a care package to him from Chillicothe. Jeremy hated the grateful-lump in his throat when Kenroy Jean-Baptiste tossed the box his way. His wallet from the Chillicothe street was in the box. Naturally, there was unexpected money on his Credit Union ATM card. More emergency support from skeptical adults in his life. He has not touched it, but that damn grateful-lump betrays him.
The first night after Anton flew away, Jeremy had a panic attack. He had not expected to be afraid. He took his fear-pain to the ketch’s stern and sat wary of the shadows between the boats and buildings. The pain was heart-attack-sharp in his chest. Levi’s Hikari folding knife is always in his pocket. It came to Jeremy that he had not been alone since John Cannon and Patrick Hunter abducted him. There was his long walk from San Ysidro. He had been panicked then. He had to finally call his parents like he suddenly needed to call them now.
There was the two weeks Anton left him in Panama City. Just two weeks knowing Anton and Daniel would return, yet he had to find people to shield him from the alone time. People who would take care of him. Then, he was away-safe with Mary Rule.
Here in Antigua, he was finally alone. That first night, Jeremy pushed back against the tingle-panic that the August storm was catching up to him again. Out there beyond the boatyard office, diesel tanks and the forest of masts, the lights that remind him of a street in Chillicothe, Jeremy fears two men might be out there cruising for boys.
That first night, Jeremy pushed back against the tingle and walked along Matthew’s Road all the way to Carona’s Cantina. He made himself walk past every stranger he encountered in the dark. Then he turned down the street to Falmouth Harbour. He walked along the beach back to Shekerley where Sirocco’s familiar shape-shelter waited for him. He would be fine, now.
Jeremy looks around the vacant room. It is possible to rationalize boat sitting Sirocco as a job. He shivers in the Caribbean morning. Jeremy does not want to think about what will happen when Anton and Daniel come back to resume their journey. His determination can fail.
Jeremy takes $140 Eastern Carribean dollars out of his wallet. A week’s pay from Lekker Braai. He places it over Anton’s US dollars and does the math. He took $400 to buy the scooter. He needs to repay $1,000 EC. This is his second payment. The high school mathematics Ms. Clement wants him to study consumes Jeremy far less than these cautious practical calculations. Polynomials I’m a 48 year old retired obstetrician and gynecologist who loves to sail, free dive, spearfish and kiteboard. Looking for someone active, motivated, and fun! Only, the Island Packet Darcy is in the Sea of Cortez where Jeremy started and he is in the Caribbean. Would a skipper even take him? He was Kale Euler with an adult passport when he last applied to crew. Who will take him at fifteen?
The boats at Shekerley are mostly for the locals. Powerboats for fishing on a weekend, Sirocco lies majestically between them. The mega yachts that would make Anton’s ketch look like KOA trailer trash lie in the harbor or across the bay at the Antigua Yacht Club and Marina. The owners at Shekerley are familiar-friendly. Jeremy gets a hand casting off from the dock.
He doesn”t mind sitting in the roadway. The boats moored to the anchor buoys are mostly sailboats like his own. They will come and go more frequently and bring him news from other ports. Jeremy is determined to make a living on Antigua, but he still believes he is a live-aboard, marking time on the beach.
At noon, Jeremy feels restless. His Antiguan friends are in school, so he will not see them till the distant weekend. After playing his guitar for an hour, and glancing at his Ohio-work, Jeremy locks up and heads back to the shore.
He ties the tender to the dock where a line of powerboats are lifted from the water. The boatlift motors look like parking meters, which on consideration, is what they probably are. The weathered dock casts shadows to the sandy bottom. The Caribbean clarity is barely tinted green. It is a soothing place to be uncertain.
Jeremy closed Lekker Braai’s kitchen three nights in a row. The final night, he left it cleaner than Ian Holland’s Madison condo kitchen. No thanks I’ll get for that, he knows. Someone will be in there messing things up. By 5:00 pm it will be a chore again. If I was head chef, by god! He knows he will come early just to clean, so the evening rush will be easier. “Clean as you go!” he yelped one night. Jeremy is the dishwasher, nobody seems to listen.
Shekerley Boatyard and Marina is reasonably secure. Anton Schroeder looks for that when he chooses his slips. A brown picket gate is just a passing reference to security. Sometimes, Jeremy just swings around it for a joke. Not too often, and just when he is happy. The frame flexes dangerously each time, promising to break.
Dockyard Drive, where Oberyn’s High Grade lies across the harbor from Anton’s Sirocco, is narrow, lined with sidewalks and services for tourists. In the four weeks Jeremy has been on Antigua, he has kept to his side of the peninsula separating Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour. He has seen it all and it is a place to spend money. He can see the rectangle-promise of Fourteen Gates if he goes to English Harbour. Jeremy is glad Anton left Sirocco in Falmouth Harbour. Jeremy still does not know what to think about the investment property. It is not a reward he wants to think Fourteen earned in the Luxor Winnebago. Family allowance, Anton’s charity, the money he earns honestly at Shekerley and Lekker Braai is all he trusts.
They are standing outside Lekker Braai, considering the picnic feel and the gaping double doors leading into a poorly lit unknown. They are looking at a phone Google-navigating around the local sites.
“Can I help you?” Jeremy asks. “The menu is good here, really good. I work here, just saying,” Jeremy grins. Jeremy stopped because the man is holding hands with his partner.
“We were looking for a place for lunch. We heard about a good coffee shop,” the tourist checks his phone, “Carib Bean Roasters,” the men say this simultaneously.
“That’s all the way up the road in Falmouth, you haven’t gone far enough.”
“Where are we now?” the older man asks.
“You’re sort of between English Harbour and Falmouth.” Jeremy grins.
The older man looks up and down Matthew’s Road. “So, how can you tell? The cab just dropped us off at this road stand.” He points at Lekker Braai.
“We use Roasters coffee. It’s popular all over the island. Come on in and I will make you some.”
The two men sit at a table under a yellow umbrella. It is not Jeremy’s time or place, but he takes it on himself to make two cappuccino. Then they exchange names.
Cory is wearing a watermelon-slice pattern on white cotton. There is a green tattoo on Cory’s left arm. His partner, David, has a coordinating tattoo on his left arm. Their rolled-up sleeves reveal this. David’s shirt is black. Red blossoms with grey leaves seem coordinated with his floral tattoo. Then again, the couple drinking coffee seem coordinated as they move together.
The younger-looking Cory has neat hair and a full boxed beard. Jeremy thinks David looks older. His beard is wiry pepper grey. Long twines of white stand out against the dark. Here is another high forehead and close cropped scalp. This one is arctic white. They both have friendly eyes, David’s framed by dark horn rim.
Partners can be similar or different. Jeremy always thought Shane and he would make great partners. They were great growing up, so similar, Jeremy thought. “You’d be good together,” one of his Chillicothe friends might tell him about some girl, just because she looked and acted like his sibling. Cory and David are trying hard to be twins, Jeremy thinks.
After knowing Anton and David, being twins seems sort of high-school-fitting-in. Daniel was straight-acting, Anton cared less. Looking back along the road, Jeremy realizes the teenage boys who tripped his heart were fellow Daniels. Jeremy Gates, Cameron in North Platte, (fucking) Cordell, Rafael, they all could pass for straight. Like attracts like, or so they say.
It is a working holiday. Cory and David have seen Nelson’s Dockyard and the crumbling forts. They wandered St. John’s by themselves searching for the real Caribbean. David reminds Jeremy of Campana and Francesco Doria. David finds the tourist centers disheartening. Somewhere on Antigua, he hopes to find authenticity. Antigua might be a location the couple could share with clients. David knows small tour outfits that specialize in off-the-beaten-path tours.
Jeremy thinks this authenticity is the urban sprawl strung bead-like along every narrow road. Reality is Branko driving lonely about his beat. It is Vinny at Shekerley Boatyard working in his seventies. Native Antigua is Chris and Jerry too scared to like each other. You cannot tease out the global-warp from the island-woof of Antigua’s threads. His new home looks outwards. The British forts are crumbling because that colonial Antigua is done.
All this, while Jeremy is swallowing a glass of water and Cory is thinking, what a beautiful young man. They are surprised to learn Jeremy lives and works alone on the island. Positively Horatio Alger story, plucky (manly) lad with gumption and a work ethic, Cory will tell friends after. The teenager’s sailing stories are a delicious pairing for a winter’s worth of dinner parties. Live-aboard, he told us; and I told David I’d live aboard that one if I were younger. The young American-in-paradise danced deliciously on the senses. Jeremy’s memory could be a hot tangerine mocha by the winter fire.
“So why Antigua and Barbuda?”
“The wind took me here,” Jeremy tells David and Cory. He does not emphasize he is on his own. He implies he is older-wiser. “I’m sort of beached-not-beached.” He has to explain what this means to the men. He boatsits for an absent employer. There is the kitchen work here at Lekker Braai, and part-time work at Shekerley when it comes up.
“I have the day off tomorrow, would you like me to show the island I know?”
🖊 74 reviews
*️⃣*️⃣*️⃣️⃣⏹⏹ Oct 17, 2018
Having had a holiday on St. Kitts last year which we loved, we thought we”d give Antigua a try this year. On the whole, we had a nice time but some noticeable differences. In St. Kitts, the staff would not leave us alone making sure we booked everything up, recommending this/that and even the surprise Champagne Boat Tour was great. Lance of the Dance was an amazing guy. In Antigua, none of that I”m afraid, in fact I struggled to get the staff to speak yet alone to recommend stuff.
The Schooner Beach Hotel should also do something about the beach bed situation. I witnessed people sleep walking at 5 am with towels in their hands (they had kept from the day ) so they could claim their goddamn sun beds. Madness. C”mon. Mind you after a few Dirty Banana Cocktails, who cares 🙂
However, the biggest asset in Falmouth Harbour is American teenager Jerry Gates. This delightful young hustler knows how to impress and his personality/humor was fabulous, a joy to be around. My partner and I both had great laughs with him as he took us on a great circle around the island’s lesser known attractions.
When you go to Falmouth and English Harbour stop in at Lekker Braai (see my review) have the peri peri chicken with a bottle of South African wine, ask for Jerry.
October 16, 2018
Chandler’s Caribbean Cafe is half filled with early diners and the after-work crowd. Dil comes in between the raised beds of succulents and fronds. The veranda on the wine-cave-coffee-bar is busy. It is Dil’s usual spot amongst the people grabbing a burger off the grill and celebrating an end to Tuesday.
Tyson Coyle is at the horseshoe bar presiding over the terraced seating areas. Dil starts through the restaurant towards him, so he can register for open mike. He chose his other dress, a dolphin-hem bodycon in a vibrant egg yolk that reminds him of Jaye Davidson’s over-the-top sequin dress. His heavy earrings and cascade of hair are the only accessories to this look.
Dil needs these evenings at Chandler’s. Here in English Harbour, he is back at South Beach and Miami Beach Marina. Chandler’s can be Dil’s South Beach Twist and Palace. He can sing full-throat-husky, flirt with men who may or may not notice the details. Dil needs Chandler’s because his days are un-accessorized horror in school uniforms. Dil does not miss his father, but he misses Miami breaking free in style.
“Hi, Dil,” Tyson Coyle welcomes. Over seven hundred prostitutes on Antigua, and the Jamaican boy in drag seems one of them. The youth is eighteen or close enough. He sings like a smoke-shrouded lounge singer, the patrons off the yachts like him. Dil is taking his place as unofficial hostess trolling for invitations to the mega yacht after-parties. Tyson just assumes there are transactions, but the trans boy might be more innocent than that. The boy is memorable, successful establishments in English Harbour need to be memorable.
“Hiya, hon,” Dil sits down at the bar, turning to survey the tables. He puts his phone down on the polished-stained concrete bar, conscious of the message Dov Norrell left him in the morning. It was there to think about as he slogged his way through a day of high school.
Cory chooses a table beside the bathroom doors where they can enjoy the full effect of the Caribbean cim cif yapan escort restaurant. Jeremy goes to the bar and David follows. There is a lonely business card holder beside the ashtray. “This is our business,” David shows Jeremy a card. “We wanted to get our approach across. We collaborate in video-making with our clients. Cory realized we could do it with one syllable from each of our names.” David slips a card into the jumbled deck. He smiles at Jeremy. “Advertising kid, never miss a chance. You should spread it around. Thanks for the great day,” he slaps Jeremy’s shoulder. “You’re welcome to join us for dinner.” David points back to the table where Cory waits, “our treat.”
Jeremy nods understanding.
Dil was peripheral to Jeremy’s focus as he padded to the bar. A well-built man like Tyson Coyle demands more interest than a slight Caribbean canary perched across from the bartender. Jeremy forgets the male of the species always has the brighter plumage. He has spent an evening and a day with Cory and David; hard not to warble or strut his tangerine mating dance. Birds of a feather with the man at the bar? Not likely, Jeremy senses.
The day has been so fine, it leaves Jeremy’s whiskers twitching at life’s possibilities. Cory and David were intrigued by Anton’s ketch, it was a shame Jeremy could not risk taking Sirocco out. He imagines charter cruises with (gay) couples. He thinks of Cory, David, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, but the seduction Jeremy plans at the bar with Tyson Coyle is not like that at all.
The day exploring Antigua has been a success for everyone. Jeremy has $100US to his credit and more confidence in his place on Antigua. You don’t know what you know till you know, he tells himself. If he makes friends with the bartender, sticks a business card in the soulful holder on the bar, more (gay) tourists might come his way. The bartender will polish his (dirty) concrete bar top and offer a local’s tip to the next tourist looking for authenticity in the company of a American-friendly guide; pass Jeremy’s number around. I know a kid who knows a thing or two.
So, Jeremy does not have a polished business card to flash at the handsome bartender. He shifts on his seat shuffling opening phrases from his eternal card deck. Start with a few complements? If Jeremy had a restaurant of his own, it would be like this. The tables move in and out of wooden gazebos. It has the ubiquitous colonial feel that tourists love. Open rafter ceilings, wooden railings. White trim frames the Caribbean rainbow-brightness. Jeremy would not come to Chandler’s on his own. Too pricey, for a working boy.
Jeremy sits at the horseshoe bar near the young woman. He pushes an empty glass across the cement top closer to an ashtray. There is this impulse to bus the counter. A sash window is set into the pale blue wall but Jeremy cannot see inside. Instead, the window panes offer a fragmentation of the young woman’s androgynous beauty.
The bartender-owner is a friendly man with a grey goatee and shaved scalp. Despite, or in celebration of Chandler’s Caribbean Cafe, he serves Jeremy in a blue T-shirt that reveals muscles begging to be stroked. The man’s cheeks dimple as he smiles professionally at Jeremy.
Below a sporting flatscreen, Jeremy reads the chalkboard with a professional interest. Chicken liver pate (25), mani-mani batter-fried (30), Caesar salad (35). Past three shelves with well-used liquor bottles, Jeremy eyes the door into the kitchen.
“What”ll it be?” Tyson Coyle’s Atlanta Joh-juh drawl calls him back to the bar.
“He wants a bottle of Guinness,” the voice is a rich alto, seductive-superior, almost Anton-Schroeder self-assured. Jeremy’s whiskers twitch.
Dil looks into the beautiful eyes that turn his way. “See that, Col?”
“See what, Dil?” In two weeks of the trans girl’s visits to his restaurant, Tyson has heard this once or twice. It is Dil’s game played on Tyson’s customers. Perhaps it is the trans girl’s hustle. Now, Dil is the uber-chill canary studying the cat from his high perch.
“He gave me a look,” and the boy is really looking at him. Dil sees his own beauty reflected in the widening of the young stranger’s eyes and sudden twitch of the sensuous lips.
“Did he?” Tyson returns. The teenager is not getting Guinness at his bar. Tyson puts Pepsi with a twist of lime in front of Jeremy. The American boy blushes, then buries himself in the drink.
“Just cut his hair, you know,” Dil continues on. The object of his flirting does need a haircut. The disregarded tangles bestow an irresistible animal-attraction. His boy is far too young for facial hair. Still, the tangled ruff attracts Dil. He imagines breathing in the boy’s scent as he fingers the shag and snips at it with his shears. He would be less sour than Dov and Obreyn, sweeter and adolescent-strong, like Dil’s own tartness. The tanned teen’s face is firm with no deep grooves. His goose-bump, pebbly-skinned forearms are almost as hairless as Dil’s freshly shaved flesh.
“Yeah?” Tyson sees that Dil is taken with the young stranger.
“What do you think?” Dil asks.
“Nice,” Tyson agrees. The two men the boy came in with are finally getting service. One points at the boy and a third menu is left at the table. The waiter has the usual attitude she radiates when she decides the table is gay. “Mmm, mmm, mmm,” Tyson comments to himself. He glances back and forth between the flirtation at the bar and the comfortable dalliance at the table.
Jeremy throws his eyes toward Dil again. There is something here that reminds him so much of Sophie Wright. Dil has Sophie’s confidence and, hell, her beauty. Dil is also utterly different in her tangerine and blue. There is something here to — Branko would tell Jeremy to date her, like Zion Baptiste chums with Chris Aska in St. John’s.
Dil’s face is turned away, but he sees Jeremy in the window behind the bar. “There, he did it again,” he tells Tyson.
“Saw that one,” Tyson obliges Dil.
“What would you call it?”
“Now, that was a look,” Tyson is not just saying this. A bartender always amuses himself with the interplay between his customers. The comfortable establishments like the two men the boy came in with, the strangers-in-the-night exchanges of this busy port of call. Dil’s exotic charms baffle some, but appeal to many. The trans boy leaves with more than a few men off the passing yachts.
Dil eyes Jeremy in the mirrored glass.”Ask him to ask me what I”m drinking.”
Tyson Coyle, with feigned infinite weariness, turns to Jeremy. “She wants to know, do you want to know what she”s drinking?”
Jeremy is about to talk when Dil pipes up, “a margarita.”
Tyson Coyle mixes one. Dil always orders a margarita, although he only sips it. From Chandler’s, he might move on to the Antigua Yacht Club and some gathering. Tonight, he is not certain. It is Tuesday and he should go to school in the morning. Dil came because Dov Norrell won’t stop messaging. Dil thought he had put the Norrells behind him. Dov and his uncle left, but now they are back. Dil stares at the sash window with its reflection of the unattainable youth. Dil decides to avoid his eyes. Tyson Coyle hands Dil the drink.
There is a way this first meeting should go according to the script. Jody was always looked-for-lost for Jaye Davidson. Just a convenient torch, and nothing he has ever felt personally. Dil’s experience in Miami and Falmouth Harbour has been Daves and too many disappointing Jimmy-Fergus types thinking they could have what Dil presents. Dil considers this next Jimmy-Fergus sitting beside him. “Now he can look — ask him does he like his hair, Col.”
Tyson turns from his latest drink order. “She wants to know, sir, do you like your hair?”
Jeremy blushes self consciously. “Tell her I”m very happy with it.”
“He”s Scottish, Col.”
Dil’s familiar script-flirtation usually ends with the margarita. This extension is new to their conversation. The boy at the bar is obviously American, like Tyson. “Scottish?”
“No, um I’m Antiguan,” Jeremy shrugs.
“What”d he say, Tyson?” Dil’s voice is like a length of distracting twine, paying out a little, drawing Jeremy in a little closer. There is something achingly Fergus about the handsome boy, something confident and poised, not too innocent. The hand cupping the club-soda-Guinness might reach out to cup Dil’s hip.
“He said he was from Antigua.”
“No, he has not. He came for work, hasn’t he? He’s from across the water, he is — can’t be Antiguan. Jody was Antiguan. Irish maybe, but he says he’s Scottish. What do you think his name is?”
“I”ve no thoughts on the subject,” Tyson smiles.
“Jeremy,” keep the voice steady, she’s older than you. Jeremy is not certain about either premise. He is certain Dil is utterly fascinating, and he wants this graceful person, holy shit!
“Jimmy?” Dil pretends to misunderstand. Dov Norrell with his latest offer is entirely forgotten.
“Jeremy, that”s what he said. Not Jimmy,” Tyson corrects Dil.
“Hi, Jimmy,” two words, rich with invitation. Twine twitching within Jeremy’s quick reach, asking to be pawed.
“Hiya, Dil,” the pounce!
A burly man steps between their game with his back to Jeremy. The newcomer puts his hand on Dil’s knee.
“Let’s get out of here, Dil.”
Dil slaps the hand away. Dil came to meet Dov, and now he is sorry Oberyn’s yacht came back to Falmouth Harbour. Dil does not want to need Dov now.
“Fuck off, Dave.”
“Fuck! Now I’m Dave is it? What happened to Fergus? C”mon, babe! You know what I like… Easy!” Dov tolerates the movie references. The boy’s obsession is amusing. It fits with Dil’s crazy bitch personality. Dov knows Dil cannot be the Jamaican boy’s name. That is just his stage name. That suits Dov just fine. Dov needs the boy on stage for his uncle’s business.
Dil shoves Dov back a step. The handsome boy’s seat is empty, the drink unfinished. When Dov sits down in his lost boy’s seat, Dil sees the boy has gone to join two men at a table. His Jimmy-Fergus picks up the menu, then walks around till he can take a seat where he can view the bar. Their eyes meet for an aching what if?
“Send him a Guinness for me, please Tyson?” Dil pleads. “Tell him it’s from me.” Then Dil has to scrawl his phone number on a dirty napkin and push it toward the bartender. That done, Dil straightens his shoulders and turns to Dov.
Dov watches the artifice of Dil. “You going to sing tonight?”
“I was, I won’t,” the tragedy of being Dil, “what did you want to tell me, Dov?”
Dov’s uncle Oberyn warned him that he has to move out of the VIP stateroom because clients are arriving at the international airport to join them. Three men with money to invest in these islands. Oberyn is put out that Dil has left the yacht. The banker sees the utility of the fem boy with these particular gentlemen. You really make an effort to get the boy back, Oberyn is pointed about this.
“These wannabe Wolves of Wall Street I’ve got coming down. You’ll need to entertain them on your own for two weeks. Take them down to Martinique. I have to be back in New York. I will meet you there. These men are the type to buy their own island. This kid you were fucking, sometimes you hit a gem. He is a talented hooker who can do magic with his fingers and tongue. The faggy routine, these clients will love that. God knows they won’t find anything better in these islands.”
Dov understands what his uncle is saying. Sell a lifestyle, push the tropical paradise. The Jamaican fem boy knows massage, especially his acrobatic body glides, body surfing and the occasional Nuru massage. If you let him tie you to a chair, Dil will make a handjob mind-blowing torture.
“I need you back on High Grade, honey,” Dov informs the Jamaican boy.
“Fuck off with the Dave shtick! I’m serious!”
“I’m listening,” but maybe Dil isn’t. Tyson is delivering a beer to Jimmy’s table and his latest Jimmy-Fergus is thumbing his phone. Dov is saying something about men and Martinique. Dil’s phone chimes and he wants to look at it.
Jeremy is standing across the road from Chandler’s Caribbean Cafe. He is sweating. Dil comes out of the pub alone. He looks up and down Dockyard Drive, as if searching for someone. Jeremy steps out of the shadow.
Then the man Dil called Dave comes out. He grabs Dil by the elbow. She shrugs him off and starts to walk away. Jeremy holds his breath, wanting her to keep moving away from the man. The man follows and grabs her by the elbow again. Jeremy can almost hear the argument; persuasion on one side, taunting dismissal on the other.
Dave suddenly strikes Dil across the face with his open palm. Jeremy flinches at the strike and his right hand curls into a fist. His heart is pounding in his ears. He could bound across the street and pounce on the bastard.
Dil leans her head against a palm tree. Dave then puts his arms around her, consoles her. Jeremy knows what he should do, only, he steps further into the shadow. The pain he feels is that first August-hurt. John Cannon, showing Fourteen like it is on the wet hood of an old Bronco, the moment across the street is too like that. Nobody to stop it then, not Jeremy now.
Dov is walking, guiding Dil firmly by the arm. The daft bitch needs this sometimes, wants a man’s hand. Dil is a woman, very emotional, full of drama and conceits. The bitch expects to be slapped around. It usually ends arguments between them. Dov understands hookers. That is probably why his uncle pulled him from the mailroom and brought him along this trip. “You’re gonna come with me.” Dil shakes a weak denial.
Dil lets himself be led back to High Grade. Just for the night, he tells himself. He came to Chandler’s to be Dil for tonight. He was expecting Dov to be like this. Dil was expecting Dov’s insistence. In Miami, Dil craved the intoxication of each glitter-promise night on the town. Miami was a celebration. Sure, there were always the fuck-you-Daves waiting on the street, the clubs, the boats, the beds. He owned that being Dil, but there was also the quest for Jimmy-Fergus. Dil’s dark knight.
Dil stumbles on the dock boards, catches his balance. Perhaps he was always Dil in Kingston, growing up. Jaye Davidson captivated him when he was fifteen. Shared tragedy and strength, that was what Theo Clarke recognized in Dil’s character. Dil only taking Fergus on her terms, making Fergus love who she was, Fergus doing time for her, what girl doesn’t crush for that? Dil could reenact every line.
There is a painful pressure on Dil’s arm as Dov propels him down the dock. Dov’s mind has already turned from entertaining strangers to his now need. Every fucking Dave begins with, “The last thing I want to do is hurt you.” But it’s still on the list, Dil knows. He learned that long before the police station in Kingston.
Jeremy follows the pair along the long zig and zag of the marina docks. Turns here and there between looming craft that Anton Schroeder has taught him to scorn. Jeremy is a blue-water sailor, not a mini-cruise-ship passenger. He stops on the dock when Dil and the man turn onto the stern gangway of a beautiful 100-foot cruiser. The man seems to guide Dil like a prisoner up the steps and into the yacht’s main salon.
Jeremy stands there, observing for a long time, unwilling to leave. There is a question he needs answered. He barely knows Dil. Their conversation lingers like a tart-sparkle. The look she gave him, bright and vibrant. Only now, watching the windows of the yacht, does Jeremy realize the zest had a sour-sorrow flavor. It is getting late, but Jeremy has no place to be, nobody to be with anymore.
Movement on the flybridge, then Dil is shadow-Juliet on the edge, bathed in limelight. The man comes up behind him. He begins to remove her robe. Dil stands absolutely still as he does so.
Jeremy has seen enough. He backs away, then walks off.
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