Two Weeks To Judgement Day
Two Weeks to Judgment Day
Ace moves through the village like a fox on the prowl—agile, aware, cunning.
It is early. He wakes with the day, eats a banana, and drinks coconut water.
“It’s medicine, man,” he told me once.
“Coconut got to be young, picked long before they get hard with jelly, still small on the tree, no bigger than a cricket ball. Full of nourishment then, better than medicine. Keeps the system clean and fresh, good for the kidneys too. Plenty of iron, makes you strong like a lion.”
At 6 a.m. Ace heads out into the day, purposefully striding down Horse Hill, his hard feet stamping a rhythm onto the cool asphalt. “Flip, flap, slide, and slap.”
The village is quiet; the dogs eye him sleepily from their beds under the raised floors of the chattel homes along the road.
“Got to pay one thousand dollars or they throw me in jail,” he hums. “Got to find the money, man, or I’ll be sitting in a damp dark cell, with no unripe coconuts to keep this mind and body well.”
He knows every corner of the village and its people. He takes stock of its workers, residents, visitors, tourists, and strangers. This is his trade. He knows the newspaper writer Griffith is away teaching in America. A young girl, Ella, is staying in his house, taking care of it in his absence.
He scouts for new faces and opportunities. Tourists will give him a few dollars and offer drinks in bars. Surfers and weekenders buy coconuts. Residents have houses, gardens, and cars to repair. Jobs are scarce and the pay is poor. It could take months to raise the $700 he needs.
“Seven hundred still to pay. Just two weeks ‘til judgment day, seven hundred months away.
“Rass man, should never have happened, Ace don’t have no truck with the law. Live outside it. Not me they ought to worry with. There are bad people, lazy people, and crazy people, man. I don’t do no harm. Man got to live, fetch a pile of coconuts, sell some bananas, do a favour for a man, borrow some food. Ain’t no harm in that. Ain’t me they should worry ‘bout. Sure, I took a little dope, had a little snort of coke.
“Trouble, man. Coke brings trouble with the law! But I ain’t no pusher, me. Never done no truck with dope, just a snort, a swig, a smoke, just for me and friends, I know. Possession’s what they say, when they take my coke away and give so little time to pay.”
He is tuned to the sound of movement, the music of motion. Flip, flap, slide, slap. His oversized shirt flaps in the wind in time to the rhythm of his feet on the street. His breath is steady, heart beating like a bass. A harmony.
“Flip, flap, slide, and slap. Got a monkey on my back. Seven hundred fine for crack. I am a symphony. Man in motion, power walking down my hill. Got to find the money, man. Flip, flap, slide, and slap. Moving forward, never back. Ain’t no rhyme in the jailhouse block. No such thing as jailhouse rock. Got to keep the music live. Ain’t going to no jailhouse dive.”