Authors: K. Alex Walker
e then chirped a laugh and slapped his hand against his knee. “Well, I can tell that the two of you are in need of a good shower and warm food in your stomachs. Come with me down to the house and I will introduce you to my wife. What did you say your names were again?”
“This is my wife Larke,” Desmond
said, gesturing. “I’m Desmond. We’re from Maryland.”
Ivor waved for them to follow him and they continued down the path until they came upon his white pickup truck. Desmond mentally chastised himself for being so preoccupied with Gano’s presence that he hadn’t sensed that the old man had been there as wel
l. It was pure luck that Ivor hadn’t been as bad as Gano or worse, and he knew that if he couldn’t get it together, his mistakes could get Larke killed…and there was no way he’d be able to live with himself if that happened.
They piled into the truck and Ivor started down the dirt road, humming to himself as he drove. After a few periods of silence, he glanced in the rearview mirror at Larke
, who busied herself by studying the terrain.
“You’re very quiet, Miss Larke,
” he noted.
Realizing that he was speaking to her, she snapped out
of her trance. “Oh, I’m sorry. It’s just been a hectic couple of days.”
“I can bet.” H
e sang a few notes of her name. “That’s a pretty name you have there. Where did it come from?”
Desmond was relieved to find that she smiled a bit.
“My father’s an ornithologist,” she replied. “He loves birds. Before my parents were married, he told my mother that he’d always wanted to name his children after birds. She wasn’t too happy about that because initially, she was thinking he wanted to name us Blackbird, Ostrich and Bushtit.”
Ivor bellowed out a laugh and Larke’s smiled widened a bit. She didn’t know how, but the old man had gotten her to like him in just a few short minutes.
“But when he told her that he liked names like Lark and Robin, names like that, she fell in love with them. I also have a sister named Lauren that we call Wren, and a brother named Jayson, that we call Jay. Like a Blue jay.”
Ivor met her eyes in the mirror. “The name suits you. You are a very beautiful woman and you have a set of eyes on you that I haven’t seen in a long time.” He looked to Desmond. “I bet that the first time you set your eyes on her, you couldn’t believe it.”
Desmond cast a loving glance at Larke. “I still can’t,” he replied with a teasing grin. She smiled and went back to staring out of the window, while Ivor continued to sing until they were pulling through a wrought iron gate and up to a pale yellow, one-story house. A manmade, red dirt driveway continued up the side of the house before branching off into a paved brick walkway leading to the front door, and a small enclosed porch decorated in natural stone graced the front of the house. Tropical flowers which looked intricately cared for by nurturing hands adorned the landscape.
Ivor jumped out of the truck, helped Larke out of the cab,
and gently took her by the hand up the walkway where an older woman met them at the front entrance. Her silver hair was pulled back in a braided bun and she was wiping her hands on a dish towel.
My Lord Ivor, I told you to go out and bring me back some roast corn and you come back with two children.”
Her eyes twinkled
as she opened the door for them to step inside. Although the porch was only large enough to hold two lounge chairs and a small end table, the size suited the quaint house perfectly.
“Eva, I just met these two lost children and I had to help them,” Ivor explained. “This is Desmond and Larke. Where did you say you two came from again?”
“Maryland,” Desmond replied.
“They are from Mary
land,” Ivor reiterated. “And listen to this story now, Eva. Can you believe that they came down here on vacation and some gangsters ended up taking everything they have? Right up there on the hill?”
Eva gasped and put her hand over her mouth. “You poor children. Husband and wife?”
“Husband and wife,” Ivor answered. “They remind you of us when we were young, don’t they?”
Eva scoffed. “When
were young, maybe. I am still a young woman.”
air through his teeth and they both shook with laughter. Eva then gently took Larke’s hand into hers. “My God, they even took your wedding rings.”
stiffly nodded and Eva placed a motherly hand against the side of her face. “Come inside and take a fresh shower. I will get you some clothes. I’m a seamstress by trade so I know I have some things that can fit you. Ivor, you take the boy.”
She then gently tap
ped her husband on the forearm. “Ivor, wasn’t it just last night I was telling you that I made that nice linen dress but I have nobody to wear it?”
“Just last night,” Ivor
Eva continued to walk Larke back to one side of the house while Desmond disappeared to the other. Realizing that it would be the first time they were separa
ted since they left the wooden shack, Desmond stopped, turned to face her, and met uncertain eyes staring right back at him.
“I’ll only be a minute,” he told her. “If you need me, come get me.”
Ivor slapped him on the arm and laughed.
“My goodness, you
would think we are taking the two of you to two different continents.” He playfully bowed towards Larke. “I will take good care of him, my dear. I promise.”
Desmond emerged from the bathroom in a white Red Stripe® lager t-shirt and khaki shorts. He searched the front room for Larke, but Ivor assured him that she was still freshening up and ushered him to the kitchen where a polished, wooden dining table was covered with an assortment of foods. When Ivor saw it, he shook his head and tsked.
, I don’t know why you always make all this food when it’s just me and you in this house.” With a nudge in Desmond’s side, he added, “She thinks I don’t know that she brings another man here to get his belly full when I’m gone.”
Eva tossed soap from her wet hands at Ivor who dodged it while holding his stomach in laughter. Soon after, she started laughing right along with him and Desmond couldn’t help but smile at the two. He and Larke were extremely lucky to run into such a kind and welcoming pair.
“Sit down, sit down,” Ivor insisted, taking the seat next to Desmond. “Where are you from, by the way? You look like you could be from the islands. You have a strong, nice looking face.”
Eva nodded. “Yes, you are quite
handsome. The two of you make a very good looking pair. Do you have children?”
Ivor’s thick eyebrows came together. “One question at a time, Eva.”
She waved away his words and went back to the dishes.
“Well,” Desmond began, clearing his throat. “
My father was born in Jamaica. He left Jamaica and went to Florida to join the military when he was eighteen, but moved to the Virgin Islands ten years later, which is where he met my mother. I was born there, but they moved to Jamaica before I was two months old. My mother and I moved to New York when I was five.”
Ivor slammed his hand against the table. “I knew it. I took one look at this boy’s face and said to myself, ‘he
is a Caribbean man, you know.’”
Desmond looked to Eva. “And no, Larke and I don’t have any children.”
Eva dried her hands on another dish towel. “You don’t want any children?”
st got married not too long ago,” Desmond found himself quickly responding. “We wanted to live as a married couple first to make sure that it worked before bringing any children into the mix. Plus, our work schedules can get very hectic at times. Larke’s an attorney and I’m...I run my own business.”
Eva took the seat across from Ivor. “
That is understandable, that you and Larke want to wait for children. It has always been just me and Ivor. It’s not that we didn’t want any children. It just never happened for us.”
Ivor reached across and placed a reassuring hand on his wife’s. Even after so many years, he knew that it was still difficult for her to talk about the fact that they
’d never had any children of their own. Coming from a big family herself, she’d always wanted to have at least three or four, but after years of trying with no success, she eventually succumbed to the depressive cloud that first started looming when they were childless going into year three. Night after night, she’d cry herself to sleep because she couldn’t give them a family, and night after night, he would reassure her that it didn’t matter. With or without children, he would still love her until the day he died.
Still, as time passed, she didn’t improve. It wasn’t until
he volunteered her for a youth-crime prevention program spearheaded by their church did he start to see the familiar flutter of light return to her shiny, brown eyes. Little by little, working with those children helped to fill the childlessness void, and it wasn’t long before the depressive cloud was lifted and he welcomed his wife back with open arms.
“All of this looks amazing, Miss Eva,” Larke complimented from the doorway. A swell of relief surged through Desmond’s ch
est as he turned to look at her…only to find that he didn’t want to look away. She was standing in a direct beam of sunlight wearing a light blue dress that flared slightly at the hip, and the soft, flowing fabric gracefully caressed her curves as though it was designed for no one else.
“Come sit down and have something to eat,” Eva urged and Larke obeyed,
sitting across from Desmond. When she looked up at him and smiled, the knot in his stomach tugged even harder.
“Eat up, I have plenty,” Eva coaxed. “You probably already know what most
of this is since your husband’s family is from the island.”
hid the surprise from her face. She’d assumed that “Michael’s” Caribbean accent was just another part of the act.
“Um, not really. We don’t eat much traditional
West Indian food at our house,” she answered.
Ivor, astonished, rested his hand on Desmond’s shoulder. “You don’t cook for your woman
, boy? That’s how you keep her. Well,” he wiggled his brows, “that and some other things.”
Eva swatted a hand in his direction and again he dodged her.
“Well then eat up, dear,” Eva encouraged. “I have cornmeal porridge, salt-fish, fried dumplings, hard dough bread, green bananas, and guava jam. Eat whatever you like.”
She turned back to Desmond. “What part of Jamaica
did your family live in?”
Larke’s ears perked up. He might have been able to shelter himself from her, but she was sure that he couldn’t hide anything from the keen old woman.
“Trelawny,” he replied, pouring a ladle of porridge. Taking a spoonful into his mouth, he was instantly transported back to New York and watching his mother dance to calypso tunes around the kitchen while fixing him a bowl for breakfast.
“What is your mother’s name?
” Ivor asked, munching on a fried dumpling.
“Elin,” he replied, the porridge suddenly feeling thick in his throat. “Elin Harding.”
Ivor and Eva exchanged a look.
“Do you mean Elin Harding that used to be married to Delroy that worked on the ships down by the dockyard?” Ivor asked, rubbing his chin and squinting at
Desmond. Then, he tapped his wife on the wrist.
“Eva. This is the little boy.
He was so small when they left that I didn’t even recognize his face, but this is him.”
Desmond busied himself by reaching for a piece of bread. He already knew that someone would recognize him as soon as he mentioned his family’s name. Nearly everyone around the island knew his father, which meant that virtually everyone knew what his father did.
“What boy?” Eva asked, now examining Desmond’s face as well.
“Look good at his face,”
Ivor added. He then glanced at Larke. “Desmond, does your wife know about your father?”
searched Larke’s face before slowly shaking his head.
“What is it
, Des?” She asked, shortening his name in a way that made him feel unusually centered.
“Oh my word,” Eva gasped, finally grasping what her husband was talking about. “You are the same son Elin left with in the middle of the night. To get away from Delroy.”
Ivor nodded. “Yes, Eva, this is him. They used to call him little Delroy, remember?” He rubbed a hand over his head. “No offense, son, but your father was one wicked man. He was a good looking man when he was younger, so he had a lot of young ladies running after him. But the son-of-a-bitch was so good at pretending that none of those poor young women knew what kind of evil man he really was. At least until he met your mother.”
smiled as he reminisced.
“She was Miss Virgin Islands
, so that should tell you something about how naturally pretty the woman was. Oh, and she was such a sweetheart. When Delroy set his eyes on her, he did everything in his power to make sure no other man could ever get close to her.”