Authors: K. Alex Walker
, now transfixed by his food, listened to the details of a story that he’d already known quite well.
“They left Trelawny
when you were about six months old, I believe,” Ivor continued. “He moved Elin into this big, nice house over there in St. Andrew. But, no matter how nice the place was, almost every night whenever somebody walked by that house, they could hear that woman screaming for that man not to hit her. Like she was begging for her life.”
Larke reached across the table and touch
ed Desmond on the wrist.
even talked to Elin a few times myself,” Eva jumped in. “Three times I went all the way down to that house when Delroy was at work and begged her to leave. Packed her bags for her once. I told her that she could come stay with me and Ivor and if Delroy so much as stepped his foot across my garden, I would shoot him dead. But by then, his work was done. He broke that poor woman down so badly that she refused to leave. That’s why I was surprised when one morning, Delroy woke up almost the whole island screaming for her. Years passed before we knew where she went, and it turned out that while Delroy was beating her, she was working on a green card for herself and her son.”
Desmond reached for more food and Larke could tell that only his physical presence was in the room.
“What happened, Desmond?” She asked, trying to pull him back. “You know, don’t you?”
The entire table paused, awaiting his response.
“Well,” he began, clearing his throat, “one night when Delroy came home and started his usual yelling and throwing things, I tried to intervene. I was only four at the time, but I still used to try to get in between them when they were fighting. But that Delroy, he was not the type of man that liked to be tested and it didn’t matter who was doing the testing. Usually, he would pick me up and toss me aside, but that night, he tore the shade off of a lamp and used the base to hit me in the arm, breaking it in three places.”
Larke’s throat went dry.
“That was the last straw for my mother, seeing me hurt. At least, that’s what she told me. So, we snuck out one Wednesday morning when he was at work and landed at JFK airport late in the afternoon. I remember because I had been so hungry from not eating anything all day. When we left Jamaica, we had nothing but forty US dollars and the clothes on our backs. That’s it. But somehow, we managed to make it.”
Larke moved aroun
d the table to where he sat, cautiously kneeled on the floor next to his chair, and pulled his hand between hers.
“But you see I’m surprised to see you,” Ivor went on. “When I heard from a partner of mine that Delroy had gone to the states and killed some people, I thought that it was Elin and her son.”
Larke didn’t attempt to wipe the tears that escaped and rolled down her cheeks. “Is that how she died?” she asked. “Did you see it happen?”
fist clenched. “I was seventeen. The doorbell rang and my mother told me to get it thinking that it was the pastor dropping off a cake she’d preordered from the church’s fall bake sale. When I opened the door, there was Delroy with a head and face full of unruly, jet-black hair. He stepped inside without being invited and as soon as my mother saw him, all the fear in her eyes returned. Then, he nodded when he saw her like he was making sure that she knew he’d found her, reached into his pocket, pulled out a gun, and shot her in the chest.”
“I tried to wrestle the gun out of his hands, but he pulled the trigger and I took a bullet to my leg. Then, like the coward he was, he
He slammed a fist on the table and Ivor squeezed his left shoulder.
“I thought we were going to die,” Desmond continued. “When the paramedics arrived, my mother was pronounced dead at the scene, but I lived because the bullet just missed my artery. The doctor that stitched me up had actually called it luck, so I asked him, how the hell was it luck if the world as I’d known it for the past twelve years was destroyed in five seconds? And by my father? A man whose genes make up half of who I am?”
pushed the chair from underneath him, excused himself from the room, and disappeared towards the back of the house. Larke started after him, but Eva stopped her.
“Let him have a moment, honey,” she advised. “With men, they need some time to cool off and handle
their emotions. I feel like this is the first time he has ever said anything about what happened, so he will need some time to sort things out.”
back on her legs. “Are you sure?” She asked, still tempted to follow Desmond to at least make sure he was okay.
Eva nodded. “
I am sure. As his wife honey, you will be one of the best things to ever happen to him and here is why. Men growing up are taught to keep everything in. All their feelings, their thoughts, everything. So, when they meet a woman that they decide they want to call their wife, there comes a time when a man has to do something out of the ordinary. He has to let things out—his secrets, his thoughts, his wishes, his desires. Then, when he does that, he’ll have to leave and sort out his feelings since it’s something that he has never done before. But, when he comes back and you are still here, he’ll realize that you will always be, and that will fill him with such grounding that it will overwhelm him. He will realize that he never has to be alone again.”
Ivor nodded. “My
wife speaks the truth.”
Larke stood and
went back around the table to her seat. She would let Desmond have all the moments that he needed, but even though she wasn’t his wife, she wanted him to know that she could still be a friend. No one deserved to be alone, especially not someone who risked their life for the safety of others. When he was ready, she was going to show him just that.
By the time Desmond returned, Ivor and Eva had already cleared the table and retreated to the porch with beers and a pitcher of lemonade in tow. Larke was still seated at the table, tracing the ridges and grooves in the natural wood with her fingers.
“I’m sorry about earlier,” he
said from the entryway.
to be sorry about, Des.” Her eyes remained on the table top and he wished that she would at least look at him.
called my contact,” he continued. “He said that he’ll have everything prepared for us in the morning. Ivor said he could take us down there tomorrow and Eva invited us to spend the night. Is that okay with you?”
“Yes, I’m okay with that. Those two have actually grown on me.”
He reclaimed the seat across from her. “Yeah, me too.”
They spoke in unison.
He stopped midsentence. “What?”
“I said I trust you, Desmond,” she repeated. “To get me home safely.”
His chest tightened with happiness. “Thank you for that. For trusting me.”
“And I know we haven’t known each other very long,” she continued, “but I don’t want you to ever go back to that dark place alone again. So, if I’m going to trust you to get me home, I would like for you to also trust me with something.”
He nodded and finally, she met his eyes.
“If you ever feel like you’re slipping away again, talk to me and I promise that I won’t shut you out. We’ve got to be there for each other if we plan to make it home alive, so I’ll do my best to be a solid structure in your life. Even if I’m the only one holding you up, I promise you that I’ll use every last bit of my strength before I let you fall.”
Desmond held her gaze and wondered if she truly understood the weight of what she’d just said.
“It’s the least that I can do, you know, being your wife and all.”
He erupted with laughter and she laughed
along with him, again enjoying his amusement. He then took her hand to help her out of the seat so they could join Eva and Ivor, but Eva suddenly appeared in the doorway, her usual, jovial expression replaced by a worried wrinkle in her brow. Behind her, they heard the annoyance in Ivor’s voice as he argued with someone at the door.
“Why do you feel the
need to come into my house, sir?” He was saying.
Larke’s smile dropped when she recognized Gano’s gruff voice.
“Because I can,” Delgano answered. “As Deputy Superintendent, I can do whatever it is that I want, old man.”
that there was more to Larke’s abduction than met the eye, Desmond now had an idea about the information his contact would have ready for him about Gano’s background.
Eva motioned for them to follow her and she took them back to a
small, narrow room off the hallway. When she flicked on the light, there was a sewing machine on a table in an alcove to the left of the room with two mannequins standing next to it in half-finished dresses, and a third one that had been completely stripped. They walked swiftly to the back of the room and Eva opened the door to a walk-in closet that held finished clothing pieces. Continuing to the back of the closet, she opened a second door and ushered Larke and Desmond into a cramped space bordered by shelves filled with sewing supplies. As she was closing the two doors, she heard Gano’s heavy footsteps walk into the room.
“You have it smelling quite nice in here,” he
announced. “But look at all those dishes in the sink? Why do you have so many dishes if it’s just you and your husband?”
Eva took a seat on the stool in front of her sewing machine. “I cook like that all the time. I love to cook. I make plenty of food for me and my husband so that we can eat throughout the week. Your mother doesn’t cook?”
Gano ignored the question as his eyes searched the room.
“What can I help you with?”
she asked. “If you must know, this is my sewing room. I make dresses for some of the ladies down at the church.”
examined the mannequins along the wall before pointing to the third one. “Why is the girl right there naked?”
Eva spun around and followed his finger to the third mannequin who’d been wearing the dress Larke currently had on. “Because I did
not make any clothes for her yet,” she explained. “Why, do you want a dress for your wife?”
Gano laughed and shook his head. “
Please, woman. Wife? Me? Never.”
Eva feigned surprise.
“Really? I would have never guessed.”
He ignored the sarcastic jab and continued his perusal of the room.
Ivor walked up with irritation clearly present on his face.
“What are you searching for now, man?” He asked. “I was kind enough to let you into my house
and now you are back here harassing my wife about her dresses and things.”
pointed to the empty mannequin.
“Feel free to search her if you want. You never know, she might be hiding camphor balls or something inside of her. Go on.”
Gano frowned and his face flushed with anger. “Look, let me go ahead and leave this house before I do something I regret.”
Ivor leaned back against the section of the wall in the hallway that hid his gun collection and folded
his arms. “I could say the same.”
Gano shot a deadly look at Ivor, and
Eva placed herself between the two men. “Maybe, if you tell us what it is you are looking for, we can help you find it,” she insisted.
He held her gaze.
“I am looking for a fugitive.”
“And what crime
is this fugitive being charged with?”
leaned in close to her face and her nose singed at the smell of tobacco coming through his pores. “Murder.”
air through his teeth. “I didn’t hear a damn thing about any fugitives on the news. Who did they kill, the prime minister?”
Gano stomped past
him out of the sewing room and peered into an open bedroom door. Inside, a gentle breeze tossed a cream-colored lace curtain into the air, and a queen-sized bed along one wall was neatly made with its ends tucked firmly under the mattress without a wrinkle or crease.
“One of my officers,” Gano continued, moving down the hallway to the kitchen. Eva and Ivor followed close by.
“Sounds serious,” she replied. “So, why are you
He picked up a pot that was overturned and drying on a mat on the counter. “T
he fugitive was reported to have been last seen in this area.”
Ivor leaned against the kitchen archway and folded his arms again, ensuring not to get too far away from his hidden gun closet or the sewing room
where Larke and Desmond still hid.
“I can assure you, your fugi
tives are not in my wife’s pots,” he taunted.
Gano sent him another scathing look. He’d always been taught to respect the elderly, but if the old man continued to test him, he’d be forced to take matters further.
“Why are you so miserable, old man?” he asked, opening the refrigerator. He searched through a paper bag, tore off a piece of spiced bun that he found there, and leaned against the fridge as he ate it. Eva threw up her hands with a, “Heaven, please help this man find some manners somewhere,” before leaving the room.