[ This piece was written in 2001, it has been published before in a journal called Jamaican Diaspora, sadly it’s non-fiction. Thankfully I have travelled a far way since then but in all journeys we must remember the good and also the bad. I also hope it may help someone that reads it. Live !]
This is not a suicide note.
It’s a message to myself . Something I’ll read when my life is going merrily, merrily, like a dream, to keep myself humble. It’s a note to remember that I was once feeling more pain than I’d wish on my worst enemy. A pain of being lonely, a pain of not accomplishing my goals in life. A pain of watching life pass me by and feeling invisible and helpless.
It was painful mental anguish which made the idea of looking into a deep gully and trying to fly seem intriguing. The knowledge that hard concrete would end this pain seemed inviting. What would it be like, I wondered, hurtling through the sky ? I imagine it feels quite liberating at first, the sensation of bungee jumping without a rope , but then as you near the bottom I imagine that your basic instincts desire to live, you change your mind, you decide to stop falling . You scream ” NOoooooo !”. Gravity does not listen . I guess that your mind then goes blank overloaded from the sheer panic caused by a terrible mistake.
Thoughts of my own funeral , who would attend ? What would they say ?
I guess Wayne would be there. He’s my older brother and perhaps he’d remember that he once predicted I’d end up dead in a gully. He’d think of his friend a fellow singer who comitted suicide and the song he wrote about a suicidal lottery winner years ago. The song was always one of my favourites. I may be slightly biased but I think Wayne is an even better song writer than Bob Marley himself. Michael I’s amazing bass guitar and my brother’s lyrics, a perfect combination.
Colin possibly would be there also. Perhaps a moment like this would make him remember that he’s my brother. Then again perhaps not.
My Mom would be totally distraught . I would never intentionally do anything to make my mother cry. Truly a Mother’s Love is the most powerful thing God ever created. I know because it saved my life.
My Dad. What would he be thinking ? No one would ever know. He’d be as silent now as always, the tear flowing down his cheek speaking more eloquently than any words. Perhaps he’d wonder about his own father. The man he never knew. The ghost who seems to have haunted our lives silently. Perhaps my dad would hate this ghost for all he never did. I thank him for what he did do. The one act he felt was a mistake was the greatest thing this ghost ever did. The ghost haunts me no more. I will not listen to this ghost who encourages us to turn our back on life and to ignore our destiny. I forgive this ghost, not because what he did can be ever be condoned, but because I refuse to continue this cycle. I use this ghost’s real mistake, the mistake of not raising his son, as an inspiration and a motivation to live differently and responsibly.
I choose life.
Shelly, the woman I love. She never knew the pain I was going through. I realize now that was a big mistake, her love was always there for me, her words would have soothed my pain. I never wanted her to see my weakness. I always wanted to be there for Shelly, to always be strong not realizing that if I shut her out from my problems I’d be making us both weaker.
No, this is not a suicide note. ( I’m way too pretty to ever be in a closed casket. )
It’s a man realizing and deciding to use the only thing he truly owns. His life.
[This is latest installment of an ongoing story please read the parts before to get the appropriate effect. Comments welcome.]
Go to Chapter 1 of this story.
It was not such an easy task, just lighting the match. Not easy at all with his thick gloves on. Hezekiah Scythe struck another match carefully and then let the flame play along the interior surfaces of the mold. The thin layer of carbon, created by the flame, would allow the hot metals, soon to be poured in it, to be distributed evenly, and prevent his creation from sticking, when the “cooking” was complete.
He was in his workshop, the center of his web. It was just a huge metal cage really but with a zinc roof and even a little office attached. It was down by the section of his huge estate which also had the sweetest mango trees in the whole district. The cage functioned as a makeshift auto shop at times and there were quite a few cars in various stages of disrepair all around him.
Hezekiah had already placed a variety of metals into the crucible, basically just a huge pot on a square base. The metals were of all types but mostly from old car parts and some out dated coins, even spent bullets, in fact anything he felt would make his final product attain the desired effect.
He was looking through his thick safety goggles and already sweating as the metals had now become liquid. Liquid Fire. This fascinated him somehow. He hung the mold above it to heat it. It was important for the mold to be hot before the pouring began.
Hezekiah took a ladle and scooped up the liquid fire, then poured it into the hot mold which he gently closed while shaking it to release various air bubbles.
His phone rang. The office phone was not a number he gave out to many. Whoever was calling it was probably very important.
“Hello. Who is it. ” he asked angrily. The call could have spoiled his creation if it had interrupted the process a minute earlier. Luckily he was basically finished now. He gripped the receiver tightly once he had freed a hand from the bulky gloves. He then shifted the goggles to the rear of his helmet with back of the glove, on his other hand, the heavy glove was wiping his sweaty brow simultaneously.
“It’s me. I just saw Theo Adams, he is heading to Archie’s house with his daughter. You told me to tell you whenever I saw him near here again.”, Deacon Brown answered with a soft yet confident manner.
” Ok, great, yes thanks for telling me. Keep me posted. How is your little mission going ? “, asked Hezekiah Scythe.
” Well it was not going so well but with the goodies you promised I’m sure the plans can move into over drive shortly. She’ll be eating out of my palms soon enough. I’m trying to be patient, don’t want to muck it all up now.” said the Deacon.
” Yes, you’re right, well good luck it will all be worth it, I’m sure. I’ll bring your stuff for you soon. It’s guaranteed to do the trick.”, said Hezekiah.
They both ended the conversation as quickly as it began. They were both busy men.
Hezekiah dialed Storm’s number.
” How you doing Lily, or should I just call you Storm ?” , he asked as soon as her sultry voice answered.
” Hi Hezekiah. I’m alright, never expected you to call me now. You not afraid that my husband might answer the phone ?”, Storm asked him.
” Theo ? No reason to be afraid of that, me and Theo go way back. He surely would not mind if I call you and just ask if you all right.”, said Hezekiah Scythe.
“Yes, I’m alright, just here doing my toenails and trying to figure out what I should wear later. Maybe I shouldn’t wear anything at all.”, she said seductively.
“You too bad. Theo should spank you.”, he replied with a laugh.
” Theo can’t spank me.”, Storm was about to explain but she suddenly lost interest in flirting as she remembered that Theo had broken her foot before out of jealousy and that it was still in a cast.
” And remember to bring your friend Pandora too, ok ?”, Hezekiah was all about business and he needed Pandora and Storm to be at the session that night.
“Yes, Pandora and Michelle coming with me, with the free tickets you gave us. Thanks again. See you later.”, said Storm. She wanted to get back to her cooking.
Hezekiah hung up after a quick goodbye and went back to the mold cooling. He took off the goggles and helmet completely and threw the heavy gloves down unto the dirt.
He made another phone call.
“Dr. Franks ? Yes this is Scythe. I need another supply of the magic pills. Yes I know they’re really for insomniacs but you know I need them.” Hezekiah Scythe spoke fast, the same way he drove and ran, he was somewhat annoyed that the doctor was sounding hesistant.
” I just spoke to my friend Storm and she’s bringing her friend Pandora to the party, tonight, just to meet you. Apparently Pandora always wanted to meet a doctor and get a free examination if you know what I mean. ” Hezekiah added. The doctor understood and assured him that he could get his “magic pills” immediately.
Hezekiah ended the conversation abruptly once the business had been completed.
He hated unfinished business. He went back to look at the mold. It was still very hot but he couldn’t wait anymore. He put back on the heavy gloves and then snapped the jaws of the mold open, suddenly. It released a single bullet unto the soft cloth he had placed below. He picked it up with a pair of tongs and placed it in a bullet shaper. It was still too hot to touch as he used a makeshift metal clipper and a type of file to smooth the edges. An untraceable bullet.
Later or perhaps even tomorrow Hezekiah Scythe would use a plastic bag and some liquid alox to finally cast the bullet, but for now he was happy. His unfinished business was that much closer to being resolved. The bullet he had just created had Theo Adams name on it.
” I am Jaguar Paw. This is my forest.”
I enjoyed Mad Bull’s blog, about a ridiculous Asian show, with a tagline that was almost meta physical, “Death is just an Upgrade”, so much, that I decided to write a movie review too.
With this in mind I snapped up two films from the office DVD guy.
The shows I grabbed were Apocalypto and Seven Pounds. I chose Apocalypto because this friend of mine named Carl had wanted me to see it and the other one had Will Smith. I am told that Will picks interesting roles to play. Last thing I saw him in was probably an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, needless to say I’d watch Apocalypto first.
Anyway I live online so it’s only because my recent Valentine’s tryst, with my mistress Caissa, had left my computer acting all slow and “hacked-like” that I even fired up the DVD, some two weeks after I’d got it. While I watched Apocalypto my computer got a defrag.
I won’t tell you much of the story, (don’t want to spoil it for you when you watch it), except to say it’s about a tribesman in a Mayan type world and is full of violence. Horrific levels of violence. I don’t think the violence is just gratuitous though. In fact nothing in the film is. Everything is there for a specific purpose and relevant to the overall plot. From a writing perspective, I really loved this show. I thought about it carefully and although there are a few scenes I don’t fully understand yet and many ways to interpret the film, I am pretty much convinced that nothing in the show could have been left out. Neither in terms of Violence nor other plot elements.
The movie had the pace of the best Hitchcock shows, the characters worthy of a Mario Puzo epic, great acting by an unknown cast, a strange yet familiar world, all you can ask for in a movie, frankly. Horrific though, because we recognize the Pol-Pot Hulk in our David Banner civilized selves is just a step away from emerging and it’s more barbaric than any tribesman hunting for food could ever be.
” I am Jaguar Paw. This is my forest.”, with those simple words a hero was born, a man to be remembered for all generations. A message to us all that the game of survival is about adapting to your environs and to change itself. A Mayan version of “Who moved my Cheese ? “.
Some will see the show as nothing more than a sick blood-fest, a too graphic version of Conan the Barbarian or even Mad Max, but Mel
Gibson is clearly making a barrage of points both subtly and obviously.
Politically, he says a civilization cannot be conquered from without, until it’s conquered from within. That argument is probably total
tripe but it’s a necessary argument for his main religious thrust to hold any water.
Watch this show. I give it my highest recommendation. At least promise you’ll watch it before you watch another rerun of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Some people think you should always spend Valentine’s Day with a beautiful mistress, and I guess I must agree, for that’s exactly what I did, this year, and it was great fun.
My mistress is a real Goddess known simply as Caissa.
Let me explain before my wife gets too angry. Caissa is the “patron goddess” of chess players.
She was created in a poem called Caïssa written in 1763 by English poet and philologist Sir William Jones.
In the poem, the god Mars falls in love with the goddess Caissa, portrayed as a Thracian dryad. Caissa rebuffs his advances and suggests he take solace in the company of the god Euphron—the god of sport. After hearing Mars’ laments, Euphron
…fram’d a tablet of celestial mold,
Inlay’d with squares of silver and of gold;
Then of two metals form’d the warlike band,
That here compact in show of battle stand;
He taught the rules that guide the pensive game,
And call’d it Caissa from the dryad’s name:
(Whence Albion’s sons, who most its praise confess,
Approv’d the play, and nam’d it thoughtful Chess.)
Mars then presents the game of chess to Caissa in an attempt to win her affection.
So for die hard chess players, Caissa is often invoked as a source of inspiration or luck, they often say things like “Caissa was with me in that game.”
So, in other words, I spent the whole day,all of Valentine’s, just playing chess.
It gets worse too, I wasn’t even playing chess with anyone else. I was really just fiddling around with this new computer program I got which plays at the level of a real Grand Master.
I learned a whole lot of new stuff about how I can use computers to benefit my strategies on the board. Stuff which is totally boring to those who don’t realize that Chess is the best game ever invented.
Poker does have a lot of strategy too, but Chess is the Ultimate game. Both games are perfect for the internet era.
Anyhow I was totally excited to see how far things have come in the world of computer chess. I’m not a racing car fan, but I do like to think Laterally, so let me try to give an analogy of what’s happening.
Basically chess players now have real live Grandmasters sitting right on our desktops. This has happened because the computer programs are built like Formula 1 cars now.
The outer shell of the car is what the computer program calls the GUI or graphical user interface. Its the nice board and all the features you use to play the game. The eye candy if you will.
Two popular GUIs nowadays for chess are Arena and Fritz 11.
The real power comes from the Engine, so of course they’re called Chess Engines, that’s where the calculations are done and the evaluations of positions that makes the computers of today Grandmasters in rating level. The best engine around now is Rybka, which apparently means ‘little fish” in Czech.
The power of the engine also depends what type of hardware configuration it’s running on and how the resources of the computer are organized. Things like Hash tables, etc, (way beyond the scope of this intro) come into play here but suffice it to say the bigger the computer, (more memory, greater speed), is usually the better the result of the lines it calculates.
Deep Blue, the computer that beat a reigning world champion in a match, was a mainframe, but now an average desktop computer packs more than enough strength to beat a Grandmaster.
What really intrigued me though was that the human component is still way, way from being obsolete. Each of the top programs also uses what are called “Opening Books”. These electronic “books” are really huge trees of variations that the program will play. The strategies it will use in the beginning of the game. The basic approach to victory if you will.
What amazed me is that these books are critical to the success of the whole Program and they are made by Humans, by a laborious process like distilling wine. Men like Kevin Frayer, Dagh Nielsen and Sedat Canbaz are famous for producing high quality books to guide the chess machines like a Formula 1 Driver.
Humans must direct the brute force of the machine, for best effect, even though its admittedly more powerful than us in raw calculation. It’s like riding a horse, I guess. Where the “computer horse” and man work as a team,really closely connected, its a “Centaur”.
There are even tournaments where they have what are known as “Centaur” matches. Centaur is where a human using a computer plays chess. Usually of course using a computer is strictly prohibited for a tournament but now its becoming popular. I guess it’s like when the pocket calculator was first invented and banned from most Maths exams.
Learning all this from my Mistress was really fascinating to me. Just goes to show that I need a life, I’m a nerd or something but I was really totally happy all day long.
Wifey didn’t miss the roses either because she claims that she’s Jehovah’s Witness and they don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.
“Chess is a beautiful mistress to whom we keep coming back, no matter how many times she rejects us”. –Bent Larsen.
Happy Valentine’s !!
While most people , myself included, use the week-end as a time to recharge and recreate themselves, I spent this one under an undue amount of stress and almost totally sleepless.
To begin with I had to see off my Mom who had been visiting all week and that meant rushing to the airport earlier than I’d normally wake up and then politely listening to various speeches about my procrastination and what I should do when I get money again. These speeches are great advice but I find I’m not really receptive to them right now because I feel stressed out and tired.
Being constantly told that you’re lazy and broke is not a great way to end either condition I surmised silently.
My wife suggested that I take my daughter along for the drive. I declined that lovely suggestion by reminding her that the car wasn’t working, all that well, and that our daughter can be more than a handful, even under the best of times, much less at an airport where you can’t even see the planes flying off anymore.
So it was just me and my mom in my car as we pulled up to the departure section of the airport. After I pulled her lone suitcase out of the trunk my mom quickly waved me off with a smile and a hug. I hugged her tighter than usual. One thing stress does is make you appreciate true and genuine friends and real family. I was missing her already, she was a tower of strength, always and I need that. They say men aren’t suppose to cry so I just got back in my car and didn’t look back, heading for home and some much needed sleep.
As I was driving back home, on the long Palisadoes strip, famous for being a speeding zone and offering great views of the sea on either side, my car started making a loud rattling noise. It’s hard to describe the sound, it felt and sounded like a metal strip was rubbing along the ground on the left side or something.My deeply mechanical mind immediately detected it’s the sound that a car makes when “something is wrong with the Engine”. I came out of the car hoping to see something stuck under the car was causing the noise but saw
nothing unusual. There’s a little flap hanging down a bit at the front end of the car but not low enough to be the source of the scraping, rattling noise.
Some NSWMA workers were sitting down nearby and observing me, amused. They talked, about the work, they might do later, if the sun cooled down and were fixing their various machines.The machines with rotating blades they used to thanklessly keep the prickly plants in that area in check.
One of them, a guy named Dwayne Kane asked if I was okay and I explained what I was doing looking under the car. “Something is wrong with the Engine”, I stated pontifically. I begged him for a phone call and he kindly lent me his cell. Mine had zero credit on it. I’m broke, remember ? I called my aunt, no doubt shortening her Sunday Sleep also and waited for help to come.
“Slavery done long time, Sunday is for cooking family dinner”, said one lady worker as she and her colleagues fumed in the heat packing bio-degradeable bags full of garbage, cuttings and other junk. I noticed she was dressed like she was going to a party while the others were in a NSWMA t-shirts and other makeshift protective garb. All of them agreed it was not a great day for work but they were all hesitant to ask their supervisor for a break. Eventually one lady was brave enough or hot enough to make the journey to the other side of the Palisadoes Road to ask a lady in a car about the possibility of leaving work early. The supervisor who sat in her air conditioned car signaled with a few deft waves of her hand that no such permission would be granted.
The female workers continued to bend over and pack bags and I continued to wait to be rescued occasionally peeking over at them as they peeked over at me.
Eventually after what seemed like hours probably because it was, my aunt arrived with her son-in-law, Ramesh, who assured me everything would be okay and said that the Wrecker was on it’s way. He slips me some funds with which to pay the man. Everyone knows I’m broke.
“Fix it and then Sell it “, was his shrewd advice and we sat in his luxurious car waiting for the wrecker to reach. I immediately noticed his dashboard had a jewel encrusted idol. A small figurine of the Hindu God Ganesha. Not that unusual, since Ramesh is born in India, but I had a previous encounter with this particular character, Ganesha. He scares me but I respect his power, this elephant-headed deity, known as, Ganesha. To his devotees he is said to be a “remover of obstacles”. I chose to take it as a good omen and relaxed a bit as we waited.
Ramesh shared several stories of his daily experiences in Jamaica with us. His son was in the car also and he turned to him and used me as an object lesson. “You see son, life is very hard.”
The wrecker came along soon enough and I was impressed with how quickly the man had my car hoisted up and ready to go.
Ramesh sped off with my aunt and his son, heroes fading into the sunset.
I climbed into the wrecker and directed the driver to my home many, many miles away.
On the journey the wrecker driver tells me of some of his previous jobs that day and I actually feel a bit lucky that I wasn’t wrapped around a tree or anything like that. We reach fairly quickly and he easily squeezes into the small driveway.
As we offload the car my young daughter starts screaming from inside the house asking why I took a bus home and my wife screams back at her telling her it’s not a bus its a wrecker.
My stress is over I am really home again. I pay the driver and then I close the gate only to hear a long time neighbor shouting from across the street. I soon realize he’s shouting at me and offering to help me whenever I’m ready to “shoot my car”. I muster a weak smile and say I’m ready now but really I’m too tired and hungry to do anything.
More broke and even more lazy than before, I limp back, tired, into my hermit’s cave, my house, my home, hoping simply for for some good old Sunday Sleep.
Just saw that TNT will premiere the show Gifted Hands : The Ben Carson Story about the world famous Neuro Surgeon tonight.
I had read the book, on which this film is based, years ago and found it very, very inspiring. The star is Cuba Gooding Jnr. so it’s sure to be worth viewing.
Times like this, and whenever there is an Arsenal football match, I sure miss having cable.
The movie premieres Feb. 7, 2009 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT), exclusively on TNT.
The website http://www.blackvoices.com/gifted-hands has more info.
Once a lady came up and hugged me in Mega Mart , only to look into my face closely and suddenly realize she had mistaken me for her dentist. I never realized that dentists were so chummy with their patients and her look of total embarrassment, upon realizing her mistake, was really priceless.
You see, aside from the unusual and largely useless super power of, “Always being asked for advice”, I also have the even less useful and potentially dangerous “Familiar Face” super power, that Ruthibelle perfectly described, in her recent blog.
Basically anywhere I go, no matter how remote or distant, no matter how far removed, from my normal circles of orbit, I always encounter some curious person, who swears they’ve met me before.
“Haven’t I met you somewhere before ?”, they ask.
Sometimes, after talking with me they realize they’ve made a mistake at which point they swear that the person they know, “Joe Blow”, or whoever, looks exactly like me.
Sometimes I know the person who they say looks like me or I get to see a photo of the “doppelganger” later on. Sadly, I’ve found that these people they think look “exactly” like me are invariably “unprepossessing” or downright ugly and of course have no similarity to me at all.
This got me thinking and I realized it’s similar to how many people think all Asians look alike or the way “every Jamaican looks the same” to some tourists.
In Jamaica where people are habitually lumped into racial classes, “cooley”, “whiteman”,”browning”, “chiney”, it’s easy for people to mistakenly think you look just like someone else from whatever group. They don’t take time to look for anything more that might identify you.
Every Chinese (and even the Japanese too) becomes “Mr. Chin” to them. It’s even sadder if your name really is “Mr. Chin”. Everyone thinks they know you, yet they don’t know anything about you at all.
When you’re racially mixed, and belong to maybe three or more of such groupings, it’s even more likely you’ll look like someone they know, “exactly the same”, to them, in fact.
Clothing and accessories can help create problems too. Wear glasses and you look like every other nerd out there. Wear the brand that their friend sports and your alibi is permanently screwed-up. Heaven forbid if you drive the same type of car.
” But you must be Joe Blow Chin, the Cooley from Manor Ghetto, because him drive a Honda too.”, they will tell you with all sincerity.
Ok, I guess I don’t know my own name then.
My advice is to beat a hasty retreat, smile if you must but don’t even wave. Being the wrong person at the wrong time can get you killed. Looking like Joe Blow is my daily grind but looking like Joe Grind can get your head blown off (no puns intended). I mean some jealous husband out there could really kill you.
Once when I was in high school just walking home a guy in a car stopped and politely asked me if my name was Jason. I said no at which point I was met with a stream of obscenities. ” I’m looking for that guy Jason, who lives around here, him dead if I ever find him.”, said the irate driver and then the car sped off. If this person had been a trifle more hot headed I would have been seriously hurt while the real Jason or Joe Grind continued to have his fun.
Coincidences do happen but it’s a real dumb way to get killed.
Strangely enough there was a time when my next door neighbor had the same last name as my mom and drove the same type of car and they were both members of the same church and even had the same occupation. It was an incredible coincidence but very real. They didn’t look much alike though.
Even more bizarre however was this particular instance when a lady, I used to work with, kept telling me she knew someone that looked just like me. Of course with my super-powers I thought nothing much of it. “Yes, yes, I’m sure you do, he looks just like me, I’m sure.”, I replied sarcastically with a smug smile. Finally with an air of haughty satisfaction she brought a company magazine with Joe Blow’s photo. I stared at the photo. I stared again. I felt kind of tired, suddenly, I had to sit down. I stared one more time.
The smug smile was completely wiped off my face. It was the Horror of Horrors. I’d have preferred to stare at a monster, a Frankenstein, a Creature from the Black Lagoon. Instead it was …myself. A real doppelganger. I felt like Leonardo Di Caprio…The Man in the Iron Mask…he looked more like me than my own brothers do. I had thought it was fiction, but his baldness, his sharp eyes, his every handsome feature…they were all mine too. I was looking at myself and I did not know him.
I was looking at myself and I did not know him. That’s deep.
Since then other people have mistaken me for this person also. The guy works at some credit union and he really looks like he could be my brother or something, at least in the photo I saw. Then to top it off his last name was very similar to mine, just slightly different. That is kinda scary, makes you wonder. Are we really that unique ?
“Haven’t I met you somewhere before ?”.
Nah, you just saw my face on Facebook.
“Haven’t I met you somewhere before ?”.
Not in this lifetime. Keep on moving.
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