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Jason Dookeran Jason Dookeran
Recommendations: 12

Anansi


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For Fools

Johnson sniffed the air. This far down in the south of Trinidad, near the heel of the boot-shaped landmass, the sea had a scent. Today, however, the scent was different.
"What you think Boysie?" Johnson asked.


"Me nah know, nah", Boysie answered in his thickly accented patois. "It eh feel righteous atall."


Johnson was sent to tend to a small agricultural interest that the company he worked for had in Trinidad, and it had taken him some time to adapt from the proper English of Surrey to the broken patois of the islands, but he adapted. He had been there for close to ten years, and he had never smelt the sea smell like this. Not even after the rigs in the far off horizon spilled their oil and caused myriads of fish and birds to die and wash up on the shore.


"Ah feel we hadda go inside dey boss", Boysie said and half-walked, half-ran into the small flat house they had been living in.


Johnson stayed outside, looking at the sea. The white-crested waves broke with a fury on the shore, as though the ocean was angry. The salt smell intensified, and a strong, sweeping breeze blew in from the surf, clearing away the smell in an instant. For the brief time he smelt it though, it smelt less like the sea and more like decay.


Johnson lit the kerosene lamp that he and Boysie had. There was no power this far out from civilization. Sometimes Johnson felt as though he was on the very fringe of the world. He felt as though he was exploring a brand new world, and mapping it out for those who would come after him. These thoughts made him happy. Boysie turned on the battery-operated radio they had, but he could get no reception, just static, regardless of which station it was on.


"I coulda do with a lil music to calm mih nerves, yes", Boysie said. Johnsons had realized that these natives spoke to themselves very often aloud, but it didn't bother him anymore. The first few times he had tried to join in these solo conversations and ended up feeling like a square egg.


The wind had started beating in, so Johnson pulled the windows of the little house closed. The surf sounded as though it was closer, but Johnson knew the high tide mark was a long way away, maybe thirty or forty feet. A sharp, jagged line of lightning lit up the beach outside, followed by the instantaneous crash of thunder. Johnson sighed; he hated storms. It wasn't the lightning and thunder that he was averse to; it was the fact that he would get wet, and if there was one thing Johnson hated more than anything else, it was being wet.


"Place dark eh?" Boysie said, this time addressing Johnson.


"Yeah", Johnson said. "Makes things kind of scary, no?"


"Nah, me eh 'fraid nothin'", Boysie responded. "Unless is a socouyant or La Diablesse."
Johnson smirked. "You still believe in those things?"


Boysie looked at him with an air of superiority. "You might'n believe in dem t'ing, but yuh best hads hope dem t'ing ent believe in you."


"But what makes you so sure those things exist?" Johnson pressed. "Have you ever seen one?"


"Ah never see none, no, but ah hear bout people..." Boysie said, trailing off.
"Great, next thing you're gone tell me the Anansi stories are true." Johnson chuckled to himself.


Quiet hung in the air for a moment. "Boss, yuh bess doh piss off 'Nansi y'know", Boysie said in a hushed tone.


"You have GOT to be kidding me", Johnson replied. "You think the stories are true?" he asked incredulously.


Boysie's voice adopted a solemn tone. "If is one ting ah learn from mih days livin' hyah, is not to vex t'ing yuh don't understand. I eh know if is true or not nah, but I eh takin' the chance."


Outside the thunder crashed down, rocking the small house to its foundation as the rain started pelting down on the thatched roof. The surf bellowed with the voice of a thousand bulls.


"Seriously though Boysie", Johnson said, returning to his train of thought, "what makes you think there's an Anansi. A Spider God."


"Boss, wha' religion you is?" Boysie asked.


"I'm a Catholic", Johnson replied. Truth be told, he hadn't been to a church in years, but he still fancied himself a Catholic.


"You believe in God?" Boysie asked.


"I do", Johnson replied.


"Why you believe in God?" Boysie asked.


"Because there's so much evidence for his existence, from creation to everything else, it's all written in the Bible", Johnson said.


"So de only reason yuh does believe in yuh God and doh believe in 'Nansi is cuz Your God write books?" Boysie queried.


"It's not just that", Johnson retaliated. "It's...complex."


"Ah." Boysie said and a flash of lightning illuminated the floor of the house through the window. "So what it would take fuh you to believe in 'Nansi?"


"I guess I would have to see him, or her, or it", Johnson said.


"Dey say man who see 'Nansi go crazy", Boysie replied.


A gust of wind blew open the window and snuffed out the little kerosene lamp. Boysie rose and pushed the window closed again.


"Is that why there's no records of your Spider God?" Johnsons asked. "Because everyone who's seen him has gone crazy?"


"If you see 'Nansi, yuh go believe in 'im?" Boysie asked, walking over to the lamp.
"I will", Johnson said.


Boysie stood before the lamp. "You really are a stupid sort, you mortals" Boysie said, but in a voice not like his own.


"Boysie?" Johnson asked. "What's wrong?"


"Oh nothing's wrong; it's just that I must send you mad for denying my existence." Boysie’s voice sounded insectile, higher pitched than his usual voice.


"What you mean? What's going on?" Johnson asked, panic creeping into his voice.


"Look at me. Just Look at me." Boysie lit the lamp, and Johnson's world fell apart as he stared into the eight ageless eyes of the keeper of the stories. The creature’s great maw opened wide, revealing the venom coated spikes that were its teeth as it advanced. Johnson screamed, but there was no-one to hear him but the Spider of Old.


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Next: LIGHT at the END of the TUNNEL