It was the third time this week that Mercury had that same bad dream.
It started after his brother John got that night job as a watchman at the Grapefruit Packing Shed near the Goodwill Junior High School.
In the dream something was following John. Mercury could not tell what it was. It looked like a misshapen man with grotesque features. The thing always started to follow John just when he got under the big tamarind tree on his way home in Bellevue, Stock Farm, and it followed him all the way home.
On his arrival home, John would rest his work bag down and head straight for the kitchen. At that time Mercury would get that heavy, sinking feeling as if some invisible force was dragging him down an abyss and he would struggle to open his eyes so that he could chat with his brother.
Strange as this may sound, Mercury could actually hear his brother moving about in the kitchen, but his eyelids felt heavy and he felt numb. He felt like he was caught in some sort of invisible trap. Gasping and choking, he tried to bawl with nothing doing no relief until John came in and shake him saying, “Garsa Merk wake up ! wake up! you alright ?”
Mercury would get up looking at John all bazoody (confused) “Merk cockma hold you down man,” John would say in amusement.
“Garsa I doe know what happening nuh, for the past 3 nights I have been having a dream of something following you home, and when you get in the house is like the thing coming in and attack me,” Mercury replied, drenched in sweat.
Then he would be too scared to go back to sleep for fear that whatever it was, would come back to torment him.
John made fun of Mercury saying, “Garsa Merk you have kix wi boy, something following me and is you it harrassing?”
“Garsa I not your pappyshow, I tell you something following you home every night from under dat big tamarind tree” answered Mercury, very pissed off and frustrated at John’s humor at his expense.
“Oh you know what?” John asked looking very pensive, “You can play detective and follow Mae Mae home for me to see if she have another man.”
John was dying with laughter he just could not contain himself and Mercury only rolled his eyes and sucked his teeth.
John, like most people, was a skeptic who did not believe in ghosts, spirits or jumbies. He said it was stories people told their kids to get them to behave. John explained that what people referred to as “cockma” was simply indigestion as a result of eating too much at night.
Mercury knew he had to do something about those nightmares but John only laughed at him. So he went over to Ma Baby to relate what was going on.
Ma Baby listened quietly to Mercury, she did not laugh, nor did she interrupt. She was quiet for a while then she asked him, “How does John come in de house?”
Mercury responded that he assume that since John does not believe in jumbies he is most likely coming in forward.
“Hmmm,” Ma Baby shook her head. “well dats your problem right there. John is supposed to come in de house by backwards, dats why de thing following him inside. ”
She continued, “he should also turn his clothes in de wrongside.”
“But Ma Baby you know John only going an laugh if we tell him to do dat,” Mercury responded very discouraged.
“Garday pou kor-w “(look out for yourself) responded Ma Baby.
The brothers were looking forward to Saturday night because there was going to be a big dance at the Parish Hall. Gaylords and Bells Combo would be playing and it was going to be hot action. Mae Mae (John’s girlfriend) and Suzie (Mercury’s girlfriend) would both be coming over to spend the night. Mercury had also cooked his usual Saturday broth with fig, dasheen, yellow yam and a good helping of red fish, for them to all feast on after the fete.
As expected, Gaylords and Bells Combo delivered as promise and did not disappoint the masses and there was quite a turn out.
“Well corfey di matti dat was a good fete wi,” Mae Mae said to Suzie as they made their way across the Goodwill School Savannah.
“Yes wi girl long I haven’t enjoy a fete like dat” agreed Suzie.
Mercury nodded in agreement, he had such a good time that he forgot all about his jumbie woes.
As they approached the tamarind tree, Mercury felt goosebumps and he hesitated a bit. John looked at Mercury slyly and started snickering.
John made a bold move and decided to urinate on the tamarind tree trunk to show his disdain and contempt for whatever was supposedly living there. He was a little tipsy and still had his beloved small bottle of Belfast
Rum in his back pocket. He opened it and attempted to take a swig. But before it could reach his lips it was slapped right out of his hand. He jumped and started swearing and cursing.
All of a sudden Mae Mae felt her blouse being unbuttoned and an ice cold hand carressing her breast. She let out a bloodcurdling scream.
Trembling, Suzie grabbed on to Mercury. They all kept on walking in fear. John was not laughing anymore.
After passing the junction leading to the prison they saw something lying across the road.
As they approached, John saw it was a full sized coffin looking all tattered. He could’nt believe his eyes.
They were all frozen with fear. Nobody could run since their legs all felt wobbly.
Anyway Mercury, with all his fear, remembered someone talking about a similar experience. With a burst of courage that he did not know existed within him, he carefully peeled off his clothes and stark naked as he was
born faced the coffin, belt in hand and started swinging left and right beating it, demanding that it go back to wherever it came from.
“Foul creature of darkness” he shakily chanted. “Depart! from whence you came and return to the bowels of Hell!”
He chanted over and over , while continuously beating the coffin.
And then there were screeching and groaning and fluttering in the coffin as if something struggling to be free from its confines.
Suddenly there was a loud crash and the lid of the coffin flew open. Caught by surprise Mercury lost his footing and almost fell backwards.
Suzie screamed and grabbed at him. Mist was slowly coming from the coffin and with it rose the ugliest creature they ever saw as if it had really crawled out from the bowels of hell indeed.
The atmosphere suddenly grew very chilly and misty. The creature looked like a cross between a man and a ram goat. The head was oblong, its eyes were hooded and bloodshot, the ears were small and pointed and there was a pair of horns protruding from its misshapen forehead. Behind it was a long scaly tail. The foul putrid stench emanating from its body was that of death and decay. It looked angry and out of its ugly mouth drooled a thick slimy stinky clear substance.
It looked around and focused its sinister glare on Mercury, its nemesis. It grinned and its sharp crooked teeth looked deadly.
Mercury regained his composure and was not sure whether he should continue using his belt while the creature stared at him almost daring him to.
For a moment Mercury got that cold clammy feeling like he was caught up in that invisible trap, and he felt himself weakening but he pulled through and with a confidence in his voice that he really did not feel and remembering his days as an acolyte, said a silent prayer asking for strength. He then commanded the creature to go back to where it came from.
There was a loud and ear splitting shriek as the thing made an attempt to claw at Mercury’s face.
Mercury, in defense, put up both hands to shield his face and in so doing he inadvertently created a cross with his hands and the thing shrank back in fear.
With renewed courage, Mercury continued commanding and denouncing the creature.
Then thunderous pounding of horses hooves could be heard approaching as in stampede.
The three looked around in apprehension but Mercury did not shift his gaze from the creature because this was an attempt at distraction that he would not fall for.
He chanted Psalm 23 in its entirety and the sound of the horses hooves faded.
The creature pranced around snarling, growling and lashing its tail. It reared its ugly head and snapped at Mercury.
“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me,” Mercury was hoarse but he continued praying.
The creature started backing off. It looked bewildered and defeated and its refuge in the coffin.
Phew ! what a relief ! Mercury continued his assault on the coffin with the belt and both He and John took turns.
The thing could be heard wimpering and writhing in agony. Then it grew quiet and something amazing happened.
The wretched coffin slowly and painstakingly drifted to the side of the road and was gradually disappearing in a white mist.
A gentle breeze was blowing, there was finally a peaceful and blissful silence marred only by the occasional harmless distant barking of the neighbourhood dogs. No one spoke, Mercury made very sure his clothes were put back on his person inside out (wrongside). Tired and exhausted, the four wearily continued on their journey home.
Dawn was approaching and the sky was brightening up. A rooster was lustily crowing, somewhere close by, birds were merrily chirping signaling the welcoming promise of a beautiful new day.
Finally they were home.
Ma Baby and her husband BeBell were already in their yard feeding their chickens.
The strange night events took a heavy toll on the two couples and in no time they succumbed to a much needed sleep. So much for the delicious red fish broth.
They woke up in the early afternoon around 3 p.m. John developed a new found respect for Mercury. He no longer jeered and laughed at the reality of the existence of evil.
Mercury called Ma Baby over and related the night events to her. She instructed him to get a brand new mirror and have it facing the entrance of the living room, a crucifix, the Lord’s Prayer and some holy water. All these items should be blessed by the local Catholic Priest . These items she explained would keep evil entities from feeling welcome in the home.
She also explained the jumbie followed John because of the small rum bottle he kept on him. “Those things like de scent of rum !” she further stated.
John and Mercury made it a habit to sleep with their clothes inside out (wrong side). John quit his job as a watchman at the Grapefruit Packing Shed and got a regular day job at Astaphans.
Finally, yes he believed that evil existed and that he will never forget!
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