Living in the lush green rain forest of Dominica can be breathtaking and refreshing; however, it can also be frightening. A river ran along the yard at the back of our house and the mountain lay further along. Daddy said that the river used run adjacent to the mountain and that it would return there one day.
But living so close to the river didn’t deter me at all. What scared me was Bruno. In fact, the mere mention of Bruno sent shivers down my spine. There was a formation in the mountaintop that looked just like a cave that a caveman would occupy. It was clear that someone lived there. That was where Bruno lived.
My older brother and sister ensured that I did everything they said by putting the fear of Bruno in me. “Bruno Bruno, a barrel full of money, Ezra to sell,” they would say. That was the quote they used on several occasions. Growing up, I started to alleviate the thought of Bruno until that day when I was 12 years old.
Although our house was big enough and we had what we called a ‘back’ for washing clothes, the river was more of a fun option. One day my best friend Mary and I decided to go to the river to wash our clothes. We wanted to talk and play as we wanted, so we went all the way to the top out of Daddy’s sight.
We went to the river at about ten o’clock in the morning and started our washing. We laughed about school and Mary mentioned that she was interested in this guy called Bob. We talked and washed and lost track of time. Mary was bent over the rough stones rubbing on a t-shirt and I went higher up to beat a jeans pant on the big stone just above her head. I wanted to remove all the dirty water from the pant.
“Doh wet me eh,” Mary said.
“But Mary you wet already,” I replied.
Anyway, I went further up so I would not wet Mary and she stayed bent over, determined to remove all the soil in that t-shirt. I found this huge rock and decided that I would beat the pant against it.
As soon as I put up my hand to beat the jean pant against the rock, there it, or should I say he, stood in all his tall, majestic glory. Standing right across the water in the tall grass, stood the creature. He was dark but pale, so he looked almost like a corpse that was found suspended in water. His hair was not course, though; instead it was long and flowing.
He was very tall, so tall I could only see his upper body through the tall grass. He looked strange but he was oddly beautiful. His straight nose stood firm between his red piercing eyes, which stared straight at me. His thin lips were held firm as he stared me down. He wore nothing in his upper body so his chest was exposed and I could see several scratches all around his chest as if he had been rolling around too much.
He motioned me to come toward him but I just stood there in shock and awe, mouth agape and moist hands folded behind my back. The only thing I could feel was the liquid dripping down between my legs and I could actually hear the rapid palpitations of my heart. For a whole minute I was frozen stiff staring at the specimen.
He proceeded to move towards me and that is when I got the courage to run. I know readers must be wondering how someone could run through water but since I was upstream and the river runs down, the current helped me. By the time I was close to Mary she was already standing up to see what was going on.
“Look Mary I said. Up the river on your right!” I gasped.
I pointed to the exact position of the apparition but there was nothing there. Thank God we were almost finished. It was now almost 5 in the afternoon and it was time to go home.
When my mother came home I told her what happened and she was shocked. She said that that was an exact description of my great grandfather who died several decades before I was born.
“Well I guess you just meet Bruno. He was your great grandfather, a Carib. He was thought to have drowned in the river and his body was never found,” she explained.
The next day, very heavy rains came, the river overflowed its banks and changed course. The river returned to its original position adjacent to the mountain, just like Daddy said.
But, most importantly and very strangely, a skull washed up on the shore.