Ti John shrieked with delight, as he jumped up and down and whooped like a child at Christmas. His Grandmother Ma Rose who was busy frying titiwi accra rushed out of the kitchen to see what the fuss was all about.
“Mama I made it.” he shouted as he effortlessly lifted Ma Rose and did a victory dance up and down. In his sweaty palms was an official looking letter embossed with the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force’s insignia, accepting him as a candidate for basic training in Barbados for 2 weeks and upon successful completion he would be stationed at Morne Bruce where he would undergo another two weeks of rigorous physical training.
This was Ti John’s dream come true and before too long everyone in Loubierre got the news. Some expressed pride and joy, but there was of course the haters as usual rolling their eyes and sucking their teeth with major attitude. One lady, Ma Cany stated, “well is now self Ti John will show off.”
“Hmm show off eh,” responded another. “De big loogawoo by the courthouse will show him who show off.
she continued, “Well corfey di mati at least he made his Grandmother proud” interjected Ma Paul, a usually quiet and soft spoken lady. They were all by the river doing their weekly washing beating and cho choing their clothes and ‘ponging beff’ (gossip).
Uncle Ferdie, Ti John’s uncle was an old retired police officer, pulled him aside and told him that he needed to be prepared, since the hardest and final part of the police training was to guard the big court house opposite DBS for one week.
After completion of the crucial 7 days, ”then and only then you can call yourself a police officer and wear your uniform with pride”, he informed his nephew.
Ti John could not imagine why this was such a big deal especially since he now considered himself ‘The Man’. To him nothing could be worse than running through Roseau in the rain in white tees, khaki shorts and those heavy black combat boots that pinched his toes and gave him blisters and on top of all that, Sergeant Dell his training officer was known to be a complete and miserable asshole. Rocking a permanent scowl and a serious overbite Sarge had more teeth in his mouth than a set of triplets. He demeaned and insulted his rookies and they feared and hated him with a passion especially Ti John who in turn wasted no time hitting him up with smart remarks about his teeth “Hey Sarge no more room in de garage?” The other recruits tried very hard to suppress their laughter.
Although Sarge bore a strong resemblance to Brer Anansi, his wife and young daughter were beauties and Ti John took great pleasure secretly messing with the man’s wife. The other guys thought that he had to be both mad and reckless. Everyone waited for Sarge to explode but that man was slicker than oil and he never let on that he knew about the affair. He appeared neither worried nor angry, but he planned on dishing out his own special‘don’t mess-with-me’ brand of payback.
The dreaded day came along with the dark and mysterious task of guarding the Court house on Victoria Street. The first three nights came and went without a hitch, but by the fourth night the venomous stench of evil lay heavily in the atmosphere and as Ti John leisurely strolled around the building, he became aware of a prickling sensation at the back of his neck as if someone was watching him.
He walked faster as clouds obscured the light of the moon, casting eerie shadows around the big yard. Ti John felt the cold hands of fear clutching tightly at his heart and filled with a terrible superstitious dread decided to break out into a panicked run.
As he jetted around the back corner of the courthouse, he was confronted by the biggest and ugliest dog he had ever seen. It stood a few feet in front of him snarling and growling. The dog was actually a loogawoo and there was something sinister and evil coming through its eyes, a hatred so deep and intense swirled around its massive body. This time around Ti John
couldn’t run, his legs were like lead. Every bone in his body seemed to grow cold. His insides like ice water, and he just emptied his bowels and soiled his nice crisp uniform.
He never felt such fear and humiliation in his life before. Whimpering like a small child, Ti John wished he had heeded Uncle Ferdie’s warning. The dog inched forward menacingly, sat on his haunches and a low mournful howl erupted from deep inside its throat.
Ti John felt the hot breath against his ear, the hoarse whisper “Ahah say pa coparwayzor ou coparwayzor? Ou ka ka a sou-w.,” the frightful gleam in the dog’s eye said it all.
Ti John could not even scream, the insides of his mouth and tongue felt like sandpaper. Just as he was about to give up, to his relief he saw the headlights of a car coming up the road, but his heart sank when the driver appeared to take a different turn. The big dog crouched low ready to pounce. Ti John knew he was destined to become a distant memory, but as if In answer to his prayer Uncle Ferdie dashed out of the bushes with precise timing armed with a thick stick (a bator wajay) in one hand and a brown bag in another.
With a voice of authority he shouted “Waitay la! Dell! Pa mem borday nuh”.The dog halted in its movement, stunned for an instant. With the element of surprise on his side, Uncle Ferdie swung the stick aiming straight for the dog’s legs and using his left hand, forcefully threw a handful of salt at its eyes. The dog yelped in protest
it was a blood curdling almost human scream. Angry and full of rage the dog leapt forward and hurled its massive body against Uncle Ferdie, who missed his footing and fell over backwards. The dog was on the old man’s chest in a heartbeat ready to tear him to shreds, but Ferdie reached into his front pocket and in a desperate effort at self defense stabbed the dog on its side with his French penknife.
Ti John still in shock could only look on in amazement.
So many questions, and did he just hear Uncle Ferdie refer to the big ugly dog as Dell? Then It meant that Dell was the big Loogawoo that all the recruits had to face? But Ti John knew by then that Sarge had a different plan for him, and he would have been killed if not for Uncle Ferdie, who was now battered and bruised.
The old man struggled to his feet and held on to his chest, the loogawoo was wounded but still had a fighting chance, it crouched low getting ready to attack Ferdie, but Ti John mustered up enough courage just in the nick of time and grabbed on to the loogawoo’s hind legs in an effort to abort the attack. The loogawoo was dragging Ti John all over the place like a rag doll trying to shake him off. Ferdie pulled out his pipe filled it with tobacco and started to smoke, and scattered some pyay poule and zeb cowesse. Loogawoo and soucouyan are afraid of those things, Ti John always heard people say.
He watched fearfully as the loogawoo seemed to be losing strength. It was painfully dragging itself away from the courthouse. Uncle Ferdie and Ti John threw a handful of salt and some tobacco over their left shoulders, before they jumped into Uncle Ferdie’s old pickup and hightailed it out of there never looking back.
The next day Sergeant Franklyn Dell was found at his home in Pottersville in a critical condition.
He was taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital where he died the next day. He had a great turnout at his funeral. Ti John and Uncle Ferdie kept quiet for the time being but went to the Funeral armed with some garlic bulbs sewn in between for protection, to prevent the loogawoo from coming back to wreak havoc.
As for Dell’s wife, Ti John left well enough alone. He was all set, he had learnt his lesson.
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