Most Wanted: Street Stories from the Caribbean

Most Wanted: Street Stories from the Caribbean

by Christborne Shillingford

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Overview

Crime writing with a harsh edge. - Nicholas Clee, The Guardian. This anarchic collection of short stories chronicles the Dominican escapades of a private detective whose special knack is getting into (and out of) street scrapes. He escapes from drug dens, bent policemen, ghosts, disdainful girlfriends and crazy dogs. These are crime tales from "the block" - a modern, irreverent look straight from the back streets of Dominica. This is Christborne Shillingford's first book. He lives in rural Dominica, his birthplace.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780957118621
Publisher: Papillote Press
Publication date: 12/18/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Christborne Shillingford comes from the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica. This is his first collection of short stories. He was born on Christmas Day – hence his name – in Dominica where he still lives on an old estate in the island's interior.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

THE BIG SPLASH

It was a rainy afternoon. As a matter of fact it had been raining all day in Roseau Central and I was walking with my little friend, under an umbrella, playing lovey dovey. She was just coming from work and I was doing the honours by escorting her home. And by pure coincidence we were standing next to a big puddle on the road when I heard this knight rider car with its bombastic sound approaching under high speed.

I tried my best, desperately indicating to the invisible driver the puddle of water. Cheups. The man just pass and SPLASH! Just wet us down, oui. And the thing is I was well dressed, modelling Nike, Adidas and so on, the latest style and brand name.

When he realised what he had done, the driver stopped a distance away, reversed, wound down his "darkers" window, and there telling me "he sorry, he sorry". I was so mad and pissed off, I told him angrily, "Sorry, you sorry eh?" It just so happened that a little girl child was passing, carrying a bucket of water. I grabbed it violently from her, and dashed the MF in his dark-glass, sound-system car (I saw smoke coming out of his stereo amplifier).

My satisfaction was short-lived because I then saw him searching frantically under his seat for something. I had a mind it was an offensive weapon. Therefore I stepped back a couple of paces. The guy opened his car door and brandished one long cutlass sharpened back and front!

You know it? I abandoned my little friend and made a run for it. No! I wasn't ashamed because I always knew that I would prefer to get shot than a big long cut. (That is why whenever I am walking and I see a guy with a cutlass in his hand, especially if he looking mad, I would put a clear distance between us.)

So I tried to outrun the guy and hoped that he would soon give up the chase. You doh hearing! The man behind me like a magnet. I ran up the road towards the police headquarters. Knowing fully well that I wasn't Olympic material, I was hoping to take refuge there. But when I rounded a vital corner, I stepped on an "ital" skin and slick! Beep I was on the asphalt paying some road tax. In less than a second I was back on my feet again. But the worst thing is nobody was trying to restrain the man. What they wanted to see is a hand or neck fly out.

But that fall stopped me from reaching the police barracks so I diverted into Windsor Park and my would-be executioner followed me relentlessly. All how I glanced back, he was there in hot pursuit. He kept repeating: "If I hold you too!.." but not saying what he would do.

I ran through the northern gate, on the riverside, and crossed the Roseau river barely touching water – I guess you know how difficult it is to run on dry stones, much less when they are wet and slippery. But that condition didn't slow me down – nor my assailant. I literally chewed up the multiple steps leading up to Goodwill, scaling them by twos and threes, but my pursuer was just as equal to the task. (What fuelled his determined drive? It must have been his blown stereo amplifier. He must have spent a fortune on it.)

But then I was running for my home, my second place of refuge. I barely had time to enter my mother's house when I heard the cutlass cutting wind behind my head. He respected my mother's house; I breathed a sigh of relief. But it must have taken a lot of self-control to resist the temptation to invade our privacy. And you should have heard the man breathing fire and brimstone and kicking dust outside like a mad bull.

"If you is a man, come back outside!" he shouted.

Wanting to prove that I was a man enough, I went to my room and got what I wanted – a .38 special. (At this point in time I will not reveal how I got to be in possession of it.) And proceeded to the front door. My mother tried her best to prevent me from going outside to have this – er – showdown. But I am extremely hard-headed, and so I didn't allow her to restrain me (I knew what I was about).

When I opened the door, the guy had the cutlass making sparks on the road surface. He started saying, "In your mother ..." But when he recognised what I had in my hand, his eyes widened.

"Finish say what you was going to say there, nuh?!" I challenged him.

Instead of doing so, he turned about and fled for his life without uttering another word. Bystanders started screaming, "Murder! Police!" and running out of my potential line of fire as well. I chased the guy, laughing inside (soon you'll know why). It was clear that he was now twice as fast than when he was chasing me (he was firing on all eight cylinders!).

As we reached an intersection, guess who we met? How you know that so good? You've hit it. It was the police (CID) in their patrol car. The guy was extra glad! He embraced the "silver bullet", the CID's silver Toyota and, naturally, I gave up the chase. But when the cops sized up the situation, saw the gun in my hand, the mad gesticulation and heard the erratic speech of my ex-pursuer , they commanded: "Hey boy, come with that gun you have there." I knew that I was "safe", but knowing how uneducated and unpredictable some cops can be, I decided to give them a run for their money.

(Yes, oui.) The four CID personnel got out of their transport and gave chase (they maybe thought it was an unlicensed firearm). So there I was again, in the thick of the action, this time playing hide and seek with four CID agents.

After dodging and faking them for some time, I jumped a gate that had something written on it in red paint (I didn't have time to make it out). I touched down in the person's yard, twisting my right ankle. As I lay there on the ground, nursing my injury, I wondered why the cops had not pursued me there. I got the answer right away. I heard a dog barking and it was coming in my direction. Now it was clear that there had been some sort of "warning" written on the gate. At a glance, the dog looked like a wolf – no need to say, I was on my feet again like lightning! No kidding! I sprinted the 25 or so yards to the far fence in zero point zero seconds (Ben Johnson with all his steroids couldn't see me! The sprained ankle was the furthest thing from my mind.) When I reached the fence, a six footer, it was touch and go. I was up and over in a flash. And crash-landed in the next lane, like a plane, and there my injury – and the cops – caught up with me.

"Now let us have the firearm!" they demanded.

"Which firearm?" I asked innocently, rising up.

"The one you were chasing the man with."

Limping, I presented it to them from inside my belt – it was my nephew's toy gun – and stated: "A toy gun, oui." The cop in command said that it was still an offence to threaten anyone with a toy gun. Holding my now swollen ankle, I countered, "But he threatened me with a real cutlass."

The guy who had chased me so relentlessly stuck out his tongue for me (like the big child that he was) and said provokingly, "They going to charge you doh! BEEAA!" I stood up and pointed in the direction of Roseau and answered, "Yes, and you have a traffic ticket waiting for you, where you park it in the middle of the road." That brought him back to reality. How much they charge him? I doh know! What happen to my case? It doh call yet!

So. drivers be discreet when you drive, especially when it is raining, because the next pedestrian you might wet might just be me! And you know what will happen, I will certainly wet you back.

CHAPTER 2

IN MONTEGO BAY

After reading in a newspaper about the adventures of a brave reporter who made a daring daylight drug purchase in Montego Bay, as we call that part of Newtown, I decided to see for myself what really transpires behind the drug scene. Armed with the newspaper article, I ventured to do my own investigation. Who tell me to do that? Some might be saying, "That good for you!" Anyway, let us go on with the story.

Well, to begin with, I had a number of options as to where to do my "illegal" purchase. In my newspaper's report was a list of all the popular outlets – Wall Street, Twenty Four Seven, the "Hole" Gutter, Baytown, Baghdad, Montego Bay etc. I chose Montego Bay. Why? Because this was where the "Rambo" reporter had her experience, plus she stated that the transaction went like a "piece of cake", and besides I had an alibi – the place where I usually buy my favourite bread is next door. So I felt quite safe in this habitat.

As I approached the bread depot, a "hustler" that I was accustomed to confronted me and asked: "Give me a couple of coins to check a scene nuh?" "On condition," I said to him, "that you do something for me."

"What is that?" he demanded.

"All I am asking for," I answered, "is a 100% piece of rock." He raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Aye, aye, you in that too then?"

"So long ..." I replied.

He then asked how much rock I wanted. "Ten, twenty, thirty or forty piece?" I said that I would settle for a "forty dollar piece", like the brave reporter did when she went on her assignment.

So I gave the guy two purple 20 EC dollar bills and off he went on his "mission". I waited and waited but, to my dismay, the guy never showed up. "He take you!" a bystander commented. But all was not (yet) lost because I knew that I would run into him again before long because I was accustomed to this character and he often hustled me for change to "bad up" his head.

And sure enough the very next day I ran into him unexpectedly, after purchasing my daily bread. "What you tried on me yesterday boy?" I asked him in a rough way.

"But I had come oui ... Where you had go nuh?" he asked, putting on an act. He was lying, I knew it.

"What happen? Is like you go for it right in St Lucia, man." I countered.

"Who told you?" he replied. "I didn't know you was really serious, but doh dig, you doh lose your money, you know, I will set you up good. I coming." He motioned me to wait.

I did. This time he came back, a little late but better than never. And to my surprise he delivered my "silver pack" to me right there on the spot, under the telephone post, by the road with so many passers-by in the noon-time blazing sun. I got nervous on the spot. My knees felt wobbly and I could hardly walk.

"What if police hold me now?" I asked him.

"Just put that in your mouth man," he replied, cool like a cucumber. I did as he suggested. My fear was at its heights now because I had heard on the radio about so many instances where people had died after ingesting drugs. I could not wait to reach the safety of home.

Somehow, only God knows, I made it home to my den and commenced opening my enticing "pack". I just had to see what this scourge was all about. After opening the foil with somewhat trembling hands, it appeared that I had already seen the contents somewhere before. After in-depth analysis I discovered that it was in deed and in fact candle wax. That just could not be the "Rock" of Gibraltar that was causing all this commotion in our society. I was totally disappointed. But I just couldn't leave it at that.

Right away, I returned to my place of purchase and searched out the culprit to make him understand that his ploy didn't work. "What the hell you think?" I roared. "You take me for a big donkey or what? If I had wanted $40 worth of candles I would have gone to the shop."

"Cool it, cool it, take it easy," he mumbled. "I will bring the real thing for you. But you really in it then?"

"That I telling you so long," I told him, trying to cover my tracks. "You see, I am an undercover smoker." He disappeared and I crossed my fingers expecting the worst. But this time he reappeared with lightning speed. But before I could receive my delivery, I got a blessing in disguise. Guess what?

Behind me, I heard a terrifying screech of a vehicle braking suddenly. When I turned to investigate the cause of the excitement, I identified the vehicle instantly. It was the dreaded drug squad pick-up truck. And yes, you guessed it, they were making a raid on the boys of Montego Bay.

I don't have to tell you. Instantly, I became a nervous wreck. I got cold sweat and my heart was doing a hundred and add beats per second. Man, I was trembling like a leaf. When I turned again to assess my contact, it was just in time to see him flick the silver foil pack into his mouth and down it went, I suppose.

What else do you expect? I got a complete "search down" from head to toe. To say the least, I was relieved when that episode was over. One of the police officers asked me, "What were you doing here?" "I ... I ... I ... am a ... a ... a ... a. ... re.. re.. reporter," I stammered. He gave me a weird look and said, "Reporter my ace!" Then he ordered, "Move from there!" I quickly evacuated the area; I didn't stay around to witness the final outcome of the raid. I said to myself, "To hell with that $40, never me again."

But you doh hearing nuh? Since that time, the guys in Montego Bay are watching me as a police informer, oui. A sell out! They thought I was hand in glove with the drug squad and had tried to "set them up". And the worst part is ever since that close encounter in Montego Bay, the cops have been watching me suspiciously, like I really into drugs oui! Clearly, the newspaper reporter was much more lucky than me.

CHAPTER 3

THE INTRUDER

I had left my aged mother's home unattended that Friday afternoon. She had gone to our home village to spend some days with relatives so I returned after sundown to switch on the lights (to deter would be burglars) so that I could return to continue playing dominoes at the club house. But it appeared that an intruder had already made an entry for the lights were on. It also appeared that the person was utilising my amenities at random: kitchen stove, blender, television and sound system (this last one my mother doesn't know how to operate).

Not wanting to take the law into my own hands, I ran over to the closest public telephone booth and called the police. The switchboard operator put me onto CID who, to my dismay, said that they would come only when and if transportation was available.

I put the receiver down abruptly and cursed under my breath. Then suddenly I got a bright idea. So I dialled again and pretended to be an anonymous caller who had some information on a "drug man". I gave the directions to my home in urgency and, believe me, before I could replace the receiver the drug squad had arrived. Hear them: "Where him? Where him?" I told them that in fact a burglar was in my house. When they heard why I had deceived them (I not lying), they just sucked their teeth, re-entered their drug van, slammed the doors and gave me a stern warning, saying, "Don't you ever try that again!" and drove off. Just so!

So what I did? I decided this time to take the law – and also a piece of 2 x 4 wooden stick – into my hands and stealthily entered our home like a cat stalking its prey. I could see that the intruder had indeed "made himself at home". You know what else? When I came to my room and peeped through the keyhole, I saw that the culprit was sleeping on my bed. I said to myself, "Them thieves getting more bold and brave."

Thus I kicked open the door determined to give my bed a serious beating! But luckily the sleeper spun around and I got a glimpse of his features in the nick of time (but because of my predetermined plan he still got a glancing blow). I stayed with my jaws agape, and froze in after-action.

It was a notorious cousin of mine from south, who was a character of some sort. He carried a number of aliases, like Batman, Crazy Glue, McGyver, Sticky Fingers, Lightening, Outlaw and Ninja Man to name a few. He quickly got up from the bed and said, "What happen to you nuh? You just hitting me like that... and close your mouth, before it ketch some flies."

I remained speechless because the stories that I had heard about him had made me wary of him. And he was the last person I was expecting to meet at my home. He loved OPP (other people's property), that is the reason why times before whenever he came to our house, I would just pay him off so that he could leave before he helped himself to some of our stuff. (He just couldn't leave people things alone.)

Rumours say that he is on to drugs hence his "touching" problem, and he is very good at it. Once, he entered a business place downtown and as soon as the proprietor saw him enter, he ordered all his employees and security personnel to quit whatever they were doing and place Ninja Boy (I call him boy because he is still in his teens) under full-time surveillance. They did, but you doh hearing, he still "take them" oui. The next time he made an appearance at the business house, the owner paid him a $100 bribe just so that he wouldn't enter his premises.

But, another time when he was in the vicinity, I misplaced my wallet fully loaded with various currencies. After a fast and frantic search I found it exposed on the couch in our drawing room. I counted the money over and over and over again and found none to be missing. I confronted him for an explanation, because that wasn't the norm. He confessed that he thought I was "testing" him, therefore he resisted the temptation. It was a good thing he did, oui.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Most Wanted"
by .
Copyright © 2007 Christborne Shillingford.
Excerpted by permission of Papillote Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

The Big Splash,
In Montego Bay,
The Intruder,
Block 44,
The Dinner,
The Chase,
Ina De Jam,
Most Wanted,
Jungle Run,
Cricket Lovely Cricket?,
The Killing Shed,
Forbidden Zone,
The Frame Up,
Rumble In De Market,
Ambush After School,
The Lesson,
Going Under Cover,
The Prayer Meeting,
Four O'clock Road Block,
The "Guada" Connection,
Jail Bait,
After Midnight,
Living Dangerously,
The Drug Hunters,
Hands Up!,
The Bodyguard,
Close Call,
Confessions,
Return of David,
Lost At Sea,
Time Warp,
The Imposter!,
My Last Supper,

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