Elwood Lucien is a young West Indian artist who lives within bicycle-riding distance of The Blue Basin - a site that becomes both the prophetic beginning of his art and the poetic end to his youth. After falling in love with the world of art as a child, he finally garners international attention. It seems, however, that
Elwood is not made for fame; he is disgusted by the false adoration and insincerity of society people and shies from their attention.
After years spent alone, wandering from one tumultuous relationship to the next, Elwood meets Fauna on a beach. She is beautiful and different from all the women of his past and they experience an immediate connection. Her family too welcomes Elwood with open arms and it seems he has finally found what he has been searching for all his life; a home and a sense of purpose to his art.
With Fauna at his side, Elwood now begins his new life with greater promise and resolve. However, the past too arrives through old lovers and unpaid debts, and he realizes the irony of success that haunts each great artist: the greater the art, the greater the price one must pay.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.96(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Blue Basin
By Andre Paul Goddard
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Andre Paul Goddard
All right reserved.
Chapter Onethe fight
IT WAS NOT THE first time Bossy had seen such a play unfold and, as he proudly admitted to the reporter, he was not totally unprepared for it.
"It was like a dance at de same club; de same band, de same music, an' wit de same people. Like yer go in, yer have a lil booze, yer stan at de side an yer look on. An den yer see de girl, yer ax she to dance, she boy-frien' doh like dat an' tell yer so wit a cut eye. Buh she full a tan-ta-na and de nex ting, she smilin' at yer. An' de nex ting, yer dancin' wid she boy-frien' outside in de parkin' lot."
Still, for all his knowledge and preparation, Bossy was as shocked by the volatility of the cause as by the ensuing action itself, as well as the strength and ferocity of the tall, skinny young man with the unruly hair and protruding ears who, until that moment, Bossy had pegged as the classic victim.
Things had been quiet in the early morning hours with just a few of the regulars coming into the deli for coffee or orange juice and a few of their usuals – donuts, muffins, egg sandwiches with ham or salami – and some of the unusuals, often reheated leftovers from the previous evening, but mostly Bossy's morning specials – buljohl with zaboca, shark and bake; even a choka and smoke-herring for Kingsley, the night watchman. His usual! At any rate there were never more than three sets of customers at a time and the waitresses, Emelda and Oprah, had taken turns with far more talk than service. And then the young man had entered around nine. Just when things should be slowing down.
Emelda had served him – the supposed victim. He had ordered a curry chicken hot-plate with some dhal and, after she had served it to him, remained to fuss a little more; straightening his cutlery, filling his glass and asking questions that at one time caused the young man to smile. The smile, bare though it was, was an expression that radically softened the sharp lines of the young man's long, angular face and relaxed the otherwise penetrating glare of dark, gloomy, almost foreboding eyes; characteristics that seemed to have no negative effect on Emelda for she was still talking to him when Tony and Jackson opened the door to the eatery.
Bossy had been alerted to their arrival by the heavy revving of Tony's 750cc Kawasaki, his pride, joy and principal means of strutting, and he, Bossy, was still talking to Oprah when the two – Tony and company – strode across the floor and sat in their accustomed seats by the front window where they could view the traffic. In particular the female traffic.
At the counter, despite all the sauce talk with Oprah complete with her giggly smile and ever batting lashes, Bossy's eyes never once left the duo. Even when he lifted his chin in a pointing motion, alerting Oprah to the new customers, he tried to read Tony's mood, hoping Emelda would break off talking to the unsuspecting young man. She did not and thus enforced Bossy's uneasiness, for Oprah would be no substitute for the other wide-hipped waitress who always served Tony with a little more than breakfast fare.
Bossy got the answer to Tony's mood when the hefty saga boy called out to Emelda; his voice loud and impatient. Thankfully, she responded to his call promptly and with hardly an apology to the young man. But as she approached Tony, Bossy could hear her excusing her tardiness by explaining who the customer with the large ears was. Tony was obviously unimpressed, sucking his teeth and scowling at her words. Still, although he seemed incredulous if somewhat overshadowed by Emelda's fawning respect for the young man, there was little doubt that his interest was piqued for he could hardly keep his eyes on his own business, and after he had ordered his shark and bake he rose and headed across the room to the gawky figure with the quiet disposition.
There was little talk; most of it anyway out of earshot though Bossy figured the young man was too busy with his breakfast to be drawn into an argument. But then Tony suddenly rubbed the young man's head and, as if not enough, did something to his ears.
The blow to Tony's somewhat excessive belly came almost reflexively and sent him sprawling back into the tables by the counter. The young man was up, his face a mask of rage as he moved toward Tony. He swung twice missing with one and catching Tony on the shoulder with the other. Then he connected with an uppercut that drove the heavier man backward once again before he tripped over a chair. Despite his size, Tony was on his feet quickly and grasping the heavy, tubular chrome chair as though it were made of Balsa, threw it at his assailant. The tall young man dodged it easily and as Tony ploughed in, as though seeking more to wrestle or man-handle his opponent, he was suddenly on his back again, placed there by a right hand which even Bossy did not see till after it had been thrown. It was then that Bossy reached for the phone.
He didn't hurry the call and by the tone of his words seemed to be enjoying the scrap as well as the actions of the other onlookers, although he might have been a little concerned for the furniture.
Over at Tony's original table, Oprah had been screaming and continued to do so as Emelda grasped Jackson's arm preventing him from rising though Tony's buddy seemed hesitant to enter the fray perhaps because of the rage on the tall man's face or his prohibitive height or his somewhat lethal fists. Or it could have been Emelda's constant words of recognition as to who the young man was, or perhaps the very word, Obzocky, holding a certain caution in its application. But then she suddenly let Jackson go. He stood up but did not otherwise move.
The brawl had ended; not a knockout but indeed a clear-cut decision with Tony leaning bloodied and unsteady against the counter and the young man standing over him, unsure or perhaps unwilling to pursue the incident further. Exhaustion! Or perhaps it was the police whistle outside, blowing in short bursts, its volume increasing in urgency as it approached the front door.
And then the door opened, the crowd parted and the uniform entered, and only then did the young man finally drop his hands allowing Bossy to take a deep breath and let it out slowly as Jackson muttered to no one in particular:
"Well, dah's de en a dat!"
Chapter TwoArrest in Carapichaima
EDITORIAL ON RASH OF Bicycle thefts BY WARREN TOTH
Bicycles! There's a lot to be said for them! In fact, of this little unassuming opus in engineering, it was once expressed in awe and exclamation that such a simple piece of work has within its composition, a nobility of reasoning, an infinity of facilities. In form and moving is it so express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In construction how like a god! The beauty and freedom of elementary travel! The paragon of simple mechanics!
Of course we of the horsepower set tend to take this, as all other modes of travel, a trifle lightly, but to some of our street brothers this quintessence of bipedal exercise is not only conveyance, it is friend and brother with a purpose and personality all its own. In present day lingo, this bottom line is but a single word; one that best capsulates the above trifled with, Shakespearean tidbit. The word is: cool.
Not only is the bike itself cool, it makes you look cool. In fact, at least to this individual, the very personification of cool is clasped fingers behind the neck while coasting on his baked-on orange enamel twelve speed Empire down Fordham drive. You could almost hear the sighs of awe and envy from the group of do-nothings at the corner of Fordham and Avenue road. Or the whistles from the girls on the steps at number 223 Avenue as you turned the corner and coasted past them. That's when your bike becomes your truly good buddy; by not hitting a stone or a crack, or riding against the curb and sending you sprawling in sublime indignity.
For only the second time that morning, Elwood Lucien smiled.
The newspaper clipping that had caused this smile had fallen out of his wallet. He had picked it up while still very much in that state of unbridled almost uncontrolled anger when a man feels wronged yet is forced to meekly accept whatever justice and fairness is handed him. But Elwood never just accepted anything; least of all justice. He preferred to mete it out himself. Still, even he might have realized that this was no time to be meting out anything. So he submitted; to the curious eyes and the unasked questions although he was hardly able to control his trembling hand, barely managing to cram the tightly folded snippet back into the wallet without betraying that anger.
But the editorial had taken away much of his anger and with nothing more to feed it than the benign attention of curious onlookers, Elwood settled in to wait.
He had already sketched the little sandwich shop tucked into its allotted space along the boardwalk on the outskirts of the town of Carapichaima and reviewed the interior outline of the deli with its Lautrec-like figures – the owner/chef, the two waitresses, and those others who had dropped in for a meal and were now long gone – all positioned in the order of conversation and relaxation, quite unlike the strewn-about furniture he had left behind in the shop. Now as he sat on his motorbike surrounded by the two lower ranked policemen while waiting for the third – a somewhat officious sergeant – to get back to him, he once again removed the article from his wallet. Crooking one long leg over the saddle, he opened the well creased paper, carefully this time, and re-read it to the end.
Trigger, Champion, Silver; cowboy horses that took their heroes across the plains of the wide west! That's what a bike is too....
Memories flooded back – though not entirely prompted by the clipping. But as he once again folded the slip of paper and carefully returned it to his wallet he entered into that world of memories as though he had actually opened a door and shut it behind him.
A carry-over from his lonely youth, this habit of reflecting on the past had been to Elwood a kind of retreat – a place, as well as a position – through which he found resolution from within his loneliness. In earlier days these reflections had been more immediate, hourly or daily in their lapses, but so easily recalled or addressed that he had little trouble capturing them either in his diary or on his sketchpad. Soon he could merely glance at a person and from his fingers would flow an animated likeness that often baffled the subject. Even his caricatures, derogatory though they always were, were sketched with such attention to detail that the subject seemed always honoured by the insult. It seemed too that the only way Elwood could effectively insult his subjects, was to ignore them.
These days, however, though he ignored many, he never wanted for attention. And it was perhaps because of this that he seldom sketched or painted faces anymore. Nor did he encourage those reflections on his troubled youth though now the images came randomly and uninvited.
Often triggered by some association with the past they dwelt in regurgitated scenes, some pleasant, some sad, but most exercises in poignancy and self analysis to the point of regret. And yet no amount of time could diminish their haunting reality. Or their immediacy Faces that he could picture right down to the minutest freckle told stories and conjured up scenes in which they would act out that special moment in their lives; lives of which he had been a part. This indeed was the terrible irony of his own singular life: a past that seemed far more real than that present which his paintings now attempted to capture as the unfolding seconds of his immediate future. But past, present or future, those reflections were as gateways to those moments whether wonderful or base; events he once climbed or descended like rungs on the ladder of his life.
This editorial in the Daily Gleaner for instance.
It must have put a smile on everyone's face that morning all those years ago. And yet behind the smiles Elwood saw and shared with the Editor so many of the points in the item: the friendship, the capacity to use and the intimate knowledge of the device. And of course, the loss of said device - his bicycle – for the article meant even more to Elwood. More than the humour, the analogy, the clever ramblings or the detraction from the more serious crimes of the time. He had initiated it; his first traumatic loss; his first retaliation with a pen.
He remembered his rage that morning almost fifteen years ago when he stood looking at the empty spot where his bike had been and realized in a kind of slow-motion, delayed acceptance that it had been stolen. It was the first time he knew he could kill someone; not only kill, but tear asunder, rip apart, ground into the dirt. In fact he had destroyed that faceless swine so many times in his mind he had almost believed he had done so in fact. But he had neither the 'scum-sucking pig' in his hands nor a knife to slice the flesh off his bones. He had only a pen. It was not enough; but it would have to do.
He had written to the Daily Gleaner lambasting the police, all the stations of Law, all the avenues of Justice and anyone even remotely connected to the criminal world, for not understanding that there are some things that are indeed sacrosanct and that defiling such should be considered an act against Society's most important thread - Trust. These were not his actual words however. His actual words were more terse, pointed and, many, four-lettered. Simply put, he had claimed that there were certain sins that are beyond forgiveness; certain crimes for which no punishment is too severe. Stealing, for instance, even in the broad sense of the word and under certain circumstances, might be considered acceptable; even forgivable – dire need or abject necessity where food or clothing or any of the elements of basic survival are at stake. But stealing a fellow's bike, under any circumstances, should never be tolerated, and would never be forgiven. It was akin to horse theft in the cowboy days of his movie-going youth. A crime punishable by hanging.
The empathetic editor's reply suggesting a kinship of sorts had done much to ease Elwood's mood at the time and though Elwood could not visualize any newspaperman, even a young one, riding down a street, clasped fingers behind the neck, he felt as close to him that day as to anyone he had ever known.
Of course Elwood knew there must have been a certain license in the newspaper statement – no two individuals could so equally share such a fanatic objective. At least not the way Elwood did. For more than just fixing bicycles, Elwood knew everything there was to know about them.
He knew the makes and types, from fragile racers to rugged mountain bikes, their good and bad points relative to their performance and use, and the prohibitive prices that put a great number of them out of his reach. He knew their emblems and their baked-on colours from stony grey to sunset orange and all the in-between hues that flanked the rainbow spectrum. He knew the weights of the different bikes and the metal alloys used to make them light enough or tough enough for their designated functions. He knew the cycle clubs and the bike gangs, from the saga-boys who had the prettiest bikes and the latest gear and were always dressed in the coolest fashions, to the individuals who excelled in the sport of cycling – those Olympic hopefuls whose fanaticism and dedication equalled his own.
However in his case it was all academic; he neither aspired to glory nor relished talking about it. Knowledge alone was enough.
Besides, all that was in the past.
Or was it!
Chapter ThreeThe bike
WOODY'S BICYCLE WAS NOT merely a thing; it was an extension of himself. Those who knew Woody in those days knew also his bike; its colour, make and the unusually long saddle-pole, a clear indication that he was close by.
It began on his thirteenth birthday; a friendship born of necessity and meagre means that soon became the signet of his youth, for into this tapestry, where friends and adventures crowded those days, the bike too was woven.
On that day Elwood had handed over thirty five dollars to a kid he had never seen before. He had felt like a criminal, he confided to Adrian. Thirty five dollars for the four-hundred dollar treasure; a Raleigh, Cobalt green and chrome though no less a mix of colour than a presentation which immediately appealed to Elwood. But there was even more to it than its aesthetics. Though second-hand it was prime; that is to say, it suited Elwood to a T. As if by some strange coincidence its first ownership seemed misguided, that previous owner shorter in stature than Woody, but richer, and, like all the rich kids he knew, possessed expensive acquisition tastes and a lack of regard for anything remaining in their possession for more than a year.
Excerpted from The Blue Basin by Andre Paul Goddard Copyright © 2012 by Andre Paul Goddard. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. 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.