Once again it is time to write my story for the April entry for Portrait of Words, hosted by Jeff B. This is pure fiction and this months contestants were asked to write about a Jamaican man in his fifties, a court room, a cafe, a drill on a stand and a chess board. For anyone like me, who finds it hard to think of subject matter for a story, this meme proves to be the challenge that I need. Why not look up the rules and have a go?
I looked around the courtroom in panic. "Do you find the accused guilty or not guilty?" The judge asked the jury of exactly six men and six women.
"Guilty," Replied the foreman.
I waited while the judge considered the sentence. I was expecting at least ten years. What had I got myself into? Why had I taken those parcels?
My dreams of going back to Jamaica were now shattered. I knew I'd never see my homeland again. I cursed the day I had met Arnie. He was supposed to be my friend. He had dropped me right in it and he was free. I was left facing the music.
He'd taught me to play chess and was a mate. I used to go to the pub with him for a drink or two everyweek. That was all there was to it at first.
Arnie had come over from Jamaica at the same time as I had in the 70s. I was joining my Aunt and Uncle who had been in England for twenty years and had become managers of the cafe. They had been successful and had been accepted and people liked them and that is how I managed to settle in London, only I never felt like I was settled. Man, I hated London from the start. I hated England. The weather was cold, the skies were grey and everything seemed dull. I never felt I belonged.
Why did my mother put me on that boat?
She told me. "Colin, you will have a better life. I got too many kids to look after. You're the first born. You get a good job and send money over. It's up to you, man....... you are in charge of the family now"
My dad had left home years before and I had to provide for my brothers and my sick sister.
I worked in the cafe at first doing all sorts of things but the money wasn't very good. Man, I needed more money. I managed to get a job in a factory drilling out holes in wood for flat pack furniture. It was the same day in, day out. Man, it was so boring.
I lost my self in dreams of going back to Jamaica. I could almost taste my mother's chicken and rice cooked up in a pot outside our house on the open fire. The yams and the mangos. The sun beating down on my body and the way everything went at a slower pace. One day I would go back but I was still not earning enough so I worked in the cafe at the week ends. I watched my Aunt and Uncle mixing with the local people. They were happy and worked hard, taking pride in everything they did. I would never be like that. Apart from Arnie and our chess nights, I kept myself to myself. I never got close to anyone.
I started off by taking the odd pound or two out of the till. No one seemed to notice. It was easy. I couldn't take too much though, else it would be noticed. I still needed more.
I was sending money to my family in Jamaica. My mother died and I had to pay the funeral expenses and I never got to go back. There wasn't enough money left over for the fare, after paying for the funeral costs.
The years went by and I supported my brothers and my sister. I still hankered after the ideal life back in Jamaica, though the memories were fading a bit. My sister was now seriously ill and I was struggling with the medical costs for the treatment she had to have to keep her alive. I needed more money if I was to go back to her and stay. I had to save more.
It was then that Arnie got me involved with the parcel run. I had to go to the airport and collect a parcel from a man who had just flown into the country. All I had to do was to take it to an address that Arnie had given me. Child's play.
It was big money, man and then I found myself taking another parcel and another. On my sixth visit to the airport I was arrested and here I am waiting for my sentence.
Arnie had disappeared and I didn't know it was drugs, man. I mean I wouldn't have done it if I'd known.....
My elderly Aunt and Uncle disowned me and said I was a disgrace to the family and that I had brought shame on everyone.
My sister, what about my sister? Will she die now? Man, what a mess.
The judge ended his summing up. It was decided that I was guilty of carrying drugs but Arnie was the true supplier. I was to be deported immediately and would never be allowed back into Britain ever again.
Man..... I nearly collapsed with happiness, but put on a face of shame for the sake of everyone present.
I had money stashed away........ and I reckon I could pay my sister's bills.
If all else failed, she could appeal to my Aunt. She wouldn't let my sister die.
I held out my hands to be cuffed and the two officers led me to the van that was to eventually lead me to my freedom.