It is a sunny morning in the Jewel and children all over are rushing to school. Some stop at the Chineyman shop to buy haadtimes and sweets or pencils and erasers. Others dawdle on corners waiting for their friends to catch up so they can walk the rest of the way together. On the junction of Fortification and Judgement Streets, passersby can hear the screeching of a frustrated Dodes as she hustles the children out the door.
“Marion! Marion! Get your little sister and get your bottoms out of here NOW!” screamed Dodes.
“But MOOOOM! She is so slow dis morning and she will make me late. Can’t you take her?” asked Marion.
“Marion, if you backansa mi one mo time, ah wa wahm you lee rass fi be suh rude,” responds a very visibly angry Dodes.
Bernie hails the children from her perch trying to distract them and Dodes from escalating and also to signal to Dodes that the neighbours are hearing everything.
“Morning, Marion, Lyndsey. You bettah run a little to catch up on time, girls. You only have 20 minutes. Hold her hand Lyndsey and don’t give Marion any trouble ok? See you dis evening girls. Maybe you come visit me and I’ll have some treats fuh yu ok?” said Bernie kindly.
She didn’t deal with this in the morning at all. Their driver took her children to school and she had time then to chat with Dodes over a cup of tea before she had to go to the factory. The bus passed by their street around 8:45 am. She was the last one the company driver picked up. She was close to the highway and it was only five miles to the factory. They usually made it with about six minutes to spare, just enough for a last bathroom run before she clocked in at 9:00 on the dot.
Dodes looked especially flustered as she sidled next to Bernie. “Aye, gial. Sumtimes, deya pickney just tek it outta mi. My day staat at 5 in the mawning. By di time da damn bus come? Ah ready fi lay down again.” Dodes sighed heavily.
“Come Dodes. Ah have yu tea ready fi yu. Ah cud call Maisy and have her bring us some fresh tortillas if you want, with some dutch cheese? guava jelly?”
“Thanks, Bernie. Ah mek breakfast fi di pickney but den dey staat fight and of course, ah nevah finish mines.” Bernie calls to her housekeeper, Maisy and instructs her to bring Dodes some breakfast.
“Now Dodes. Tell mi whe happen. All ah heah da lata railin up and screamin. Who do what now?”
“Well da Marion and Darnell again. Ah nevah know what wa set off Marion these days. Shi so quiet and moody and her mouth di staat to sting.” Dodes looks up at her friend with tears glistening in her eyes. “Sometimes, I wonder if ah mek a mistake kicking her daddy out. Ah mean at least he would be here now fi help me.”
“Dodes. Nuh duh dat tuh yuself gial. You did what you felt was best at the time. He was cheating on you and withholding money and spending it on the other women. How you know anything would be better or even different now? 10 years later? Maybe you guys would be fighting so much, it would be worse. And then he has five more children pan top. What if he mi have dey while he mideh wid u still? How u miwa deal wid dat? And what bout Melanie and Lyndsey? They wouldn’t be here now, would they?
Dodes smiled weakly and shook her head. “Anyways, suh Darnell have dis habit fuh nuh duh his chores and den po Marion end up di hafi do dem bc by di time I get home, da time fi Darnell duh ih homework. You know he nuh as smaat as di girls and so he tek twice as long fi duh anyting. Suh Marion decide dat she wa staat get back afta Darnell and stop wash ih clothes and shi di hide dey anda di bed stuck up all in between di bodes dem. I di look fi days everywhere befo ah finally find dey. Darnell di wear di same unifahm fi neahly a week now. Ah haftu di wash it da nite and heng it inna di bathroom. Suh dis mawnin, Marion squirt tootpaste pan di shirt and po Darnell had to goh da school wid a wet shirt cause ah had to rinse out di spot. And we use Close Up cause da di cheapest and da rass red. So po Darnell shut gat dis pink lookin stain crass and crass it. Aye.”
Bernie is laughing now as she imagines Marion doing this to her brother. “But Dodes, gial. Why yu nuh mek Darnell wash ih own cothes fi tru? He di get big unuh? Even lee Melanie wash clothes with Marion pan Saturday.’
“Really? Ah nevah know she midi actually wash di clothes. Ah know dey go dungstayz tugeddah but ah mi tink shi just di kip Marion company,’ said Dodes. “Ah feel like sumtimes my life jus outta control Bernie. Ah feel like day in and day out, ah just work and work and work and fi what? Ah di lose mi pickney. Sumtimes di look whe Marion give me, ah wah slap ah but den ah jus wah dissapear eena wah hole. Dah like shi hate mi. Anyway,” Dodes chewed a piece of her tortilla and swallowed before continuing,” Ah di try explain tuh Marion dat even doh Darnell wrong fi nuh duh ih chores and ih nuh wash ih own clothes and she hafi end up di duh it, shi just as wrong for hiding his clothes and ruining his shirt. Shi tell me how whe she do nuh as bad as whe hi duh and plus top, he get everything fuh duh absolutely nutting and shi get nutting fi duh absolutely everything. When dey wah lawn dat in di meantime, di two ah dey di mek it haad pan me! Ah just di try mek a life fuh all a wi you know? and ih feel like nuh mattah whe ah try duh, ah ciant get head and all dey duh dah fight di mek it woss!”
Dodes starts to smile. “Sound like friggin UDP and PUP huh? ‘you tief’ ‘no yu tief!’ Dodes moves from side to side changing her voice to represent each side.
“well, at least ah nuh as teifah as u!”
“Who seh so? wi still nuh know how much yu tief! At least when we tief, we pass it on to the people! Ask evibadi whe get turkey and ham fi krismus. At least dat da sumting!”
“Ha! what people? fi u people? O wait! da nuh even fi we people! Da di bloody alien whe uno just hurry friggin give citizenship!”
“Well when election time cum, u always drag out alla your votahs dem, even di one whe dead fuh 20 yeahs! At least ah nevah tek money fram Ashcroft fu mi campaign! Go google da shit! Ih deh ret deh pan wikipedia! And a bet dah only di million whe uno cop tu! Who knows how much ih reaaaaaalllly give uno!”
“Well look pan kettle di cuss pat! Who u fi seh jack shit? You represent di man den tun rung and sue ah??? Conflict of interest much? u lucky u nuh dead! You sure hitman nuh deh afta u?”
At this Dodes looked squarely at her friend,” Meanwhile me and you di get busup like pinata, right Bernie? Ah mean really? Put puss eena bag which one cum out fus? And dey one pa tv! O my lord!” Dodes puts her hands on her hips and imitates the tv personalities they all knew so well. ” I know my party nuh perfect but that is in the past! We are talking about this government today! They promise to do bettah and they haven’t! They are just as corrupt so out they must go!’” At this, Dodes cut her eye and sucked her teeth. “Da stupid di tawk but nuh stupid di listen. Ah mean who dey di fool? How I supposed to vote dem back in when demi worse and dey di actually agree da demi worse?? Soh dis govament tief tuh suh let’s vote een di one whe tiefarah! My goodness!”
By this time Bernie is laughing heartily. She loved it when Dodes got funny. “Aye, Dodes. Stop! U wah mek ah drop off ah disya wiyah. Hmmmmm.” She catches her breath. “Dodes. Dodes! Di bus di cum! Go lock u doh hurry!”
Dodes flies off to lock her door before the bus stops on her street.
“See you latah, Berns! whooohooo!” waved Dodes.
“Bye Dodes! See u latah fi tea!” waved back Bernie.
Dodes seemed in much higher spirits as she made her way to work. Another day, another win against unemployment and poverty. She made a silent promise that she wouldn’t lose her focus and determination even when her children questioned her actions. She needed to talk to Marion. She couldn’t stand the thought of losing her best ally, her best friend in this world. If she only knew that is exactly why Marion resents her.