THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 119

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 119

…“My clubs were too short, the balls are like lead, and the wind seemed to gust every time I hit a shot, enough to make a Pope angry.”…

On their first full day out and about, Roger Rodriques drives them out into the back country and a hilly little golf course, there by fulfilling one of the to-dos on their getaway platter. The score card of the Upton Golf Course & Plantation has a tagline on its cover, ‘700 feet up and always cool’, but the persistent 90 degree days betray that claim.

So while their guide waits for them in the clubhouse, the only cool spot for miles, Francine and Roy practice their best “no’s” in turning down a pesky boy who cannot believe these Americans prefer to carry their rented clubs. Compared to the private clubs they are used to playing, this version of golf lives up to one of the sports’ nicknames: “pasture pool”. The fairway mowers are black & white, have four legs, and moo.

The round concludes with Roy losing the only tee shot that was farther than Francine all afternoon, in a pile of grass the “moo”-ers hadn’t got to; in the middle of the 18th fairway.

“The greens are like our tees, the tees like our fairways, the fairways like our rough, and the rough is like our out-of-bounds.”

“Perhaps you should have used that caddy. I beat you 89 to 93.”

“My clubs were too short, the balls are like lead, and the wind seemed to gust every time I hit a shot,” enough to piss off the Pope.

“Don’t be mad Roy; I’ll give you a rematch.”

He will take her up on that challenge, but it will have to wait for another day, there is too much else to do. —

— Like the Shaw Park Botanical Gardens, ‘which is on the site of a 19th Century hotel, long since razed, situated high on a hilltop overlooking the Bay of Ocho Rios, surveying the azure waters of the Caribbean, the Gardens embrace 25 acres of tropic splendor. A sparkling waterfall cascades down a rocky course with luxuriant plant specimens on all sides. Lush tropical trees form bowers with flamboyant blossoms every month of the year.’

This is definitely Chamber of Commerce material.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 119


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 118

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 118

…Roger Rodrigues caters to picture taking, thrill seeking, taking the road less traveled, all for the benefit of Jamaican tourists…

The Road Less Traveled by Helen Dieter

 “Very good Roger. We haven’t decided exactly when & where, but we are golfers, love to hike, , and I would love to see a cricket match… Roy?”

“I’m with her.”

“Smart Mon! I can take you wherever the lady wants to go. I just need to know the day before.” Roger is markedly more intelligent and organized than the stereotypical islander. “There are also some points of interest we can work into all the other things you mentioned.”

“Can we hire you by the day, for the duration of our stay?”

He thinks it over. “400 $J or 50 $A cash in advance.”

“I thought American dollars were illegal?”

Roger looks at Jimmy and winks, “Not for everyone… give me a Red Stripe Jimmy, eet is hot enough to chase a gecko to the shade.”

Over several more Jamaican brews the visitors learn more of what this island has to offer, the good and the bad.

On the must-do/positive sides are:

  • Botanical Gardens
  • Dunn’s River Falls
  • Fern Gully RoadRelated image
  • Amateur Cricket
  • All Products Jamaican Ceramics
  • No Firearms

 On the avoid/negativity side:

  • Aggressive Native Marketing
  • Not-so-clean Residential Areas
  • Ganga Street Sales
  • Cocaine et al Drug Trafficking
  • Corrupt Police

“You’ve got to learn the word “NO” and at least pretend like you mean it. Then they may leave you alone.” It is Roger’s self-appointed duty to make sure tourists get the most from their stay.

And even though day one is spent sampling local libations, this affable taxi owner is a former local policeman who could not afford to raise four children on the measly wages. Instead he has chosen to carve out a niche, catering to picture taking, thrill seeking, taking the road less traveled, all for the benefit of Jamaican tourists.Chevy Malibu

The view from his 60 year old {well-kept} Chevrolet Chevelle SS is quite personal and real, something that a bus {not Speedy’s} filled with thirty other perfect strangers fails to deliver. You can ask him dumb questions about the cute Jamaican children or the continuing civil unrest, and he will give you a honest, clear and authoritative answer. The sugar coating is in a canvas bag, stored underneath his spare tire.


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 117

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 117

…Roy takes a sip of his drink, staring at it like the artichoke bit him in the nose, “Now that is an interesting tasting Bloody Mary……rum?”…

The best place to find out about a new town is to talk with the bartender.

They do go downstairs after changing out their $USs for $Jamaican. The 1 to 6 ratio means Francine’s purse will be toting their stack,

“This is like Monopoly money, hand over 50 $J for a drink, that is an arm & a leg!?”

“Please ignore Dr. Roy, he specializes in amputations.”

“Yes, I would like a Bloody Mary with an artichoke and a saw,” Roy is playing.

“Make that two, good man….” she supposes a name with a face, “Hold the artichoke for mine.”

“Jimmy, eet’s JimmyD,” is the Oasis Bar’s fixture bartender… among other things at the SILVER SEAS RESORT & HOTEL. At any given time you can find him doing just about anything.

“Okay JimmyD, didn’t we see you at the front desk when we checked in?” they had arrived frazzled and unaware of new appearances.

“2 towsand sorries 4 da rooms bad, maid queet on spot. Red eye peeple catch us weeth pants down.”

Roy takes a sip of his drink, staring at it like the artichoke bit him in the
nose, “Now that is an interesting tasting Bloody Mary… rum?

“Yes we uze Ovaproof een everything, dunt be dreenking 2 miny.”

“Say, we did not book a tour, so we will need some help getting around the island, any suggestions?”

“Roger!” he gestures at a husky man at the other end of the bar to come over. “He eez da best driva on dee island; Roger da Dodger, who drives a Chevy and friend to da lodger.”

“That is quite a tagline Roger,” a hand is extended. “I am Roy and this is Francine,” who shakes the new character’s hand as well.

“It is nice to meet you,” he responds with a West Indies accent, but it is clear he has been educated elsewhere. “Here is my card:”


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Episode 117


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 116

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 116

…“My Great-Great Grandfather Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen was hanged in London for dismembering his wife.”…

“I have a million credits stored up in my account and it’s burning a hole in my purse. I believe that you need new swim/tennis shorts and my bikini has a strap that is about to let loose.”

“You don’t have to buy me stuff, I can get by.”

“Not with me! And I’ve always wanted to have a guy to buy things for.”

“What about Larry?” He dares to go down that road.

“Let’s not go there. I am not in a good spot on that subject.”

“As long as you deal with him straight-up, after all you did agree to marry him somewhere along the line.”

“He knows where I stand Roy. I walked out on the station, violated my contract, and told him I was leaving the country with you. I think he gets the hint. If that makes me a coldhearted bitch, then so be it.”Related image

“Hey, I’m not trying to push my luck and I certainly do not want you to change your mind. If you are a coldhearted bitch, then I guess that I have taken a liking to coldhearted bitches.”

“C-H-B is harsh, but I’m not that same cutthroat TV reporter who called NASA out of the blue. It appears that you’ve made an honest woman out of me.”

“Speaking of acronyms, c-h-b you’re not, F-blank-B stands for what?”

“Nothing.”

Francine Nothing Bouchette… boy your parents had low expectations.”

“I didn’t get a middle name; in fact I changed my name for television. In my high school yearbook, Francesca Boucheletta was voted “Most Likely to Be Famous”, but no way that was going to happen with an Italian name like that; sounds more like a wine & appetizer.”

“An Italian with a French name?”

“How about you Roy?” He wasn’t to get off that easy.

“My Great-Great Grandfather Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen was hanged in London for dismembering his wife.”

Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen

Francine immediately does an Internet search for the name, “I do not see the family resemblance.”

“I don’t know about that, but my parents did not want me to go to medical school… and I get queasy at the sight of blood, but I do like a bloody Mary from time to time and it is noon somewhere… want to join me F blank B?”

“The best place to find out about a new town is to talk with the bartender. We need to see what’s happening around here.”


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Episode 116


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 115

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 115

…And here I pictured you as a pale, wimpy science freak the first time I talked to you on the phone…

— When sleep finally comes to her and him, it is deep and long.Pink Bubbles Sticker by Douglas Schatz for iOS & Android | GIPHY

In the dim light of day, Roy untangles an arm that has been wrapped around Francine like a twist tie and looks for his PDA to see if he had set the alarm. His device reads 9A which opposes the noon-like high blue sky. He chooses to trust the earlier time, so no need to rush cuddling time.

Tick-tock – tick-tock and ten o’clock causes him to stir. His restless movement alerts his bed-buddy, who prevents his escape by employing the old kiss-tummy-to-neck trick. It works.

“And where do you think you’re going mister?”

The acid test for beauty is the morning wake-up. Without makeup, jewelry and clothes orImage result for grade a shower, contacts and hair gel, is the way God intended adult men & women to see each other. Francine is a solid A through Roy’s eyes and Roy rates an A-, because he sleeps like he is weightless {all over the place}, but that is why the king-sized bed was invented.

“We are burning daylight and we don’t want people to get the wrong impression.”

“We are on vacation, the rest of the world can be damned,” she brags, playfully running her fingers through the hair on his chest, yes chest. “How is it you are so tan?”

“I have a small boat on the Gulf; go out after Red Snapper and Groper on Saturdays.”

“Two aircraft and now a boat that I suspect is not a skiff. What else don’t I know about your life?”

“I play http://www.ExpertScrabble.com with Braden and I enjoy long walks in the desert.”

“And here I pictured you as a pale, wimpy science freak the first time I talked to you on the phone.”

“I also play tennis and golf and love God.”

“I adore tennis have taken a couple of golf lessons and a 38 footer stocked with bait ‘n beer is my idea of a great weekend.”

“That is God, tennis, and beer ‘n bait in that order. I drive up to Lakewood Church in Houston when I’m in Texas.”

“I’ve been there back in the Osteen days, but with my weekend schedule I have trouble squeezing in time for God.”

“And when you’ve been up in space, it is hard to think about anything else but God.” He forgot to mention Mars.

The more she learns about Roy Crippen the more she is impressed. She doubts that there is a more well-rounded man in the United States of America, and she is trapped on this deserted desert island with that very man — well not so deserted or arid.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Deserted Island by Jacek Yerka

Episode 115


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 114

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 114

…When in Rome… we will mix our money, share a room, and take it from there…

So it’s back down to the Silver Seas desk where Roy is given a key to 202. It is not as messy, but untouched by maids as well.

Image result for lucky number 3The third room is a charm; 303, third floor with three hours of daylight left.

“Lots of stairs. At least we won’t have need of the fitness room. It is probably a park bench and an iron pipe anyway. We’ll get all the exercise we need going back and forth to our room,” she consoles Roy who has been schlepping luggage alongside the porter.

He thanks the concierge. The concierge stands firm.

“You haven’t traveled lately have you… he’s waiting for a tip.” She hands the young man a $10.

“Thank you preety ladie!”

“I guess your money spends better than mine.”Image result for going dutch cartoon

“We’re going Dutch right?”

“No. When in Rome….we will mix our money, share a room, and take it from there.”

Once situated in the room, whose air conditioning struggles to keep up, Francine sets guidelines for cohabitation. “I don’t know about you, but I am not going to let modesty get in my way,” she unwraps her sundress, neatly folds it and places it on the bed like they were old marrieds. She slips on a nightshirt, sits next to him and says to him, “Let’s try out their room service. How about we order roast pigeon and fig leaves? That way we maybe we get lucky and get the chicken and salad instead.”

“So this is what Heaven is like, or are you just a dream?” He cannot believe how incredibly easy things are with this woman.

“I’m not a dream because dreams cannot do this,” she undoes his Windsor knot and unbuttons his shirt before he can say ‘no problem’.

… There are two less lonely people in the world tonight. —


THE RETURN TRIP

Third Time’s the Charm by blackxprince

Episode 114


page 108

Not Chuck Norris’ Texas Rangers – WIF Into History

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Exciting Adventures

(and Sometimes Dark)

of the Texas Rangers

Older than Texas’s status as one of the United States of America, the humble beginning of the Texas Rangers was when Stephen F. Austin formed a militia of 10 men in 1823 because he didn’t think Mexican militias were sufficient protection from Native American raids. Today there are 166 rangers and 68 support members. They’re such a beloved organization that there are state statutes barring them from being disbanded. Whole television shows and movies, such as 2019’s The Highwaymen, have been devoted to singing their praises.

It has been an incredibly active unit, and still is. In 2018 alone the Rangers launched 2,726 investigations that resulted in 504 convictions and 758 confessions. Let’s have a look at some of the most significant incidents from that long and storied record.

10. Mexican-American War Heroes

The Texas Rangers rode into the national spotlight in 1847, during the Mexican-American War. In late February, Zachary Taylor led an army of roughly 5,000 near Monterrey, Mexico. Counts vary on how many troops were in the Mexican army under Santa Anna, but at a minimum the Americans were outnumbered three to one. They also were in unfamiliar territory, and as Mexican army closed in, the American army was situated on the plains of Agua Nueva, which would have been exactly where a larger army full of cavalry like Santa Anna’s would have wanted them.

Fortunately for the Americans, Rangers under Henry McCullough were acting as scouts. On February 21 they reported the close proximity and overwhelming force of the Mexican army to Taylor, who promptly withdrew to the hills of Buena Vista. The high ground massively improved the effectiveness of Taylor’s artillery, and allowed the Americans to win a surprise — if costly — victory, which was vital to winning him the presidency in 1849 (although he’d die just over a year into his term). Taylor singled out the scouting by McCullough in his report and made the Rangers so acclaimed that Winfield Scott, who’d be the commanding general of all Union armies at the beginning of the American Civil War, specifically requested that they be transferred to his army.

9. Little Robe Creek

The dozen or so tribes of the Comanche Empire that spanned through Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma to Kansas have been chronicled before, but this will be the first time we mention their most notable clash with the Texas Rangers. In 1858, 100 Texas Rangers crossed the Red River into enemy territory in reprisal for horse raids. They had with them a roughly equal number of Native American allies from the Brazos Reservation. The fact their target community had roughly 600 natives in it meant that John S. Ford turned to deception for his attack, and thus had the native allies approach first without making their intent clear. That drew the Comanche’s attention while the Rangers moved in for an undetected attack.

Little Robe Creek was less a battle than a massacre, as when they charged the Rangers were running into villagers instead of warriors. Ford would report that he killed about 72 Comanches, including Chief Iron Jacket (so named because he wore old Conquistador armor), while only two Rangers were killed in the attack. It would turn out none of the horses that the tribe had were among the contraband mounts, so it was very likely an attack on an innocent community. Nevertheless, the attack was considered a sign in the United States that the Comanche were vulnerable to encroachment, and the Empire’s days were numbered.

8. Round Rock Robbery

About 20 years after their attack on the Comanche, the Rangers performed one of their most high profile pieces of law enforcement, especially for the early period. In 1878, the Rangers received a telegram from a gang informant that they were going to Round Rock to rob the bank. The event took on particular regional stakes because the gang was led by Sam Bass, a train robber of such a high profile that an estimated 200 books were written about his life and crimes. Even with a gang of only four, including the informant, Bass’s gang was considered especially formidable.

Two Rangers were immediately dispatched to Round Rock, but Bass’s gang got there first. They were unable to get word to local law enforcement, so it was only by nasty luck that Deputy Sheriff Grimes happened to be near the Round Rock bank, saw that Bass was carrying one more firearm that town ordinances permitted, and was shot immediately while trying to confiscate it. A prolonged shootout broke out, and it wasn’t until the Rangers arrived that Bass’s gang was driven out of town, with Bass being mortally wounded. Thus did the legendary law enforcers end another legend.

7. Battle of Tres Jacales

On June 29, 1893, Company D under Frank Jones of the Rangers was dispatched to Tres Jacales, an island community near San Elizario. In a mounted chase, they pursued suspected livestock smugglers into a settlement of four adobe buildings. Jones, whose wedding was only a few days before, approached the outlaws to demand their surrender. Instead, he was shot dead.

Rather than the Rangers coming to the rescue, this time they were bolstered by an  armed citizen force that raised their numbers to roughly 100 soldiers. The subsequent fighting was described by Ranger Corporal Kirchener as “his narrowest escape.” Although the Rangers triumphed in the end, it set the tone for many years along the border.

6. Porvenir Massacre

According to Ranger Captain J. M. Fox, on January 28, 1918, a force of Rangers, regular US Cavalry, and civilian ranchers rode into the farming community of Porvenir and were ambushed by some murderers that had taken part in a raid of a nearby ranch in December 1917. They were able to overcome the attackers and kill 15 of them. They then didn’t feel the need to report the incident for a few weeks.

In October 2019, the other side of the story came out on PBS. According to Harry Warren, the schoolmaster for the 140 person town and the son-in-law of one of the people killed on that day, the deaths were murders, to an extent that none of the victims had even been armed. Other accounts, such as those by the Flores family, collaborated his written account and pointed out how the way the Rangers described some of the people they’d shot was completely inaccurate. By this account it seems the only real reason that the killings took place was that the victims were of Mexican descent.

5. The Borger Raid

As impossible as this may be to imagine now, the 1920 prohibition of alcohol in America under the 14th Amendment and the subsequent Volstead Act were especially amenable to the state government of Texas. Counties in Texas had been banning hard alcohol since the 1870s, and by 1908, more than 60% of all Texas counties had banned it completely. Still, Prohibition is notorious for the raucous corruption it caused, which the Rangers naturally had to put down. In April 1927, the oil boom town of Borger in particular drew the organization’s eye, and Frank Hamer, the officer who later put an end to Bonnie and Clyde, was dispatched with seven officers to clean up the town.

The results were so extreme they were comical. For example, more than 200 slot machines were destroyed in raids. The mayor, the city commissioners, and almost the entire police force, including the chief, were compelled to resign. But most of all, in one day, supposedly 1,200 prostitutes were driven from the town, which sounds like so many that it must have massively disrupted the local economy. Borger remained so committed to vice that it wasn’t until February 1929 that the Rangers left the town.

4. Amy McNeil

Wealthy banker Don McNeil’s daughter Amy was walking to school on January 11, 1985 when a group of four men and one woman swooped in and kidnapped her. They issued a $100,000 ransom demand and told McNeil where to go for a subsequent phone call, the location also intended to be the rendezvous point where they would exchange the prisoner for the money. McNeil reported the kidnapping and received an escort of Rangers. McNeil’s limousine stalled on the way, but luckily, the kidnappers happened to drive by and Amy McNeil was spotted in the vehicle. This began a chase that lasted nearly 48 hours, went through three counties, and about 600 miles. According to the Chicago Tribune, it also involved the perpetrators firing shotguns out the car windows while fleeing.

Finally, at 4:30 a.m. on January 13, the chase came to an end. In a standoff, Ranger John Dendy rushed the kidnappers and successfully retrieved the abducted 13-year-old. Two of the kidnappers were wounded in the process, but Amy McNeil was uninjured — a satisfying capper to one of the most dramatic high speed pursuits in law enforcement history.

3. Headbutting the FBI

The 1993 Waco Standoff that resulted in the destruction of the Branch Davidian Church under David Koresh was one of the most controversial, emotionally charged events of the 1990s. There have been theatrically distributed documentaries such as the 1997 film Waco: Rules of Engagement devoted to how the situation was handled. But as far as the Texas Rangers were concerned, even while it was in progress, they were open about their belief that the incident was a farcical failure on the FBI’s part.

On April 7, 1993 — 39 days into the siege that would ultimately last 51 — the Baltimore Sun reported that the FBI’s use of armored vehicles meant that they crushed rooms containing evidence that the Rangers would need for making a case against the church in the investigation of the murders of four ATF agents. Additionally, FBI negotiators also gave away to the cult pieces of evidence that law enforcement would need for their later case and which the cult set about destroying. When the situation ended in flames 12 days later, presumably the Rangers were unsurprised.

2. Ralph McLaren Standoff

Before the decade was out, the Rangers were involved in another high profile standoff with another deeply unstable man. In 1980, Ralph McLaren began issuing property liens in Dallas that added up to $1.8 billion in fraudulent claims. By the ’90s, he had begun to claim that by legal technicality Texas had never formally joined the US and declared himself the Republic’s leader. He gathered together four people that were also willing to be citizens of the Republic at the Davis Mountains Resort. The situation became really serious when the Republic took Joe and Margart Ann Rowe hostage in response to one in their ranks being jailed.

The hostage situation dragged out for over a week and involved 300 officers and Rangers. The hostages were freed in exchange for the release of the jailed comrade. In one of the cannier moves that ended the standoff much less violently than Waco, Ranger Captain Barry Caver signed a cease-fire document for the Republic of Texas, therefore recognizing the group as an independent nation. McLaren ended up being sentenced to 99 years in prison while his second in command got a 50-year sentence.

1. Suspect Provided Equipment

Despite their high profile and success rate, the Texas Rangers have a history of funding problems. It was especially bad in the 19th Century, and in the 1920s at one point the Ranger management admitted they couldn’t even get enough funding to cover their medical bills. It’s seemed to continue into the 21st Century, so the Rangers have apparently had to turn to some unorthodox methods of procuring resources.

Most significantly, in November 2018, the Rangers busted a driver in Donley County hauling nearly three tons of marijuana and THC. Chapter 59 of Texas Code meant that the Rangers could sell off the vehicle at auction. However, short on funds and with a large area to patrol, by May 2019 the Rangers had converted the vehicle into a mobile command center. It had, after all, been converted with enough technology that it was valued at $270,000. Thus did the Rangers oversee one of the most cost-effective times that criminals gave back to the community.


Not Chuck Norris’ Texas Rangers

WIF Into History

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 113

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 113

…Roy is in no mood for this hassle, he didn’t come 1400 miles to be visibly annoyed… especially not in front of Francine

Destinations

After five hotel stops and 60 miles later, the bus and its weary remaining passengers, those boarding in Chicago a 12 hour ordeal, are told the end of the line is near. “Thees eez Ocho Rios, wheech meenz five reevers. It eez the bestest place on our island, offering nacherous beautiful and de best een nateev shopping.”

Ocho Rios is bustling at midday, streets dotted by dented compact cars and Image result for nowheresvillesidewalks packed with people, most of who have nowhere to go and all day to do it. Francine cannot wait to be one of them, to actually partake in what Jamaica has to offer, every bit happy to be a citizen of Nowheresville.

But that day is now short and their energy wanes. They would be best served to locate their bags, adjust to the quiet atmosphere and then actually get better acquainted, yes that is the point of them jetting off together.

“Two king sized beds for Crippen, Roy and Francine.”

“Whot eez your name again pleez Mon?” The afternoon clerk suffers from the same disorganized confusion that is the order of the day on this tropical isle.

“C-R-I-P-P-E-N, Roy. I reserved an air conditioned room yesterday. I was told you were not booked up!” He is in no mood for this hassle. He didn’t come 1400 miles to be visibly annoyed, especially not in front of Francine.

“Oh ya Mon, heer you eez,” he reaches below the counter for the key. “That weel be 30 dollas key charge.”

“Okay, here,” he hands one twenty and one ten over the counter.

“American Dollas eez illegle een Jamaica Mon.”

“Where is the nearest place to convert currency?”

“I said eet eez illegle, not undesired.”

“Well what is it, me and this pretty lady need to go to our room?”

“Seex Jamaican dollas for eech US dolla and the banc will open at 9 AM. It closed at 5 PM.” He takes the $20, “Tanc you for da teep. He point up, “201, I get da rest of yur bags, second floor has less aneemals.”

Roy fits the key into the door. At last their paradise sanctuary… beds unmade, a half-full jug of rum, every manner of booze, on every available surface. “Wait here,” he tells Francine

Back down to the desk where he is given a key to 202. It is not as messy, but untouched by maids as well.

Francine politely sits on  her mountain of bags, perfectly content like never before in her life. Heads would have rolled if this were last week. “Things can only get better Roy.”


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Episode 113


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 112

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 112

…“My name eez Speedy and I weel be your driva for Blue Danube Tours…

Roy grabs the arm of a scurrying native, “Does this bus stop at the Silver Seas Resort?”

“Silva Seeze you bet mon, nice place to stay… where is your luggage?” The skinny bus driver, dressed in out-of-dated polyester pants, flip-flops and a short sleeve shirt is eager to leave.

Francine points to an equally underfed porter standing next to a dolly stacked to overflow.

“Poot dose on the trunk-truck, we got to go and you 2 come wit me.” The trunk-truck is to trail behind.

He escorts them to a Leyland Coach, vintage 1983 and still in service. It is filled to capacity and when Francine and Roy climb the steps, those already seated glare at them like they are holding up the show. The lady gets the jump seat; the gent is astride the entry stairs, for the two hour ride.

My name eez Speedy and I weel be your driva for Blue Danube Tours.Wen I call your names, pleez say “yo mon” in your best West Indies voice We dunt want to leev no one behind and want to drop you at the rite hotel.”

The grumbling from impatient, tired and hung-over Americans ranges from “I can’t understand him” to “I thought this was supposed to be a luxury motor coach”.

In the meantime, perhaps 20 minutes before the bus gets out of first gear, the trunk-truck has gone ahead, casting doubt that the travelers will see their luggage anytime soon. But when the diesel-powered bus makes forward progress, some of the trepidation is allayed. They were finally getting somewhere.

As they wind their way out of the airport compound and out into the erratically lit streets of Montego Bay, Speedy issues his first travel alert, You weel noteec that I drive on de left side of da rode.”

It did not seem to matter which side he was supposed to drive on, for the roads were narrow and the bus takes up well over 50% of the available pocked pavement. The horn seems to be the most used device on any Jamaican vehicle, including the brakes. A staccato honking precedes every close encounter with oncoming cars and the entrance into every blind corner awaiting the brave traveler of the winding coastline highway.

Roy is intrigued by the excursion, but only because he has the best view. Everyone else has their eyes closed, petitioning their God for a safe vacation.

Francine chooses to keep her eyes closed as well, catching a timely nap, until being jolted to full consciousness by a sudden thud-thump-squeal-screech— the telltale sounds and maneuvers that has made instant bacon out of an unfortunate jaywalking pig, belonging to a Jamaican family who prefers their pork stirred not flattened. They charge out of their windowless hut screaming at the sound of screeching tires and squealing pig.


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Episode 112


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 111

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 111

…The customs agent has pawed her way through mounds of tricot, lace, and female toiletries, looking at Francine like she was a Lady of the Night…

jamaica-001

The flight itself is uneventful, if you don’t count the gusty 2000 foot winds produced by a line of thunderstorms over the previously tranquil waters of the coming Caribbean Sea. It looks as if Cuba will get a blow from the prevailing winds in the next few hours.

140 miles south of Cuba {a fractional contributor to the Space Colony 1 project – celebratory cigars, so still communist}, lays the luxe landmass named Jamaica. Montego Bay is a coastal-cruise-ship-commune nestled against the foothills and mountains which rise out of the tropical waters. As they lower their altitude to the tree line they receive permission to land at Sangster International the island’s only legal airport.

“My head is throbbing,” Francine complains, “must be the difference in barometric pressure.”

“Take three of these and by the time we clear customs, you will be fine.”

“What are they?”

“Space flight enchanted capsule capsules.”

“Are they legal… I don’t want to know.”

NASA pharmaceuticals will have plenty of time to work. The people in customs are disheveled and crabby, seeing that they had just processed an incoming Chicago red eye charter, loaded with “loaded” passengers.

Skycap Roy has conveyed their suitcase armada to duties & tariffs. The rather robust woman who has drawn the short straw is leaving nothing to chance. Under Jamaican guidelines, she is more concerned about what comes into the country than what may be leaving; guns are banned as are wild animals.

She has pawed her way through mounds of tricot, lace, and female toiletries, looking at Francine like she was a hooker. Not one of the items banned by Jamaican customs. “That bag is clothes, that one is clothes, and that one is hair care,” she points out.

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“She is going to cost you Mon,” she pulls Roy’s single bag to inspect it. “Are you two really together?”

Roy feels compelled to explain, then decides what the woman thinks about his intent is of no matter.

“Please address your editorial comments to KHST Television.” Francine is a bit put off. “You aren’t sorry I came along, are you?”

“No way wo-mon! Thees ees Jamaica no problem.” Roy loosens his tie and leaves his merits at the gate. They are but one couple among an island full of them.

As luck would have it, an outbound bus headed for the north shore is just about to leave, with several seats to spare. “Look at these people running back and forth,” he refers to the employees of the Blue Danube Tours Company. It is an unlikely name considering that the only thing this island and Deutschland have in common is Heineken’s and Red Stripe, “reminds me of a Chinese fire drill.”

“That is weak PC Roy… Chinese, jeez?!”


 THE RETURN TRIP

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“Political Correctness” BY THE RED PHOENIX

Episode 111


page 105