a short story by
Dougal staggered out of the bar and slapped his right trousers pockets, the money was still there. Simmo called him.
“You finished drinking already, Dougal?”
“I’m going to take a leak and then go over to Hobbsie’s bar.”
This was what they normally did on Fridays and Saturday evenings. They would spend time at both bars as both bar owners were popular in the little village of Renford.
Dougal made his way over to Hobbsie’s bar after he finished at the urinal and slapped his pocket again.
Soon he was joined by Simmo, Duncan, Charles, Swaby and two women, Jessica and Melda.
On both sides of the road were jerk chicken and soup vendors. A man was selling sugar cane and water coconuts. Yet another man was selling peanuts while gamblers abounded.
This was a district where women drank as hard as men and were not afraid to outdo their partners in that department. Jessica’s husband, Raymond, was known as a hard drinker but it was rumored that she could hold her liquor better than him while Melda’s boyfriend, Ska, never touched hard liquor. Melda therefore did her best to stay sober.
Soon Simmo, Duncan, Charles and Swaby got into a game of dominoes. Dougal and the two women watched the game.
“Darlene isn’t coming out tonight, Dougal?” Melda asked.
"Dougal, you must let her out of the house sometimes.”
“I don’t stop her, she used to drink as hard as any one of you.” Dougal tried to defend himself.
Darlene had told Dougal that it didn’t look decent for the two of them to be in a bar drinking liquor and behaving riotously. She had therefore turned over a new leaf and started going to church more regularly.
Jessica was in her late twenties with two children while Melda was in her middle thirties and had five children.
Renford was a very fruitful district in the yam belt of Trelawney. The men did small farming as well as masonry and carpentry. Dougal owned an acre of land and was a stone mason.
Soon Dougal was playing dominoes as well as the woman. He and Melda as his partner managed to drop six love on two different pairs of players including Jessica. Dougal took a taxi home that night. After the domino games he had done some more drinking before staggering into Byron’s taxi. He didn’t even notice the other men and the woman in the taxi. He staggered into his yard, Miss Greta, Darlene’s mother, opened the door for him and he staggered inside. Darlene came into the living room.
“Imagine you went to collect so much money and you couldn’t stay sober until you reach home, Dougal? You know that the money isn’t even yours. Where is it?”
Dougal slapped at his pocket again. He pushed his hand into his pocket. It was empty! The whole fifty thousand dollars was gone! He became sober immediately. Miss Greta threw some hot water out of a thermos and made some coffee for him.
“I have to find Byron’s taxi and find out from him who were in the car with me. I’m sure it was one of those guys who took my money.”
He finished drinking the coffee and made for the door.
“Where are you going at this time of the night?” his mother-in-law asked him.
“I have to find that money or else I’m in big trouble.”
“It’s only duppies and gunmen who are on the road this time of the night. But it will serve you good. I didn’t know why you didn’t come straight home after collecting the money and even going on the road later,” his wife scolded him before closing her front door on a departing Dougal.
Dougal returned home that morning looking very disheveled. Byron, the taxi driver, only knew one of his passengers and that was the man who had been in the front seat. He didn’t know either of the two men or the girl who had been at the back of the car with Dougal.
Dougal took a bath and put on clean clothes. He went and had his breakfast. There was a certain amount of tension between himself and Darlene and it didn’t help by her mother being there albeit if only for two weeks. He knew that Darlene wanted to go to the market and he had no money on him to give her.
He was sitting on a bamboo bench in the yard when Darlene came out and took a seat. She was of medium height and built and was in her mid thirties while Dougal was also of medium height, he was more bulkier than her and was five years her senior. They had three children, two boys and one girl.
“You talk to Mister Harold yet?”
Darlene brought up a subject that had been weighing heavily on Dougal’s mind of how to break the news to Harold Daniels that he had lost his money. He had raised the hog for Harold and a man had bought it and he had gone and collected the money from the man only to have lost it.
“I don’t how he’ll react, all I know is that I’ll have to repay him.”
“Mamma said she’ll lend me some money to go to the market.” Dougal felt ashamed. His two sons had helped in feeding the hog and he had promised them something now that it was sold. Now that the money was lost what would he tell them?
Dougal made his way up to Harold Daniel’s house. He wasn’t sure that the man would believe him as he fancied himself as some sort of a village lawyer. The man could well say that he had collected the money but didn’t want to turn it over to him and had converted it to his own use. The best thing to do was to report it at the police station.
The young Constable who took the statement from Dougal that morning didn’t seem at all concerned. People were losing money every day. He admonished Dougal for not being more careful. He however asked him to try and remember the persons who were in the taxi with him. Could he remember anything about them, maybe a mark on them, their voices or the clothes they wore and that set Dougal thinking.
When he reached Harold Daniel’s house, he saw the man on his verandah.
“You want a drink, Dougal, a beer or white rum?”
Dougal told him that he would have a beer.
“It’s all over the village that you lost the money but you know how suspicious I can be. How do I know that you aren’t just giving me a story to hold while you have my money out there partying with?”
“This must be the sixth hog I’ve raised for you and this is the first time anything like this has happened.”
“There is always a first time. I passed you out there in the square and I expected you to bring the money to me from last night. So why didn’t you? That’s what you’ve always done.”
Dougal took some more sips of his beer before replying.
“I just don’t know. I figured that the money would have been safe with me. I just don’t know how it left my pocket. On second thoughts now maybe I should have put it in my shoes.”
“So the money is gone but you still owe me. I’m going to give you time to repay me. We were to split that money sixty forty so you owe me thirty thousand dollars. I’m giving you three months to repay me or else I’m putting it in the courts,” Harold warned him.
Dougal finished his beer and left Harold’s house.
He wondered if one of the persons he had been playing dominoes with could have robbed him. They were sitting pretty close to each other and it was possible that one of them had put his or her hand in his pocket without him noticing. It seemed hardly likely plus they were his friends and he had known each of them for several years. It was one of the passengers in the car who had taken his money.
Dougal began thinking. He had been sitting in the middle of the backseat, the girl to his left and the other man to her left while the other man sat on his right. Since the money had been in his right trousers pocket then it had to be the man who was sitting to his right who had robbed him. Could it have been a set up? Could somebody have noticed that he had money on him and set them up to rob him since as far as he was concerned all three passengers who had been in the backseat of the car had been stranger which was rather strange.
Dougal was out in the square that Saturday night. Everybody knew about his misfortune. Several of his friend came up to him and expressed their sympathy. He accepted a few offers for drinks and played a few domino games. He kept an eye on each of his friends who had been drinking and playing dominos with him. None of them gave any indication of receiving a windfall lately. He doubted if they would have given any indication so soon.
The next week he was out in the square on both Friday and Saturday evening but again he saw no indication among his friends that they had come into any money lately. Meanwhile he continued to work on his small farm. He managed to sell some yams and potatoes to some higglers. He was worried as he didn’t know where he was going to get the first installment to pay Harold Daniels.
He got a job building a wall and he worked for two weeks. He went to Harold to beg more time to come up with the first installment. He expected the man to refuse and to probably put it in the courts but he was unexpectedly benevolent towards him. That Friday evening Dougal as well as several other men and women were waiting on Delano, the contractor, to come from Falmouth with the money. A taxi drove up into the square and stopped by where some of them were seated. Marvin, who had been Delano’s assistant on the job came out of the car.
“Two guys held up Delano and took the payroll from him,” he announced.
Dougal felt a sinking feeling in his stomach.
Marvin said that after Delano collected the money he was coming over to the bar where he, Marvin was when the two men on the motor cycle rode up and demanded the money. Delano seeing the guns pointing at him had promptly handed over the money and then made an alarm. Dougal didn’t know what to believe. He wasn’t a pessimist but could Marvin and Delano have set it up.
Several of the workers were still loitering around waiting to hear it from Delano. Delano came and he repeated Marvin’s story. He had already reported the robbery to the police. It was a very dejected Dougal who returned home that Friday evening. He didn’t even have money to give Darlene to go to the market that Saturday morning.
“What happen, Dougal? I heard what happened to Delano and I can’t believe it,” Darlene stated that Saturday morning as they sat on a bamboo bench in the middle of the yard.
“I have to believe Delano and Marvin was there too. This is the first time anything like that has happened to Delano,” Dougal told her.
“Peaches lent me some money. I will have to take some of it and go to the market,” Darlene said and immediately Dougal felt guilty. It wasn’t his fault that Delano had been robbed of the payroll but if he had been more careful with that money he would have money to give her.
He wasn’t even thinking about the money he owed Harold Daniels. How long could he keep putting him off before the man either put him before the courts or bailiffed him?
“I’m still hoping that I’ll find that money,” Dougal said and Darlene became angry.
“It was your carelessness why you lost that money, Dougal. I just can’t understand why you didn’t just come home or take the money to Mr. Daniels. If it was your money you lost it wouldn’t be so bad but I don’t know how you’re going to repay him his money and you know the type of person he is,” Darlene wailed.
Even before he had started raising hogs for Harold Daniels people were warning him to beware of the man. But he had never had any trouble with Harold until now and the man wasn’t to blame.
Dougal knocked around his small holding until in the evening. Darlene asked him if he wasn’t going out to the Square and Dougal though he might as well. He asked Darlene to go with him but she declined.
Once out in the Square Dougal felt like a new man. He didn’t have any money but he couldn’t avoid his friends. They knew what had happened to him and were eager to buy him drinks.
Dougal hadn’t planned on spending any time out in the square but at ten o’clock he was still there having a good time.
At eleven o’clock he got up to go down to the taxi stand. He hadn’t drunk a lot of liquor but had consumed a lot of soup. He felt strong, fit and alive. Had he felt that way some weeks ago he would never have lost his money.
As he neared the taxi stand he saw a tall girl. No there was no mistaking her. She was the girl who had been with him in Byron’s taxi the night his money was stolen. He wondered what to do. If he confronted her now she might be scared off and on the other hand he wasn’t sure that she knew anything about the robbery.
Then to Dougal’s bigger surprise a man came out of the shadows and joined the girl and Dougal recognized him at once. It was the man he suspected of robbing him.
Only Henry’s and Blue’s taxis were on the stand and he went and whispered to Henry that he wanted him to drop him off at the police station.
Dougal climbed into the backseat of Henry’s taxi. A minute later the girl came to sit on one side while the man sat on the other side. A woman, name Orinthia came and went into the front seat and Henry realizing that passengers for the night were dwindling down, started the taxi and drove off.
Henry was driving into the station gate before the man and the girl realized what was happening.
“Wait mister where are you going?” the man whose name asked.
“The man in the back of the car wants me to drop him here,” Henry replied.
The girl shouted.
“Turn around the car, we don’t want to go there.”
But it was too late as two armed policemen came towards them and Henry stopped his taxi.
Henry came out of the car as did Orinthia.
“What do you people want?” one of the policemen asked.
“Okay all of you come out of the car,” another policeman ordered.
Reluctantly the and the girl came out of the car.
“These were the two people who were in the car with me the night my money was stolen,” Dougal reported to the policemen.
The policemen were aware of the theft of Dougal’s money.
The taller constable whose name was Essor looked at the man and the girl.
“This man had accused you both of robbing his money,” he told them.
“Let them come into the station house,” Hunt the other constable said.
Once there the man was searched and to their surprise he had several pockets on his jeans and jacket and one hundred and fifty thousand dollars on him as well as two long knives.
Orinthia, who worked as a security guard, volunteered to search the girl but this was rejected by the policemen. She was ordered to empty out her bags and pockets. A packet of thousand dollar bills was found on her numbering around forty thousand dollars.
The policemen took the man’s and the women’s identity cards. The man’s first name was Stan and the woman’s first name was Destine.
Sten and Destine confessed that same night to having robbed Dougal. Both of them were put in separate cells. Dougal was assured of his money being returned to him as Sten said that the money hadn’t been touched as they were saving up to buy a car. He knows that it will have to pass through the courts system so he is willing to wait and went to inform Harold Daniels early the next morning of his good fortune. Of course Darlene knew from the same night. The End.Please visit my blog at:http://stredwick.blogspot.com