Denny Browne sold jerk
chicken in Market Square and he was fuming. They normally went out on Friday,
Saturday and Sunday evenings to sell. Market Square was a popular venue in
North East St. Catherine. All the vendors made money plying their trade. There
were four other jerk chicken vendors beside himself. Jacob Wright, Markie Brown , Tedroy Griffiths and
Sandman Goffe were the other vendors. Two women, Marlene and Sissy sold soup
and boiled corn. Laddie sold peanuts while Hustay sold sugar cane and water
coconuts. Several men and women played dominoes and other games in the square
each night, but most vendors only came out on weekends as that was the time
they expected to do most business. Unlike other vendors Denny had a shop in the
square and he sold lunches. He also had a two acre farm and it was from there
that he got most of the produce to sell in his shop. All the vendors had to
have a food handler’s permit.
was fuming because Astley Reid had credited jerk chicken and one week’s lunch
from him and now he had heard that the man was down in St. Elizabeth, working.
He was sweeping up around his shop that Tuesday morning when he saw Jacob passing.
He was coming from his farm. He had a five acre farm and he would buy produce
from him to sell in his shop. Denny had a freezer and sold bag juice; in
addition, he sold an abundance of fruits and other stuff.
you seen Astley?” Jacob asked.
that he is down in St. Elizabeth, working and won’t be returning until two week’s
borrowed his bus fare from me plus some other money to keep him until he got
paid. I just hope that he’s going to repay me my money,” Jacob stated.
saw Lunan Bartley coming towards them. He was a big strapping woodcutter. He
was pushing a cart with his saw on it.
guys heard that Jim Bulla just died. He was down at Sonny’s shop drinking rum
when he collapsed and died before they could take him back to the doctor.”
men expressed their surprise.
saw Jim just coming from the doctor!” Denny expressed his surprise.
village of Laidlaw was a hard district where men drank hard and there were
women who drank as hard as the men.
Bulla had been one such man. Others were Bill Brown, Stan Douglas, Willy Small
and Hanson Johnson among others. Hanson in a drunken stupor had fallen down a
ravine one night and broke his neck. Stan Douglas lost his house, his wife and
ended up at his family’s home in Trelawny which he had left forty years ago.
Bill Brown and Willy Small were still alive and drinking as hard as ever.
three men shook hands and went their separate ways. But there are other stories
to be told about the district of Laidlaw. One such story is how Earnest Parson
disappeared without a trace. Another is Burty Johnson chopping off Dickson
Paul’s head over road work and Eason Donaldson using his shoemaker’s knife to
puncture the small intestines of Lester Dacres.
also operated a small restaurant in the
village square. He had only two tables in the restaurant which could
comfortably seat eight persons. He was
hoping to get some more tables and chairs because his meals were cheap. Teachers
from the nearby high school and primary school patronized him.
end came and there was no sign of Astley.
Brown came to him with news that the man wouldn’t be returning as he had found
a girl down there to settle down with.
was downcast when he heard the news. He could do with the money, Astley owed
him. He was having lunch in Denny’s restaurant that day when he said.
I loaned Astley money to go to the country and he’s doing this to me.”
didn’t reply, he was still fuming at what the man had done.
Six years later Astley returned. He bought Everald Creary’s twenty acre
property and two storey house. When Denny and Jacob went to him for the money
he owed them, he confessed a loss of memory, but when they told him the amount
he paid them with compound interest. He told them over several glasses of
champagne that he had met an American woman in Montego Bay, got married to her and then migrated to the States. It
wasn’t long before he realized that his wife was dying of a terminal illness
and that she was very rich. Despite spending thousands of dollars on her
illness, she died. After her funeral, he was involved in a nasty fight with her
relatives. The dispute was finally resolved by the family agreeing to pay him a
quarter of what was left of her fortune. With that money he moved to another
State, married another woman and decided to return home to Jamaica to enjoy his
new found wealth. His wife preferred to
remain in the States as she had business interests over there. She would spend
a part of the winter out here with him.
going to invest in this village, buy out most of the businesses and expand and
modernize them,” he told both men.
he owned most of the businesses in the village. He bought out Denny’s small
restaurant and expanded it. He bought out Sam Reidle’s hardware and Miss
Della’s drugstore and expanded them. He
put on lavish parties and even bought Greg Wright’s sound system and modernized
it. Sometimes he was absent from the village for weeks. He explained that he
had business to attend to abroad, hence his many absences.
he had to employ bodyguards as he was at the end of some vicious threats. Hard
looking characters began driving through the village. He complained to the
police that certain persons were putting the squeeze on him. Then it happened,
Denny awoke to hear a barrage of gunshots followed by screams, all coming from
Astley’s house. All the villagers rushed to his house to find him shot all over
his body. He died on the spot.
was to learn that the man never stepped a foot out of Jamaica but was in fact
the head of the Marshal gang who dealt with smuggling drugs from South America
to Jamaica and then to the United States and Britain. He was killed because he
robbed the gang of thousands of dollars and was in fact in hiding before he was
killed. The End.
Austin's blog: stredwick.blogspot.com