All yuh hear de news?" Alvin asked, as he
came charging into the house.
"No!" Tina and I answered in unision.
" It doh make sense all yuh have radio and yuh ent listening..
Dey just pass a newsflash dat a man on top de Cable and Wireless
Tower and he getting ready to jump....everybody gaddering to
see! All yuh goin?"
" We only chillin' out here, so we mite as well make de lime,"
said Tina, my sister.
And so we all climbed into Alvin's green, rusted Volkswagen
Beetle to head for downtown Port of Spain, which was normally
a fifteen minute drive at that time of the day. The traffic
flowed smoothly up until the Port Authority Building on Wrightson
Road.Thereafter, it came to an abrupt standstill. Traffic flowed
from neither direction and after an half an hour wait, sitting
in the car, in the stifling noon day sun, we decided to pull
aside and park the vehicle." We might as well foot it, because
it not too far to de Tower," Alvin said.
We had not gone far on foot when we realised that traffic had
come to a total standstill on all the streets leading to Independence
Square, where the Tower was located. A huge crowd had gathered
at the base of the Tower and some of the people were standing
on the road, thus preventing the free flow of traffic. Because
of the oppressive heat and in order to get a better view, people
had abandoned their cars seats for the more advantageous positions
on their car roofs. There was complete mayhem, with people pushing
to get as close as possible to the Tower; emmergency vehicles
stuck in the traffic, wailed their sirens , to no avail.
In time, by squeezing and pushing our way, we reached the front
of the crowd at the base of the Tower. The Fire Department had
cordoned off an area immediately around the base, within which,
six groups of six firemen each, were in attendance with safety
nets.The tenseness of the situation and the sweltering heat,
aided by the dense crowd, were reflected on the faces of the
Firemen. Beads of sweat poured down their foreheads..... into
their eyes, down their cheeks and necks, soaking their shirts
which stuck to their bodies. Their heads were turned upward
and all eyes were focussed on the topmost platform of the tower.
High up, on the edge of this platform, the silhouette of a man
stood out. He stood about 100 feet up, and was bare from the
waist up. He held a red shirt in his right hand, which he waved
over his head. He stood barefeet, his toes curled over the edge
of the platform and for a moment, he appeared to have lost his
balance. The shirt fell from his hand and fluttered down amidst
the people below. A gasp went up from the crowd and the people
stepped back in anticipation. The man moved away from the edge
and the crowd breathed a sigh of relief.....
Midway up on the Tower, there was another smaller platform,
on which stood two firemen with megaphones in hand, which they
used to communicate with the man above.The man had threatened
to jump if they attempted to climb any higher. He had also demanded
food and water to quench his thirst.
How do you expect us to bring you food and water and you don't
want us to climb any further?"
asked one of the firemen.
"Yuh could leave it on dat platform and I will climb dong and
get it myself....... but allyuh have to leave." the man replied.
"So what kind of food you would like?" the other fireman asked.
" Ah doh want no fast food! Gimme creole food....
some callalloo, pelau and ah tall glass ah cold mauby. If ah
have to dead, ah want to go wid a full belly and wid someting
ah like!" the man said.
" You do realise that it will take some time to get this food,
because of the traffic jam you are causing," one of the firemen
" Ah doh give a fart where yuh have to get de food, but ah only
giving all yuh half hour, to get it......after dat, ah goin'
to FLY!" the man said.
One of the firemen started to speak into a two-way radio, while
the other continued to speak to the man over the megaphone.
"Okay! We will try to get you the pelau, mauby, etcetra....."
" Who order etcetra? Is pelau, callalloo and mauby!' the man
"Okay! Callaloo," added the fireman, " but in the meantime you
can at least tell us your name and why you want to jump from
" Ah doh see why yuh have to know mih name. And who say ah going
to jump? Is fly ah going to FLY! Like Superman! So allyuh could
call mih Clark Kent," the man replied.
"So where are you from Clark Kent?"
" I am also from Maraval," said the fireman, trying to distract
"And wat is your name? I know everybody in Maraval and I doh
know yuh." the man said.
"My name is Andy Lopez, but we left Maraval since I was a boy."
explained the fireman.
"De onliest Lopez ah know in Maraval, is Manuel. De biggest
fowl tief it have."
" He is my uncle. So tell me, how long are you living in Maraval?"
asked the fireman.
" Ah born, grow up and still living in Maraval..... in de same
house mih great grandfadder uses to live in. Mih navelstring
bury dey and is dey ah want to bury wen ah die.." Clark Kent
" Well, after you fly, I only hope there will be enough left
of you to bury...." said the fireman.
"Yuh give mih someting to tink about, oui!"
"You had better think about it good before the food arrives...."
added the fireman.
" Yuh see problem women does put yuh in? If it wasn't for Olga
ah wodden be up here talking to yuh!" said Clark Kent.
" Yuh could talk as much as you want, I have all the time...
so what has she done that is so bad, to make you want to fly?"
asked the fireman.
" De fust mistake is dat ah marry she. She say dat de chile
is mine, so as man, ah married she. But three months after,
wen de chile born...white like a bakra johnny, ah start to get
suspicious. She say dat de chile take on de Potogee side ah
she family. Family , my ass! all dis time she making out wid
dat Potogee fella wid de rumshop in de junction. All dis going
on behind mih back!"
"And that is why you want to kill yourself?" asked the fireman.
" Who say ah want to kill mihself? Ah tell yuh arready ah goin'
to fly........Look all dis talking making me real thirsty,oui!
All yuh cyar bring de mauby fust? Dis damm sun real hot!" Clark
"But Clark, it's you who chose to be up here. You could have
been down there enjoying an ice cold glass of mauby....." chimed
in the fireman.
" So wat yuh tryin' to say, is my fault dat Olge run way from
home and make me lose mih job wen ah buss up she tail after
ah ketch she wid de man...
how much yuh want ah man to take? Now yuh insinuatin' dat is
my fault!.... Look, forget de food, oui! Ah going to fly rite
now!" said Clark Kent, moving to the edge of the platform.
"Wait! Wait!" shouted the fireman, " Don't do that, the food
is here already. Please don't let us have to throw it away,"
pleaded the fireman.
" Okay! But tell dem to hurry....If is one ting, ah hate to
see good food waste"
Below, the crowd was growing restless, because of the heat and
the aparent 'inaction.' Someone shouted, "If yuh jumping, Jump!
Doh make no grancharge!"
" All yuh tink ah grancharging, eh?" Clark Kent shouted back.
"Don't listen to that fool, Clark, he only wants that you make
a spectacle of yourself " screamed the fireman to Clark Kent.
There was a scuffle in the crowd and an uproar as some of the
onlookers turned on the man who had made the remark.
"Yuh have no damm shame! Yuh doh see is a man life yuh playin'
wid?" screamed a woman at the man.
Suddenly someone cried out," Allyuh look! He going to Jump!"
All eyes turned to the tower. Clark Kent with eyes closed, stood
on the edge of the platform and swayed to and fro as if going
into a faint...... He started to pray aloud," De Lord is my
" Hold on'' shouted the fireman," The food is here!"
Clark Kent, opened his eyes and stepped back from the edge.
" Leave de food on de platform and allyuh fireman leave de platform."
"Okay! Okay! But I want you to know that we were not able to
get mauby, so we got you some KoolAid..."
"Wat yuh saying? Yuh mean to tell me in de whole ah Trinidad
yuh cyar get a glass ah mauby? Well ah doh drink KoolAid....Ah
go settle for soursop, juice, peanut punch, anything but KoolAid...,"
said Clark, " And do fast! All dis ole talk making me giddy"
Soon the food and drink were placed on the platform, which the
firemen vacated. Gingerly, Clark decended from the upper platform
and settled down to enjoy his last repast. He opened the food
container, sniffed at it and tasted a spoonful, "De food cold!"
he shouted," all yuh treating me like a real third class citizen!
But food is food!" He proceeded to devour the meal ravenously
with his fingers. As he ate, the crowd below looked on intently
and from time to time, Clark threw the bones to the people below,
as if in disgust. The meal finished, he washed it down with
the drink in a single draught. He stood up, stretched his arms
over is head, belched loudly and said," Just wat de doctor order!"
With that, he proceeded to climb to the upper platform.
Once there, he stood on the edge and shouted to the crowd below,"
Ah have one last request to make! Lissen good..... Ah want all
yuh to bring Olga here....yuh could find she at Ribiero Rum
Shop in Maraval. Get she tail here in 1 hour sharp, odderwise
ah go duttyup de place!"
" Man, yuh gettin' overbearing," somebody shouted from the crowd.
"And after dat yuh go want ah bed.....and after dat yuh go want
ah piece a tail......" someone else added.
" So allyuh prefer ah fly now? Is okay by me....." shouted back
"No!" screamed the fireman who was now back on the lower platform,"We
shall get her here.....but you will have to promise that there
will be no further requests and that you will give up this idea
" Ah promise, no more request....but wether ah fly, will depend
on Olga....." said Clark.
"Okay! we are going to get Olga here....Hold on... step back
from the edge!" said the fireman.
" Look ah goin' to take ah little rest, to cool mih brains until
Olga reach" Clark announced, stepping back from the edge. With
that, he sprawled himself on the platform.
A buzz went up from the crowd. The people were becoming irritable
feelng cheated out of a spectacle and being controlled by this
"Man, dis is ridiculous! Is like dis man have everybody by dey
balls! " an onlooker said.
" I feel he grancharging", said Tina.
" I feel he go keep arksing for more and more things. I feel
we could end up camping out here!" Alvin chimed in.
Imagine dis man, who know whey he come from, causing all dis
commotion and traffic jam in de middle of Port of Spain.....
and we here like damm fools, standing in de hot sun, catering
to him..." another onlooker chimed in," Who mad? We or he?"
" But still, ah life is a life and we cyar just close we eye
and believe it ent happening... We have to show ah little feelings
for we fellow man.." a lady ventured.
" Dat good for allyuh! I going home before mih man reach home
and eh find food on de table. Den is my arse to ketch! And wid
all dis traffic jam ah have to walk from here to Gonsales."
another lady cut in.
All around people were forecasting an outcome and commenting
on the events that could have propelled Clark to his decision.
Meanwhile on the peripheral of the Square, vendors were carrying
out a brisk trade in snowcones, iced drinks, beer, peanuts,
channa and 'doubles.' The crowd it appeared , had decided to
follow this predicament through. It was well over an hour before
the policemen arrived with a young woman and the fireman withthe
bullhorn announced, "Clark Kent! Olga here!"
Clark Kent came to his feet and approached the edge of the platform,
like a feature speaker approaching a podium to deliver his address.
Somehow his silhouette seemed larger. He seemed calmer and in
control. A deathly hush came over the crowd with eyes transfixed
on the silhouette above.
" Olga! Ah want yuh to stand alone in front ah all de people!
" he announced.
At first, Olga refused, but after some haggling with the Police
and the Firemen, she moved forward and stood alone in front
of the crowd, a megaphone in hand.
" Alec, ah here!" she announced.
"Olga, yuh tink ah love yuh? " he asked.
" Olga! Yuh tink ah mad?" he asked.
" No, Alec.."
" Yuh know why ah up here, Olga? " he asked.
" I dunno, Alec..."
" If ah tell yuh is because of YOU, yuh go believe mih? " he
" But Alec, ah didn't arkse yuh to climb no pole...."
" Ah know dat yuh didn't arkse mih to climb no pole.... but
yuh tink yuh treat mih fair, since ah know yuh? " he asked.
"I tink so..." she replied meekly.
" Well, doh tell me...ah want yuh to tell dese people here all
dat happen between us since we meet. Doh keep back nutten. Today
is Confession Day. Ah want dese people to decide if is YOU dat
have mih here or not. If is YOU, ah want dem to decide your
pennance. Den ah will come dong and surrender to de Police....
Odderwise... well" he said.
All eyes moved from the platform above and were now settled
on Olga, who stood with her head bowed and her back turned to
" Turn around and face de crowd, Olga!" Clark urged.
Ever so slowly, she turned to the crowd, her head still bent,
as if focussing on some imaginary hole in the ground that she
was about to sink into.
" Ah meet Alec in a Carnival fete in Bossiere two years ago,
At de time ah was living St. James wid mih granmudder. Ah cyar
say dat it was love at fus' sight for me, but ah tink dat Alec
fall for me hard from de start. So after Carnival we started
to go out and grease by grease, we start to get to know one
annoder better. Ah even bring him home to meet mih granmudder.
Well mih granmudder is de one who fall in love wid he at fus'
sight. From de word go, Alec cyar do nutten wrong. Is my fault,
ah didn't tell Alec ah had a boyfriend before he and ah was
still seeing him. But seeing dat Alec ent suspeck nutten, ah
just let tings continue. Tings was going real nice until ah
find mihself in de family way and again is my fault. Ah didn't
keep a check to know exackly who de chile father was. Of de
two ah dem, I know dat Alec was de better man to settle dong
wid, so ah tell Alec is his chile.....and so we start to prepare
.... Alec as a man, straight away say he go marry me and we
get married three months before de chile born. Allyuh ah shame
to say dis but even after we get married, ah was still seeing
Mario, dat is de odder fella. Yuh see, Mario had money and he
uses to give me anything ah want but I know dat his family would
never accept me because I not Potogee like dem. Anyways, as
ah said before, tings was going real good and smooth until de
She turned away from the crowd and looked up at Alec, standing
on the platform above and said, "Alec believe me ah didn't want
to hurt you, and ah didn't know yuh would take it so hard. and
ah sorry....." She started sobbing. Alec stood above on the
platform, looking down on her.
" Crocodile tears!" he said scornfully.
After awhile, she got her composure, again faced the crowd and
"De chile come out ah dead Potogee and wen Mario father and
Mother see it, is right away dey claim it. Dey say de chile
resemble Mario great granfather in Portugal and was no way dey
would let dere granchile ketch arse. So ah end up in a real
mixup. But is my fault,,,.. If ah did keep ah good check ah
woudda know from de start who de chile father was. Wen de chile
born ah had to make up a cock an' bull story to tell Alec. So
Ah tell he de chile, take by de Potogee side ah mih family.
Alec believe mih.....Alec ah sorry ah lie to You!" Again she
broke down crying, sobbing uncontrollably.
"Crocodile tears! Yuh so sorry and yuh leave mih still?" cried
" But Alec, yuh doh know de pressure ah was under.... Mario
parents want de chile so much dat dey was even planning to kidnap
de chile and send it to Portugal.....Ah cudden stand to lose
mih chile and dat is why ah had to leave yuh. Is not because
ah doh love yuh! Ah begging yuh please forgive mih! Doh kill
yusself! If is anybody to dead is me! Ah promise if yuh come
dong, ah coming back to yuh!" she sobbed.
" Allyuh see de kinda spectacle dis woman putting me through?.
Allyuh feel dat ah should believe she?" he asked the crowd.
"YEA!" the crowd shouted back.
" Well de people have spoke!" said Alec, "Dey believe dat you
is de cause ah de problem. But wat is in it for me? Ah plate
ah food and a glass ah soursop? Meanwhile de Potogee have de
chile who carrying MY name and mih wife! Yuh tink ah doh have
shame? De whole ah Maraval laffing at me. Wat happen ? I look
like a Good Friday Bobolee? Olga, ah want yuh to know dat if
ah decide to fly off dis tower today, is because of you and
'sorry' cyar pass dat over. Yuh go have to carry dat for de
rest of yuh life. Yuh cyar get off so easy! Yuh say dat yuh
coming back to me, but how ah could know yuh ent go leave me
again tomorrow. How ah could trust yuh? Ah leaving it for de
people here to decide wat to do, to end dis spectacle. Ah giving
all yuh people, half hour to decide how to fix dis to my satisfaction.
Just remember, Olga have to pay de cake too. I trust de people
. Look, all ah dis talking have mih head giddy." Alec withdrew
from the edge and sat down on the platform.
A huge sigh went up from the crowd as if relieved by the short
reprieve.The relief of the people was short lived when they
realised the responsibility with which they were faced. The
crowd broke up into smaller groups to discuss the situation.
" All yuh doh see dis man mad? Suddenly dis is our problem.
Now he making ah spectacle ah we!"
a woman said to all within earshot.
" And look at de pressure he putting we in? Half an hour! It
go take dat long just to nominate a spokesman for dis crowd,
" said another.
" All dese thousands ah people? We need at least a whole day!"
yet another added.
" Yuh see where mih farseness have mih! Is well true, mih granmudder
uses to say, " Curiousity kill de cat!' " a woman moaned.
A big, swarthy man, dressed in a City Council uniform , with
a voice reminicent of Darth Vader
said, " Ah dont' know about allyuh, but I feel dat dis is a
no win situation. In de fust place ah doh see how dis become
my problem.....Olga done horn him, de chile is de Potogee man
own.... We cyar change dat! She done say she sorry, and dat
she going back wid him.... we cyar force her to stay wid him....besides
it sounds as if he doh trust her.... So how come dis is my problem?
Yuh know wat? gimme a chance and ah go solve dis!"
With a sudden lunge, he pushed through the crowd and headed
to the front, grabbed the megaphone from Olga's hand and spoke
to the crowd.
"People, we doh have time to haggle and discuss... We only have
a few minutes to come to a decision. Ah arsking allyuh to trust
me on dis. Let mih talk to Alec on behalf of everybody. Ah have
experience in dese tings... Trust me..!" the City Council worker
He then turned toward the Tower and called "Alec! We reach ah
High up on the platform, the silhouetted figure of Alec, appeared.
" Yes! Ah listening!" he said.
" Alec, we de people, know dat yuh went thru ah hard time....and
Olga done own up to dat... She done say she sorry. She even
say she willing to make up wid yuh, if yuh come dong. We know
yuh doh trust her, so yuh leave it up to us, de people, to make
a decision for yuh, but it must be a decision yuh could live
wid...... we cannot give you a guarantee dat Olga will stay
wid you for de rest of yuh life, and we cyar force her to do
so. Yuh have to realise it ent have no guarantee in life but
Alec yuh want us, de people, to give yuh some kinda surety.
Alec, in life yuh have to trust somebody. Since we cyar give
yuh any guarantee wid Olga and we know dat yuh have trust in
us, is only one ting we could tell yuh........
JUMP! ...........WE WILL CATCH YOU!"
Alec, once known as Clark Kent, gingerly climbed down the Tower.
.......by Alloy, September 26, 1999.