TALES FROM THE CARIBBEAN

As darkness descended on the boat shack everybody finished eating their fill of fresh fruit and seafood. Dan removed the copper kettle from the fire and rekindled the glowing embers with fresh cedar branches. Island rum, limes, and Jessie’s Mason jar were offered for after dinner drinks while Mona and Catrina passed around fresh hand-rolled Cuban cigars.

Jessie asked the sisters, “Would you mind looking into your crystal ball for Labelle? She’s heard so much about you and she has high hopes that you will tell her fortune.”

“Yes,” said Mona in her heavy Romanian accent, “We will do a reading for LaBelle, but first Ryan would like to hear about his dream?”

Ryan and Shark Boy looked at each other in stunned silence and total disbelief because Ryan’s dream was a secret that neither of them had mentioned to any other soul.

Mona removed a crystal ball from her canvas bag and looked deeply into it as her eyes fluttered: “I see from behind Ryan’s eyes a gigantic black tsunami with lightning inside its ugly curl. This is a warning from the other side, delivered to you by ancestor spirits. You have already stayed here too long. Your destiny is in another place far from here, and if you don’t depart soon, you are in danger of becoming a prisoner of your own desires here in these islands.”

The thought of Ryan moving away and having to be without his friendship shocked Shark Boy—so shocked him that he remained silent about his own dream—along with his fear of letting anyone else in on his knowledge about where the lost pirate treasure might be buried.

Mona rubbed her crystal ball as if to erase the last picture. As a new one formed she turned her attention to Labelle and began speaking to her. “I see many children and a promising political career in your future.”

Labelle and Big Jessie both blushed as Jessie began to stutter, “Well … er … shit-far, Mona, we ain’t even hitched yet.”

“Not to worry,” said Mona, “you’re not her future husband.”

Labelle blushed again and could hardly believe what Mona was saying, but her budding relationship with Jessie was instantly changed …

Catrina remained silent through Labelle’s reading but after Mona finished she looked at Shark Boy and asked Mona to see what the crystal ball saw about his dream. Shark Boy cringed because others, especially Jessie, were after the hidden treasure too, and now Mona was about to naively let the cat out of the bag.

Mona said, “I see the dearly departed Santana removing some rocks and climbing down into the ground, but he quickly climbs out again with his lost lamb, and recovers the hole. Whatever he saw in there must have been evil or foreboding because he piled several more rocks over the hole for good measure.”

Shark Boy watched Jessie’s face while he took a long pull on his Mason jar, but if he picked up on what Mona had just said, his professional poker face revealed nothing.

Finally Jessie asked Mona if she would look into her crystal ball and tell him his fortune, but Mona shook her head no and turned him down flat. “I’m very tired and it’s time for us to call it a night. There’s a strong storm coming and we didn’t batten down our hatches.”

Everybody sat in stunned silence while Jessie, disappointed and uneasy, finished off the shine in his Mason jar, ate the peach in the bottom, spit out the pit, and finally asked Catrina if she would do a star chart for him. But Catrina also said no, she was too far behind on her regular charts.

There was a second awkward silence because nobody ever said no to Big Jessie. But Jessie eventually looked at Shark Boy and said, “Boy, would you mind escorting Labelle back to my apartment? Me and the sheriff have planned a surprise trip tonight to check on that Japanese cook and make sure he isn’t doing anything that might cast a bad light on Lovango’s moral integrity.”

Shark Boy agreed to escort Labelle to Jessie’s place but he had an uneasy feeling that Jessie was more interested in pirate treasure than what the cook at the chicken ranch was up to. Whenever Jessie went on clandestine digs he usually took the sheriff with him in case he ran into an irate property owner—they always claimed that they were looking for a fugitive from justice or some other excuse like that.

Before they reached Jessie’s, Shark Boy decided his best option was to share this whole sordid tale with his Dad. Maybe he would know what to do.

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John Stark

The author of the "Tales from the Caribbean" fictional column. He attended school at Waynedale Elementary, Maplewood, Elmhurst HS in the Waynedale area. John had 25 years of professional writing experience when he passed away in 2012. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer