The snout of the hog, dragging through the gutter at dawn, sniffs its way home over centuries-old cobblestone streets. Cowbell around its neck, banging, clanging against the worn-smooth stone, signals the end—civilization coming to its pig-snorting finale.
We are gathered into each other walking home behind the hog. Breeze rushes up from the harbour, lapping at our faces. There’s a carefree undulation in her hips, like a pendulum, counting a rhythm shift in the axis of the world.
I’m such a boy, barely 20. And yet I am hers, her man, come from another land—a place she’s never been to, just as I had never been to this place before. It’s around Six AM on a Sunday in February, 1973, Kingston, Jamaica, down near the harbour. This is the oldest part of town. Been here since the Spaniards first came. Walking these streets alone, without her, I sometimes felt the shiver—I had been here before, centuries ago. And I had died here before as a violent man, a criminal—maybe some kind of pirate. And now I’ve returned as a criminal, living with a prostitute, here to import the finest ganga grown on the island into the US, using her knowledge and connections with the underbelly…of that insatiable hog.
Even though she was the one up all night working, I laid my head on her shoulder. We were around the same height and weight—both athletically built, both runners in high school—she a sprinter, and me a sprinter converted into a long distance runner. 5’ 7”, 125 pounds, wiry, both of us fit that description. She was at least eight years older, maybe more. She claimed 28. But she could have easily been thirty or more. I really didn’t know.
She had stashed me at an outlaw hideaway while she worked. A woman innkeeper, who ran a bar in the front room of her home, had a shed out back—a one room garage with a cement floor. She rented out a space on that floor for the night, just for people who needed a place to hide. At midnight, she locked you up inside. And she didn’t let you out till the following morning, or in this case, till someone came for you.
Just as it was coming on dawn, the garage door flung open. I surfaced from deep sleep like a porpoise rushing up to the surface of the sea. I lifted my head up from the cold concrete. I had been curled up in the fetal position—my head resting in the crook of my right arm. Of course I was alarmed, looking towards the sound, and then the light entering the pitch black. The room was completely bare and I suppose one of us, I think there were three others, could have attacked each other in the night. But we all went into the room without any weapons or possessions of any kind. I was so exhausted, I fell asleep in spite of my fear—the rum, the ganga, the heat giving way to the cool concrete. In the dark, the only sound was the men—tired and strange to each other, each one hiding from someone or something—breathing against the floor.
The light stealing into the room, the first thing I saw was her unmistakable bare legs—long, strong, bell-shaped calves, and her simple black shoes with just a Sunday-School heel. Not exactly the kind of shoes you want to trick a man, but then the streets were uneven and unkind, so…
The door opened up to the height of her shoulders. I never saw her face. Instead, the proprietress bent down, peeked under the garage door and gestured to me, not saying a word, not wanting to disturb the other men.
I got up quickly.
Hell yes, I want to get out of here.
There was something utterly fresh about her, as I came up from the deep, and stood in the grey light freckled with spots of yellow-pink sunshine. She looked as clean and young as the sunrise itself.
A giggle came up from her long throat. “So, you still alive. They don’t kill you.”
I wanted to throw my arms around her.
She simply turned on heels, walked across the yard, while I followed like an eager puppy. Something so fluid, relaxed and confident in her gait, holding her long, strong neck perfectly straight like a dancer. Her sensuality, taken out of context, would look exaggerated and almost obscene. But in this light, with no one watching, and nothing forced, it was simply innocent and poetic.
How could someone so androgynous and narrow, almost manlike in her hips, move in a way that no man could ever move. Her hip sockets rolling to a rhythm deeper than anything I could imagine, it was completely unrehearsed and unstaged. Nothing provocative about it, this was primal sensuality. If you just let the pelvis go, free of all constraint, elevate the buttocks slightly with a two inch heel, narrow the thighs in a tight fitted skirt, this is how you would walk over an uneven street made from cobblestones, worn smooth as a young girl’s cheek, and fitted together well over two centuries ago.
My keeper. The Queen of East Street, I said to myself, my head on her shoulder. I loved her almost as a boy would love his mother, not as a man would love a wife. I was too young to have any idea what that could mean. I didn’t want to have children with her, or marry her. I just wanted to follow her on an adventure no matter where it took me.
I expected when we got back to her place, our place, our little nest above the bar, that she would fuck the living daylights out of me
But actually, she would always accuse me of doing that to her, squealing like a girl. “Oh Erik ,you gonna kill me wit’ dat t’ing.”
As a prostitute, as wise as she was beguiling, she rarely let any man inside. Nor did she kiss them. That told me, aside from the fact I’d hardly paid her a thing, I was not a customer. Funny, how she seemed awkward, almost innocent, at both kissing and fucking, but incredibly skilled with her hands.
The hog left us, veered off to the left, snorting and clanging down another street. And here I had thought we would follow it the whole way home. A donkey crossed our startled path. It seemed like the whole city was asleep on Sunday morning in the middle of what we call winter.
Upstairs in her room, she unbuttoned her blouse quickly. She unhooked her black bra, allowing full breasts, on her slender, muscular frame, to rest free. She had a third nipple, bigger than the ones that crowned her breasts. It snuggled on top of her belly, slightly beneath and dead center between her breasts. It frightened me and aroused me. But I would never go near it.
She took her wig off and crowned the ceramic bust, sitting on her dresser. She dropped her skirt to the wood floor, and stood facing me in her heels and black panties.
The look in her deep brown eyes said it all.
No. I would not be going back to sleep…Not until I had earned my keep.