Miss Violet was rocking her old wooden chair on her tiny, even older wooden porch. The red color on the concrete started to wear off again, even though Blackah repainted the porch floor completely last Christmas. Blackah, that poor man… Some people in Hilltop didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Too much Guinness brings out the demon, they say. But Miss Violet kind of liked the poor man… He was always in for a little chat and helped her out with small jobs like painting the floor or fixing a hole in the fence. In return she gave him a rice & peas with some fried fish she bought from Yuyu.
Blackah was gone now. Maybe it was the demons that took him. Maybe it was just an accident, falling of the porch, right on his bottle of Guinness. The glass cut straight through his artery. It happened so quick, Miss Violet called for the neighbors down the road, but by the time they arrived the porch was already stained with a darker shade of red. That poor man…
Blackah was a little afraid of Miss Violet. Maybe because she was not afraid of him, unlike the rest of Hilltop. Blackah, whose real name was Wayne Campbell, was living on the streets since his mother died, when he was 8 years of age. She was beaten to death by a lover or a costumer – he never really knew the difference, the treatment was the same. Little Wayne was standing outside when he heard the beating. Again. He wanted to run inside and save his mom. He wanted to kill the bastard. He should have killed him. But instead, he stood paralyzed behind on the other side of the wooden fence between the room and the outside kitchen. Ever since that day he was filled with shame. Shame that he wasn’t man enough to save his mother, the only person that would give the world to him. He hid in the woods in the daytime, after dark he came out to “borrow” some food. Small things. A loaf of bread. A tin of sardines. And a Guinness if he could. Water was everywhere in Hilltop. In the river, in taps outside. Bananas and mangoes too, so he didn’t have to grow hungry. People were afraid of him, especially now he has gotten older. He didn’t really know why. He wasn’t the only “poor man” in Hilltop with a fucked up youth. But Blackah was used to the silent treatment now, and the fact that Miss Violet dealt with him as if he were her nephew was distressing and comforting at the same time. Her rice & peas tasted like heaven.
Yuyu brought Miss Violet four pound of fresh red snapper last Friday. As every Friday in the last few years. He handed her the plastic bag, she handed him the money, that was it. Yuyu didn’t like Miss Violet. His mother used to work for her, washed her clothes twice a week. But from one day to another she stopped working there. When Yuyu asked her why, he never got an answer; his mother just shivered by the thought of the lady and kept quiet. And many years later, when he had Miss Violet as a customer for his fresh fish, he too shivered when he saw the lady, although he didn’t know why.
Sonya was only 16 when she gave birth to Yuyu. As so many girls her age, she quit school and had no choice but to look for a job. Sonya was washing clothes for some Hilltop ladies. When times were particularly rough, she danced in the bar on the other side of town. Miss Violet was a good customer. She had work for her twice a week, gave her the money on time and didn’t interfere much with her life. She was a quiet little lady and Sonya liked it that way. Until that hot day in August. Miss Violet watched Sonya wash quietly for a while and suddenly asked: “What do you 25 years from now?”. Sonya slowly looked up from the washpan, not really understanding what Miss Violet was aiming at, then said: “In 25 years I wish my Yuyu is a strong, wise and wealthy man”. Miss Violet laughed with a strange voice: “25 years from now, I will cut a young man’s throat with a piece of glass”. That was the last day Sonya set foot in Miss Violet’s house.