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Spoils of the week
While most of T&T readies its various selves for the road, having considered my options, I may choose to play fool on the hill this rounds.
It would be an understatement to say that the last seven days have been some of the wackiest I’ve experienced since the memorable occasion I found myself traversing the dawn sky at high speed in an upside-down Ford Escort. I completed a perfect arc from the Port-of-Spain lighthouse, across the median, all the way to Sea Lots, landing myself and car mere inches from the bed of a sleeping Sea Lotter, at approximately 4 am on an otherwise unremarkable Sunday.
This week of spoils, and its swift descent into the delirium of the absurd, also began and continues with a cartastrophe. I was on my way from my humble hilltop home to revel in some classic kaiso on the plain below. Having parted with several months’ plantation pittance attending my car’s demands shortly before Christmas, imagine my chagrin when the engine tumbled tremulously but resolutely refused to start. Having foresworn cussing for the New Year, I compensated with a few well-paced kicks.
The car remained obdurate, so, massaging my mashed toes, I took my vexation down the hill to University of Calypso, where it was immediately dissipated by Brother Superior’s rendition of Spoiler’s Bed Bug.
Mindful of Lord Rochester’s Satire Upon Mankind, which begins with the same reincarnation premise as Bed Bug, at this stage I should also have been aware of Franz Kafka perched on my shoulder, but was too busy laughing at Relator’s reprise of another Spoiler classic—Magistrate Try Heself. Like Rochester’s “vain inglorious beast called man” of course I totally missed the irony of laughing about someone charged with speeding in a car, when I couldn’t even start my own. Vanity schmanity santimanitay.
For my intents and purposes, Carnival this year might be re-dubbed car evil.
The morning after the University of Calypso I optimistically jumped into my van but unlike Dan, went nowhere. My trusted El Dorado mechanic Eshu, who has saved me a large fortune over the years, had sensibly closed up shop until after the bacchanal. I began to burn up phone cards in the frustrating search for salvation, or at least someone desperate or dull enough to prefer covering himself in engine oil when everyone else was covering themselves in oil but getting drunk at the same time.
Obviously I should have not entertained this thought. Goat mouth is a terrible thing. It stinks and is usually very expensive. I did find someone who was prepared to get smothered in engine oil.
What I did not bargain for was that he was also ready for the road—to the rumshop; he was—to coin a phrase—getting a jumpstart on the jump-up. After much back- and even forward firing (I swear a sheet of flame shot out from under the bonnet, nearly removing a bystander’s forearm) my car left the hill on Friday noon, heading for an engine job somewhere in the heights of Caura.
Friday night I received a flurry of incoherent phone calls which began with a garbled report of a mechanic reduced to despair, wandering Caura Junction, threatening to commit suicide by swallowing a car key. The next caller asked if I’d been abandoned in Caura Royal Road; the one after, whether there was any truth in the ole talk that I was lying helpless in the arms of Ms Forres Park outside a rumshop on the same Caura Royal Road.
A voice of relative sanity and sobriety finally instructed me to head to the same rumshop, where I was supposedly lying incapable, to collect my car key, as the mechanic had “fired de wuk an eh want nutten wit dat blarsted car.”
Bemused but not befuddled I headed down the dark hill, eventually hit the bus route and took a short to Caura Junction. There was no sign of the suicidal mechanic, although the car sat abandoned and locked, outside a rumshop. Disgruntled by a fruitless search, I retreated back up my hill. The next day I resorted briefly to patience and was rewarded with an abject call and the assurance my abandoned car would be recovered and repaired.
Foolishly, I sighed with relief.
Even more foolishly I returned to Caura Junction yesterday morning, wanting to believe further assurances that the car was “running good fuh de while” and would continue to do so until I had time and loot for a complete engine job. Like the unsuspecting lamb I climbed hopefully into the driver’s seat.
True, the engine started at the turn of the key. True, I travelled all of five yards, but also true, the car then silently came to a halt, repeating its erratic progress until I gave up on the backroads of St Augustine.
So this year I leave the road for all who are truly ready. Me, I go play fool on de hill.
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