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The Inheritance

 

  Growing up in Banana Ridge, Wally Webster was always proud of his brothers. Luton and Norton were brilliant men, both had received scholarships to United States universities. Luton was an economist with a top fortune five hundred company. Norton was a surgeon at a top hospital in Georgia. His two sisters, Nicolet and Aesha, were also in the United States. Nicolet was pursuing her masters in Mathematics while Aesha was a computer specialist.

“I wished Wally was like Luton or Norton or even as good as Nicolet or Aesha,” his mother, Miss Herma said.

“He’s a big man now, it’s time for him to be on his own,” his father, Mister George replied.

“I agree with you, give him a piece of the land and let us see what he does with it,” Miss Herma said.

“That’s what I’m going to do. Maybe it’s farming he’s cut out to do, though most of the young people don’t like it.’’

***

Wally could remember the disappointment on his parent’s faces when he failed his high school entrance examination and the opportunity to go to Kingston and board with the Walshs and attend school there was gone. Instead, he attended secondary school in Banana Ridge. Wally had acted like any normal boy, playing practically all the sports and enjoying the company of the opposite sex. Deborah Laing was his special girl. They had been friends from primary school. In grade eleven they became lovers, but by the end of the second term in that grade it was over. Before that, they went everywhere together. Even now Wally was still feeling a bit hurt by what Deborah had done.

***

“Wally, I’ve cut off five acres of my land for you to start your farm. Since you left secondary school you’ve been working on Willie Smith’s farm. I think it’s time you had your own farm,” Mister George told him.

“Thank you, daddy, I’m glad that John Bulla moved out of the house. You should have given him notice a long time ago. The time I spent working for Mr. Willie has given me a lot of experience.”

“It’s a lucky thing that it’s only the two bedroom house he rented and not the land too.”

“I am going to move my things in from tonight, sir, and from tomorrow I’m going to start farming the land. Give me three months and see what I do with it.”

Wally was now twenty years of age. Mister George felt that he would be a good farmer and his lack of certificates would not be a hindrance. Mister George himself had not made it further than elementary school and it had not hindered his success.

***

Wally rode his motorcycle up to Dania Andrews’ house early one evening. He wanted to begin seeing her. She lived about a kilometer from them. Dania was on her verandah when he got there. Wally had bought the motorcycle from money he had saved up from his work with Willie Smith.

“Wally, what’s going on? It’s a long time since I’ve seen you,” Dania said.

Dania was of medium height. She was pretty and from their primary school days Wally had always admired her.

“One day you must teach me how to ride your bike, Wally.”

“Any time you’re ready I will show you what to do.”

“You want something to drink, Wally?”

“I feel for some lemonade, do you have any?”

Inside her kitchen mixing the lemonade Dania gave off a soft laugh. God, she hated Wally, he was so boring. She had no interest in him. She could bet he was sweating all over her verandah. Why couldn’t he have asked for a beer or a stout? She finished mixing the lemonade and took a canned soda for herself. Her father was in the field and her mother had gone to the market in Old Harbour.

“What are you doing for yourself now Dania?” Wally asked as he finished draining the glass of lemonade.

Dania re-filled his glass.

“I thought you knew that I was at teacher’s college.”

“I am sort of out of touch through I’m so busy on my farm. So you are on holidays now?”

“Yeah, but I can’t wait to complete my courses.”

“Dania, since we were in secondary school, I liked you. Can I come and see you again?”

For a moment she wanted to tell him no but why not she thought. Many of her friends were in Kingston but she still had friends from her school days around. Wally wasn’t fun, but at least he was interesting and she could learn to ride his motor- cycle.

“Wally, I never knew that you even noticed me. Sure, you can come and look for me, but sometimes I’m not going to be home. Some friends in Kingston invited me to some parties they have down there.”

“Whatever happened to Deborah, Wally?”

“I thought you knew that we broke up.”

“You loved her didn’t you?”

“Maybe, but it takes two people to make a relationship work.”

“Wally!”

“You know what she did to me, Dania.”

“Bertram told you a lie on her and you believed him. She and Ernie were never friends.”

“How do you know and you and her weren’t friends?”
“If she and he were friends, everybody would know. It’s because you don’t know how inquisitive the people in Banana Ridge are.”

“I hope you haven’t changed since you started living in Kingston.”

“I’m still the same person. I only learned to party a lot more.”

“I don’t know if I can keep up with you then.”

“You want a beer?”

“I’ll drink some more lemonade.”

Dania wondered if she was hearing right. On weekends in Kingston and at most clubs most of the patrons went for hard liquor. They would say that Wally was soft. She knew that all the men around went for hard liquor. Before she went to college, Clifton, her boyfriend then, only drank stouts and  other hard liquors. The young men in the village who were Wally’s contemporaries didn’t think much of him. He had stopped playing sports and didn’t party or drink. She would only amuse herself with him before she returned to college.

***

“Are you enjoying yourself Wally?” Dania asked as they attended one of her friend’s birth night parties.

“Yes, I didn’t know that you were such a good dancer.”

“I didn’t know that you drink strong liquor.”

“It’s not hard to do.”

This wasn’t the first party they were attending together. Many of her friends raised their eyebrows at seeing her partying with Wally.

  Wally would buy a lot of drinks for Dania and her friends. He got to dance with her girlfriends. He always seemed to have money and she suspected that he and one of her friends, Jessica Loring, were friends. Although she and Wally were never in any intimate relationship she was a little bit jealous of Jessica.

Finally the holidays were over and Dania returned to college. By the first week of school, she had forgotten about Wally.

Wally and Jessica continued their affair until one day two months later.

“Wally, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can continue this relationship. ’’

“Is it because your former boyfriend, Enton, started coming around again and he’s bought a car.”

“No, Wally, it’s just because I’m moving to Kingston and I’m not sure when I’m going to see you.”

“It’s all right, but you know I don’t believe you.”

Wally later learned from one of Jessica’s friends that she felt she was wasting her time with him. He wasn’t ever going to have much money to spend by just  farming five acres of land.

Two years later and Dania finished up college. During the intervening years she never returned home for the holidays and her parents were mum to Wally’s inquiries. He wrote and phoned her, but she never replied.

***

Linda Lawson had come to teach school at Banana Ridge Primary and was immediately put in charge of the canteen. Wally sold the canteen a lot of produce from his farm. Linda first met him at the beginning of the term.

“Mr. Webster, I’m Linda Lawson, the new head of the canteen,” she greeted him.

“Glad to meet you, Miss Lawson,” Wally beamed.

Linda made out a list of vegetables, tubers and tree crops that she thought he could supply. Wally took the list from her and scrutinized it thoroughly.

“I think I can supply all of the things on this list, Miss Lawson,” he told her.

“Good, then I’ll hold you to your word, Mr. Webster. I hope you won’t disappoint me.”

Wally assured her that he wouldn’t disappoint her before driving away in his pickup. He had bought the pick-up six months earlier so that what he didn’t sell to the school, he took to sell to outlying districts every Saturday morning. He had sold his bike to one of Willie Smith’s sons.

During the next months he was faithful to Linda and never let her down. He was on time and got paid promptly.

One day Wally was surprised to get a call from Jessica.

“Wally, have you ever heard from Dania?”

“No, not a word, her parents aren’t saying anything about her.”

“You know that she finished college about six months ago. I heard that she got married about three months now and is expecting.”

“Thanks for the information. I wish her the best. So how are you doing, Jessica?”

“I’m all right, I just thought I’d let you know about Dania seeing that you were such good friends.”

“Thanks again and all the best.”

         Wally knew that Dania had been jealous of him and Jessica. He had known that his relationship with Jessica wouldn’t have lasted long.

             Now every day he saw Linda he realized how lovely she looked. She was about five feet six inches tall, her breasts seemed very firm and she had great legs. When there were parties at the school he went and got to dance with her. Most of the time she was dancing with a medium sized man whom he later learned was her boyfriend.

One day he was in her office and they got to talking.

“You seem so lonely sometimes, Mr. Webster. I’ve never seen you and your wife at any of our parties.”

“I’m not married.”

“Well, what about your girlfriend? Surely a man in your position must have a girlfriend.”

“The girls hardly want to stay with me, they say I’m too strict. I’d like to invite you out one of these evenings.”

“I’m engaged, well, it’s not official but we’ve been friends for so long that I simply couldn’t take up your invitation and go out with you.”

“Call me Wally. I will keep my invitation open and maybe one of these days you might change your mind. We could go for a drink and talk about ourselves.”

“Thanks, Wally, but I have to say no for now.”

***

  After she had a bath and ate her dinner, Linda thought about Wally. She had heard that Dania and Jessica hadn’t been the first girls to turn their backs on him. Before them there had been Deborah Laing. From primary school days, Deborah and Wally had sat side by side. They were high school sweethearts and at most school functions they would be together. A friend, Bertram Bell, had told Wally that he saw Deborah kissing another boy, Earnie Wiles. Wally in a fit of temper had

quarrelled with Deborah and attempted to fight Earnie. Deborah broke off her relationship with Wally and started seeing Bertram.

Wally knew that Bertram had played a trick on him to take away his girl. He was still trying to win back Deborah when she migrated and he never heard a word from her again.

   Linda and Wally remained the best of friends. By that time he had gotten to know her fiancé, Ryan Roberts. Despite all this Wally kept trying to get a date with Linda and would give her presents from his farm. Finally, she gave in and started going out with him. Wally was concerned that Ryan was still around, although he and she were sleeping together. Finally, he and she quarrelled and she told him that she wasn’t going to break off her relationship with Ryan. Wally figured that he didn’t want to get caught in that kind of scenario and broke off the relationship with Linda. After the summer holidays she resigned and went to Mandeville to teach.

Linda was replaced by Meryll Dacres. She was probably an inch or so taller than Linda with a fuller body. The first day she met Wally, she invited him into her office.

“Mr. Webster, you see the rings on my finger. I’m a married woman who still lives with her husband and is faithful to him. We have three children together. I’m just saying this to let you know my position. It’s strictly business. The minute you pass your place with me, I’ll get a new supplier and as a matter of fact, I’ve heard that there are other farmers who can supply our needs. I’m going to make out a list and send it around to all of them.”

“I supply all the things for this canteen for a couple a years now. I don’t see any need for a change,” Wally stated.

“I didn’t say we’re going to change you. All I said is that you might be given quotas to supply. I simply can’t see why we should give one person the right to supply the canteen.”

Wally was thinking. He knew that it wasn’t Linda, who had told Meryll about her affair with him. It was probably one of the other teachers. Possibly, Noelle Embden, her best friend and who was still at the school.

“Why are you behaving this way towards me? If somebody told you about Linda and me then that person should have told you that I didn’t force myself on her.”

“Nobody told me about you and Linda and I don’t know her.”

“But you’ve just met me and look how you’re behaving. I respect women; I don’t go around trying to sleep with every woman I meet.  If I was a womanizer how come it’s only Linda alone, you’ve heard about?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Webster. I shouldn’t have said some of the things I did,” Meryll rebuked herself.

“You can call me Wally, everybody calls me that.”

“I’ll remember that,” Meryll said before they parted.

Wally knew that both of them had parted without an agreement being reached. Her threat to send around a list had only been made to rein in his supposed behavior.

           Meryll felt that Linda had been stupid not to have sought out other suppliers when Wally was trying to romance her.  She knew that several persons at the school felt that it was because of her affair with Wally why Linda had left the school.

Wally left the meeting knowing that Mrs. Dacres had not cut him off as the canteen’s only supplier, but her threats were serious.

The weeks passed and he continued to supply the canteen. One day he was passing the school gate when he saw Meryll and her three children outside waiting for Mr. Dacres. He stopped and offered her a ride which she accepted on behalf of herself and her children.

When they reached her home she didn’t come out of the pick-up, although the children did. She gave them the keys to open the gate and the house.

“Wally, I must apologize again for the way I behaved the first day we met.”

“That’s okay, Meryll, remember what I said to you.”

“How old are you, Wally?”

“I’m twenty four.”

“I’m thirty four, but I married late, that’s why my children are so young.”

“You think that I should have been married already?”

“I’m not thinking any such thing, only that put six years on my age and I could be your mother,” she replied and before he could answer she had opened the vehicle door and was making her way to her gate.

Wally and Meryll would spend a long time in her office talking. From what he had gathered, Ashford Dacres was a very jealous man, but he was an ardent churchman. She wasn’t a Christian and he asked her why she had never attended any of the parties put on by the school, but she said that she had to take care of the children. He was at home one night when she telephoned him. She said that her husband was away and she felt for some company. When he arrived she had a bottle of champagne opened. She had two glasses half full. She was dressed in a housecoat.

“Relax, Wally, I didn’t call you here to seduce you. As I explained to you over the phone I just wanted to talk and maybe you can tell me about yourself.”

“My life is not all that interesting. You know that it’s farming I do. I didn’t do very well in school like my brothers and sisters so my father gave me a piece of land to cultivate. I think I can make money out of farming,” he told her. She didn’t seem bored or anything and he told her about his brothers and sisters and his failure so far to find a lasting love.

They drank off the bottle before she ushered him out of her house. A month after that she  called him again.

“Wally, can we go out for the week-end. Ash is at a conference in Cayman. I’ll ask my younger sister, Bobbette, to stay with the children.”

“What time can I pick you up?”

“Come about eight-thirty.”

         They went to a club in Old Harbour after which they came home and made love at his house. She insisted that he take her home after their lovemaking as she didn’t know which one of her neighbors was watching. They continued their affair, finding creative ways to be together.

One Saturday evening as Wally drove through Renfield district with some water coconuts he picked up a puncture. While he was putting on his spare tire a middle-aged woman came out of her house and asked him if he wanted a glass of water when he was finished.

“I have some water coconuts in the back of the pick-up.  Can you give me a glass and some ice,” he requested.

              After he finished putting on the spare tire and putting away his tools and the punctured tire the lady who introduced herself as Jenny Sterling gave him water and soap to wash his hands.

Wally cut his coconuts and filled a glass, he also cut coconuts for Miss Jenny. As they sat drinking the cool liquid one of her daughters dressed in shorts came on to the verandah and Wally nearly dropped the glass he was drinking from. She was a tall girl and very beautiful, Wally thought. Her breasts were very firm, her hips wide and her belly very flat. She looked like a model.

“Hello mummy, who is the gentleman?” she asked.

“I am Wally Webster, a farmer from Banana Ridge. My vehicle got a puncture right in front of your gate and your mother gave me a glass to drink some coconut water from. I can cut one for you if you want.”

“Thanks, but my boyfriend will soon be here for me.”

             “Her name’s Sapphire and she’s my youngest daughter,” Miss Jenny said as a Ford F-150 came and stopped at the gate and Sapphire ran out. A young man about her age came out of the vehicle and she hugged him. They came on to the verandah.

“Hi, mummy, hello sir,” the young man said.

“Brent, this is Wally Webster. His vehicle got a puncture right at our gate and he stopped to fix it. He was giving Sapphire a coconut,” Miss Jenny said.

“We are actually leaving, mummy,” Brent said as they made an about turn on the verandah and headed for the gate. Presently they drove away.

“Sapphire is a party girl; she has lots of friends and they   

love to party. She isn’t like her other sister, Yelena. That girl just loves to read and never goes anywhere. Right now she’s inside watching television.”

“She’s a homebody,” Wally remarked and Miss Jenny laughed.

They talked some more.

“See half a dozen coconuts here. I have to leave, but anytime I’m in the area I’ll come and visit you.”

“You want me to cut them for you?”

“I’ll be glad for that,” Miss Jenny said. “I’ll get a jug for you to pour it in.”

              Wally drove off after putting the last of the coconut husks in the back of his pick-up. He knew he would be in the area very often if only to see Sapphire again. She was beautiful, something out of a magazine. He didn’t think Brent was her boyfriend because as her mother had said she had a lot of friends and maybe he was just one of them.

One day Meryll phoned him and said that she wanted to talk to him. The next day he went to her office to see her.

“Wally, remember the other day when I told you that Ash went to Cayman. Well, he’s gotten an education officer’s job down there and we’re going with him.”

“When is that going to be?”

“Oh, Wally, I thought you’d say something like you’re going to miss me. But it won’t be before the end of August.”

Wally left Meryll’s office that afternoon with a lot on his mind. He would miss her, but he wondered if it wasn’t time for him to find a wife, somebody whom he could settle down with permanently.

He didn’t return to Renfield district until two weeks later. He took some water coconuts and some plantains with him. This time he was greeted by Yelena. She was as tall as he was but a bit darker than Sapphire with fuller breasts. Her hips were wider and she was just as glamorous as her sister. She was standing on the veranda when he knocked at the gate.

“Hi, is Miss Jenny here?”

“She’s around the back. Oh, you are the gentleman whose van broke down here week before last. I’m going to call her,” she told Wally as she went into the house.

Soon Miss Jenny came on to the verandah.

“Mr. Webster, you came to visit us again. I’m glad to see you.”

“You can call me Wally, everybody calls me that.”

“You must be a good farmer, Wally?”

“My father gave me five acres to farm and I added an additional five. I supply a lot of schools and supermarkets.”

Miss Jenny knew that Wally had come here hoping to see Sapphire. She didn’t mind him coming to look for Sapphire so long as he brought something for her. She had six children, four for her late first husband, all of them being abroad. They sent her a generous amount of money each month. Yelena was working and Sapphire attending a community college to learn secretarial skills. Their father and her second husband, Chedwin Sterling and her were separated with him living in St. Thomas. Yelena was twenty two and Sapphire two years younger.

Yelena soon returned to reading her book while her mother talked to Wally.

From what Yelena could glean from the conversation, Wally had gotten five acres of land from his father and acquired another five acres compliments of the profits from his crops. He was in pursuit of acquiring enough land to double his holdings It was apparent to her that he hadn’t been as successful in the love department as he had been in his agricultural pursuits. At twenty four he was young, she thought. Sapphire might think he was old.

After Wally left Yelena put away the book she was reading.

“Mummy, why don’t you stop that man from coming here? He’s only coming to look for Sapphire and she’s not interested in him.”

“He’s a nice person to talk to and he brings us things. He will soon get over Sapphire, maybe it’s you he’s interested in.”

“It’s the first time he’s seeing me, so he couldn’t have come to look for me. Next time he comes here I’m going to stop him.”

“Since it’s not you he’s coming to look for, why are you going to stop him? Listen Yelena, don’t let me and you have anything.”

“I am sorry, mummy, it’s just that I don’t want to see him get hurt.”

“The next time he comes here I’ll set him right about your sister.” 

***

Wally and Meryll were in the afterglow of their lovemaking.

“You’re so big and strong. It’s all those food that you eat from your farm,” she said as she nestled up to him. “I’ll miss you, my lover. Wally, I want to ask you a question. Do you think you can remain single for me, darling? I’ll return to Jamaica as often as I can to be with you.”

Wally was stunned by her request.

“How often will that be?”

“I haven’t gotten a job yet. I’ll just be going to set up the children in school and then I’ll look around for a job, but if I can find a good housekeeper I’ll be back and with you more often than you think.”

“I have to think about it,” he told her as they finished dressing.

***

Miss Jenny and Yelena didn’t see him until a month later. He missed Sapphire by a few minutes. He told them that he had been busy as he had acquired the other ten acres he had told them about. Yelena changed into a pair of shorts and told him that she wanted him to take her up to the ice cream parlor to get some ice cream. Miss Jenny felt that Yelena had something up her sleeves.

Wally couldn’t help but admire Yelena’s beautiful legs. He thought she looked adorably sexy. He wondered if she was teasing him or inviting him to make a pass at her.

Half way back to Renfield district she told him to stop the van as she wanted to talk to him.

They came out and sat in the back of the van on some boxes.

“Are you in love with my sister, Wally?”

He was taken aback by the question. He burst out laughing.

“I have seen your sister only once, most of the times I come there she’s gone. How could I be in love with her? I would have to be really simple minded or just don’t have any sense.”

“I don’t think you are any of those things. It’s just that my sister attracts men so easily and when she’s finished with them she just dumps them. I’m afraid that one of them’ll do her something bad one of these days.”

Yelena remembered about Shanice Kirkland. Shanice was a very beautiful girl, living in the nearby district of Limevale. She had formed a friendship with a hardware merchant, Casmore Coley. Very soon Shanice’s parents added a second storey to their modest three bedroom house and stocked it full of furniture. Soon Shanice was driving a brand new car and running her own fashion boutique. Then she met Geddes Thorpe and left Casmore to be with him. Then her brother, a taxi driver from Old Harbour went missing only for his decomposing body to be found weeks later in bushes in Clarendon. Most fingers were pointed at Casmore but nothing could be proved and to this day the case remains unsolved. Shanice’s parents were distraught over the loss of their only son. Her mother died a year later, but her father was still around, although suffering from a malady of complaints. Shanice moved to Linstead, a very sad figure, still mourning her brother, although Yelena heard that Geddes had gone down there to be with her.

“What about you? I thought you would have a boyfriend and be partying like Sapphire.”

“I’m not that kind of person and I don’t jump into bed with any man.”

“Well, let’s return home and I’ll say goodbye to Miss Jenny and you people will never see me again.”

She put her hand on his shoulder.

“Wally, I didn’t quite mean it that way. Of course I want you to continue visiting us, but I don’t want it to be because of Sapphire. Mummy would be so angry with me if she heard that it was I who told you to stop coming to look for us.”

Wally had debated whether to tell Yelena about Meryll but decided against it. He didn’t know her all that well and he didn’t know what she might think. She was under the impression that he was after Sapphire but the more he thought about it the more he realized that she was the one who appealed to him more.

Over the next couple of weeks Wally’s visits became less frequent then it increased. Yelena came up to his farm and even spent a day there with him. They would go for long drives. He took some exhibits to Denbigh and she went with him.

Meryll called him one day.

“Wally, who is that woman I saw driving in your pick-up? Imagine I’m still around and you’re fooling around already.”

“She’s just a friend of mine. Meryll, I need to see you, I think we need to settle some things now.”

They went up to his house.

He fixed some drinks for both of them and they sat in his living room.

“I have to tell you that it’s not going to work out, Meryll. I want everything to be over between us before you go. I don’t know what you want to do with your life, but you have a husband and children. It seems to me that I’m the one who’s preventing you from finding real happiness with your family.”

She looked shocked at what he was telling her.

           “It’s that girl I saw in your vehicle, Wally, Sapphire’s sister, Yelena. So you’re in love with her and want to end the relationship with me. I’ll do her something bad. You’re my man and that wallflower isn’t going to take you away from me.”

“I am not seeing Yelena.”

“So what is she doing up at your farm and in your vehicle so often? Are you sleeping with her and me at the same time?”

“If you believe you’re going to get rid of me that easily you’re making a big mistake. I’ve given you my body freely and what did I ever get or demand from you, nothing? Now that you’ve met this girl you don’t want me again. If that girl thinks she’s going to take you away from me she’d better think again.” She got up.

She took a taxi home and the next day Yelena called him.

“Your woman called me and told me to leave you alone, Wally. She told me all about your love life together and how I wanted to break up the two of you.”

“If you mean Meryll Dacres, sure we were together, but we’ve broken up.”

“She accused me of causing the breakup.”

“How could you have caused it, when you and I are not even lovers? Let’s meet and I’ll tell you all about it.”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea. Maybe you should stick to your girlfriend. I told my mother about the call I got from Mrs. Dacres and she was pretty upset.”

“Neither you nor Miss Jenny wants to see me again. Is that it?”

“Of course not, but we don’t want to cause a fuss between you and your girlfriend.”

Wally realized the futility of talking to Yelena anymore. He told her he would come and look for them on the week-end and she told him to call before he came. He hung up feeling annoyed with both Yelena and Meryll.

Meryll was leaving the next Saturday and she phoned to tell him that she would spend the weekend with him as her husband had gone ahead, but he told her that he meant what he said and she began to cry. Wally felt he had to be strong. If he made her come and sleep with him again, he would lose Yelena.

Saturday evening he stopped by Miss Jenny but nobody came out. He was there knocking on the gate when Sapphire and her new boyfriend, Grant drove up.

As Sapphire came out of the van, Wally asked.

‘Nobody is home, Sapphire?”

“I’m sure mummy and Yelena are here,” she said, pulling the gate and going inside with Grant following her.

As she went on the verandah, Miss Jenny came out of the house.

“Who is out there, Sapphire?” she asked and looked as the girl pointed to Wally.

“Oh, Wally, Yelena is inside, I’ll call her. It’s been such a long time.”

“I’ve been kind of busy, but I just want to talk to Yelena.”

“I’ll get her for you,” Miss Jenny said, but her voice was strained. She went back into the house and after what seemed like ages Yelena emerged. She was dressed in a jeans skirt and a T-shirt.

“Fancy seeing you here, Wally, well what can I do for you?” she asked, moving to the gate.

“I want to talk to you about what has happened. Can we go somewhere? I’d hardly feel comfortable talking to you here.”

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to you anywhere but here. I don’t want that woman to attack me or accuse me of taking you away from her.”

“I’ll leave if you want me to.”

“Leave if you want, Wally, I can’t stop you,” she said and Wally stalked off to his van and drove off.

Yelena went inside still a bit flustered. Her mother had gone to her room and Sapphire and Grant passed her on the verandah.

“I thought you were going out with Wally, Yelena?”

“No, he just came by to say hello,” she replied rather dryly.

Sapphire didn’t reply but continued walking towards the gate with Grant while Yelena went into her room. She was there for half an hour wondering how she hadn’t heard Grant’s van drive off and thinking about Wally. Was she wrong to have treated him the way she had? What if what Meryll said were lies?

Then she heard Grant’s van drive away and thought that Sapphire had gone with him. But a minute later there was a knock on her door and she opened it to reveal her sister.

“I thought you were going out with Grant.”

“I changed my mind. So why did Wally leave here so suddenly?”

“Do you know that he’s seeing Meryll Dacres? She told me that they were having an affair and that I should back off.”

“But she’s much older than him plus she has her husband and children. I heard that they are going away to Cayman. I didn’t expect that from such a respectable woman as Mrs. Dacres.”

“She told me that she would be returning from Cayman very often and she wanted Wally to be waiting for her.”

Both girls, although so different in character and outlook had shared many secrets and had always been there for each other. They were only two years apart. Yelena was her father’s favorite while Sapphire was the apple of Miss Jenny’s eyes.

“Are you sleeping with Wally?”

“Of course not, we’ve never been on a date.”

“I saw you driving in his vehicle all the time and you spend a lot of time up at his farm.”

“Does that mean I’m sleeping with him. I knew he was going to ask me out and that we’d become intimate but after this what can I say.”

“So are you going to walk away because of Mrs. Dacres. If I were you and wanted Wally I would fight her for him,” Sapphire declared.

“Look who is advising me when she never had to fight for a man. If he calls me, I’ll talk to him, but I’m not pursuing him,” Yelena said and Sapphire knew that she meant it.

“I’m returning to my room and try to get some sleep. You can keep me posted on any new developments,” Sapphire said, going out of the room.

“I’ll send any news by post,” Yelena said, laughing as her  phone rang.

Meryll Dacres was on the line.

“Yelena, I’m warning you against trying to be friendly with Wally while I’m away. I’m his woman, whatever he might say.”

“Wally told me that he and you were through. Mrs Dacres, why don’t you just get out of his life? You have your husband and children. Why are you so obsessed with him?”

“You must ask him why he romanced me in the first place? Are you sleeping with him, why you don’t want to leave him?”

“I have no interest in him except we’re just casual friends.”

“I know you two girls and I’ve heard about you just going about the place with any man.”

“Those are lies, I know my sister and she’s not jumping into bed with any man and as for me I can say the same thing.”

“I don’t want either of you girls around Wally while I’m away. If he has anything to do with either of you while I’m away you’re going to see how terrible I can behave,” Meryll warned and hung up.

Yelena felt terrible and didn’t go to bed until late in the morning. She felt a total wreck that morning when she began dressing to go to work.

Meryll went away to be with her husband and for three months Yelena heard nothing from Wally. He never came to visit her mother nor did they see him pass.

***

One day Wally went into a bank in Old Harbor to cash a check from one of his customers when he saw Yelena. He had begun selling to a few supermarkets now. She saw him and came over.

“Wally, fancy seeing you here, you’ve completely forgotten us, mummy asks for you all the time.”

“I’ve missed all of you. So how’s Miss Jenny and Sapphire?”

“They’re okay and Sapphire’s finally got engaged to Grant.”

“That’s good, give her my congratulations and tell her that I’d like an invitation to the wedding.”

They said their goodbyes and Wally left the bank. As Yelena saw him go through the bank’s doors, she thought he had gone out of her life forever. But she felt it was up to Wally if he wanted her he knew where to find her. She wasn’t going to pursue any man.

Yelena was just about to take a taxi home one Tuesday evening a month later when Wally drove up and offered her a ride home and she accepted.

“So are you following in your sister’s footsteps, Yelena?’

“I don’t know when Sapphire and Grant are going to get married as they haven’t set a date.”

“You know that Meryll didn’t return. Maybe we could stop for a drink and I could fill you in.”

They stopped at Mac’s Café outside of Old Harbour.

Wally ordered a beer for himself and a hot dog while she asked for apple juice.

“When her husband produced pictures of her with other men besides me she was devastated, but Meryll was smart because he was being unfaithful to her. I suppose that’s why Meryll was having those affairs.”

“They’ve decided to live together for the sake of the children, but they’ll live separate lives. A teacher friend of hers told me about it. She says that it’s affecting the children so I don’t know how they’ll work that out.”

“So when is she due back in Jamaica to visit you?” Yelena wished she could withdraw the words as she saw the look of annoyance on Wally’s face.

“We broke up before she left Jamaica. I thought you knew that. She wanted me to be just waiting for her when she returned home. I felt I was a big man and could make up my own mind.”

“So do you have a new girlfriend now?”

“I’ve wanted to phone Miss Jenny to ask her if I could start coming around again, but I know the whole question of my affair with Meryll Dacres would come up.”

            He opened another beer and she took her first sip of another apple juice.

“I just don’t want to be sharing a man with another woman,” she remarked. She didn’t want to ask about Meryll Dacres again for fear of annoying him.

They left the café after Yelena told him that he could start visiting them again.

Sapphire confronted her in her room one day.

“So Wally is your man now, Yelena? You know I saw him first, he only came down here because of me.”

“I’ve asked him and he said he was never in love with you. He said that in all his visits here he must have seen you twice.”

“It doesn’t matter how many times he saw me. I was the one he was coming here to see, not you. Let me tell you something girl, I wouldn’t marry a farmer so kill me dead. I would be lost on a farm and I’m not coming to look for you either.”

“Wally and I are just casual friends. Sure, I’ve been to his farm and other places with him, but he’s always behaved like a gentleman.”

“I like men who wear clean clothes and smell nice all the time.”

“Are you talking about Wally? I’ve never seen him and he wasn’t well dressed and smelling good. Wally has two big dressers full of all kinds of cologne and all kinds of sprays.”

“How’d you know that?  I bet you’ve been in his bedroom and probably slept with him.”

“What harm is there in going into a man’s bedroom? I went there to satisfy my curiosity.”

“Are you in love with him?”

Yelena found herself blushing.

“He’s very nice and I like him a lot. Oh, I don’t know if I’m in love with him.”

A car had driven up to their gate. It was Grant Dingham, Sapphire’s fiance.

“I think if he asks you to marry him you’re going to say yes, Yelena,” Sapphire flung at her before going out and getting into Grant’s vehicle.

Wally and Yelena started going around for about six months before she agreed to marry him. During that time she had also bought a car which she used to drive to her work in Old Harbour.

Sapphire was her chief bridesmaid and one of Wally’s cousins was his best man. The guests were treated to fine foods compliments of Wally’s farm. They vacationed on the North  Coast. Sapphire was married a year later, but by that time Yelena had her first child. The End.

 

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