Some Feet Not Meant for Shoes - Novel Excerpt
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A plate of mango chicken and rice with boiled cucumber is set down in front of me. The rich smells of curry and fruit in the heavy air relax the knots inside me. Fabian samples his fresh white fish, stops for a second to pull tiny bones off his lips and then proceeds to eat as a man who is starving. The Brits begin to tear apart baked lobster that was still in the sea three hours ago. “Caribbean lobster’s special,” the printer says, dipping a piece of meat into a cup of salted butter that a few minutes before he asked to be served on the side. “It is sweet and rich and doesn’t have any claws.”
Falcon pushes aside his rice and peas and stuffed breadfruit and turns to face Gros Islet. I sit back and look across the restaurant, motion to the waitress to come within earshot. I ask her to please bring clean silverware to Falcon and Fabian. She quickly responds, apologizing, but only just to me. Vincent, who has been gabbing with the Brits, looks concerned, asks me to tell him what happened. Later, I say, wondering how he could have possibly missed it, something so obvious.
I wasn’t the only one bothered, I was sure of that. Just the only one to speak up. I have started doing that lately, speaking up a lot more than before. I don’t know why, really, just that I feel compelled to speak up. Funny how one day nothing seems to make a difference, and you are drifting right along, and the very next day everything tears you up inside. Well, not really funny.
The blonde who matters puts a forkful of her chicken with brown rice into Fabian’s mouth, and all is forgiven it seems, for now. There has been a spat between them every few days. I tried to remember those light little fights between Vincent and me, the playful ones that seemed only to make us closer. I couldn’t remember one, not a one.
“The lobster’s great,” says the printer, spitting out reddish shell into his fingers and putting it into a white ceramic bowl beside the plate. He takes the napkin from his lap, wipes his greasy fingers, his shiny face, the dripped butter on the tablecloth. “Falcon, care for a bite?”
The Rasta, blank-faced, declines. Even if he ate shellfish, which he certainly does not, something about the moment is so unclean. “No I&I,” he says to me softly, holding his hand to his mouth as if he were telling me a secret. The blonde to whom Falcon is attached doesn’t seem to pay much attention to the whispering, as if I am perhaps too close to her mother’s age to be jealous of. I wonder if that is how Falcon sees me. It would be good, I suppose, to be just a little threatening. After all, I tell myself, I am closer to her age than I am to her mother’s.
After dinner, which Falcon barely touches, he and I take a stroll along the canal. Vincent, drinking the last of the bottle of red wine with the printer, he doesn’t say a thing about it, just moves the baby’s stroller in closer and throws me a shady glance. If the girl wakes, he will give her the night bottle.
He does that all the time. Takes it out of the cold pack in the diaper bag and asks somebody to heat it up. He is good like that, with the baby.
“I make some tapes for you,” Falcon says, lighting up the spliff from before, inhaling deep, then passing it over to me. “Music, you will like it. It speak to you. It touch you. Peace soon come, Norah,” he says, the way English- speaking West Indians often do. He exhales toward the sky. It is full of stars, the sky, and clear, with only a few clouds and a brand new moon. I turn back around, see if my husband is watching. If he is, well I can’t see him, but I can sense him. Perhaps if I am farther away. I speed up the pace, move myself farther and further away from his grasp of me. For both of us in different ways it will become an obsession, this grasp, if it hasn’t become one already.