This is the second story in a series I hope to write about life on an island group in the south of the Caribbean, about 100km off the South American coast. I first wrote about this Island in The Storm Spirits. There are a couple more stories yet to come.
“Gottvordomman,” Kass screamed, grabbing his jungentassa, the palm frond beach bag that all island boys carried, as he left the house, slamming the door behind him so hard that the glass in one of the panes cracked, joining the other cracked panes. Not that it was Kass’s fault that the other panes had cracked, though now he could understand his brother and his similar exit from the house two or was it three years ago. He hoped that God did damn them or at least that interfering preacher.
He had calmed down a bit by time he reached the gate that led to the road. Not much, but a bit. At least he did not slam the gate, which was probably a good job, the old hinges would probably not take that sort of treatment. But he was still angry and needed to work off some of the emotion that he was feeling, so he started to jog down the steep road that ran down the side of his mother’s property, then turned left to follow its frontage. As he made the turn to follow the road down the hill to the town and the beach beyond he heard his sister calling him. For a moment he stopped and looked up to his left, at the house perched on the steep hillside. Mara, his sister stood on the balcony, she had clearly been waiting for him to make the turn, telling him to come back, at least for the night, this was not a night to be out, that they could sort everything out in the morning.
Kass found it amusing. For all that his mother and sister had accepted the teaching of the mission church and rejected the traditions of the island, they still believed that tonight the spirits could take your body. They may say that Vadan and its teachings was the work of the Devil, but they did not deny its power. Neither, if he was honest with himself, did Kass, for he was a child of the Island. He knew the tales of the Storm Spirits and those of Tatanana, the goddess who was the volcano. Tonight though was the night of the Baron, he who would call those spirits of the dead who had not passed beyond to join him and party with the living. It was certainly not a night to be out. Anybody with any sense would be safely ensconced behind doors, with a candle burning to Tatanana.
Of course those who were somewhat more adventurous might choose different options. Many would gather together, believing in safety in numbers, to party the night away, hoping that the only spirits they came in contact with were those in a bottle. Then there were those who were not spoken of, who left the safety of their homes and climbed the jungled slopes of the volcano to hidden clearings where, well nobody quite knew what, was rumoured to take place.
He reached the main road and stood for a moment. Looking out towards the sea he could see that the sun was just touching the horizon. There was no way he could make it down to Low Town and then to Williamstown before dark, he would be hard pushed to make it down to the beach. Only a stomerling, an idiot would try to cross the causeway between the Big Island and Home Island in the dark.
Inwardly he cursed himself for being so stupid, this had been building up for weeks now, why had he let it come to a head tonight, Dodenfeest, the Feast of the Dead. He could have walked out any time in the last three weeks, he had made his mind up that he would during the first week of the month. Just after his mother had first brought Brother Schmit over to preach to him about the evil of the island boys’ ways. The good pastor had learnt some Creole words that day that he would not find in the dictionary – not that anyone had got round to writing a dictionary for the island's Creole. Today the preacher had learnt even more, telling him that he had a choice, either accept the church or leave home, well Kass had made his choice.
Rather than taking the road down towards the causeway Kass cut across it and started down a steep path that went down to the sea, a good four hundred metres below. It was a difficult descent and not one to be attempted at speed, but manageable with a bit of care and it was a path Kass knew well. It led down to a small, almost hidden, bay with its beach of black sand. Island boys would gather there during the summer days to swim in its warm waters, safe in the knowledge that the reef that almost blocked its entrance protected them from the more dangerous large inhabitants of the Carib Seas. It was also a popular place for the inshore fishermen, whose shallow drafted canoes could just top the reef at high tide, for it was well protected from the storms that at times hit this part of the world. Of course those fishermen, now in their twenties and thirties had once been island boys and enjoyed the same games that the island boys played in and around the waters of the bay.
Not that there would be any fishermen there now, the recent storms and the coming of the hurricane season had moved the fishing to the far side of the Big Island. Nor would there be any of the island boys, for school was back now and the trek from the centres of population to this bay was longer than most could allow on a school day. Also they would not want to be out on this night, not after the sun had set.
Of course, there would be some of the older boys, boys of his age, who Kass knew would sneak out of their homes after dark, climbing through bedroom windows and up into the jungled slopes of Tatanana. They would be listening for the sounds that would lead them to those special places, to those secret rites and rituals which the servants of the Baron this night performed.
Although Kass had never left the house after sunset before on the Dodenfeest, he had often sat with his window open listening, hoping to hear the sounds of the hidden rites. He had never heard anything, nor had anyone he knew. Some said that no one followed the old ways now and that the Baron had no followers. Kass was not sure he wanted to test that speculation. He knew the stories of those who had wondered onto the jungle sloops of Tatanana on the night of the Dodenfeest and been found the next morning wandering, mindless or worse, exhausted, along the beach. Those who told the old tales said that the spirits called by the Baron could take over a man’s body on this night, and use it to party all night doing unspeakable acts in the conduct of the Dodenfeest, the Feast of the Dead.
One thing Kass was certain was that he might be out of the house this night but he certainly did not mean to sleep outside without cover. There was a fisherman’s shelter down at the bay. Not much, but it was a roof to keep off the rain and walls to keep out the wind. So what if there was no glass in the windows, there were shutters that closed over them. Most importantly there was a hearth where he could set a fire. It was a place a fisherman could laze in the shade of the overhung roof above the porch and watch their fish drying in the afternoon sun. It was where Kass intended to pass the night.
The sun was nearly set as he emerged from the thick shrubbery that edged the black sands. Kass sprinted across them to the top end of the beach were the shelter stood. The door was on the catch. He pulled the string and then pushed it open. The inside of the shelter was dark, the shutters being up and closed. He stepped in, leaving the door open so he could use the last of the day’s light he crossed the bare room to the hearth.
Something moved, a shape within the darkness of the room and, taking on the form of a boy, dashed towards the door. Kass reached out and grabbed for it, catching a wrist and pulling the boy into the light from the door. “Lemme go!” It shouted, pulling its arm violently from Kass’s grasp before shooting out of the door, into the growing darkness beyond. Kass stood for a moment, more in surprise than anything, the image of the boy’s face filling his mind. He could not have been more than fifteen or sixteen at the most, he had the tanned skin of one of the English who lived on the island, sun bleached blond hair with grey-blue eyes that were full of terror. The boy was scared and this night was no place for a scared boy to be out on his own, especially not one of the English boys, they knew not the ways of the island.
Kass left the shelter and looked around but there was no sign of the boy. Then in the final light of the setting sun he glimpsed a track of footprints leading up the beach to the jungled slopes of Tatanana. For a moment he thought of going after him but it was no use, soon the vestiges of twilight would fade from the sky. Once dark there was no way Kass would find him in the jungle. Tonight was not a night to be out after dark.
As the twilight faded Kass made his way back to the shelter. In the feeble fading light that made its way in through the door Kass managed to find his jungentassa and extract his lighter. As always there was dry kindling by the hearth and a pile of driftwood for the burning. Kass placed some kindling in the hearth and applied flame to it, then placed some of the smaller pieces of wood on top. Once the flame had taken he piled on more wood, then went and shut the shelter door.
The flickering flames of the fire cast a red glow throughout the small shelter. The hearth had never been intended for light or heat, it was there for when the fishermen had wanted to cook fish or boil water for cha. Kass wished he had a candle with him. He was not sure that the fire would burn all night. It was, however, the only source of flame he had in the room so it would have to do.
Carefully he knelt down before the hearth and in the fine ash in front of the fire he started to draw a shape. As he drew the five lines of the sigil of protection he chanted an invocation to Tatanana, the goddess of the volcano, the Mother of Fire. The words he chanted were little more than a jumble of sounds, for they were the remains of a language long gone, which no academic had recorded or even noted its passing. Kass knew not what they meant, for their meaning was lost soon after the first Dutch merchantmen had been marooned on the Home Island’s coast. However, he knew their purpose and the protection they drew from the Mother of Fire.
Given that the outside temperature was in the mid-twenties, the fire, small though it be, quickly heated the shelter to a temperature which was above being pleasant. Kass found himself sweating profusely and wishing he could open the door or the window shutters. That, though, was not an option this night.
He pulled his shirt off over his head, then pushed down his shorts and stepped out of them, to stand naked in the glow of the fire. He picked up the garments from the floor and draped them over one of the lines strung under the roof of the shelter. He pulled a rough towel out of his jungentassa to wipe the perspiration from his body. He had the firm taut body of an island boy, seventeen years of island life had formed him. Seventeen years that had taken him from crawling on the black sands to swimming in the seas, climbing for coconuts and running the steep paths of the mountain slopes. It was a body the Phidias would have been glad to use for a model when carving the youth of Athens on the Parthenon.
Kass knew he had a good body. He had seen the way that the men and other boys looked at him and knew that they liked what they saw. More than one had approached him with offers of more than friendship but Kass had not yet taken a lover. Though by the ways of the island he was old not to have done so. Most island boys had taken a partner from amongst the older teens or even from the younger men by time they had turned sixteen. Amongst the people of the island such relationships were, if not approved of, generally tolerated, for it was known that if hormone raged young males satisfied their lust amongst themselves they did not pressure the girls to oblige.
He reached into his jungentassa and pulled out a length of cloth, wrapping it around himself like a sarong. Before he got to work he put a couple more pieces of driftwood on the fire, then he emptied out the contents of his jungentassa. Laying them out carefully on the ground, then from the bottom of the bag he pulled out a thick wad of stiff folded cloth. A boy's jungentassa was his survival tool. Each boy made their own, gathering the palm fronds from the tree to weave into a strong bag. In the old days the fact that a boy could climb the palm to cut the fronds for his jungentassa was a sign he was old enough to leave the women’s world and join the men moving into the men’s lodge and joining their societies.
The missionaries had brought an end to the men’s lodges, though some of the societies still existed, those societies the missionaries approved of. It was said that other societies also still existed and they met up the slopes, in places the missionaries never went. Though the men’s lodges were no more, many a couple of young bachelors would share a hut, sometimes even three or four of them, living and working together until some girl put out a mat for one of them.
Not that Kass looked for any girl to be putting out a mat for him. He knew what he was and what he wanted. Kass wanted a youth like himself. Though that was not as easy as it might sound.
Unfolding the cloth, Kass laid it out on the floor. It was just over two metres in length. Along the ends of the cloth there was a heavily stitched seam into which a number of large eyelet holes had been punched. Kass unknotted and removed one of the rope handles from his jungentassa then, once he had untwisted the doubled rope, threaded it through the holes. He repeated the process with the other handle at the other end of the cloth. He pulled the ropes at each end and tied them off into loops using good secure knots. Knot tying was something all island boys learnt early on. Insecure knots could end up being painful. Once that was done he looped the rope at one end of the cloth over a large hook in one of the roof support posts, then repeated the process with the loop at the other end. Now the cloth hung as a hammock between the two support posts. One thing island boys learnt early on was never sleep on the ground. Not that there was anything particularly dangerous on the island but things like land crabs tended to come out at night and could give you a nasty nip.
Even if you were just lazing a couple of hours away in the afternoon listening to the surf, being off the ground was a good idea. Every island boy who had made his jungentassa had in it something he could use to form a hammock; he would often need it. Either to sleep in, safe above the ground, or spread out above them providing shade from the tropical sun.
Kass looked at the fire and estimated it would burn for a good couple of hours, so he set the alarm on his wristwatch for two hours, then heaved himself into the hammock. The heat in the shelter combined with the relief from the stress he had been under most of the day, caught up with him. The moment he lay back in the hammock he found himself feeling drowsy, watching the flickering shapes on the roof of the shelter from the firelight soon sent him to sleep.
Two hours later his watched bleeped the alarm for him to feed the fire. In the depth of his sleep Kass rolled within his hammock, half woke, and cancelled the alarm, before drifting back to sleep. The fire went out.
Kass opened his eyes, the moonlight reflected off the sea and in through the open door of the shelter. The drumm, da, da, drumm of a distant beat filled his head. He swung out of his hammock, his sarong falling to the floor as he did, and stepped towards the door. To close it? He did not know. Why was it open? Kass knew he had closed it and tied it shut. Kass knew it but it was open and before it a silver path shone across the black sands. Kass stepped through the door, he knew he shouldn’t but he had no choice, the drums demanded it.
Step by step the drums pulled him across the beach and into the jungle, they pulled him to a path he did not know, which led upwards through the thick vegetation of the mountain slopes. Though narrow the path was clearly well used, which puzzled Kass. He had roamed these slopes for years and had never come across the path. He could not work out why. There was not an inch of the west side of Tatanana that Kass would have said he did not know but now he found himself walking up a path that he did not know to a place he did not know.
The drumming got louder as the vegetation started to thin out. As it did Kass got the impression of others moving through the brush. Each seemed to be following their own path to wherever it was they were going. Kass was puzzled, this just did not make sense, there could not be that many paths leading up the slopes of Tatanana which he did not know about.
He wanted to turn, to run away, to be anywhere except where he was, but there was something, something he did not understand, that kept drawing him onwards, up the slope to the source of the drumming. As he moved through the vegetation he started to see figures and shapes ahead of him and the flickering of firelight. Hands reached out for him, pulling him forward, drawing him towards the flames and the sound of the drums.
Bodies pressed against him, pushing him forwards. As they did hands caressed him rubbing his body with thick greasy cream that seemed to soak into his very pores bringing his skin to life with sensations he had never known. He was no longer on the path but in a wide open area below high cliffs, that was filled with people, all of whom were swaying and stomping to the sound of the drums that came from the direction of the fire. There were no individuals here, just a mass of naked people, moving as a mass. Body against body, hands seeking and finding, touching and feeling, exploring and knowing.
Confusion and elation filled Kass. He had never experienced anything like this. Part of him was filled with terror, the other filled with excitement, as the bodies of the men and boys that surrounded him pushed in on him. He had not looked but somehow he knew that in this mass there were only males – males like himself.
A hand came up across his chest, pushing him on the shoulder, forcing him to turn. The face before him was that of a boy from his class at school. Their oiled bodies came together, pressed into each other by the press of bodies around them. Their eyes met, each acknowledging the lust that was rampant in the other, lips touched and hands took hold, then the press of bodies around them forced them apart as the stomping mass moved onwards in a circular motion around an unseen centre.
Suddenly the drumming stopped, the whole mass of bodies turned inward to look into the circle. Kass found himself looking in from behind a single line of bodies, more bodies pressed up against him from the behind. Suddenly he realised where he must be. Behind the level area around which they had been dancing soared steep cliffs. This must, Kass deduced, be the north side of the island. But there was no way he could have made it here from the beach where he had been but here he was.
Four flaming torches, set on high poles, cast their light into the cleared circle that the dancers surrounded. In the middle of it two men obscenely rubbed their hands and pressed their cocks against the body of a younger male who squirmed around, apparently sitting on the top of a flat topped rock in the centre of the circle. Each man in turn would step up onto the rock and place his penis against the youth’s face, grinding it into the face until the boy took it into his mouth. As he watched Kass experienced a shock of recognition, the boy on the rock was a senior from his school, only a few months older than Kass. What surprised Kass was that this was a island boy who had despised and rejected the ways of the island boys, yet here he was in the midst of an homoerotic orgy.
A single drum started with a low rumbling sound with no distinct beat but a constant swelling and diminishing of volume. The bodies around Kass started to sway to some rhythm that was not heard, just sensed. Kass felt a body press hard up against his back, a hand reaching round and taking hold of his manhood. His own hands reached out to touch and feel the bodies around him, finding and holding hard cock as he and those around him watched the scene at what Kass knew was an altar in the centre of the circle.
A deep groan escaped the lips of the youth as his body spasmed. His engorged penis throbbed visibly and shot forth his seed. Then with a long moan the boy collapsed, only prevented from falling by the two men on each side. They took hold of his body each placing a hand under his armpit and lifted him up. As his body was raised from the squatting position it was in, Kass observed that there was a stone phallus set on the rock, upon which the youth had been impaled.
As the two men half carried and half dragged the youth from the rock altar a gale of laughter erupted from beyond the circle. The far side of the circle opened to allow a passageway into the centre and the drumming resumed, this time to a separate beat. A beat to which those around the circle swayed and jolted, the press of their bodies not allowing the wild dancing that this rhythm demanded.
The laughter erupted once more from the darkness beyond the circle and then a laughing figure leaped through the open passageway into the circle of light, spinning and leaping madly to the beat of the drumming. Dressed only in a tail coat and top hat with a skull topped stick the white faced apparition leapt upon the altar. The drums stopped. There was total silence for a moment. Slowly the figure turned casting its glare around the circle of bodies, each member of which felt that it was looking directly at him and seeing into his soul. At that point Kass knew that this was the Baron, the Lord of the Dead.
The Baron reached down with his free hand and took hold of his member, stroking it in long languid strokes. Once more the drums started, Kass felt the bodies round him press in tighter in expectation. Turning the Baron raised his stick and pointed at the opening in the circle, then motioned for something to be brought in. Soon two men, their oiled naked bodies gleaming in the flickering light, appeared in the gap dragging a smaller figure between them. As they stepped into the circle Kass saw that the figure between them was the English boy he had seen earlier in the shelter. Even with the drumming and the murmuring of the bodies pressed together around the circle, Kass could hear or more correctly sense, the whimpering of the boy.
The two men who had been with the youth on the altar before now reappeared. Both carried knives as they walked forward towards the small figure. As they approached the two holding the boy moved apart, holding him tightly by his wrists so that stretched out between them. The two knife wielders stepped up close to him, on slightly in front of him the other behind the boy. A look of terror filled the boy’s face, the Baron laughed. The knives slashed and hands pulled, cutting and ripping the clothing off the boy. For a moment he was held there naked as the knife wielders stepped away. Then they returned having replaced their knives with small bowls into which they dipped their hands before applying them to the boy’s body in the most intimate fashion, oiling it up and making it shine in the flickering light.
The Baron laughed, throwing his stick high into the air with his right hand, leaping off the altar, then catching it with his left as he stepped forward towards the English boy. He stepped in close, rubbing his penis against the boy’s body and reaching forward to tweak his nipple. Then, stepping aside, the Baron pointed at the altar and the stone phallus sitting upright upon it. The men stepped in taking hold of the boy by his arms and legs and started to carry him forward. An inarticulate cry of terror rose from the boy.
A horrified cry of “NO” sounded in the mass of bodies around circle. Kass wondered where it could have come from until he realised it was his cry as he pushed those in front of him to the side and ran forward across the circle. He got to the altar just before the men arrived with the struggling boy. In a bound he was standing atop the altar grabbing the stone phallus by its head and swinging it like a club that he aimed at the man on the left of the boy. The man released the boy, bringing his arms up to defend himself from the blow as he ducked beneath the arc of the phallic club. The boy fell to the ground, his weight pulling down the other man, who Kass kicked in the head as he leapt down from the altar.
Kass grabbed the boy’s arm dragging him to his feet, then pulling him by his feet commanded him: “Run”. The boy needed no encouragement. He ran with Kass, through the gap in the crowd round the circle, following a path that neither could see but which Kass just knew was there. As they ran they heard the laughter of the Baron behind them and a howl of anger from the crowd of bodies round the circle.
Kass did not stop to check where they were running, all he knew was that they had to run. Suddenly he realised where he was and where they must go. “Follow me,” he told the boy, leading him up the steep slope of Tatanana, leading him towards the lava fields. Behind them the drumming took on a different beat. Within him Kass knew that beat was the beat of the hunt.
Pain filled Kass’s legs and he found he was labouring to get his breath but still he ran. Glancing to his side he saw the boy was just behind him. It was clear to Kass from what he saw the boy could not go on much further, but then neither could Kass. In front of him the moonlight caught the distant sea. Kass stopped sharply, turning to catch and stop the English boy running behind him. The force of the boy’s impact almost knocked Kass over, but he was prepared for it, picking the boy up and swinging him round to dissipate the energy in his forward momentum. They came to a standstill facing each other, Kass’s arms around the English boy.
“Why have we stopped?” the boy asked.
“Because there was no more land”, Kass replied, indicating with his head the cliff edge a few feet ahead of them.
“It would have been if we had gone over,” Kass replied, carefully sticking to English and not falling into Creole. They could hear the drums drumming in the distance. In the light of the moon Kass saw the look of terror on the boy’s face. “Follow me but be careful, there is a nasty drop if you make a mistake.” He led the way along the edge of the cliff trying to find the fissure he knew was there. At the same time he puzzled as to how he came to be there as they were on the west side of the island, well away from where the rites had been and Kass was sure he had not been running that long or run that far. In fact Kass was certain that there was no way he could have run that far, he was not that good a runner. A short sprint he could manage but this was more like ten kilometres over rough ground, a lot of it in jungle. Then it hit Kass, he could not remember running through jungle but to have got here he must have done, unless they had run over the crater of Tatanana. Just as he was thinking that, he got to the fissure in the rock. It was about two metres wide and went inland from the cliff face a good thirty or forty metres. In the dark it looked deep but Kass knew it was only about three metres to the bottom and that would give access to a ledge along the cliff face. Carefully he lowered himself down into the fissure, making sure of his foothold in the rock face before helping the English boy to climb down.
“We have to get to the bottom,” he told the boy, “from there we can get to a ledge on the cliff face and then to a place where we will be safe.” In the moonlight he could just make out the boy nodding. He seemed scared to speak, letting himself be led down in to the dark of the fissure. As fast as he could Kass climbed down, guiding the boy each step of the way. Soon they were at the bottom and Kass led the way along the fissure to the cliff face, then out onto the ledge that ran along the cliff face, sloping down to the sea. They had to edge along the ledge with their backs to the cliff along the promontory, which then curved back on them, taking them around the headland, into the bay where Kass had gone for shelter.
Just after they had edged round the promontory an opening appeared in the cliff face. Kass guided the boy into it, taking him deep into what appeared to be a cave. A shaft of moonlight from the setting moon shone? into the space giving just about enough light for them to make each other out. “We should safe here,” Kass commented.
“Where are we?” the boy asked.
“In a lava pipe,” Kass answered, “I found this place years ago when I was exploring; don’t think anyone else knows about it.”
“I hope not,” the boy responded. Kass realised he did not know the boy’s name.
“So, I’m Kass,” he extended his hand, the boy shook it.
“I’m Luke,” he responded, suddenly giggling.
“What’s so funny?”
“We are Kass. We’re standing here stark naked with raging hardons politely shaking hands.” Kass looked down, he had been aware of his own state of arousal, it had started when he had held Luke whilst helping him down the fissure. He had not noticed Luke’s state, now that he looked it was quite evident.
“Look Luke, I don’t know how long it is going to be till dawn but we might at least try to get comfortable. I’ll only be a moment, just stay here and don’t move.” Kass moved off into the darkness of the pipe. There was a scuffling noise and a bit later Kass came back into the moonlight carrying a rolled up palm mat. “I used to come here a lot, to get away from things and be by myself, brought a few home comforts from time to time.” He rolled out the mat, rolled inside it were a couple of blankets. Kass sat down on them. “You might as well join me, you can’t stand till dawn and the lava is a bit uncomfortable to sit on.”
Luke sat down next to Kass and looked at him. “Why’re doing this?” he asked. “You were with them weren’t you?”
“Not really,” Kass replied, “yes I was there but I was not with them. It’s hard to explain.”
“Try it,” Luke instructed. Kass explained about being woken by the drumming and finding the door to the shelter open and being drawn by the sound of the drums. He explained about being captured by the dance and the sensuality of the bodies all around him, of being part of it but at the same time not quite being there and how all of a sudden he had broken free of the spell to come to Luke’s aid.
“I’m bloody glad you did, you know what they were going to do with me?”
“Yes,” Kass confirmed, “but how did you get there, you were down by the beach on the west of the island?”
“I don’t know,” Luke responded. “I was hiding in the hut on the beach when you came in and found me. That scared me, I thought you would take me back to dad, that dad had sent you to find me. I saw you speaking to him this afternoon.”
“You saw me speaking to your father?”
“Yes Luke, you were on the veranda of the big house at the top of the hill above High Town, my father was talking to you.”
“The only person I spoke to today was Brother Schmit or rather I listened to him lecture me for two hours.”
“Yes, that’s my father, he’s pastor at the mission church in High Town.”
“So Luke you ran off into the jungle then what?”
“It got dark and I got tired, I crept back to the hut hoping that maybe you had left but I could see through the cracks in the shutter that you were still there. I did not know what to do, I did not think it would be safe to sleep in the jungle and had been told not to sleep on the beach at night because of the crabs. So I lay down on the porch, I hoped I would wake before you in the morning so I could hide.
“Next thing I find myself being dragged by two men through the jungle and into that place. They were both laughing and saying how much the Baron would enjoy me. I didn’t know what they were going to do until I saw that thing on the stone.”
“It was big, wasn’t it?” Kass commented.
“Fucking massive, it would have split me in two.”
“You’ve never been fucked? No you’re English, you wouldn’t have been,” Kass responded.
“I’m American, not English.”
“Sorry Luke, anybody who is not an islander is English to the islanders, it just means foreign, even the big blacks who come down from Jamaica are English to us. So why were you out on the beach and sleeping out this night?”
“I had to get away, they were going to send me back to the States to one of those places.”
“What places?” Kass asked.
“Where they make you straight.”
“So you’re gay?”
“Yes,” Luke replied sharply, almost with a sob in his voice, “I’m the fucking faggot son of the pastor. Big laugh isn’t it. I want to have sex with men but was terrified of having that thing forced up my arse.” He began to shake. Kass reached out and pulled him against his body, cuddling him, giving him what comfort he could. Luke started to cry, first gentle sobs, then they got lounder until they were racking his body.
Kass held him as he cried. Gently stroking his back, drawing the boy to himself, making him understand that he was there for him. After a while the sobs died down. “Feeling better now?”
“Yes, but I’m still scared. What if those men find us? What am I going to do, I can’t go home but I’ve got nowhere else to go.”
“I know the problem,” Kass replied, “I’m in the same situation, I can’t go home either. My mother got your father over today to tell me that I had to give up my island ways and become a good member of the church or leave the house. I left.”
“So,” Luke commented, “we’re both in a mess.”
“Yes but at least we are together,” Kass replied, suddenly realising the import of those words. They were together, lying naked on the mat in the darkness of the lava pipe. It just felt so natural, as if it was meant to be.
“For now. What happens in the morning? They’ll be looking for us.”
“Those men won’t be, the Baron’s realm dies with sunrise, then Tatanana rules.”
“Who’s the Baron and how does Tatanana rule? I thought it was the volcano.”
“Luke, Tatanana is the name of the volcano but the volcano is named after the goddess who lives in it and she rules and protects the island. The Baron is the Lord of the Dead, this night is the Dodenfeest, the Feast of the Dead, and from sunset to sunrise it is the realm of the Baron. Those spirits that have not passed beyond the gates come back this night to be amongst the living and enjoy the pleasures of life.
“It is said that the spirits can take over the bodies of the living and enjoy pleasure through them this night. I think that is what happened to me.”
Luke looked up into Kass’s face, which the last vestiges of the setting moon lighted. “You’re free of the spirits now?”
“Yes, when you cried out something snapped and I knew I had to save you, that you were special.”
“You think I’m special?”
“Yes Luke. There was something about you when I saw you in the shelter. I wanted you to stay, I ran out after you, looking for you,” Kass replied.
“Nobody has ever wanted me. “
“Surely your parents did,” Kass commented.
“No, I was a mistake, an accident. I’m seventeen, my sister is thirty eight.”
“Seventeen, I thought …” Kass stated.
“You thought I was younger, everyone does, I’m small for my age. Anyway my mother thought she was past it when she got pregnant with me. I’m lucky they’re fundamentalist Christians, otherwise they would have had me aborted.” This shocked Kass, how could anybody not want Luke. He just knew that Luke was the most wonderful, most special person in the world. How he knew he had no idea, he just knew it.
“Luke I want you,” Kass stated. He caressed Luke’s hair drawing Luke to him. The boy reached up and placed his hand round the back of Kass’s neck pulling Kass down to him, their lips met. For what seemed like an eternity the two boys lay together, hands exploring each other’s bodies, mouths locked in what seemed like endless kissing. Slowly their bodies started to move in a common rhythm, each rubbing his engorged member against the body of the other. Their passion moved without haste to its own climax, both ejaculating together onto their bodies. As they slumped together in post coital bliss laughter emanated from the mouth of the pipe. Kass looked up and saw standing there, silhouetted against the light of the pre-dawn sky, the Baron, raising his stick, almost as if in salute. Kass rolled over onto Luke to protect him and fell out of the hammock.
He scrambled to his feet, shaking the sleep out of his head. What the hell had happened he wondered? Looking round he saw the door was still closed and the fastening rope still tied, a hint of daylight showing through the cracks. Kass made his way over to it, undid the rope and opened the door, stepping out onto the porch, only to trip over a sleeping prostrate form. He fell headfirst into the sand beyond the narrow porch.
“Kass?” a timid voice asked. Kass pushed himself up into a seating position and turned to face the shelter. There was Luke lying on the porch, clearly knocked awake by the impact of Kass tripping over him.
“You know me, it wasn’t a dream.”
“Well,” Kass asked, “if it was a dream where are your clothes?”
Luke glanced down at himself and realised he was naked, then instinctively moved his hands to cover himself. Kass laughed, stood up and walked over to sit on the porch next to Luke. “It is a bit late for that I think, for if it was a dream how to you explain that?” He pointed to a love bite on Luke’s shoulder.
“Or that?” Luke laughed, pointing to a similar mark on Kass’s neck. “Kass, what’s happened? If it wasn’t a dream how come we're here?”
“I don’t know, but I think I know who can tell us. First though we need to get into some clothes.”
“I don’t know where mine are.” commented Luke.
“Probably somewhere up on the far side of the mountain,” Kass responded. “Don’t worry I have a solution.”
Two hours later the two boys were seated at the bar of Mama Betty’s Beach Café, Kass in his shirt and shorts, Luke in Kass’s sarong. The big woman was busy loading their plates with pancakes and stroop, the thick sugar syrup loved by the island boys, even though they objected saying they had nothing with which to pay. As she did so the boys recounted their story of the night that had passed.
“Ah,” Mama Betty commented, “I think you have been blessed by the Baron.”
“Blessed by the Baron,” Luke commented, “I thought he was the Lord of the Dead.”
“Lord of the Dead is but one of his aspects, but he is also Master of Debauchery and the Granter of Pleasure. More importantly he is the Giver of Life and I think he has given you two boys a life together.”
Just then a police car pulled up on the road outside. Corporal Van Hagen got out and walked across to the Café. Kass felt Luke tense up beside him and reached down and took hold of Luke’s hand.
“Godmornin Mama Bet,” the corporal said, nodding to the two boys at the bar.
“Godmornin corporal and what brings youw over from Home Island this time in the morning.”
“That English pastor up at High Town, he callin in telling 'is son gone missing; run away and we must find him.”
“An’ what dat to do with me?” Mama Betty asked.
“I thought youw may ‘ave seen ‘im.”
“An’ what youw be dinkin den, even a stomerling knows no English come by Low Town. Anyby from what I hear if the boy ‘as run from the mission it be good for ‘im.”
The corporal thought for a moment and nodded. “And there youw is’t right Mama Betty.” With that he turned, walked back to the car, got in it and drove off.
Luke sighed and almost collapsed into Kass, who quickly reached around him to support the boy. “He was looking straight at me, it was as if he did not see me.”
“Oh, he saw you Luke, but he was looking for an English boy and nu youw is en island jungen and de island it ken its own.” Luke looked at Kass puzzled.
“She said Luke that now you are an island boy, and the island looks after its own. You know you are going to have to learn the island Creole. ” Luke smiled, leaned over and kissed Kass.
“Wel,” Mama Betty said, “dat is a good start.”
The creole spoken on the Islands is a mixture of 18th century English and Dutch, with some words derived from other languages – mainly French. The t sound in English is generally pronounced as a hard d sound whilst the hard d in English becomes a tt sound, so words like ‘the’ become ‘de’ and ‘god’ become ‘gott’. W is generally pronounced ve and the letter h after a w in English will generally be dropped. So ‘what’ becomes ‘w’at’ pronounced ‘vat’ and ‘where’ becomes ‘w’er’ pronounced ‘vir’. The y at the start of a word is replaced with a yu sound usually depicted by a j, so jungen is pronounced yuungon.
Dodenfeest – Feast of the Dead: night of 31st of October till sunrise 1st November.
English – Anybody who is not part of the island culture, even people who are native to the island (that is who have been born there and lived there) can be regarded as English, whilst some outsiders who have been adopted into the island culture are regarded as islanders.
Gottvordomman – God damn you or God damn it.
Jungen – a male too old to be considered a child but not yet classed as a man.
Tassa – any container, but mostly used for a bag.
Youw (jouw) – you
Stomerling – idiot
My thanks to Anthony for his assistance in proofreading and editing this in time for the Halloween collection.
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