Tom dreamt of golden triangles. They flew at him in flashy arrays, lighthouses at their tips, framing views of seas below. He didn't want to be flying in this sky alone, no, not in a dream, when fine young ladies could've been up there with him too, nice-hot thots to squeeze love juices out as he fell, spreading it all above him to form a parachute of sweet marmalade! He would glide through the portals, a black trojan, forgetting all about the flung engagement rings. No, love would not shine with such brilliance as the glittery speck he noticed shoot across skies over combers, the orb transforming, when he got closer, into a pair of spread out wings against a passenger airliner.
Suddenly he found himself inside this aircraft, idly lounging in a recliner to the left of a cabin's walkway, a view of the cockpit in front breathing wide in his peripheral and then with a gaze forward, shrinking to an indiscernible chamber. In his dreams these faraway areas had always been like invisible lungs, retracting to remind him of their unreality, then expanding only when they became significant.
Above the aisleway, a digital sign spelled out an enigma in red letters: Bermuda. The invisible lungs breathed in the title, bubbling it out to show the profundity in all its clarity, yet the announcement did not sail forth with bliss, rather, it flung an anchor of worries into Tom's thoughts. Bermuda, a familiar haunt, a group of rocky islands nestled in a crescent amongst oceans, boasted limestone hills of false sanctuary against troubles.
Tom cringed at mistakes made in his last trip, even admitting to himself, he had dug way too much into pockets to pay for those Dark n' Stormies and other cocktails in Hamilton. The pubs on Somers Island, a stony octopus, stung tentacles into rich blood, sucking them dry for a living wage, yet Tom, a black dude from Cali, debt-ridden and struggling through college, spent more time on its sister island, at the eye of the Bermudian hook, Saint George's, where respite came in cheap takeaways.
Saint George's decor kept a colonial modesty, a contrast to Hamilton's commercialism with its patchwork of highrises skirting waterfronts crammed full of yachts. The eastern island's dwellings, limbs of an old mariner, wore stone vestments of pink and yellow pastels, candy kisses of charm tucked below limestone pyramids, and these lively mascaras, hiding wrinkles and cracks from nature's time-long harassment, went belly out for a tourist's favor.
In this town, Tom's dream took him to the porch of a two-story inn, an old Georgian mansion, a wink of white under sunny skies, and a living testimonial to a families greatness centuries ago. He remembered this house on his last visit, with its chalky limestone roof and balconies.
Tom opened the front door, his pushes met by resistance from rusty hinges, but after putting more muscle into a shove, it gave way, and a smell, reminiscent to moldy newspapers, escaped from within to hit his nostrils. The lobby he knew in the past, a line of rooms flanking a desk with travel pamphlets, morphed into an expansive suite of beds laden with luggage, clothes strewn about its tile floors.
Guests ran by him, picking up messes to shove them into suitcases, hurrying to get done. One middle-aged fogy, sporting a bald forehead of dark skin nestled between a grey-haired crown, halted to size-up a new arrival. Tom knew this guest as family, his uncle, who he had not seen since a year prior at a wedding ceremony. It amazed Tom to see him.
"We're goin' to be late for the plane!" Uncle Charles threw Tom a plane ticket. "But I found your pass under all dis clothes. So lucky for you, you'll not be stranded here."
" Yeah, we gonna be late!”
"But I jus' got here. How can we be leavin'?" Tom began to brood over missed opportunities. He never got to explore the island's western hook on his last trip. With family here, the excursion for the Royal Dockyards would have been worthwhile, but now, in surprise, an escape plan had got them busy.
A wiry old Asian woman, Aunt Lin, bent over Uncle Charles efforts, watching him as he shoved piles of shirts into a suitcase. She swiped away at loose strands of her close-cropped black hair in nervous anxiety.
Behind them, children ran about the place, causing a ruckus. Two kids played tug of war with a beach towel, as another got onto a mattress to hop on it, mocking a father's struggles with laughter.
"Hey, Ted. " Uncle Charles wove his hand in front of the springy monkey. "Get off dis' bed, now! I done tol' you, ya can't be jumpin any beds here! You want Mama to get you with the switch?"
"Nah, Pa. I just having fun."
"Fun? Vacation already over."
A knock at the door threw silence. Tom shivered against an onset of chills, wondering if a maid had busted open a freezer. An explosion shot into the room. Powerful gusts hit Tom's back, launching his muscular frame into the air, and flung him against a far wall. He floated there in a paralyzed stance, breathless, and distraught.
"What the hell?" Tom looked behind him.
A scarecrow, a white-clothed oddity, struck a dance in the doorway, its skirts flashing glowy pink and yellow tassels. The lively wooshes of snaking vibrancy from its jig, kept the conductor, a Gombey dancer, afloat, but tense-ridden. Tom wanted to shout at him for a release, but he had no voice. He felt like a helpless spectator forced to view a dark ceremony.
The dancer’s face, hidden behind a mask, with painted impressions for eyes and an agape mouth, shown like a scowling mound of soil—its plot, support for stems in a vase cap hidden behind fluorescent hues—its outgrowth, tall peacock feathers.
Tom tried to break free from his invisible chains by kicking, but his legs hung limp. He wanted to embrace Uncle Charles to say goodbye, but the family ran out. Another chance came, when the old man, in forgetfulness, ducked back in to go for one last bag.
He took up the luggage, giving Tom a googly-eyed look, and then turned away to leave, with an oddly spoken farewell.
"You shouldn't have ate Keazah's cake! Now she go hungry for sure!"
Uncle Charles legs caught the reverb of the nearby dancers shuffle and went bouncy on his exit.
Keazah? Yes, Tom remembered her from his last trip, an island beauty, who had clung to him, jumpy from nights in a club. She had a sparkle in her eyes mirroring the island's waves at lap against a beach under moonlight and when her smooth mocha skin touched his brawny arms, it hit silky. Why would Uncle bring up such a woman he hadn't known?
The Gombey dancer, now alone, threw more flair into his colorful act. He shuffle danced from one wall to the next, florid neons swishing about the place in explosions of light. It made Tom feel floods of renewal rush at him—the pink throwing cherry blossoms, the yellow, a wash of escapes. He wanted to reach out and grab these beautiful realities, but a godly power held him hostage. Who was his master? Not the dancer, since he had no whip. Tom could only guess a spirit kept him from the fulfillment of his desires.
An unseen snare drum, beating out a tattoo, intensified the dancer's movements, and the sea of emotions it flung up, made Tom recall more and more those sleepless nights in Keazah's arms. She had sprung into his life, out of pink Bermudian sands, a temptress, a new flower hungry for blossoming experiences. It terrified him to think something had befallen her. They did everything safely together, or had it been enough? Tom knew of miracle babies, the Jesus kids, grown from ghost seeds, but their rarity struck like a patch of roses growing out from a toilet. Kids just didn't happen that way.
Fate from nightmarish diseases then grappled his thoughts, invisible killers, and he feared viruses got inside her. No, Tom could not recall a time he got really sick from making love.
The Gombey dancer threw himself into a frontal flip, made a pounding stomp against a tile on his reentry, and then stood at attention. A silence fell over the room.
"We don't invite no Tom fooleries in Saint Georges!"
The Gombey's exclamation came out in a haughty rebuff, with a flourishing wave of his arm until it stopped horizontal midair, the movement trumped with a nod.
Tom fell to the floor. He felt a release from hidden fetters, got to his feet, and ran for the doorway, forgetting his tormenter in hopes to catch up with family.
Outside, a pink metro bus, a metallic cupcake amongst a backdrop of stone shops and still harbor waters, drove off, the scene swallowing Tom's approaches until it went dirty behind the spat out exhaust.
"Stop that Jimmy Hat! Stop it!" Tom hit against pink metal side panels sliding past his fingers, hoping to get the drivers attention. He needed this ride to make a flight back home. Above him, in passing windows, passengers laughed down at his struggles. The bus kept on.
A limestone boulder, plump and chunky, stuck in the shuttle's path, with a tunnel cut into the face, its opening too narrow for a fit.
The bus rammed into the cave, scratching sides against its walls, and fled into the darkness. Tom gasped in relief, realizing his avoidance of a close disaster.
"I got's to find another way outta here!"
Tom's entreaty came out in a tremble, for a troupe of Gombeys emerged from the cave in a motley of tropical colors, and went after him.
Tom fled for the turquoise waters of a bay, seeing cement pegs jutting out from docks, their teeth at reach over the harbor to connect another island. Each pillar stuck close enough together to allow a leap from one to the next. He didn't remember these remnants of a causeway on his last trip, but its escapes kept him hopeful in a successful crossing.
Behind him, a drumbeat started up again accompanied by jangles of worn bells stuck to a pursuers lithe movements. Tom ran past shops and onto a quay. He didn't want to be jumped and taken for his money if, in fact, he was a baby's daddy. Back home, he toiled in poverty at a working-class hell and a new kid would only worsen problems. Also, what about his aspirations to finish a rap album? A baby would kill his efforts to seek fame in the music life. It felt like running from the police!
With a frantic leap, he got himself atop a pillar, and standing straight on its pedestal, he swung his arms up at his sides to keep balance. The other step jutted out from a wet opal abyss nearby. It seemed reachable, but in the back of his mind, he frighted over chances of breaking a leg or belly-flopping into seas. He went for a jump, made it, and then righted himself again.
A Gombey leaped after him, mounting the first step, its close proximity, causing Tom to launch for but another platform, yet as he threw himself across, his foot slipped on landing, and he felt the loss. Adrenaline kicked in to reclaim his hold, and when righting his weight, a glance back came with a dancers sporty act atop the first step.
The Gombey got busy on his rock, exhibiting such incredible acrobatic feats in his hits and slides of deft footwork, he looked like an angry crab punching with claws at invisible foes all over its post.
A roar broke above. Tom turned around to look, catching sight of a passenger airliner as it took off for the blue from a forward island. He knew it flew out of Saint Davids, a tree covered limestone stretch curved in the shape of a sling, where planes flung out as if from a slingshot, to fight a bigger Goliath in the clouds.
In his straights, Tom yearned to be up there with them, to knock out this nightmare, and flee his frustrations, but the Gombey behind got antsy, the drumming louder, and he doubted making it onto the island as ready ammo for another throw.
The jump ahead needed muscle, its distance spanning waters nearly twice as vast than his previous challenges, and like in most dreams, he feared a splashy plunge, for in the depths lurked creatures waiting to attack. The fear kept him hesitant, but a faster drumbeat and a sudden rustling of clothes from a Gombeys leap onto another step, pushed him off into a lunge for the impossible.
Halfway through the leap, trouble hit with fierce winds, and he lost the jump. Tom gasped as waters came at him quick. Before he hit, something black breached out from under the watery surface, its arms flung out in an embrace. In awe, Tom recognized the plump face of Big Roy, his roomie, glaring at him, droplets of saltwater splashing out from his round wet cheeks to mist juicy lips and shiny eyes. The wading jolly tried to catch Tom, yet when they met in a hug, darkness fell, a bright light blinded him, and then he found himself in a new reality.