A music festival took place at the reclaimed area and Short was there to evoke his days as a bass guitarist. He saw a terrific woman with broad hips, wavy black hair, round bums and not so tall. He couldn’t recognise her. It was Arnelle dressed in a black frock. He stared right into her eyes while the band played ‘Tears in Heaven’ – a song dedicated to Clapton’s beloved son he lost.
Short learned she was having a hard time coping with her husband in exile. She heard rumours around of Juez Fiel sleeping with island girls. Arnelle left alone at home with a seven-year-old son.
A buddy revealed that he knew Mashiya working at the bank. Arnelle and Mashiya attended a fitness club called Redan Studio on Margarita Lane. Jay was interested in a girl guide carrying a flag in route marches. Jay came up with this radical idea to apply fanditha – black magic.
Short’s grandma was taken ill and hospitalised in July. On his visit, he came across some aunts he never met. He recognised them by the looks. One of those aunts asked if he knew her. Short nodded. Then she pointed at Visa talking to some relatives in the room, “Do you know her?”
Short glanced and she stared back. He shook his head in contest. Visa presumptuously looked away. His grandmother died that July.
Not far from home…they went to see a guru who agreed to do a lure for a reasonable price. They knew him as Shahida’s father. And this Shahida was one of the first female referees in town. Shahida’s father asked them to bring a few things; vellum skin, ambergris, photographs, resurrection plant – the rose of Jericho – and an orchid.
All these items were available at remedy shops in provision to a tribe deeply believing in magical powers. Short gave the only picture he got of Arnelle – a black and white passport-size photograph.
They waited patiently. A day came and they went to see the guru. This house was sleeping with doors open. They sneaked in after midnight knowing he would keep his scripts under the mattress. They dug in looking for a clue while the old man slept in bed.
At dawn, guru advised both Jay and Short how to proceed. “Wear it on your skin,” he spelled, “When you find an opportunity…grab her left hand by the wrist.” It was that easy.
Short paused behind the park. He had seen the girls pass this road at six-thirty. All wore tights; a pair of yoga shorts worn as a safety underwear and a trend these days. Each carried a gym bag.
As the girls turned around the bend, he dropped his butt and stub out. Mashiya appeared tall on long legs wearing a red pair of tights. Arnelle wore white. Buttocks round and full. At that age in early twenties she was ripe in maturity with tough curls on her hair.
He approached from the front and grasped her wrist. She turned around with a cry. None recognised him as he briskly walked away.
By all means he grabbed her right wrist. At that point in time he wasn’t thinking but sweating. All he felt was a soft touch.
He was called for a job interview at BINGRASS – Build in Grass – a grassroots development association for community-based change. He won a job as a field officer. In January, they held the first General Assembly attended by a number of members enrolled in teacher training. He was stunned to notice Arnelle wearing an orange frock in the crowd as a member though she was not in teaching.
A co-founder arranged an introductory session of members to sit two by two and chat for a while to know each other. Short sat with his mentor as instructed and a moment later some of those accounts were read. Drinks and snacks served at the party. This session came to end as Lizzy began to read Arnelle’s account.
On Friday, he went to office carrying a heavy bag of record files. The roads were empty at midday. Halfway on Neel Road he felt someone following in his footsteps. He glanced back few times to see but none.
As he turned a corner behind a school, he almost collided with Arnelle in a black frock. It gave him a shiver. Their eyes met. She glanced at him twice before he could complete the corner. Those rosy lips and cold stare made him freeze.
In the first week of February, he saw her on the dusty road. She wore gym clothes and carried her string backpack. She reached his house and entered the gate to the rent room. She picked a narrow path by the boundary wall that led to a backyard that was levelled to the ground with an uneven surface; nobody stepped in there.
A florist used this space to keep an order of pot plants. They used fertilisers and now the lawn had grown thick of lemongrass. There stood a water well right in the middle of this empty space.
Arnelle stepped beside the well and removed her clothes; tights, yoga vest bra and shoes. It was sunset. He could not catch all the details. He saw great shape in her with a round backside. She took shower. Dried up with a towel and pulled on a black frock. And just like that she left the expanse.
He glanced at the sky. A full moon climbed over the peak of the roof. Short couldn’t make a sound. He was hushed to silence.
Short met the guru on his own. “You should have followed her in that critical moment,” uttered the guru, “She’s trying to approach you. It may be quite bizarre the way she acts. She appears in form of a succubus…”
He looked for her name on BINGRASS member’s list but it wasn’t there.