Chapter 4: The Job
Louis shook me awake. I opened my eyes and he pressed a broad finger to his lips. He peered out of the window and we could see the tops of the trees dimly lit by the plump
moon. Mosquitoes buzzed around us. ‘Come, mon,’ Louis said. ‘Let we step outside.’
I followed him through the door and we made our way to a tall tree. We sat down, resting our backs against the trunk. The insects in the fields were mighty loud this night.
Strange birds squawked their squawks. Louis looked here and there before he spoke. We heard the distant crunching from the millhouse. ‘Moa,’ Louis started. ‘Your body good?’
‘What do you mean if me body good?’
‘You cyan’t bruk out if you cyan’t run good or if you cyan’t kill ah white mon when you need to.’
I swallowed spit, gazed into Louis’ eyes and said, ‘Me body good, mon. Me cyan run as far as me need to and me cyan kill ah white mon. Me nuh have no problem wid dat.’
I did have a problem with that. Could me really kill ah white mon?
‘Dat is what me want to hear,’ said Louis.
‘What is me job?’ I wanted to know.
Louis checked over his shoulders. No one was about. I guessed there were overseers patrolling near the entrance of the plantation at the bottom of the hill. We couldn’t see
‘Your job,’ Louis said, ‘and Keverton’s job is to kill Misser Donaldson on Sunday night just after de sun drop.’
I didn’t reply. It felt like those big wooden rollers that Papa feeds the cane into were now grinding in my belly. Sweat drowned my face. My pulse banged my temples.
‘Use your billhooks,’ Louis continued. ‘Aim straight for de gut or de chest. Use two hands and dig deep. And then twist it like you’re meking ah fire. Mek sure he don’t breathe one dutty breath again.’
It took me a while to answer. Kill Misser Donaldson? I guessed he might’ve asked me to run somewhere when de bruk- out start. My heart kicked my ribs and didn’t stop.
‘But we have to put dem inna de sack when we finish work,’ I pointed out.
Louis shook his head. ‘Not on Sunday you won’t.’
Sunday was only two dawns away.
Papa would never agree. He would say ‘It’s not worth the agonies that will come to you.’
But Pitmon never raise ah hand or ah fiery tongue to anyone ’til Misser Master trouble him daughter.
And Miss Pam was like ah second mama to everybody but dem just fling her inna de pit after she drop.
Me must lend me good foot and hand to de cause.
‘Who’s going to kill Misser Master?’ I wanted to know.
Louis took his time in answering. ‘Tacky,’ he said. ‘Everyting start when de sun tek cover behind de hills.’
‘Me will dig Misser Master hole wid me own hands if me have to,’ I said. ‘And fling him inside wid plenty chicken claw.’
‘There will be no time to dig anyting,’ Louis said. ‘We have to forward on quick- time to Fort Haldane. It’s by de blue waters. Tacky say dem have guns there.’
‘Guns?’ I repeated. ‘Dem tings dat fire quick deat’? Me remember me papa talk about it one time.’
Louis nodded. ‘Yes, mon. Dat is de plan. Now, return to your hut and catch some sleep.’
‘Me cyan’t sleep now, Louis,’ I said. ‘Me head full of tomorrow’s worries and de day after.’
‘Mine too,’ Louis admitted. ‘Try to empty your head and sleep good.’