by Delroy "Nesta" Williams
“What is the capital of Jamaica?’ I thought to myself. I knew the answer; it was either Kingston or Kingstown. I always mixed up these two but it wasn’t the time to be unsure. I needed that answer to get an A on my final exam. I had already calculated my score in my head. My mother had promised me a trip to Roseau during the summer if I had gotten all A’s. I couldn’t wait to run along the city streets and go to the market with her. I had never been to Roseau, I heard a lot of things about it though, my mother would go there ever so often and always returned with lots of groceries and fine things.
I had imagined Roseau as a very big city, with very tall buildings, wide streets not like the wooden houses and dirt roads of Gros Michel, far from that too. There was no way the capital could be anything like my village. Besides with street names like King George V Street and Great George Street, I couldn’t help but think that Roseau was a majestic city full of business men driving their fancy cars, looking really important in their suits and ties. At least that’s what I read in books about the cities of Europe, I would expect the same of Roseau.
“Delroy, Delroy... what’s de answer for 12 an 15?” whispered someone behind me, disturbing my thoughts.
“I doh know ner,” I responded without even turning around for fear that Teacher Roach would see me. She heard and saw everything; I was scared to death of that lady. She was so stern and meticulous, nothing escaped her.
“Tell me ner before Teacher come back in de class”
“No boy, I fraid,” I continued.
“Boy jus say de ting quick before she come back, hurry ner,”
“No boy, I cyah do that.”
“Hear de man, boy I doh want to fail that test ner, I doh want to repeat mamzelle class,”
At that very moment, a cold breeze filled the room, everything got quiet and even the mosquitoes that were buzzing around my arms and legs seemed to stand still. The hands on the old class clock, which only worked during exams, seemed to stop too.
“Delroy and Dwight, what have I said about talking during tests?” Teacher Roach asked sternly.
I stayed quiet; I wasn’t going to utter a word, not me, never.
“Delroy! Dwight! Who is going to answer me?”
“I cyah remember ner Teacher,” Dwight responded defiantly.
“You cyah remember ner Teacher?” she responded mockingly, “We will see who remembers when I take out Lucifer from the cupboard.”
Lucifer was a giant rod that was kept locked up in the class cupboard and only used for “special” occasions. I had overhead the other teachers referring to it as the rod of correction. Teacher Roach used it to perfection, scaring the life out of all its victims. I had only received two strokes from Lucifer before and I didn’t want anymore. I had trouble sitting down on my chair for weeks after that.
“Who remembers what I have said about talking during tests?’ Teacher Roach asked the class.
“Teacher, you say we shouldn’t talk with anybody or cheat,” responded Mary. I hated Mary, she was always quick to respond and yearned to be the teacher’s favourite. To say she annoyed me and the class was the biggest understatement.
“And who can tell me what Delroy and Dwight were doing?”
“Miss they were talking,” Mary responded again without any hesitation.
“Is that against the rules?”
“Yes Teacher,” the class all responded in complete unison.
“What do we do to students who break the rules?”
“We show them to Lucifer!” Michael, a boy in the back row shouted out.
“How many strokes do you recommend Mary?”
“Me, Teacher,” she quirked, “I would give them five each,” she continued with a huge grin.
“Delroy, take the keys from the desk and take Lucifer from the cupboard.”
“No Teacher, no,” I cried out, “it wasn’t my fault.”
“So whose fault was it?”
At that point I looked over to Dwight and I could see the anger building up inside him. I was caught between a rock and a hard place, but I could always escape Dwight; Lucifer on the other hand was a sure thing.
“So whose fault was it Delroy?” Teacher Roach asked again.
“Teacher, Dwight that ask me for answers to questions 12 and 15,”
“Dwight is that true?”
Dwight didn’t budge, he didn’t say a word but I could tell that if he could have killed me at that time that he would have done it so swiftly that not even the hand of God could have prevented my death. The vein in the middle of his forehead was about ready to pop open; the blood would have splashed all over the walls of the classroom.
“Delroy, get me the rod, now!
As I returned to my seat I put my head on my desk. I had just sent Dwight to the slaughterhouse but the sad thing is that he would survive and revenge would be his own. Dwight didn’t utter a sound during his five strokes; he was too busy thinking about how he would pay me back for the treachery.
We still had two more exams to complete before the end of the day. I could be sure he or his friends wouldn’t attack me before the bell had rung. I was quickly devising an escape strategy. I needed a plan since my house was on the other side of the village and I had to cross the guava field and pass directly in front of Dwight’s house before reaching Lime Street.