Short Fiction: The Retired, Hammond Striker

V. Ramsamooj Gosine
         Sylvia relaxed on a cushioned chair in the small gallery which overlooked her flower garden in Valley Heights, a new middle-class development on the foothills of the Northern Range in Trinidad. She and Hammond Striker had been married for more than thirty years and between them brought to the world six lovely, successful children. Without any assistance, she looked after them, saw them through schools and married them. 
    During this time, she could not recall a period when she and Hammond enjoyed themselves without interruption.
        She smiled. The children were now looking after themselves and soon she and 
Hammond would enjoy the pleasures of a relaxed life and this excited her.
    Hammond had retired from his job in the marketing division of Anand Brothers. He said to them he had had enough and must do other things to satisfy himself. He wanted to do something that was his idea, not an idea approved by someone and given to him to carry out. Hammond considered many options but couldn’t settle down to any. He drifted along, doing household chores, hoping that some great idea would flash through his receptive mind.
    Hammond could do little at home and this inactivity made him restless and he didn’t like it one bit.
      ‘Ah, Sylvia,’ he said, during a restless period. They were watching a comedy on television with cups of coffee at their sides. ‘I should never retire. Never.’
      ‘Why, Hammy?  You not tired working?’
      ‘I feel lazy. I need to do things. Staying home is killing me but because of my age I must stay home.’
      Sylvia laughed. She knew that surely no one would employ him since there were younger, stronger and more qualified people around. She allowed him to think as he pleased. Quite frankly, Sylvia preferred to see him all day at home where they could leisurely sip tea or coffee and eat slices of black or sponge cakes from Linda’s Café and recall the good times, and perhaps the tough times they experienced. It was a life Sylvia longed for and though he protested about his restlessness, she smiled within but never allowed anything to betray her feelings.
      In truth and in fact, she wanted his attempts at time-demanding projects to fail so that she could have him all for herself.
      Hammond did think of a new idea. He would plant zabocas in his large yard. Not many. Just about five trees.
    ‘Zabocas,’ Sylvia said. ‘Zoboca trees. You have nothing else to do? Good Lord!’
      ‘Zaboca or pear. The same fruit. Is just a dream and is a good dream.’
    ‘And where you going to plant them, man?’
  ‘Move out some of the flowers and plant them right in the front yard. The yard big enough.’
      Sylvia sucked her teeth and walked away. Hammond recorded that as her 
hinted objection. But Sylvia like that, he said to himself. She like things going she way all the time. And once you don’t do what she want, you in big trouble. Not this time. I putting my foot down. I am the man.
      Hammond knew that large zabocas sold well and in fact those were the ones he also bought. That night he told himself I will plant zaboca trees, which bear only large fruits because customers like large ones. He calculated the number of zabocas each tree would bear. If each tree bear one hundred, and I plant five trees, I will get five hundred fruits.  But why five? Seven was better than five. So is seven I go plant!
    Two years passed and the trees did not flower and no flowers meant no fruits. Hammond was worried. His plans would fail and Sylvia would laugh at him and this failure would hurt him. He just couldn’t stand it. 
        Sylvia said one day, ‘Wasting time, Hammy. Wasting good time I tell you. Have 
some tea, Hammy. Enjoy life a little. Not work work work.’ 
     He said, ‘At least the trees are still doing something good. They’re offering your anthuriums shade.  And good shade mean nice healthy flowers.’
      ‘It was either there or under the mango tree,’ she said, not conceding too much. ‘So don’t feel too good. I could put them some where else, you know. Trust me.’
        Hammond pushed the conversation   out of his mind. The next day he visited the garden shop. When he returned home, he tilled around the trees.
        Early next morning he told Sylvia he was returning to the garden shop with a handful of soil in a bag.
      ‘Wasting time again, Hammy. And without breakfast? When you get wind in your belly, don’t you blame me. Blame them male zabocca trees.’
      He dismissed her protest and kept the secret to himself. When he returned home later, he brought two small parcels of blue and green grains of sand.  He did not call the material sand but his wife did.
      ‘Coloured sand, Hammy? Sand?’ She laughed and walked away. ‘What’s wrong with this man? Sand has no life in it. Sand is not manure. Not good cow manure.’
Perhaps he was becoming a little too careful but that was how things were turning out. He watered them every evening and every two weeks sprinkled a little of the ‘blue and green sand’ around the plants.
      Sylvia looked on in disappointment. The leaves were green and healthy, the trees themselves as far as she observed, grew taller and the branches looked thick and strong. 
      Sylvia did not welcome the changes. She was praying daily, enthusiastically and silently that he should fail! All these years she had been waiting for him to retire so that they could share a quiet, peaceful and loving life together, she reminded herself. All these years she lived a lonely life, hoping the day would come when he was free to be with her. She never for once thought that zaboca trees would interfere with her getting close to her husband. Not a woman but zaboca trees!
    Zaboca trees! Who the hell created these trees?
    More than six months later, the trees sent out flowers.
    Blasted, damn flowers! To her husband, she said, ‘Those things are flowers, 
Hammy?’ She knew she must be polite here. Hammond must never know how she hated 
his impending success.  Silently she said, I wish them damn trees could dry up and dead.
      ‘Those small creamish things?’ He pointed them out. ‘Yes, Sylvia. They are called flowers, and from those fruits will come out one day.’ There was a smile on his lips. ‘People will call those fruits zabocas and we will eat those sliced ripe fruits with bread.’
      ‘Really? What a great day it will be!’
      ‘We must wait for that great day, Sylvia. Have a little patience and we’ll have bread and zaboca soon. Our own zabocas with bakery bread.’
        Contented Hammond said nothing more.  He was doing something meaningful, and that something was going to turn out another something that brought him immense happiness. 
    A few weeks passed and Hammond noticed the change. He welcomed the flowers with a smile and a few weeks later, the trees were laden with tiny fruits. He was bubbling with excitement and his whole body was smiling in success!
      ‘Ah, Hammy, did you see what I saw?  Eh, Hammy?’
      ‘Tell me, Sylvia. What strange thing did you see? Was it a spirit floating by? A one-foot ghost perhaps? Or lovely little fruits?’
  ‘One tree,’ she said. ‘Just one tree’. Sylvia deliberately said one tree because she 
wanted to mislead him, hurt him a little and then laugh at him. Actually, she wished she   
could have said there was no tree.
      ‘But I planted seven.’  He looked in the direction of the trees without his glasses. ‘Seven, Sylvia. Seven. I counted them myself.’
      Now she had him exactly where she wanted.
      ‘Listen to me first and you’ll hear.  One tree is bearing larger ones than the others.’
      ‘Oh. Which one is that? Which one?’ He knitted his eyebrows. ‘That can’t be true. Never be true.’
    Hammond was curious. He could not see the difference even with his glasses on. He sprinted closer to the plants. He frantically took steps forwards and backwards in an effort to examine them in all their detail. Suddenly he ceased walking and studied them. Finally, he smiled and returned to her.
    ‘I see. I see. Every tree can’t be the same. It’s my luck, Sylvia. I thought all would bear the same size of fruits.’ He looked at the sky. ‘I must be pleased with what God give me. And I don’t ask for too much or anything special.’
      ‘Is the will of the Lord,’ she said and smiled.   ‘Whatever He give you, you must accept with a smile.’
      ‘Yes, Sylvia. The Lord give you what you deserve. Nothing more. Nothing less.’
      Soon passers-by saw the large fruits with varying shades of green leaves in the background and they were pleased. Hammond saw the smiles on their faces and these smiles brought gladness to his heart.
      The once tiny fruits on the trees told the most painful story to Sylvia; her dream would be shattered. Hammond’s obsession with his productive trees would deny her the pleasure of his company. If this crop succeeded, she knew he was lost forever because one success would lead to another and she hated that. Then a little voice told her, Allow this crop to go with pain and this would ensure nothing else comes. She turned and twisted the words in her mind and finally decided to act. This crop must bring pain to Hammy and only in this way he would return to me.
          One day she said, ‘You know, Hammy, is a long time I didn’t go by the hairdresser. I think I’ll go tomorrow.’
      ‘By the hairdresser? You!’
      ‘What’s wrong? Or you think I shouldn’t go?’
      ‘No. No. Please yourself. I was wondering why a grey hair lady would want to go by the hairdresser.’
      ‘To look better na. What else?’ She searched his face. ‘So you don’t want me to look nice or what?’
    ‘Oh, yes. I want you to look like a sweet sixteen. Not even seventeen.’
             ‘I must look good for you, Hammy. Never mind I old.’
      Away from him, she laughed aloud. Hairdresser? I could comb my own hair.
Sylvia never told Hammond why she really left the house that day and to this day he believed she went to the hairdresser. 

    ‘Mr. Hammy,’ his wife said one bright morning. ‘These zabocas are bringing you visitors. And that is very good.’
      ‘Visitors? What visitors? Who coming?’
    ‘Boys and men. Like the others who pass one time.’
            ‘Yes. Yes. I remember.’
           ‘When they pass the house, they stop to look at the laden trees.’
           ‘Yes. Yes. Yes. Nice zabocas. I glad.’ Seconds later he added, ‘Well let them look. I get pleasure by looking at them and is okay if other people get pleasure, too. It is the will of the Lord.’
      ‘Will of the Lord? Yes, Hammy.’ She smiled and quietly said to herself, My will, Hammy. My will. Believe me, Hammy. I’m not going to lose my husband because of some stupid zabocas. Zabocas we could buy because we have enough money to live on. The pension and we saving.’
             ‘You see, Sylvia, the Lord does always make a way for the good.’
      She looked at the laden trees for a few minutes. She knew that sooner or later these passersby would approach him to buy some. That would be the day when her idea would come alive. 
      In the days that followed, Hammond tended to his trees. Daily the fruits increased in size and because there were beyond seven hundred, he began looking for immediate customers. He preferred to sell the fruits wholesale. In this way he would have little or no haggling in dealing with the buyers. 
      One week later, two, smart-looking gentlemen approached him, and because they immediately agreed to his price and to pay in advance, he sealed a bargain with them.
      ‘Is only nice honest people who does give you what you deserve,’ he said to Sylvia.
      ‘You right, Hammy. You have a knack for spotting people like that.’
      ‘Thank you, Sylvia. I glad we agreeing on a few things.’ 
      ‘That too maybe is the will of the Lord. We are a pair, Hammy.’
      ‘I tell you, Sylvia, everybody eating zabocas these days,’ he said, a broad smile on his lips. ‘And I am happy. I am so happy things turning out good.’
      ‘It is nice, Hammy. I’m glad things are working out for you. It is the will of the Lord.’
        Hammond was excited. He understood that his wife was very pleased and this pleased him very much. He said to her, ‘And these men even paid me some money in advance for the rest. Such honest and trusting men.’ From in the gallery, he kept looking at the trees. ‘The world is still full of good people I tell you. The crime rate high but it still have one or two good people around’.
       ‘Ah. Ah,’ she said.
      Hammond did not hear her but the soft ‘Ah. Ah’ betrayed the pleasure she was experiencing; and she promised herself not to express her feelings in this way again.
      With nothing much to do except to wait until the zabocas were good for picking,  
Hammond turned his attention to other things until next year came and he must attend to 
the trees once more. He looked after his five dogs, his dahlias, geubras, jasmine and marigold flowers, and trimmed the ixoras and hibiscus around the house. There was the iron gate at the front of the house which he promised to paint last year, but which he didn’t. Now he would do that, too.
      The trees and everything else connected with the zabocas receded in the background. He knew they had a life of their own and this pleased him immensely.
      Sylvia never forgot the zabocas although she no longer made sly remarks about the trees. She knew that sooner or later they would no longer demand a great deal of his attention. In a way, she allowed him to think that she was very much on his side. She knew that once the attackers struck, he would need sympathy, especially since he was sleeping, dreaming and eating zabocas these days, and then she would be in charge.
        One evening, Hammond and Sylvia were sitting in the gallery which allowed them a full view of the trees. The fading evening sun with its mixture of magnificent colours, cast all its varying shades on the trees.  Hammond and Sylvia enjoyed the scene. With the trees ablaze, the zabocas took on different colours. It was this unusual display which caught Sylvia’s attention.
      ‘I say, Hammy, something doesn’t look right there. Look at the trees. They not 
looking strange to you?’
      He adjusted his glasses. ‘You’re right, Sylvia. Damn right I might add. Something’s the matter.’
    It was too late but the next day everything became clear.
    ‘Eh, Sylvia. Oh, Sylvia. Where you? It look like we have big problem. It look like 
some son-of-ah-bitch thiefing we zabocas. Not all but some. Just some. Oh God, Sylvia, is me life they thiefing.’ 
     ‘What you saying, Hammy? What you saying?’ She adjusted herself to get a better view.
      ‘It look like them is honest thieves. They leave back some for we.’
      ‘Leave back some?’
      ‘Yes. That self.’
      ‘They must be just take enough for they and they family. Thank God. So the rest is mine.’ He examined at the trees. ‘But, oh God, Sylvia, plenty missing.’
       This shattering news forced him to think of his buyers. Then something equally disturbing flashed across his mind. ‘If some damn thief really thief my zabocas, it go mean I go have to pay back them buyers and them. Eh?’ He looked at the trees again and bit his lips. ‘I have to sell the rest quickly or else I go lose all. And if that happen, I will never plant any damn zaboca trees again. I tell you, Sylvia. I will not plant anything again. Never again. Never. So help me God.’
      It was this impending failure which caused him to have sleepless nights. That night he tied his dogs under the trees to watchman his zabocas. The next morning when he awoke, he  took a long look at the zabocas. He saw their gentle movements on their stems in the cool breeze. He smiled. He took off his glasses and breathed a deep sigh of comfort. He repeated the watch the next night and the next night and the following night, and at the end of a week, the zabocas were just good enough for his buyers, who all promised to collect them in two days’ time.

      ‘Ah, Sylvia, no trouble I tell you. Every zaboca is there. Safe and sound.’ He thought for a second. ‘No use punishing the dogs under the trees. I’ll let them free.’
      For some reason best known to the buyers, they did not show up. 
      ‘Eh, Sylvia. They forget I have the best zabocas or what? But they will come. I know they will come because I have they money.’ He was bothered but did not demonstrate it openly. The zabocas were there safe and sound and that was all that mattered.
      Sylvia grinned. ‘Hammy, I going to have tea and cake. I could get some for you?’
    ‘No. No. I fine. Maybe tomorrow.’
      While she was having her tea, he interrupted her. ‘Sylvia, I thought my zabocas was in big demand but it look like nobody ent coming for them, eh? I spend so much money in testing soil and buying fertilizer to see ‘bout them. Gosh, like I go lose all that or what? If I lose, I going to lose big and if that happen, so help me God me and this zaboca business done I tell you.’ She listened and said nothing. ‘Believe me, Sylvia, I done with this zaboca business.’
        ‘Yes. I done. I finish.’
       ‘Trust in God, Hammy. He know what is best for you.’ To herself she said, while 
looking at him with a gentle smile on her face, That is a clue for me, man. You must lose 
all and that go bring you right back to me. That is what I want. You have to lose big. Big, Hammy. Big like the sky.
      ‘That is also a good saying,’ he said. ‘Sometimes when something happen to you, it really happen for the best, yes.’
      ‘Yes, Hammy, even if you have to give up this zaboca business, it is the will of the Lord. The Lord does really move in mysterious ways, Hammy. He does just do it and don’t explain.’ 
          ‘It go be hard but I go have to accept it.’
      Late one dark night, he heard the dogs barking. He peeped through the glass-paned window of his bedroom. He saw only outlines and concluded that no one could pick zabocas in the dark. Satisfied now, he returned to his warm bed. 
      The next morning, he looked at his trees while sipping a cup of hot, steaming black coffee in the gallery. He smiled. The zabocas were all gently moving to and fro in the soft breeze. He smiled again, knowing only too well that he was succeeding in his efforts. 
        At about ten o’ clock under the trees, while he was routinely examining the backyard, he found some green leaves strewn on the ground. And then there appeared in one corner between two trees, two green zabocas. He would have dismissed them as wind-pecked but later curiosity compelled him to examine them. Not a scratch. Seconds later, with his pair of glasses stuck to his nose, he peered at the prized tree first. And there were the zabocas still swinging on their stems. He took off his glasses, wiped the lens with his shirt tail and dismissed all negative thoughts from his mind.
      Standing away from the trees now, he looked at them again. It was the most disturbing, unexpected sight that greeted him. So much was he shocked by the sudden disappearance that he ran frantically from tree to tree to confirm what he saw. With each footstep, he screamed, ‘Oh God, Sylvia. It gone. They gone, Sylvia. They gone. This can’t be the will of the Lord! No, Sylvia. No.’
        Sylvia heard his screams and joined him where he was sitting flat on the ground, and not by choice, on hundreds of ants huddled around a dead cockroach. The sight which greeted him was shattering. About three quarters of the zabocas were gone! Only their stems showed any evidence of their presence.
        Sylvia placed her right hand lovingly across his shoulders. ‘Let’s call the 
police.’ He helplessly nodded. The police came hours later, examined the trees and 
surroundings, asked a few questions and left.
      Two days later, he was sitting on his steps examining a few bumps on his skin when another two policemen came with news.
      ‘Sorry, sir, your zabocas were the best Port of Spain market ever saw. We were told that two young boys came with three bags of full zabocas. They were selling them 
cheap cheap. Every customer bought three or four. They were really good, sir. You have 
a good hand. You must plant more but protect them better.’ 
      The fat policeman waited for Hammond to respond but it was Sylvia, who said 
anything. ‘That is all all you could say?’
      ‘Nothing more, m’am,’ he said, ‘but we’ll keep our eyes open for the culprits.’
      Outside in the yard now, Hammond said, ‘You think the fella go come back for the rest. I mean I could even sell the rest on the tree to make back the money I spend ‘cause in these parts, thieves don’t strike more than once but you never know.’
      ‘You right. Hammy,’ Sylvia said. ‘Thieves do strike once but seldom more than once. So you safe but you never know. You never know.’
      One of the policemen said, ‘What you mean by that, ma’m? I don’t understand what you saying.’
      ‘Don’t worry. Is just a riddle.’

      Days later, Hammond did a most curious thing. He bought himself a slingshot. 
      ‘I will strike them dead else my name is not Hammond Striker,’ he said aloud to Sylvia. ‘I will strike like lightning.’
      Late that evening, he went to the gravel heap at the front of his house and picked up a bucketful of pebbles. ‘I going to sit here, Sylvia. All night. And I going to shoot the tree one by one. And with the dog barking, it going to sure scare the bitches away.’
    ‘Don’t waste time, Hammy,’ she said. ‘The last quarter of your zabocas safe and sound.’
      During all of the first night, the leaves rustled periodically and with the crashing of the pebbles from the sling-shots, the dogs sprang to life and their barks penetrated the night air. Soon the dogs grew accustomed to the swishing sounds, ceased their barking and slept soundly. Occasionally on hearing pebble-shots, they lifted their heads, more like a turn of the nose, and that was all.
      Relaxed now, Hammond himself slept away.
        More than two hours later, loud tumbling sounds startled him. He seized his slingshot and shot aimlessly at the trees.
    And then, ‘Oh God. Oh God.’ The loud, agonizing cries came from someone under the trees.
    Hammond’s anger gave him strength. Armed with his sling-shot and pebbles, he and Sylvia cautiously walked under the trees where they discovered a young man had just 
reaped the rest of Hammond’s prized zabocas. 
      ‘Ent it strange, Sylvia? Eh? Look at him. Look at him.’ Hammond was most curious to find out more about the young man, who sat helplessly on the ground, clutching his right 
instep and wincing in pain. 
      ‘These young people I tell you,’ Sylvia said. ‘All they doing nowadays is thieving.’ 
Deep inside Sylvia was disturbed. She wondered why the experienced didn’t come. Soon she pushed the thought out of her mind. Her object was achieved and that was important.

      Johnny, the young man, begged to be spared. ‘Mister, I just come to take some. But I still have a mind and left some on the tree. I pick the one on the outside and left the one in the inside for you. And I go tell you a secret about my partner. He say he go pick the one on the inside next week. So all you could pick the rest for all you self. And do it fast, too.’
    ‘What?’ Hammond said. ‘What you saying? All you crack or what? You partner coming next week.’
    ‘Well. That is what he tell me. Is the truth I talking.’
      ‘Really? He coming to thief the rest?’
      ‘Yes, mister. To thief the rest of the zabocas.’
    ‘You can’t be serious.’
    ‘I ent go lie for you. At least I honest.’
    ‘Man, don’t get me vex na before I call the police.’
    ‘Don’t worry,’ Sylvia said. ‘I call them already.’
      Hammond heard her but quickly returned his attention to the young man. ‘Wait na. What you have inside there.’
      This brought another story to light. Johnny had filled a bag with zabocas. But there were so many left, that he didn’t think he should leave all of them. There was no more space in the bag. So he stacked the smaller ones in the pockets of his baggy pants. When they could accommodate no more, he tightened his belt around his jersey and with his jersey held firmly in place, he opened its top button, and there stacked many more zabocas. And these large zabocas ballooned his upper wear.
        It was this greed, adding weight, that tumbled him down. 
      Now hurt on the ground with the crushed zabocas all around him, he was begging the  newly-arrived policemen for mercy.
    ‘Mister, I sure you have children big like me. And I sure they does make mistake.’
      ‘What mistake,’ the fat policeman, who had joined them asked. ‘You plan to thief a old man who retire and now planning to help himself and you telling me about mistake, eh? All you have no respect for old people. Is time some people learn a lesson. Is time all you learn once and for all. And you better had and tell me ‘bout the others.’
      ‘Yes, sir. I is a honest person. A very honest person. I still leave back two three on the tree for him.’
      ‘And you would come back for them tonight self?’
      ‘No, sir. If me partner didn’t pick them tonight, I would take them tomorrow night. Not tonight for sure.’ He paused for a second. ‘And I honest, sir. I tell the old man my other partner go come next week so he could brakes for that. In the meantime, he have a good chance to pick he own zabocas and sell them. That is what life is about, sir. If you don’t take your chance, you lose it.’
      The policemen laughed aloud. They couldn’t believe they were speaking to a sane man.
    One said to the young man, ‘Well, you go tell the magistrate that, too.’
      ‘So I go have to make a jail then, sir?’
      ‘No,’ the policeman said. ‘One make already.’

      One week later, one buyer called on Hammond for his zabocas. With tears in his angry eyes, Hammond explained his most disappointing story.
      ‘Don’t worry, old man. You could always give we next year crop with the money you have for we. Or if not, the following year. Your zabocas really good I hear. And then I hear you does sell them cheap if I myself pick them.’
      Hammond looked at him and responded almost immediately. ‘That is nice of you. Thank you.’ 
      ‘Anyway, next year too far,’ the buyer said. ‘I will come to collect the advance I give you next month. On the first day.’
           ‘Next month?’
    ‘That is alright. I could wait a few days. By then you could go to the bank and collect your pension and put things together.’ 
            ‘Thank you. It will give me some time to make it up. Thank you.’
      When Hammond was telling Sylvia about the conversation he had had with 
the buyer, another story of another success crept in. ‘You know…. Wait na. What I 
hear?’ He looked at the story again. ‘How come this fella know is my zabocas 
and how come he know they cheap?’ He smiled. ‘I now figure it out. Lord, you never 
know who you dealing with these days. And he so honest. I mean he face look like 
honesty itself. Just like the little boy. Must be father and son.’
      Sylvia said, ‘You don’t think is time you take a time off and have some tea with me?  You don’t think so? All the money you spend in fertilizers and thing just gone down the drain. Eh?’
      ‘Yes, Sylvia. You right. I loss nearly every damn cent.’ He scratched his head. ‘And you know what, Sylvia? You know what is the hardest thing to hear? Eh? I ask the policeman for the zabocas the young man pick so I could sell them and make back me money. And you know what he say? He say them is evidence. But, Sylvia, I not that stupid. You think I stupid, Sylvia.’
      ‘No, Hammy. Not in my eyes.’
      He said, ‘That case going to try next month the policeman say. By that time, the 
zabocas dry dry and rotten. So what he going to tell the magistrate? Eh? The man and them thief dry dry zobacas? Look the seed and them. The magistrate go laugh at the policeman and throw out the case.’ He licked his lips. ‘Like I loss again. I can’t even get the few they know is mine.’
      ‘Is the will of the Lord, Hammy. Just accept it as a bad job.’
      ‘Not a bad job, Sylvia. Is a crooked job I have to be really crooked to lose 
everything like that.’
      ‘It have to be the will of the Lord. The Lord know you work hard in your young days so he want you rest in your old days.’
      ‘You know I didn’t see it so.  But is really the will of the Lord.’ He looked at her in her eyes. ‘What about a few slices of cake? You have?’ 
      ‘Yes, Hammy. Tea and cake always go hand in hand. So come. Hold me hand while I prepare the table for me and me old man. And then we going to bake and eat cake as we never see before. That is the will of the Lord.’
      ‘Yes, Sylvia.’
      Then something struck Hammond. ‘You know, Sylvia. Oh gosh, something else happen.’ She looked at him curiously, wondering if her plans had fallen.  
‘You know the man pay me advance for the zabocas and I ent have no zabocas to give him. And he say he coming back next month for the advance.  You know what that mean, Sylvia? You know what that mean? It mean I go have to give him back the advance and Sylvia I already spend it out. All of it. I loss, Sylvia. I loss twice. And the rest of me money in fix deposit and I can’t break the account.’
      Oh shucks, she said to herself, another story swiftly moving through her mind. Oh shucks. I really didn’t bargain for this one. Now it mean I go have to give him my money to pay back. Oh shucks, man. Oh shucks. This one must really be the will of the Lord. To    Hammond she said, ‘Oh gosh, Hammy, we in the same boat.’
    ‘Same boat, eh? Hammond shook his head from side to side, not fully understanding.
            ‘We have to be in the same boat ‘cause we is husband and wife. Husband and wife have to be in the same boat. That is why they married. Is really the will of the Lord, Hammy. The Lord move in mysterious ways to get people back to they senses. Ha, Hammond. Ha, Hammond.’
    ‘Ha, Sylvia. The Lord like he really move in mysterious ways.’
   ‘Yes, Hammy. Sometimes it hard to follow the paths the Lord lay out for you. It mysterious, Hammy. Too mysterious.’
     ‘Yes. I could imagine. Very mysterious.’

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