copyright K. Omodele
Monday morning, a cloud-draped second of May and the whole of New York City buzzing. All on the way from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan, the subway car was a slow-rippling sea of Osama photos and Bin Laden headlines like: “Got Him! Vengeance at Last,” “US Nails the Bastard,” “Rot In Hell!” and people busy glancing around suspiciously each time the train stops and the doors open. By the time Trevor and Rudeboy march in the Malone Construction site, they feel like something, somewhere is ‘bout to pop off. They secure their lunch in a tool-storage chest as a couple of plumbers saunter pass, mumbling.
A lead plumber, Mike LaTronica, pumps his fist in the air.
“Got the son of a bitch!” LaTronica says. And as he’s sliding by, he nods up at lanky-limbed Rudie, who just handkerchiefs up his cane-rows, lifts his brow and blank stares down at the George Carlin-looking Italian.
Trevor chuckles shaking his head and dips into a supply container.
Bajan strolls in, Dickie’s starched up like if this a office work and not a bonafide, true-life construction site. “Wunna* see Obama last night? Is ‘bout time sumpm go right for the man.”
Dreadie and Spence come in almost on his heel back. Spence hands Dreadie a copy of the New York Daily News then trods over to the chest.
“Wha’ kinda cow manure drop outta Bajie mouth now?” Spence asks, stroking his scraggily, cotton-beaded beard.
The rest of them nearly drop dead with laugh.
“See deh, Bajie?” Rudeboy asks, pointing at Spence. “One month ‘pon the work and this man done know you good, good.”
Bajie wags his finger between Spence and Rudie. “I done already expect two Jamaicans to gang up one Bajan.”
Trevor exits the container slipping a dust-mask band over his mini-‘fro. Pulls the mask down unto his neck, and interjects. “Schups! Nonsense! It got nothing to do with JA. Ey Boi Bajie, all in Georgetown you’d be a skunt there too.”
Bajie skins his buck teeth. “HOWEVER, wunna can’t say I wrong. Obama need a good break. And killing Bin Laden? Just watch! The man approval ratings gon soar through the roof - all the republicans patting him on the back now.”
Spence looks around at the whole crew. “Then wait! Oonu* really think Osama bin Laden mastermind this whole bangarang**? Alone? With couple man and one bag a box-cutter?”
Bajie answers. “I telling you. I was right here in the City when them planes brought down them towers. Man, that was real. I was really hauling my ass up Broadway trying to get way from all that blasted-no pun-debris.”
“So, Spence wha’ you seh? You subscribe to the conspiracy theory thing?” Rudeboy asks.
Dreadie leans against a post. Unfolds the Daily News and dives into the front page.
Spence addresses Rudeboy directly. “I don’t know but some ah this sound like bare propaganda to me. None a oonu never stop and wonder how come this terrorist mastermind-who duck out di C.I.A, duck out di F.B.I., di National Security Council and every other US security agency; plus, Scotland Yard and MI6, NATO, Israel with them Mossad, not to mention the Pentagon and US Military with all them branches and Joint Chiefs of Staff-” each name is emphasized with a finger like a deliberate flicking of a ratchet knife, “and who did get training from di C.I.A in the first place and who done squeeze pass National Security one time already with a bumbling crew and them box-cutters, how this real-life, big, bad Al-Qaeda don couldn’t manage fi pull off just one more thing in nearly ten years? So how come American security fail so bad one time and then, all of a sudden, BRAP! it get perfect again, just so? Fool some people sometime. Cyaan fool everybody, everytime- Bob Marley tell yuh dat.”
Bajan asking. “So, it sound like you saying that no one name Osama bin Laden didn’t exist none at all. So what now? They invent that man?”
Trevor add in. “Well Bajie; Dread. I don’t know. I do know they in’t show we no body, ‘bout how they bury him at sea so we may never see one. Just like them aliens in area 51 or whatever. How we even know he exist or they kill him? Or they could be giving him some water treatment right now. Or some jump starting his scrotum with a car battery.”
Rude boy ponders for a moment. “One thing I do notice, though, is the White House and C.I.A. say how is the information they draw out from all them detainees in secret C.I.A. camps that lead dem to bin Laden. To me is like they using this ends to justify the camps and water-boarding and torture.”
Trevor deh ‘pon*** a roll now. “And a next thing too, the U.S. claim of killing bin Laden, in a sovereign nation the U.S. is not at war with, is a crime under international law.”
LaTronica is suddenly there outta nowhere– and just like Columbus- jumping in people thing without an invitation:
“So what? Like Malcolm X said, ‘By any means necessary.’ This asshole blew down the towers. My cousin died that day and we never even had a body to bury. Fuck that terrorist!” Face redding up.
Dreadie folds the paper tight and straight with military precision. “That’s what they called Mandela at one point, a terrorist,” he notes, tucking the paper in his back pack. “Until so-called world opinion change and he went from terrorist to freedom fighter to hero and president.”
LaTronica twists and stretches his neck. “That’s different. Mandela was fighting injustice against his people.”
“Mmmmm.” Dreadie utters, tight lipped. “I guess one man freedom fighter is the next man terrorist. Since you jumping in OUR conversation-,” Dreadie asks, “notice how all the rejoicing in the US streets starting to look exactly like streets in the mid-east back then?”
“You sound anti-American there, Dread. What’re you guys, unpatriotic? You gotta beef with Americans or something?” Mike says, squaring up his husky, roly-poly frame. “So why’d you’se even come here then?”
“Same reason your people came here,” Dread replies. Face straighter than Bajie pants seam.
Rudie eases in beside dread, and together they twin-towering LaTronica. Rudie says:
“But when we sign our papers or when we tek that oath we nuh give up we right to think fi weself. Dread, they tell you anything ‘bout dat?”
The others gather ‘round, even Bajan.
Dread glowers. “HMMMMPH! LaTronica, nobody here really care wha’ you want chat ‘bout. We reasoning amongst bredren. ”
Mike LaTronica doesn’ budge and some of his crew hustle over.
Next thing you know, you have a two sets a people lined off facing each other, talking loud and reckless with jaws clenched tighter than decisions about whether or not to release Osama’s death photos.
The brisk morning is laden down with a mix of tension and testosterone.
*you plural. As in “you all.”
**uproar, disorder, or disturbance
***(deh ‘pon) literally “there upon”; meaning: is on
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Martin Luther King Jr