Short Story: Cass-Cass Cassandra — Part 1

Writer’s note: This is written in a form of broken English to mimic Jamaican dialect. It is not the authentic and beautiful patois that our people speak. If I wrote in patois, I think it would be difficult for you to understand, but I try to give an idea of the thoughts of our protagonist, Tony.

— Part I —

“I’m not amused anymore,” she say, and hiss her teeth.

Neither am I. But I can’t say that. Because saying that to Cassie would constitute grounds for a 10-year war. She has the unique gift of making you pay for one wrong move long after you’ve forgotten what the bloody mistake was.

Cassie. My girl Cass. Cass-Cass Cassandra.

A fitting name. Always kicking up a ruckus and a rumpus. My wifey. Sigh.

Perish the thought that I should ever tell her I’m not amused by her constant griping anymore. She would call me insensitive. She would say ah cold. She would be hurt. Those big, brown eyes of hers would glaze over with pain. Her lips would be drawn taut. She would say in her most injured tone: “That’s not nice.”

And I would want to tell her what’s not nice.

A royal inquisition every time I come home a little late from work — that’s not nice.

Being so jealous every time I mention a female coworker, or invite a female friend anywhere, or drop a female friend home before coming to mine — that’s not nice.

Running up the phone bill every month chattering with various levels of gossip-mongering friends and then expecting me to cover that exorbitant bill when I spend most of my days out of the house or at work, and don’t use the house phone at all? That’s not nice.

Not cooking me dinner sometimes when I come in tired and hungry from a hard day’s work, and then saying little things like, ‘oh, babe, I just don’t feel like cooking today … take me somewhere … ah feel for something nice.” That’s not nice!

And she eat so bloody much! Whenever Cassie goes out anywhere to eat, it take the cow, the fatted calf and the bull to feed her. As she look on the menu, her appetite expand. And one plate of food can’t satisfy her — she have to eat out of mine, too. And she never order what she want. No, she order something new … “let’s be adventurous, babe”, and then when she don’t like what her adventure give her, is my food she want to finish. Or she want to waste the food I just spend good-good money buying for her.

Ay sah! Cassie. Sometimes I want just tell her to pack and leave. I would give her what-for. But I wouldn’t. Because you never win an argument with Cass-Cass Cassandra. As simple as she appears, she will decimate you verbally in minutes.

And this network of women who just take on them friend’s problems … . Last time I argue with Cassie, every woman on the lane vex with me! I swear, even my five-year-old niece was giving me disapproving looks. Sigh. Nope. Not worth it. Better to count my blessings and just carry on. Stay strong; man up; and carry on.

Plus — and this a big plus — Auntie Bertie likes Cassie.

Is the first girl I date that Auntie Bertie don’t have a problem with. I don’t even understand, cause, to tell you the truth, Cassie is not a heart-and-soul girlfriend. My own mother don’t like her at all. She always asking me why I can’t go back to Cheryl. Cheryl was a heart-and-soul girlfriend. I loved her till I weak. That woman was soft and sweet and caring and loving. Her heart was big, and she had nothing but encouragement and support to offer. She knew how to make a man feel like a man.

But ah tired to explain to mummy that when your girl move in with one of your friends, and they move away, get married, and having children together … and none of them talking to you anymore, it’s crystal clear that that door well and truly closed. They have moved on, and if I have any sense, so will I.

I sigh at the memory. Cheryl was a pretty girl with a big heart — a heart so big she claimed to fall in love with two guys at once, and when we tell her she have to choose, guess who lose? So I end up alone for five years. Then Cassandra. And is not that I in love with her. Is that a man can’t live without a woman for too long. We need them. So I just counting my blessings and carrying on … As my father used to say: Stay strong, man up; and carry on.

— Part II —

The phone rings. A deep wrinkly voice croaks: “Are you dressed? You have on clothes?”

I laugh. “Yes Auntie Bertie.”

I sometimes get the feeling that Auntie Bertie thinks I walk around my house stark naked when I don’t have guests. Every time she call me, she ask some version of the same question: “You have on clothes? You dressed? You decent?” Like I walking around my house naked and indecent.

One day, I should say no and see what she say. But who am I kidding? I wouldn’t dare disturb Auntie Bertie them ways. She wear the pants in this family. Even before Uncle Mackie died, everybody knew that Auntie Bertie was the real power behind the scene. If she say no, Uncle Mackie say no. If she say yes, Uncle Mackie say yes. If Uncle Mackie say yes and Auntie Bertie say no, Uncle Mackie going change his mind to no … . Everybody know is she run things. And to cross Auntie Bertie is to cross the Red Sea without Moses or Moses’ rod: no way back, no redemption, and you will probably drown. Auntie Bertie have powers. She could make even God vex with you.

So she get the same answer every time.

“Anthony, you decent? You wearing clothes?”

“Yes Auntie Bertie.”

From childhood till now, is probably the only answer I sure I get right every time. All Auntie Bertie want to hear when she ask you anything is that: “yes Auntie Bertie.”

“You rake up the yard, young boy?”

“Yes Auntie Bertie.”

“You like your new school?”

“Yes Auntie Bertie.”

“You want some more rice and peas?”

“Yes Auntie Bertie.”

“Tony?”

“Yes Auntie Bertie?”

“You sleeping?”

“Yes Auntie Bertie.”

Anything else, and dog nyam yuh supper.

… To be continued

Author’s note: I welcome feedback. So let me hear what you have to say.

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ruthibelle

you live. you learn. you grow.

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