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Wrestling Iguanas

first_imgBy Althea Romeo-MarkFrancis Vessup, back from shopping in town, trudged uphill to his pink, concrete house. Reaching his front porch, he yanked the stiff iron-gate open and plopped himself onto a garden chair to catch his breath. He surveyed the island’s dry, hilly landscape. Trees were still leaning after the lashing winds of last year’s hurricane. Shriveled vines wound round drooping hibiscus and yellow bells. He rose after a few minutes and had barely unlocked the front door when he heard a scratching and thudding sound coming from the bathroom.“What the hell?” he gasped. Francis tip-toed to the kitchen and grabbed his sharpest cutlass. Francis raised it in readiness and wrenched open the bathroom door. A brown iguana was attempting to scale the enamel tub. It flipped its long, scruffy tail and thrust its rubbery head back and forth at him. Francis rested his cutlass against the bathroom wall, then gripped the iguana’s tail and head. It writhed about as he made his way to the porch and threw it into the parched garden. After that, he warmed goat soup for lunch, ate it and dozed off on a recliner on his veranda.Half an hour later, he wiped spittle from his dry mouth and rose to inspect his garden. He froze. The small fences he had constructed around seedlings lay on the ground, the young plants were stripped of leaves.“No! no! no!” screamed Francis. “Is them damned overgrown lizards. Is hard enough to get things to grow in this drought.” He pulled on his work shoes and covered his grey hair with a tattered straw hat. Armed with two large buckets, he tramped out of the house and down the short, rocky slope to his garden. As he trod, filled his buckets with stones, an iguana emerged from nearby brambles. Francis dropped the buckets, seized the iguana’s tail, swung it round and round, then struck it against a boulder where it twitched and fell still.“Serve it right,” he grumbled. Francis stamped his feet, shushed, yelled at and stoned other iguanas as they arrived in search of food. The remaining iguanas fled. Francis grasped the lifeless reptile and tossed it into the bush. “All that work for nothing.” He groaned and sucked his teeth as he straightened the fences, inspected chewed leaves, and gathered more stones.  Francis trudged back up the slope to the house, full buckets in his hands.He piled his missiles on one of many concrete posts, which framed the veranda,  ready to pelt iguanas on sound and sight.A gigantic iguana appeared late the following afternoon while Francis was pulling weeds. He had seen none larger. Others soon joined it. “God damn it,” he yelled, “so many breeding in the bush?  Is a battalion, man! Dem spirits turn iguana?” He shouted and stomped and made the sign of the cross. Some reptiles retreated, but the giant iguana thrashed its tail about and rushed at him. Francis jumped back. “Well is you and me, devil!” He clasped its head, but the strong iguana wrestled itself out of his hand and dashed between his legs. Francis losing his balance, fell and struck his head on the craggy ground.“Help, help,” Francis moaned when he came to sometime later. A water truck and a smoke truck, fumigating mosquitoes, rumbled uphill, drowning out his voice. Francis coughed and wheezed. Pain peppered his eyes and he closed them tight to ease the burning sensation.Crunching sounds in the garden woke him. The sun had crept up into the sky, pointing its rays at Francis’ eyes and he shaded his face with his arms. Iguanas rustled about in search of food. A young one, hind legs tangled in a vine, fought to free itself. Another crawled along Francis’ arm and tugged at his shirt, but finding it tasteless, turned away. Raising himself up on his elbows, Francis saw that more plants had been stripped.  Rage propelled him to his feet. The small plot of seedlings had vanished completely. Iguanas glared at him with a “So what you going do look?” on their faces. A staring match ensued. Francis backed away and hobbled up the slope to his house.Once inside, tears, which he had held at bay, streamed in full force. He seized the telephone and dialed.“Hello, Antillean Zoo.  This is Francis Vessup.  I understand you buy iguanas. …You have enough? …..Well, I going poison everyone in me yard. …What? I can’t do that? It’s against the law? …..Why? ….. Protected species?…..Well, you better come and protect them from me, ‘cause by tomorrow morning they going to be dead as door nails.…….What? My number and address? ….. “Mariendalh Estate 95B, phone number–775-5698.” Francis slammed the receiver down.Next morning, a vehicle thundered up the hill and turned into Francis Vessup’s yard. He peeped through louvers at four men carrying large cages.  They mounted the steps and rapped at his door.“Morning, Mr. Vessup,” the head man said, “we come to collect the iguanas.”“Go down the slope in the back. That’s where they killing me plants. Be careful! It’s rocky.” He watched the men from the veranda as they combed the thicket and netted twenty iguanas.After they left, Francis tottered down to his garden. Only a few pigeon pea trees had survived the rapacious iguana attacks.      “When the next rain comes, I going plant again,” said Francis, turning to leave. He paused, thinking he had heard rustling in the bush. “Me mind playing tricks on me,” he mumbled and looked back in search of movement. Then he saw them–three tiny, green iguanas, sticking their heads out of the thicket.© Althea Romeo-Mark© 1998 Althea Mark-Romeo, 4.06.10, 04.08.18,14.08.18, 08.09.18.       Word Count 952Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Member of the week: Jennifer Bruni, writer

first_imgOur member of the week is Jennifer Bruni. Jennifer is a writer, and though you’ve probably read her work, you haven’t seen her byline: she helps create and edit written content for businesses, both online and in print. Jennifer has worked for major corporations such as Citigroup and Fidelity Investments, who come to her when they want to push a new product, disperse information in a brochure, or simply draw people to their services. You can see some of their feedback on Jennifer’s work on her website, and see more of her clients on her profile. Also check out our short interview with Jennifer to learn more about her life as a freelancer.1. What has been your most interesting project?That’s a tough one. I loved working with the Tannery on their website content, owners of two very popular stores here in Cambridge & Boston, because I love fashion. I had to come up with 5 fashion prototypes and describe them in just 7 words each – kind of a fashion haiku, if you will – along with a quiz for the Personal Stylist section of their website. So visitors to the site would sign up, answer a series of questions and then the senior buyer would hand-pick an outfit for just for them…something that’s never been done before. The Tannery & their vendors were very excited about it. I also love to do feature writing, which is both highly creative and allows me to meet some really interesting and inspiring people who I would never meet otherwise. But that doesn’t pay the bills, so I can only dabble in that right now.**2. Why did you decide to go freelance? **Well, I have to be honest with you – I decided to take the plunge into freelancing because I really despised both my boss and my job, which was working for an undisclosed major banking outfit in NYC (I’m sure you can figure it out!). Sept. 11 had just happened, and two months after that I gave birth to my son, so those events also acted as a catalyst to get my butt out of Corporate America for good. Out of all that trauma and grief and also intense joy, all those clichés hit home for me: life is short and that I needed to do what I loved and enjoyed for a living in order to be really happy and successful as well – and also to live in integrity and thus be a good example to my son.3. What tip would you give to a new freelancer or someone who is considering going freelance?Stash that cash! SAVE save save your money – I would say the ideal is to have a year’s salary under the proverbial mattress — because you don’t know how long it will take to a) get momentum going with your business and b) cover your ass during those slow periods. Cash flow is probably my biggest drama as a freelancer. And since I am also a single mother, I don’t have the luxury of leaning on a significant other to cover the lean times, which are inevitable.4. What is your favorite spot in the city in which you live?I would have to say the beach – I am scheming to eventually move back into a more urban area, but after 16 yrs in NYC, right now I live in the house where I grew up – how crazy is that – which is in a little town in between Boston and Cape Cod. It’s really beautiful here but it’s also too conservative and kind of lacking in energy and hustle which I tend to crave as a writer.5. What is your inspiration?My son. Everything I do is for him. Walking around where I live and being in nature – on the beach and in the woods; there is a lot of conservation land where I live, which is a blessing. Many of my friends have told me I am inspiring to them, which is kind of crazy to hear but nice just the same. Without getting all Oprah-ish on you, I finally feel that after 5 years as a freelancer, I can say that I am living my dream, following my heart and being true to myself. So no matter what happens, I really can’t ask for much more than that.last_img read more