Ahhhh, looks like the Akans are on their way to get the Spear of Salt. Do you think the Ligaroo king will let them get it, or do you think he will be sending his most gruesome Jumbies to stop them. I can tell you now, but then again what fun will that be. You must go on the journey with them, you must tune in on Sunday for the 42nd installment of Obeah. Do it because Papa Jumbie say so. Now lay down, sweet dream my little Jumbies.
Man made firefly in the trees
Yellow in shadows of nature
Flicking a Bic when the sky turns gray
Orange rose on black table cloth
Sun without sunburn
Beacon in the garden at dusk
The outside nightlight
It was early evening when they stood looking down on the Valley of the Weeping Willow Trees. Henry heard the sound of running water somewhere in the trees. That sound always made him calm; it reminded him of the fountain in the courtyard of their house in the Old Country. His mother loved that fountain and sat next to it for hours at a time. They stood for a few seconds and pondered on whether to enter the darkness. Without the usual signs, it began to rain. The raindrops were so big they hurt a little when they bounced off of him. Within seconds they were soaked, making their gear heavy on their shoulders. Mist rose above the willow trees and hovered. Grey clouds floated overhead and lightening flashed across the sky. Henry used his hand to brush water from his face. It was hard to breathe, as the rain ran down his forehead and sucked into his nose when he inhaled. He looked at the others as if he wanted to know what they intended to do. Before he could say anything Donkor spoke,
“O K lets go,” He said and started walking down the grassy decline. The group followed him, the Bokors more reluctant then Akosua and her warriors. They stopped just before they entered the forbidding darkness. Akosua looked around, as if summing up the courage to go in. Then with marked determination she started walking.
The early evening light immediately disappeared when they walked into the cover of the trees. Henry stood for a second waiting for his eyes to adjust to the sudden change of light. Wings flapped, crickets chirped and an owl hooted. When he got used to the lack of light, he realized there was just enough light seeping through the branches for him to see. Raindrops fell off the branches making it seem like the trees were crying. Donkor walked ahead, but stopped, then turned to the others.
“See that rock over there,” he said as he pointed to the right. The group turned to the direction his hand pointed. There was a bolder about four feet tall that sat just outside the sagging branch of one of the trees. It stood taller than Henry, and curved at the top creating a natural roof.
“I ran for that spot because that was the best sport to bed down for the night.” He said, and Kwao started walking towards the rock. Donkor put his arm out stopping him,
“Oh no you don’t sonny, Akosua gets that spot,” he said and motioned for Akosua to walk past him. She brushed past Kwao smiling.
“Your Mother slept right here,” he said looking down at the dry spot under the roof of the rock. “Now it’s your spot.”
“Thank you,” she said, Kwao looked at her and shook his head, and there was a small smile of admiration on his face. She walked over to the rock and sat her wet knapsack on the ground. She sat down, removed her machete from its belt, and rested it against the rock. She looked at the others, they stood looking at her.
“Well make yourselves comfortable, the trees will make good cover from the rain” she said as she unfolded her mat and spread it out on the ground. The others went around in search of the best spots to settle into. Kwao mumbled his disapproval, and found a spot not too far from where the Bokors had settled down. Adofo and Donkor sat next to the rock and were having a conversation with Akosua. Henry found a spot under a tree where the branches did not hang all the way to the ground. He figured this would give him some protection if the rain persisted. A boy and a girl sat next to him. They were younger, and seemed to have taken a liking to him.
“Mind if we shared this spot?” The girl said, she was about thirteen years old, and the weapons and gear she carried seemed much bigger than she was. Her dreadlocks stopped just below her ears, and moved from side to side when she spoke. The boy smiled and reached out his hand, Henry remembered him from the day he first practiced throwing his spear, he was one of the kids who laughed the hardest. Henry shook his hand; the boy was so skinny Henry felt the bones in his fingers.
“This is exciting,” the boy said, his eyes bright with excitement. Henry smiled and nodded. The Bokor he had saved form the Assassin Vines came over and dropped his gear in front of them.
“Nice spot, room for more?” He asked a big smile on his face.
“Sure the more the merrier,” Henry said, the Bokor plopped down in front of them. The other Bokors looked over at them as if disapproving of their companion’s friendliness.
“The more the safer you mean,” he said and giggled, the rain had washed away most of the mud from his face. The group of kids laughed, and Kwao looked over at them then stood up and shouted,
“Hey some of us want peace and quiet!” Henry and his companions laughed, and that sent Kwao into a rage.
“You think I am a clown Kindoki?’ He screamed, and started walking towards them.
“The only Kindoki here is you,” Henry responded, Kwao stopped, as if Henry’s words were like a wall he had bumped into,
“You will get the worst trashing of your life!” He screamed and started walking again. Donkor stood up,
“Hey no arguing here be quiet,” he said Kwao stopped and turned to Donkor
“Watch who you talking to Bokor!” he shouted, but turned and walked back to his tree. Henry and his companion looked at Kwao until they were sure he had calmed down. The angry warrior sat glaring at them while he sharpened his machete.
“What’s eating him?’ The Bokor asked. Henry lay back using his right elbow to prop himself up,
“He is always mad when Adofo and Akosua are together. Actually he is always mad about something.” Henry said, the boy and the girl giggled and looked at Kwao, he growled at them, then spat on the edge of his machete and kept on sharpening it.
Donkor called over to one of the Bokors they spoke and the man went off in search of firewood. He came back in a few seconds empty handed, the torrential downpour had soaked the jungle, and there were no dry branches to be found. They tried to light the torches, but even they were too wet to light. They eat fruit and began to settle in for the night.
The rain had stopped, but water still dripped onto the ground. Wind whistled through the willow trees, causing a chill to run through Henry. He lay and listened to the drops of water hit the ground around him. A lone firefly flew into the tree above him. In the jungle, beyond the willow trees, monkeys barked, maybe it was a mating call, or it could be they were wet and cold. Wild dogs howled a haunting chorus that made Henry’s heart race. Frogs croaked in the stream not too far from where Henry and his companions lay. It was dark, so dark Henry could not see his hand when he held it up in front of him. He laid, his eyes opened wide as he tried to hear if there were any movements. He began to fall asleep, but woke himself up, afraid that something or someone would sneak up on him. But he was tired, and could not stop his body from shutting down, and he fell asleep to Akosua and Adofo’s whispering.
They walked until the trees and the bushes was so thick it blocked out the fading sunlight. Suddenly they heard screaming in the distance but could not tell where it came from. They stopped and listened, the screaming came from ahead of them and they ran towards the sound. Branches snapped, and bugs flew into the air as they ran. Sweat poured down Henry’s face, and his shirt stuck to his back. They came to a place where vines ran up the trunks of trees until they disappeared into the leaves. Henry surveyed the trees and saw that the vines covered all the trees causing their trunks to look like they were wrapped with green rope.
“That is the biggest vines I have ever seen,” Adofo said. The vines moved, but Henry dismissed it as his imagination. There was a scream again. They ran to one of the trees and saw one of the Bokors was entangled in the seven inch thick vines that moved like a pit of snakes as it constricted around him. The Bokor eyes looked like it was about to pop out of his head, his mouth was opened as he gasped for breath. Kwao pulled out his machete and began chopping at the vine. Adofo and Donkor joined him and swung their machetes, grunting as they did. Henry turned around and saw the other Bokor ensnared in the vine on another tree. The man was not moving, his tongue hung out of his mouth,
“Over there!” he shouted and ran over, pulling out his machete.
He arrived at the tree, stumbled and almost fell, but righted himself and looked at the man. His eyes were red from busted veins and his lips had turned blue. Henry began to chop at the vines, his machete stuck in the thick flesh of it and it took all his strength to pull it out. Smaller vines on the stem of the tree wrapped themselves around his ankle and tightened. He did not realize what was happening until he felt them constrict. He ignored them, and kept chopping. A rope of vine reached out and wrapped around his leg, he swung his machete and the vine fell to the ground. A couple of the warriors ran over and began helping him, yellow slime spouted from the middle of the deadly vegetation, as they chopped at it.
The Bokor fell to the ground and was motionless for a second, but then he inhaled sucking in as much air as he could. Henry cut the small vines from around his ankle and went to help the others with the Bokor. They carried both men away from the vines, and sat them down in between two trees that were about fifteen feet apart. Henry dropped to the ground gasping. Akosua knelt down next to the Bokors, closed her eyes and rested the palm of her hands on their chests. Her mouth moved, but no words came out, she reached into a sack on her waist, pulled out some leaves, and rubbed them over the bokor. Slowly they both became more alert.
“What were those?” Adofo asked and Donkor stood up and looked around at the tree.
“Those were Assassin Vines,” he said, Henry got up and stood next to him.
“I know how it feels to be entangled in those,” he said,
“No you got stuck in ordinary vines. These are Simi mobile; they move to pull you into them. They tighten around you until you are dead, and then deposit your remains near their roots. I have never known them to attack people before.” Donkor said. Suddenly, laughter echoed through the jungle.
“Death walks with you,” A voice boomed. Akosua stood up and looked around. The voice faded away as if the person was walking away from them.
The two Bokors were on their feet still shaken, but seemed ready to continue on the journey. Henry looked down at his ankle, there was blood seeping out from
“We need to get to the valley of the Weeping Willow Trees by nightfall,” he said. One of the Bokors spoke up.
“The Valley of the Weeping Willow trees, we heard that place is cursed. Anyone that goes there is snatched away by demons.” he said with fear in his eyes. The other Bokors mumbled among themselves. Years of worshipping the evil Loas had made them extremely superstitious. Donkor raised an arm and they were silent.
“Now that is just a legend,” he said and turned to Akosua.
“If that place is cursed how do you explain your mother and I staying the night there and not being harmed by demons? How do you explain that I stand before you alive and able to take you to the mountain?” It’s just a tale we invented to keep people from trying to go up to the mountain.” He said calmly.
“Are you sure there is no other way to get the mountain top, your cowardly men seem pretty frighten.” Kwao said and looked at the Bokors with disdain. The Bokors glared at him, one of them took a step towards him, but Donkor held his arm up,
“It is the easiest way; believe me, we did not want to go that way, but everywhere else we went it was impossible to get to the top.” He said then began to gather his gear.
“Come on and stay clear of the Assassin Vines,” he said and started walking. Akosua and her warriors followed. The Bokors hesitated, but soon they too followed, making sure they did not get close to the vines.
cuts, he used the sleeves of his shirt to dab at it.
From the window into the Kentucky forest, where the mid morning sun shines through the trees like white gold, and shadows vibrate against the shimmer, leaves sing in the gentle breeze, fawns make a path in the dew soaked ground, baby ducks quack in the nearby pond, tree trunks standing like the limbs of a giant cricket, trampling the underbrush. But somewhere in that underbrush, they is a spot you can lay, right under the leaves, where the sunrays can tickle your skin, making you warm, but only in spots where golden white touches your skin.
It was early morning when they began to gather for their journey. A light drizzle bounced off the leaves, landed on the ground, creating a moist layer of top soil on the jungle’s floor. Henry was up early preparing. He made sure he had his machete sharpened his spear tip ready, and a knife which he stuck in his belt. He knew they were packing food, but he made sure to pack a loaf of bread and a small amount of salted fish. Twenty of them were to take the trip. There were young warriors, including him, and ten Bokors. They were all armed and prepared for any circumstance. The younger boys and girls carried the food they would need; they were also to serve as cooks on the long journey. Henry looked around at the youngest boys and girls and wondered which one would not return from the journey. Ampah was to be left in charge of the village. He looked disappointed, but he knew that staying in the village was an important responsibility. The crowd that gathered cheered and patted the back of the members of the group as they walked into the jungle. Lassette stood off from the crowd and waived at Henry as he walked by.
They walked through the jungle and made their way through a path beyond the pond. Younger children followed them shouting goodbye, dogs ran alongside them barking. The sound of the children chanting, and the pigs squealing, and the chickens clucking, disappeared as they got deeper into the jungle. Henry walked up front with Akosua, Adofo and Donkor. Kwao was at the rear of the group, and Henry was glad that he did not have to deal with him.
They walked most of the day before stopping to rest and eat. The jungle was quiet except for the birds that flew from tree to tree chirping. Donkor, Akosua and Adofo plotted the best way to get to Nkyene Mountain. The towering mountain was in the middle of the island. To get to the spear they had to climb straight up the side.
“There have got to be another way to get to the top of that mountain,” Akosua said, swatting the bugs around her face.
“If there is, I don’t know of it,” Donkor said, “Your mother wanted to make the climb as hard as possible so that no one else try to retrieve the spear,”
“Since coming to this new world, nothing in our lives has been easy. The Loas have not forsaken us, a people who overcome tribulation is stronger for it.’ Akosua said and smiled. “We will overcome,”
Henry had never climbed a mountain before. He was looking forward to it, but was worried about what tricks the Evil Loas and the Ligaroo King had in store for them. He looked over at Kwao. The young warrior sat sharpening his machete, his teeth grinded as he concentrated. He noticed that Henry was looking at him. He stopped what he was doing and looked back at Henry,
“What you looking at Kindoki,” he said and glared at Henry. Henry kept looking at him, and he stood up and motioned for Henry to come fight him. Henry smiled and that enraged Kwao.
“Your day will come!” he shouted. The others in the group looked on but said nothing. They had become accustomed to Kwao’s outbursts. Henry looked around at the others. The Bokors sat off to themselves talking in hushed tones. Some of them had used mud to cover their faces. They reminded Henry of the Arawaks, how fearsome they looked covered with the mud. The Bokors too were armed, some of them with clubs and crude shields made from bamboo. They all looked at Henry suspiciously except for Donkor; at least he was nice to Henry. A gentle breeze blew through the jungle and Henry closed his eyes. The leaves rustled, birds chirped and in the distance he heard the sound of a waterfall.
Donkor said something and Henry opened his eyes and saw him talking to two Bokors. They got up, picked up their gear, and walked into the jungle. Donkor went back to Akosua and Adofo and sat down.
By late afternoon they were on the eastern side of the island. Henry had to use his hand to block the sun from his eyes as they walked across a pasture. Most of the grass was green, but in some spots it was brown. Every time someone moved the grass, black, yellow, brown, blue, red with black spots, even solid green butterflies fluttered in the tropical sunlight. They walked across the pasture and back into the jungle. The tall trees blocked out the sun making it cooler. Adofo and Akosua walked in front of Donkor talking when suddenly Akosua stopped.
“Someone or something is here,” she said and looked around. Kwao walked up from behind the group.
“What is the problem?” he asked. Akosua raised her arm and listened.
“Must be the wind,” she said and the small caravan began to move again. Kwao went back to the back bumping into Henry as he went.