By John Gibney
In ninth grade, one of my schoolmates, we called Dr. Loveless. His real name was Alvin. He was slick. Slicker than a conger eel slipping through the chickenwire mesh of a fishpot. Conger will send the bait back up to slide through the mesh and escape. If you hook him, he will climb your fishing line and put it in a tangle. If you spear him, he will make your steel spear like a boiled spaghetti noodle.
Dr. Loveless was a charmer alright. Bright-eyed and little escaped his gaze.
One afternoon in February after school, “Gibney, could you help me?”
I asked him, “What Loveless?”
He handed me a hastily typed script. It was well written, asking for a cash donation for the Boy Scouts of America. It was signed and sealed with an official looking seal.
He said Gibney, Susstain Smith and I are going to Caneel Bay to ask for donations for the Boy Scouts. Could you come?”
He said, “Please.” And I had to water my horses anyway.
As we reached the big tamarind tree where Rollie and I had caught “the ghost,” he reached in his schoolbag and took out two Boy Scouts of America uniforms with badges and neckties and hats to match. He handed me to Susstain0 and stripped to his drawers. In no time, the two of them were as preened and straight as arrows. He was- prepared.
We ate some tamarind and then he said, “Gibney, come.”
We walked around the hill where the white employees lived. This was still Caneel Bay Plantation or as the George Harrison song went, “crackerbox palace”.
The native employees lived in the “village” on the other side of the ghut, a part-time riverbed.
Most of the employees were from Tortola and only stayed at Caneel Bay Plantation Monday through Friday.
They had a fleet of beautiful Tortola hand built wooden boats with Johnson forty horsepower “sea horse” motors. Six am Monday morning, they would pull them up on rollers at Caneel Bay’s Hawksnest- “sheep dock” beach to us then. It was only bush and guinea grass.
Past the tennis courts we walked, right to cottage Number 7, Laurance Rockefeller’s own luxury home. A knock at the door, “Gibney, so you white?” I had no fear. This is where Henry Kissenger and all the Nixon clan stayed. I saluted. My sidekicks clicked their heels. The green bills began to bulge in Loveless’ bookbag.
“If you are a Boy Scout, where is your uniform?”
“Oh, I fell in the mud,” I replied, handing the stern man the prepared solicitation papers.
“It’s okay honey,” the old geezer told his bathrobed wife, “it’s just the Boy Scouts.”
What a haul we pulled in that day. The green bills with Benny Franklin, George, Andrew and Thomas Jefferson faces on them were stacked under the tamarind tree.
Loveless kept most of the hundreds, but generously passed out the fifties and twenties to Susstain and I.
They stripped to their drawers and back into the school uniforms. Conger went home fat. Loveless went into politics and has gone far.
My horses got Purina horse chow and *******it was dry season.