Prologue — Alvin

The sun was already high when I drove my new Japanese car round the last bend onto the straight stretch before the junction. It looked as if a pile of rags had been left in the road. Rather than run over them, I stopped. It was a very thin man, a beggar with tangled dreadlocks, apparently asleep. I got out and tried to rouse him. It wasn’t easy.

“Hey! Get to the side of the road. You’ll be run over here.”

“It’s warmer in the middle than the side.”

(In desperation) “What’s your name?”

A beautiful smile lit up his face. “Alvin. No-one has asked me my name for twenty years.”

“OK, Alvin. How about moving to the side?”.

He moved.

“Have you had anything to eat today?”

“No”.

“Here, take this and get some patties down at Liguanea.”

I gave him a small banknote which he put straight in his mouth. He began to eat it pensively. I ran to the car and drove away as fast as I could.

As Dr. Johnson says, “Smile with the wise, eat with the rich”.

Jamaica
1987

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