Serenading Joyce

Joyce was on every boy’s lips, the object of his every confessed and secret desire. She was dark and ravishing and, even before she reached her teens, possessed of that hypnotic grace in her hips and upper body characteristic of West Indian women and girls. The deeper than normal timbre of her voice had a throaty quality to it that heightened her attraction. And the aura of sensuality surrounding her drove the New Village boys mad with lust.

It wasn’t that there were no other pretty girls in the community—Joyce was just in a league of her own. Joyce had nothing of the shy or coquettish about her. She had a direct manner that would unnerve an introvert, and her smile and brazen laughter were loaded with future promise that lifted boys’ hopes to dizzying heights. And although the promise was never fulfilled, hope always burned bright in every boy’s heart.

Joyce lived with her mother and sister Irma in a small wooden house, just beyond the dead-end road where Mister Calixte regularly road-tested the old motorbikes he resuscitated. Sometimes she visited and spent the night with some relatives living in another community, Peart’s Gap, which bordered with New Village on its western side. It was to one of those two areas that Arthur—New Village’s daredevil—Marquis, my older brother, and I would come on many an evening to court Joyce in song.

Whether on the concrete steps leading to a short cut connecting New Village to Morne Du Don, or atop the derelict vehicle near Joyce’s Peart’s Gap relatives, the song was always the same: “There’s a Kind of Hush”. We always started the same way. I would lead off for the first two or three lines; then the others would join in the song when Joyce’s beaming face appeared at the window to grace us with her performance-inspiring presence.

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