Gorline was a law unto herself. Fiery, cantankerous and aggressive, she usually got her way with men and women. Consequently, she had very few friends, particularly among the womenfolk—some of whom were secretly courted by Clement, her husband. Her conspicuous Barbadian accent gave her away whenever she opened her mouth, and to those who inquired, she would proudly and dismissively assert “Saint Lucian conceived, Bajan born and raised.”

Gorline had a brick oven built just outside her home, which Clement used to bake bread, delicious coconut cakes Gorline named “Royal,” and a large, hard, flat cake she called “Trouble.” She established a thriving business within the Village, and on afternoons, her voice would be heard all throughout the community as she plied her trade: “Who wants Trouble? Come and get Trouble—only penny a piece.” And the children would come running from near and far to relieve Gorline of her load of Trouble and Royal. Whatever Gorline didn’t sell on an afternoon would be sold at the Cassandra in record time.

The Cassandra was a plain, squat, wooden structure that doubled as a nightclub and all-purpose store. It was located just outside New Village on the northern side of Chausée Road, and facing a cemetery. Gorline was the sole owner of this enterprise, which she allowed Clement to manage. Clement sold sugar, flour, rice, butter, candles, white rum, bread, Gorline’s Royal and Trouble, and anything else for which there was a demand by his patrons during the day. And at night, the nightclub held sway above the store.

The nightclub did exceptionally well when the matlos were in town. Matlo was a derogatory name given to a sailor whose ship was in port, and who had been granted shore leave. The ladies-of-the-night would flock to the Cassandra when a ship was in the harbor, and sometimes there would be raised eyebrows when certain women entered the club on the arms of sailors. And perspiring couples would engage in fancy footwork on the dance floor to the beat of spicy, Caribbean calypsos and North American country music blaring from the jukebox in the dimly-lit room. Other patrons seated at tables would laugh gaily, drink unrefined, fiery alcohol, and in some instances, secretly negotiate prices for private pleasures.

Author’s note: The preceding is an excerpt from the story “Gorline” from the novella, “New Village”, now on Amazon Kindle.



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