My Grandmother's Erotic Folktales





The Tale of How Iguana Got Her Wrinkles, Or The True Tale of El Dorado

 Listen to a reading by Robert Antoni

Ayeeyosmio! You want me to give you this nasty story? Well you best push up close here beside me so I don’t have to talk too loud. Even though at ninety-six years of age I can’t make so much more noise anyway, and worse still since I lost the teeth. Because when the man carried them the other day with me bawling thief! thief! behind him, he only continued climbing through the window smiling he big horsesmile at me with my own teeth in he mouth, and me there with my gums and my lips flapping, and nothing more than the soft thufft! thufft! like a fart coming out my mouth. Sweet heart of Jesus! So I don’t have my jewels no more – that is how I used to call the teeth -and when I try to talk up loud everything comes out in a jumble beneath the shower, but Johnny, it would take plenty more than that to shut me up. And we got to be careful just the same, even if we don’t talk no louder than a whisper. Because if you mummy only hears me telling you this nasty story – particular when I reach to the main part that concerns, of course, the pussy of this younggirl – she will put us both out the house before we can catch we breath. That is one word to grate up against she ears in truth, that every time I am giving a joke or telling a story and I forget myself and let it escape, you poor mummy gets that look on she face red red like she’s trying to make a caca with a corcho inside she culo! You daddy too, never mind when he was a youngboy this one was he favorite of all my stories. You daddy, and he wicked brothers, and all they badjohnboyfriends begging me again and again please to give them the story of the old iguana – even though it was the younggirl’s pussy they wanted to hear about, and not that old wrinkled up iguana a-tall – because of course, there ain’t nothing in the world to excite the blood of the youngboys more than that.

Well then, it happened in the old old time, this story. Back in the very beginning, when the first of those explorers from Spain and England arrived in this Caribbean, and the only people they found here living happy and peaceful enough were Amerindians, Caribs and Arawacks and Warrahoons and such. The explorers came as you know youself, searching out the famous El Dorado, Sir Walter Raleigh leading the English, and Fernando de Berrio the Spanish. Sir Walter was the tall, handsome Captain dressed fancy in he jacket of red velvet and he pantaloons, he white shirt with the collar of ruffles shoved up against he chin. Always reciting he love poetry, even at the moment of he brutal attacks. And de Berrio was the short, funny-looking fellow with he little round paunch – he tin costume creaking from the caballeros of the century before – with he little legs shaped in a bow from all those years riding on a horse. Always disappearing down in he cabin in the middle of he fierce battles, plagued either by seasickness, or he frequent diarrhoea. So those were the two who came with they fleets of ships, and of course it was we misfortune to get Fernando de Berrio, the Captain from Spain, because he was the one who decided that this El Dorado they were both looking for so crazy, was hidden somewhere right here on this island of Corpus Christi. Sir Walter made up he mind it was somewhere else – up the river Orinoco in what we now call Venezuela – or hidden somewhere along the coast of what we now know as Guyana.

But Johnny, the truth is that these two spent as much time watching each other, as they did searching out the gold. Each was afraid the other would find it first, so every time they heard a rumour or got a premonition that the other one was close, they would go straight away and ransack him. This would mean he would have to recover heself – and repair he ships and send to England or Spain for more soldiers so he could start he expedition all over again – but of course, before he could begin again he had to retaliate and attack the other. Back and forth and back and forth so many times that it’s not surprising they never did find the gold, even after all those years, even if there was any gold to find here a4all. Johnny, the truth is that all this El Dorado business wasn’t nothing more than the fantasy of everybody’s imagination. Growing bigger and bigger all the time, otherwise it could never have sent them so vie-kee-vie as it did.

Because not only didn’t they know where was this El Dorado, they didn’t know what it was neither. Some said how it was the long lost city of those Chibchas – another of the ancient Amerindian tribes – with the houses and the furnitures made solid from silver, all adorned in diamonds, and rubies, and every kind of jewel that you could name, and the streets paved only in gold. Some said how it was the mausoleum of a great Arawack king, or the emperor of those Incas from Peru, hidden high in the mountains. Others said that it was not the creation of a man, but some marvel of the earth itself. A river in the forest overflowing with water that was molten gold, or a lake, or the famous fountain of youth. And if you bathed youself in that golden water it could cure all you diseases – particular syphilis and the rest of that nastiness they brought with them from Europe that had they toe-tees turning green, and rotting off, and all those poor Amerindians dropping down like flies – that fountain of youth that could cure all you diseases, and you could live happy forever. Others said that it was a secret fruit, or flower, and if you ate some you shit would come out in shining bars. Others said how this fruit was the very same one out the Bible, and when you ate it the bar would appear instant in front – blossoming out to burst open you zipper – tall and permanent like a golden obelisk almost to touch you nose. And Johnny, with that standpipe standing up like that and all those beautiful Amerindian slavegirls, you could live happy forever too! They just didn’t know. And the more they talked about it and ransacked each other the more excited they became, and the more frustrated, until after a time they’d work theyselves up into a frenzy to find this El Dorado. Only beating the Indians and torturing them and dragging them from one place to the next to show them the secret or tell them in a language they couldn’t even understand – wherever or whatever it was – with the poor Indians the most confuffled of all.
So it was this same Fernando de Berrio, as I was saying, who arrived here in Corpus Christi with he fleet of ships, and he built the first houses – the jail and the church and the palace for the governor – the first settlement of Europeans here on the island. They were mostly Spanish. But some of them were also French, Portugee and Italian and whoever else wanted to come – anybody but English – and the name of this settlement was Demerara. The very same settlement that years later came to be called St Mary, and still later St Maggy. But it was named Demerara first for the crystals of sugar they would send back on the ships to Europe. That way the ships could return loaded with salted hams, Spanish wine and French champagne, Edam cheeses from Holland like cannonballs in they skins of red wax, clothes and books and guns and whatever else they needed. After a time, though, they began to say how those same yellow-brown crystals of Demerara sugar was the very El Dorado they were looking for, because after they sold it off, those ships were returning to Corpus Christi loaded down mostly with gold. But Johnny, the true El Dorado in all that sugar commerce wasn’t those demerara crystals a-tall. It was the same yellow-brown Amerindians the Europeans put as slaves to clear the ground and grow the cane and make the sugar, and they beat them so much and worked them so hard, they were killing them off as quick as they could make they-selves a fortune.

Of course, the main reason for all that sugar was to finance the explorations of Fernando de Berrio. But before he could leave de Berrio had to put somebody in charge of Demerara. For this reason he sent to Spain for he partner in the sugar tradings, Don Antonio Sedeᅢᄆo, to pick up heself and come to Corpus Christi straight away. De Berrio wrote a letter at the same time to the King of Spain – because of course at this time Corpus Christi and all these islands belonged to the Spanish crown – that the King could name Don Antonio the first governor of the island. So it happened, and if you look in you history book you will see how it is true, that Don Antonio Sedeᅢᄆo was the first governor of Corpus Christi.


So now at last de Berrio could gather up he soldiers and he ships and leave on he first expedition. Because they had to make those expeditions by sea and not by land – an unfortunate thing for de Berrio, considering especially he seasickness and persistent ricewater-stools – as that jungle was too thick and dangerous with poisonous snakes for them to penetrate. That first expedition de Berrio intended to study the pitchlake at La Brea in the south of the island, and search the length of the coast beside it. Because de Berrio had read long before in the logs of Columbus how he went there to collect tar to stop-up holes in the bottoms of he ships. And Columbus wrote how that pitchlake was a marvel of nature that nobody never saw nothing like it before, ‘not even the dancing troubadour-donkey from Seville!’ so maybe the earth could have made the natural marvel of that golden lake somewhere beside it too?
But no sooner did de Berrio raise he sails when Sir Walter Raleigh, as was he habit, came straight away to ransack Demerara and burn the Church of San Josᅢᄅ de Irura flat to the ground. At the same time Sir Walter rescued those five little Amerindian kings de Berrio had chained together in the jail. Wannawanari, Tanoopanami, Maquarami, Atrimi and Caroni – that the hardest thing for me about telling this story is trying to pronounce those names – the five of them standing there naked, and trembling, they backsides pressed curious against the wall. Until Sir Walter turned them each slowly around, and he discovered they bamsees singed from the torture of those burning pokers and boiling pigfat.
That was the year of 1595. So de Berrio had to change he course and come straight back before he could begin he explorations, and he had to build back everything that Raleigh destroyed. But this time he built a big wall going right around Demerara, and the big fortress up above the harbour shooting off plenty cannons, and this time too, when he set sail on he expedition at last, he left half he soldiers there with Don Antonio. Of course, before he could begin he expedition again he had to sail all the way up the river Orinoco. Because first he was obliged to ransack Raleigh and take back he five little Amerindian kings, each dressed up now in they own frilly white shirt with the sleeves reaching down past they knees, a pair of red velvet pantaloons dragging around they ankles.

And now at last Don Antonio could send to Spain for he wife and he two daughters, because he had to leave them behind when he came running to Corpus Christi in such a hurry. He wife was a very stern and pious woman. So pious she used to shave she head bald like a nun, and she pledged sheself to dress only in black – this was the sign that she was mourning the death of she husband in advance – and she name was Doᅢᄆa Maria Penitencia. With the two daughters called Maria Dolores and Maria Consuelo. Three Marias, and just as you would expect from names like these, the three of them were only for the Church. Maria Dolores and Maria Consuelo were the two doting acolytes of the old Archbishop, assisting him to prepare the altar and light the incense and fill the silver bowl with communion breads for all the Masses. Attending him the whole day long to put on and take off and put on again all he vestments. Because in addition to he several complete outfits for each of the Masses, he had another special green costume only to walk the garden, and a white one only for he midday meditation – a yellow one to greet the sick and a red one for the poor – and another complete brown costume with hat and cape and tall leather cowboy boots, only to stoop behind the bush when he received the calling. With the mother, Maria Penitencia she-self, sewing out with she own hand he long robe of purple silk for him to hear the penance, forty-two mother-of-pearl buttons going from beneath he chin all the way down to he toes! And, of course, those three Marias could never come to this place of heathens in the savage Caribbean, without bringing with them they old Archbishop.


They arrived to find Don Antonio still fast asleep for he afternoon siesta, and when they tiptoed quiet inside to lift the sheet and take a peek, there sleeping beside him in all she natural beauty, naked as the day she was born, was he little Amerindian slavegirl. So the first job for this Archbishop now that he had reached the New World – soon as they could bring he big trunk from off the ship – was to dress heself in he special costume for excising Caribbean devils, and pray over the head of Don Antonio. Now the two Marias could assist him to change he outfit to the one of purple silk, and they gave him a chalice of wine to satisfy he thirst. Now the Archbishop could take from out he trunk the instrument they called the ‘cat-of-the-nine-tales’, and he delivered one hundred hot lashes to the little slavegirl. Poor child could scarce stand by the time he finished. But now at least Maria Penitencia was satisfied enough, ready to let loose the child that she could return to she family in the forest. Because in truth this little slavegirl was a princess very precious to she own Arawack people – the daughter of that same Wannawanari King that de Berrio had locked up in the jail – with she royal family waiting anxious for her on the other side of the island.
They would have let her return home to she royal family too, if it wasn’t for one thing already obvious for all of them to see, that this little slavegirl was pregnant with the child of Don Antonio. So they couldn’t send her home straight away. Instead, they locked her up in the cell downstairs in the basement, with Maria Dolores and Maria Consuelo bringing her she food every morning, nothing but a piece of Johnny cake and a glass of coconut water. But Don Antonio had a kind heart and late each night he would tiptoe down the stairs to bring the child something proper to eat. Of course, most nights Don Antonio would get carried away with heself, and the two Marias would discover him early the next morning still consoling he little slavegirl, there struggling beneath him in she hammock tied in the corner.

The baby was born premature. A tiny creature with transparent skin and all the branches of blue veins showing, shiny red eyes like those of a salamander, and it didn’t have no eyebrows nor lashes nor nails at the ends of its fingers and toes, only tiny cups like the suckers of a frog. But this little slavegirl loved she baby just the same. Cooing and talking to it soft and gentle in the language none of them could understand, and she wouldn’t let she little salamander out from she hands for even a second. In truth, she would have remained happy enough locked up there in she cell for the rest of she days, before she lost that child. But they took it away from her just the same. And they called in two big soldiers to knock her down and beat her and bind she hands and feet, and they carried her off still struggling inside the banana peel of she little hammock, back to she family in the forest.

It was those two Marias who raised up this child, because every time they gave it to they mother to hold, Maria Penitencia, she only wanted to pelt it out the window. The Marias used to keep it in a shoebox in the corner of they room, some dry grass sprinkled at the bottom. And they tried to feed it every kind of fly and mosquito and spider that they could find – until they discovered the only one thing this little salamander liked to eat – and that was the green green dasheen leaves growing beneath a full moon beside the river, soft and wet with dew. So very early every morning the two Marias would get up faithful to go and collect them. It was a little girl, and the Marias called her by the same name as she mummy, Iwana, which in the language of the Arawacks means ‘iguana’. And when she began to crawl the two Marias would carry her out in the yard every afternoon, each taking they turn to walk behind her, attached to a long string tied around she neck. Until one afternoon when Iwana got loose and took off ruining up the tall poinciana tree, she legs and arms turning at she sides like the blades of an airplane – which is just the way iguanas run if you’ve ever see them – and she remained up in that tree for three days. Until the two Marias attended the old Archbishop to dress in he green costume for walking the garden, and he climbed up in the poinciana heself to bring her down.

The Marias continued to feed her the soft dasheen leaves every day, and Iwana continued to grow, that after a time nobody didn’t take hardly no notice of her inside the house. Scrambling between they legs each time they came through the door, and climbing up to sit draped like a scarf around they necks, or curled comfortable in they laps every evening beneath the dinner table. Sometimes they would realize all in a sudden that nobody had seen little Iwana the whole week – with everybody taking off crazy to search in all the drawers, and the cupboards, and beneath the beds – because they were all afraid Maria Penitencia would stumble across her first. Like the time Iwana crawled down in the drain of the kitchen sink, and Maria Penitencia opened the pipe full and almost drowned her.

But in time even she seemed to grow accustomed to Iwana’s presence in the house. Before they could turn around she’d grown up into a little girl and just as you would expect from a tale like this – despite that Iwana was born such an ugly baby -she grew into the most beautiful younggirl Demerara had ever seen. Because don’t forget that this Iwana, like she mummy before her, was a princess of royal Arawack blood. In addition to being the very first child of the New World to come out half-Spanish and haff-Amerindian, and as always happens with mixtures like that she took the best features from both. Tall and slim with golden skin and green almond eyes, she long dark hair reaching all the way down she back. And Johnny, every bit as beautiful as this child’s looks were she gentle ways, calm and quiet and so graceful – that every time she passed you in the street hurrying back and forth between the governor’s palace and that church – you couldn’t help but feel a pang of pity. Because just as you would suppose too from a tale like this, the more beautiful and kind was this Iwana, the more cruel those two Marias treated her, and they mother, Maria Penitencia.

They put her to clean the palace and cook the food and wash all the clothes, not only those of the household, but now Iwana must wash and iron and attend to the old Archbishop for all he endless vestments too. Rising at the crack of dawn to grind the coffee and put it to boil, squeeze the oranges and bake the magdalenas for breakfast. Then she must heat the water with aromatic leaves for the bath of Maria Penitencia, sponging down she broad shoulders, she shiny coconut-head. Then Iwana must prepare the baths for the two daughters, washing and drying and combing out they hair, before she could attend them to dress theyselves. Then – before she could even have a chance to catch she breath – she must take off running across the square to attend the old Archbishop, that by the time those three Marias arrived he could begin the six o’clock Mass. So on and so forth the whole day long, until at last Iwana could descend the stairs to she little room in the basement, followed close behind by Maria Penitencia, the big key in she hand to lock her up inside. Because of course, that was the only way to keep out Don Antonio. And by the time Iwana lay sheself at last in she little hammock in the corner, and she closed she eyes to drop quiet asleep, Maria Penitencia was there already at the door unlocking it to let her out.


Now the time arrived for Don Antonio to look for suitable husbands to marry off the two Marias. By now, of course, Demerara was a busy town well known in Europe, and attracting plenty youngmen to come to the Caribbean and make they-selves a fortune. On top of that Fernando de Berrio was convinced that any day soon he would find he El Dorado, and when that happened, of course, everybody would have more gold than they could dream. But in truth the majority of these youngmen coming to Demerara didn’t have so much of pedigree and high breeding, but they were only wadjanks and bad-johns looking to get theyselves rich. Prisoners that escaped the jail, and thieves, and every kind of scoundrel that you could imagine, that in truth none of those youngmen were suitable for the daughters of Don Antonio a-tall. There was only one, and he was the young French doctor who arrived in Corpus Christi from he city of Marseille. Only boasting about how he was the last of a long long line of Compts, and Bis-Compts, Barons and every kind of thing – and people used to go to hear him recite the names without interruption for three hours at a stretch – tracing he blueblood all the way back to Charlemagne the Great! He full name was Dr Jewels Derriᅢᄄre-Cri de Plus-Bourbon. But people used to call him Dr Jewels. So Don Antonio proclaimed that whichever one of the two Marias Dr Jewels chose would go with half he estate, and the other could return to Spain and marry sheself off to the convent.

So for a period of several months Dr Jewels would come every evening to take he dinner at the palace of Don Antonio. But Dr Jewels was famous in Corpus Christi for another thing besides he name, and that was he peculiar culinary habits. You see, the only thing he blueblood would allow him to drink was French champagne – that would be obvious enough – and the only dish he palate could tolerate was the legs of a frog, sauteed soft in butter. Of course, nobody had never even thought of eating those crapolegs before, that people said was surely food for the devil. And it was several evenings before the three Marias and Don Antonio could sit at the same table, watching Dr Jewels nibbling careful at them like little twigs, and not run in the yard quick quick to vomit up they own dinner. He would eat them one by one for hours at a stretch – the big red-and-white checkered kerchief tied like the bib of an infant around he neck – he eyes closed tight in complete ecstasy, he fingers and he waxed moustaches dripping with butter. But this vision of Dr Jewels at table was not even the worst thing about all these crapolegs, which of course would require a great quantity piled on the plate as tall as he nose to satisfy this Dr Jewels. The worst thing was that now, in addition to all she many other labours in the palace, now Iwana must spend several hours a day at that stinking Maraval Swamp, wading through the mud high as she waist, chasing behind all this multitude of jumping crapos. Then she must take out the froglegs and sautee them soft in the butter every evening, that every evening they could be ready in time for the dinner of this Dr Jewels.

After dinner he would take he snifter of cognac and smoke he cigar with Don Antonio. Then he would choose one of the two Marias – Dolores or Consuelo – and they would go and sit together on the back gallery, gazing up at the big moon floating above a glittering sea. Holding hands and reciting poems and professing they love to eachother – all the things that young-people did when they went courting – with of course, Maria Penitencia the chaperone always there beside them. Some evenings Dr Jewels would go for a walk along the wharf with Maria Dolores, or he would stroll through a sleeping Demerara arm-in-arm with Maria Consuelo, with of course, Maria Penitencia stumbling in the dark a few steps behind.


Soon the day arrived for Dr Jewels to announce he decision. So Don Antonio made a big fᅢᆰte in the palace to celebrate this event and he invited all the important people of Demerara, including Fernando de Berrio heself. Because he had the ill-fortune to be in port at this same time, furnishing he fleet with fresh supplies. Early that Saturday morning the seamstress brought the gowns for the three Marias, white lace for Maria Consuelo and red for Maria Dolores, and of course, black for the gown and the big wide-brimmed hat of Maria Penitencia. With the three of them fussing the whole day long to get they-selves ready – the two daughters scurrying back and forth in the palace, each bubbling with excitement sheself – each convinced that she would be the choice of the young Dr Jewels. Maria Consuelo swore that in the moment of she passion one evening of sweltering poetry, the eloquent Dr Jewels – even with he mouth full – had pledged heself to her. And Maria Dolores proclaimed that just at she climax of he serenade one slippery and passionate night – poor Dr Jewels with he tongue in tatters – had promised heself forever to her. With Iwana running behind them both from the dawn of morning, bathing them and combing out they hair and attending them to dress in they magnificent gowns, and of course, she must prepare all the food for this big banquet tonight too.

Well those guests consumed a galleon-load of French champagne before the food could even reach the tables. And after they ate they first and second and they third courses – and then Iwana brought in the main course which, for Dr Jewels, was nothing more than he plate of froglegs piled up as tall as he nose – of course, the rest of those guests had to run in the yard quick quick to vomit up they own previous three courses. But after all that confusion, and revelry, and so on and so forth -when they could no longer sustain they suspense and everybody began to beat they spoons against they champagne glasses – at last Dr Jewels arose to ascend to the podium and announce he decision. But at that precise moment all they heard was the big explosion of cannons firing, everybody burying theyselves beneath the tables. Because of course, when Sir Walter heard the rumour that de Berrio was returning home to port for this big fᅢᆰte, he decided it could only mean they were celebrating he discovery of El Dorado at last. So of course he had to come straight away with he own fleet of ships, and launch another of he attacks on unsuspecting Demerara. He waited until the fᅢᆰte was in full swing, with all those soldiers so borracho they could hardly stand, and he fired off he cannons all together. But Sir Walter realized soon enough that de Berrio didn’t find a fart again as usual – and the only treasure he could think in he moment of frustration to run off with was those two prize daughters of Don Antonio – both they magnificent gowns ruined with the stains of squids simmering in they own ink, both trembling with fear beneath the table.

So now de Berrio had to jump up quick and take off in he fleet chasing behind Raleigh, all the way up the Orinoco again, and attack him and take back the two prize Marias. Of course, now there was the same great preoccupation weighing down on everybody’s mind, particular Don Antonio’s and Doᅢᄆa Penitencia’s. Because nobody really believed what they said about those English sailors, even after the evidence to document the proof. That it didn’t have nothing to do with all they boasting about honour – all they feathers, and flowery gestures, and all they schoolgirl manners – because every single Englishman is a fairyboy in truth.

It was Dr Jewels heself who performed those inspections. Utilizing the probe of he own educated little finger, with all Demerara waiting anxious outside the palace to hear the results. And before long he appeared gallant on the balcony to drape he kerchief over the rail – not the checkered one, but a special white kerchief this time – and then he retrieved the kerchief to repeat heself draping it over the rail a second time, the whole crowd bursting forth spontaneous in a great uproar. Because of course, this was the signal obvious enough for everybody to understand, that both those Marias still possessed they virtues untouched. Except of course by the Doctor’s own little finger.

Don Antonio was so pleased he declared a festival to last for three days and nights. Everybody singing, and dancing, and drinking rum in the streets – that many people say how this is the true origin of modern day carnival – and when at last they were all exhausted, and stale-drunk, all with they voices hoarse from so much bacchanal, they dragged theyselves once again to assemble beneath the balcony of Don Antonio. Now Dr Jewels appeared again to announce he decision everybody was waiting in suspense for so long to hear, which of those two Marias he would choose for he wife, and which would return to Spain to bury sheself in the convent? But no sooner could he open he mouth when a next spontaneous uproar arose from the crowd – this time of cursing, and beating they fists in the air, and pelting rotten fruit – because what Dr Jewels answered, in all he youthful innocence, was that he didn’t understand the question.
You see, just like all those sophisticated young Frenchmen of polish, and education, and plenty pretensions during that era, this Dr Jewels was a Socialist. That means of course he was an atheist too – and he didn’t believe in Papa God, nor Pope nor King nor nothing else at all besides the power of money so how could he possibly marry heself to a Roman Catholic like either of those two Marias? Dr Jewels said, just as you are expecting, that if Don Antonio still wanted him for he son-in-law, then the only way was for him to marry he youngest daughter, who was none other than the Princess Iwana. Because even though from a little girl Iwana had spent all she time in the church, running behind the old Archbishop, it never occurred to none of them even to pelt a little holywater and a pinch of salt over she head to baptize her. So before Don Antonio and Doᅢᄆa Penitencia could have a chance to think how they could get theyselves out from this pepperpot they’d found theyselves swimming in all of a sudden, the crowd let loose another spontaneous explosion of cheering this time. And just like true blue Caribbean people, they took off for another three days of carnival and bacchanal in the streets. Leaving Don Antonio and those three Marias standing there on the balcony, all cross-eyed with they mouths hanging wide open like if they were a family of lizards now catching flies.


So first thing Dr Jewels had to build a house adequate for heself and Iwana to live in, and he built the biggest one, on the highest point of the whole island. It was a castle bigger than Sandlord’s own, bigger even than the palace of Don Antonio. With walls that were five feet thick of solid coral blocks, and it had more than a hundred rooms, each with a window looking out over the sea. And the bedroom of Dr Jewels had its own fireplace – a big bed with the canopy above, and a bathtub with the golden feet of a lion below – and hidden behind the bookcase in the library was a secret door. That door opened to a narrow hallway with a deep dark hole at the end, like a waterwell without the water, and a long ladder to climb down inside. Then a tunnel to crawl on hands and knees all the way beneath the foundations of the castle, then a stone staircase winding around and around climbing higher and higher, until you reached to the highest point of the roof. Then there was a next door of rusty iron bars and a big rusty padlock, and of course, beyond this second door was the tower of this castle. It was open to the open air, only a piece of thatched roof in the corner, and beneath the roof was the bed. Only a little bed with a prickly coconut-fibre mattress, and attached to one leg of the bed was a long rusty chain. At the other end of this chain – with a next padlock and a rusty neck-clamp clasping secure around she neck – was of course Iwana, sitting naked on the little bed. But Iwana was happier living in the tower of that castle than she had been in all she life!

Now she didn’t have that household of Don Antonio to take care of, with those three Marias and the old Archbishop to run behind from dawn of morning until late into the night. Now she didn’t have she cold dark cell in the basement to sleep the stingy few minutes Doᅢᄆa Penitencia would allow her at the end of she wretched days. Because in truth, there wasn’t nothing in the world Iwana loved to do better than sleep! Now she would crawl out from under she piece of thatched roof to stretch sheself lazy beneath the sun, she skin a glittering gold, eyes half-closed beneath she thick dreamy lids. The whole day long, not even a worry in the world! And she never felt lonely nor hungry neither, because from that first day in the tower iguana came to visit her.

Understand, there beside this castle was the tallest and oldest tree on the whole island. And Johnny, this ain’t no beanstalk we’re talking about! This one was a giant kapok tree, the royal silk cotton, with the tallest of its branches hanging just above the piece of thatched roof. Iguana – who was the only creature on Papa God’s earth able to climb so high -iguana would drop from out the tree to land safe with a thwack on the thatched roof, and she would go to visit with Iwana. That first morning iguana happened to be chewing the last piece of a soft green dasheen leaf, she favourite food, and of course, Iwana’s eyes lit up straight away. She hadn’t seen a tender dasheen leaf like that since she was a little girl. That same night was a fullmoon night and early the following morning iguana brought her a big bundle of leaves tied together with twine. With the two of them chewing happy together the whole day long – pausing every now and again only to stretch out side-by-side for a nap beneath the sun – both they eyes halfclosed beneath they dreamy lids. Until late one afternoon, with the sun sinking slow in the glittering sea beneath a crimson sky, when they were startled awake by the rattling of Dr Jewels in the padlock.

Iguana didn’t have no choice, and neither did Iwana. There wasn’t even time to scramble beneath the bed and hide sheself. Because of course, like everybody else on the island, iguana had long ago heard about the peculiar palate of this Dr Jewels. And Johnny, the tail of an iguana doesn’t taste so different from the legs of a crapo at all! In the space of a breath Iwana had stretched out one of she long golden legs toward iguana, and iguana scrambled up quick along it disappearing sudden inside!

But as much as everybody on the island knew about the unusual culinary habits of this French doctor, nobody had never heard nothing before about he peculiar palate for sex. And that was a fortunate thing for both iguana and Iwana. Because if he did he business normal like everybody else as you would expect Dr Jewels would have discovered iguana hiding inside Iwana straight away. But Johnny, in order to partake of he particular kind of pleasure, Dr Jewels didn’t even need to take off he clothes. On the contrary, he dressed heself up in more clothes, if you consider the big red-and-white checkered kerchief he took out from he back pocket and he fled it up like the bib of an infant around he neck. Now Dr Jewels took hold of the rusty chain attached to the neck-clamp around Iwana’s neck, and he led her over to the little bed. But he didn’t do it rough, nor brute, nor in any way cruel! Because the truth is that despite that rusty chain – despite the padlock and neck-clamp and all the rest – this Dr Jewels always handled Iwana like if she was a china doll. Like if she was a fragile little bird, and he put her to sit gentle on the bed, she backresting cool against the coral wall. Now Dr Jewels opened up she legs. He went down on he knees beside the bed as if he was no longer the socialist-atheist a-tall, but he was a better Catholic than all of us, only preparing heself to say he evening prayers. As if he was sitting at table before he cherished plate of froglegs sauteed soft in butter – and he smoothed back he stiff moustaches with he eyes closed tight in complete ecstasy just the same – Dr Jewels bent over careful beneath Iwana for he evening feast.
Papa-yo! What Dr Jewels tasted, of course, was not Iwana, but iguana, hiding sheself inside Iwana. And of course, he’d never tasted a pussy so sweet as that in all he life! Because this Dr Jewels, due to he medical profession, had the opportunity to study a great variety. And he’d sampled every thinkable flavour and nationality, from French Bordeau, to Italian oregano, to English pussies doused in they double cream. Hindu palori pussies, German pussies boiled in beer, and Portugee cavinadash pussies pickled in garlic. This Dr Jewels had the opportunity to sample Chinee sideways pussies, Singapore squinty-eye ones – even the incense-smoking Catholic pussies of those two Marias – since this particular preference of Dr Jewels was the only unperilous kind of sex condoned by the Church. But Johnny, he had never before tasted nothing like Iwana, who in truth was iguana.


And so every evening it was just the same. Soon as the sun began to sink beneath the sea, and iguana and Iwana heard the rattling of Dr Jewels with he key in the gate. Iguana would scramble up she leg and hide sheself inside Iwana. And Dr Jewels would take out he red-and-white checkered bib from he back pocket and he would go down on he knees beside the bed for he evening feast. But Johnny, it is only fair to Dr Jewels to tell you that after a time, Iwana had learned to close she eyes just the same. After a time Iwana discovered she pleasures in those evening visits of Dr Jewels too. Until she could no longer tolerate the intensity of she own excitement and she would shove he head tender away. And Dr Jewels, always kind and respectful of Iwana, would wipe he whiskers and fold up he bib again straight away in he back pocket he would bow he head gallant before her, and he would hurry out the gate.
Every evening it was just the same, as I was saying. And almost before Iwana could realize the years had passed. But hidden away like that high in the tower of this castle, Iwana could never know of the happenings of the world at she feet. Of course, iguana would keep her informed to a certain extent, and she brought her fresh news every morning. Of the most recent events m Demerara, of the latest attacks of Sir Walter on Fernandp de Berrio, of de Berrio ‘s retaliations on Sir Walter Raleigh. But there was one piece of news iguana could never find the heart to tell Iwana. It was news of she own Amerindian people, of she royal family at home, of the Arawacks, and Caribs, and Warrahoons. Of how all those Europeans were killing them off fast enough. Putting them as slaves to grow the cane and make the sugar – and tobacco, coffee, cocoa and all they crops – and they worked those gentle Amerindians and beat them with the cat-of-the-nine-tails until they dropped. Iguana could never find the heart to tell Iwana that in truth, all she royal family had perished long ago, and there wasn’t a handful of she people still walking the earth. Because Johnny, already those Europeans were bringing shiploads of new slaves to this Caribbean. New ones to replace the perished Amerindians. These slaves came on ships from Africa. And iguana never told Iwana that even in the castle of Dr Jewels, there wasn’t but a single Amerindian slave remaining. Now they all were Africans.

Dr Jewels heself began to change, as if to coincide with all these changes of the world. By now this Dr Jewels had become a rickety oldman, frustrated with heself and he own feeble oldage. He no longer treated Iwana so kind, nor gentle, and Johnny, some of he activities during this period were too nasty to name. Iwana and iguana soon came to despise he visits each afternoon. Then, one afternoon with no warning a-tall, Dr Jew-els appeared in the tower accompanied by another. It was the first time in all those years he had not arrived alone. This time – attached to a next rusty chain with a next neck-clamp and padlock – Dr Jewels brought with him the new slaveboy he’d purchased that same morning in the market. And Johnny, when Iwana heard the rattling of Dr Jewels in the padlock that afternoon, and she opened she half-closed lids to see the creature standing there beside him, now she sat up straight away. Because Iwana had never seen a man so beautiful as him in all she life! Similar to Iwana, this young slaveboy was a prince from the royal family of he own Yoruba people. Tall and strong with rich purple skin and the grace of a panther moving beneath the trees, a gentle look on he face, and he name was Anaconda.

Dr Jewels took out he red-and-white kerchief just the same. He went down on he knees at the bedside before Iwana, just as he did every evening. But this time he held in he hands the chain of Anaconda, standing there beside him with he head turned to look the other way. Because of course, he would never look at Iwana to shame her so. Never! And now – when Dr Jewels had satisfied heself and he folded up he kerchief again in he back pocket – now he didn’t bow he head gallant to take he leave as usual. Johnny, now this wicked Dr Jewels wanted the additional pleasure of observing Anaconda, doing what he, in he feeble oldage, could never manage heself. He commanded Anaconda to strip heself naked. Anaconda obeyed. He order him to lay heself on the bed beside Iwana. And Anaconda lay heself down. Now Dr Jewels smiled wicked and he smoothed back he waxed moustaches, and he ordered Anaconda to kiss Iwana. First she mouth, and then she soft breasts. Anaconda obeyed. But quick as Dr Jewels could issue the next inhuman command – Iwana trembling with fear in Anaconda’s strong arms, frightened for both sheself and iguana – Anaconda took pity, and he called up those special powers that he had brought with him across the sea from Africa.

Johnny, just like all those Yoruba princes of royal African blood, Anaconda could change he shape at will to the very creature that bore he name. And in that same instant Iwana looked down to discover only the thick black snake squirming on the bed beside her. With Dr Jewels standing there astonished, nothing in he hands but the rusty chain and the empty neck-clamp! Quick as a breath Anaconda climbed up onto the piece of thatched roof above they heads, up onto the nearest branch of that kapok tree. Because despite the fact that Anaconda could never climb up a tree so tall, he could climb down easy enough! Dropping one branch to the next until he reached safe to the ground. And then – the most curious thing of all -Anaconda crawled straight into the waiting crocusssack of Dr Jewels. Because of course, Dr Jewels had hurried heself back down the stairs, and he was there waiting beneath the tree to hold Anaconda prisoner again.


It happened the same way every evening, time and time again. Anaconda taking he animal shape and sliding away at the last minute, with Dr Jewels hurrying down from the tower to capture him again – of he own volition – as soon as Anaconda could reach the ground. Until one evening when the sun was just disappearing beneath the glittering sea, the whole sky burning a bright crimson, and Anaconda could never resist the temptation to pause there on the branch a moment to take it in. Then he turned to watch Dr Jewels hurrying out the tower gate, rusty chain and neck-clamp dragging down the stairs behind him. And then – so strange a sight he had to blink he eyes twice before he could believe it – Anaconda watched iguana wriggle sheself out from inside Iwana. He shook he head, and he was just about to write it off as another one of those meaningless, magical events common enough in folktale-stories like this ready to drop down to the next branch and begin he descent again – when he happened to see something else to sadden he heart: the two of them were weeping. So now Anaconda dropped instead with a thwack back to the piece of roof, and he slid down the post again to question them why.

They both answered together, Iwana and iguana, speaking both at the same time. And they told him, of course, that they were both in love with him. Each, of course, with the appropriate shape. Anaconda looked up at the crimson sky a moment and filled with sadness heself, he told them that he, too, was very much in love. To such extent that he was willing to surrender heself a prisoner to Dr Jewels every evening, only to enjoy the kisses of beautiful Iwana again. An impossible love! But just as soon as he said this a spark lit up in the depths of Anaconda’s dark eyes. He smiled, and he told them both to dry they tears. ‘Let me study me head good tonight’ he said. ‘And tomorrow evening, I going to tell you what we will do!’ With that Anaconda slid up onto the thatched roof, he climbed up onto the nearest branch, and he began he descent down the great kapok. Down toward the ready crocusssack of Dr Jewels.
The following evening Anaconda waited for Dr Jewels to take he leave as usual. Again he dropped with a thwack to the piece of roof, and he slid down toward Iwana and iguana, a smile shining on he face. ‘Listen!’ he told them both. ‘What I going to do is take off my skin. And I want iguana to put it on. Tomorrow, when Dr Jewels comes to take he feast iguana must crawl up inside Iwana just the same. ‘Then,’ Anaconda said, smiling he knowing smile, ‘we going to see what we will see!’

And that was just what happened. Anaconda took off he long skin, and he slid away blushing like a little boy. But Anaconda’s skin was a size many many times too long to fit iguana. She put it on just the same. And just as you would suppose too – all those ages and ages ago when the earth was young sheself – iguana was still a fresh younggirl. She skin as soft and smooth as a new zabuca-pear, golden and glistening without a blemish to the tip of she tail! But Johnny, by the time iguana finished dressing sheself in Anaconda’s long skin, she didn’t look like no springchicken a-tall. Now she looked like the oldest ramshackled creature on all Papa God’s earth! Like a ratty old rastaman, he dreadlocks hanging down below he waist so many wrinkles did iguana have now around she neck, she belly and all about. So many wrinkles that she had to struggle and struggle to squeeze all that extra skin inside Iwana, the following afternoon when Dr Jewels arrived with Anaconda, he big key rattling inside the gate.

After only a single sour taste of Anaconda, Dr Jewels opened he eyes wide wide for the first time ever during he evening feasts. He looked inside Iwana to see all those endless oldlady wrinkies, in that very pussy which only the previous day, he had tasted smooth, and sweet, fresh as a fresh younggirl! Dr Jewels jumped up in a rage straight away. He rushed to the wall of the tower to spit the sour taste over the side. And Johnny, then something happened that nobody could anticipate a-tall. Even me, and I have been telling this story for so many years. Now Dr Jewels turned around to see beautiful Iwana lying there on the bed, handsome Anaconda there at the bedside also – two of the most beautiful creatures ever to walk on Papa God’s golden earth – and he saw for the first time the reality of those wretched chains around they necks. He contemplated for the first time the wretched state that was the world – which, in good measure, was he own doing – and without the least forewarning a-tall, Dr Jewels threw heself from the tower to he death down below.

Just like that! The story was over already, before anybody was ready to see it finish. Because Johnny, the only thing remaining was for iguana to crawl out from inside Iwana, so Anaconda could make love to her for we tale to have its happy end. But then something else happened that neither of those three nor nobody else could have ever suspected. You see, when iguana wriggled sheself out from Iwana at last she couldn’t help but leave half the wrinkled up skin inside. And when iguana tried to wriggle out sheself from all that wrinkled up skin she was wearing, she couldn’t. All that skin had stuck – to Iwana and iguana – and so both of them remained with they wrinkles to this very day. It’s true, that’s the way they got them. And Johnny, when you grow older and you have thc opportunity to look for youself, you’ll find all those wrinkles folded up inside just the same. Just as I am telling you. But don’t worry, because Johnny, one more thing that I can tell you about iguanas too – despite all they wrinkles – is that both of them remained young and sweet sweet forever!

This, of course, Anaconda knew as good as anybody else. So with the sun just disappearing beneath the glittering sea, all the sky above them painted a brilliant crimson, Iwana and Anaconda could make love to each other at last. And the next morning, Anaconda taught her the trick of how to change she shape. Iwana became iguana. Then Anaconda changed to he serpent self too, both of them climbing down from the giant kapok tree. They disappeared inside the forest where they have lived happy together to this very day. Only on occasion, when the moon is full with the scent of the forest green like the first day Papa God breathed life in the earth, do Anaconda and Iwana feel a longing to change they shape. Only on occasion do they surrender, and only to make love together like human beings.

Special to the Finnish Edition, Translated Here to English

“An Additional Tale from Granny Myna Not Found in the Collection”
My Grandmother’s Story of the Finnish Captain
and His Swedish Saxophone,
and How He Tried to Make Her the Queen of Suomenlinna,
but She Drank Too Much Russian Vodka and Fell Overboard
Before the Honeymoon Ship Could Leave the Harbor

For Timo Ernamo and Anni Sumari

So Johnny, you want me to give you this nasty story? Well you better push up close here beside me and let me lower my voice so you mummy and daddy don’t hear—especially when I get to the proportions of the saxophone part, and how it almost killed you poor Granny only to think about it!—because that is the kind of thing they don’t permit me to discuss in this house a-tall, Papa-yo! So the war was fighting a few years already at the time of this story, that I had my boardinghouse for the American soldiers from the Base to stay with me, five or six of them or however many of those boys could fit. I had Gregoria la Rosa there to help me with all the cooking, and we clean and press all the uniforms that they could have them fresh every morning, and of course, every evening after dinner the boys would beg me to entertain them with one of my famous stories. And Johnny, I make sure to give them a story with plenty intrigue, and drama, and twists and turns to confuffle they heads—and I always make sure to throw in a little sex and rudeness—because when it comes to youngboys that is the only thing to keep them listening on the edge of they seats. Those boys have all become like my own adopted sons to me, and that is the best way to keep them at home and off the streets, because you know that since the war start and all those soldiers arrive they turn this whole island of Corpus Christi into one big gamblinghouse, and pussyclub, and whateverelse they could think of to rob my boys of they money fast enough and put them in trouble.

So that night Gregoria have just finish clearing the table of all we plates from a nice fat quenk, that she have cook him with an apple inside he mouth and parsley beneath he arms, and I have just start in to telling them that tale of

The Woman Who Had a Pet Iguana that One Day He Disappeared
Inside She Skirts and She Couldn’t Coax Him Out Again

when all in a sudden my friend the Sergeant Warren arrives from the Base with he jeep all painted in camouflage, and he comes pounding down the door. Standing beside him is this peculiar looking little man dressed in a funny kind of sailor costume with he shortpants—and he little white cap with the blue ribbon tie in a big bow under her chin—that in truth he is looking more like a little boy playing in Kiddy-Carnival as sailor, than a full-grown soldier. But on the other hand he got some big bushy walrus-mustaches that look like they got moss growing green around the edges, and pointy little blue eyes, with he big big flappy ears pushing out from the two wiry tuffs of hair at the sides of he head. And Johnny, when the Sergeant introduce him to me as the Finnish Captain, I could only laugh out loud and say that in truth that is the perfect namenick for him, as he looks to me the image of one of those Santa Claus reindeers they got living in Lapland, with he big flappy ears the moose-horns! Now Sergeant Warren chuckle little bit and he tell me that in truth this Captain have come to visit us all the way from he country of Finland—but he most famous feature is not the reindeer ears, it is he Swedish Saxophone—and surely he will oblige us a little later on and take it out and play some music on it as is he habit, especially after he drinks a little vodka. Because the Sergeant Warren says that he would appreciate it very much it if the Captain could stay with you tonight as he is an important military guest of high ranking—very much appreciated by the American Army, even though the official position of he country for the war is neutral—and since this boarding house is the most hospitable on the whole island, and you are certainly the most gracious proprietress and a very beautiful and enticing young widow too, then this is surely the most appropriate place for him to spend the night. So this little Captain remained with us for only the one night—and that night he surely did give us we money’s worth of good entertainment too—and he even make heself a few yankee-dollars to finance he clandestine military operations as you will see.

So I tell the Sergeant that what he say about the beautiful and gracious young widow-proprietress is certainly a fact, and the Captain is very welcome to spend the night with us and make heself at home, and it is also true that I usually appreciate a little music and dancing in the house—even though that saxophone business is sounding a little bit suspicious to me—but in any case we wouldn’t have no time for no music tonight as we already finish the dinner, and I am almost done telling my tale too, that soon enough I will be putting myself and all my boys to bed. Sergeant Warren tell me that is just as it should be in a respectable house like this, and he bids me good-bye, and the Captain comes in now and he is toting he big black sailor-trunk that it looks to me very very heavy the way he straining—and it is making a peculiar sloshing sound—but all I could think is maybe that trunk has the big saxophone the Sergeant was talking about. But straight away the Captain introduces heself all around to the boys sitting at the table, and he says that it would be he greatest pleasure to offer us a gift of 100 proof contraband smuggled over the boarder and across the sea by yours truly—that it is representative and even symbolic of my proud little country of Finland, where we consume more per capita even than the place of manufacture—and when he throws open he trunk we see that it is full to the brim only with bottles of Russian Vodka, and this little Captain grabs out one and he puts it on the table.

Papa-yo! The truth is that I have only reach to the middle my tale, at the part when the woman have grow so desperate because she couldn’t find nothing a-tall to entice she pet iguana to come back out—and she even call the fire engine to come with they long ladder like if it is she pussycat stuck up in a tree, instead of the other way round—and anyway I was so exhausted that night I only wanted to finish my story and send us all to bed. But on the other hand I never even seen a bottle of Russian vodka before, much less to take a taste, so I thank the Captain and I take down five or six of those little shot glasses that I keep there on the shelf to have a nip of brandy every now and again with my boys. I say the only polite thing is for us is oblige the Finnish Captain and make a little toast welcoming him here to the West Indies, and to we humble abode, and we all raise up we little glasses and clink them together and fire them back.

Well! The truth that I find out later is that this little Finnish Captain had he whole ship loaded top-to-bottom only with bottles of contraband Russian vodka! And that was the only interest of those Americans—because the Captain turned over all that vodka to them in exchange for plenty plenty guns and ammunition—as he had he own war fighting at home in Finland, where the Russians was trying to invade them. In other words, this little Captain utilize they own world-famous vodka in order to defeat those Russians—in addition to he other tactics to purchase weapons for he warfare—because he had a good few tricks up he sleeve and in he underdraws too as you will see. And Johnny, if you look in you history book you will also see how it is true, that this little Finnish Captain by the name of Timo Emamo have become very famous, many times decorated, as utilize he tricks and he famous bazooka to defeat not only those Russians, but the General Stalin heself when he try to cross over the boarder!

But Johnny, all that is getting way ahead of my story already, because for the time being all I was contemplating was that vodka, and the truth is that it was tasting so smooth, and it go down so easy—that I could understand perfectly well why the Americans are so pleased by the visit of this Captain—because after the first toast we couldn’t help weselves but make a next one, and then a next one after that, and next thing you know this little funny looking Finnish Captain in he sailorboy Kiddy-Carnival costume reaches inside he trunk for a next bottle! And I don’t know how many of those bottles of Russian vodka we consume that evening, and more still how I managed to leave my boys there still drinking and make my way upstairs inside my bed—that the only thing I know sure enough is that poor woman will have she pet iguana stuck forever inside she pussy—because I never did reach to the happy ending of my story. And I must have sleep good and sound for a good few hours too, until I jump up from my bed in the middle of the night hearing one set of noise, shouting and whistling and beating they fists on the table coming from downstairs—that all I could think is maybe Hitler did arrive all the way here in the West Indies to raid us at last just like the English promise—and I throw on my dressing gown and hurry down the stairs to find out what it is.

Johnny, let me tell you when I reach in that dining room and I see what is going on, I realize this little Captain who have raid the house is worse even than Hitler, and now I wanted to take off running as far away as he home of Finland myself! But Johnny, the truth is that this spectacle that is taking place right here on my own dining table have me mesmerize at the same time, and boofootoo, because I couldn’t turn my head to look away in the other direction not for nothing on Papa God’s green earth, much less to take off running! Right there on the table in the middle of all those empty bottles of vodka is two big piles of yankee-money pile up almost to reach the chandelier shining above. But Johnny, that wasn’t what have me so mesmerize. Because all the way along the length of that big dining table is all my youngboys, and they all have they soldierpants unbuckled with they underdrawers down around they knees, and each one is standing beside the table with he toe-tee exposed lying there on it stretched out to make a measurement! But Johnny, the truth is that still wasn’t what have me so boofootoo. Not a-tall! Because there of course at the end of this long line up of soldier tot-tees is we little Finnish Captain, that of course he have drop he sailorboy-shortpants down around he ankles too. And the truth is that he was so short he had to stand on he chair to reach up to the edge of the table like the rest of the boys, but don’t let he small stature fool you! Because now I realize that the animal he got exposed lying there docile enough on the table like a sleeping macajuel snake—after that snake swallow-down he supper of a good-sized quenk heself—can be nothing other than he famous Swedish Saxophone.

Sweet heart of Jesus! Johnny, I have never seen nothing to compare with this Captain’s toe-tee in all my life—and truth is I hope I never have the experience to see it again—because even after all these years it takes my breath away only to try to remember it! Because Johnny, not only couldn’t I turn my head to look the other way, much less to take of running in the other direction, the truth is that all in a sudden I couldn’t keep my hands to myself neither! This saxophone is so frightening and so enticing at the same time, that I couldn’t help myself from walking slow down the table now in a dead silence—because of course all my boys are a little bit embarrassed when they discover me standing there to witness this spectacle, and they all quiet down straight away—and when I reach to my funny little Finnish Captain with he terrifying tantalizing saxophone stretched out there in peaceful repose at the end of the table, I couldn’t hold back my hand from reaching out slow and gentle to touch it!

Johnny, it was real! It wasn’t no make believe fantasy of my hysterical female imagination, nor you eager youngboy’s imagination neither, that of course such specters are common enough in fairytale-bedtime stories like this. It was soft warm reality lying there in repose on my own table—alive and breathing and no kind of conjurer’s trick neither—and Johnny, when I was sure about it I pulled my hand back fast as I could manage! Now the Captain bows he head to me smiling, and he says thank you very much for doing the honors of selecting the winner youself, even though he is wasting he breath saying that, as it was obvious enough even for a blind person! So now he raise up he sailorboy-shortpants to make heself respectful again—even though I was a little bit disheartened to see it disappear—and all the rest of my boys do the same, and now they all start to cheer and slap the little Captain on he back to congratulate him in the competition of good healthy sportsmanship. The Captain move he sailor-trunk over beside the table—since now that we have drink out half of those vodka bottles it is half empty—and he sweeps all that first big pile of yankee-money inside, and of course, at the same time he takes out another bottle.

Well! I was still a little nervous, and excited, with my hand still trembling a little bit in the memory of what I have just touched in this toe-tee measuring competition—and the truth is that every time I closed my eyes for even a second I couldn’t help but see the vision of that saxophone again!—that all I could think is the best thing to calm my nerves is a little shot of vodka myself. So the Captain pours out some in all the little glasses in a long line, and we raise them up high in the air and clink them together and fire them back, and of course, one shot leads to another, and another, and soon enough we are right back again were we story started. But there was still one thing about this story that I didn’t understand too good, and that was that other big pile of yankee-money sitting there on the table, because remember how I told you there was two of them? Now I ask the Captain to please fill my glass again, and at the same time would you please explain to me what is that remaining pile of money that you forgot to sweep it in you trunk with the other one? But Johnny, I don’t know why as always I can’t hold my big mouth shut and keep my curiosity to myself! Because now the little Captain smiles again, and he tells me that second pile is the second part of the wager, and he asks me if I am sure I want to see what it is? I tell him after what I have just witness with the grand prize of that toe-tee measuring competition, there isn’t nothing in this world could phase me—even though I didn’t have the least idea what I was asking for!—and now this little Finnish Captain says to me that is very fine, that you are a very gracious and beautiful young woman, and he would be the last person in this world to deprive me of my wish. “Because the second part of my wager with the boys,” says this Captain, “is not only the superior proportions of my Swedish saxophone, it is my unusual talent to make music with it!”

Johnny, I didn’t have no idea how to respond to this, but one thing I could tell you for sure for sure, whatever the fuck this funny little Finnish Captain is talking about, I am not about to try to stop him! So now we take down all the empty vodka bottles off the table, and we take up all we glasses to give the Captain room to lift up he chair on top, and now he jumps up on top the table heself, and just as you are expecting, now he drops he little sailorboy-shortpants to expose heself again, hanging and swinging gentle back and forth the size of a sledge hammer ready for demolition, with its pink hammerhead dangling all the way down between he knobby knees. He bows he head to me very gallant and takes he seat in the chair, and he brushes back the bushy walrus-mustaches with a serious look on he face like a musician out the philharmonic. Now this little Finnish Captain adjusts he shoulders and loosens the big bow beneath he chin, he raises up he saxophone in both hands, and he stretches out he neck to bend over very careful with he two cheeks puffed up like two rosy governor plums, and Johnny, sure enough when he expels those cheeks, out comes the music! Oui fute, Papa-yo! True, that music was sounding more like one of those big fat tuba horns—that the sound of that instrument always reminds me of a wet fart—more than any kind of saxophone I ever hear. But to the credit of this little Captain—not to mention he second pile of yankee-cash—the sounds that he produced with he saxophone was music enough! Not only that, but as a special tribute to all those boys sitting there and me too, he pick out the most appropriate tune to play for us:

God bless America,
Land that I love!
Stand beside her,
And guide her!

and so on and so forth that after a time me and the boys was cheering so loud, we couldn’t even hear the last part of the song!

Sweet heart of Jesus! Now the Captain raises up he shortpants again and he hands us down he chair back on the floor, and all the boys commence to slapping him on he back congratulating him again, and now the Captain sweeps the second pile of yankee-cash inside he trunk. Of course, at the same time he takes out another bottle of vodka. So we all take a next drink, and then a nest one, and I say that I have to admit I never witness nothing like this before in all my life! And Johnny, by this time that vodka must have gone a little bit to my head too, because I tell this Captain that even though he is the funniest looking little man I ever see in all my life, the truth is that I would marry him tomorrow morning—and I would follow him to the other ends of the earth all the way to he ice-cold country of Finland too—only to have him serenade me every evening in the sunset with a tune of he famous saxophone! Sweet Heart of Jesus! Just as always when I get over-excited, not to mention a little bit drunk, I always put my foot inside my mouth and then I can never pull it back out. Because next thing when I look there kneeling very gallant on the floor before me is this little Captain, and now he takes off he little sailorboy-cap very dramatic to hold it pressed against he heart. The Captain says that now that he has exposed to me the most intimate and sensitive part of heself—and I know exactly what to expect from him without the least deception or exaggeration about it—that he would be most proud and pleased to accept my offer!

“Furthermore,” says this little Captain, “not only would it be my pleasure to escort you aboard my ship that she is sailing first thing tomorrow morning—just as soon as those Americans can offload all that contraband vodka and replace it for all the guns—but I will perform the wedding ceremony myself first thing as soon as we can get to sea, as it is my legal jurisdiction. Then,” says this little Captain, “you will have that entire shipload of Finnish soldiers at you personal discretion and intimate pleasures for the whole of that long honeymoon-journey all the way back home to Finland—and there is even a sauna onboard for you own private use—or accompanied by as many of those soldier-attendants as you can fit inside the sauna too. Then,” says this Captain, “when the honeymoon is over and we arrive at last to the harbor in Helsinki, it will be my first duty and privilege to escort you to my own private island and Main Military Base—where there will be even more soldiers willing and happy to attend you—because I will pronounce you the Queen of Suomenlinna!”

Oui fute, Papa-yo! This Captain and he vodka have my head spinning with all these promises of making me a Queen of my own private Jacky Onassis-island full to the brim with Finnish soldiers, that before I can have a chance to think about it proper I repeat myself saying again that even though he is funniest looking little man I have ever lay my eyes on in all my life—we can hardly leave out he saxophone feature that there is certainly some advantages in that—and I will be pleased to accept he proposal of marriage, on the one condition that he hold back a couple cases of vodka for the sauna-honeymoon! The Captain says that not only would he hold back a couple cases, he will make a phonecall to Sergeant Warren immediately at the Base—and he will tell him the good news and how he must come straight away here to the house and make sure to bring a couple more cases too—because we have big big party to celebrate tonight, and we almost run out.

Papa-yo! I tell the Captain that plan sounds perfect to me, and that is exactly what we will do. “But before I take another drink,” I tell him, “there is still one small item of this story that have my head a little bit confused—even though come to remember it again it isn’t so small a-tall!—and that is why if the country he comes from is Finland, he musical instrument is called a Swedish saxophone?” The Captain smiles again and he says that obviously you don’t know much about my part of the world, that is to say the Nordic countries, and I say yes, that happens to be true. You see, explains this Captain, the majority of my physical features and stature, that is to say the shorter part of myself—not to mention my preference of liquid refreshment—I have inherited from my mother, and she family came a very long time ago from Russia. But on the other hand I also have the very good fortune to receive one particular feature from my father, in addition to instructions in the traditional folk techniques for making music with it. Because Madam, if you are ever fortunate enough to visit our neighbors in the country of Sweden you will verify for youself, that it is they most striking feature passed down to them all the way from they Viking ancestors—and despite any faults that they might have you got to appreciate and thank them for it—because of course, that is my inheritance from my father’s side who have all come from there.

“That is the happy ending,” says the Captain, “but the sad beginning of this story is that Finland—just like all these small countries here in this Caribbean, and all the other quiet little countries in the world surrounded by they bigger noisier neighbors—was invaded and they culture dominated one minute by Sweden, and the next Russia, over and over one after the next, until after a time we begin to forget who we is weselves. But that is only History,” says this Captain, “and the best part of History is it’s always behind you. Then again, History don’t mean much next to the pleasures of a good story like this one we are hearing right now, especially in the midst good company like this—no matter how far away we come from, and how different we might think we are—and the truth is that we have far more pleasant and important news than a battered old History to celebrate tonight! So gentlemen, please charge you glasses and raise them in a toast to my lovely new West Indian-Finnish bride, because one thing I can tell you for sure, she can knock back she vodka as efficient as any of we!” And with that the Captain pours out the last remaining bottle in the long line of little glasses, and we raise them up high in the air, and we clink them together and fire them back.
Of course, just as we are doing that my good friend the Sergeant Warren arrives from the Base, and he has with him he big entourage of all the camouflage jeeps full of officers and soldiers, and they are all as happy as they can be shouting down the place, and of course, the Sergeant is toting a fresh case of Russian vodka under each of he arms. So now at last we have reach to the true happy ending of this story—even though there is one more little twist that none of us was expecting—since now we reach to the true celebration! Because Johnny, let me tell you we didn’t slow down not for a minute on that vodka until we drink down those other two cases too! Not until long after the sun rise the following morning, and it is long past the time for us to leave for we farewell finale at the harbor. And truth is that by that time I was drunk as a jabmolassee myself, that I couldn’t hardly even stand, and it was all Gregoria la Rosa could manage to shove me onboard the Captain’s ship. She take me all the way to the very stern of the boat—in the event that I have the emergency of a little stomach upset, and I need to dispose of something over the side—and Gregoria fix my two hands to the railing, and she tell me to hold on tight tight and whatever else I do, not to let that railing go! Of course, no sooner have the loose all the big ropes and the Captain in the pilothouse blow he foghorn fhaaaaah! fhaaaaah! fhaaaaah! and that ship commences to move slow and gentle out the harbor—when I raise my hand from the railing a second to wave good-by to Gregoria there on the wharf—and next thing you know I am tumbling inside the water. Of course, like all good Finnish sailors they had they own party of Russian vodka last night—and they are all too drunk theyselves not only to manage throwing me the life-ring—but to even notice they got a sailor overboard. Of course, I was far beyond the possibility of keeping myself afloat neither. But fortunate for me Gregoria was there and she throw sheself in the water first thing to swim out to save me. So by the time she drag me all the way back to that wharf, and they fish us out and dry us off, that big ship was already nothing more than a tiny black dot on the horizon, far out to sea. Of course, by that time I was sober enough, and back to my senses too, and I realize it is all for the best. And Johnny, even though I have lived a long and happy life, and now I am an old Granny whose fortune has smiled on her the most important blessing of all—and that is all my grandchildren sitting around me to hear my stories—there are still a few things I regret a little bit. Because I never did become the Queen of Suomenlinna, and the only sauna I ever experience is the public bus, and nobody never serenade me again like my Finnish Captain.


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“Not only poignant, well-paced and politically subtle but very, very funny . . . a cohesive celebration of sensuality.”
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