By Marlon Bute
The tall brown skinned man with thick curly hair stood on the balcony of the blue and white concrete building. Its orange galvanized roof was gleaming from a fresh coat of paint. Most of the houses along the street where he had just bought his latest property were larger structures that were well kept. They had interlocking driveways, well-manicured lawns and planter boxes with white, red, and orange rhizomes, orchids, and amaryllis that gave off sweet fragrances on cool evenings. He had never had intentions of planting flowers and instead, had considered it more practical to plant tomatoes, sweet peppers, chives, thymes and hot peppers.
He looked past the yachts and fishing boats and the buoys bobbing in the blue Caribbean Sea to where the sky disappeared into the sea and contemplated his next move. He had come a long way from living in a wattle and dab hut and cooking with wood. He had come a far way from bathing in the river and using pit latrines.
He felt that it was sheer luck that resulted in his good fortunes. He was unable to fully appreciate that it was primarily his passion for hunting that made his transition from hunter to exporter of exotic meats possible. And, that it was that which had removed him from the hundreds of other hunters who hunted because they had to and not because they enjoyed it or were even good at it.
Over the six years since Seetha had left Trinidad, Boysie’s clientele had grown rapidly from serving his village, to serving the southern part of the island and Tobago where he had become known for supplying crabs, crayfish, tattoo, manicou, iguana and other delicacies on short notice. Boysie, anticipating a continuing demand for his supplies, had wisely recruited his longtime friend Patmos, who had a dilapidated pick-up truck. The two of them had set out on a breezy Saturday evening to Tunapuna to purchase an old freezer from Patmos’s shopkeeper great aunt. Patmos’ great aunt, on hearing that Boysie was the man to check for a reliable supply of wild meats, especially tattoo, had put in a weekly order from Boysie. They had chatted a while about best business practices, hygiene, storage, and reliability and had told each other farewell until the next week, when Boysie was to make his first delivery.
Patmos was more than happy to make whatever he could to provide for his pregnant wife and their second child, so he had gladly accepted when Boysie asked if he would be willing to make the trip to Tunapuna on a weekly basis.
With the freezer, which was kept at Patmos’ house; Boysie still lived in the wattle and dab hut at that time; and with Patmos’ old pick-up; Boysie was in a better position to serve his growing clientele. It wasn’t long before Boysie bought another freezer and was buying wild meats from other hunters to meet his market. And, it was only six months after his first trip to Tunapuna that Boysie was encouraged by Patmos’ ailing great aunt to take over her shop.
Boysie was reluctant at first. He knew nothing about the dry goods business. But, it soon dawned on him that he could make as many changes as he could to suit his vision. Two days later, a spanking new sign, that Boysie had painted himself, read, “ Boysie Wild Meats”. And the counter and shelves, along with all the dry goods, had been removed and replaced with a half a dozen used, but freshly painted standing freezers. They were well stocked with wild meats, except that Boysie had decided to also sell chicken and fish, recognizing that those meats would always be more popular and more affordable among most customers.
Boysie took a deep breath, inhaling the breeze that blew over the sea to his balcony. He could make out one of his fishing boats from where he stood. He was expecting his men to return with a good catch of conch and lobsters.
They would be vacuum packed as usual and shipped to New York and Toronto on the next available flight. Business in those parts was immensely rewarding. Boysie returned inside, put the plane ticket on the kitchen table and decided to take a run before supper.
Next episode on Wednesday