Sun | Jun 16, 2024

The Bashy Belle escape

Published:Sunday | March 12, 2023 | 12:54 AMA short story by Dave Rodney

The ride from Stony Hill to St Mary felt like a slow walk through the valley of the shadow of death. When they arrived, the night dew was already glistening on the blades of grass on the lawns of the Bashy Belle Airport. The late-model black Audi pulled up at a far corner, away from the glare of the security lights.

It was just after midnight and Dulcivita’s escape was going to be a delicate operation with no room for error. Before the attractive woman and her two armed accomplices alighted from the sedan, she chanted Psalm 23. She made the sign of the cross on her chest, just between her protruding breasts. The afro wig worked perfectly as a disguise and her trademark Gucci bag was replaced tonight with a black supermarket shopping bag. Inside were a few essentials - a thick wad of cash in American currency, a small pouch with credit cards, her freshly minted Alabama driver’s licence, her new passport. And a loaded hand gun.

The late-night departure was arranged through a charter company in The Bahamas. When the cell phone rang at 12:30 a.m., Dulcivita and Tyrone, one of the hired thugs, were to do a 9.69 seconds dash to the steps of the Cessna through a security gate that was to be left intentionally open. Big bucks were dropped to ensure a seamless departure from the Bashy Belle Airport. The second henchman was to return the car to Portmore for safekeeping.

Dulcivita’s emergency escape became necessary because of an elaborate plan she hatched and executed years ago to rob investors of their life savings and real estate holdings. There were other accomplices. She ran the main legwork, but there were other culprits, including four bankers, two attorneys, a real estate agent, a few thugs, and a funeral director. They all supervised branches of this vast and lucrative criminal enterprise.

MAKING A KILLING

Everyone was making a killing. Dulcivita was smart enough to know that this racket had a shelf life. She wanted to maximise her weekly loot and make an early exit. She was relying on a business associate who had agreed to start a corporate petition for her US residency. She was looking at relocating around 2025, slipping out quietly. That would give her more than enough time to wind up her various business ventures. But on the Rock, things never go as planned. And bad luck is always worse than obeah.

One night last October, she eagerly accepted an invitation to attend a reception at a Kingston hotel. She had heard that a cashy, new dancehall sensation would be there. A little breeze out to sip on champagne. And to nibble on hot appetisers, unlike the huge bites she took earlier that day in multiple investment accounts. She caught COVID-19 at the party and was forced to stay home for ten days. The unexpected absence from office loosened her iron-fisted grip on a number of financial matters. A number of glaring inconsistencies opened a can of worms. All hell broke loose in the office when an Atlanta-based Jamaican, who had travelled down to wrap up his dead father’s estate, discovered that every penny was gone. Almost whispering, a colleague explained that the account manager was out sick.

“Unnu betta call ‘er even if she deh pon her death bed in intensive care,” he screamed angrily. Mi want know where mi fada money gone.”

This ugly discovery was only the tip of the iceberg. Days later, a number of queries revealed that a number of real estate properties had also been swiped through clever and criminal orchestration. And horror of horrors! Police investigations revealed that a retired gentleman from Jacks Hill, who had been asking questions about his account, was recently shot by motorcyclists while driving through a Waterloo Road intersection.

QUESTION

The question on everyone’s lips was how Dulcivita tumbled from high school valedictorian, youth preacher, and popular finance executive to Jamaica’s most wanted. There was very little she lacked in her privileged upbringing. But despite the many opportunities, she always harbored a burning resentment for colleagues of a darker shade who outshone her socially, professionally, educationally, and financially. Both her parents worked hard to make ends meet, and she was always angry at black Jamaicans who could drive luxury cars, buy lavish homes, take frequent overseas shopping trips, and enjoy north-coast getaways. She had been a faithful church worshipper all her life, and she felt the blessings of her family had been short-changed, given their unwavering devotion to Christianity.

Her ambivalent emotions exploded in the late 1990s when her dad was denied the one thing he wanted the most. He had always dreamed about owning a top-of- the-class Mercedes Benz. Not a C or E class, but a fully loaded S class with plush enhancements. The price tag was a problem. But undeterred, he was able to cough up four Monday morning instalments to make the first deposit. He wallowed in the joy the classy chariot for the first few weeks. But when the first astronomical servicing bill hit, he was compelled to take this heavy burden right back to the dealer. This was the ultimate humiliation for Dulcivita. She felt her father’s crucifying pain but there is nothing she could do to help. It was there and then that the young starlet swore that one day, by the hook or by the crook, she would swim in so much money that it would make every black man green with envy.

ON THE TARMAC

Back at the Bashy Belle Airport, Dulcivita answered the incoming call at 12:32 a.m.. It was Captain Clapham indicating that he was on the tarmac waiting and they should quickly board. Dulcivita’s heartbeat went into overdrive from fear and nervousness. The way was clear, and she moved towards the metal gate, Tyrone leading the way. They both entered the restricted area, his eyes sweeping every square inch to make sure there were no hurdles. This was an escape and not a premium service, so the pleasantries were brief. Fasten seat belts. Estimated flying time: 89 minutes.

But just as the pilot was about to retract the steps and close the door, a huge bang on the outside window, as if from nowhere. Not now, Dulcivita thought in stunned disbelief. The last thing she wanted was to miss church on Ash Wednesday. She had already picked out her elegant Dior two-piece outfit with matching Tiffany pearls paired with colourful local Bridget footwear.

A powerful light illuminated inside the aircraft. An even more powerful voice yelled” FBI. Agent Natty Ratty. Step off the aircraft. You are all under arrest,” he declared, flashing a badge. “We’ve been watching your every move for two years so we know what you did. But now we want to hear everything on everyone who is in this crime web with you,”,] he demanded, clamping the metal handcuffs over her freshly manicured soft hands ... .

This story is a work of fiction and any resemblance to people or events, real or imagined, living or departed is purely a coincidence.