Jean and the Shotgun; and the joy of gin and tonic

Quick entry today – we are headed to Haiti’s once glorious Club Med, now called Club Indigo – although these days it should probably be renamed Club UNdigo. More on this later. Meantime, the tale of Jean and his shotgun develops.

Jean and his shotgun, ready for action

Wednesday night I meandered outside at 11 pm with my gin and tonic… and here, permit me a brief ode to the true glory of this most excellent of drinks. A gin and tonic in a bar in London or New York is a pleasant tipple, but in Haiti – ah, what can one not say of its marvellous restorative powers? It is a merciful angel, floating down from on high upon gossamer wings. A ministering Teresa.

The suffocating afternoon heat mounts to an angry irritated crescendo, crying babies, and electricity blackouts. A sputtering fan makes decreasing impact upon the cloying haze, but then – oh joy – sunset finally brings its climactic release, the temperature drops, and it’s gin and tonic time.

I quaff its dulcet tones with reverence, and world peace is restored. The universe is in harmony. Gawd bless the G&T.

Anyhow, such alcoholic ramblings aside, Wednesday night I meandered outside at 11pm with my gin and tonic and there was Jean, fast asleep on the steps. Foolishly I ventured a soft “bonsoir” and was faced with instant consequence to my actions – as he swung, bleary-eyed, towards me, shotgun in hand. I pictured myself standing there gripping my wounded stomach.

Still, I stood my ground, and decided since I was still alive that the moment had passed, as he blurted out an incomprehensible explanation in creole – which I suspect would have been no less incomprehensible in the Queen’s English. I nodded. Then gave him a diet Coke, told him to stay awake, and retreated inside.

I promised to be more shotgun savvy in the future.

Thursday night, all was well, 6.30pm (It gets dark at 5.30 here), and I was reading the children bedtime stories when BLAMMO a dramatic blast rang out outside the window. “What’s that noise Daddy?” asked Dorian. “I don’t like it.”

“I don’t like it either,” I replied…. upon which another. BLAMMO!

I peeked outside gingerly. There was Jean, shotgun in hand, muzzle smoking, pointing it at the wall. “Qu’est-ce qui se passe?” I shouted down. Something about the wall, a head peeking over, then flapping hand signals to get back inside.

I rushed in, grabbed the kids and shoved them in the back room. “What’s that noise, Daddy? I don’t like it,” said Dorian. “I don’t like it either,” I replied.

I called Anna, who didn’t answer her cellphone. (She was on the way home). I left an angry message to pick up the f-ing phone. I called again, still no reply.

I had visions of Anna driving into a firefight.

The phone rang. “Hi?” she said. “Jean is firing his shotgun!” I said. “Oh. But he’s letting me in.” And sure enough, Anna had arrived in her big UN car and there was Jean letting her in, without a care in the world.

I walked down. “What on earth is going on?” I asked. Convouted explanations and the answer revealed itself.

It had been a snake. Sneaking down over the wall towards his favourite sleeping chair. “A snake?” I asked, incredulous.

“Yes Monsieur Mark. A snake. A poisonous one.” He acted out the scene. Sneaky snake. He is startled, swings round, spies the predatory beast and boom!

It was a snake Mr Mark. A poisonous one.

He reflects a moment, then adds, all serious now: “Ils sont tres dangereux.”

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