The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson


No, it was not “Pork Chop” or “Slippery”, “Sleepy”, “Rusty” or any of the multitude of West Indian characters which I have had to deal with in my long political career.

I was having dinner at one of my favourite restaurants at the Maho. I was a bit worried as my Tanzanian dentist on St. Eustatius had done some emergency work on a tooth a couple of weeks ago, and referred me to dentist Halley for yet another extraction. I was not so worried about that part. What worried me was that I had read recently of a man my age who went to the dentist and remembers nothing after that. It was on the news and as my Grandmother would swear to that anything in print had to be the truth. The man can remember everything his grandmother told him when he was in diapers, but nothing since he left the dentist’s office. So certainly cause for concern and I was putting my fears to rest while consuming the best escargot served in the “New World”.

Suddenly I heard a hard knock on the window opposite the booth where I was having dinner. An apparition appeared at the window. A ghost from the past. He had climbed up the side of the restaurant to greet me. How he managed that I still do not know. These characters have eyesight better than your avareage human being and can spot a politician from miles away. He had seen me from way across the street by the Casino where he hangs out. Once a long time ago I went into that casino to try my luck. I seldom do that. On my second try at the roulette the number I played brought home to me $700.– and immediately I was pounced on by the same character with the announcement:” Johnson, I want my share. When you win I win!” He had another nickname back then, either “Ivory Soap” or “Vitamin B. Complex”, I just cannot remember anymore what it was.

While these thoughts were going through my mind the French waiter who stands outside to lure customers to come inside, came in my direction with an incredulous look on his face. Just a minute before my wife and I  who both like President Obama were discussing the high and low points of his Presidency.

The French gentleman then said: “You know Obama?” I thought he had overheard our conversation. But NO! The waiter from Santo Domingo told him: “Mr. Johnson does not want to see Obama, chase him away.” Well! It was only then that I realized that the apparition at the window high above the street level was “Obama” formerly known as “Slippery” or “Sleepy” or something of the sort. I saw him leaving down the steps outside after the Frenchman gave him chase.

With more than fifty years in politics in the islands and as a writer I have accumulated my fair share of these sort of characters. I as a small island politician have also had the privilege to dine with Queens, Kings and a number of Presidents including Bill Clinton and George Bush, and Vicente Fox and most of the Latin American Presidents, and I feel a bit sad that when “Obama” wanted to dine with me he was put to chase by the French and the Dominicano.

When we paid for the dinner I put a twenty dollar bill in my pocket. My wife said to me:” That’s for Obama right?” I said “Yes” thinking that I would see “Obama” on my way back to the hotel as I had to pass the Casino, but it was not to be as “Obama” had disappeared into the night.

As I was writing this I felt something in my pocket. It was “Obama’s” twenty dollars and I will keep it handy for the next time when he climbs up the side of the restaurant to notify me of his presence.

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