Cursing Mrs. Murphy

Roland Watson-Grant

Halfway across Flat Bridge, Rowena Murphy made a hard right and ran her pickup truck over into the river. Yes, we were with her in that truck and no, it was not an accident. One minute we were heading for Ocho Rios singing along with the radio and the next I was grabbing at water plants and wishing for solid ground. I remember her in the white spaghetti strap dress disappearing downstream and whatever she was shouting had all come out in bubbles. Janis was above me, trying to keep her head above water and when they pulled us out, we looked back for a trace of the truck, but the surface of the Rio Cobre only gave us oil slicks and our own twisted reflections.

That was February, 1983. We were 10 years old. I think that over time I willfully forgot the details and for years Janis lied that she couldn’t remember a damn thing. She really didn’t need to, because we spent 30 years hearing all the versions of why our mother did it. I guess it’s open season for faux pas once the Breath Collector pays your family a visit because nobody ever thinks it’s a good idea to just sit beside you with some tissues and shut the fuck up.

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Everybody Live Uptown Now


Papa is on the lanai, drinkin’ in front of Caleb again. The man wouldn’t even touch a Red Stripe when we were growin’ up, so I don’t know why he would take up this habit in his old age. Then again, ever since that night – years ago – everybody change, including me. Caleb is only six, but I swear that little boy is going to be a journalist one day. He’s outside interviewing his Grandpa.

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