This is an extract from a short I’m currently working on. Don’t let the dialogue throw you off in any sense it’s written in Jamaican patois.
Thelma clambered in to her kitchen dumping the grocery bags on the floor. She didn’t allow the Fran and those at the culinary event to destroy her passion for cooking. Her faith in her own ability took a knock however. She packed away her shopping and decided to work on dinner. She took out two chicken breasts and began seasoning them. She didn’t have an exact idea of what she was going to make but most nights she never did. She just let her inspirations take over. Ryan came in to the kitchen with music blaring from his headphones. He was dripping in sweat from his daily run.
“Wh’appen mummy?” He kissed her forehead.
“’ow yuh do?”
“Recard time nuh. Mi gan Olympics nex’ year.” He laughed.
Thelma opened a cupboard and began studying the different dry rubs she had available. She snatched a few off the shelf and shut the door. Ryan was leaning on the counter watching his mother closely.
“What?” She asked.
“Why yuh nah enter far di cookin’ ting dis year?”
“Ahh Ryan, mi nah wan’ ‘ear ‘bout dis again.”
“Why? You is ah excellent chef.”
“Ryan, stap it nuh.”
“Di kitchen is yare element. It’s where yuh belang mummy” he cried.
Thelma stopped what she was doing, her head sunk. Ryan’s words had touched a nerve deep inside her. Ryan walked over and placed a poster for the event beside her.
“Get dat ting away fram me” she moaned.
“Dat ooman ‘as ruined everyting. Dem judges nah see pas’ ‘er breas’ and smile.”
Ryan laughed at his mother’s comment. “Look dem ‘ave new judges dis year.” He slid the poster closer to her. Thelma glanced over the poster; she noticed the red lettering stating ‘New Judging Panel’. Her stomach tensed, a new judging panel meant that she really did have a clear chance of winning.
“Mi see yuh face light up!” Ryan beamed.
“It ah good chance, I mus’ say.” Thelma read over the poster.
“Doi people dem will be shocked to see you return.”
Thelma walked away from the poster and stared out the window. The people she thought to herself. The people will cause her the biggest problem of all. Her actions at the previous event still haven’t been forgotten. She hears them whispering to each other in the market. Fran was loved by everyone in the town; she couldn’t make an enemy of these people even if she tried. Thelma put herself on the opposing side to Fran. The new judges would’ve heard about the history between the two, if Fran’s able to sway their vote with her personality and popularity; Thelma wouldn’t stand a chance. She knew she had to stop Fran in her tracks. Fran was calculated enough to use every tactic possible to win, Thelma could not let that happen.
“I gonna enter this time roun’” she proclaimed bringing a smile to her son’s face. “But it ‘ave to be a joint effart wid me an’ you.”
“Anyting I can do, I will.” Ryan spoke up. This was music to Thelma’s ears.
“Good, I ‘ave ah job far you.”
“What kin’ ah job?”
“You need to go an spy pon Fran. Fin’ out wha’ she cookin’ far dis year’s event.”
“What? ‘ow mi ah do dat?”
“It nah simple. She ah recognise me as your son. She see mi dere at di event standin’ wid you.” Ryan edged to the doorway.
“Mummy, I will ‘elp any way I can, but mi can’t spy on Fran. ‘ow will I even get in to her ‘ouse?”
“I know, it was ah silly idea. Gwan fi shower I will call you when dinner is ready.” Thelma spoke absently. Ryan tapped the wall and headed upstairs leaving Thelma staring blankly at out of the window.
Ryan sat across his mother at the dinner table; neither spoke a word. Ryan kept looking up at his mother to catch her eye. He cleared his throat a few more times than he needed to, but that still wasn’t enough to spark a conversation. He played with the food on his place, humming random tunes and whistling. Thelma didn’t bat an eyelid. Years of raising a child alone provided her with the ability to have a heart of stone when necessary. It seems that this was one of those times. Ryan knew exactly what his mother was doing. But unlike her he doesn’t have a heart of stone; in fact he has a need to please. No one knows this better than Thelma. She got up from the table and washed her plate in the sink. The silence was eating away at Ryan one bite at a time. He stared at his mother before dropping his head in his hands.
“Sam ‘ave ah outfit mi can borrow” Ryan blurted out. Fran didn’t respond. “’im say it ah belang to ‘im farda but ‘im nah use it.”
“You wan’ mi to pick it up?”
“Why nat? Yuh say yuh wan’ mi to spy dis is di bes’ way.”
“Yuh nah wan’ to. Mi nah wan’ yuh to do it” Thelma spoke washing the contents of the sink. Ryan laughed aloud causing Thelma to finally look at him.
“You nah wan’ mi to do dis cah mi nah wan’ to. ‘ow many times yuh make me gwan church” Ryan laughed. “You ah chat-” he was cut off by a stern glare from his mother. That same stare that leads in to her losing her temper, Ryan has seen it one too many times.
“Look, I will go an’ get it tomorrow. Den we can ‘atch a plan.”
“No” Thelma replied.
“Mummy, mi sarry far nat agreeing straight away. I jus’ tink we need a plan firs’” Ryan’s fist inadvertently slammed the table. Thelma raised her eyebrows; she never accepted disrespect in any form. But she loved to see her son show passion.
“No” she repeated. “Gwan get it now.” Ryan leapt up from his seat and headed out the door. Thelma watched on through the window as Ryan jogged up the pathway. She made sure she was out of sight before cutting a smile.
Greg J Allman