Rapid-fire staccato bleating battered him back to a reluctant consciousness. Squinting a bleary eye downward, Jeremy took in the vocal band of bearded loudmouths interrupting his reverie. The accompanying goatherd pretended control over the group, yet the helter-skelter progress told a different story.
Ensconced in the narrow second-story windowsill overhanging old Odeon Lane, the distraction enabled a wedge of mental distance from ongoing stresses besetting the almost nineteen-year-old high-schooler. Jeremy observed the mini-turmoil play out under his scrutiny in perpetuation of the momentary relief. Silly antics of the Jamaica goats brought a rare smile to the handsome young Maroon.
The younger ones attempted scaling every mountable entity and tasting every mouthable organic or inorganic item within reach during their passage below him. Including pedestrians. A couple of the elder caprines espied him, staring directly into Jeremy’s smoky grey eyes as if to demand safe transit on the way to their destination. He dutifully suspended desire to pounce on the tribe by the remonstrance, sustaining that faint smile.
The boy/man held cumulative effects of school, church, in-laws, love-life and now, impending paternal pressure at bay in this manner. That is, until the sounds of rustling arose from his affianced, Aayla. Awakening from the blessed respite provided by her afternoon nap. Turning away from the window, he bent inward for the purpose of helping her to the water closet. Her nausea, though abated in its alarming intensity of the previous three months, persisted. The effect beleaguered the couple: she in the emetics and he in the hygienic follow-up. The two were nearing exhaustion.
Thank goodness, she was experiencing a small bit of reprieve upon entering the third trimester state of things. Coming onset of his upper sixth form level--- the thirteenth grade--- at the esteemed Jamaica College for Boys would require every bit of available attention. Even though Jeremy had exhibited a capable adeptness at acquiring knowledge, it didn’t come as easily as was true for some of his classmates. Vital concentration and focus remained paramount.
He didn’t intend the generosity of his mentor and sponsor to be squandered. Enrollment and underwriting were that man’s doing. Making a baby at the untested age of eighteen was Jeremy’s doing and it created challenges he had not contemplated. Ones which not many teenage boys ever thought about before enjoying the act. He certainly had not.
Heretofore, the idea of a breeding role had been a foreign concept. Living up on Blue Mountain, in Hagley Gap, under tutelage of the farmer/iconic reggae singer, Ambergai Gee IV, his place had been much different than this new reality. The irony which the situation posed was not lost on the boy. While a pleasant alternative method for orgasmic release, it nevertheless created ramifications unplanned prior to and during the process.
The impregnability factor with Ambergai, in contrast to his newly assumed station in the sex act, had waylaid any pre-emptory ambitions. The alien concept of birth control measures could have been helpful should the options ever been understood. His parents would never have considered such an anti-religious intervention nor had sex education been taught in the one-room school on Blue Mountain.
Aayla’s parents were none too pleased at the prospect of grand-parenthood in their mid-thirties. In addition, Father Manley’s position at Our Lady of the Angels Roman Catholic Church added burden to the domino event.
One of only a handful of married priests on the island of Jamaica, he and Mama Manley felt put upon that their only daughter would take up living sinfully such as she and Jeremy had chosen to do. By getting pregnant they had doubled the sin. Never mind the parents’ own sinfulness: breaking a millennium of precedent for celibacy in the priesthood. Jeremy couldn’t quite comprehend the level of duplicity expressed by their take on the present situation as he recalled the list of seven deadly sins.
Who the hell had ever dreamt up those silly things, anyway?
That conundrum in mind, he dutifully aided and abetted by helpful ministrations over succeeding minutes, wistfully absorbing innocent cacophony out the open window as the band of free-spirited ungulates frolicked past. Substantial feelings for the girl in his life--- and currently, his arms--- did not rise to a level of deep love, though the affection he bore her was considerable. Having been born into an atmosphere of indifference by merit of ranking tenth of thirteen in his own careless parents’ scheme, he did not mean to enter the pact of parenthood lightly. That which his role had wrought weighed heavily. After all, fathering of a life had occurred here. A promise had been made. Wittingly or not.
In coming hours, Jeremy found plenty of time to think. Nursing and housekeeping processes channeled him deep into the past by the mulling. The Caribbean sun arced significantly through a flood of memories in reliving the serpentine road travelled to present moments. As waning sounds of bleating disappeared, the teenager reminisced on a more languidly innocent period during which he served in the post of goatherd himself. For Ambergai Gee’s tribe.
The rapscallions had led him on many a wild goose chase over several years spent perfecting the art of thinking himself in charge of the beasts. Memories of levity imparted by the amusing animals entertained him through dinner preparations and after. Aayla was of little help and no conversational good. By things as they stood, he was alone as de facto caretaker. She played the part of mute patient.
Graduation from the excellent institution subsidized by Ambergai ranked high on a list of objectives. Studies for the coming weeks and months would need be executed only when she was safely dreaming. Though Jeremy was in position and on timeline for goal achievement, nothing was yet secured. And so, between responsibilities to Aayla, child and future, he rarely found a wrinkle of freedom to travel to that simpler time…