Rasta Love (part two)

 © 2001 Norman Samuda-Smith

Rasta Love is featured in Britannia’s Children – A Collection of Short Stories by Norman Samuda Smith

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De following Monday, at Small Heath Community Centre yout’ club, Errol was playing table tennis wid Pedro, and him hear de same bredrin ah talk bout Lorraine. He never know de bredda, true seh him was from one nedda area, but him know seh de bwoy have one bad reputation.

          ‘At de end of de night yuh know roots, de gyal gwaan like seh she nuh want to give I nutt’n!’ Errol carry on listen. De bredrin seh it arrogantly, as if it was due to him.

          ‘So what happen den?’ ask one of de roots.

          ‘Cho, she chicken out wid some cheap double talk, man!’ de bredrin seh, bathing in certainty. Errol trow down de table-tennis bat in anger.

          ‘Nah man, yuh nuh fe talk bout de girl like dat, man!’ Errol feel like him face was gwine bruk inna one million likkle piece. He never feel so vex. De bredrin turn round. ‘Den who is you, I-yah?’ he ask.

Errol puff out him chest. ‘Jus a man.  S’pose smaddy talk bout yuh sista like dat?’

Pedro start edge round de table, coz it look like de argument ah go get weh from dem.

De bredrin step forward. ‘Cho, dat different.’


          ‘Yuh mus wah me cut yuh!’ De bredrin reached into his pocket like seh him did have one knife in deh or someting.

Errol cuss after him. ‘Yuh ignorant, man.’

          ‘Is who yuh ah call ignorant I-yah?  Me soon tump yuh inna yuh face!’

‘Come nuh!’

Pedro step between dem, as Errol and de bredrin go fe each other, a crowd gather round.

          ‘No Errol, come we go man. Come.’

          ‘Oh, is you.’ de bredrin seh. ‘Jus coz yuh can chat pon de mic good, yuh feel seh yuh invincible nuh? Go-weh! Yuh ah bwoy!’

          ‘Come we go Rasta!’ Pedro seh, guiding Errol out ah de club.

‘Yeah, run weh bwoy!’ de bredrin shout, laughing wid him bredrin dem.

‘Don’t seh nutt’n Errol! Jus walk, dread.’ Pedro seh.

‘Nah man!’ Errol was huffing and puffing. ‘Him outta order!’

          ‘Yeah, me know him well outta order, but all dis would ah never happen if yuh did mek a move faster, dreadlocks.’

De truth was, Errol found out later dat Lorraine had successfully simmer down dat bredrin’s lusting over her. She did know, deep down, he was meaning to tek advantage of her friendly nature; fe dat reason, she was branded a cock teaser.

          ‘Me nuh care what dem call me, me know ah nuh me dat!’ she tell her two sista, who both inform her, individually, about de rumour dat a spread. ‘Nutt’n never guh suh!’ She was well vex.  Is funny how half a story can be conceived, den believed.

Lorraine steer clear of man after dat incident. She lock herself away fe do her homework, her domestic duties, to watch TV at leisure, only setting herself free fe her school netball team.  Meanwhile, her sista dem come from St Oswald’s dance hall every Friday night…

          ‘Lorraine, Oswald’s was bad, man!’

Oh really?’

‘Yeah man, I mus have been ask fe a dance about fifteen time, and Errol was askin bout yuh.’

‘What for?’

‘Coz he like yuh.’

‘Yeah, and I bet he was one ah dem dat seh I was a cock teaser, now he want to get a use.’

          ‘Don’t be stupid!  In fact, Pedro tell me seh dat Errol was gwine fight fe yuh when him hear all dem man ah talk bout yuh.’



But why?  I hardly know him.’

‘Well, dat nah stop him from like yuh.  So wha yuh ah seh?  Yuh gwine start come out again?’

‘I dunno, maybe.’

Lorraine continue to stay in fe two months, till she get bored and de temptation of raving entice her back to de dance hall. Errol see her again, same finesse, rocking continually, not allowing de rumours of de past restrict her realism. When him tek a break from de microphone dem dance nice and slow and dem talk.

          ‘Thanks for stickin up for me.’

‘No problem, I like yuh.’

‘I never know yuh did.  Why yuh never seh someting?’

‘Coz yuh was always busy talkin; never tink yuh would be interested in me anyway.’

‘I was jus bein friendly.  I s’pose I learn me lesson.  Man dem only jus want one ting.’

‘I don’t want one ting.’

‘I didn’t mean you.’

‘Maybe yuh did, maybe yuh didn’t.  Where we go from here?’

‘Jus gimme a while to think, Errol please.  I’m still tryin to figure tings out.

‘Dat cool sista, I’ll be waitin, seen?’


As they dance, a strange vibe was in de air, everybody look nervous and uneasy. Lorraine sense it and decide seh she want to leave de dance early. Also, de bredda dat scandalise her name was around and about. She feel seh him might follow her home and give her hassle. Errol walk her home.  When him come back to de dance, him see one ambulance pull up, police was dere in force too. Pure chaos ah gwaan, sistrens running out ah de place screaming, bredrins shouting pushing and shoving to come out. Errol force him way in against de on-comin crowd fe see wha a gwaan.

          ‘Wha appen, Pedro?’

          ‘Bwoy, de same bredda yuh was gwine fight de other day jus cut up a yout’. He was lookin fe you, I-yah. I feel seh yuh bes’ lay low fe a while, seen?’


De dates between Errol and Lorraine soon come thick and fast. Errol put on him best Cecil Gee tops and tailor-made trouziz.  Him tek Lorraine fe see Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown and Fred Locks.  Dem go to de midnight dance and de Shaka dance, Coxsone, Mafia Tone and Duke Alloy. Nuff entertainment, nuff excitement. But as dem love start fe tek full bloom, Lorrainemother and father find out dat Errol is a dread.

          ‘Lorraine, Mrs Morgan down de road tell me seh she see you and one natty head bwoy ah stan pon street corner more dan once.  Is true?’ her mother seh.

          ‘Yeah, is true.’

‘Jesus Chris’ have mercy!’

‘So what’s wrong wid dat mom?’ Lorraine ask.

‘All dem do is smoke ganja, rob, steal and lay about.’

‘Not my man.’

          ‘Man? What yuh know about man?  Dem deh bwoy no good yuh know Lorraine. Dem have no ambition.’

          ‘He’s got plenty ambition believe me.’

          ‘Plenty ambition nuh?  Before you know it, yuh gwine come in yah wid a belly.  Den what yuh gwine do when him nuh want yuh?’

          ‘He’s not like dat, Mom.’

‘Girl, nuh bodda gimme no back chat!’

Then dem stop her from goin out completely. Wid de help of her sista dem, Errol and Lorraine mek a plan to meet at de corner of her street one Friday night. Errol stan’ up waiting fe her to come.

          ‘Mom, I done me homework, I’m jus goin’ over to de club, all right?’

          ‘Girl, find yuh self back in yah! Me know seh yuh ah try sneak out fe go meet dat deh natty head bwoy! Yu nah go no weh!’

Errol check de time pon him watch, 9.30 p.m. It was bitter cold. He bounce around trying to keep warm, while doing dat, him compose a lyric out loud.

          ‘De night is dark, de weather is cold

           I feel seh she can’t come

           So me ah stand yah alone

           Ah kick rock stone

           I feel seh she can’t come

           How can she leave me inna de street?

           Dress all slick and neat

           When de music out dere is fine

           Wid de treble and bass line

           I feel seh she can’t come . . . CHO!’

Lorraine never turn up. Errol start mek him way home. Him cold. Him vex. Him heart bruk.

          ‘ERROL, WAIT!’

He turn around and see Lorraine sista dem running toward him.

‘Where’s Lorraine?’

‘Mom and Dad won’t let her out.  She seh don’t worry, everyting’s gonna be aright.’

‘So dem ah fight ’gainst de natty.’


‘Where you two goin now?’

‘Oswald’s, man.’

‘Oswald’s open back up?  Who ah play?’

‘Your sound, Ital Nyah, Rasta.’

Errol enter de dance hall to see and hear a rebuilt Ital Nyah, entertaining dem biggess crowd fe months. Pedro smile as him hand de mic to a sad Pa-Pa Errol.

Errol him look pon Lorraine sista dem, wishing dat she was dere wid dem, laughing, dancing and joking. Den him realize seh he might not see her again. Him start chant…

          ‘When I say black people, nuff respect to Selecta Robbo, de greatest selecta inna de world, Jah know! So de man play, so de king sound say. Well black people, I don’t mean to brag and I don’t mean to boast, coz is you me love de most from pillar to post yuh know. Now here come one hit bound sound to really and truly trow yuh down, de man call Junior Delgado, Danger in your eyes ..’

De music start to play, de crowd start rock.

‘AH WHO SEH?!’ Errol ask.

‘GU DEH!’ de crowd reply.

          ‘Well I play it from de top to de very las’ drop. Sound call Ital Nyah, de greatest sound inna de world man.  Ital Nyah don’t run competition yuh know, we nuh look nex’ sound who ah look name offa we . . .

           Dem ah labba labba labba

          But dem cyaan test Ital Nyah

          Dem ah run up dem mout’, but dem cyaan test Pa-Pa Errol yuh know why?

          Coz when it come to lyrics me Pa-Pa Errol well great

          Me mek forty-five sound like dub plate

          Me mek crowd of people tear down dance gate

          Labba labba labba, but dem cyaan test Ital Nyah . . .Yes crowd ah people! Ital Nyah and me Pa-Pa Errol is back! And we gwine play nuff musical tracks from our record racks. Hear my lyrics when I tell yuh…

           Inna me, lyrics inna me

          Me seh lyrics inna me coz me well vex yuh see!

          Her momma lock de door

          Her poppa keep de key,

          Dat’s what stop her from lovin me!’



Errol tek a deep breath and decide seh him nah go bawl. He look pon de crowd and see how dem ah smile after him, like dem love him off. Him smile back.

          ‘Yeah man, I-man remember sweet Lorraine.’


*All rights reserved.  No part of this story may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the writer Norman Samuda-Smith.*


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