Logiblas by Oren Hammerquist
(c) Copyright 2018 by Oren Hammerquist Published via Smashwords Offered for free preview on Issuu
Acknowledgment I would like to thank Jonpierre Meyer, to whom I am indebted for this story. That is another story completely, true but less interesting, which occurred in a guard tower in Afghanistan. I will relate this after the fictional story for those interested.
Note to the Reader Though you may purchase this ebook at Smashwords, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, I invite you to read it for free. Moreover, I invite you to share it with your friends free of charge. If, after reading, you wish to make a small donation to the author, you may find this title on most online retailers. This is done through Smashwords. This story will be bound in a collection in the future if you wish to purchase a hard copy. So far, you may only purchase it digitally unless you print the PDF.
he the sky blended almost without horizon into the ocean. The island seemed a blot of green paint in the middle of this single blue canvas. He came here to teach the locals about God, but before he left, the island would teach him a lesson: superstition is faith with teeth. But in those first hours approaching by sea — because there was no airstrip on the tiny island — he knew there must be a mistake. Had God already blessed the island and forgotten to tell the churches? Missionary work was supposed to be a chance to bring relief, faith, and hope to a starving people. Trinidad and Tobago showed itself paradise from the sea. Who could be in need in paradise? His answer came the moment he stepped on the dock. The natives seemed, indeed, dirt poor. Perhaps the homes were of simple, poor construction because hurricanes crossed the island several times a year. Simple and poor meant easy and cheap to replace. This wasn’t supposed to be a third world country. His contact — ironically to the missionary, a man named Christian — met him at the docks. The man’s English seemed too perfect, too trained, and almost forced. “Good afternoon, Reverend Matthew Tripp. I hope your journey was a pleasant one.” Though the boat smelled like fish — as a fishing boat should — and the waves tried and failed to synchronize with his stomach, he could offer no complaint. “Well, anything is better than coming in the belly of a whale, right?”
The smile did not falter, but the eyes became worried. Christian seemed to take this literally. They stopped walking, and Matthew felt the man’s gaze into the sea sought more than a look at a sapphire color. “Like Jonah?” Matthew offered. “Ah, yes,” said Christian. The worry in his eyes vanished. “Jonah was also a missionary of a kind wasn’t he, Reverend Matthew Tripp?” “That’s one way of putting it,” said Matthew. “He was a prophet, but I suppose we both come to bring God.” “We welcome you, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” said Christian, “and hope your voyage was more pleasant than being in the belly of a whale.” “It seems we both came ashore smelling like fish,” said Matthew. Christian added a nod to his perpetual smile. “Many people smell like fish here, Reverend Matthew Tripp. It means only that they work with fish. No one will judge you for smelling like fish.” “I suppose that makes good sense,” said Matthew. Just then, a car which might be the same age as Matthew, but was likely closer to his father’s age, came to a halt. The driver kept the engine running despite the objections of the cylinders. Several sounded like they had ceased firing all together. And not recently. A man with a serious face stepped out and offered a hand to Christian. Though Christian looked like a man who might greet tourists to the island, this new man looked
almost skeletal. He locked eyes with Matthew and did not look away until Christian looked at him. His way of rising with deliberate slowness gave the illusion of great height. Though when he finally stood at full height next to Christian, this proved an illusion. However, the feeling remained that Christian needed to look up to the man far more than the four or five centimeters of height difference. Christian’s overlarge smile became a more comfortable face of companionship as he turned from Matthew to the unsettling driver. Christian’s painfully perfect English also vanished as the two men chatted. Matthew recognized the words and English, but they seemed out of order. Just when he felt he had caught a word here or there, he questioned himself when the rest of the sentence did not follow. The only two words he felt sure he heard correctly were “Matthew Tripp,” though Christian pronounced fewer syllables of this name than when speaking directly to Matthew. Christian’s smile appeared as he returned to his charge and said, “Reverend Matthew Tripp, let me introduce a good friend of mine, Keron.” Only Matthew did not hear “Keron” but “Charon,” and the man’s shape seemed to make ferryman for the dead a likely profession. “What was that name again?” Keron showed he too had a tourist mask as his almost frowning mouth stretched into an overlarge smile. He offered a hand and said with similarly over-perfect English,
“Keron, Reverend Matthew Tripp: k-e-r-o-n. It is a very common name here in Trinidad.” “Is it a common name also in Tobago?” asked Matthew. The smiles faltered at the mention of the small island beside their own. “Possibly, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” said Keron. “We try to speak of Tobago as little as possible.” Christian explained, “I do not recommend traveling to Tobago.” Keron still held Matthew’s hand and still had not begun to actually shake it like an American would. “Everything you will need is here in Trinidad, Reverend Matthew Tripp. Tobago is very poor.” Matthew looked around at the dock with missing boards, the houses made from plywood, and the ancient car with rust threatening to make holes in the fenders and searched for a tactful response. “Well maybe I should visit them sometime,” said Matthew. “Maybe they have more need of a missionary than you do.” “You better bring more than God for protection if you do,” Keron said. Christian scolded his friend — at least that’s what Matthew assumed passed between the two in the dialect he could not understand — but this was not what bothered him. Keron still held his hand in the first step of a handshake, but this is not what bothered him. He assumed when he stepped ashore and Christian called him “Reverend Matthew Tripp” that this odd naming convention was just custom. He quickly ignored it
as a politeness until Keron failed to use it. Uneasiness came over him, and he muttered a prayer to God for general strength. He couldn’t make the request more specific since he could not place the cause of his concern. If a wild animal burst from the bushes, surely no one would shout “Reverend Matthew Tripp, look out” but simply “look out.” In times of danger, social convention must vanish. Had Keron seen danger and warned him? Every attempt to deny this feeling cemented it as fact. Keron turned to face Matthew and glanced quickly at their linked hands. The look of confusion explained the misunderstanding. Keron had been waiting for Matthew to let go and Matthew had been waiting for Keron to let go. Christian had not shaken his hand, but then Matthew’s hands had been full at the time. A handshake was not the local custom. This could be the only explanation. But what other customs had he missed? He pulled his hand back and Keron’s smile passed over amusement before reaching plastic friendliness. Christian explained, “Keron means that the crime rate is quite high in Tobago, and that you stand out, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” Of course, Christian meant the fact that most of the population were of African and Indian descent — usually mixed — and Matthew was of white mixed with more white descent.
“Like the ugly duckling, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” Keron offered by way of explanation. Christian started to take offense for the missionary, but Matthew laughed it off. “I suppose I don’t quite look like I’m from the area.” “Even a Tobagon would not rob a man of God,” Christian assured him, “but he might rob a white man on sight and not take the time to look at the color of his cloth, Reverend Matthew Tripp. Of course, we could send someone with you if that is what God wants.” “And if you decide to visit them,” said Keron, “make sure you do not travel through the jungle.” “Snakes?” asked Matthew. “There are far more dangerous things here than the animals,” Keron assured him. Again, the lack of his full name unsettled the missionary. Christian’s quick response was halfway between the Patois English of the island and the schoolhouse English he used to the white tourists. Matthew understood him to mean, “He’s a man of God. He doesn’t believe in that.” Matthew did not catch the reply exactly, but he felt certain that Keron felt it didn’t matter what Matthew believed. Though what it was that he was supposed to doubt remained a mystery.
Christian replied, “Don’t put a goat mout’ on d’ man o’ God... Reverend Matthew Tripp, Keron can take your bags to the Chapel for you.” “Oh... I guess that’s okay.” Misunderstanding Matthew’s hesitation, Christian added, “There is a place for you to sleep in the back unless you would care to find other accommodations.” “No, that is where I expected to stay,” said Matthew. “But isn’t the Chapel quite close? I don’t mind a bit of a walk. It will help me get rid of my sea legs after all.” “If you wish to arrive with your bags, you better let me move them, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” Keron said. “The chapel is not in the tourist area, if you understand.” “Unfortunately, there is also crime in Trinidad, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” said Christian. “But if you wish to walk, I can take you on foot. You are probably hungry after your trip. If you like, I can take you to get food first.” His stomach had regained its calm. The ocean seemed to bear a glass-like calm, but the boat managed to bounce over waves regardless. He let Keron load his bags into the car and disappear into traffic. At that moment, Matthew decided he would never ride in a car or drive on this island. Keron drove like a madman into a sea of insane drivers. Just watching the cars made him nervous. Christian laughed. Matthew’s concern must be obvious. “We tell the tourists when they take the buses. ‘You are welcome to pray, this is a Christian country, but remember that the driver’s name is not Jesus Christ, Holy Shit, or Dear God.’”
“God and the church didn’t provide money for a rental car anyway,” said Matthew. “I’d say He was protecting me with that.” “And us, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” Matthew entered Trinidad and Tobago by a working dock; Christian now led Matthew toward the tourist docks, where cruise ships unloaded passengers. The flimsy, poor buildings vanished, but not gradually. Instead, Matthew crossed the street and found himself in a different country. The storefronts were clean and new despite the constant ravages of hurricanes. Still, poverty had a way of creeping in. Matthew dropped a coin into the cup of a beggar, but Christian grabbed his arm and pulled him to the other side of the sidewalk. “Watch your step and don’t cross over him,” Christian said. “That man has enough bad luck for the day, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” Matthew still tried to unravel his meaning when Christian pull him toward a restaurant. The restaurant looked nice, and there was a respectable line of tourists here (Christian explained that a cruise ship was in port today). The sign boasted “authentic” food of Trinidad and Tobago with dozens of representations of the country’s flag. One post bore several smaller country flags, probably indicating that the owner spoke these languages if the customer preferred. The humid air with little breeze sat on the missionary’s chest like a physical weight. He found his shirt already soaked from the
short walk, and Matthew suggested they find someplace with a shorter line where they could sit. “You are not a tourist, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” Christian said as he led him into the employee’s entrance. Positioned just out of sight of the tourists sat a high bar with several stools. One or two other men sat here already where they could communicate directly with the kitchen. The air of joviality and camaraderie forced the word “fellowship” to the front of Matthew’s mind. Christian forgot about his charge as he jumped into a seat and threw himself into the conversation. He plastic smiles they showed the tourists were gone, but these men showed authentically joyful smiles. This was the Trinidad tourists never saw, just out of sight, but within arm’s reach. In only a month, he would find there was far more to this island that tourists never saw just within an unholy arm’s reach: things far more dangerous than men chatting in a bar. The men chatted rapidly and often simultaneously in the local Patois English they did not use for tourists. Lost and seemingly invisible, Matthew took an empty seat at the bar and waited for further instructions from his tour guide/handler. The cook finally noticed the white man at the bar. Donning his tourist mask, he said, “This area is not for tourists, sir.” Christian quickly jumped in and explained, “Don Omar, he is not a tourist. This is Reverend Matthew Tripp, the new missionary.”
“Christian, you should have introduced him immediately,” said Don Omar. “Hospitality is a way of life here in Trinidad, Reverend Matthew Tripp. But now you will have to wait for food longer because Christian is a....” The following words moved into slang which roused barking laughter from the other men, jovial objections from Christian, and deep confusion from Matthew. He smiled and assured them, “Oh, it’s no problem about the wait. As long as my food doesn’t buck with the waves, I’ll wait for it happily.” Christian introduced the other three men as Kevin, Nickolus, and Sameer. One of the three (Matthew had already lost track of the names) asked behind his tourist mask, “Are you uncomfortable on boats, Reverend Matthew Tripp?” “A little,” Matthew admitted. A different man said, “You have come to the wrong place then, Reverend Matthew Tripp. If we could take a boat on land we would.” Matthew replied, “As long as I don’t have to travel by car, I’ll take anything. Even the worst boat ride scares me less than getting on your highways.” All the men laughed. It seemed sincere, and Matthew began to hope he was building a rapport with these men. He was, after all, called by God to lead them spiritually. Unfortunately, the tourist masks returned. One man asked, “How do you plan to get around the island, Reverend Matthew Tripp?”
“The way God intended,” said Matthew, “on foot. God didn’t create cars.” The third man (Sameer?) drew huge laughs when he noted, “Doesn’t that mean you should walk around barefoot, Reverend Matthew Tripp? God didn’t invent shoes either.” “Well, even Jesus wore sandals,” said Matthew. “And if he had tennis shoes, he probably would have worn those.” Kevin (Matthew was pretty sure) said, “Well you’ll get plenty of time to be like Jesus here, Reverend Matthew Tripp. That chapel is in need of a good carpenter after the last storm.” The men agreed gravely with Kevin and offered help. These offers were more social convention than sincerity. Sincere offers would be specific rather than offer “anything.” Still, Matthew thanked them. “Be careful where you walk, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” said the man who was probably Nikolaus by process of elimination. “Don’t stray into the jungles. They’re dangerous.” Repeating his performance to Keron in the hope he would learn more, Matthew asked again, “Snakes?” Sameer’s language walked a razor edge between slang and proper as he said, “There’s far more dangerous things on this island than snakes.”
The other two looked grave, but Christian returned to his tourist mask and said, “He is a man of God. He doesn’t believe in that type of thing.” Sameer noted, “The last missionary didn’t either. Not at first.” Don Omar appeared from the other side of the bar and dropped a plate with a whole fish atop rice in front of Matthew. There seemed to be a challenge in his eyes as he looked at Matthew. The fish smelled good, but Matthew was not accustomed to eating food which still had a head. “When in Rome,” Matthew muttered under his breath. He opened the fish and his mouth watered as he smelled the meat from inside. “Careful, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” said Nickolus. “If you eat the cascadoux fish, you’ll die in Trinidad and Tobago.” This froze the food halfway to Matthew’s mouth, but Don Omar laughed. “It is a local superstition, Reverend Matthew Tripp. And Nickolus said it wrong. If you eat the cascadoux fish, they say that no matter where you go, you will always return to Trinidad and Tobago at the end of your days.” “Yes, to die,” said Nickolus. Kevin explained, “You made it sound like he would die here soon.” “He’ll be fine as long as he stays out of the jungles,” Sameer said. “And doesn’t make the wrong spirits mad.”
Matthew ate his fish while the four men (Don Omar returning to his tourist customers) engaged in a rapid argument in the local slang. The language had already become less strange, but he began to doubt that he was hearing the right words. They spoke of spirits and luck and God. Though Christian seemed insistent that none of it mattered to Matthew (man of God), the others insisted that spirits believed in him whether he believed in them or not. Several names and instances were referenced without much explanation. Pushing his plate away, Matthew broke in by saying too loudly (though barely loud enough for the arguing men to hear), “That was delicious. If I have to end my days here, at least it will be someplace with good food, right?” The four remained silent and had not put their tourist masks on yet. Don Omar thanked him for his compliment and went back to work. “That’s an interesting cultural tradition, though,” said Matthew. “What other cultural traditions do you have?” “Why would a man of God want to know our superstitions?” Sameer demanded. Not cordially. “Why wouldn’t a man of God want to know?” Matthew asked. “And I called them cultural traditions, not superstitions.” “It mean same ting,” Sameer said. “Thas white man way of condescend.”
“Please, I mean no disrespect,” Matthew insisted. “But a man of God needs to know what local customs are, that includes superstitions — since you insist on that word. It keeps me from offending people and, who knows, maybe it gives me an idea for a sermon or two. I do have to preach here after all. It’s not all carpentry and eating fish.” The men still said nothing. They wore masks, but these were not the ones they showed to tourists. These were the masks men put on to keep strangers out. Matthew’s hope of a budding rapport seemed misplaced now. “On the way over, Christian pulled me across the sidewalk to keep from ‘crossing over’ a homeless man,” Matthew offered. “What does that mean?” “If you step over a man’s feet or lean over him to get something, it’s crossing over him,” said Sameer. “It means that all the bad luck you might have had that day passes to that person.” “Which is why you said he had enough bad luck for the day,” said Matthew. It was rhetorical; this was a good thing since no one volunteered to answer it. Social convention only went this far and no further. “There’s got to be more than that,” Matthew said. “Please, I have to live here and I want to know what to do and not to do. Now I know not to step over people’s feet. You see how that could have offended someone, don’t you? Help a poor white missionary out a little.”
“Don’t cut your hair or nails on odd days,” said Kevin. “Tuesday, Thursday… It’s bad luck.” “And if you throw the hair out a bird makes a nest with it,” Nickolus added, “you’ll get a headache.” “If a woman drinks chocolate milk while she’s pregnant, the baby will have dark skin,” Sameer said. “If she drinks white milk, the baby will have fair skin.” Kevin said, “If a woman’s second toe is longer than her first toe then she’ll either beat or rule her husband.” “That’s not a superstition,” Nickolus said. “That’s my life.” The men burst into laughter. “This is interesting,” Matthew said. “We have some in the US too, like don’t walk under a ladder or don’t open an umbrella indoors.” “You’ll get a jhumbie if you do,” Sameer said. “If you open an umbrella indoors, a jhumbie will come stand under it.” “He doesn’t believe in jhumbies,” Christian said. “He should!” Sameer said. “Jhumbies don’t care if you’re a man of God or not. They’re nothing but trouble if you get one. You get one you best get rid of it or you’ll get a dozen.” Christian used an unflattering term that Matthew took to mean fool. “No one really believes in jhumbies, Reverend Matthew Tripp.”
“Speak for yourself,” Kevin said. Nickolus agreed, “I’ve seen them, Chris’n.” “You’ve seen nothing,” Christian said. “Don’t lie. Even if they were real, no one sees a jhumbie. It’s bad to lie to a man of God.” “I didn’t mean I ac’ly saw one,” Nickolus snapped. “But I had one in my car the other day. My fault too.” “Is a jhumbie an animal?” Matthew asked. No one explained, so Matthew asked, “Is this a ‘speak of the devil’ issue? Are you afraid that if you talk about them one will come?” Sameer shook his head and explained, “A jhumbie is a child who died before it was baptized. See, they can’t get into heaven, but they can’t go to hell because they’re innocent. So they come back as jhumbies. You can’t see them direct, but sometimes you can catch just a glimpse out of the corner of your eye.” “They are mostly just annoying,” said Nickolus. “They’re kids, so they play pranks. Move things, break things... like bratty kids. I was gathering wood out near the jungle and left my car door open. I didn’t hear them until I got all the way home. Then I heard them chuckling and laughing in the back seat. I turn right around and drive them back to the jungle. ‘Get out,’ I said. ‘You get out and leave me alone.’ Made ‘em cry a bit, but it’s better than dealing with jhumbies. You get one you’ll get a dozen. All you have to do is talk to them like kids. Bad children. They’ll leave you alone.”
“So they’re the spirits of children?” Matthew asked. “Except their feet are backwards,” said Sameer. “That’s how you know they’re messing with you. They leave footprints sometimes. Going the wrong way.” Christian laughed—not kindly—and said, “Invisible children, but everyone can see them well enough to know their feet are backwards.” “Christian’s a skeptic,” Sameer said. “He’s our little ‘man o’ God,’ among us ignorant heathens. Right, Christian? He talks like he doesn’t believe this, but he picks and chooses. Where you put your shoes, Chris’n? Where you put your shoes at night?” “Come on, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” said Christian. “I’ll take you to the chapel.” The climb to the chapel did not invite conversation due to the steepness of the grade. Christian marched them onward at a pace that would have discouraged conversation on level ground. By the time they reached the chapel — Matthew breathless, Christian brooding — Matthew had forgotten about the strange shoe comment. The chapel was the nicest building in the block, a fact that served to highlight the disrepair of this entire area. It needed a coat of paint, though none of the other nearby structures were painted. The right side of the double door hung askew from one hinge. This proved to be good repair as the left door simply leaned against the jamb. The possession of two doors proved an extravagance as many houses in the area (though “shed” might have been a better word if no one lived in them) had only a sheet in the
door frame. The windows stood so free of glass that they might have been this way by design. Debris still littered the churchyard. As they moved inside, it seemed that debris still littered the interior until Matthew realized they were upended pews. Atop and over these were green lizards and green birds, both about the size of a man’s hand. Hundreds of both. Matthew chuckled as he asked himself whether the lizards and birds came to live or worship. Either way, whether they were welcomed or not probably mattered little. When Christian felt Matthew had enough time to take in the scene, he said, “We fixed up the rectory, Reverend Matthew Tripp. You can get to it through here. You’ll have to clear the yard if you want to have access to the outside door.” The “rectory” was at least clear of debris and lizards. This was, in fact, the first thing Matthew noted when Christian flipped on the light. The second item he noticed was that the single window actually had glass. Which accounted for the lack of wildlife. A single bed stood in the corner with a nightstand. They looked old and weather beaten — possibly literally weather beaten. But they were in good shape, and someone had even taken the time to make his bed for him. Along the back wall, under a wooden cross, sat a table and chair to serve as both a desk and dining room table. To the left, the bathroom door stood open next to a cabinet to use as a closet. Keron had stacked his suitcases (rather than set them on the wheels) in front of this. They would have to be pushed underneath his bed if Matthew wanted any room to maneuver. The small woodstove that claimed the remaining wall space across from his nightstand baffled
Matthew at first. Why would you need heat in a place that rarely got below 70 at night? The pans sitting next to it explained the use: this was the kitchen. In all, the “rectory” seemed more like a converted closet than a home for a church leader. Luckily, he wasn’t a Catholic priest. How much of this space would have been lost to confessionals? “I don’t suppose there is an IKEA on the island,” Matthew said. “What is an IKEA, Reverend Matthew Tripp?” He waved his hand dismissively. “Just an idle thought. I’m trying to figure out where to keep my books,” he explained. “I may have over packed a bit.” “The closet has a shelf,” Christian said. “If you need a book shelf I can look for one, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” “I don’t want to be an imposition,” he said. And where would one place a bookshelf? “No, I can just use the shelf in the closet and the bottom of the nightstand. Though a second chair would be nice if it’s at all possible.” Christian turned the doorknob and threw his shoulder against the door to the yard. It groaned as it released its hold on the threshold. Matthew decided to check the yard later; if it was as bad as the front, then he would rather end his day on the relative highnote of the eight by ten foot apartment. Christian reappeared with a second chair from the back yard — yet another reason to leave this area for a second day. The chair rocked on two uneven legs and lacked several strands of wicker on the back, but it looked sturdy enough. “That’s perfect.”
Curiosity got the better of him. The chair came too quickly from the back yard. Hopefully, that just meant it was right next to the door. On inspection, Matthew realized it must have been near the door; there was no other free space in the yard. Furniture in various states of disrepair cluttered the entire area. These had not been left by the storm. “Can’t we donate these to the needy?” Matthew asked. “That’s where these came from, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” Christian said. “From the needy?” “No, for the needy,” Christian explained. “But the needy did not want them.” And who could blame them? Christian seemed to have brought the only two chairs with all four legs. With all four legs attached at any rate. Presumably, the number of chairs and tables was proportional to the number of legs. Though judging from the mess, this wasn’t a guarantee. Closing the door required one to lift up on the door handle and pull hard over a protesting threshold. Christian locked the door, though it seemed superfluous. If someone managed to get through the trashed yard to the door, they could not come in quietly. Since the doorknob consisted of a piece of a short piece of rope, Matthew wasn’t sure they could get in at all from the outside. And what was there to steal here? “Why did you want two chairs, Reverend Matthew Tripp?” Matthew sighed heavily. “In case I want to entertain.” Christian raised an eyebrow and looked for a space to do so.
“Not much space, I guess,” Matthew admitted. “It will probably end up as a bookshelf.” The missionary took a deep breath as he turned slowly to survey his new living space. He discovered one could not turn slowly enough to make it seem larger. A secular man might speak of the power of positive thinking or looking for the good in each situation. Matthew told himself to count his blessings — even humming a few bars of the song. “Well, it has electricity,” said Matthew. He had taken a glance in the bathroom (concerned it might simply be an attached outhouse), so he added, “And it has running water.” “You also have Wi-Fi,” said Christian, pointing to an overlooked router near the bed. “The community pitches in for the electricity, phone, and internet.” Matthew felt after seeing the back of the churchyard that the community might do well to pitch in a little less, but he said, “That’s very nice of everyone. I’ll have to thank them.” “You’ll need to provide your own phone.” Barely stifling a laugh, Matthew said, “Well, I don’t know anyone yet anyway.” Counting his blessings had already made him feel a little better, so he continued to say, “And it also has come with linens.” “They are clean linens, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” Christian assured him. “And we made sure there are no bedbugs or lice in the mattress.”
“That’s great.” Though in truth, Matthew felt that the need to assure him of this robbed the news of some of its power. “And the back door seems very secure, so no worry about people stealing anything.” Christian finally understood what Matthew was doing, so he added, “And since you have to face out when you close it, you won’t have to worry about any evil spirits coming in.” An elephant takes up a great deal of space in any room, but the smallness of the quarters made it impossible to ignore. Christian refused to look at Matthew, clearly embarrassed at letting this superstition slip. “What does that mean exactly?” Matthew finally asked. “Face out to keep spirits out? Like jhumbies?” “No such thing as jhumbies!” said Christian. With a sigh to calm himself, Christian explained, “Some people believe that you should always face out when you close the door to your house, Reverend Matthew Tripp. That way the spirit sees your face and keeps away.” “And what exactly did Sameer mean with the shoes comment?” Christian refused with a gentle shake of his head. “Why are you so hesitant to talk about this?” Matthew demanded. “It is a part of your culture. I want... I need to understand this to connect with the people.”
In speech on the verge of slang, Christian said, “The last reverend didn’t like that kind of talk. He said speaking of spirits invited spirits.” “That sounds like a superstition to me. Like the pot calling the kettle black,” Matthew said. “The last preacher also made the church into a garbage dump. I’m not him.” “When you go to bed, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” Christian said, “Leave your shoes outside the door with the laces tied. If a spirit tries to come in, he’ll feel compelled to untie the knots first. He can’t, because his hands pass right through the string, but he’ll spend all night trying and never enter your house.” “You believe this?” “No.” “But you do it anyway?” “I figure it can’t hurt, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” Christian admitted. “I’ve done it every day since I was a child and I’ve never gotten a spirit in my house. The last reverend told me it was a sin.” “I don’t believe in superstitions, but that doesn’t mean I ignore them,” Matthew said. “Superstitions are fears, and you can’t help people if you don’t know what they are afraid of.” Christian’s face lightened in the first real smile he had given the missionary. “Do you believe this?”d
“Yes, of course,” said Matthew. A moment of quiet contemplation passed before Christian nodded three times, deliberately. For the first time since they met three hours ago, Christian offered his hand. “You are a good man Reverend Matthew Tripp.”
The next morning, Matthew jumped out of bed at sunrise and decided to combat his jet lag by cleaning the church auditorium. Someone had been kind enough to leave nails, a hammer, and a roll of plastic sheeting. After nailing these over the open windows, George decided to right the pews. They would have to hold services in only four days, and they would need pews in good repair and correct orientation (such as not piled in the corner and covered in lizards). The temperature had reached 70 degrees with 90% humidity by 8 a.m. Matthew felt he like he was breathing through a wet cloth. Worse, though he had worked for three hours, he felt he had done little more than move the clutter from one side of the room to the other. The birds spent most of the day either fouling anything they could or offering incomprehensible advice. The lizards, however, had a way of never moving but always being in the way. Matthew decided it was time for breakfast. He could light a fire and use the pans atop the stove though this would certainly make the small room even more unbearably hot. For the first time it occurred to him that the rectory lacked one important item: a refrigerator. As he sat in the second chair pondering the problem, he heard a knock at the
rectory door. This came from the access door within the auditorium (because only a spirit could have reached the outer door). Christian met him with the tourist mask on. “Good morning, Reverend Matthew Tripp. Did you sleep well?” “Well enough but not long enough,” Matthew said. “Jet lag. I’ve been up since sunrise.” “If you would like me to come by earlier tomorrow I can, Revered Matthew Tripp.” “Come by?” “For breakfast,” Christian explained. “Well, I was going to make something, but I realized I don’t have any food. Or any way to keep it from spoiling.” This idea caused Christian to wrinkle his eyebrows. “The community provides the Reverend’s meals, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” He paused for a moment before adding, “The previous missionary prepared his own meals. If you will excuse my bluntness, the community did not trust him for it.” “I’m sure you can find me something better to eat than I have here,” said Matthew. “Especially since it looks like all I have is lizards and birds. Which probably aren’t tasty.”
Christian stared at Matthew’s shoulder for a moment too long before saying, “We can go when you are ready, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” Deep in the city center — away from the tourist areas — lay a shack labeled “restaurant.” The building had been constructed or reconstructed out of second-hand plywood. Perhaps the owner used plywood from the original restaurant after the last hurricane. Several sets of nail holes suggested that may have happened more than once. Where the plywood failed to provide coverage, the builder used corrugated tin with no preference for horizontal or vertical lines. One panel split the difference and ran the lines diagonally. The single window in the front seemed to be framed by accident, perhaps by failure to recover some building materials. If someone framed this window by design, they did not believe in using squares. No glass protected the interior from flies, but cutting a pane for this irregular polygon might be more trouble than it was worth. This ever-open peephole revealed mismatched stools along the bar. The sign simply listed the types of foods sold; apparently the restaurant had no name. Matthew followed pensively behind Christian through a dingy sheet serving as a door. One side dragged in the dirt, the other allowed flies and small vermin to enter. Both concerned Matthew greatly. The tables, like the stools, came from different locations. Along one wall stood nearly one hundred liquor bottles. These were dusty but unbroken. In a hurricane, one must have priorities. A few bottles had been wiped partially clean by regular use (he felt fairly certain these were the cheaper drinks), and
Matthew wondered whether all the surfaces were left to the daily-use cleaning method. After taking a seat, Matthew realized there were no menus. This was exactly the type of place guides warned tourists not to frequent. But it wasn’t the quality of the food or the cleanliness that worried Matthew about his walk; everyone stared at him here as they had during the entire walk from the chapel. There were few white men in this half of the island (most of them came off the cruise ships wearing sandals, shorts, and sunhats), but this was still not what bothered him. It was not the way they looked at him, but the highly specific location they seemed to fixate on: his left shoulder. Just as Christian had stared at his left shoulder in the chapel. The owner took their orders — Christian made the orders in local slang without asking Matthew — and examined Matthew’s shoulder momentarily. For the tenth time, he checked himself only to see nothing. After a surprisingly American breakfast arrived for him, and after the restaurateur again looked at his shoulder, movement caught Matthew’s attention to the left. A green lizard peered at the room while the room stared back. “How long has that been there?” Matthew asked, swiping gently. “It was there when I met you in the chapel this morning, Reverend Matthew Tripp” Christian said. Verging on un-Christian anger, Matthew demanded, “Why didn’t you say something?”
“I assumed you knew it was there,” Christian said. Matthew found himself speechless for a full minute as his food cooled. “Don’t you think I would have brushed it off if I knew?” Christian frowned, pondering this. Clearly, the possibility had never occurred to him. Remembering he was the Reverend Matthew Tripp, the newcomer took a breath and said, “Don’t worry about it. It’s gone now. Just let me know if that happens again.” Christian’s frown deepened into confusion. Some deep internal debate must wage in his mind. “There is a lizard on your shoulder, Reverent Matthew Tripp.” “Bit late, but thank you.” Christian shook his head. “No, there is still a lizard on your shoulder.” Matthew looked sharply, almost as if he had been warned that a boa constrictor was about to strangle him, but saw nothing. He was about to tell Christian in no uncertain terms that he did not appreciate being hazed as the new guy when a movement to his right caught his eye. The lizard was still on him. He made a more frantic move to get it off and it disappeared. For the fist time, Christian looked Matthew directly in the eye. “You will not be able to get it off, Brother Matthew Tripp.” “I already did.
Christian shook his head and explained, “If you get a lizard on you, it stays for twenty-four hours.” “Is it bad luck to remove it or something?” Matthew asked. Christian shook his head. “It is impossible to remove.” Matthew was about to protest when Christian pointed at his right shoulder. Turning his head, he could just make out a green splotch on the edge of his peripheral vision. He tried to flick it off, but it ran before he could get his hand up. “Persistent, isn’t he?” Matthew said rhetorically. “Guess I cut his time short.” Christian leaned over and checked Matthew’s back. “The lizard is still on you, Reverent Matthew Tripp. But after 24 hours, it will lose interest and leave.” Matthew made several further attempts to remove the animal from his clothing before resigning to this old wives tale. He felt his attempts were quickly moving toward comic relief. Although, at least he had the attention of the room. “Seems we have a lizard problem at the chapel,” he said loudly and to the entire room. “As you can see. There’s also a bird problem and a problem that my predecessor left everything piled together. I could use as much help as you are willing to provide me.” No one spoke up.
“I’m the new Reverend, Matthew Tripp. I would like to get the chapel in good enough repair for Sunday services. We can clean the back yard later, but I’d like to get started on the auditorium ASAP. Is anyone able to help get the auditorium set?” No one spoke, but no one ate either. Matthew was the elephant in the room. Or possibly He was standing in front of the elephant, where he couldn’t see it. Were its feet backwards too? Would it stay for 24 hours and lose interest? Matthew shook his head, trying to clear it, and continuted. “I know, it’s like asking a bunch of strangers to move you,” Matthew said. “But once the chapel is ready, it can become the center of the community again. Perhaps there are other projects in town we can complete. But we have to meet somewhere. We have to connect somewhere. Why not in God’s house?” One of the men muttered something almost under his breath. He might as well have said it aloud as Matthew couldn’t make sense of the local slang anyway. The others could and agreed with the man quietly, though the message was loud enough. “Well, does someone at least have an idea how to get the birds out?” Again, everyone waited uncomfortably for the elephant to be quiet. Matthew sighed. “Look, I understand my predecessor was probably not doing his job. I hear he was critical of your culture. He turned the chapel into a garbage dump. The advice he gave me about this place before I came was disrespectful to the people. Seeing
how things were left, I’m inclined to believe everything he told me was wrong. I’m not him.” The man behind the bar fired a remark without shame The only word Matthew could make out was “jhumbies.” “I’m sorry, I’m still learning the vernacular,” Matthew said. The bartender cleaned a glass and stared at the missionary. His smirk said he refused to translate for this intruder of a white man. “What did he say, Christian?” “He said you should eat your food, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” The men in the room laughed. Like at a joke they should be ashamed of. Still, it broke the tension and the men in the restaurant broke out of their catatonic state and started eating. “No, I heard the word jhumbie,” Matthew said. Christian’s face remained implacable behind a mask of obstiance. Christian seemed to have a large supply of masks. “What are they saying, Christian?” “They say the chapel is... haunted,” said Christian. “They say, why would they come when it is overrun with jhumbies?” “It’s overrun with lizards and birds.” “And jhumbies.”
“I’m sorry, I try to be understanding, but I can’t buy into the idea that there are invisible children with backwards feet running around my church.” “How do you think you got the lizard on you, Reverend Matthew Tripp?” the bartender/restaurateur asked. “I was cleaning the auditorium and one must have climbed on.” Several of the men (who were not as intent on eating as they seemed) shook their heads at this. The bartender said, “Lizards are afraid of people. A jhumbie put one on you.” Matthew fell into his seat and rapidly finished his breakfast. He turned to Christian and said, “I have to go work. I’m holding church this weekend even if it’s just for the birds and lizards. And jhumbies apparently. Maybe if they’re unbaptized, it will do them good. I can find my way back.” He nearly stormed from the restaurant with his stubborn, green passenger, but a man in the corner called to him. It looked like Sameer from yesterday, but he wasn’t sure until he heard the voice. “Reverend Matthew Tripp, there is only one way to get rid of them.” “The birds and lizards?” Sameer shrugged and leaned into the morning light. The shadows from the slanted rays fled unevenly across his face. Blended into the shadows of the bar. When mixed
with the man’s highly intense and blunt stare, it gave him an otherworldly look. As if he was only half there. Half invisible. Half a spirit. An adult jhumbie with normal feet. “If you get rid of them you get rid of the jhumbies too,” Sameer said. “What is your plan?” “I’ll get a net and catch the birds and I’ll carry the lizards out,” Matthew said. The green lizard on his back made another attempt to reach the shoulder. After it fled the hand (but not Matthew), he added, “Carefully.” Sameer shook his head. “If you take them out alive they’ll bring them back twice as many. It becomes a game.” The sincerity in his voice made Matthew forget for a moment that he didn’t believe in jhumbies. “I’ll take my chances and trust to windows and doors.”
Thankfully, no one showed up at the church to help: they would have seen Matthew make an ass of himself trying to catch the birds. The birds seemed to enjoy the sport of missing the butterfly net. Moreover, they proved far more adept at remaining free than Matthew proved capturing birds. All but one lizard had left the building (he still could not free himself from the hitchhiker), but the birds sang from the rafters, informing the human that he was the intruder. The shoddy construction (or reconstruction) of the chapel gave him the idea. Light poured through the roof in pinholes. Matthew reflected from one of the righted pews that
he would also have to repair the roof before it rained. That did not happen often in the Caribbean, but when it did it would probably be unlike anything he had ever seen. The roof would likely do nothing. Then it hit him. The birds would never fly down, but they would fly up. Matthew climbed to the ceiling and removed part of the thatching. Returning with only a long rope, he frightened the birds and watched them finally find a way of escape. With the roof patched, Matthew sat in the auditorium enjoying the silence of his labors. Sameer stopped by several hours later as Matthew swept the floors. “You’re my first visitor,” said Matthew. “Well, my first visitor since I got rid of the animals.” Sameer said nothing and remained leaning in the door jamb. This man made Matthew nervous. “Well, Christian and Keron have come by of course. But I’ll count you my first visitor since I closed the zoo and opened the church.” Still, Sameer said nothing. “Did you come to pray?” Matthew finally asked. “I do not pray to your god, Reverend.” “Oh.” Matthew managed to suppress the next question he wanted to ask: then why are you here. Sameer read it in his eyes and answered, “I did not expect you to get the animals out.” “I guess the white man isn’t totally useless,” Matthew said.
“How did you get the jhumbies out?” Sameer asked. Life had taught him things his church’s school for missionaries had not. When met with someone who confidently disagreed with you (especially on religion) the best way to eventually win them over was to make light of the differences. Having vastly different belief systems caused tension; let them feel the tension and wonder why you felt none. “Well, Sameer, I don’t believe in your spirits either,” Matthew said. “And if they’d like to stay and hear a sermon, they’ll be better for it. If they choose to leave, then we’re both happy, right?” “The lizards and birds are not gone.” Matthew gave Sameer a sly look. “Are they invisible with backwards feet too?” “You should not joke about spirits, Reverend Matthew Tripp!” The near shout made the silence that followed oppressive. Finally, Sameer said, “Do you not say in America, speak of the Devil and he will appear?” “Yes, there is an old wives tale like that,” Matthew admitted. He wondered if Sameer knew about this saying before Matthew referenced it yesterday in the diner. “Well, jhumbies like a good joke, even at their expense,” Sameer said. “And if you pretend they don’t exist, they find it funny to sneak around you.” “I’ll take my chances, Sameer,” Matthew said. “When the birds and lizards come back, call me,” Sameer said. “You have to kill them. Jhumbies are children, and it will upset them. Then, they will leave.”
“I’m not going to kill a bunch of birds for no reason.” Sameer ignored this and said, “And I would get rid of the clutter out back. Disorder invites jhumbies just like that would invite neighborhood children looking to play.” “It’s free to take,” Matthew said. “It was all garbage when it was dropped here with the last reverend,” Sameer said. “Why would I want a bunch of broken furniture?” Matthew shrugged and perched on the back of a pew. “They’re all wood. I was thinking about cutting them up for firewood.” “Keron suggested that to the last Reverend,” Sameer said. “He was quite angry. He said these were for the poor.” “The poor clearly don’t want them,” Matthew said. “And I am not the last reverend.” “Keron runs a bonfire for tourists,” Sameer said. “He will probably pay you to take it.” “He may take it for free,” said Matthew. “No!” Sameer’s sudden exclamation again frightened the church to silence. “That is an insult, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” “Well I don’t want the money,” said Matthew. “Should I give it to the poor?”
Sameer shrugged and looked around the auditorium. “You should use it to fix the church then. You seem like a square-dealing man for a reverend, so let me give you advice. Bring the people God if you choose. Bring them hope if you can. Bring them faith if you must. But do not give them charity. This is just one thing the other missionaries did not understand.” “Thank you for the advice.” Matthew wanted to shake his hand, but that would be a signal for the man to leave. You should never ask a man to leave God’s house unless he brought the devil. It was a good phrase which Matthew had just coined. Instead, Matthew picked up his broom and said, “If you would care to help me sweep, you are welcome to stay. Or if you like, sit and rest, even if you don’t pray. You are always welcome here, Sameer.” “I will come back to help with the jhumbies when you are ready, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” Matthew muttered, “Bring a rabbit’s foot and a garlic necklace.” He regretted this the moment it left his lips. Thankfully, his guest had not heard; he would ask God for forgiveness soon. But something still bothered Matthew in Sameer’s speech. “Sameer, wait. You said that knowing that people here don’t like charity was just one thing missionaries didn’t understand. What was the other?” “That we are not a superstitious people,” Sameer said. He said this over his shoulder, but spun to survey the effect. “Missionaries write off things like the jhumbies
and leaving shoes tied at the door and the logiblas as just superstitious nonsense. But a superstition is something that is not real. We are, by nature, a faithful people. We believe in things we cannot see because we know they are real.” Matthew chuckled, “Sameer, my friend, I think I understand what it is to believe in something you cannot see based only on faith.” “Not yet, Reverend Matthew Tripp. Call me when you want to get rid of the jhumbies.” “Well, I don’t believe in any of it anyway,” Matthew said. “So don’t worry about me.” Sameer’s face spread into a nearly mocking smile. “You missed a lizard, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” This time, his hitchhiker had moved bravely to the front of Matthew’s shirt. He snatched at it, but is scurried someplace else. Hopefully, it was someplace off of him, but Matthew decided to take this on faith rather than finding a mirror. Matthew stared after the empty door. “Well, at least the people are colorful.... What’s wrong with you, Matthew?” He blamed the jet lag and exhaustion for his unChristian attitude. He would ask God’s forgiveness and patience after he finished sweeping.
But the piles he left around the auditorium had been knocked down. Matthew cursed the drafty chapel for this and resolved to use the money he must earn from Keron to fix the church. Then he saw the footprint. Beside what used to be one of the piles sat what appeared to be a barefoot footprint in dirt. The dust had scattered toward the heel as if someone had walked backwards through the pile. A second partial footprint further into the spread pile enhanced this appearance. Matthew rubbed his eyes and looked again. On second look, it might only appear to be a footprint. Or perhaps the drafty building had begun to spread it already. A squeaky window in the wind gave a noise like a child laughing. It was enough to make the skin on the back of his neck crawl. He reminded himself he didnâ€™t believe in jhumbies and decided what the church really needed was a little Godly music (or a lot of music) to cover squeaky windows.
Waking to the warming sun and the chirping of birds brought peace to his morning; it brought peace until he registered where the bird sounds came from. Instantly, he rushed through the door from the broom closet with a bathroom into the auditorium. Not only had the birds and lizards returned, but they seemed to be in much greater numbers.
To avoid cursing — which no reverend should do, especially in church — Matthew decided to open his Bible and do his morning prayers before dealing again with the wildlife. At the pulpit on the stage, Matthew considered what he should read today. Praying for strength and patience seemed like a good idea. By habit, he opened his Bible to his favorite verse about this. “Those who wait upon the LORD will mount up with wings as eagles.” And he burst into roaring laughter. “Is everything okay, Reverend Matthew Tripp?” Christian asked from the door. “Yes, Christian, I am okay,” Matthew said as he closed his Bible. “It just seems that God has a sense of humor.... Or that I have birds on the brain.” Christian wore his tourist mask, but the confusion behind this shined through. “Sameer mentioned you had gotten rid of the birds, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” “And he told me they would come back,” Matthew said. “It seems he was right twice.” “Do you wish to got to breakfast this morning, Reverend Matthew Tripp?” “I was just doing my morning prayers,” Matthew said. “I suppose—” “I will join you then, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” Christian sat patiently in the front pew and produced a pocket-sized Bible. Matthew had become so concerned about the state of the chapel, he had forgotten about holding services. Unfortunately, “I’m still in my pajamas.” Though from now on, he would either say his prayers in his room or dress before kneeling in the auditorium.
“I do not think God will mind, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” “You’re right of course.” “What are we praying for today, Reverend Matthew Tripp?” A bird perched momentarily on the pulpit. Before Matthew could shoo it, a lizard skittered into the same place frightening the bird away. His hand, already in motion, shooed the lizard instead. “Patience.” Finished, Matthew returned to his apartment to dress, where he found a single lizard on the windowsill. Matthew opened the window and tossed it unceremoniously into the yard. Then it occurred to him where the lizard must have come from. He rushed to the mirror and spun to look from all angles. After a second check, he was certain that the lizard which had harassed him all day and which he had finally gone to sleep with on his leg had simply left during the night. Christian said that if you got a green lizard on you, it would stay for 24 hours. And Sameer’s words came back, they were not a superstitious people.
Matthew repeated the previous day by again removing the lizards and chasing the birds through a hole in the ceiling. This work went so much faster that he was able to arrange with Keron to buy the furniture as scrap wood and borrow an axe to start chopping. This latter did him good. After a day of hard work which let him pretend his
frustration was simply work ethic and transfer his angst to this dead lumber, Matthew slept early and well. When the birds again woke him the next morning, his calm vanished. He said his prayers in his pajamas and his room this time without checking the auditorium. He prayed for still further patience and for God to keep him from anger. The birds and lizards had returned, but this time, the auditorium door (which Matthew had painstakingly if imperfectly fixed the previous day) stood open. This explained how the animals had gotten back in, but now how the door opened in the middle of the night. A single child’s footprint inside the door hinted at the culprit. The toes faced the door rather than the interior of the room. The building creaked and laughed while Matthew reminded himself he didn’t believe in jhumbies. He made a search of the building looking for the human child that let the animals in. This was surely a more reasonable explanation. When Christian arrived, Matthew told him that he had to plan for his Sunday sermon. He still had no choice but to eat in town (he had not figured out how he would store food), but he brought his Bible and a notebook with him. On an airplane, when you want to be left alone, you wear headphones. When you want to be left alone in public, you bring a book and a notebook. His show of studiousness kept Sameer from telling the missionary “I told you so.” Unfortnately, he arrived at the chapel shortly behind Matthew. He said nothing, as was his mien. Across his back hung a cheap rifle.
“Do you need help getting rid of the animals and jhumbies, Reverend Matthew Tripp?” “It seems I do, Sameer.” Sameer unslung the rifle and pumped the stock three times like a bellows. “Is that a Lil Daisy BB gun?” asked Matthew. Sameer fired at one of the birds. It fell from the ceiling to the floor soundlessly. “Yes.” After he pumped it again and took down another bird, Matthew asked, “Why not an actual rifle?” Sameer killed a third bird before he answered, “That would be dangerous. And it would frighten the other birds, making it harder to hit them.” As another bird died, Matthew noted, “They aren’t very smart.” “The BB gun is too quiet. They live their bird lives...” another bird died, “...thinking that only loud things are dangerous.” Six shots, six birds. “Because it is outside what they know, they ignore it at their own peril.” “An allegory, Brother Sameer?” “What does that mean?” Matthew rephrased this. “Are we still talking about the birds and the BB gun?” “You can hear what you like to hear, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” Sameer said.
“I suppose it’s lucky for me that jhumbies aren’t dangerous to people like a BB gun is to people.” With an approving nod, Sameer paused to consider this. “Do you believe in jhumbies now, Reverend Matthew Tripp?” “No, but you do,” said Matthew. “And I think you are hinting that I should too. I think the child’s footprint and the open door have a far more logical explanation.” Sameer focused on his work rather than answer. So far, he had not missed a single shot. “It seems these jhumbies have a sad plight,” Matthew said. “They did nothing wrong. They simply were not baptized. Now they must walk the world as spirits forever. I wonder how much worse ignoring God must be for adults.” “I do not pray to your god, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” said Sameer. “Nor do I plan to start.” “What do you believe happens to a man who dies unbaptized?” “No man on Trinidad and Tobago dies unbaptized,” Sameer said. “Just because we do not all pray to your god does not mean we tempt him. Any more than we would tempt jhumbies. Or any other evil spirit. Or play games with a logiblas.” Matthew sighed and dropped the subject. Maybe Sameer would one day be ready to listen. He reminded himself that patience was a virtue for any man, but especially for
a missionary. “Well at least these jhumbies — if they do exist — are not dangerous, just annoying.” “There are far more dangerous things on this island,” said Sameer. “There are far more dangerous spirits on this island.” “Like what?” Matthew asked. His curiosity was piqued, but this was also a calculated move to draw Sameer out of his shell. Sameer said simply, “The logiblas.” “You’ve said that word several times,” Matthew realized. “What is it?” Sameer produced a bag with a rock in it and began gathering the lizards and dead birds. He asked, “Do you walk outside at night?” “I often take an evening stroll,” said Matthew. “To kind of be close to God’s creation when it is silent. I haven’t here though because I don’t know my way yet and I’ve been so jet lagged.” “It is best not to walk outside at night,” said Sameer. “But if you must, ensure you have matches in your pocket.” “In case I need a light?” Sameer refused to answer until the lizards and birds were gathered into a squirming mass. He then tied the bag, and Matthew made an educated guess why there was a rock in the bottom: to make the bag sink.
“If you find yourself walking after dark, a beautiful woman in white may come up to you. She will ask, ‘Do you have a match?’ Do not answer her. Simply take out a match and light it. She will go away.” “And if I don’t?” “You will die, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” “How? What does she do?” Sameer shook his head. “No. You will have to ask someone else. You do not believe me, so I am wasting my breath.” “Brother Sameer, that’s not true.” “Lies are against your god, Reverend.” “Okay, I don’t believe you. I don’t believe in—” “Do not finish that sentence in here or you will never get rid of the jhumbies. They will only grow more bold.” “Okay. But just because we don’t believe the same thing does not mean we should respect each other any less. Am I right?” Sameer almost smiled. “You are a good man, Reverend Matthew Tripp. Now you must order the jhumbies to leave.” Sameer switched to the local slang. Matthew had already began to understand the language enough to know both that Sameer did not speak kindly to these spirits and that his language was probably inappropriate for a church.
Matthew said, “Get out of here, jhumbies.” “You must mean it,” Sameer said. After a second, apparently failed, attempt, Sameer asked, “Do you not have children, Reverend Matthew Tripp?” “No, of course not.” “That is why this is hard for you,” Sameer said. “You must speak to them firmly. You must show them you are unhappy.... You must yell at them.” “A good father never yells at his children.” Sameer burst into a sudden, resonant laughter. “Perhaps a great father never yells at his children. And perhaps a perfect child never requires you to raise your voice. I will let you know if I ever find one.” “I take it you have children, Brother Sameer?” “Many, but do not change the subject. You must yell at these children. Get angry with them.” “Sameer...” “Does not your book say, ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’?” “You seem to know the Bible fairly well for someone who claims he doesn’t believe in it.” “That verse gives me hope that your god has some common sense,” Sameer said. “It was a very wise man who said those words.” “King Solomon.”
“These children, the jhumbies, the spirits, they have several times undone your work,” said Sameer. “They are wicked, bad little children. You must treat them like you would treat any bad little child. They have no parents to bring them up right.” Matthew sighed. “Get out of here, you wicked little children.” “They are laughing at you, Reverend.” Indeed, Matthew heard that squeaky window that always sounded like laughter. “How would your Jesus cast out a spirit? Would he ask them politely like you are? Order them to leave!” “This is a house of God! You are not welcome here, you evil spirits. You will leave this sanctuary and never return!” Sameer again shouted (this time in thick slang) and held the bag up. Matthew could almost hear the plaintive crying — fake cries — of children in the distance. He would question his sanity aloud if the sound did not rob him of his voice. It had to be a trick of the mind or the wind. When Sameer slammed the door — ensuring he faced outward — he turned to give an approving nod. “That was very good, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” he said. “You should have no problems with them now. They are not vindictive. Just make sure when you close this door, you face outside until it is shut. Evil spirits will see your face and not enter.” “Christian said something like that the first night I was here.” Sameer shook his head, muttered something in slang, and said, “Christian is a true ‘man of god’.”
“I sense sarcasm in that, Brother Sameer, but I don’t understand what you have against Christian.” “It is too hard to explain to you.” “To a white man?” Matthew had intended this to be a convicting statement. Sameer silenced him by simply agreeing. “So, what is this about a logiblast?” Sameer shook his head. “You do not believe me. You must ask someone else.” Matthew began to protest, but Sameer held up a hand to silence him. “It does not matter. Just do not walk after dark without matches in your pocket. Is Keron coming to pick up the wood you chopped?” “Yes.” With a look at something a thousand miles away, Sameer nodded approvingly as he said, “You should ask him. Keron is the perfect man to tell you about the logiblas. Goodbye, Reverend Matthew Tripp.”
Christian had warned Matthew it was impolite to set a price and refuse to discuss it. He would be rude not to barter. Keron started by naming a price half of what Matthew had set for the wood. Frankly, Matthew did not want any money, and would have let him take the entirety for free. But, at Christian’s advice, he had set a price much higher that
what it would cost to fix the chapel. As they came inevitably to a price between these extremes, Matthew offered his hand to Keron. The man stared at this for long enough for Matthew to remember he was not in the US any more. A handshake might not mean what it used to, but it was at least symbolic. Here, it was still strange and novel. Work complete, Matthew offered Keron some water in his rectory. As they sat cooling slowly in the oppressive humidity, Matthew discussed his adventure of the jhumbies with Keron. He seemed to find the occurrence worthy of no surprise. Then it was not a matter of one crazy neighbor; these odd superstitions were indeed a part of the culture. “Sameer also warned me not to go walking at night without matches.” “Did he tell you why?” “Logiblast would kill me?” Matthew offered. “Logiblas,” Keron corrected. “And he is right. Just light a match if she asks for one.” “He was sketchy on the details though. Can you please explain it? What is a logiblas?” Keron considered his water carefully for a moment. “They’re evil spirits. They look like women unless you know how to see what they really are. If you follow them into the woods, you will die.”
Matthew chuckled. “Well, no worry there. I don’t have any intention of following any strange women into the woods.” Keron did not chuckle back. Matthew added, “I am kind of a man of God.” “It won’t matter. She looks like a woman, beautiful woman, all in white and with pale, almost glowing skin. Her right foot is bare and looks normal. Like a human foot. But her left foot is a horse’s hoof.” “I certainly won’t follow strange women with one horse’s foot into the woods.” “You will. Everyone does. Well, men. She doesn’t go after women.” “Then wouldn’t there be thousands of missing men here?” “We don’t usually walk in the dark. She only comes out at night and only when there is moonlight. And when you look at her directly, you can’t see the horse’s hoof. “She’ll walk up to you and ask, ‘Do you have a match?’ If a woman walks up to you at night and asks that, don’t say a word, just pull out your matches and light one. She’ll go away. Something about the sulfur or something in the match scares them.” Matthew asked, “And if I don’t have a match?” “Then you are dead. Because next she’ll ask, ‘Do you want to come with me?’ And it doesn’t matter what you want to say, you will. Oh, you can laugh, Reverend. Sure, some men probably think it’s worth following her for a good time. She is beautiful.” “Except the horse’s hoof you mean.”
“Don’t make fun of spirits, Reverend. And I told you you can’t see the hoof when you look at her directly. You can say no when she asks... try to say no, but you’ll still follow her. Once you enter the woods, you’re dead. People disappear. Sometimes we find bones, but usually, they just disappear.” “Brother Keron, I mean no disrespect here, but....” Matthew took a moment to consider how to finish that sentence. “Well, walking into the jungle at night is a bad idea to begin with. And sometimes men just leave their families. Give into... lustful urges. Maybe they get caught sometimes I have to wonder if it isn’t easier for the man to claim, or for the wronged wife to claim, that an evil spirit took him. That he meant to be faithful, but he couldn’t.” “You wouldn’t say that if you’d seen one, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” Keron rose stiffly and took a step toward the door. “Brother Keron, I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean any disrespect. I would just like to understand all this. Invisible children with backwards feet. Women in white with a horse’s hoof. Isn’t it easier to blame problems and setbacks on evil spirits. How do you know this logiblas exists if no one has ever seen it?” “I’ve seen the logiblas, Reverend,” said Keron without making eye contact. “That’s how I know.” Matthew tried but failed to speak. His second attempt came as, “You’ve seen it?”
Keron sighed at the unasked, but present question, and sat down. “My wife and I, we had an argument. I got mad and stormed out of the house. I was walking around the town when this woman in tattered white clothing — beautiful, her skin and clothes almost glowing in the moonlight — she walks up to me. She’s so graceful she looks like she’s almost gliding. I feel no wind, but her hair looks like it’s blowing slightly. “She steps in front of me and asks, ‘Do you have a match?’ I know what she is, so I reach into my pocket first thing. But I was in such a hurry storming out, I forgot my matches. I don’t say nothing, but she knows. She smiles at me and asks, ‘Do you want to come with me?’ It takes all my effort, but I say no. Except what comes out of my mouth is, ‘Yes.’ She walked away and I followed her. I couldn’t figure out how to get away. Then I see a match out of nowhere. My wife, she saw that I forgot my matches and knew the moon was out. She’d been rushing around looking for me and caught me just in time. She lights the match and I feel the logiblas let go. It just faded away into the plants.” “How did your wife take that?” “She knows that I didn’t mean to go with her,” said Keron. “I had no choice. Never forget your matches.” “But how do you know about the feet?” asked Matthew. “You said you can’t see it when you look at her.” Keron was done with this conversation. He rose and moved toward the door. At the threshold, he said, “Sometimes she leaves footprints. Or you have to look at the
logiblas a different way. Bend over and look through your legs. Or through a round stone, a buttonhole, something like that. Never forget your matches, Reverend Matthew Tripp. If you must go out at night, never forget your matches.”
The days turned to weeks, the weeks to routines. Matthew found a rhythm and logic to this life here on this island. He became not only a member of the community, but a source of comfort to the community. The church exploded in attendance. Even Sameer appeared most Sundays to sit in the rear, though he never forgot his mantra of, “I don’t pray to your god.” Matthew listened to the distraught, he visited the sick, and although his church did not actually believe in baptism at birth, he baptized babies. The mothers were quite insistent that they not die unbaptized and become jhumbies. Christian often criticized this practice, citing his Bible many times, but he was also quick to call when his own child was born. Perhaps his wife insisted, but he doubted that Christian did it solely to appease her. Matthew had stepped carefully over the salt surrounding the birthing room (spirits could not cross because they would have to count every grain first) and baptized the child. Christian then apologized for asking him to do this. As he shook Matthew’s hand (the islanders had picked up this habit with him), the reverend felt salt still clinging to Christian’s palm. Though always helpful, Matthew realized Sameer was right: Christian could be rather two-faced and annoying at times.
The best time to baptize — since it mattered little from the religious perspective – was the day they were born. So Matthew was often called shortly after the midwife. One cloudless night, a few days into the waning moon, Matthew stood outside with Sameer after baptizing his latest of seven children. They smoked cigars, because though Matthew was against smoking on principle, sharing traditions with a good friend won souls. “Why do you do this, Matthew?” Sameer asked. Over the months, they had become first-name friends. “Your church does not recognize baptism like this.” “It brings comfort,” said Matthew. “And if people see I am willing to meet them halfway, they are more likely to come to church. It worked with you.” “I still don’t pray to your god, Matthew.” “Baby steps. You know as much about the Bible as Christian,” said Matthew. “Why is that?” “You have to meet people halfway.” Matthew chuckled. “Wise words. You come on Sundays. If you just like learning things, you could come to the Bible study tomorrow.” “Maybe.” “Maybe means no,” said Matthew. “Christian will be there.” “In that case, I will certainly not attend.” “It will be an excuse to get away from the screaming newborn.”
“What time?” Matthew laughed and they promised to meet again the next day. “I will see you then, Sameer. Don’t back out.” “You are not walking, are you?” “I don’t have a car, a license here, or any desire to risk my life driving.” “The moon is out. You risk your life walking at night.” Matthew rolled his eyes. “I have my matches. Apparently just having them handy keeps the notorious logiblas away. Not to mention those annoying jhumbies.” “Don’t speak of spirits near a newborn.” “I’m sorry. But you don’t pray to my god and I don’t believe in your jhumbies and logiblases. Logiblasi? Help me out here.” Sameer found no humor in this. “I don’t believe until I actually see one. I’m superstition agnostic.” “You tempt the devil, Reverend Matthew Tripp.” Despite his insistence that he did not believe in evil spirits or superstitions, the island could be creepy at night. Footsteps echoed back and became followers. Strange bird calls became laughter. He needed another noise to focus on, so he pulled the box of matches from his pocket and rattled them at random. Some cultures believed that bells frightened spirits. Though that was not the case here, it was clear the rattling matches seemed to have the opposite effect. The longer he walked along the woods toward the
chapel, the more he could swear he heard children giggling around him. Sticks fell near him, and chuckles erupted. A snake slithered across his path, causing him to jump. More laughter. But no one was there. No wonder the natives never walked at night. This would be his last time. And he was almost right. A rock in his path caused him to trip. There was no question that children out of sight, almost invisible, were playing pranks on him. Now sticks fell on him. Small sticks, but numerous enough to be annoying. He could see no one, but he could not deny the giggles and the pranks. “Leave me alone! Bad children! You go play somewhere else,” he shouted. They became silent, but he could still sense their presence. His box of matches on the ground rattled. “You jhumbies go away! Leave!” His matches rattled, children sobbed quietly, but he heard footsteps in the rustling grass. He brushed himself off and looked for his matches. He could find them nowhere. Perhaps they slid somewhere when he tripped. It sounded like a more reasonable explanation than the first one that came to his mind: the jhumbies took them as a prank. Reminding himself that he didn’t believe in superstition and old wives’ tales anyway, he headed to the chapel. He could see the front of the church when she came from the woods.
She nearly glowed white as the moon as she came forward. Her steps were so smooth that she seemed to be coming forward on the waves of an ocean. Her tattered dress moved in its own wind. Her hair flowed almost as if she was under water. To call this woman beautiful felt like a disservice. She was stunning. Literally. Even had Matthew not been warned about the logiblas, he would have known this woman was trouble. He would have known this woman was a spirit. He hurried to travel the final block into the safety of the churchyard. She kept pace with him as if he stood still. When he looked left and right, Matthew realized he had only moved in his mind. The thing’s smile shined like a Siren’s beacon. It invited men to follow her without a word. Her voice flowed beautifully when she asked, “Do you have a match?” Though he knew the jhumbies had stolen it, he checked once again in his pockets. Perhaps one fell out of the box. “I lost them.” “Do you want to come with me?” Matthew shook his head emphatically no and said clearly, “Yes.” The logiblas smiled again and turned towards the woods. She almost touched the fence of the chapel as she headed toward the woods. Did he reach for the fence as he went by or did he just imagine it? Soon, he would be lost in the woods. Nothing could stop him, so he searched his pockets once more for a stray match. How had he missed it the first time? There it was, the handle through a wide seam in his pocket, the head
barely stopping it. But as he pulled it out and held it up, he realized he had no way to light it. He remembered clearly the words on his missing matches “strike on box.” With great effort, he leaned down to try to strike it on the ground, but it only scraped off the head. He let the useless match fall to the ground, and once more searched his pockets. He found only a pocket Bible given to him, coincidentally, by Sameer who did not pray to his God. Was there something the good book could do to save him? He leafed through the pages, but somehow he could not speak in the presence of the logiblas. Nor could he think of a single verse that would help him if his voice had been unlocked. He knew there was something about evil spirits in there. He could not take his eyes of the logiblas’s hideous beauty. Desperate, only ten steps from the jungle edge, Matthew remembered the match. That was the answer. It was a slim chance, it was probably blasphemous, but he would die if he didn’t try. He might die regardless. Matthew grabbed the cover of his tiny Bible and ripped the pages from the binding. He dropped the nearly empty cover on the ground and pulled another page free from the binding glue still stuck to the edge. He continued this way, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs like Hansel and Gretel. He continued until he ran out of pages. Somehow, the logiblas knew. She turned and smiled at his empty, still working, hands. There was a flash of something in her eyes. An inhuman reflection off the back of
the eye. Not like when a camera flash turned someone’s eyes red; these eyes flashed like a cat’s, green, staring, calculating, detached. Still they walked. After hundreds of pages in a path to find him, they walked. He remembered Keron’s advice: if you saw the feet it would break the spell. So Matthew looked directly at her feet, looking for the hoof. All he saw was a perfectly formed human right foot. He looked at the other, but found himself looking again at the right foot. The soft ground retained footprints: foot, hoof, foot, hoof. He followed the line of hoofprints toward the logiblas, but somehow he ended up looking at the human right foot. Once more, he tried to see it. Starting at the foot, he ran his eyes deliberately up the leg, then across the waist, then down the other leg, past the left thigh, then past the left knee, then past the left calf. He found himself once again looking at the logiblas’s right foot. He thought this could not get any worse; he was wrong. Ahead, he saw a line of white flowers dotting the forest floor. As they approached, he noticed these flowers were of irregular shape. Getting closer, they seemed to have small black striations across the petals. As he passed them, tears fell from his eyes. These were the crumpled pages of his Bible. The logiblas had doubled back and crossed the path. They would never find him now. He would die in the jungle. They must have been walking for hours. Light came through the heavy canopy of plants in pinholes, but the jungle floor remained in perpetual twilight. Devoid of much
plant life beyond the trunks of the mighty trees. From behind three of these trees came an unearthly glow. The logiblas stopped and turned. Three more stepped into view. He looked between these and saw at first only that they resembled each other very closely. Even the torn, irregular clothing — more like a tangled net than cloth — looked the same. Then Matthew noted a peculiar, irregular, and unique tear near the shoulder. As he looked between them, he saw that all four had exactly the same tear. Checking further, he found enough exact matches that he felt certain the clothing — if torn rags could be called clothing — were identical. He checked the faces once more to his terror. They did not resemble each other; they all had exactly the same face. The logiblas asked him, “Will you sit as we sing?” He heard one voice. He saw four mouths move. This was enough to nearly pull him from his trance. Matthew’s heart pounded in his ears and, with exertion like pulling a car, he took a step backwards. The most beautiful singing he ever heard started. The logiblases’ mouths moved together, but the number of voices seemed to vary, harmonize. It was like a choir of hundreds, now a single voice. Because their mouths did not match, it seemed the jungle itself serenaded him. He did not know the language. It was as if they sang in tongues; that must be it: it was the unknown language of angels. “The rocks and trees will cry out,” he managed to mutter. What was that from?
He did not know when, but some time in the last few minutes, Matthew had taken a seat against one of the larger trees. The hard roots and hard trunk felt like soft pillows to him. He felt as if the floor of the jungle had turned to a waterbed, letting him sink in but still feel supported. The roots of the trees moved and embraced him, trapping his arms and legs in velvet embraces. He knew he should be worried about this, but the circling sirens calmed his mind. A great weariness lay on him, and Matthew felt he wanted to sleep. But he could not let himself sleep and miss a single note or measure of their beautiful song. Perhaps he could let them blend into his dreams if— The smell of sulfur burned his lungs. He coughed as if he had walked into a burning room. The smell doubled, and now he saw two blinding lights approaching. He felt as if someone stood on his chest. He couldn’t breathe. A third light and Matthew woke from his trance. The blinding lights were nothing but matches. In fact, the three men carrying them held much brighter lanterns. The four logiblases stopped singing and moved away. Matthew looked at them with a mixture of relief and regret. One of the men, he could not remember their names yet, said, “Come on Reverend Matthew Tripp.” Still seated, he looked at the logiblases and understood that the matches had caused them to retreat, but not leave altogether.
With slurred speech, Matthew muttered, “I thought matches chased them away.” “We’re in their land now, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” a different man said. His name was something like Charon. Except he was here to ferry Matthew away from the land of the dead. “It only keeps them at a distance. Now get up before we run out of matches.” Matthew frowned at him. Couldn’t he see? “I can’t get up. The tree roots.” Somehow, they still didn’t see. “They’ve grown over my arms and legs.” “He’s delirious.” “He’s just dehydrated. Help him up.” “Dehydrated?” Matthew asked. The word sounded like a foreign word he couldn’t understand. As they pulled him to his feet, Matthew was less surprised that the trees had not taken hold of him at all than at his own weakness. His legs barely held his weight and his stomach churned with what he first mistook for illness. As he took his first few steps, Matthew realized he was ravenously hungry. “How long was I there?” The men — he could now recall Christian, Keron, and Sameer — already nearly dragged him, but had to actually carry him now, his last ounce of strength sapped when Christian said, “Three days.” Sameer stood lighting matches as they moved. Matthew said, “Don’t use them all. What if the logiblas comes?” “They’re already following us, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” Sameer said.
In his other hand were the mangled remains of his pocket Bible. Several pages still clung to the cover. “You found my Bible. What would God and my pastor say?” “It was a great plan,” Keron said, straining against Matthew’s weight. “That torn Bible saved your life.” “Then that’s okay I guess,” Matthew said, beginning to feel delirious now. “Bible saved my life. Good sermon. But wait, the logiblas doubled back. It knew.” “That’s what took us so long to find you,” Sameer said. Several pages still clung to the pocket-Bible cover, and now it gave him an idea. Actually, Keron gave him the idea. “I need to stop a moment.” “We are almost out of matches, Reverend Matthew Tripp,” Sameer said. “It’s okay,” Matthew said, barely getting his feet under him. “If you see it, they leave, right?” The three couldn’t answer or they didn’t understand. Neither did Matthew fully understand (would he ever understand anything again?), but he had an idea. Nothing more than superstition really. He took the remains of his Bible and tore one further page out. In the center of that page he saw by the electric lanterns, “and the truth shall set you free.” He chuckled and pushed his finger through the page. Holding it up to his eye, he looked at the four logiblases behind him. They recoiled and turned their left foot away from the observer. It
was not enough. Their graceful rags had become tattered remnants. Their beautiful faces became shrunken, angular, wrinkled. And their left foot was a horse’s hoof. They faded back into the woods, exposed. “We’re out of matches.” “They won’t come back,” said Matthew. “Not while I’m here. Not now that I’ve seen them for what they are.” He fell back to the support of his rescuers. They carried him, his arms slung around their shoulders. Someone asked him a question, but he was so exhausted he couldn’t keep his eyes open. Just before he fell asleep, at the threshold of the jungle and civilization, he muttered, “Superstitions. Superstition is faith with teeth.” THE END http://www.facebook.com/orenhammerquist
The Story Behind the Story Perhaps most people would think living in a place where indirect fire from rockets proves a constant threat would be frightening—that one would spend much of his time on edge. The truth, as my brothers in arms know, becomes the opposite after the first few times you get rocket fire. And so you find the hedgehog that keeps stealing your rations, the giant ants that infest your guard tower, the freaky lizard/snake thing that patrols the berm… these are all more interesting. When the enemy sucks at their job (which they did when I was there) you spend more time worried about spiders the size of your fist crawling into your boots. And so you talk to those with you about anything that comes to mind; I am indebted to one of these late nights and Jonpierre Meyer for this monster. I complained that the zombie-vampire-werewolf phenomenon was overdone. Couldn’t they come up with a new monster? (He was polite enough not to call me an idiot for ignoring Lovecraft; we are all a little stupid when we’re young.) So he said to me, “I can tell you about one’s you’ve never heard of.” Apparently, the swamps of Louisiana can be a very strange place. He proceeded to tell me first about Jumbies, which I was able to find on the internet (though the backwards feet are far from universal). He also told me about an animal called a Boq, which I have yet to find more on. I am currently working on a title with that strange animal.
To me, the creature called the Logiblas fascinated me most. I relate his story in paraphrase here: One night, I got into a fight with my sister and stormed out of the house. Now at home, everyone knows you don’t go out without a box of matches in your pocket. If you do, a logiblas might come and ask you to come with her. She looks like a woman, but her left foot is a horse’s hoof. She’ll come up out of nowhere and ask, “Do you have a match?” If a woman asks you that at night, don’t say a word, just light one and hold it up. Something about it scares them and they walk away. I was angry, so I stormed out without my matches. I never really believed in this stuff, but some woman in white stepped out of the shadows and asked if I had a match. I couldn’t speak, and out of nowhere I saw a match light up. My sister saw that I left them and raced out to find me. The woman moved back and my sister pulled me back toward our house. I asked what the hell that was; I hadn’t seen the foot. She told me it was a logiblas. Ididn’t believe her, so she told me to turn my back to it, bend over, and look at it between my legs. The woman tried to keep her foot hidden, but I actually saw that one foot was a hoof. Did he just make this story up on the fly? Perhaps. I have not been able to find any similar references on Google. And Google knows all. Honestly, I’m not sure it matters. Good as the story was, I needed to expand it somewhat to meet fiction standards. If he made it up, then it was lacking. If it was true, then under the paradox of real life, it wasn’t believable. The truth is never believable in fiction unless it is also boring. This is the second time I wrote this story. The first version had a man from the north and a woman from the deep south. The man doesn’t believe things like Jumbies or Logiblases. He gets into a fight with his wife and goes out to get drunk. A Jumbie trips him, and he loses his matches. Then a Logiblas comes, he follows her, and his wife
rescues him. Interesting, but it didn’t work well. Still, you can see elements of that story in this one. Why set it in Trinidad and Tobago? Firstly, it isn’t I’ve never been to these islands, so they are described as Google describes them. The superstitions listed are from the island, except the Jumbies and Logiblases, according to the internet. The demographics are also from the internet. In essence, nothing is real here. Secondly, I felt the contrast between these superstitions and a man of faith to be interesting. Almost cruel. Don’t read too much into it. If I ever become famous, I’m sure people will make far more of this arrangement. You should see what students come up with from Kafka! Third, I remember as a child that someone from our church went to Trinidad and Tobago as a missionary. Personally, I’ve always been skeptical of people who feel God calling them to be missionaries in the Caribbean. By all accounts of Google, these islands are very modern and already very Christian. By far, the hardest part of this story was finding a decent title. I tried, “Match,” “Do You Have a Match?” “Faith with Teeth,” and several other titles. I finally settled on “Logiblas” because it is so unique. The first title sounded too ambiguous; the second like the title of a book written by Goofus (as opposed to Gallant); the third like a political commentary. The correct pronunciation of “Logiblas” is /lɒ’ʤɪ’blæs/ or “lah-jiblas.” The Jumbie, sometimes Jhumbie, is /ʤu:m’bi:/ or “joom-bee”.
"Logiblas" tells the story of a missionary caught in a place where superstition is reality. He makes the mistake of thinking these pieces of...
Published on Nov 11, 2018
"Logiblas" tells the story of a missionary caught in a place where superstition is reality. He makes the mistake of thinking these pieces of...