For All Nails #12: Island Life

By David Mix Barrington

Bridgetown, Barbados FN1
22 February 1970

Everybody came to Rocky's, particularly Felipe "Phil" Jackson. White faces were the minority on the island, but not so unusual as to cause comment -- there were retirees, tourists from the CNA on the weekly airmobile or one of the cruise ships, dilettantes with sailboats, and even the occasional Mexican spy. Felipe Jackson of Puerto Hancock was a major in Mexican army intelligence, and Phil Jackson of Miami, Georgia was a dilettante with a sailboat. Both enjoyed the cheap Bajan beer and the excellent Bajan rum, but Felipe particularly enjoyed the conversation in Rocky's.

There were still three small warships in the harbor, two CNA and one British. The ten combat airmobiles at Seawall Field had become twelve, and there was a new AA rocket battery. Two new patrol torpedo boats had begun operating out of Bathsheba, complicating any future covert landings on the east shore. The CNA was in one of its periodic episodes of concern for security after the Michigan City business, and apparently had bought these for the Bajan coast guard.

Most intriguing was a new "astronomical observatory" in St. Peter's parish. Rocky at the bar had described what seemed to be large radiolocator dishes, which could be used to observe the emanations from distant stars and galaxies, Jackson supposed. But then why would the dishes swing around violently, "like de flying fish on de hook", in Rocky's words? These dishes, and the others in three places in the Bahamas, were for tracking something closer to home. When he was done here, it would be time for more birdwatching around Cocoa Beach, Georgia . . .

Meanwhile, a moonlit hike in St. Peter's would be a pleasant end to a productive evening. Tomorrow he could get down to the business of recruiting some of the cleaning staff at the "observatory." No Bajan would voluntarily help Mexico, the last redoubt of slavery. But they would be jumping out of their patriotic skins to help "Leftenant Jackson of Royal Navy Intelligence" keep "the Crown" up to date on the CNA's doings here.

Could Barbados stay out of the war to come? One of his superiors had suggested a coup and a Mexican-backed government, which had been a laugh. How many troops would we need to keep a lid on a hundred thousand Bajans, each with the machete he brought to work every day, thinking we're coming to restore slavery? Bajans were proud of their freedom and their independence, but when it came to intelligence they were innocent as babies, really, with no conception of the two scorpions in a bottle circling around them. Enough rum for now, he was mixing his metaphors.

Maybe the war wouldn't come at all. This would be the place to retire to -- sail the boat for real, take some fishing charters that would pay in pounds instead of worthless dolares -- things could be worse. In the meantime, he had a job to do.

Proceed to FAN #13: Roadblock.

Proceed to 24 April 1970: Machine Politics.

Proceed to Caribbean: Body, Mind, and Character.

Return to For All Nails.

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