Before The Night of the Rambler was even sold to Akashic The Caribbean Writer published an excerpt titled “The Message” as a standalone piece in its bilingual volume number 25 (2011) dedicated to Haiti. Click here to read “The Message”.
Below are super short fragments taken from the novel, little pill-sized tasters of different moods.
From Part II, Chapter i: “Tintamarre and the Implausible Twist of Alwyn’s Fate”, the love story in The Night of the Rambler:
D.C. van Ruijtenbeek found himself muted, paralyzed almost, by the extent of her beauty, as well as somewhat offended by her poise as she walked right past him without so much as a nod of her head. That same day, D.C. van Ruijtenbeek made inquiries as to who this stranger was who had left him with this longing in his heart. That same day, D.C. van Ruijtenbeek was standing before the doorway of Elaine Nesbit’s modest little house by the Great Salt Pond on the rear end of Philipsburg. This was in the summer of 1931. Twenty-five years later, on his deathbed, he would still describe it as the happiest day of his life, while she held his hand to ease his negotiation with Death.
He wrote to her every week for the following three years, without fail. But three years later, Elaine Nesbit still lived in her small, modest house by the marshlands, toward the Great Salt Pond in Philipsburg. One night, D.C. jumped on his sailboat and cut across the two-mile channel onto the bay of Cul-de-Sac. He had been drinking copiously at his farm, perhaps to forget the extent of his solitude, and he had taken a demijohn of rum along with him for the evening. Once at Lover’s Leap, he procured himself a horse and made his way from Dutch Cul-de-Sac to Philipsburg. He reached Elaine Nisbet’s house right at the stroke of midnight, amidst the darkest dark of night. Elaine could hear him coming long before he reached the steps that led him to her untidy veranda. When he saw her on the threshold of her doorway, barely covered in the thin nightgown she used more to protect herself from the mosquitoes than from anyone’s sight, he felt an intense anger grow inside his chest. He garnered the last bit of sobriety he could find in his consciousness and breathed in with intent, meaning to strike Elaine with a thunderous roar that could, perhaps, express the extent of his frustration. She stopped him in the middle of his gesture, grabbing the collar of his shirt with both hands and shoving him inside her house with more violence than he could have mustered.
The following morning, hungover and disoriented, D.C. van Ruijtenbeek understood there was nothing he could do to break this woman’s will. What do you want me to do? he asked more himself than her.
I wasn’t born to be no queen. The silence that ensued might have lasted a few centuries.
Fine–you win. But tonight you’ll leave this house for the last time: from now on we’ll live together in Lover’s Leap.
Elaine Nesbit and Degendarus Clement van Ruijtenbeek lived in his estate for over twenty years…
From Part II, Chapter v: “The Undelivered Message”
Sol Carter hesitated for a moment. He stood erect in the afternoon sun, looking stronger, bigger than he was, by the size of his shadow. He took a few steps into the bush, tied the rope of his lead goat to a sturdy neem tree, and on his way into the house, almost brushing Alwyn Cooke, he just muttered, barely audibly, Berightback. Sol Carter washed his hands thoroughly, dried the sweat covering his chest, slipped a white cotton top on, and met Alwyn Cooke by his green Ford Anglia. The eight-mile ride between Island Harbour and South Hill, plagued with enormous potholes, took the best part of an hour…
From Part II, Chapter ii: “Rude Thompson and the Aruban Connection”
Faced with the millenary challenge of survival which all of his ancestors had encountered before him, Rude Thomson had chosen to sidestep the option of subsistence farming and fishing, setting his sight instead on achieving a higher level of respectability–of comfort, even–by venturing offshore, by relocating somewhere else on a temporary basis, somewhere more conductive to that which Anguilla wanted most: employment…
From Part II, Chapter i: “Tintamarre and the Implausible Twist of Alwyn’s Fate”
They walked along the promenade, between Front Street and the beach, beneath the scrutinizing eyes of the curious and the vile. Sitting by the beach, looking out over the sea, D.C. van Ruijtenbeek asked her to join him in Tintamarre. Suddenly, the fiery yearning Elaine Nesbit felt to allow him into her life turned into a shivering emptiness. She couldn’t explain why, but she just felt revoltion inside her. It was the second time she had rejected him, and I don’t often ask anything three times. Instincts overtook her and, without thinking, I will not be no pawn in your kingdom, Mr. van Ruijtenbeek, or your queen…
From Part I, chapter ii: “The Rendezvous”
But before he could finish his metaphor about eating from someone else’s plate, he was interrupted by Alwyn Cook, who explained that St. Kitts was a problem that had very much to do with Anguilla’s reality, that Anguilla wouldn’t have a plate at all if Bradshaw had his way, and that whether or not there were any people to welcome their expedition had nothing to do with what they had come to do in St. Kitts, nor with the reason why they had come to do it…
From Part I, Chapter i: “May de Lord be wit’ Us”
There was no moon. The night, dark and clear all at once, was made thicker by a sinister haze which veiled the stars and the lights in the distance. Behind the wheel, on the bridge of the thirty-five-foot boat, a bitter argument ensued…
Want more? Here are some BONUS tracks and AUDIO material from the novel.