Written By Sher Trott-Bailey
Loud shouts and screams pierced the early morning hours of the little community of Toledo. The loud commotion and screaming continued on until several people turned on their lights and came out into the streets. There was a woman rolling in the road, then jumping up and down holding her ear. Bystanders and onlookers tried to calm her down so she could explain what was happening.
” Wah de gwaan gal?” What happen to you? Why you out here messing up my business and alerting people?” Frank the neighborhood thief and con man bellowed out loudly.
” Isn’t that Mrs.Hernandez?” Another one exclaimed.
“It’s she yes!” someone answered,
When Juanita and her mother came out onto their verandah to see what was causing the ruckus, they realized that the lady screaming was none other than Mrs. Hernandez. The woman kept running madly around holding her ear and screaming as though in great pain. Mrs. Hernandez’s husband had been dead ten years now and her children had left her to live in Belize City, so she lived alone.
Juanita’s mother rushed out into the streets when she realized who it was and tried to calm the woman down. A couple of young guys were able to restrain her long enough for Juanita’s mother to talk to her.
” Vivette what’s the matter? What happen? calm down, calm down now and talk.” Maria Cortazar asked the hysterical woman.
” There is a roach in my ear! There is a roach crawling round in my ear. It hurts so bad! I can feel it Maria! ….crawling around,” Mrs. Hernandez shouted loudly.
“ Maria it’s vengeance, it’s vengeance. I had a dream from God that it was vengeance for Juanita.” Mrs.Hernandez whispered softly to Maria while looking up at her with bulging eyes and squeezing her arm tightly.
” Ah ah, be quiet now, shh! Stop it! It’s nothing of the sort Vivette. Let’s just get this roach out of your ear okay.” Maria said firmly, looking suddenly very disturbed.
“ Does anyone know what to do?” Maria shouted out to the onlookers
“ Take her to the hospital now!” One woman said.
” What you expect us to do or know? Have any of us ever been in this predicament?” Joel a young school teacher shouted.
” Ah, Ah that Mrs.Hernandez has always been dirty, always leaving her garbage around her house for days. She is ever missing the garbage truck. It’s no surprise she would have roaches!” Gayle the shopkeeper commented.
“ You will not scandalize me! You will not dirty my name Gayle, when was the last time you buy a new dress? ever in the same clothes every week!” Mrs. Hernandez barked out in front of the crowds.
” Someone, Juanita! Juanita!… call Barry. Tell him to come immediately, tell him don’t worry we will pay the nightly charter fare. Tell him someone has to go to the hospital right away. Hurry now!” Maria Cortazar called out loudly to Juanita who was standing on the steps of their verandah. Maria Cortarzar had left her car at the mechanic.
” Of all the nights you choose to have a problem Vivette, it’s the night I don’t have my car. You are unfortunate!” Juanita’s mother lamented.
Juanita quickly went into the house for her phone and called Barry to explain everything. When she came back to tell her mom Barry said thirty minutes, Juanita saw Mrs. Hernandez rolling and moaning in the road. She kept moaning and knocking her ears,
“ It’s moving around, oh God, I’m sorry!” A pathetic and miserable-looking Mrs. Hernandez sobbed bitterly.
Finally, Barry showed up and Juanita’s mother went with Mrs.Hernandez to the hospital. The nearest hospital was over two hours away. When the commotion was over, the onlookers scuttled back to their houses. Juanita went inside and laid back down to sleep. She would get the information firsthand from her mother when she returned. She looked at her phone, it was now 4:12 am. Juanita settled in to get much-needed sleep. In two days’ time, she would start working up by the Estate. She needed all the energy she could muster.
When Maria Cortarzar had finally reached home after dropping Mrs.Hernandez back home from the hospital, she was tired and shook up. Vivette had not stopped mumbling about vengeance and stealing. It was a lot of effort for her to shut her up so that Barry would not overhear her ramblings.
” Maria, look how many girls I have set up. But this one here, your daughter Juanita has brought fire on my head.” Mrs. Hernandez had cried miserably in the car on their way to the hospital. Her ear was paining her terribly.
“ Be quiet now Vivette!” What are you talking about? This is just an unfortunate accident. Stop it about vengeance, vengeance!” Maria vehemently scolded.
The inflicted woman would not be appeased but kept mumbling and mumbling. The pain had become so much from the moving roach that the woman eventually passed out. When they arrived at the hospital they had to wait four hours before anyone was able to tend to the woman. They said there had been three accident emergencies that morning and there were only two doctors on call. Finally, the ENT ( Ear, Nose and Throat) doctor was able to see Vivette. His name was Dr.Diaz.
Dr. Diaz was able to kill the roach by suffusing the ear with warm olive oil. When the roach had stopped moving around he had turned Mrs. Hernandez on her side, with her ear to the ground in the hopes that the dead roach would slide out naturally. However, Dr.Diaz ended up having to extract the roach with some tweezers. Mrs.Hernandez was to report back for her X-ray results and to check on her hearing in two weeks’ time.
Maria did not feel like facing Juanita. She just couldn’t look her daughter in the eye right now. So she quietly slipped inside her home and tip-toed to her room. She didn’t bother coming out until the late evening. By then Juanita had already made dinner. Her daughter had knocked on her door to let her know dinner was ready.
” Thanks, darling, I will share my dinner when I’m ready. Okay. I’m tired don’t disturb me for the rest of the night.” Maria told her daughter.
” Okay mom,” Juanita replied.
Shrugging her shoulders, Juanita went back to her room to continue working on her handbags and sandals.
Before Juanita knew it, the dreaded day of working up by the Martinez’s Estate had arrived. She already felt the mental weight of being on the clock. However, she reminded herself that this job was a means to an end. In any case, it’s not like Mr.Martinez wasn’t a nice employer or that she wasn’t welcomed among the other staff members. It was just Adrianna that was the problem. Hopefully, Juanita could avoid her much as possible but if the time ever came to confront the girl, Juanita was nobody’s punk.
“ Juanita it’s eight o’clock we need to get going.” her mother called out while knocking on Juanita’s door.
“ I’m ready mom.” Juanita replied opening her door.
Juanita was dressed in a simple mid-length black dress with short sleeves. She already knew her uniform would be ready for her up by the Estate. The mother and daughter duo headed to Ms.Cortazar’s small Honda Fit and began their one-and-a-half-hour journey to the Martinez’s Great Estate. On their journey, Juanita’s mother gave her the schedule of upcoming parties. They also talked about her main functions up by the Estate. Juanita was very familiar with everything and in no way felt intimidated by her work.
When they finally arrived and had parked in the staff parking area, they both quickly made their way to the kitchens where her mother would relieve Mrs.Sabderson as the Head Housekeeper for the rest of the day.
” Juanita, today you will help the cooks out in the kitchens, they have started prepping, smoking and seasoning the meats for the first event which is in three days. I will be helping out Ms. Adrianna and the Event planner okay.” Her mother instructed.
” Okay. Sounds good.”
” That’s my girl. We will have lunch together in the lunchroom later. Hurry up and get changed. Your locker number is 343 and your code is 0018″ Juanita’s mother said and kissed her goodbye.
The senior staff had different changing areas from the newer staff. In total there were about three hundred people employed by Mr. Martinez just to run and keep up the estate. From what Juanita had heard, the Martinez family had gained their wealth through lumber and rubber. Mr. Martinez’s father had recently passed away a few months ago and now his son was in full control of their whole dynasty.
How to describe Mr. Martinez? To call him old was far from the truth. The truth was that he was like someone out of a romance novel. He was very handsome and fit. He was charismatic and charming. Mr.Martinez was probably just in his early forties. Juanita knew he was divorced from his French wife and had a bevy of women who were always teeming to be the new Mrs.Martinez. All in all, it all seemed very glamourous here at the Estate.
” Keywords ‘ it seemed glamourous’ “ Juanita thought to herself.
In any case, her main goal was to keep her head down and do her work. The less interaction she had with Martinez’s family members the better.
When she was done changing, she reported to Chef Gilroux and he promptly placed her on vegetable chopping duties. Thankfully there were more than enough gadgets to make the work easy and even fun. Every now and again Chef Gilroux would come around and inspect before leaving with a nod of approval. When he saw that Juanita was having a hard time with the onions he had told her to,
‘chew her mouth like she was eating gum and that would help to not make her eyes water.”
When she was finished chopping the vegetables and seasonings, Juanita then had to use a machine to crush all the seasonings together to form what the chef called ‘Marsala paste’. There were about four other staff members working on prepping various meats from chicken, beef, pork ribs, and goat meat.
Finally, Chef Gilroux patted her on the back and told her she could take a break. One thing about working at the Estate and in the kitchens- if you didn’t watch yourself you could eat all day. There was always something to taste or try. Chef Gilroux was a very strict but fair kind of a boss, plus he would always show Juanita new ways to make decorative garnishes from carrots, cucumbers, watermelons, eggplants-you name it!
The Kitchens were broken up into three large areas: the outdoor kitchens for roasting meats, baking pizzas, etc, the Industrial kitchens for pastries, cheeses, drinks, etc, and the family kitchens for regular days when there were no events. Strolling out of the kitchens, Juanita passed gardeners tending to the garden hedges. Farther down the estate there were tractors clearing more land. She had about two more hours of work to go before lunchtime with her mom.
Juanita had a favorite place to go for her breaks. It was a far garden area away from a lot of the bustle that was filled with delicious-smelling white Gardenias and also had ripe tangerine trees in its center. There Juanita could chill and listen to some music while eating a couple of tangerines. About fifteen minutes into her break, she heard voices talking and coming towards her.
” Stephany, let’s clean up and decorate even around these far gardens, you know people will want to stroll off into the night at the event. This first party has to be a real hit, everything has to be spectacular and everyone should be left anticipating the next party. Have you gotten that famous singer booked yet?” Adrianna Martinez asked her event planner Stephanny.
” Of course Ms.Martinez, we were even able to get that hot new international artist Xena, you know she has two of the biggest hits right now,” Stephany informed her well-paying client.
” Ah! Stephany that’s why I like you! You always deliver. You booked Xena! Xena!” Adrianna excitedly exclaimed thinking in her heart that no one could top her party now with Xena performing.
Just then the two women noticed Juanita sitting on the bench.
” You hear that Juanita, Xena will be at my party.” Adrianna gloated haughtily to the uniformed girl.
” Ah, your working here now I see, mhmm third in all the country in our the exams but still a housemaid,” Adrianna said and laughed.
” Mhmm, so house girl what do you think we can do to back here?” Adrianna asked Juanita walking over to her bench, her head cocked arrogantly to the side.
“ I really don’t know Adrianna,” Juanita said and ignored her going back to her music.
” Oh come on brainiac, I’m sure you have a lot of ideas in that head.” Adrianna pressed.
Pausing to look at her, Juanita asked her boldly,
” Why in God’s name would I want to help you when all you know is to be rude to me?”
” Because if you don’t I will take it out on your mother.” Adrianna said acidly.
” Go right ahead!” Juanita replied dead serious.
” Ugh! why am I asking you!, it’s not like your cultured or classy.” Adrianna said huffily.
” I will take common sense over class any day ” Juanita replied icily
” ah ladies let’s stop this now. Ms.Martinez, we really want the party to stand out so let’s be open to suggestions.” Stephany interjected.
“ I did ask her for her opinion didn’t I, you see she is stubborn ” Adrianna complained.
” Ah, Juanita I’m really interested in hearing if you have any ideas on the party,” Stephany said sincerely.
Juanita understood a woman on her hustle when she saw one. This was probably the biggest and best client Stephany had, hence she wanted to impress.
“Jeez, it’s such a horrible slavery when your bread and butter depends on kissing someone’s ass.” Juanita thought to herself.
” Well, I’m guessing there will be different age groups and stiffs at the party. If you cater only to the pretentious people you are sure to get a regular run-of-the-mill boring party. I would put some different entertainment sections. Have some different vibes around here for those who really want to dance and enjoy themselves. While the champagne set can stay at the front. Like having two parties in one. Also the biggest influencers on people are not business men or politicians but musicians, fashionistas, talk show hosts etc. Invite these people to the party too, be photographed with them “ Juanita suggested.
” Ah, something to think about. What do you think Ms.Martinez?” Stephanny questioned Adrianna politely.
Rolling her eyes at Juanita, Adrianna did not answer the question and instead snappily said,
“ Come on Stephany, Let’s look at landscaping pictures to create the look for the outer grounds. “
” Yes, Ms.Martinez,“ Stephany replied.
When they were well out of the earshot of Juanita, Adrianna stiffly said,
“ You heard what she said, quickly draw up a list of the hottest influencers, musicians, DJ, gossips hosts, etc and invite them too, also double the invites for all reporters and bloggers.“
” Yes, Ms. Martinez,“ Stephany answered promptly while walking behind her, a small knowing smile on her lips while she discreetly rolled her eyes.