The West End Looney Bin

“Look, here comes that crazy lady.”

He points over my shoulder. I turn, following his black finger towards the white dress sauntering down the dock below. Crackhead Craig is right. It is the crazy lady.

Craig leans closer and props his sunglasses haphazardly on his head. “That bitch crazy, man,” he mumbles, looking at me with glazed eyes. For a brief second I catch a glimpse of the teenage boy who helped his dad raise the pigs as I watched from my neighboring hammock. Then the image withers into the emaciated figure extending his open palm towards me. “Gimme a cigarette.”

“I don’t smoke, dude. I tell you that every time you ask.”

“Oh,” he sniffs, head weaving.

The crazy lady slides up the stairs to the second storey of the dock. “Look at all these beautiful people,” she giggles childishly. Her eyes roll up towards the sky. She spins twice in a slow circle, her loose fitting dress rippling around her skeletal frame. “All so beautiful, all so nice…”

“You want some crack?” Craig blurts.

“No man.”

“Oh.” His neck bobs like a chicken. “Coke?”


He sniffs again, leans in close, and whispers. “She’s crazy, man.”

She’s glaring at me from the opposite corner of the dock, her beady black eyes buried between the folds of leathery skin adorning her scowling skull. There’s no accounting for what goes on in the chemically imbalanced mind. Her face muscles tense into a snarl exposing the canines in her mouth. I avert my gaze.

Crackhead Craig shuffles away. A new group of tourists have climbed the stairs to our viewing platform, and he’s eager to bum and hustle again. I still feel the lady staring at me. When Crackhead Craig calls someone crazy, you know there’s something really wrong.

He’s right. A few days earlier she painfully serenaded my co-workers with nonsensical songs. Act Two: she stripped naked in the bay and waltzed down the dock. For the Grand Finale, she squatted on the deck at work, pulled down her panties, and urinated all over the place. She even saved some energy for an Encore: after slapping a few tourists, she was wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by two of West End’s finest. The audience raised their glasses in standing ovation as officers shoved her into the police car.

Just another day on Roatan, I think.

I glance to my right. She’s still staring. Damn that’s creepy. This kills the sunset.

I slide down the ladder and duck away before Craig can ask me for another cigarette. The warm white sand sieves through my toes. The sun bathes the bays in gold. Tan islands dogs chase one another down the beach, their scarlet tongues flapping in tow.

On Roatan the dogs have at least as much personality as the people—and in some cases, more. I can think of at least a handful of dogs I’d rather hang out with than any of the crazy crackheads on this rock.

“Hey mista Steve, gotta minute?”

Speak of the Devil.

A scrawny and severely weathered man shuffles beside me, a beaten rake slung over his shoulder. He removes his baseball cap and slicks back his matted gray hair. He softens the squinty dark eyes hiding beneath his Osama bin Laden beard, willing crocodile tears of pathos to well from their corners. It’s the same thing every time.


“Hey man ja know I’m a good man and I ain’t never ask for nuttin’ but I come into hard time ja know and I need some help man cause dis morning  dis fuckin’ Spaniard says to me, he says ‘Dorado, I has four barracuda and nows I have three, you fuckin’ take my fuckin’ barracuda,’ an’ I says ‘I ain’t touch no damn barracuda, I ain’t no fuckin’ thief,’ an he’s thinkin’ just cus I down here everyday, ja know man, down here everyday cleaning da beach dat I be takin’ his barracuda, but I tells him ‘I ain’t no fuckin’ thief, I work, I ain’t need to steal, I WORK, I’m a man, so he keep goin’ ‘bout dis fuckin’ barracuda, and I says ‘You best stop callin’ me a fuckin’ thief cus I cut you wif my fuckin’ machete’, ja know.  I’m a fuckin’ MAN, dammit.”


“I works hard to sweep dat beach, clean it real good you know, the best fuckin’ clean beach on island, I’m da rakemaster.  So hey, I gots to ask ya man ya gots some limps I can borrow today cus I can’t wait to weekend, ja know, I have important things to do, gotta go to town…”

“Sorry dude, I’m broke,” I truthfully reply.

“Okay man dats okay.” He put his cap back on. Eyes narrowed, he turns and walks away muttering, “damn fuckin’ gringo…”

Car horns blare. Four vehicles: it’s total gridlock on West End High Street.

Haywood is directing traffic. He staggers in the intersection, pointing in random directions with one arm as the other raises an unlabeled bottle to his polio-gnarled lips. The cheap rum spills down his shirt as he growls.

Moses stands on the corner preaching hellfire and damnation to the white man. Gray dreadlocks spill from an oversized white turban down to the small of his back. Wads of spittle fly from holes in the massive beard as he howls of death to whitey. He raises a piece of spiraled bleached driftwood above his head. His wild eyes betray the delusion within: he is Moses before Pharaoh, demanding his people be set free, lest God change his staff into a serpent.

Man, this place attracts the crazies. Just one giant mental asylum basking in the Caribbean sun.

“But I’m sane, I’m still sane, I’m sane…” I mutter to myself as I shuffle down the street.

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