It’s odd to think that someone could be murdered in a place called Trinidad. The name conjures peace love and paradise, but increasingly it is not.
Here’s a two-year old story I penned about a murder that affected my family. I had not published it out of sensitivity for those affected.
Three shots and no more
Ralph was sitting on a public bench outside of his restaurant when someone approached him from behind and shot him in his back and then, as he slumped to the ground, put two more bullets in his head.
His girlfriend’s shock and grief was on the news that night, and I thought of what it must be like for her.
My own father’s passing took some months to unfold and I at least got some time to prepare for what was inevitable. This woman by contrast had no warning. She began her day like any other. Her man was healthy and present in her life and she undoubtedly expected him to remain that way for many years into the future.
Then with three gunshot, their life was no more.
People are left wondering why?
I’m left with a very odd and curious feeling about this. The victim was not close to me personally, but he was a friend to my family, and I often saw him at his restaurant. To have a familiar face taken this way leaves me a bit shell-shocked.
Why was he killed, and what kind of country is this that something like this could be so easily arranged and carried out?
I’m very much aware of the mood of pessimism that grips this small island nation, and the willingness to paint the victim as somehow complicit in his own murder. No one expects the killers to be caught, and most are quick to believe the worst they hear about the victim.
If someone wanted him dead, then clearly he must have been involved in something shady.
I don’t know. Very few people can say for sure. All I do know is that there are people whose line of business is to kill other people for money.
Not even a large sum of money. And there are people willing to hire them.
Maybe people I know.
In any event, making him look like the bad guy who got what was coming to him is an easy way to move on with life and feel safe.
After all, WE don’t engage in any criminal activity and WE have no gambling debts, so WE don’t have anything to worry about. Or do we?
So Long Ralphie
I wasn’t close to Ralphie, but he was a noticeable presence in my Trinidad life. He would often call my mom for advice on personal matters, which she freely dispensed. Every now and then, perhaps in return for my mother’s generosity, he would surprise us with his restaurant’s Italian food, or not charge us for catering an event we had at the house.
He did so for my Dad’s wake a mere two weeks before his death.
English was his second language and his communication style may have been a bit harsh to some people, but for us, his accent and sentence structure was a source of much entertainment. At a distance we could see the funny side of him.
In the end, I’m present to the missing that now exists in my life because of his death. It’s obvious that I would miss my dad, and it’s curious that I notice Ralph’s death also as a missing in my life.
He was a small but significant player in our lives. Every now and then strutting across our stage usually with a request of my mom, a story or sometimes with some of his Italian food.
It’s odd to know that he will no longer be one of the people phoning for my mom, or driving up to our home. It’s odd to think that he will never again be at his restaurant and I will never again smile at his funny way of speaking.
My condolences to his family, for whom his death has left shock and devastation. I’m sorry for all of his employees who may now be without a job, and I’m sorry for us as a country that this kind of thing can happen and no justice will be done.
So long Ralph. Regardless of what else you may or may not have done, you were a friend, and one of those people who made life interesting.
Maybe if we all acted a bit differently in our day-to-day lives, were a bit kinder and more forgiving you would still be here.
Thanks for the Italian Food.