Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Tony Deyal | Tombstone territory

Published:Saturday | July 30, 2016 | 7:00 AM

The graveyard shift is a work period that runs through the early morning hours, typically covering the period between midnight and 8 a.m. It is also the title of a Stephen King short story and the 1990 movie based on it. The synopsis reads, "In a very old textile mill, with a serious rat infestation, the workers discover a horrifying secret deep in the basement."

Recently, in Trinidad, there was a different type of graveyard shift in which the only thing that seems buried is the full truth. It started with a newspaper report that added to our many concerns about the way men are allowed to mistreat women, the indifference of the police to reports of domestic violence, and the brutality inflicted on women. This one seemed particularly horrible.

The story went: "A two months pregnant La Horquetta woman was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend on Wednesday night, blindfolded, beaten, robbed, taken to a nearby public cemetery and thrown into an open six-foot deep grave by the man who vowed to bury her alive."

It went on: "Shevon Veris believes were it not for the flashing blue lights of a police vehicle which was cruising nearby, the man would have made good on his promise. Fearing that the police were near, the man ran off, leaving Veris in the grave. Her screams later alerted two gravediggers who ran to the spot and rescued the terrified woman. A report was then made to the police and the woman was taken to the Arima District Health Centre."

 

HER ACCOUNT

 

The police report of the incident, quoted by the newspaper, said that Ms Veris was walking along a track in her community when at about 7:30 p.m., she was grabbed from behind, blindfolded, lifted bodily and placed in a car where she was beaten by a man she recognised as her ex-boyfriend, a man who constructs headstones for graves. He took her into tombstone territory (a nearby cemetery), where she was robbed of a cell phone valued $3,000, a pair of gold earrings valued $800 and $1,000 in cash from her wallet.

The man then threw Ms Veris into a grave which had been dug hours earlier for someone whose funeral was scheduled for the day after. A police patrol investigating a report of a stolen vehicle was in the area, and according to Ms Veris, the flashing lights caused her attacker to flee. She started screaming and two gravediggers rescued Ms Veris, whose immediate reaction was: "I thought I was going to die. I thought my unborn child was going to die. But when help came, I knew that it was divine intervention."

One of the gravediggers said the entire incident has left him traumatised. He explained, "To hear that kind of screaming from the cemetery at night ... that has left me totally shaken."

The day after this story broke, another local newspaper headlined the affair with a new twist. 'Man claims woman's cemetery kidnap story fake.' In a telephone interview, the man is reported as saying, "She too big for me to lift up. It not adding up, how I could run up behind she and pick she up and put she in the backseat of a car and drive to Tunapuna and no time she decide to jump out or pull up the hand brakes? Who open the gate to the cemetery, because that does be locked at night. This girl lying."

The man added, "She call me and tell me she coming to see me for me to rub her belly and she was planning to come by me on Sunday, too. I say no scene. We was by the cemetery, I was washing my car there, me and another man. When she come, I say let we go in the car and talk, while we was in my car talking she get a message and 'baby' pop up. So I grab she phone and ask who is this and we start to scuffle."

The story continued, "He alleged that after the scuffle in the car, they got out, argued and fought again, but that time he accidentally poked her in the eye. This, he said, caused her to hit him and he dealt her a blow which 'connect to she face'. He said the woman left and headed in the direction of the Tunapuna Police Station, while he and a female companion who was close by drove off."

As if all this was not enough, the gravediggers who supposedly rescued the lady are now saying they are not heroes because no such rescue effort ever took place. While it is suggested that they have changed their story because the accused man is a colleague and friend, a newspaper report quotes the men as saying that what they saw in a newspaper article last week was not a true reflection of their input in a lovers' squabble. One of the men is adamant that "the girl wasn't in no grave" and he had made that clear to the police. He is now "looking to get a lawyer" to see what he could do.

 

POUNDING HEADACHE

 

And Ms Veris? Obviously, the man rubbed her the wrong way. She wants to put everything behind her and focus on her sick, six-year-old daughter. According to the newspaper, she claimed to have a pounding headache since the incident and was feeling "terrible". She also advised women to leave abusive relationships, adding for the nine months she was involved with the man he struck her twice before she decided to end the relationship.

"I just learn from my stupid mistake and I don't hate the individual. I just don't want anything to do with him," Veris said, adding she was not pregnant.

I know I might be making light of a grave matter, but this story is worthy of its own tombstone in the tradition of the late Sir John Strange, whose gravestone read, "Here lies an honest lawyer and that is Strange." This one should read, "Here lies everybody, and that is not Strange."

- Tony Deyal was last seen saying that on a tombstone in Tombstone is written, "Here lies Lester Moore, Four slugs from a .44. No Les No More."