Ditta Sylvester, Contributor
She passed, without incident, through immigration at Miami International and moved briskly to collect her luggage. As she approached the carousel, she caught sight of the police officers. They stood still, not looking her way but she still felt the urge to run. Deliberately, she slowed her steps and looked again over her shoulder.
She was Denise Nolans, wife of Sergeant Bruce Nolans. Denise and her friend Meg Bishop had moved to Blake Town shortly after leaving school. While Meg had chosen to go into beauty care, Denise became a cashier at a grocery store in the town. A rookie in the police force at the time, Bruce had fallen hard for this gentle, unassuming girl and they were married not before long.
Bruce was a good provider and father to their two teenaged sons. Denise, now a stay-at-home mom, considered her marriage a great one. That is, until she began to notice what she considered proof that Bruce was seeing another woman. When she confronted him about it, his reaction was frightening.
"I believe is yuh imagination," Meg had said. "Bruce still love you."
Denise didn't agree.
"Maybe him want somebody younger," she remarked.
"You still a young woman, Denise," Meg replied.
"But if you want, I could help you spruce up youself."
Since then, Denise worked hard at improving her appearance. But her weekly beauty treatments proved expensive and Bruce was not pleased.
"Money don't buy as much as it used to, Denise," he told her. "Maybe you should consider working again."
"You goin' look nice," Meg gushed as she worked on her friend's hair one day.
"If only I coulda pay for it meself!" Denise said.
"So wha bout Bruce?"
"Look like fi him money can't do fi me an him sweetheart again, mi dear."
"Mi sorry," Meg sympathised. "So what you woulda want do as work now?"
"Maybe try business," Denise said. "But I not asking him fi sponsor it."
Meg finished the job in silence.
"If I hear bout anyting I wi' call you," she told her friend.
Denise was preparing dinner when the phone rang.
"Denise? Meg here. Mi hear bout something fi you and it soun' good!"
"Yeah man. You have visa, right?"
"Right," Denise replied. "It involve travelling?"
"Yes, but you not goin' stay long. Come by di parlour tomorrow bout six o'clock."
"A'right, Meg. Tanks."
"What you tink bout mi going to foreign?" Denise asked her husband after dinner.
Bruce gazed blankly at her.
"Why?" he asked. "You going try two-time me because you believe I have other woman?"
She assured him it was nothing of the sort.
"Well," Bruce eventually conceded, "I don't have anything against you trying to earn you own money. As long as you not staying long."
She met Meg and 'Mr Exporter', as the man called himself, in the little room behind the parlour. At first, Denise could hardly believe they were serious about what they were proposing.
"Drugs? Unoo mad!" was her first reaction.
But when she heard how much Mr Exporter was paying, Denise just stared.
"Impressive, right?" the man grinned.
"But suppose dem catch mi!" Denise exclaimed.
"I have been doing this for years," Mr Exporter said, smoothly. "None of my agents ever been caught. You dealing with professionals. Nothing can go wrong."
Denise sat silent, weighing what she had just heard.
"I neva see myself doin anything like dis," she said, quietly. No sah! An' my husband is a policeman."
"All the more reason why no one would ever suspect you," the man said.
"You rememba Joy, Denise?" Meg asked.
"She follow her employer go a foreign las' year. You see wha she have now?"
Denise remembered that Joy, who used to do domestic work, had surprisingly purchased one of the biggest houses in Blake Town.
"You mean ... is dis she did do?" Denise asked.
The two watched her in silence.
"I still need more time to tink 'bout it," she said.
"That's okay," Mr Exporter said. "Of course, you know better than to mention this to your husband, right?"
"Right," Denise muttered. The man had barely gone through the door when she exclaimed: "But me never know you mix up inna dem tings yah, Meg!"
"I wouldn't call it mix up," Meg replied. "I just helping myself by seeking people fi do di man business."
"So you get a cut too?"
"Of course. But me can't tek chance go pon plane wid it. People know bout me an Exporter."
"You woulda do it if you was me?" Denise asked.
"Of course!" Meg replied.
Bruce noticed how pensive his wife was over the next few days.
"Travelling don't excite you again?" he asked.
"I not sure I going," Denise replied.
"You ever want to tek a step but fraid?" she asked him.
"Yes," Bruce answered. "Plenty people scared to fly."
"Mi 'fraid too," Denise said.
"Jus' travel wid a local airline," Bruce suggested. Abruptly, he leaned over and kissed her. "Buy you ticket and go on, Nessy," he said. "You deserve a break."
And that was what gave her the final push. The use of his old nickname for her made her feel warm and confident. Nothing would go wrong, she felt sure.
She took a taxi to the airport. All the way through customs and immigration, Denise was stiff with worry. It was only when she was seated on the plane that she felt she could relax.
The flight was smooth, uneventful. It was dark when the plane landed. She tried to stay calm but couldn't. Her tongue felt heavy and her steps unsure. But the immigration officers were pleasantly disarming and she found she could smile and answer their questions.
She had almost made it. Almost, when the police - one male, the other female - came up on either side of her, flashed their ID's and asked her to follow them. They had her luggage. A strangled cry died in her throat as her knees buckled and she fell to the floor.
The day after she entered the prison, somebody brought her a newspaper. Listlessly, she went through the pages. Denise's eyes almost popped out of her head when she saw her own face staring up at her. Above the picture was the headline: 'Jamaican woman incarcerated for drug trafficking'.
She read the story mesmerised. The final sentence left her broken.
"Hats off to officer Bruce Nolans and his fiancé, Meg Bishop, who were instrumental in bringing the culprit to justice."