A Carnival Story by M. Martin Lewis [part 2 of 2]

[Continued: Link to part 1

Like everything Shortknee their songs were just as much a mystery. Unlike Jab Jab songs, they were not created in any village on some moonlight night; no one claimed authorship, heck they were not even in our language. They seemed to have verses where chorus should be and they referenced things, places and people that were outside the known universe.

There are Shortknee Q & A’s that have troubled me all my life. Why their sleeves were so big? And was there any significance to the colors of their costumes? Who made those masks? I once heard of an Hermitage boy that lost his arm mysteriously while following a Shortknee band. Some say he tried to point out a school mate.jouvert2

Shortknees gave new meaning to “having something up your sleeve,” they added “sharp.” I once saw a policeman try to drive some on. They went into that prancing overdrive and started a hissing song, kicking up their feet as they, contrary to his orders, came closer. As you know policemen don’t actually run unless they’re in Iraq. That officer suddenly found someone across the street that suddenly needed his urgent and undivided attention. Even the marauding Jabs kept their distance. Ever wonder why Shortknee is the only mas that can use their uniform year after year. Have you ever heard of a Jab Shortknee fight or for that matter a Jab Jab dirtying a Shortknee? I have seen Jab bands part to allow a Shortknee troop through and you know Jabs don’t part for just anybody. As a matter of fact Jabs hardly played past 11 am. Yeah they say its because they’re now tired. This just happens to be the time Shortknee come out to start their eight (8) hour time managed run: Coincidence? I think not.Traditional Mas Shortknee

That’s another thing about the scariest mas; they played in the hottest sun, fully clothed, yet still moved as though they were on nuclear fuel. Have you ever wondered the temperature inside a Shortknee suit? I’ve never heard a Shortknee cry for tired, never.

They never appeared to be moving fast, but the group the bus passed in Grenville was already in Tivoli Junction, identical colors, mirrors and evil masks, all by the time we got there. The small eerie wire mask that never fully fit a human face, the clothes that stayed new even on a Tuesday afternoon and, so rumor says, got newer the more they played. They all looked uniform yet were very different as you got closer, the circles and the diamonds, the mirrors with no reflection.

That’s why years later, the Exorcist made me to yawn. That’s why when they tell me Jab Jab is Devil Mas, I just laugh; someone got too much powder in their face some carnival way back then. Was it really powder?

M. Martin Lewis is a political science professor and former Grenadian calpysonian. He currently resides in New York City.

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