TALES FROM THE PAST.
Byline: BACK STORY Tom Slemen
IN the autumn of 1960, Plato Richards, a black man in his early twenties, took up lodgings at a run-down boarding house run by a landlord we shall call Rook. Richards was now three weeks in arrears, despite promising to pay his rent, and so, one evening Rook decided to pay his defaulting tenant a visit. He barged in on Plato, who was seated on the bed, picking notes on his guitar. Rook asked him for the back-rent and Plato said he would have it soon; his uncle in Jamaica had died and he was about to receive a sizable legacy. 'Pay up now or get out!' Rook growled and Plato delved into his pocket and slapped a ten-bob note on the coffee table. 'Here! That's all I have, and I give you my word I'll have the money within three days,' he said.
Rook took the money and sniffed the air - it had traces of Evening Paris in it. 'Have you had a woman in here?' the landlord asked.
'Not that it's any business of yours, but yes, I have,' Plato answered and Rook told him he was not allowed to bring women back to his lodgings - it wasn't that 'type of house'. Then he asked who the lady had been and Plato said 'The beautiful daughter of the chemist down the street - why?' 'Elaine?' Rook's eyebrows shot up. 'How did you cop off with her? Every male in the neighbourhood's after her.' ' 'This did it,' Plato slapped his hand on the body of the acoustic guitar. 'This guitar was made in Abyssinia a hundred years ago - it's a wooing guitar. It is imbued with hoodoo magic, and if I serenade any woman on earth with a certain melody on this guitar, she will obey my will.'HOODOO GUITAR ' 'Rubbish,' Rook laughed uneasily. 'Sell that guitar and pay the rent,' he mumbled but Plato asked: 'That's how I woo the beauties, Mr Rook, and if I wanted to I could make them fall in love with you.'Rook smiled then said. 'There's a woman - real classy she is - works in the library. She's half my age like. Name's Dawn. Now if you could make her - ' 'I could!' Plato shouted, thrashing a deep chord. 'Mr Rook, I don't do things for free. If I got her to fall in love with you would you pay me PS25?' 'I'd pay you a hundred if you could - ' Rook said and Plato shook his hand. He convinced him to give this hoodoo thing a try.
The next day, Rook asked Dawn to have a coffee with him, and she did. Plato turned up and played a guitar on the next table - and Dawn ended up kissing Rook.
The elated landlord gave Plato PS100, and he gave PS25 of it to Dawn for helping him with his con-trick. And Rook never saw Plato again.