Each morning at 5 a.m., Alex leaves the warmth of the bed he shares with his wife, crams his lanky frame into his white mini pick-up, and drives to the nearby mountains. He climbs the tall coconut trees freehand. Coconuts rain from the sky and land with loud thuds that awaken the monkeys. Alex descends, gathers the coconuts and places them on the back of his truck. At his spot on the main road, behind a makeshift table, underneath an overgrown bush, his pop-up shop is open: he’s selling the real jelly water. Except for the occasional exchange of pleasantries with his patrons, Alex works swiftly and with surgical precision. His machete cuts through the air; two chops to the coconut in his hand unleash liquid gold.
Alex and I were in the same high school year. He was jovial and a prankster. For a second we reminisce. I gather that boyhood is not a period he gets to revisit often. At nineteen, I was working at a bank. In Nevis, this is considered a respectable career path. I was depressed, unfulfilled, underpaid, and suffocating. At nineteen Alex, already a father and a husband, was convicted of larceny and sentenced to five and a half years in prison.