The Go-Cart

by Josh Hem Lee 

I almost lost my life on a go-cart. Well, sort of. Andy and I were thrown off of one. I don’t know what was worse – almost dying or my mom yelling at me and making me promise never to ride one again. She didn’t have to go through all that trouble, though; after that episode I didn’t want to go near one of those things again, anyway.

A go-cart is a homemade contraption made out of old pieces of wood or board, some wheels made out of scrap iron, and a steering wheel made out of a rope. The rope is connected to the front axle. You steer the go-cart by pulling it this way or that so that you can control the direction the cart turns. Of course, usually you are going down a hill of some sort, since that is the easiest way for the cart to pick up speed and for you to get a thrill ride.

Andy’s dad is a mechanic, so he was able to get the little iron pieces to make the wheels. The rope I found underneath my house. It was left over from my dog Colby, who had died and gone to dog heaven. The wood was a little bit trickier to get. There’s an old abandoned house at the end of our street. Andy’s big brother Anton says it’s haunted, but we don’t believe him. We had to wait until late at night and sneak out, jump the wall, knock off some pieces from the back door of the house and hide them. Anton couldn’t believe his eyes the next day, when we told him what we had done. Andy added a few details to the story, just to show off.

“So how alyuh goin’ to test this cart out?” Anton asked.

“We going up Filmore street,” Andy said without hesitation.

“Hm, Killmore street, alyuh brave oui,” Anton said worriedly. “If I was alyuh I woulda just go up Burton street up and down a few times.”

Andy sucked his teeth. “After we went through all this trouble, I want to go up the biggest hill I could. I wish I could carry it up Mount Everest."

That was Andy – he loved to exaggerate. Even in school, when the principal made a rule about no designs shaved into our heads, Andy went to the barber shop and got his head shaven clean. It caused quite a stir and some kids started calling him 'Cue Ball.' He didn’t care, though.

Andy was different from me. He and Anton lived alone with their father. Their mom had died when they were little. Their dad worked long hours at the car repair place. Anton was almost like a second father to Andy. Sometimes I think Andy did the things he did just to get attention. My mom felt sorry for him. “That poor chile have to face this world without a mother,” she would say, and made sure she invited him over for lunch often.

After a lot of hard work, busted fingers (we were both clumsy with the hammer) and splinters we managed to finish the go-cart. The day came and we slowly trekked up Filmore street. It was around noon and my mother was inside watching her favorite soap opera. The sun beat down on us. I was thinking about how many penny cools I was going to buy later. I planned to go to Mr. Sookhoo’s store, because he had the big ones and not the tiny ones sold in most places. He also had milk bags, but I wasn’t feeling for one of those today. The last time I had one it gave me the squirts.

Pulling the cart was hard work. This go-cart was heavy, unlike some others I had seen. Andy had insisted we build a double support so it wouldn’t fall apart like those made by Ralph and the guys who lived across the river. We sat down, Andy in front on the controls and me in the back.

Andy turned around slowly. “Yuh ready?” he asked.

“Of course man,” I said impatiently. “Push the cart, let’s go.”

Andy leaned forward and crouched slightly. He wheeled the cart for a few steps so it built up a slight momentum and then, with a whish, we were off! The cart made a loud, strange noise that I had never heard before, but strangely it felt pretty comfy. Andy had the same thought, because he turned around and yelled, “The ride smooth, boy!”

A little baby was at its gate. When it saw us coming down the hill, it ran inside, bawling. A little further down the hill we saw a big black dog. The commotion had awakened it from its slumber and as it saw us coming it started barking. Then, somehow, it managed to scamper out the gate and rushed towards us. Andy veered sharply to avoid it and we plunged into a drain with a terrible crash. The dog approached us, barking in its deep, husky voice. Andy bent over as if he was about to pick up a stone and the dog scampered off.

“Go on from here you mutt,” Andy said. Then he turned towards me, “You alright boy?”

There was a little bit of blood on my arm. It hurt a lot.

“I’m OK, man,” I said, wincing. “Let me call Anton to help us carry this thing home. We need to go and see about your arm.”

We shuffled out of the ditch and looked around warily at the dog that had retreated to its yard, still barking menacingly. Still shaken up by the experience we were both quiet as we walked home.

In the days that followed Andy didn’t talk about the go-cart and he never asked about making another one. Even though he had conquered Filmore hill, he had almost put me, his best friend, in grave danger. “You know what,” he said to me one day at school, “Some things are more important than go-carts.”


About the author...

Josh Hem Lee is originally from Trinidad but now lives and works as a teacher and writer in South Carolina. He enjoys reading and sports (in particular soccer) and is the proud father of two young sons aged 4 and 2.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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