I am the Dragon, and I have come to tell you a secret.
My real name belongs to my father, Nathaniel Jones. We both bear the exact same name, the exact same curse. There isn’t even a distinguishing Jr between us. One night, many generations ago, during a family reunion somewhere in the middle of Missouri, one of the Jones women called out for Junior. At that point, father, grandfather and son simultaneously got up from the table to attend to the call. That night, it was decided that no other Jones would ever use the qualifying annex behind his proper name. Fifty years later, the second son of the youngest of the Joneses present in that family reunion filled out the forms that acknowledged the legitimacy of a baby born from a German girl with sparkly blue eyes, dubbing him Nathaniel Jones. Not Nathaniel Jones V. Not Nathaniel Jones, Jr – partly because he, the father, was himself not called Nathaniel, but Horace. Simply Nathaniel Jones.
As soon as I heard that stupid tale, at the age of eight, I, Dragon Jones, first and only son of such Nathaniel, refused to follow the unimaginative tradition of the family that abandoned my father long before the blueprints of my being could be sketched in the ducts of his testes. It was then that I acquired the identity of a man who would forever be taken for a Welsh peasant. I, Dragon Jones, am not Welsh. In fact, I’m half-German – twice: my father, half-American, really German, met my mother, half-German, really Australian, in the place where I was born: the Federal Republic of West Germany. When my family discovered the fact that a country with soaring economic growth doesn’t necessarily provide the entirety of its inhabitants with economic wellbeing, they decided to move to a place where they could put to use their Teutonic American and thick Australian accents. The closest one was England. I don’t feel identified with any of these countries; none of those nationalities seem to apply to me. However, given that very few people in England know either my real name or the bizarre dimension of my true story, very few people in England believe me when I say that I am unequivocally not Welsh (after all, is there anything more Welsh than Dragon Jones?). Nevertheless, in due time, I learned that it was better to be what I was not, than to be what people wouldn’t believe I was, so I embraced the motto rather Welsh than German (if only marginally) and stopped asserting what it was that I wasn’t.
Though I have tried my best to disentangle myself from Nathaniel’s name, I still share his curse. Fate and Nathaniel have brought me to this flat islet with the shape of a snake on the northern edge of the Caribbean. Anguilla is a recondite destination: sixteen miles long, three wide, little vegetation and no history. But Anguilla is also surrounded by an enormous coral reef. Take that fact and combine it with the effect of tides and a large, large dose of time, and you will be left with the most beautiful beaches in the world. In the world. It was seeking beauty, comfort and seclusion during Easter over one year ago, that Nathe stumbled upon the unattractive name of Anguilla. He was considering returning to the Seychelles until the moment when he opened the webpage of Hotel Anguilla. From then on, there was no turning back. Had he not randomly landed on that webpage, he might have gone to the Seychelles. Had he not come to Anguilla, he would have never met Sheila Rawlingson. Had he not met Sheila Rawlingson, he never would have married again.
Sheila Rawlingson is my father’s wife. Sheila Rawlingson is half Nathaniel’s age. Sheila Rawlingson might well be the reason why I’m here. Nathaniel met Sheila on the second week of his two-week vacation during Easter, over one year ago. After a short period of courting and a large amount of controversy, Nathaniel and Sheila married. Their long honeymoon was followed by a decision to return to the homeland of their love, perhaps to appease the clamour raised by their private wedding. It was at some point after their return that Nathaniel came up with the extravagant idea to set up a commercial airline based in Anguilla, to feed the rest of the Leeward Islands, to connect with European destinations and to link with the most important of the Windward Islands. Sheila told him he was crazy; I had to read the email he sent me twice, to make sure he was not joking. But Nathaniel is tenacious to the point of stubbornness and his persistence has made me travel to an island of which I barely had heard before to form a partnership with a woman I had never met. Sheila Rawlingson is a gorgeous girl: she is exuberant, beautiful, elegant.
I, the Dragon, have a secret to tell you: I’m in love with Sheila Rawlingson, my father’s wife, our business partner.
Fourth excerpt from my novel On the Way Back, published by the WEEKender supplement of Sint Maarten’s The Daily Herald On Saturday, September 3, 2011.