A Midnight Run in Tobago

Photographer Allan Weisbecker makes a suprise midnight run in Tobago

Islands, I’ve found, are good for dreaming, and Tobago is a doozie. It’s a delightfully surreal montage of lush, Rousseauesque flora, with basketball-sized papaya, avocado and coconuts, the sky above a canopy of evolving pastels, colours of hallucinatory richness. Cunning geckos, squeaking insects, crowing roosters, warbling birds …

Tap tap tap . . .

And oh, a woodpecker, calmly probing the trunk of a faraway palm.

Tap tap tap!

OK, a not so faraway palm.


Hey, lighten up, pal. Come to think of it, what’s a woodpecker doing in this dream anyway? Woodpeckers are northern birds.


The darnn thing is hanging on my door now.


A talking woodpecker? How does he know my name?

“It’s time”

The woodpecker is starting to sound like my next-door neighbour, who’s known as McGuyver.

“Ann Marie is going to give birth.”

It’s McGuyver all right, a rude intruder on the dreamscape, mumbling some nonsense about –

“Can you give us a ride to the hospital?”

I’m awake now, at least I think I’m awake, and groping for my pants, but I’m all tangled up in something, a spider’s web it feels like, and boy do I hate spiders. No, it’s the mosquito net over my bed. Thrashing and stumbling, I make it to the door and throw it open, pants half on, no shirt, the shards of my mosquito net trailing behind.

McGuyver is standing on my porch smiling apologetically. A few feet behind him Ann Marie looms in the moony halflight, dainty little Ann Marie, big as a house now, holding her swollen belly.

“Ann Marie,” I manage to say, hastily buttoning up my pants. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, Allan,” she replies calmly. “But it’s time.”

“Well, then,” I say, not so calmly. I’ll have to find my car keys.”

“Yes, Allan, that’s right.”

In situations throughout my life where cool-headed, decisive action is called for, I do two things in quick succession. First I freeze up, then, when that doesn’t work, I panic.

“Allan! ” McGuyver is still standing calmly in the doorway as I start a wild-eyed ransacking of my rented house.

“Not now!” I reply, rummaging through the refrigerator. “The keys are around here somewhere!”

“The keys are in the car,” says McGuyver. “I checked.”

MORE LIKE THIS:   Island Beat (May/June 1996)

“Well, what are we waiting for?” I respond impatiently. “Let’s go! ”

With McGuyver and Ann Marie safely bundled up in the back seat, I fire up the car, back into the chicken coop, then plough headlong through the tomato patch. For some reason I’m having a difficult time finding the driveway.

“Maybe you should turn on the headlights, Allan,” McGuyver suggests.

“Good idea,” l croak, hitting the switch. “Yes, yes. That’s much better.” As we hit the bottom of the driveway and careen onto Black Rock Trace, I glance uneasily in the rear view mirror, wondering if Ann Marie and McGuyver have noticed that I’m a trifle nervous. Ann Marie, God bless her, reaches out and touches my shoulder reassuringly.

“Don’t worry, Allan, you’re going to be just fine,” she says.

“I hope so,” I respond, my voice cracking. “I really hope so.”

Later that night at Scarborough Hospital, Ann Marie gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

Allan Weisbecker, a frequent visitor to Tobago from New York, is also doing fine.