"Spider One, Spider One, move in behind me Close up that line. What is that car in front? I don't know that car. Get it out of there. Spider One. . . ."
It was days before the bloodiest, most decisive election in Jamaica's history and Edward Seaga, soon to be the nation's new prime minister, was riding in his green "Deliverance van" on a motorcade through Kingston. His bodyguards got their orders straight from him.
Leaning out of the cars that drove in front and behind and occasionally to each side of the van were the Spider teams, plainclothes policemen with pistols and submachine guns at the ready.
Directly behind, riding on the roof of a white Mazda, his feet braced on the hood, wearing a broad smile on his deceptively innocent face, sporting black gloves, gold chains and a massive shoulder holster with his favorite Browning 9mm, automatic pistol, was "Spider One." On the police roster he is Detective Sgt. Keith Gardner. The rest of Jamaica calls him "Trinity."
Now that he has been elected, Seaga faces the job of staunching the violence in Jamaica. For the last several years the police in this country have claimed they were hamstrung by politicians interfering with their business. Seaga has vowed to let them have a free hand, and at his own right hand, so to speak, he has placed the most famous cop on the island.
In this city of slums plagued by roving gunmen who shoot for politics, for money and for the hell of it, Trinity is a legend.
As international attention focused on Jamaica's election. Trinity's reputation spread. On the day of the vote that gave Seaga a stunning victory, Trinity's shots were seen, if not heard, around the world in a wire service photograph that showed the violent ballet of three Seaga bodyguards in a Kingston shootout. Trinity was the big one on the right.
Born 27 years ago in the roughest section of West Kingston, Trinity has spent almost as much time building his legend as he has apprehending criminals. sHe has written his autobiography, which stretches over 400 pages in draft form. He claims no title for it, but "Death Before Dishonor" is one possibility.
At an informal encounter with several reporters in the prime minister's mansion last week Trinity explained, in melodramatic language befitting a submachine-gun superstar, how he came to do what he does.
"I have seen how criminals operate," he said, "As a youngster even when I was studying on my veranda in the nights gunshots were firing all around me. I've seen people killed, I've seen people chopped. You name it and I've seen it. And this was one of the most contributive factors in my joining the Jamaican Constabulary Force, because I had to fight it and that was the very first area I went to to fight the cancer of crime."
Trinity's specialty is recovering guns. The owners hand them over to him, dead or alive. So far he has captured 84 weapons. Those who died in the process, he said, are an "infinitely smaller" number. But he doesn't keep count.
"The idea of putting notches on your gun, like adding up how many men you've killed, is degenerate," he said.
But it is an idea that is not uncommon in Kingston's slums, where unemployment is rampant, cowboy movies are common and young men play at "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," with real powder and lead. The name Trinity, in fact, comes from a Terrence Hill spaghetti western of a few years back called "Trinity Is My Name."
The violence of the slums, always bad, became unbearable as the election campaign wore on. Such urban renewal has taken place in these slums has been done by politicians seeking to consolidate their constituencies. To the extent that the lives of the people have improved at the hands of a given elected official they are willing to fight and die for him and his party. In all more than 500 people were killed during the campaign.
The shootout that was photographed on election day, on Charles Street near the Kingston Public Hospital, was a classic example. It occurred on the border of an area renewed by Seaga and a neighborhood helped by a follower of his opponent, then-prime minister Michael Manley.
To make matters worse, in the macho ambiance of Jamaican politics, both Seaga and Manley were determined to prove they could walk the streets wherever they chose. High noon was coming for Jamaica and they both were ready to play their parts.
In the last few days before the election the deputy minister of state security, Roy McGann, was killed in a gunfight with police. His own bodyguard was shot, no one is certain why with a bullet from McGann's own gun.
Manley himself was accused of carrying a gun at a shootout in the town of Top Hill which two children died. He later denied the allegation. A couple of days later when a Manley rally at Spanishtown was shot up in the night, Manley's party's general secretary, D. K. Duncan, was filmed brandishing a pistol as he lay prone on the stage.
On Charles Street there were reports twice on election day that voters from Seaga's party were being held at bay by gunmen.
"Mr. Seaga could not tolerate that," said Trinity. "He said his voters had to vote and therefore the situation had to be taken care of."
Twice Seaga -- and Trinity -- went to the scene. Twice gunbattles ensued.
Trinity, again, won't say how many people died at his hand at Charles Street or anywhere else during the campaign.
"I don't know," he said, in a soft voice that seems to belie his 6-2, 197-pound frame. "We were shot at and I returned the fire in the direction from which the shots came. I don't know if anybody was hit.
"Even so I wouldn't know," he laughed, "because they have a way of burying their own dead."