Chapter 34

This entry is part 35 of 44 in the series Smile

Chapter Thirty-Four — The Earthquake

It started to rain. There had been a lot of rain during the past month; more than usual and now it was the 10th of October. Usually, the rains are pretty well over by this time. The whole year had been unusual as the rainy season had been late coming, but it was certainly making up for it now. It rained so hard that towns and villages were under water and part of the railroad to Corinto was washed away. Bridges were washed down stream, and it would be quite a while before we would be able to go to Santo Domingo. The machinery for digging gold had not yet been shipped, so there was only one thing to do. Wait. Wait for the equipment and wait for the roads to be repaired.

About a week had gone by and I hadn’t heard from Dick Domonick since I had sent him the money. Chuck, Jock and I were sitting in at Fermin’s having a beer; Fermin was continually asking me, “When is this beautiful Señorita going to arrive? We have a room all ready for her.”

“Any day now,” I told him, “most any day now.” I had begun to wonder myself. Maybe I had made a bad bargain. Seven hundred dollars. Twelve and a half to one makes a lot of pesos, but I really hadn’t given up hope. Not yet I hadn’t.

“Señor Joe,” said Jock, “tonight Pedro Max Romero and his band are playing at the Lido Club. There will be a big dance and Connie will be there. Have you forgotten Connie?”

I shook my head, “No, Jock, I sure haven’t forgotten her. The trouble with Connie, she believes in this hocus-pocus stuff; she reads the stars. She told me that someday she and I will be married and we will have one blue-eyed baby girl. She has quite a fancy line of talk.”

Jock looked hurt. “Do you not believe in the stars? If it is written in the stars it is true. The stars do not lie.”

I let it go at that. If belief in stars made him happy, why worry him with my disbelief?

That night Jock and I went to the dance held in a big hall. Tables were placed around the edge of the room and in the center was the dance floor. We found a table, ordered a bottle of Flor de Caña, some Coke and ice.

While Jock was mixing the drinks he said, “The band has been out of town on another tour and this is their first night back in Managua.”

We sat and listened to the music. Pedro Max Romero was a great singer. When he sang, the crowd cheered loudly, but when Connie, looking gorgeous in a pink frilly low-cut gown, wiggled those curves of hers, I thought they would tear the place down.

“She is very beautiful, Señor Joe,” Jock said. “She would make you a wonderful wife.”

All of my friends seemed to be trying to get me married. I only shrugged. Just then Connie came to our table and sat down. Jock mixed her a drink and lit her cigarette.

“I am glad you came,” she said to me. “I would have been very disappointed if you hadn’t.”

I felt more than a little flattered and managed to squeeze her hand under the table.

We were spending a very enjoyable evening and about twelve o’clock Connie said, “The next number will be ‘Sabor a Mí,’ Would you like to dance it with me, Joe?”

“Sure, Connie, I’d love to.”

When the number started, we got up and I put an arm around her and we began dancing.

Connie laid her head on my shoulder and hummed, “Sabor a Mí,” — ‘taste me.’

We danced into a dimly lighted corner of the hall and halted. Connie looked up and said, “Taste me, kiss me, Joe.”

I held her close, tilted back her head and kissed her long and hard. She was indeed lovely.

Just as this thought crossed my mind, the moment was abruptly interrupted by a violent trembling of the floor beneath us. It took only a moment to register what was happening.

An earthquake!

As the earth continued to move, the overhead lights swayed widely back and forth.

The band stopped playing, then started up again. Playing faster, Pedro grabbed the mike just before it fell. He shouted into it, “Too much Flor de Caña.”

The dancers scrambled to their tables to get their bottles of rum that could crash on the floor. Other voices joined in with shouting, “Too much Flor de Caña! Too much Flor de Caña!”

Then, there came an extra big heave of the building and louder yells and cheers went up.

I was amazed. These crazy people! They were turning a dangerous earthquake into a happy event! The tremor lasted for about two minutes, but it was the longest two minutes I could ever remember.

Then when the floor stopped moving, Connie looked up at me. “I knew the earth would move if you kissed me,” she giggled.

I kissed her nervously.

Jock had saved our bottle and he poured us drinks. I sure needed it.

Connie took a piece of paper and a pencil from her purse.

“I will be staying with Mama Morales,” she said, writing down the address. “When will I see you again?”

I told her I would be busy for a few days but I promised to see her soon. The dance would last another hour but I was tired, so I excused myself, jumped into a cab and rode back to the hotel.

As I opened the door of my room I saw a yellow envelope on the floor.

I tore it open and read the cablegram. “Package will arrive on plane at four p. m., tomorrow. Best regards, Dick.”

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