Chapter 36

This entry is part 37 of 44 in the series Smile

Chapter Thirty-Six — Election Time

Since the arrival of Juanita in Fermin’s cafe, his former customers were coming back. There were even some new ones who suddenly found his place a pleasant one for dining and drinking. One of the new ones was a fellow by name of Slade, a newspaper man from the States. I didn’t like him from the first minute we met. He was a huge man. His hairy arms and the bunch of hair sticking from the front of his shirt made me think of a gorilla. His boastful mouth was what I disliked most.

One day at Fermin’s, Slade said, “I’ve been here in Central America many times and in the past seventeen years I’ve covered fifteen revolutions. Just finished the one in El Salvador and it didn’t amount to a damn. The army gathered up the President and his bunch, put them on a plane and shipped them out of the country — never fired a shot.”

He shrugged and went on. “It’s pretty hard to write anything interesting about a revolution like that, but there will be more of them. There always are in a country like this and this country is about due for a swell one. I can feel it in the air.”

“You act like you wish a revolution would soon start here,” I said.

“Sure, I can’t make a living just writing about the weather.”

The days went by and when I called brother Bill he told me that the mining equipment had been shipped and should arrive in about three weeks. The road to Santo Domingo was being repaired and it would take about three weeks for one of the bridges to be rebuilt, so there was nothing for us to do but wait.

Every day I went to Fermin’s. Juanita always had a welcome kiss for me. She was a lovely girl.

Finally Fermin said, “Business is good, but I am very worried.”

“What about, Fermin?”

“When you go to Santo Domingo you will want to take Juanita with you.”

“Have no fear, Fermin,” I laughed. “I’m not taking any women to Santo Domingo.”

I often went out to the brewery to visit with Rosita and little Tiny — that little girl who had really captured my heart. I taught Rosita as much English as I could and she was learning fast She was also attending a night school where she was being taught English. Chase usually went along to act as my interpreter.

Diriamba, a town several miles from Managua, was the home of Mama Morales. Jock and I had driven out there in the Palace a couple of times to see Connie. Mama Morales operated a little restaurant and beer parlor. There was a high board fence around her house and a gate opening into an open air patio that had a roof over part of it to provide shelter for her customers when it was raining. There was also a juke box and a small dance floor.

Each time Jock and I had been to the restaurant we had left early. After all, we had Chuck’s bed in the Palace with us, We couldn’t leave poor old Chuck out in the street. Connie would always pouted a bit. “Always you go home early, and make me suspicious,” she would say. “I think you have a sweetheart in Managua.”

“Two of them,” I would reply.

One evening when she walked out with us as far as the Palace, she asked, “When are you going to take me for a ride?”

It was true, I had been neglecting this beautiful gal, so I said, “How would you like to take a drive to the ocean? Just you and me.”

“That would be wonderful. When shall we go?” she asked.

“I’ll let you know later,” I told her. “Chuck can stay in my room at the hotel, and you and I will take trip alone to the ocean.”

The days rolled by. At last came a Tuesday when it was election day in the United States. Everywhere we went people were talking politics. Large pictures of John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon were on the front pages of the newspapers.

I said to Chuck, “It seems funny that people here know more about what goes on in the States than many of our own citizens, and I’ll bet there isn’t one person in twenty back home who can spell Nicaragua.”

He laughed and said, “Don’t ask me to either.”

We went up to Fermin’s. The political talk was in full swing here too and John Kennedy for President was the favorite.

Fermin asked, “Who are you guys voting for?”

“I’m a Kennedy man myself,” I told him. “How about you, Chuck?”

“Me too,” said Chuck. “We won’t get to vote this year because we are down here, but if I were in the States I would sure vote for Kennedy.”

Fermin scowled. “You mean you are not casting an absentee ballot?”

“No, Fermin. We forgot about it, I guess.” I said sheepishly.

Fermin lit in on us for that. I felt my face getting hot and I was really ashamed. Never again would I let my country down, I promised myself. The people here do not have a chance to vote. We men had our chance and we neglected it as though it wasn’t of much importance. Fermin would never be able to understand this.

Fermin had a powerful short wave radio in his cafe, so on election night we sat there listening to the election returns from Miami, Florida. The reports were exciting because of the popularity of each candidate about to be elected to the highest office in the USA. We could see that the final reports wouldn’t be in by Fermin’s closing time, and I was tired so I went to the hotel and to bed.

The next morning I bought a copy of the local Spanish newspaper and covering the whole front page was a picture of John F. Kennedy. Across the top of the page were just two words in English — “Jack Wins!”

I went into the dining room and ordered breakfast wishing I could read Spanish because I wanted to read about the election. I would ask Jock to read it to me. I hadn’t paid much attention to their local paper before, but this time I opened it up and started looking through it. There was a comic page and the funnies were good. I burst out laughing. There was Dagwood and Blondie talking to each other in Spanish, a Spanish Mutt and Jeff, and even Donald Duck quacking away in Spanish. There was also Ripley’s “Believe It or Not,” and a crossword puzzle just like those in our newspapers at home.

After breakfast I walked up to Fermin’s and found all sorts of people gathered there talking about the election. The outcome was popular with most everyone. President Roosevelt-a Democrat had done much for their country. The people believed that President Kennedy being a Democrat and a Catholic might be able to do even better.

This country has much to offer; gold, silver, lots of timber, a long coast line and good fishing, and all kinds of tropical fruits. If this were one of our own states it would be the richest in the union. The “Commies” had moved into Cuba and were trying to get in here. Soon the United States would be surrounded by Communist countries. Yes, we had better do something — the quicker the better.

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