Chapter Ten

This entry is part 10 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Ten

It was twelve o’clock; the sun was high overhead hardly casting a shadow. Al and Pio were once more seated in the house of the Nigger Woman. They had ordered dinner. A beef had been butchered this morning at the public slaughterhouse. Most everyone got a piece of it. The Nigger Woman had her share. Today they would have beefsteak.

The Judge had returned to Al his pocketbook. In it was about two hundred dollars in Cordobas, Nicaraguan money. At least they could eat. Al took a sip of the strong black coffee. “I wonder what she puts in it besides coffee?” He muttered… “I’ll bet she boiled this all night!”

Pio nodded, “It sure is strong. Here she comes with our dinner.” The woman set the smoking plates of meat down in front of them along with some knives and forks. “There you are gentlemen,” she spoke in Spanish.

Al remembered what Freddie had told him. Freddie the bartender; back in the city. Al wondered if this black woman could speak English. He would find out, he smiled up at her, “Do you speak English?” He spoke his native tongue.

A big smile came over her face, “I certainly do, I was born and raised in Bluefield’s; everyone there speaks English.”

‘She sure has a British accent,’ Al thought. It was good to hear his native tongue once more. Al grinned up at her, “I’m glad you speak English, it’s been quite awhile since I have heard anyone speak it, and I had about forgot how it sounds.”

Nigger Woman frowned, “You do not come from England.”

“No I am an American.”

“Do you come from Bluefield’s?”

“No, I just said that I am an American.”

“So what? I am too. What part of America do you come from?”

“Prescott, Arizona, do you know where that is?”

The woman shook her head, “No, is that some where in the United States?”

Al was getting a bit annoyed, “I told you, I am an American.”

Nigger Woman stared down at him, “Just where do you think you are now?”

Al was a bit sarcastic, “ If I remember right, I am in Quilali, Nicaragua, tell me if I am wrong.”

“You are right as far as you went, but you quit too quick. Don’t you know that Nicaragua is in America? You people from the United States give me a pain in the ass. You talk like you are the only Americans. Don’t you know this was America hundreds of years before there was a United States?”

Al could feel his face turning red. Come to think of it, the woman was right; this was Central America, South America was below. The United States was only a small part of North America. Why do we call ourselves Americans like we are the only ones to bear the name?

“Eat your dinner,” said Nigger Woman, “before it gets cold.” The steaks were a bit tough, but good. For dessert, they were served a golden pineapple. It was cut in quarters with the core cut out. It was severed from the peeling; the small bite sized pieces were delicious.

Al addressed the Nigger Woman, “Boy, this is good pineapple. I have never tasted anything like it in Am… the United States.” He finished. “And thanks for straightening me out on that American bit, you are so right!”

Nigger Woman grinned; “You’re quite welcome, and while we are at it, I will tell you something else. Did you know that pineapple is not native to Hawaii? Did you know that when Columbus discovered America, he also discovered pineapple?”

Al shook his head. His mind drifted back to his school days. He had always been taught that Columbus had discovered America. But he had never been taught that the old boy had discovered the United States or pineapple. He would straighten a few people out on this subject when he got home. That is, if he got home. At least this talk with the Nigger Woman had taken his mind off of what might happen to them tomorrow. For this, he was thankful!

Pio had remained quiet and had finished his dinner. He could not speak or understand English. Al reverted back to Spanish, “Didn’t mean to leave you out of the conversation Pio. It was sure nice to find someone that speaks my native language.”

“I understand Señor.”

Al took out his pocketbook and paid the woman. The picture of John Kirkland was among the bills. He took it out and handed it to the Nigger Woman. “The other day I was asking you about a man by the name of John Kirkland, maybe he goes by another name? Take a look at this. Have you ever seen this man? He would be quite a bit older now, but looks much the same, I understand.”

The woman looked at the picture for a moment, and then handed it back to Al and slowly shook her head. “Lots of people have been here, maybe this man is one of them, but I am not sure.”

“One more question. Yesterday, a beautiful young woman came riding a pony across the river and went to the hotel. She made a purchase and took off like she was in a hurry. Do you know her?”

The woman shook her head, “I do not know her. About once a week she comes riding in on her pony, stays a few minutes, and then gets on her pony and rides away. Sorry, that is all I know.”

They left the café and headed back toward the hotel. They had a lot of time to kill. It was a long time until ten o’clock tomorrow morning. What would the Judge decide? ‘If this case were in the United States, it would be thrown out before it got to court,’ Al thought. If he hadn’t lost his temper and had kept his mouth shut they would probably be free now. He had made the Judge look bad for a minute. He would surely pay for that.

The man Reyes hadn’t kept his mouth shut either. Now he was standing in the corner, bound and gagged with his shoes nailed to the floor.

If for some reason he found them guilty of some crime, what would be their punishment? Maybe they should have pled guilty. This way for sure they would be taken out and shot…

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