- Chapter One
- Chapter Two
- Chapter Three
- Chapter Four
- Chapter Five
- Chapter Six
- Chapter Seven
- Chapter Eight
- Chapter Nine
- Chapter Ten
- Chapter Eleven
- Chapter Twelve
- Chapter Thirteen
- Chapter Fourteen
- Chapter Fifteen
- Chapter Sixteen
- Chapter Seventeen
- Chapter Eighteen
- Chapter Nineteen
- Chapter Twenty
- Chapter Twenty-One
- Chapter Twenty-Two
- Chapter Twenty-Three
- Chapter Twenty-Four
- Chapter Twenty-Five
- Chapter Twenty-Six
- Chapter Twenty-Seven
- Chapter Twenty-Eight
- Chapter Twenty-Nine
- Chapter Thirty
- Chapter Thirty-One
- Chapter Thirty Two
- Chapter Thirty-Three
- Chapter Thirty-Four
- Chapter Thirty-Five
- Chapter Thirty Six
Barto and Pio each had a paddle. The boat went skimming over the water. Had it not been for the mission he was starting, Al would have enjoyed the ride. He kept his eyes on the shore on both sides. It was a breathtaking site. The jungle vines were exceptionally dense, the trees incredibly tall. It looked like the vines climbed to the top and then took off in every direction.
There were beautiful orchids clinging to the trees and vines. Brilliant colored birds flew overhead.
“What a beautiful sight,” Al murmured. “I have never seen anything like it.”
“It is the dry season now,” said Pio. “If we came down here in June the orchids would be in full bloom. There would be much more rain and it would be much prettier.”
Al shook his head; “I don’t see how that could be.”
Several times Al had tried to strike up a conversation with Barto, but he soon gave up. The man would answer with a grunt or a growl. ‘He was more animal than human,’ thought Al.
There was a trail on either side of the river. Most of the time the heavy foliage hid the trails and any people on them. Whenever one of them came into view he could see people looking at them. Several were on horseback, riding along, watching and waiting.
“We will probably have company all the way,” he told Pio.
“Yes and those that quit following will pass the word along.”
They were making good time as it was all down stream. Along toward evening the three men came to where the Jaciro emptied into the Coco. Barto pointed up stream. There, high on the banks of the Coco, was the town of Talpinecci. Most of the town seemed to be on the opposite side. They paddled across and pulled up to the sandy beach. According to the map this was the last town of any size in the area. Al decided they had better spend the night here.
“Is there a hotel here?” He asked Barto.
The man nodded and pointed up the bank with his thumb. They jumped out of the boat and drug it high above the water line. Pio was wearing one of the pistols, Al the other. Also, Al was carrying the rifle.
They put the rest of their provisions on their backs and walked up the steep trail. Talpinecci appeared to be about the same size as Quilali, perhaps a bit smaller. There was also a road that came into this town from the south. Like Quilali, it was the end of the trail.
They noticed many ropes and vines stretched across the street as they walked looking for a hotel. Tied to the ropes were hundreds of gay colored streamers, old dresses and petticoats. Other items had been ripped to pieces yet remained there. It reminded Al of a used car lot in the States.
“I wonder what all these streamers represent,” remarked Al.
Pio shook his head, “Some sort of celebration I suppose. I will find out more.”
About half way down the main street they came to the hotel. It wasn’t much. There was a kitchen and dinning room on one side and one large bedroom on the other. Scattered about were several small cots.
A plump brown skinned woman and her two daughters operated the place. They ran the chicken and pigs out of the room and proceeded to cook the evening meal.
The trio sat down at one of the tables. Al ordered a bottle of rum and coke with ice. It had been long day. He figured a drink was in order. In a few minutes the girl returned with the order on a tray and set it down in front of Al. He poured a liberal amount of rum in each glass. He put in ice cubes and added a slice of lemon and finished filling the glass with coke. He then passed the glasses around.
Al and Pio took a swallow of the drink. Barto drained his glass in one gulp and passed it back for more. In a short time he was well on his way to getting plastered. Once more he handed his glass back to Al. “More!” he snarled, “Give me more!”
‘His black beady bloodshot eyes looked more animal-like then ever,’ thought Al. They reminded him of what he had once read. The less intelligence a person has the less alcohol it takes to get them drunk. After the first gulp Barto was well on his way to drunkenness.
Al shook his head. “I think you have had enough Barto.”
The man jumped to his feet and snarled, “Give me ten cord, you owe me ten cord!”
Al took out his billfold and handed him the money. “Take it easy Barto,” he warned, “you be sure and be ready to leave here early in the morning, and sober too!” he shouted as Barto disappeared through the doorway.
Pio was shaking his head, “He is a bad one Señor Mackey. Someone has cast an evil spirit into him.”
“He is full of spirits alright, Rum!”
Pio had been drawing something on a smooth piece of wood. “What are you doing Pio?” Al was curious.
“On moment please.” He took a few more strokes with the pencil and then set it down in front of Al.
Al was astonished. On the board was the face of the killer, scar and all! He studied if for a minute. “Pio you are really an artist. I didn’t know you could do this kind of work.”
“A person has to learn to do many things to survive in this country. Sometimes when I can find no work, I go to the bars and restaurants and try to find someone who would like their picture painted. I do pretty well if there is a celebration happening.”
“This sure as hell looks like him. You thought there is some sort of party or celebration going on here? Why don’t you take this picture and show it to a lot of people? Maybe someone will know his name and where he lives? Boy, that would be a big help.”
“That is just what I had in mind Señor Mackey!”
“I think our dinner is about ready. We will eat then you go out and see what you can do. Also find out what is going on in town, I am a bit curious. They sure did rip up a lot of petticoats to make all those streamers!”