Chapter Twelve

This entry is part 12 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Twelve

Al and Pio were having lunch at The Nigger Woman’s. Besides the pigs and chickens they were the only ones there. Not many people here could afford the luxury of dining out.

The Judge had passed sentence, and the verdict was quite popular with the people. They had come to town hoping to see blood shed. There was none, but there would be. To them this was a game, a fascinating game, a game of life and death, and they were the spectators.

The thought of killing a man made Al about half sick. The man was armed and very likely knew every trail in the jungle. He would put up a fight before he surrendered, that was for sure. Probably only one of them would survive. Maybe not even one!

Al asked the judge a lot of questions. “What is the man’s name?”

The Judge shook his head. “He would not tell me his name.”

“Does anyone know where he lives?”

“No.”

“You expect me to go out and bring in a man whose name and residence we don’t even know?”

“I will help you all I can,” said the Judge. “By any chance, do you have a map of this part of the country?”

Before leaving the city Al had bought a map. It was in the Jeep. Pio went after it. Minutes later they were bent over the map. With a sharp pencil the Judge put a small X on the paper. “Here is the town of Quilali, and this is the Rio Jaciro that runs by the town.” With the pencil he followed the river down to where it joined another, which looked much larger.

“The Jaciro empties into the Rio Coco about twenty miles east of here. Just below the town of Talpinecci. All the killings and robberies have taken place down river from this town. Men have previously gone after him and followed him. He has always escaped. All but this time; at least we had him for a while”

“Where was he captured?”

With the pencil the judge put another small X on the map; “About here,” he said. “He was coming up river in a boat, probably to kill again. Here on the Coco there is a waterfall. He had to take his boat from the water and pull it up over some high rocks to get it above the waterfall. This is where he was caught.”

“Then he must hang out somewhere below that place.”

The judge nodded’ “Maybe far below.”

At least he would be starting off in the right direction. The man’s boot tracks had been followed to the river. He had stolen a boat. There was only one way out with a boat and that was down river. Above here the current would be too swift to navigate.

Al had turned to Pio, “Are you going with me?”

Pio nodded, “Wherever you go, I will go.”

Pio was not familiar with the country below. This was his first trip to this part of Nicaragua.

“I will need another man,” Al told the Judge. “Someone that knows something about the country below, one who has a boat, and someone who is not afraid.”

The Judge nodded, “Yes. You must have a man with a boat. I believe I know man that would like to go with you. Scar-face killed one of his brothers. The Judge turned to one of his guards, “Go find Barto.”

In an hour Barto came walking up from the river. Al didn’t care much for the fellow’s looks. He was around twenty-five years of age, not very tall, about five foot six. He had a powerful looking pair of shoulders and large hairy arms. His hair was long and shaggy. He had a narrow forehead and the hairline almost reached down to his eyebrows. His dark sullen eyes looked more animal then human.

“He’s sure not much to look at,” Al said to himself.

But Barto had a boat and was willing to go. There was probably not another man in town that would make this trip with him. They agreed on a price. Al would pay him ten Cordoba’s a day.

Al bought provisions. They had loaded everything in the boat, which was about twelve feet long. It had been hewn from a mahogany log. It wasn’t much to look at, but it was the best they could do.

It was noon and both Al and Pio were hungry. They had better get a good meal at The Nigger Woman’s before they left. They decided it might be a long time before they got another one.

The meal was over, and Al spoke. “Pio if you do not wish to go, say so. I wouldn’t blame you a bit if you didn’t go along. After all this is none of your doing. I got myself into this mess and I should get myself out.”

Pio slowly shook his head. “Mr. Mackey, do you think I could rest for one moment? Do you think I could sleep at night wondering where you were and what you are doing? No Señor! Al I must go with you!”

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