Chapter Twenty-Six

This entry is part 26 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Twenty-Six

The girl spoke slowly, as though trying to remember every minor detail.

“My true name is Adilia Maria Mendez. I am nineteen years old. I was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. My father was Spanish, and my mother was German.

Up until the time we left there, my parents were quite wealthy. They had a coffee plantation about an hours drive from the city. We did not live at the plantation, only the help stayed there.

We had a nice home in the city. The house had six rooms and was made of wood. In front, there was a green lawn and a wooden fence painted white. The houses in San Jose are much like the ones in the United States. Anyhow, that is what I have been told.

I was an only child. My mother almost died giving birth to me. They operated. She could have no more.

I was sent to private school. I learned to speak German; there were lots of Germans there. I was taught to dance and how to play the piano. I took singing lessons as money was no problem.

But things changed. About thirty kilometers form the city was a big volcano. For many years, it had been peacefully smoking away and doing very little damage. Then, one day it erupted.

A great column of black smoke and fire shot high into the air. Rivers of molten lava poured down its sides. The devil himself must have been underneath there.

For days it kept up like that. The sky became brown; the sun looked like an orange ball, and gray ash was falling like snow.

People weren’t too alarmed in the beginning. Surely soon, it would calm down.

The eruptions did slow down, but the old volcano kept smoking away. About an inch of ashes was falling on the city every day.

Everyone was shoveling volcanic ash. The city became dark; the lights were on day and night; the water supply was contaminated and the sewers were plugged.

People began to panic. They believed the country was doomed. Thousands of them pulled out, taking only their personal belongings. There was much looting, and a big crime wave. No one was safe on the streets.

Somehow, Father managed to get back and forth to the plantation every few days. Each time he returned, there was a doubtful look on his face. When questioned about it, he would just shake his head.

Then, on day, it was months later, we pulled out of there and headed for Nicaragua.

Evidently our plantation was directly in the path of the falling ash. Father said the coffee trees were almost completely covered.

Our pretty house and all the furniture, we left. There was no need of trying to sell anything. Father said that when, or if, the volcano quit smoking, we would return and see if we could salvage anything.”

The girl stopped talking for a moment. “Am I boring you to death with all this?”

“Lord, no. Don’t stop now!” Al couldn’t think of a more appropriate time to tell about a belching volcano. The wind and the rain outside furnished the sound effects.

“Father rented a house in Managua and got some kind of a job working for the government. We had a housekeeper. She was a black woman from Bluefield’s. It was from her that I learned to speak English.

I was just eight years old when we left Costa Rica.

Three years later, a big earthquake shook Managua to pieces. My father was killed. Everyone was ordered to leave. Go somewhere, anywhere! The city was on fire and there was no water.

Somehow, Mother and myself managed to get out of there. A truck picked us up and took us to Talpinecci.”

The girl quit talking for a moment. She moved closer to Al. “I think you can put the rest of the story together. Is there anything else you would like to know?”

Al shook his head. “I guess not, at least not right now. You sure answered a lot of my questions. No wonder you don’t look like the people that live here. I think most of them are at least part Indian.”

“You are right there. Also, you probably know that there are no Indians in Costa Rica.”

“What did you say?”

“There are no Indians in Costa Rica.”

“I though that is what you said. Alright, I’ll bite, why are there no Indians in Costa Rica?”

“Weren’t you taught that in school?”

“I am afraid not. Maybe I have just forgotten.”

“Alright, I will tell you. When Cortez invaded Costa Rica, he and his army killed most of the Indians. Those that managed to survive fled to what is now Nicaragua and Panama.”

“And none of them came back?”

“No Indians have returned to that country.”

“Well, I’ll be darned. That is sure news to me. I suppose Costa Rica is a lot like Nicaragua?”

The girl shook her head. “They are different in many ways. For instance, there is very little jungle in Costa Rica.”

“That is amazing. This country is about all jungle. Why the difference?”

“I am not sure, but I think it is because Costa Rica is all high mountains. There are many pine forests. There is always a breeze blowing. It is much cooler there.”

“What is the altitude at San Jose, do you know?”

The girl shook her head. “I do know remember but I know it is very high. I remember lots of times when we were coming off the mountain, we could see many clouds below us.”

“I remember reading about that volcano. Did it finally quit smoking?”

“I am not sure. But I think so.”

As was about to question her about the earthquake in Managua, then changed his mind. He had put her through enough already. All of this talking had not brought back a lot of fond memories. That was for sure.

Outside the storm continued. Wind howled around the cabin, water was running everywhere.

The girl remained cool as a cucumber. ‘No wonder,’ Al thought, ‘After what she had been through, a little thing like a tropical storm shouldn’t bother her.’

His gaze stole down to her little white hand. His mind drifted back to that night in Talpinecci. His only target that dark night was a flash of light on the blade coming down. Thank God he had hit it. If he had missed that knife… she would not be here tonight.

He hope he could do as well when he went against the scar-faced killer!

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