Chapter Twenty-Three

This entry is part 23 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Twenty-Three

Once more they were drifting down the river. The sky became overcast. Dark clouds were forming. “It’s going to rain,” said Nocho. “We are in the middle of the dry season now and it doesn’t rain so often. But when it does it can really come down.”

“How much farther to your cabin?” Al asked.

“Not too far. We will be there before sun down.”

They kept the boat as near the center of the river as possible. The killer could be lurking back in the shadows waiting for them to pass by. The shots could come any second. It was nerve wracking to say the least!

Al wondered about the Judge. Was he following along behind? A couple of times Pio had been certain that a man was fallowing them. There had been two men in a boat. Was one of them the Judge? If the rascal was coming to them hoping to see some action he would not be disappointed. There certainly had been plenty of it.

Al felt like swearing. He tried to think of some choice cuss words in Spanish. He couldn’t think of any that fit the occasion. He hadn’t spoken a word of English in days. Maybe if he blew off a little steam he would feel better? He would give it try. He would give the Judge hell.

“You dirty rotten son of a bitch!” he shouted. “You stinking bastard!” he cupped his hands around his mouth. “Did you hear me Judge? Do you hear me?”

The girl had been lying in the bottom of the boat, apparently asleep. She rose up quickly and stared at Al. Her eyes were big and wide. Then, slowly, a faint smile spread over her face.

“Shame on you. Don’t you know it is not polite to swear in front of a lady?”

Al was amazed. She had spoken to him in English!

“Do you think the Judge heard you?” She asked.

Al’s face was red. “I hope he did. A boat has been following behind us. Pio thinks one of them is carrying the Judge.”

“If he were miles ahead of us, he certainly would have heard you. Do you often swear like that?”

“I was just blowing off a little steam. I didn’t know you understood English. You surprised the hell out of me.”

“I also speak German and some Mosquito Indian.”

“Where in the world did you learn to speak English and German? It certainly wasn’t out here in the jungle.”

“Do you think I was born and raised out here in the jungle?”

“Lord no, Adilia. Where were you born?”

The girl moved close to Al, and a slender arm stole around his neck. Her voice was low.

“It is a long story. Sometime, when we are all alone, I will tell you. Maybe tonight.” Her eyes were dancing. “You will want to be alone with me tonight, will you not?”

Al nodded. “Tonight we will be alone…together.”

The sky was getting darker, the air was humid, and there was no wind.

They came around a bend in the river. Nocho was pointing at some cabins, on the north bank. They had bamboo walls and a roof made of grass.

“The first cabin is mine,” said Nocho. “All the rest of them are empty. Years ago there was much gold here. Now it is about all gone. The people have all moved away, so take your pick.”

They pulled the boat high upon the bank and unloaded their provisions. Pio took his bedroll into the number two cabin. Al and the girl went to number three.

There was a bunk, about four feet wide, made of bamboo. Al put the bedrolls on this and looked around. It wasn’t much but it would sure beat sleeping in the rain. There was an open window. A shutter made of wood lay on the dirt floor. Al picked it up and put it in place. He opened his suitcase and took out a pair of leather shoelaces. With one of these he tied the shutter in place. When they were ready to go to bed he would tie the door shut with the other one. A man could break in easy enough, but he would make enough noise to awaken them. All he needed was a warning. The girl made up the bed. The food and cooking utensils were at Nocho’s cabin. They would eat there.

Nocho’s cabin was fixed up quite fancy. On one side of it was a lean-to, which had no walls. Several poles held up the grass roof. There was a big log in the ground. This was used to sit on. There was a big mud oven. ‘It looked like an igloo in Alaska,’ Al thought. Also there was a grill. Nocho had a fire going already, and the coffee pot was on.

Adilia helped Nocho with the cooking. They put on a pot of beans and added what was left of the wild pig. Also they put on a kettle of rice. Adilia took some flour and corn meal and made tortillas. They would cook them over the fire when the beans and rice were tender.

Al and Pio had also been busy. They had gone down by the river and gathered several arms full of driftwood. They would need dry wood for in the morning if it rained during the night as Nocho predicted,

Dinner was now on the grill. All there was to do now was to keep the fire going. It would be at least another hour before everything was ready. It had been days since Al had taken a bath. He thought he must smell something awful. Tonight, unofficially of course, the girl would be his wife. The least he could do was clean up a bit. Al walked over and took Adilia by the arm. “I am going to the river and take a swim, want to go along?”

Adilia smiled, “I was about to suggest the same thing. What about dinner? Someone must watch it.”

“Nocho will do that and Pio will stand guard.” He handed the rifle to Pio. “Keep a sharp eye on things. We are going to take a swim in the river.”

Al had a pair of trunks in his suitcase. He wondered what the girl would wear. He remembered the women at Talpinecci; they hadn’t bothered to wear anything. They took a bath and at the same time did their washing.

They walked over to the cabin and went inside. Al found his trunks. He sat down on the edge of the bed and slipped off his trousers and shorts. In a matter of a few seconds he pulled on the trunks and he was ready to go. The girl on the other hand was taking her time. She opened her carrying case and pulled out what looked to Al like two wide ribbons. Both were brilliant red.

She slipped off her blouse and laid it on the bed. She picked up one of the ribbons and wrapped it twice around her chest, then tied the ends together in front in the form of a big bow. She took off her slacks and panties then picked up the other ribbon. She wound it around herself a couple of times in the proper places and ended up by tying a big bow in the back. She looked up at Al and smiled.

“You like my swimming suit?”

Al nodded, “On you it looks great.” He felt like adding, “You look better without it.” However he changed his mind thinking he had better keep his mouth shut.

They kept their shoes on until they reached the river. Then they took them off and dove into the water. For an hour they played like a couple of otters. Diving, sliding down the bank, digging holes in the sand. This was the first time since Al had been here that he had actually had any fun.

Adilia was an excellent swimmer and was also having the time of her life. She was with the man of her choice and she intended to keep him.

Al was fast falling in love. This little princess that had come to him out of nowhere, had captured his heart. For the first time in days he forgot about the scar-faced killer. Then, from up on the bank came the voice of Nocho, “Come and get it.”

The swim had certainly given them an appetite. Food had never tasted so good. Darkness was coming on. They would make a good target sitting out here by the fire. ‘It has been a perfect day,’ Al thought. Well maybe not quite as yet, but it soon would be! He took the girl by the hand and headed for the cabin.

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