Chapter Twenty-Two

This entry is part 22 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Twenty-Two

Al didn’t know what to expect when he broke the news to Pio and Nocho that the girl was coming along. To his amazement they were not a bit surprised. In fact they seemed delighted that she was going with them. Nocho’s boat would hold one more. No need to take two boats. They would leave the girls here and pick it up on the way back. They dragged her boat back into the jungle and hid it the best they could. They transferred her meager belongings to Nocho’s boat and they were ready to go.

Evidently the scar-faced killer had kept going, and had not waited at the falls as they suspected he would. Evidently he lived somewhere below here. They must find him and bring him back dead or alive. Al hoped it would be alive. There had been enough killing already.

He decided to take another look at the map they had brought along. He spread it out on the bottom of the boat. Nacho put an ‘X’ on the spot where he thought they were. The map of Nicaragua was in the color of brown. The Rio Coco seemed to be the north border.

North of the river was the country of Honduras. It was yellow. It looked to Al that everything from here to north of the river belonged to Honduras. Maybe he should just take off, pull out and keep going?

He pointed down at the map. “It looks to me like the river is the border between Nicaragua and Honduras. Am I correct?”

Pio picked up the map and studied it for a moment. “Yes and no,” he said. “I will explain.” With his finger he pointed at the map. “If you look closely you will notice that for many miles above the river the color yellow is much lighter. Also see that fine print? It says disputed territory.”

Al nodded, “I could see the lighter color. I thought the color had faded. What does; disputed territory mean?”

“Just that,” said Pio. “For hundreds of years these two countries have been quarreling over who is the rightful owner. As a result neither country has ever developed this big section of land. There are no roads or landing fields. It is probably one of the most primitive pieces of land in the world today. Back in the sixties both countries agreed to let the world court decide who was the rightful owner. The court decided in favor of Honduras. Pio grinned, “ I guess that is why that part of the map is faded yellow.”

“Then everything north of the river belongs to Honduras?”

Pio shook his head. “The president of Nicaragua decided not to abide by the decision. He threatened to declare war on Honduras if they attempted to take over the land. Nicaragua has a much more powerful army then Honduras.” Pio shrugged his shoulders.

Al folded up the map and put it in his pocket. He had better forget what he was thinking about a minute ago. Time was wasting. They had better get going.

He and Pio paddled the boat across the river; Nocho sat in the rear, his fishing gear in hand. They would have fish for dinner. Al had made a good choice when he hired this old man. Not only did he make an excellent guide but also knew how to live off the fat of the land.

And there was Pio also, another damn good man! If he ever got out of this mess he would see what he could do about taking them to Prescott, Arizona in the United States,.

Al grinned. He now considered himself a citizen of the United States of America since the Nigger Woman had straightened him out on the subject of who’s who. He would never forget that.

Now Al had added another member to his crew, the girl. Who was this half wild beauty? Her mother had married this man Monory only a few years ago, or so she said. Certainly she did not resemble any natives around here. Where had she come from? He would find out. If she was going along as his wife, a wife shouldn’t keep secret from her husband! However the saying came from the States and he didn’t know of it would hold true here.

Now they were across the river. Nocho had caught several big fish. The girl had skinned and cleaned them. They were ready for the pan.

The rocky trail up over the hill was narrow and steep. It took most of an hour of pulling and tugging to get to the top. Al had to admire the girl. She was certainly doing her part. She had tied a ribbon around her long black hair, which hung below her waist. The ribbon kept her hair from falling down and also served as a decoration.

Then they were on top. Below them was a beautiful waterfall. The water going over the rocks and dropping down far below them turned the big eddy into a white foamy mass. The roar of the falls was so great that they had to shout to be heard. The descent was much easier. Half an hour later they arrived at the bottom.

Nocho suggested they rest for a while, as the fish would spoil of they were not cooked. He would take care of this matter. They would eat while floating down the river. Al found a big flat rock that was in the shade; he sat down on it with the girl beside him.

His mind had been on the scar-faced killer he had almost forgot about the man that was the cause of him being here. He took the picture out of his wallet and handed it to the girl.

“Look at this very carefully,” he told her. “I came down to this country to find this man. Yeas ago he and my father were great friends. This picture was taken years ago so he would be much older now.”

The girl took the picture from his hand and studied it for a moment. Slowly she shook her head, “ I do not know this man” She handed the picture back to him.

“His name is John Kirkland. Do you know anyone by that name?”

“I do not, I am sorry.”

He wondered if she knew anything about the scar-faced killer?

“What do you know about the other fellow I am looking for?”

“Only that he is a wanted man. I do not know his name or where he lives. I have only seen him once. That was the day the two soldiers captured him. They were taking him to Quilali. I was riding my pony to town and passed them on the trail.

Al wondered what the girl had heard about himself and the man?

“Do you know why I am after him?” he asked.

The girl nodded, “Yes. You and your man Pio turned him loose. You also gave him boots and a gun, at least that is what I have been told. The Judge has sentenced you to bring him back…”

She had the story, but had everything wrong. He would correct the error.

“ You got the story straight except for two things; we did not turn him loose, nor did we give him a gun and boots. We heard a noise in the night and got up to see what it was. The window was open and the guy was gone. While we were looking at the open window he stole my gun and boots. And so help me God that is the truth!”

The girl nodded, “I believe you. It doesn’t make sense that you would free a man, give him a gun, and then go looking for him. Did you know this man”?

Al shook his head, “I don’t know anyone down here. My mother was a Nicaraguan. I came down here to see if I could locate some of her relatives and also John Kirkland, my father’s friend. Mother died when I was just a kid. My father died about a month ago. I have no brothers and sisters. I must have some relatives down here somewhere.”

The girl smiled, “You have a wife?”

Al grinned, “And a very pretty one. But did you ever stop to think I might have a wife up in the states?”

The girl nodded, “Yes I have been wondering about that. If you have a wife there then I must be content to be your wife while you are here. Do you have a wife?”

Al remembered that evening in Talpinecci, the unwed mothers coming to town seeking a husband. Pio had said they do not expect to get a husband that doesn’t already have a wife.

Al moved close to the girl and put his arm around her slender waist. He would not lie to her. “No Adilia I do not have a wife. But tell me this. How do we go about getting married here?”

The girl smiled, “I will be your wife, some day we will find a priest and he will give us his blessing.”

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