Chapter One

This entry is part 1 of 36 in the series Bend

Beyond The Bend In The River


Ted Dewey

Chapter One

The Arizona wind was howling around the corners of the big ranch house. A sudden gust from the north rattled the windows. The vicious storm had left a foot of snow on the ground and there was more to come.

Alfred Mackey was alone in the big living room seated at his father’s desk, looking down at the stack of unpaid bills in front of him. There were bills from the undertaker, the florist, the doctor and many more.

The sudden death of his father had come as a great shock to him, also to his many friends. Many had come for hundreds of miles to attend the funeral. The old man had been cutting wood for the fireplace when a dead limb from the tree he had been cutting broke off and came crashing down, killing him instantly.

A great feeling of loneliness came over young Al. Left alone in this world with only the housekeeper for company left a lot to be desired. He thought he had better busy himself and do something about it.

The sound of a car motor outside attracted his attention. A quick look out the window told him it was the mail carrier. As usual, Sarah, the housekeeper was there to meet the postman. Minutes later, she handed Al a letter and retreated to the kitchen, closing the door behind her.

He looked down at the object in his hand; it was addressed to his father and bore a Nicaraguan stamp. In the upper left hand corner was the address, P.O. Box I99 Managua Nicaragua C.A.

Al’s fingers trembled as he tore open the envelope. For as long as he could remember these letters had been coming from down there. His father would read them and then tear them to bits.

Several times Al had asked about those letters and who sent them. The old Gent had smiled and told him; ‘some day I will tell you all about them.’ That day had never come.

Al removed the single page from the envelope and glanced down at the shaky handwriting. The short note read; “Dear Al, can’t last much longer. Would love to see you before I pass. Hope you can come down for a visit. If you can’t come, please write.” At the bottom of the sheet there was a signature and a post office box number. The name in the signature was John Kirkland.

“Just who is this John Kirkland,” Al wondered? They were very likely old friends. His father had spent approximately ten years of his life in that far away country. He had joined the Marines when he was eighteen. They had been assigned to kill or capture the famous revolutionary Sandino.

Two years later this wily Sandino character was lured into the Presidential Palace on the pretense that the army was surrendering to him. That night he was shot by a firing squad.

After this incident, the Marines were free to go home, and most of them did. But not Al Mackey. He stayed for another eight years! Just what he was doing down there was still a mystery. Whatever it was, one thing was for sure, it paid well. He came back from there with a bundle of money.

He had also brought back with him a beautiful bride. Her name was Maria. They had bought this land and built this big house. A hundred head of white-faced cows and a dozen bulls grazed the land. New cars, trucks and tractors were purchased. They paid cash for everything! Just what the old man did down there to acquire all that money was still unknown. The secret had now died with him.

Al got up from the desk and walked over to the fireplace. Just above the mantle hung a picture of his mother. She was indeed a beautiful woman. She had big brown eyes and dark, curly hair, with full red lips and dimples in her cheeks.

She seemed to be smiling down at him. He vaguely remembered her. He was only three years old when she passed away. The housekeeper, Sarah Blatz, had taken over the chores and had been doing them ever since.

Al reached up and took the picture off the wall. He held it close and studied the smooth features. He thought, “Just who was this lovely lady?”

The kitchen door opened, and in walked Sarah. For a moment she stood staring at Al and the picture in his hand. A faint smile came to her face. As she spoke her voice was soft and gentle; “She was a beautiful woman Al, and a good woman! I guess I can understand why your father never remarried. No one could ever take her place.”

All nodded, “He worshipped the very ground on which she walked.” “He sure did,” Sarah answered, “and by the way, young man, when are you going to get yourself a wife and start raising a family? The next thing you know, you will be old like me, and then it will be too late. A big handsome man like you could take your pick of the crop. You are the last of the Mackeys. Are you going to let the line run out? If you were to pass on now, there wouldn’t be even one single heir to inherit all of this.”

“Hold on,” Al laughed. “Not so fast, remember I was married once and it didn’t work out?” “This time get yourself a good woman! Not someone that likes to spend all her time in a beer joint!”

Al walked over and put an arm around her chubby shoulders. “Listen Sarah,” he told her, “one of these days I will probably do just that. When the right one comes along, I will grab a hold of her quickly.” His big arm gave her a gentle squeeze. “I won’t make that mistake again!” Sarah wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “Take your time boy, I was only trying to help.”

“Listen Sarah,” his voice low, “I have something to tell you. For a long time I have planned to take an extended trip. Now I think that time has come.” He nodded up to the painting on the wall. “My mother was Nicaraguan. I was so young when she passed away; she never had a chance to tell me anything about her past life, or her family.” Tears formed in Al’s eyes. “She very likely had brothers and sisters. She at least had a mother and father!”

He hesitated a moment. “Many a time I have asked my father these questions. He always evaded answering me. He would say; ‘some day I will tell you all about our life down there.’ But he never did. Now it’s too late.”

Al got to his feet and walked over to the desk. He picked up the letter that had come in the mail. “Have you noticed them?” Sarah Nodded. “Yes, I certainly have. He would read them, then lean back in his chair. Every once in a while, a smile would cross his face. Then he would tear it to bits or burn it.”

Al nodded. “I wonder why he was so secretive about them. Open it and read it Sarah. Maybe it will make some sense to you.” Sarah pulled out the thin piece of paper and studied it for a moment.

“From the looks of this handwriting, I would say that this man Kirkland is a very sick man. Maybe he and your father were very good friends. Either that or he was a relative. He could possibly be a relative of your mother’s.”

Al nodded. He took the letter from Sarah and studied it for a moment. “This letter is the only thing I have that can lead me to someone that can answer these questions. So before this John Kirkland dies, I am going to make a trip down there and have a talk with the gentleman. I could have a whole flock of relatives down there, uncles, aunts, cousins, not to mention in-laws.”

Sarah nodded. “I think you should go. I know what it’s like being left all alone.” She wiped her eyes with the dirty apron. “I know you can well afford it as your father was a wealthy man.”

Al nodded. “He made a pile of money down there. He would never say what he was doing, or what kind of business he involved himself. He always gave me the same answer; ‘someday I will tell you all about it.’ But ‘someday’ never came.”

“When will you be leaving?”

“As soon as I can get away. The handwriting in this letter looks mighty shaky. I might not have very much time.”

“Right you are, but if you go down there, you had better be mighty careful. That is not the safest place in the world to be in right now. Another revolution could start up any day.”

“I know you’re right, I don’t intend to get mixed up in any of their troubles. I will be going down as a private citizen of this country. I shouldn’t have any trouble.”

“I wish you a lot of luck… I don’t blame you for going.”

“Thanks Sarah! As soon as this weather clears, I will go to town and see about getting a passport.”

Chapter Two

This entry is part 2 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Two

The following morning Al got into his pickup and drove to Prescott. The snowplows had been busy. What little snow was left had turned to slush. By nightfall, most of it would be gone.

As he approached the town, Thumb Butte looked exactly like its namesake, the thumb of a hand, pointing straight into the air. It was still white with snow and would be for some time. The altitude was much higher here.

He turned off of Garvey onto Whiskey Row. This famous street was much the same as it had been over a hundred years ago. At least, that is what the local merchants claimed.

The St. Michaels Hotel and Bar were truly old. There was the Western Bar, the Bird Cage and others. Also on the block was the famous Sam Hill store. If someone couldn’t find what an item for which they were looking, they’d go to Sam Hills, as that store had most everything.

In the middle of the block there was a restaurant and several stores that sold Indian jewelry, along with a travel agency.

Al pulled in along the curb in front of the travel agency and shut off the motor. He got out and went inside. A girl seated at the desk greeted him.

“What can we do for you today?” She asked.

Al grinned, “I want to take a trip to Nicaragua, what do I need to get there? I intend to do some hunting while I’m there. What am I allowed to take along?”

The girl smiled. “I can answer some of your questions. First you will need a passport. Do you have one?”

Al shook his head, “No I don’t. How do I go about getting one?”

“Get your birth certificate and take it to the local

Post Office and they will help you. It usually takes around a week.”

“What then?”

“Bring it in here and we will fix you up with a ticket. Do you wish to stop at any places on the way down, such as Mexico City?”

“I hadn’t given it any thought. I might just as well see the sights between here and there, if it doesn’t cost too much extra.”

For several minutes the girl was busy checking rates and the different places Al could stop over. She handed him a sheet of paper. “This will help you decide.” She smiled. “Anything else?”

“How about guns? I intend to do some big game hunting. What am I allowed to take?”

The girl frowned; “ I don’t know. They are always having a revolution down there, either that, or a big earthquake. I am not sure; maybe you had better talk to Mr. Saunders. He has been there. He is not here right at the moment, but if you will come back tomorrow we will have this information for you.”

Al left the office and returned to his pickup. The first thing to do was to go back to the ranch and find his birth certificate. It was probably in the family Bible.

The big snowstorm was over, and water was running everywhere. He circled the block, got back on Garvey and headed back toward the ranch. Strange, he thought. Why had the sudden urge struck him to go to Nicaragua when he had opened the letter from John Kirkland yesterday? Why did he ask his father if he would come down there? A strange feeling had come over him; he knew he must go down there, but why?

Could his behavior be just like a salmon fingerling that leaves its spawning grounds for the ocean, where as a parent it returns years later to the place of its birth? Is man like the fish? Does he have some sort of built in device that guides him home? If built into the fish, then why not into man?

Lately he had read everything he could get his hands on regarding the Nicaraguan country and the people who lived there. It was not only a land of revolutions and earthquakes; it was also a land of voodoo and witchcraft. Was someone down there sticking pins in his relatives? Well he was damn sure going down to find out!

Chapter Three

This entry is part 3 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Three

The Nicaraguan day was hot and sticky. Al Mackey was seated on the high stool in the bar of the Grand Hotel. “Better give me another bottle of Victoria,” he told the bartender. “I have been told not to drink the water down here, and the beer is good. Sure glad it’s not the other way around. I like beer, especially in this kind of weather.”

“Yes, Sir,” said the bartender; who was a handsome young black man. “Just as you say, Sir.” The man spoke perfect English, as well as Spanish. Al had noticed that most of the people here in public service were black and could speak both languages. He wondered about that.

He addressed the barman. “I noticed that most of the taxi drivers and barmen in this country are black and speak both Spanish and English. Is there any particular reason for this?”

The bartender grinned; “You mean you don’t know?”

“If I knew, I wouldn’t have asked.”

“And you would like to know?”

“I certainly would.”

The black man, whose name was Freddie, leaned on the bar and closed his eyes, “All right, I will tell you, Mr. Mackey. After the great civil war up in your country, hundreds of us niggers were left stranded at the town of Bluefield’s, which is a seaport town on the east coast of this country. The English slave traders used it as a base to teach us their language and how to obey orders. You see, Mr. Mackey, we brought in a lot more money after we were taught a few things.

Anyhow, after the war, there was no market for slaves in the United States. The slave traders had no more use for us, so they pulled out and left us there.”

Freddie picked up the bar towel and began polishing the bar. “So you see, Mr. Mackey, since then, we had to adapt and fend for ourselves. We learned to speak English, and we learned Spanish also. Anymore questions, Mr. Mackey?”

Al shook his head, “I guess not, Freddie. Thanks for the information.”

“Think nothing of it. By the way, have you located this man Kirkland about which you have been inquiring?”

Al shook his head, “Not yet, the only thing I have is a name and a box number. I went to the post office and tried to find out where the man lived, but they would not tell me any thing. I wrote a note to the man and told him to get in touch with me here. That was a couple of days ago. Maybe I’ll hear from him one of these days.”

“ I hope so. By the way, just before you came in, someone paged you in the main lobby. Did you get the message?”

Al set the empty beer bottle down and got to his feet. “I sure didn’t Freddie! Maybe that’s my man. See you later.” He went through the door into the main lobby and stopped at the desk. “Was someone paging me?” he asked the girl.

The clerk looked up and smiled, “Yes, Mr. Mackey,” she gestured with her pencil, “That man over there, behind the news paper; he was the one.”

Al took off in a hurry. He moved over to the side of the chair and looked down. “Mr. Kirkland?” He asked softly. The man laid the paper down and looked up.

“No I am not Kirkland, my name is Young, Walter Young.” The man was quite old, and bald on top with a fringe of gray around the edges. He had merry blue eyes and pink skin.

“I was looking for a John Kirkland.”

“I know. I got your note. Pardon me for not getting up.” Al could see the reason; the man had only one leg. A pair of crutches was lying on the floor. There was another chair nearby. Al dragged it over and sat down.

“Could you tell me where I can get in touch with Mr. Kirkland?”

The man shook his head, “No, not exactly. So, you’re Al Mackey?”

“Did you know my father?”

“I sure did.”

“Do you know Kirkland?”

“Yes, I know him.”

Al took from his pocket a small folded piece of paper. He handed it to Young. “This came through the mail a few weeks ago. Do you know anything about it?”

Young glanced at the paper and nodded, “Yes, it was sent to me by John Kirkland. He asked me to pass it on to your father.”

“Why didn’t he mail it to him directly?”

“ I don’t think Kirkland is close to any post office. I received this by another source. By the way how is your father?”

Al bowed his head. “He is dead, Mr. Young. He passed away a month ago.”

“I am sorry to hear that. I have kept hope that I would get to see him once more. By the way, what brings you down here?”

Al took the piece of paper from Young’s hand. “This, for one thing. It reads like he was very anxious to see my father. I would sure like to meet him. I hope to learn something about my mother. Maybe you could tell me. Did you know her?”

Young shook his head. “I never had the pleasure of meeting your mother. I knew your father very well.”

“Do you know who my mother was, before they were married? Mother died when I was very young. So, I didn’t learn much about her relatives from her.”

“Didn’t your father tell you who she was, and about the night they ran off together?”

“No, Mr. Young. Father was always very secretive about his life down here. Oh, he told a lot of wild stories about his time as a Marine, and all about the bandit Sandino. He told many stories, but whenever I would ask questions about what he did after he quit the Marines, he shut up like a clam. He never mentioned relatives. Surely my mother wasn’t an only child. She definitely had a father and mother!”

Young nodded. “You are right there, and they could still be alive. I sure don’t blame you for trying to find out. I will help you all I can.” A smile came over the old man’s face. “Also, I think I can tell you why your father kept his past life here a secret. So if you would like, I will tell you what I know. I can see no harm in telling you now.”

“Go right ahead, Mister Young. That is why I am down here!”

Chapter Four

This entry is part 4 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Four

The story that was told by Walter Young was a fascinating one. Al Mackey listened intently to every word.

“We weren’t much more than kids,” Young began. “Al Mackey, John Kirkland and myself were in the Marines together, and we were great friends. We were part of that bunch who was chasing the revolutionists all over the country. I won’t bother telling you any part of that as your father has probably done that already. Your father, John Kirkland, and I were on patrol way out in the jungle just before Sandino was lured into the city and executed.

It was one hell of a night and one I will never forget. I was bitten on the leg, just above the knee, by that deadly Bushmaster snake. I was sure I was going to die.

Your father and John Kirkland saved my life. They killed the snake, and cut off my leg in a matter of a few seconds.

So you see, from that time on, I was out of the action. I spent a lot of my time in the hospital.

Then the revolution ended. The marines were sent home; that is, most of them. Many of them made this country their home after being discharged, and I was one of them.

Al Mackey and John Kirkland did the same. They went into business, something about importing and exporting, but they got mixed up in politics. I guess they made a lot of money.

Several years went by, and I didn’t see much of them. A one-legged guy sure couldn’t keep up with that pair.

Like lots of successful people, they weren’t satisfied. They wanted more, and both were highly ambitious, extremely ambitious. So, they decided to take over the Government. If their plan worked, they would be able to do it without firing a shot.”

Walter Young pulled out a white handkerchief and wiped his forehead.

Al Mackey drew a deep breath. “Good Lord!” He muttered. “My father, a revolutionist!”

“Then came the night they had planned to take action. There was a big party at the Presidential palace. They had bribed the guards. They would make their move at midnight.

There had been a leak somewhere; their plan had been exposed. Consequently, they had walked into a trap!

Someone had tipped off the government. Just before midnight the band was playing, so most were dancing. Your father and Kirkland each had a beautiful girl in their arms. They danced right out through the doorway and ran like hell, taking the girls with them. There were high-powered cars waiting for them. I guess they had made plans on what to do in case something went wrong.

They made their escape, and went up north. There was a big reward for those two men. They were wanted, and not dead or alive. They were wanted DEAD.

Your father married the woman he took with him. The same was true for John Kirkland. I don’t know who the women were. I was in pretty bad shape at the time. Newspapers here don’t tell everything like they do in the United States.”

Walter stopped talking and once more wiped his damp brow.

“I never saw your father again. He and Kirkland moved somewhere far into the jungle. They had run into some good placer gold while looking for the bandit Sandino years earlier, who they hoped they wouldn’t find. I guess they were there for several years. Then, one day I got a letter from your father. He was in Prescott, Arizona.

However, Kirkland is still up there somewhere. About twice a year, he comes to the city and looks me up. We talk over old times and write your father a letter. I guess that’s all I know. Any questions?”

Al nodded, “Do you know where I can find John Kirkland?”

Young shook his head. “No. Being crippled the way I am, I haven’t been able to get around very much. I have never been to where he lives.”

“I must find him. Where do you suggest I start looking?”

Young scratched his head. “I have received a few letters from him with the post mark of Quilali on them. He probably isn’t too far from there. I think I know just the man for you. His name is Pio. He will make an excellent guide. I will have him get in touch with you.”

“Thanks, Mr. Young. You have been a great help. I will sure give it my best efforts!”

Chapter Five

This entry is part 5 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Five

The town of Quilali, pronounced ‘Kee-La-Lee,’ is almost one hundred and fifty miles northeast of Managua or Manaua, as it is called there. The ‘G’ is silent; the same goes for the country, where again, we have a silent ‘G’. So instead of it being Managua, Nicaragua, it is called Manaua Nicaraua.

In Quilali, the ‘Qui’ is ‘Kee’, resulting in a pretty sounding name: Kee-La-Lee.

It lies on the south bank of the Jaciro River. This time the J sounds like an H. So as a result, it is the Haciro River. Well, not quite. There, River comes first. Of course, river is Rio. So, instead of it being the Jaciro River, it is the Rio Jaciro.

Al Mackey was sitting on the front porch of Hotel Quilali. In one hand was a bottle of warm beer, in the other, a Spanish-English Dictionary.

His mother had taught him to speak Spanish. He was four-years-old before he had spoken a word of English. Al had taken Spanish while in high school. Usually, there was a Mexican or two working at the ranch, and this kept him from forgetting the language entirely. Now he was trying to refresh his memory by using the translation dictionary.

A noise in the front attracted his attention. He looked up and stared at a huge, high, wheel ox cart, loaded with wood. Hitched to it was a team of oxen. Walking in front was a man; in his hand was a long sharp stick. This was what he used to guide the oxen.

There was a cross road at the corner of the Hotel. Evidently, the man wished to turn left. He turned around and poked the big beasts on the side of the neck with the sharp end of the stick. Obviously, they got the message and followed him around the corner.

The big cart had a long tongue like a wagon sticking out in front. Across the face of this, attached, was a strong piece of wood. This, with the aid of heavy pieces of leather, was tied securely to the horns of the oxen.

Al wondered if this was an improvement over the old ox yoke, as he had seen many pictures of them. On the other hand, maybe the yoke hadn’t been introduced here yet.

The hotel was about as modern as their means of transportation. It was built of stone and had a red tile roof. Across the front was a porch. There was no floor, only the earth below. However, it furnished shade for the several string hammocks that were stretched across the place.

The front part of the hotel was the General Store. There were groceries, hardware, and dry goods. The stock of groceries was very meager, as was the hardware. There were many huge pieces of cotton cloth in the dry goods department, in just about every color of the rainbow. The women here made clothes for everyone, and they loved bright colors.

The main lobby housed an old beat-up card table and several broken-down chairs. There was an old pool table and several cue sticks, each so worn down that the place greatly resembled a police Billy club. The green cloth had worn out long ago, and had been replaced with jaguar skins.

The lobby was almost forty square feet. This was also the bedroom. When it was bedtime, each guest was issued a small folding cot, a small sheet and a blanket. At night the hotel looked a lot like the public ward in a hospital.

In the back of this was one private room. This, on occasion, was also used as the jail. Or, if someone special came to town, it could be rented, provided he could pay the price.

Al felt he could afford this luxury. He had rented the room. The cost was ten Cordoba’s a day, about a dollar and a half in U.S. currency.

He took a sip from the bottle of beer. It was warm. Inside the hotel was a well-stocked refrigerator. It was an old kerosene job, built in the States. ‘Probably the only one in town,’ he thought.

He glanced at his man, Pio. He was leaning against the wall, with his hat pulled over his eyes. He appeared to be sleeping. Pio’s feelings would be hurt if anyone so much as went after a bottle of beer. Al sure didn’t want to hurt this guy.

“Pio,” he whispered, “Are you asleep?”

The man was on his feet. “No, Señor. Only resting. What can I do for you?”

“My beer is warm, and almost empty.” Al handed Pio the bottle. “Have the innkeeper put it on my bill. Get two of them, one for yourself.”

‘A mighty good man,’ Al thought. Walter Young had made a good choice. The Jeep parked around the corner wasn’t much, but it had gotten them to Quilali. It was the only automobile in town.

They had been in town for three days. So far they hadn’t had any luck in locating John Kirkland. It looked like it was going to take more than a little luck to find him.

The Town of Quilali had a population of almost a couple thousand. No one knew or seemed to care. There were no newspapers, no televisions or radios. Not even a filling station. There was one big Catholic Church though.

Back in the States if you wanted to find someone there were many places to inquire, but not here! There was only one place to eat besides the hotel. It was a small café down close to the river. There was no sign out front, but everyone knew the place by name, “The Nigger Woman’s.”

They had eaten there a couple of times. The jolly black woman baked mighty fine bread in that big mud oven in back of her dwelling. There had been pigs, chickens and dogs wandering about the place hoping for a handout, but no one paid any attention to them.

Pio came out of the lobby with two cold bottles of Victoria, handed one to Al, and then sat down.

“Sure good beer,” Al murmured, and then took a big swig from the bottle. “I have been told that the water here is not good for a person from the United States? I don’t know whether or not that is correct, but this beer tastes mighty fine… so why take a chance?”

Pio grinned; “I don’t think it would be good for a poor boy like me either.” He took a big swallow, “you don’t want me to get sick either do you Mr. Mackey?”

Al Laughed. Here is one Nicaraguan with a sense of humor. Pio was a neat person. In the United States he would be considered a small man. Here he was average, about five foot six and weigh about one hundred forty pounds. He had black curly hair and brown eyes. His skin was a deep tan.

Except for their size they resembled each other quite a bit. Al thought they could pass for brothers if Pio was six feet tall and weighed closer to two hundred pounds.

Al had planned on doing some hunting while down here. He and the girl at the travel agency in Prescott had made a study of laws… Large caliber arms were not allowed, nothing bigger than a rim fire twenty-two. Both he and his father owned a pistol and an automatic rifle of this caliber. He had brought them along.

The larger guns were barred on account they might help start another revolution. Al had pulled a fast one. These guns were the right caliber, but they were the new magnums, a deadly little weapon.

Today he and Pio had decided to go hunting El Tigre, “The Tiger,” or the big cat known as the jaguar in the States. Down the river a few miles, one of them had been coming close to town and killing livestock. Everyone there wanted him dead.

They had taken the Jeep and drove down an ox cart road to where El Tigre had made his last kill. Al had shot a small deer. Pio had climbed a tree, and by using vines he had pulled it high in the air and tied the rope like vines to a branch, then crawled back down. This was bait for El Tigre.

Al took another swallow of beer; “What do you think Pio? Will we kill the tiger tomorrow?”

Pio shook his head, “No Señor Mackey, on the third day he will come. Then you will kill him. He will not come to feed off the carcass of the deer. He will choose his dinner from one of the ones that come to eat. He is a killer, Señor Mackey, he likes to kill!”

“Do you think the little gun will be big enough?”

Pio nodded. “That little gun in your hands will kill anything, Señor Mackey!”

On their way back, they had stopped at the river. There was a big gravel bar, and lots of river in front of them, a good safe place to do a little target practicing.

Today he had Pio pitch a bunch of rocks out over the water. None of them came down in one piece. Broken bits showered down like rain. Several of the local people were watching. Señor Mackey, would be the talk of the town. Yes, he was sure the little gun would kill the tiger.

Quilali was at the end of the trail, at least as far as the automobile was concerned. There was no bridge over the river, no more gas stations. This was really the end for a gasoline-powered vehicle.

But there were other ways. The big ox drawn carts crossed there almost every hour of the day. Men on horseback or mules would come and go, and they had been doing it for hundreds of years. Beyond the river, ox cart roads and trails took off in every direction. Lots of them, no doubt, were winding far into the jungle; back to places unknown even to people of this distant outpost.

From the porch where he was sitting, Al could see the river crossing. It was getting late in the afternoon, and there was quite a bit of traffic. Some of the big carts were loaded with sugar cane, some with bananas, and others with mixed loads.

Then came a single pony. On its back was a slim rider with long black hair flowing in the breeze. The pony hit the water on the run. The rider leaned forward, lying low on the animals back, urging it on. The pony was swimming hard. Then they were across and coming up the trail. The riders’ feet found the stirrups and kicked the pony in the ribs. He let out a yell. The pony broke into a run and headed straight toward the hotel. Then the pony came to a sliding halt, and, off from it’s back, slid about the most beautiful sight Al Mackey had ever seen.

The long black hair had a reddish cast. The flashing dark eyes, the olive skin and he would never forget those pearly white teeth. The most beautiful girl in the world!” he whispered.

The girl tied the pony to the hitch rail and headed for the hotel. She vanished inside the dry goods department. Several minutes later she came walking out, a small parcel in her hand. She untied her mount, and then with a single leap, she was on it’s back, galloping toward the river.

Al, who up to now had remained speechless, turned to Pio, “My friend, am I dreaming? Did you see what just went down the trail?”

Pio nodded; “Yes Señor, and you were not dreaming. She is indeed very beautiful!”

“She sure doesn’t look like any of the women I have seen ‘round here.”

Pio nodded, “She comes from the city. I could hear her talking. The natives up here have a different accent. Also, there were curls in her hair and her skin is much whiter.”

Al got to his feet. “Let’s go down to The Nigger Woman’s and drink some of that awful stuff she calls coffee. Maybe she can tell us something about that young lady. You know, Pio, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she turned out to be some kin of the fellow for whom I am looking.” A big grin came across his face. “Or, she might even be one of my own!”

Pio laughed, “We shall see.”

“I wish the Nigger Woman served beer, that damn coffee she brews leaves a lot to be desired. I wonder why she makes it so strong?”

Pio gave me the answer; “ Most everyone here, Señor, picks, dries, and roasts their own coffee. They even add different leaves and bulbs to give it more flavors.”

“It sure is strong enough”

“There is a flower and bulb that grows in the jungle. It is known as the Love Potion. When added to coffee or other drinks, it does strange things.”

Al laughed, “Enough of that B.S., let’s get going!”

Chapter Six

This entry is part 6 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Six

Al took a sip of hot black coffee. “Boy this stuff will sure take the hair off your tongue,” he muttered. “I have never tasted anything like it!” He took another sip. “What does she do to it to make it taste like carbolic acid? Maybe adding more water would help!”

A big white brood sow was under the table nursing her litter. Pio scratched her back with the toe of his boot. She grunted with contentment. A couple of chickens with bright plumage were scratching the earthen floor looking for something to eat.

Next to their table was an opening in the wall. There was no glass. A wooden shutter that could close the opening swung on leather hinges. Through this opening they got a good view of the river crossing. Another big cart pulled by oxen was coming across.

Just before they left the city, Walter Young had given him a picture of John Kirkland. He had almost forgotten it. It was a small snapshot and he had put it in his billfold, he took it out and laid it on the table. He would show this to The Nigger Woman. It was very possible that Kirkland was going by a different name. Also, he must ask her about the beautiful girl that came across the river.

“Señor Mackey, look!” Pio was pointing at the river crossing. Al could hardly believe his eyes. Coming across the river was a strange procession. In the lead was a man on horseback. There was a rope fastened to the saddle. About twenty feet back, the other end was tied around the neck of a man, which was tied to the saddle of another horse about twenty feet back. The rider of this horse also had a big whip in one hand.

As the procession waded across the river, the ropes would be drawn tight, then go slack. Several times the fellow fell and disappeared under water, only to be pulled to his feet again by the horses.

Al laid a handful of change on the table and picked up the picture. “Lets go see what’s going on, Pio!”

They hurried down the street toward the landing. The lead horse was now on dry ground. The man came staggering up the steep bank. The man with the whip on the back horse was close behind.

“They are headed for the hotel,” whispered Pio. “Maybe we should go there?”

“I think you’re right. We can beat them there if we hurry.” The two men took off on a run.

When they reached the hotel, the procession was still down the street about half a block. It had grown in size. About a dozen men and women on foot had joined in. There were a lot of dogs barking. One, a little braver than the next, was nipping at the heels of the man on foot.

Al and Pio sat down on chairs on the porch. “Who are they Pio? The men on horseback are wearing uniforms, they look like soldiers.”

Pio nodded, “They are. Also, they are police here. The man on foot is evidently their prisoner. Probably some bandit they have captured.”

The men on horseback pulled up in front of the hitch rack and dismounted. They tied their horses then turned their attention to the man on foot. The long ropes were replaced with one short one. One of the soldiers drew a pistol and put the muzzle in the man’s back.

“Inside.” He ordered.

Al looked up as the trio filed past him. The captive was a big man, about his own size. Also, they were about the same age. The fellow stopped for a moment and stared down at him. He had big brown eyes and black hair that hung to his shoulders. He had a square chin, a broad mouth, and a straight nose; quite a handsome fellow except for one thing. On his forehead, running from his right eye to the hairline above his left eye, was a vivid scar. It was deep red, outlined in blue. He was a marked man. There was blood running down the front of his shirt. The ropes had cut deep into his neck. The shoes on his feet were cut to pieces by the sharp stones. Blood was seeping from them.

The man opened his mouth as though trying to speak. No words came out, only gurgling sounds. He tried once more. The man in front of him swore in Spanish and gave the rope a yank. The man behind gave the pistol a shove. They marched into the hotel.

A big crowd began to gather. To Al, they looked like an angry mob. One man in particular was doing a lot of talking. “ The man is a killer!” He shouted, “Three times he has killed. Not only has he killed, but also each time he has robbed his victim. All of them were gold miners that had just struck it rich. Now the gold is gone, and they are dead! He shall pay with his life!”

‘The man has a big mouth,’ Al thought. There was one in every crowd. Oh well, it was none of his business. If the man was guilty, he should pay for his misdeeds. However, he felt like telling the guy to keep his big mouth shut.

Then suddenly all was quiet. A new face appeared. It was the Judge, the Judge of Quilali. He was a man about fifty years of age and of medium size. Like most everyone else here he had black hair and brown eyes. One upper front tooth was yellow gold which gleamed when he smiled. On his upper lip was a thin dark mustache.

An empty wooden bucket was on the porch. The judge grabbed it and turned it upside down. He jumped on top of it and shouted. “Quiet everybody!” The crowd became silent.

“Now, listen, all of you! The prisoner is in custody. Tomorrow he will be tried for the crimes of which he has been accused. Now go home all of you!”

The man with the loud mouth couldn’t keep it shut; “He is a killer!” He shouted.

For a few seconds the judge stood there not moving a muscle of his body. However, his eyes were busy. Suddenly, one of them quit roving around and came to a stop, staring straight at the man with the loud mouth. The other one, however, was looking the crowd over. It moved back and forth and up and down. Suddenly it came into focus with the other one. For a moment he stood there staring at the man, then he spoke, “Mr. Reyes, one more word out of you and I will have you drawn and quartered. I am the Judge here, not you. Now get the hell out of here!”

Reyes and the rest of the crowd got the message. They began moving away. The judge disappeared into the hotel.

Al looked at Pio and grinned. “Salty old cuss, isn’t he?”

Pio nodded, “For a moment I thought he was going to say something to me. He was looking straight at me, at least with one eye.”

“With one eye,” Al chuckled. “He looked us all over. He sure is one cockeyed judge!”

Chapter Seven

This entry is part 7 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Seven

Al Mackey lay in one of the string hammocks that hung from the porch of the hotel. Pio was in the one next to him. In between them was a small table. On this were their personal belongings. They had given up their room for the night because the prisoner was in it. Tonight it was the jail.

Al didn’t mind giving it up for the cause. There was a big crowd in the hotel and it was terribly noisy. There was a poker game going on and a lot of booze being consumed. Besides, it was much cooler out here.

Tomorrow, there would be the formality of a trial. The prisoner would be taken out and shot. The poor guy didn’t have a chance,’ Al thought. He was already condemned. He would not have a lawyer, no one to speak for him. Not even a friend. His throat would probably be too sore from the punishment it had taken from those ropes around his neck, that he wouldn’t be able to say a word.

Today when they had passed by him, the man had tried to speak. Only gurgling sounds came out. What chance would he have to defend himself tomorrow? Al felt sorry for the guy. At least he should have a chance to tell his side of the story. He wished he could talk to the fellow.

He was a big man, and sure didn’t look like any of the natives around here. He wondered what the guy did for a living besides rob and kill…

Today had been quite an eventful day. That girl that came riding in on the pony, who was she? Certainly she wasn’t a native. Could there be some connection between her and the prisoner in the back room?

The two guards that had brought the prisoner in were the men of the hour. If the guy is convicted, they’ll receive a reward. They had bought a bottle of rum and began to celebrate. Someone came up with a greasy deck of playing cards and a poker game began.

The prisoner’s hands and feet had been tied together. He had been put on a chair over in one corner of the big room. The guards took turns watching him.

Someone bought another bottle of rum. The guard watching the prisoner was missing all the fun. The bottle of rum was going down fast, and he hadn’t had one little drink of it. He decided he would do something about it. He had come to Al Mackey.

“Señor, I understand you have the room rented? It has always been used for the jail. That leaves us no place to keep the prisoner.” A big grin was on his face. “Please, Señor I am missing all the fun!”

Al thought it would be impossible to get any sleep in that room tonight. Besides, it would be much cooler out here on one of the hammocks.

He and Pio had gone back to the room and gathered up their belongings. While there, Al took a look at the only window in the place. It was about two feet square, and there was no glass. There were several steel rods about a half-inch in diameter across the opening. ‘It wouldn’t be too big of a job to get through there,’ Al thought. Evidently, the guard felt the same way. The prisoner was put in there, bound, and gagged. His shoes were also taken from him. He could go nowhere bare foot.

They had taken their belongings from the room. On and under the table and between the two hammocks they had found a place for everything. In the morning it would all be taken back to the room.

They checked the guns; they were fully loaded. Al had given Pio one of the pistols. The two rifles they put on the table between them. Al was wearing logger boots. He took them off and put on a pair of lighter shoes. He strapped the little pistol to his waist then crawled into the hammock, it was time to call it a day. The party inside was going well. There was loud laughter, much swearing and yelling. Some were winning, and some were losing. A poker game is a poker game wherever you go. He drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Eight

This entry is part 8 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Eight

Al rose up in his hammock; something had awakened him. The moon had been high overhead when he had finally fallen asleep. Now it was about to disappear behind the mountain. He glanced down at the table. Everything seemed to be in order; the two rifles were lying there. He glanced at Pio’s hammock; it was empty. He felt the urge to get up himself, but they had consumed quite a bit of beer before going to bed. Pio had probably taken a short walk and would be back in a few minutes. Everything was quiet inside the hotel. It had been a noisy crowd in there last night.

Al slid off the hammock and stood up. Sleeping in a hammock left a lot to be desired. He struck a match and looked at his watch; it was four o’clock, almost morning. He wondered what was keeping Pio. It shouldn’t take this long to get rid of some excess beer. He sat there listening; there wasn’t a sound. Then from around the corner of the hotel came a faint noise from where the Jeep was parked. Was someone bothering it? They had taken all their belongings out. Maybe someone was trying to steal the battery, or the Jeep itself. If they were, they were in for a surprise.

He picked up one of the rifles and laid it on his hammock, he would leave it there. He picked up the other one and headed for the Jeep. As he rounded the corner he could see it plainly. For a moment he stood there his thumb on the safety lock, his finger on the trigger. Just back of the Jeep the moon was casting a shadow, one that did not belong there.

Al voices was low, “Pio, is that you?”

The shadow moved and Pio stepped out from behind the Jeep.

“What the hell are you doing, Pio, trying to get yourself shot? What are you doing out here?”

“I heard a noise, it sounded like someone closing the hood of the Jeep. I thought someone was trying to steal it.”

“Did you see anyone?”

“When I came around the corner of the hotel no one was here. I heard a noise down that way.” He pointed toward the back of the hotel. “I saw someone disappear around the corner. I waited here thinking he might come back.” He patted the pistol strapped to his waist. “If he had come back, I would have captured him for sure!”

“You say he went around the back of the hotel?”

He pointed his thumb, “Yes sir, around that way.”

“Well let’s go take a look.” Al started walking in that direction. Pio was at his side. When they came to the corner they bent over and carefully took a peek; no one was in sight. “Lets go around the back of the hotel before the moon goes down.” Al whispered, “Pretty soon it will be real dark.” They stooped over and moved slowly along the stone wall. Al was in front. Suddenly he remembered the man that was tied up in the little room. It should be closed. He rose up and took a quick look. There it was, just a few feet in front of him. Yes, it was there, but the bars were gone, and very likely, so was the prisoner.

A quick glance down gave him the answer. The bars were lying there on the ground where someone had pried them off. He took a fast look through the window. It was dark inside. He could see nothing. He turned to Pio. “It must have been him that you saw. Very likely he was trying to get away with your Jeep!” A cold sweat broke out on Al’s forehead. “We had better get the hell out of here and back to our hammocks.”

They took off on a run, made it around the corner of the building then came to a sudden stop. Standing there with a huge rifle in his hands was one of the guards. The big gun was pointed straight at them. There was another man holding a pistol, it was the Judge. It was he who spoke; “Lay down your guns, you are under arrest!”

Chapter Nine

This entry is part 9 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Nine

The sun was coming up over the jungle-covered mountain. Once more, Al and Pio were back in the little room. Their ankles were tied together, their hands tied behind their backs. This morning there would be a trial; their trial!

The guard was sitting on a chair holding a big rifle. It was pointed in their direction and he was wide-awake. He and his partner had been cheated out of the reward for capturing the killer, and he was in a bad mood. If this pair attempted to escape he would shoot them dead.

Al swore under his breath. They had been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. They would for sure be found guilty of the turning loose of the killer. They would probably be shot! He would put up an argument. He didn’t have a sore throat like the killer, and his Spanish was working well. He hadn’t spoken English for days.

A noisy crowd was gathering in the hotel lobby. They had come from miles around to see the killer tried, convicted, and then shot. Now the man was gone. Someone had pried the bars off, cut the ropes, and turned him loose.

‘The guy had been convicted the night before,’ Al thought. The same thing was probably happening to them now. They would be found guilty before entering the courtroom!

About an hour passed, the other guard came in, the ropes were untied, and they were ushered into the courtroom, the lobby of the hotel. They were seated on a couple of the rickety chairs by the card table.

The Judge came walking in. He wore a long black robe. On his head was a small black cap. There was a book in his hand. He looked very important. Court was now in session.

The Judge’s bench was the pool table. On it was piled all the personal belongings of the two defendants.

It was a noisy crowd that had gathered. Loud mouth was in good voice. “Why waste time?” He shouted. “Have them shot!” The Judge picked up one of the cue sticks and beat it on the table. “Silence!” He roared. “One more outbreak like that, Reyes, and I will have you taken out and flogged!” One black eye centered on the man, the other roved about the room, looking the crowd over. “Now be quiet; all of you!”

He stood there for a moment; until there wasn’t a sound. Then he spoke; “Yesterday a man was captured. He had been accused of killing and robbing three men. He was to be tried this morning.” He stopped talking, and for a moment walked back and forth behind the pool table. Suddenly, he turned and faced the gathering. “Last night the man escaped. The bars were pried off the window. The ropes binding him were cut.” He pointed at Al and Pio.

“These two men are accused of helping him.” One eye focused on Al. “Mr. Mackey you may speak for the both of you, how do you plead?” Al got to his feet, “Not guilty, Your Honor.”

The first witness was the guard that had been with the Judge when the arrest was made. He told his story.

About four o’clock in the morning something had awakened him. He had gone to the room to inspect the prisoner. The man was gone, the ropes had been cut, and the bars had been pried off the window. He tried to awaken the other guard but he was sleeping soundly. The Judge was spending the night here. He went the Judge’s bed, but it was empty.

He decided to pursue the killer alone. As he approached the front door he saw a man standing there, it was the Judge. Something had awakened him also. He told him of the prisoner’s escape. They had a short conference and decided to go outside to look around. They walked by the two empty hammocks on the porch then around the hotel. When they got to the back they looked around the corner. Two men were standing there under the window. They waited for them and made the arrest.”

The guard was finished. The Judge told him to sit down. There came a deep rumble from the crowd. It was growing louder. “Guilty, guilty” someone shouted. The Judge picked up the cue stick and beat it on the table; “Silence!” He roared. “We must hear what these men have to say.” He addressed Al. “Mr. Mackey you may speak for the two of you. I understand the man with you works for you? What have you got to say for yourself?”

Al got up and walked over to the pool table and stood in front of the Judge. He looked straight at the eyes that were focused on him. “Your Honor, along toward morning, a noise awakened us, probably the same one that awoke you and the guard. We thought someone was trying to steal the Jeep. We got up and went outside. A man was there all right; we got there just in time to see him disappear, around the corner of the hotel. We went around back, but the man was gone. We also saw that the bars were off the window. We assumed the man had escaped. We were on our way back to report this when we met you and the guard. We are no more guilty then the two of you. I guess that is all I have to say.”

The rumble started again. “Lies, lies,” a woman screamed. The Judge again beat on the table and yelled for silence. He pointed down to the objects piled there; do these belong to you Mr. Mackey?”

Al glanced down at the table and nodded, it was all his all right. A few things belonged to Pio. Before they where tied up they were searched and everything was taken from them. Now it was lying here on the table.

The Judge pointed to the two suitcases; “Do those belong to you?”

Al nodded yes.

The Judge set them on the floor. He picked up another item; “Is this your passport?”


“And your wallet?”

Al nodded in the affirmative.

“Are these your guns?”

On the table were the two pistols and one automatic rifle.

“Yes, they are mine.”

The Judge looked very solemn. You had two rifles Mr. Mackey, where is the other one?”

Al thought for a second; “It is in my hammock. I put it there when I got up and walked around the building.”

The Judge nodded his head. “So the gun is not here. Look closely, is there anything else missing?” ‘The old boy is up to something,’ Al thought. Not only was he the Judge, but also the prosecuting attorney!

The morning was warm. Al felt a cold trickle of sweat run down his back. For a moment he stared at the articles on the table. It appeared as if everything was there but the gun. Suddenly he remembered, just before getting into the hammock last night he had taken off his boots and put on a pair of light shoes, the boots where not there.

“I left a pair of boots on the porch. They are not here.” His mouth felt dry. “A pair of logger boots, they had hob nails in the soles and heels.”

The Judge paced back and forth and behind the pool table. Suddenly he turned to Al. His voice was loud and clear; “After your arrest, your hammock was searched. The missing rifle was not there. We also could not find the boots with the sharp nails. But we found prints of them, which led us down to the river. We also discovered a boat missing.”

The judge cleared his throat: “Mr. Mackey you were seen under the window where the man escaped. It appears that he is now carrying your gun and wearing your boots.”

There were cries from the crowd, “Have them shot! Traitors! Lies, lies!” It was an angry mob, and angry mobs are dangerous mobs. The Judge picked up the cue stick and beat the table; “Silence in my court,” he yelled. The crowd settled down a bit.

“Now Mr. Mackey before I give a verdict, is there anything you would like to say?”

There was a righteous anger burning inside Al Mackey. This clown was putting on quite a show and seemed to be enjoying it. He got up and walked over to the pool table and looked the judge square in the eye.

“Yes,” His voice was cold, “I have plenty to say. So what if the man stole my gun and my boots. He is a well-known thief as well a killer. Is it a crime in this country to have something stolen from you? Also, you have established no motive for me to help this man. What reason would I have for turning him loose?” Al was getting hot under the collar. At least he would say his piece before the devil passed sentence on him.

“I have never seen this man before in my life. Maybe he had friends or relatives here in town? Did you ever think of that? We were not the only ones looking around.” He hesitated for a moment then suddenly stepped close to the Judge and pointed a finger square at him. “Yes, Judge, can you explain just what the hell you were doing prowling around at four o’clock in the morning?”

The crowd howled. This was turning into a sideshow. They had come to town to see some action and they wanted blood. They didn’t care whom it belonged to! The loud mouth of the man, Reyes, could be heard above the rest; “What do you say to that, Judge?”

The Judge walked over and whispered something to the guard. Again he beat on the table and roared for silence. The crowd quieted down somewhat. He turned to Al; “Have you said your piece, Mackey?”

Al nodded, he had probably just condemned himself but at least he wasn’t going down without putting up a fight.

The guard that the Judge had spoken to had slipped back into the crowd, now he returned with a man. There was a gun in the back of Reyes and a smile on the guard’s face. At least he had caught someone, and this one was not going to get away.

A hush came over the crowd. The Judge took his time; slowly he walked back and forth behind the pool table. One dark eye never left the face of Reyes. The he stopped, both eyes were focused on Reyes face. If someone had dropped a pin it would have been heard all over the building.

Then he spoke. “Reyes, I find you guilty of contempt of court. I warned you twice, now I must do something about that big mouth of yours.” He turned to the guard, “Take him back to the little room. Gag him and tie his hands behind his back! Stand him in the corner with his back to the wall. Find a hammer and some nails and nail his shoes to the floor, make sure his laces are tied tight so his shoes won’t come off. Take him away.”

Once more the Judge started pacing back and forth behind the pool table, one roving eye on the crowd, the other on the two men being tried. Then he stopped pacing and leaned forward on the table facing the crowd, his voice was low, “Is there anyone else here that would like to keep Mr. Reyes company?”

There wasn’t a sound. He turned to Al and Pio. “I will consider all of the evidence in this case, and tomorrow morning I will pass judgment. You are free to go now. Do not attempt to leave town. I will hold as bail your Jeep, your U.S. money, your traveler’s checks and also your passport. Be back here in the morning at ten o’clock sharp. Court dismissed!”

Chapter Ten

This entry is part 10 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Ten

It was twelve o’clock; the sun was high overhead hardly casting a shadow. Al and Pio were once more seated in the house of the Nigger Woman. They had ordered dinner. A beef had been butchered this morning at the public slaughterhouse. Most everyone got a piece of it. The Nigger Woman had her share. Today they would have beefsteak.

The Judge had returned to Al his pocketbook. In it was about two hundred dollars in Cordobas, Nicaraguan money. At least they could eat. Al took a sip of the strong black coffee. “I wonder what she puts in it besides coffee?” He muttered… “I’ll bet she boiled this all night!”

Pio nodded, “It sure is strong. Here she comes with our dinner.” The woman set the smoking plates of meat down in front of them along with some knives and forks. “There you are gentlemen,” she spoke in Spanish.

Al remembered what Freddie had told him. Freddie the bartender; back in the city. Al wondered if this black woman could speak English. He would find out, he smiled up at her, “Do you speak English?” He spoke his native tongue.

A big smile came over her face, “I certainly do, I was born and raised in Bluefield’s; everyone there speaks English.”

‘She sure has a British accent,’ Al thought. It was good to hear his native tongue once more. Al grinned up at her, “I’m glad you speak English, it’s been quite awhile since I have heard anyone speak it, and I had about forgot how it sounds.”

Nigger Woman frowned, “You do not come from England.”

“No I am an American.”

“Do you come from Bluefield’s?”

“No, I just said that I am an American.”

“So what? I am too. What part of America do you come from?”

“Prescott, Arizona, do you know where that is?”

The woman shook her head, “No, is that some where in the United States?”

Al was getting a bit annoyed, “I told you, I am an American.”

Nigger Woman stared down at him, “Just where do you think you are now?”

Al was a bit sarcastic, “ If I remember right, I am in Quilali, Nicaragua, tell me if I am wrong.”

“You are right as far as you went, but you quit too quick. Don’t you know that Nicaragua is in America? You people from the United States give me a pain in the ass. You talk like you are the only Americans. Don’t you know this was America hundreds of years before there was a United States?”

Al could feel his face turning red. Come to think of it, the woman was right; this was Central America, South America was below. The United States was only a small part of North America. Why do we call ourselves Americans like we are the only ones to bear the name?

“Eat your dinner,” said Nigger Woman, “before it gets cold.” The steaks were a bit tough, but good. For dessert, they were served a golden pineapple. It was cut in quarters with the core cut out. It was severed from the peeling; the small bite sized pieces were delicious.

Al addressed the Nigger Woman, “Boy, this is good pineapple. I have never tasted anything like it in Am… the United States.” He finished. “And thanks for straightening me out on that American bit, you are so right!”

Nigger Woman grinned; “You’re quite welcome, and while we are at it, I will tell you something else. Did you know that pineapple is not native to Hawaii? Did you know that when Columbus discovered America, he also discovered pineapple?”

Al shook his head. His mind drifted back to his school days. He had always been taught that Columbus had discovered America. But he had never been taught that the old boy had discovered the United States or pineapple. He would straighten a few people out on this subject when he got home. That is, if he got home. At least this talk with the Nigger Woman had taken his mind off of what might happen to them tomorrow. For this, he was thankful!

Pio had remained quiet and had finished his dinner. He could not speak or understand English. Al reverted back to Spanish, “Didn’t mean to leave you out of the conversation Pio. It was sure nice to find someone that speaks my native language.”

“I understand Señor.”

Al took out his pocketbook and paid the woman. The picture of John Kirkland was among the bills. He took it out and handed it to the Nigger Woman. “The other day I was asking you about a man by the name of John Kirkland, maybe he goes by another name? Take a look at this. Have you ever seen this man? He would be quite a bit older now, but looks much the same, I understand.”

The woman looked at the picture for a moment, and then handed it back to Al and slowly shook her head. “Lots of people have been here, maybe this man is one of them, but I am not sure.”

“One more question. Yesterday, a beautiful young woman came riding a pony across the river and went to the hotel. She made a purchase and took off like she was in a hurry. Do you know her?”

The woman shook her head, “I do not know her. About once a week she comes riding in on her pony, stays a few minutes, and then gets on her pony and rides away. Sorry, that is all I know.”

They left the café and headed back toward the hotel. They had a lot of time to kill. It was a long time until ten o’clock tomorrow morning. What would the Judge decide? ‘If this case were in the United States, it would be thrown out before it got to court,’ Al thought. If he hadn’t lost his temper and had kept his mouth shut they would probably be free now. He had made the Judge look bad for a minute. He would surely pay for that.

The man Reyes hadn’t kept his mouth shut either. Now he was standing in the corner, bound and gagged with his shoes nailed to the floor.

If for some reason he found them guilty of some crime, what would be their punishment? Maybe they should have pled guilty. This way for sure they would be taken out and shot…