Short Stories

Number 1 of Infatuation

February 17, 2015

© Robert McMurtry 2011

Life in a Village

            Each day starts new with a promise of adventure and change or so we’d like to imagine. Yet there are places such as Boa, where one day is much like the rest, constant and unchanging. The village wakes and survives exactly as it did the day before, nothing new or different. For some, this is a reassuring routine; for others it accentuates their unfulfilled needs and fantasies, stirring discontent deep in the heart and soul.

Overlooking a nearby hillside, Aldo gazed down at the little sleepy village below, agitated by what he saw and didn’t see. It was still there, Boa, as it had been the day before, the year before and all of his life for that matter. Change came only in the wind and weather, which invariability one could expect never to deviate very much. Worst of all Aldo was becoming part of Boa’s monotony, scraping out a living without resources to get ahead.

He grumbled to himself. It is so boring, this place; nothing ever happens here. We have tourists, old Europeans, a few Americans and retired people, who do nothing to change what is to be expected. All they want to do is buy things for almost nothing, visit secret places hidden in the jungle and talk about saving endangered animals. They tell their friends how primitive and backward we are. I hate those old men in their white suits, treating me like some stupid Indian from the jungle. I am a modern man like Señor Hugh Hefner. Now there is a man who understands the way things should be. Who is to say the old ways are right anyhow? Some day I will become someone important with a large house and red paint on my walls just as I have seen in Mr. Hefner’s magazine. Women will come to me because I am so modern and clever.

This continued to be Aldo’s ongoing unspoken theme, an argument he had with himself everyday. He could have moved to one of the big cities, like his cousin Marco. Everyone thought living in the city was a romantic and profitable idea. Marco had come back four months later with his tail between his legs, vowing never to set foot in the city again. Work was hard and wages low. Many lived in the streets hoping to earn enough for a room for the night, worse than living in Boa. At least they had food here. Things grew in the forest and jungle. A few hours labor in Boa might secure a scrawny chicken or an egg or two. That at least was something. As for a room to sleep, the porch of the bar was not such a bad place to rest should one find himself without a regular roof over his head. Even in Boa many of the roofs leaked and allowed creatures from the forest jungle in.
Aldo’s heritage went back to Italy, several generations removed, hence the Italian first names of many in his family. He had never been to Italy but imagined the possibility could occur given the right circumstances. He had heard of places where the buildings were as tall as the ancient trees in the forest. In Venice they had no streets at all, water being the only mode of movement in that city. To travel to such places would be more than he could hope for. These unsecured experiences were Aldo’s dream.
His imagination set him aside from the others in Boa, who lived and died by the tourist trade, being nothing but local color. Many of them grew a few food items but never enough to feed the families they were intended for. No one had the vision to see more than what the day offered. Some residents were just a generation away from being Indians in the bush, hardly modern at all. They did not work or have aspirations to be anything more than what they were. Aldo knew himself to be a modern man barely tolerating the simple-minded people of Boa, a fact he verbalized on several occasions.
Not all the residents of the village emerged from the jungles. People had moved here for reasons of their own. Generally people did not ask questions; it was best not to. They came from all over the world from mixed heritages, adding the tiniest of outside culture to the small village, which Aldo did not appreciate. As time moved on these foreigners did not act any different than the rest, settling into the slow ways of the locals in a short time after arrival. The spread of lethargy was like a disease everyone shared in common, like leprosy, though not as fatal. Even Aldo lacked initiative when it came right down to it. What he could do today, could be done the next day just as easily.
Reflection of an intimate nature nagged at him as he lamented over the loss of his beautiful Norita, almost two years before. She had been his long-time sweetheart, lover and confidant. He poured out his dreams to her and she listened politely hanging on his every word smiling in adoration. She knew his dreams were a fantasy and someday he would settle down and see the reality under his nose. Men were children in that way, wild ideas and plans that were impossible. It was still good for them to dream, however. There was little else to do in Boa.
Norita hadn’t died, nothing like that. Her death would have been easier for him to accept, a final departure with no possibility of return. She had grown up like all girls in the village, few opportunities for the poor and fewer prospects for any future. The future for most in Boa was what the very next day would bring. One never planned too far in advance for there was nothing to plan. One worked for the hotel, the railroad, cleaned house for the few wealthier in the village or gave guided tours into the jungle.
Norita was not like the rest of the girls in Boa. It became very apparent, when first setting eyes on this flower of the jungle, a flawless beauty. She was not short and squat like so many other women in the village but a well-formed young woman with ample breasts and curves where a woman should be curved. That was an important feature not to be overlooked in assessing a woman according to Aldo. A man can’t be a modern man if he seeks out the old traditions of a stout woman for the purpose of bearing numerous children.
Norita’s face was a sculpture, finer than all the Greek goddesses produced by famous artists. Her dark hair and her dark eyes could look through a man and disarm him without trying. Such a stunning woman could pick any man in the village; yet she chose him. As much as he wanted to Aldo could not think of one ill thing to say about Norita, except that she was not in Boa.
He blamed himself for letting her get away. The two of them had been in love since the age of fifteen a well-known fact in the village. Love was one of the few things the people of Boa had, few considered intervening on any tryst that might form. But Aldo was a modern man, marriage a thing wrapped around the old ways, old thinking. He had read in a magazine from America about ‘free love,’ a modern way of life. Working to provide everything for a wife and family was a dead end. There had to be more.

And why should it not be free, he told himself? Can I not love someone without having to marry them?

He was not exactly stringing her along but rather was waiting for the big break that would make him an acceptable, modern man and husband. He loved Norita and would someday make her his wife. But too many people married, lived with relatives and never had any privacy or a life of their own. He was going to have money and wealth before he would live like some poor peasant. Norita deserved that kind of a man.
She was very understanding, agreeing to the unofficial postponement of their engagement. This postponement did, however, not curtail their physical pleasure in spite of the condemnation by the Catholic Church. Many of the villagers went to church regularly but did as they pleased, not thwarted by threats of excommunication. If the truth were known, the church was more interested in the numbers rather than the transgressions perpetrated by the flock. Without a human flock the priest could only deliver a mass to the parrots in the trees. It was not practical and perhaps embarrassing when the parrots talked back.
So the love of Aldo’s life had left the village leaving him heartbroken but too stubborn to admit it. In fact he was a little jealous that she had the opportunity to leave Boa before he did. He had tried a few years before by agreeing to work on the train in exchange for passage. The ancient train broke down a few miles from the village and Aldo had to walk back, never to attempt leaving again. It was the wrong time, he had told himself. There would come a time when all was right.
A year and eight months before Norita’s departure, strange foreigners had come to the village making some sort of movie. They were all German and a little more than crazy when compared with the sustainable sameness of those from Boa. The German director was in awe of every blade of grass, parrot in the trees and the general location of the village. He had commented, gleefully how primitive the surroundings were. Of course it was; Boa had always been primitive, not a good thing to Aldo’s way of thinking.
The foreign film making crew rattled on in their native tongue, oblivious to the locals except a few extras they needed for their film. The village baker, a German named Señor Baum was quite pleased as they raved about his baked goods, a rare opportunity to share his skills with the outside world. He was also instrumental in interpreting the language needed to instruct the extras in the film. The director promised to mention him in his movie, giving him a small part in a small crowd scene at one point. The baker did not know that the film was always edited deleting unnecessary fodder. Señor Baum’s appearance in the film was destined for the cutting room floor.
The same director requested others to audition for parts as extras. The atmosphere and local look would greatly enhance his film, adding a ring of authenticity to the shaky, if not, nonexistent plot. The extras would not make a lot of money but they would have their names on the credits, assuming the director spelled the names correctly. The director took one look at Norita and was smitten by her remarkable appearance when compared to the others. She was as stunning as Aldo had always seen. Aldo’s life would be changed forever following the filming, Norita whisked off with the promise of stardom, a temptation she could not resist. What woman could resist?
The film company packed up one night leaving early the next morning on the unreliable train. Aldo did not even see Norita leave. He sulked his pride hurt by her silent departure. For a time afterward he secretly followed her acting career via her parent’s correspondence. They received a letter from Europe several times a month and a few from America. The names of her movies were not well known and she had never been given a leading part. But an eight by ten glossy revealed her particular onscreen appeal, which did not involve her ability to act. Most of the films were B and C grade movies, with an accent on cheesy, sex kittens. Norita exposed enough of herself to be considered desirable but not star material; she was just too dark skinned to rate that. However she made more money in a month, than most people in the village made in a year.

I am such a fool, thought Aldo. I should have married her. Then I wouldn’t be stuck here with all these boring people. I could have been her manager and made some money too. I hear they make a decent amount for doing almost nothing.

A mild breeze carried the smell of fresh baked goods from the German baker in the village. Fresh bread and sweet rolls had a way of making the mind think of nothing else, tempting the palate and weaving a spell broken only by consumption of the tasty goods. The diversion was pleasant, this place depressing enough without denying the thought of pastry. Sometimes it was hard to ignore the thoughts that continued the creep into his consciousness; Norita was gone because he had not acted soon enough. Aldo flushed the thought from his head and focused on the day ahead.

Strange how this stupid baker chose this place to set up his shop, he thought, silently. There is nothing here but a bunch peasants and Indians. A man with talent could easily do better anywhere else. Perhaps he was a Nazi hiding out from his war crimes. I have heard of such things in an American newspapers. Hmm! No, he is too young for that and has only been here for fifteen years. The war was over more than fifty years ago. Oh well, I guess I’ll buy mama her favorite bread as a peace offering, day-old of course.

The small South American village had one paved road leading in and out of the main street. Beyond the village limits the road ended abruptly. A dirt track was the only way in or out of the village unless one employed a beast of burden to ride. Some of the other streets had been paved many years before but fell into serious disrepair when the logging company left. Merchants filled the potholes with gravel and dirt to maintain access but the road was a sorry sight. Horses and ox carts still worked better than most automobiles on these dirt and gravel roads.
Aldo’s form of transportation was an old red rusted bicycle handed down from some distant relative, who had died from malaria nine years before. Most of his possessions were hand-me-down items, not uncommon in such a remote area, where commerce was limited to what was already there. There were few cars in Boa, people preferring to walk, ride animals or pedal bicycles through the ruts. Except for some fishing, tourism, mining and a little logging, there was little else to do to make a living in the village.
Aldo supplemented the family’s tiny income by hustling tourists as they arrived at the makeshift train station. Most chose to come to this remote village by train due to the uncertain roads and questionable weather. Flash floods washed out portions of roads regularly, leaving the tourists stranded in the middle of nowhere, sometimes for days. The narrow gage railroad was only slightly better. The aged engine broke down often giving no definite schedule for arrival or departure times, though there was an official printed one. If there was need to ride the train it was best to bring portable food alone in the event it became stranded.
The tracks were poorly maintained and often sagged in several places, requiring the engineer to reduce his speed to a crawl along many of the stretches. Sometimes the train would derail even at low speeds never causing fatalities or injuries but stranding angry passengers, who had to walk the distance to the next piece of civilization.

Boa was one of the small patches of civilization in the jungle providing refuge to those unlucky enough to be aboard the ill-fated locomotive. Boa did not have an actual depot but a clearing and several signs pointing toward the direction of the village, which should be obvious to any observer. The clearing and makeshift road led right to the heart of the village. The train station consisted of a canvas tarp held up by four poles with two wooden boxes for seats. The tarp had several holes in it and the boxes were more a collection of splinters than a seat.
Aldo’s livelihood hinged on the train and misplaced tourists. Most came to this part of the country to study wild animals such as parrots. Most of these tourists couldn’t find an ant in an anthill let alone the animals that lived in the wilds. Aldo knew all the places to go and the kinds of birds and animals they wanted to see. He managed to pump the tourists for a few more coins to show the very special places he knew of. These were, of course not that special but the people were convinced they were getting the royal treatment.
“I know of places where many Macaws feed off the hillsides but it would be improper for me to divulge their location,” he would announce, tempting the would-be naturalists. Billfolds would be produced and a quick exchange of funds would insure the tourist’s silence to this contraband visitation.
The rail line did not run directly through Aldo’s small village but close enough for people to transport items to that location. The hotel next to the town was a collection of buildings extended upward and outward from its original structure. Hotel Paradiso had its charm, only because of its rambling asymmetrical appearance. ‘Charming’ was the word used by those visiting the remote hotel.
A vacancy sign permanently nailed to the office sat next to the sign indicating advance reservations required. Calling for reservations was difficult since there was no regular phone service to receive them. The one phone was an antique only equaled by the antiquated system, which provided unreliable service. The hotel viewed this as a minor problem. One could arrive at the office and make reservations the same day they wished to stay.
Hotel Paradiso had its downside too, perhaps charming but also very rustic. Like all things near the jungle, wood tended to rot or be eaten by voracious insects. Things quickly fell into disrepair and not paid notice until an obvious symptom revealed itself. There were no building permits or inspections made on these premises allowing questionable makeshift repairs. The government did not deem Boa worthy of official scrutiny. A few years before one small bungalow on the side of a slope slipped off its wooden foundation, collapsing into rubble during a rainstorm. No one was occupying the room at the time; the other patrons were told it was a scheduled demolition, though many thought it odd for demolition to be performed at two in the morning.
There was wealth in the area, removed from Boa immediate but miners chose to spend their earnings in places where there were more interesting diversions. Mining was a tough lonely business, at least lonely in regards to female companionship. These men wanted to get out of the jungle and spend time with women of disputable virtue and indulge in strong drink. Boa did not meet the requirements of liquor or women. Aldo was sure a few women in Boa might see to the needs of these miners, given the opportunity; but Boa was still in the half jungle and only received a shipment of bottled beer every three months, hardly a place to whoop it up.
Not everyone mined. Many men chose to be guides in the jungle, rather than participate in the backbreaking labor of mining. Logging companies had their eye on the nearby forest for lumber and other wood products. The reliability of the railroad seriously curtailed any large, scale logging operation, the expense of upgrading the railroad prohibitive. A considerable sum of money would have to be spent and there were other places to find old forests where easier jungles allowed unrestricted pillage.
As many had found, growing money crops in the rainforest had its problems. Agriculture was limited to local use with few exports. Some tropical fruits might be collected if not eaten by the locals or Indians. The adjacent jungle supplied uncountable numbers of insects willing to eat anything that grew. All in all, this small town/village had few reasons to exist; yet it did.

The noisy rattle of a rusted broken fender reminded Aldo of the hopelessness of it all. Everything rusted or decayed in Boa rendering most items useless after a short time, not unlike the people who were also decaying in similar ways. Perhaps the physical decay of humans was much less than the mental decay, which took place soon after childhood. One became complacent and saw no reason to think beyond the moment.
Aldo watched a dog defecate in the middle of the street, no concerns or remorse for its actions.
“Ayee! Stupid animal!” he said out loud. “You have as much respect for this place as the tourists. You dogs have even lost your desire to chase cats. Instead you sleep in the shade together like lazy friends. So is the way of such a small village and the people in it. Dear God, I could scream.”
A distant train whistle nipped at Aldo’s ears, as he began planning his excuses for spending money and being out so late. He could swear his mother never slept and only waited to chastise him for his indifference to home matters. The sound of the whistle surprised him. It was too early for the train to be coming this time of the week. Mysteries, such as this did not exist in Boa; things were usually late but never early.

Perhaps they are transporting something special for the miners, he thought. I know they do this, sometimes. The train did not come through last evening. Maybe it has just arrived late not an unusual event. I think I’ll go down to the tracks and see if they have left anyone off and earn a few coins in the process. That would quiet mama a little.

Early/Late Arrival

          The tracks were just north of the town, skirting the edge of the river. Luckily, the dirt road was graded every couple of months by Aldo’s cousin, Pez, that was only when the grader was working and he had the fuel. It was not an official road but one used to bring tourists from the train. It also served well as a way to transport small amounts of commerce to and from the train depot.
It was a downhill ride for Aldo, making his progress quick in spite of the many ruts and holes along the way. He could see, by the stationary column smoke pushing through the trees, the train had stopped slightly short of the station. A lot of commotion and squawks from the indigenous parrots also suggested the train had come to a halt, unloading cargo or tourists. This appeared to be a favorable prospect.
Carlos, the heavy-set engineered, mopped his brow, yelling profanities at the men unloading crates and other goods. Carlos was not known for his tact or delicacy. He hated the railroad and most of humanity, taking out his ill temper on anyone, who might serve as a temporary target. Rumor had it he had a dragon-tongue wife, who made his life miserable. Often he chose to work rather than spend time at home for that particular reason. Being a devout Catholic divorce was out of the question; distance provided the best solution to a marriage less than happy.
“You stupid, ignorante men,” he growled at his loaders. “Don’t drop those crates. Who will pay if you break something? I won’t and you peasants can’t work long enough to pay for it.” He continued to threaten, holding a metal pipe, “Drop another thing and I will beat you with this until your eyes fall out. And then the wild animals will feast on your dead bodies.”
Carlos did not mean any of what he said but it did have some effect on those working around him. On one occasion, he knocked a man out for making an offensive hand gesture toward him. It was not clear what inspired the gesture but the outcome was well remembered by those working under Carlos’ keen eye.
The crates weren’t the usual supplies but carefully constructed containers labeled, R. Mansford Esq, London, England. Aldo made a mental note to scavenge the lumber when he found out where the fancy crates were going to be taken. The lumber would fetch a decent price when resold. Hotel Paradiso was always expanding and repairing with scraps rather than buying new. If the merchandise were for the miners, these crates would be dismantled on the spot and left for people to scavenge.
But who else would have so many crates of such size, thought Aldo? Yet he could never remember a time when the mining company had more than a handful of replacement parts or new generator. He counted more than two-dozen crates, each varying in size deposited along the tracks.
“Aldo,” yelled Carlos attempting to look more pleasant than usual. “Hey Aldo, please come and help unload. My passenger will pay good money. These fools are too careless, slow, lazy and not very strong. Be a good fellow, now.”
“How much?” yelled Aldo back, unwilling to tackle a job without a monetary guarantee. “I know you do not pay well. I do not wish to injure myself for a few pennies. I am no fool Carlos.”
A big condescending smile grew on Carlos’ unshaven, sooty, oil smudged face. “Five English pounds, I am told. But that is to deliver the crates to the Casa de Verde. This English person has bought the place and plans to live there if you can believe that. I cannot understand why anyone would wish to live in this flea bitten place but that is the way of things. Señor Noe has brought the cart but he is too old to move such heavy things. It is his hernia, I think.”
“Casa de Verde?” questioned Aldo. “No one has lived there in many years, only spiders, snakes and a little bit of the jungle. In fact the jungle lives more inside than out, as well. The English person must be loco in la cabesa, crazy in the head. Crazy or not, five English pounds is a lot to pay. Perhaps I will help.”
“Just do as you are told and quickly,” insisted Carlos. “I have a schedule to keep. I am over a day late. Maybe this loco stranger will pay you more for later assistance. I cannot promise; but money does not seem to be a difficulty with this foreigner. You know how they are. I was told to seek others as well to help later with the casa. You must tell your mother too. This one looks for a cleaning woman.”

Casa de Verde, thought Aldo. Such memories are there. Norita dared me to enter, warning me of the snakes inside. She toyed with me so often over silly things like that, making me appear brave when I accepted the challenge. At that particular time I remember it was so late and dark; I could barely see her face, once we went inside. But I knew I wanted to kiss her and I did. So many feelings came over me and I could not resist her. It was the first time Norita and I made love. I will never forget that.
But that was long ago. I let her go and cannot relive this pain. She is gone and there are many young women in the village who are just as willing to share their beds with me. Perhaps I will find one pleasing enough, in time. Besides, Rosa has not been unkind to me. I do not find her as pleasing as Norita but she will be a diversion. After all, I am a modern man like Señor Hugh Hefner.

He began calculating in his head and could see the advantage of unloading the crates, dismantling them and then selling the lumber. There was a good profit to be made all along the way. It would also please his mother to have work from such a wealthy employer. Perhaps it will soften his mother’s wrath over his late night drinking and gambling. It would probably not be wise to mention his visit with Rosa the previous night.
Indios, Indians worked for cheap wages but were slow and unreliable. They were strong for their size but often chose not to do very heavy labor. Aldo had a good relationship with these people and could speed things up a bit. A brief study revealed the number of crates exceeded the space in Señor Noe’s cart. Many trips will have to be made to transport them all.
Once Carlos discharged his cargo, he pushed the engine along the tracks without a second glance back. It was wise to watch the tracks on this part of the line. Things would cover the tracks or animals would get in the way. It was not uncommon to find whole sections of track gone from flood and landslide. The railroad did not maintain this section, as well as they should.
“Señor Carlos!” yelled Aldo over the noise of the train engine. “My money, my five English pounds?
“Do I look like an English bank, Aldo? You will have to deal with the English person when they are here. Someone will pay you but not me.”
Aldo was going to have to settle up with R. Mansford Esq. when all the crates had been delivered to Casa de Verde. The Indians had been paid ahead of time, leaving Aldo with nothing in his hand to show his mama. Hopefully there would be someone at Casa de Verde to pay him after the crates are delivered. He didn’t trust that people would always do what they promise, especially foreigners. He wasn’t happy about this at all.

It was only a half-hour before noon; the cargo had been placed on the grounds of Casa de Verde as requested. A stranger directed the unloading pointing to where crates should be put. Señor Noe mopped his head, complaining of the sun and its oppressive heat, though he never budged from the seat on his cart.
“I am not so sure I would have done this had I known how long it would take,” grumble Señor Noe. “Carlos swore to me it was only a few boxes. It is my fault for believing him.”
He stiffly stretched his legs out adding further complaint. “I am an old man. This heat does not rest well on me. But does Carlos have any consideration or respect for my age? No, I say.”
“Where is the new owner?” returned Aldo, ignoring the old man’s complaints. “I wish to be paid before I go home. Carlos said I would be paid five English pounds.
“The new owner did not come on the train. I am afraid you will wait a long time to be paid,” said Señor Noe turning to leave. “Perhaps the stranger who speaks with a funny accent will pay you. I know nothing else and it is of no concern to me. Buenos dias, Aldo.”

The male stranger did not have money to pay Aldo but did inform him the owner of the old plantation house would be arriving within a day or two. The English person would be require additional help moving furniture and straightening up of the house before arrival if Aldo was up to it. Additional monies would be paid to those wishing to participate in this task. Aldo thought of his mother, of course, who often worked at the hotel when the regular maids were ill, too few or too lazy. He would tell her and also use this as an excuse to soften retribution for his drinking and gambling the night before not to mention his night spent in Rosa’s bed.
Aldo agreed to return in an hour’s time to work on setting the furniture in place. This would give him time to tell mama about this extra work. She would be eager and possibly overlook his transgressions. The stranger directing the loading and unloading was a tall slender man in his forties; most foreigners were taller than the locals. By his manner and speech Aldo got the sense that the man had a distinct feminine trait. The man spoke fluent Spanish but was not from this country. Aldo thought he might be from Spain or at least lived there for some time. The man referred to himself, only as Charles.
“I am the interior decorator, señor,” boasted Charles fanning himself with a piece of discarded cardboard. “Mansford wants everything to be in place before arrival. God knows what is to be done with these horrid stained walls. Just look at those stains and the hideous creatures moving about. There is a lot to be done; R. Mansford Esq. does has impeccable taste and will not tolerate second rate fixes. What Mansford sees here in this rubble of a place, I cannot fathom. But one must not complain, when one is paid good money.” He sighed, “No more talk about it; I say it’s time to make a silk purse out of this sows ass. Or is that ear? No matter.”
“Charles, what does the E-S-Q mean,” asked Aldo.
“It stands for esquire, silly. You people are so backward,” tittered Charles. “It is the term one uses when one is an attorney, a barrister. R. Mansford Esq. has decided to retire, while still young enough to enjoy life and still practice law as a hobby; heaven knows that law could be done as a hobby. But wealthy family connections, you know. I am so envious.”
“It must be nice,” agreed Aldo. “No one retires in this village. They just die instead.”

Aldo did stop at the German baker and haggle over the price of the day-old bread. Señor Baum did not understand the ways of these people and thought haggling was rude.
“I am making this price und I make it for no less,” he complained. Señor Baum never did learn his Spanish very well. To the locals haggling was a way of life, a practice practiced over many generations. It went all the way back to the days when people bartered for everything, money as we know it nonexistent. It required skill and timing. Giving in too soon might mean paying too much for an item. It was as much a social affectation as it was a purchase. There were a few tricks to the trade. One might try to distract the other with personal family questions, while undermining an unfavorable financial arrangement.
Aldo strapped on the loaf of bread behind his bicycle seat with a frayed elastic cord. It would hold fast until he reached his house. Mama liked the twisted cinnamon bread with raisins. They didn’t have any raisins here, except for in Señor Baum’s bread.
Mama was happy with the bread but swatted at Aldo for being so late.
“What would God say to you?” she ranted. “Bad men, gamble and drink. Do you wish to be one of those men? And don’t think I’m blind, my son. Fooling with women will also get you into trouble some day. What kind of example do you set for your sister? How will you explain to God your lustful feeling toward women?”
With slice of bread in her hand, she collected all her cleaning supplies and headed for Casa de Verde. Someone needed to bring home money to pay the rent. She could not rely on Aldo’s endless promises though he did contribute from time to time. His ambitions exceeded his ability to fulfill them.
“What do you know of this English person?” questioned mama pushing towards the doorway. “Is he very rich? Does he have a wife? Your sister is twenty-two years of age and going to be an old maid. Maybe a rich English person will marry her.”
“I don’t know anything, except that he is a lawyer and is retired,” returned Aldo, close on his mother’s heels. “This morning was the first I heard of it.”
“Aha! I knew you were not working last night,” she snapped. “All you do is hang out with those no good men and gamble the few coins we have. If your father had been alive, he would beat you and I would have provided the strap. Lucky for you we have this work.”
She turned quickly on him and added, “You give me the money directly after you are paid. Understand? Your uncle has been too kind. He needs the money for rent. I am too ashamed to ask for more time to pay.”

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