Thursday, March 31, 2011
The Eulalia Rio—is wild today—
white waters high, rapidly
slapping, rushing, leaping everywhichway
from bank to bank, and then some.
On the mountain skirts—
the village of Santa Eulalia resides
cuddled by the Andes of Peru!
I love the smooth sound of the Rio
as it passes me by,
the warm sun, warming my old bones
of the late morning,
makes me feel alive—
A butterfly, flies by, a bee
is busily, buzzing nearby—
Another day, just another day
to be alive…
(that’s how it is this morning
at San Eulalia Rio).
No: 2919 ((3-26-2011) (11:11 a.m.))
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
A Strange Ending (The Case of Hermon Hamilton Hunter)
Mr. Herman Hamilton Hunter, of Enterprise, Alabama, 1978, had waited until his wife had died, and his children had grown up and left home, before he started drinking again. He had stopped drinking twenty-seven years prior, to save his marriage and his job and to raise his two children. He had told his neighbor, that he had not gone to bars and lounges and grills of the same clubs but he knew someday he’d end up drinking again. That had he not wanted to save his marriage he would have gone straight into long term drinking long ago. He had been forced to stop. He had buried his wife a week to the day, which is today, still standing in his yard, talking to his young neighbor, a soldier from Fort Rucker, Alabama, and a heavy drinker. His elbows on the fence, reflecting those old days he used to drink to get drunk and very drunk he got, and wanting to implement the new ones sooner than later.
“I want to get drunk, real drunk,” he told his neighbor who was a sergeant in the Army, and he called him by his rank, Staff Sergeant Crow.
“All right,” said the sergeant, “nothing is stopping you now.”
“Give me ten minutes and we’ll go get drunk together,” said Herman, “or tell me the bar you’ll be at and I’ll join you there.”
It was in the hottest part of the afternoon. Herman didn’t move from the fence, he said, “Sergeant. Look at me,” in such a tone that the sergeant thrust his whole body up against the fence from where he had been standing, looking across the fence from him.
“What is it?” said the sergeant.
“I spoke to you in English, you didn’t answer me!” said Mr. Hunter.
“I hate for you to go back to drinking, I feel if I agree to meet you, I’ll be responsible for your returning to the booze.”
“I’m sixty-five years old tomorrow,” Mr. Hunter said. “I have just exactly the amount of money it will take to supply my drinking wants and pleasures until the dirt falls over my tomb. But when that occurs—I mean the tomb, of course—nothing will have happened to me in all my life, that I didn’t want to happen to me but one thing, and that is having to stop drinking, I’ve been waiting for twenty-seven years to get drunk again. If there is any time left here on earth for me, it will be used for my drinking and I will leave only a drunken carcass to be buried, I will, like everyone else, Sergeant, be but a smudge or stain, left on someone’s doorstep, forgotten before the door closes. Until now, my wife and children have contended me, or put another way, I had resigned to accept sobriety, but not anymore. Before I have given up this scene, I had enjoyed life, since then, a day has not passed, and vanished from the recollection of me hoping this day would come—”
The Sergeant was quiet and he listened, “Then get drunk,” he said, “hell with the doctors and health, and all. And may your shadow never be taken away. But this I cannot do with you.”
“All right,” said Mr. Hunter.
“All right,” said the Sergeant “then this is where I bow out.”
It was nine month later the old man died, heart trouble, too much drinking. He made up for lost time, so it was said. He had surrendered, relinquished to the god of wine and booze, and opium, his life, to escape this life.
No: 788 (3-31-2011) Dedicated to that old man— now long dead.
An Ordinary Account of Evil. It has seemed to me, often, perhaps too often, war is paralleled with evil, the ultimate of evil, and all the other evil that surrounds man, is omitted as natural observations of the ordinary. We have many accounts of war by Civil War writers, WWI poets, WWII, historians, Vietnam Veterans; coming home mentally disturbed soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. CNN news, and BBC news, and for that matter, all the news media have written of the horrors of war most interestingly and intensely, whereas, the account of the evil men do outside of war, gets a day’s headlines, and then thrown to the wolves to eat and digest, and never to be seen again. Can we not hope to see the real, if not interesting facts about evil lurking out there in our backyards, down the street, wherever we walk nowadays, for more than a day? And punished accordingly? When a young lad was taking a bus ride across Canada recently, an ordinary traveler for the most part, was at one period of his course sleeping and a man, surrounded by people, alone, pulled out a knife and cut his head off, considering this evil, it got one or two days in the paper at most, and over the internet, and on television. And thereafter, nothing appearing to remain in the news he existed, thus lie down and die, and make the most of it, the beauty of this evil did not catch the eye of the news broadcasters for very long. I could not contemplate the evil this man did. Shortly after this, in Argentina, without the blink of an eye, another human being, with admiration for evil to be done, did it, planted, and watered his plan, to perfection in the obscure part of the world; this evil was quickly hushed up, which appears to be because of tourism, and the evil done was a man in a jealous rage who killed his prey, and cut the victim up, put the person into a suitcase of all things, and the media and its world looked to more interesting things after the first day, with unconcern eyes for the Argentina evil, even the news media in Buenos Aires, where it took place… evidently, the situation and suffering of creatures formed after God’s own image, must somehow produce a more lasting despair to keep the publics curiosity. There was a man in Austria, most recently, who had kept his daughter in his basement for twenty-years, having sexual intercourse with her, and producing a number of children by her. His wife and family living upstairs, and oblivious to all this; when he was found out, put into jail, and observed like a rat in a cage by the media, psychologists, and criminal officials, for two weeks, for some reason kept the attention of the media, he protested being called a beast, or alike, and folks looked at him and treated him as inhuman. Here is man who deserves to die, who can’t stand the shame of his own evil, and when looked upon for his evil, as a beast, wants his rights as a civil human being. That’s our society though. It is a shame we need such misery to moll over, showing disregard, and hunger for disappointed evil, evil man wants to digest, and if it is not tasty enough, then it is not worthy the journey to the movies, or reading the second day’s issue on the subject. (Why then do I write suspense stories you may ask? To reminded people in the future, the past was black!) In war the dead are dead and forgotten, like animals, we become a frequently overlooked species, but interest holds because war too often has a certain opportunity to observe, it is in the raw, it is ongoing like a movie, civil life is destroyed around the war, as recently in the war with Palestine, or Hamas, and Israel, it got headlines for 21-days, and even the United Nations cursed the Jews, for killing so many Palestinians, they even started to entertain thoughts, of what really is moral and not moral for the Jewish nation to do, to allow them to do to secure their people, on rare occasions they do that, yet for six months prior to this, the United Nations approved the ongoing rocketing that Hamas did on Israel, and to my understanding, Hamas at times shot 300-rockets a day into the land of Israel (perhaps 10,000, in that six month period), and during the war, it weaned down to 50 or 10 a day. It seemed to the world, and news media, and the UN, a fitting enough sight to watch from the accustomed distance they usually give to Israel, and looked less incongruous there than they would by stepping in and condemning Hamas. Speaking literally, one can hardly say they really wanted to stop evil, per se, rather they wanted to stop Israel from acquiring a lasting peace, had they continued, they would have destroyed the enemy, as we normally do in a war; now, long dead is this peace that could have been. Regarding another case, most recently, in a small village in Peru, a sibling, took a hammer—over sexual jealousy, and pounded her sister over the head with it until she was dead. Again the news media, and the officials involved, accustomed to the sight of death, shocking as it was when it was, it was soon forgotten. I remember, when I was fifteen years old, a boy of nineteen I hung round with, just started to hang around with, this person I quite thoroughly thought was of whole mind, killed his two nieces, one eighteen months old and the other, six years old, in a rampage, it was in the paper for one day. Perhaps the discussing occurrence did not agree with the reader’s reality of horror, it was a quality of unreality, yet fact. It had been so immediate and the event was perhaps unpleasant to write, that was back in 1961, nowadays, it would be in a different category, they would send an expert to obtain accuracy of the observation, to confine himself nearby to get unlimited access to the slayer, and then try to sell the greatest number of papers, withdraw from the project and go onto the next. They do this now so fast; it is bagged and completed before the dead are buried. As time goes by, decade to decade for me—for me anyhow, each day, the races of the world allows more evil to grow unabated, and the dead grow larger in number—stacked high like mounds, I am waiting for the earth to burst open her guts and vomit out the stink. We’ll have to send them in balloons up to the moon soon, they are scattered about like dead maggots all over the place.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Triumph of a Quail Inasmuch as I have put to myself the task of trying to tell you an inquisitive story in which I am myself apprehensive—I shall begin by leaving you with some notion of me (3-28-2011). Very well then, I am a man of sixty-three, rather a robust in size and with auburn hair, what’s left of it. I wear glasses. Until five years ago, I lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I had a few different positions, a psychologist for the Federal Government Prison system, and an entrepreneur—of a small sort, and a poet and writer of a small stature. I am married to a Peruvian woman, and have moved to Lima—although I am still a resident of Minnesota for the most part. And have adopted an abandoned Quail. We named her after the preacher that brought her to us, homeless, and have since put her in our house garden, her name being, Marcelina. She has in a way of speaking, a quiet form of smiling at one, as though to say…we may go into that later. It was a hard jolt for me, to take on a quail, feed her, and try to not look foolish in the process of adopting her, and talking to her, and perhaps even now, after a month of having her, there might be a kind of satisfaction in making myself look silly by telling of it—this story, which is really only an account of how a quail, triumphed. To tell the truth, I felt in the beginning a little foolish that I should be feeding her along with the other birds that come into our open garden daily—a special diet, chasing pigeons away from her—they appeared as if they were interested in her, and were following her as if to attack her; as if I am a grand guard standing at the gate to the Garden of Eden like Gabriel, pacing back and forth. “I’ve an idea,” my wife told me. “What?” I asked. “I’ll take your idea of a night light that could heat up a box, and make a box for Marcelina, and she’ll sleep in it at night.” Well she did just that, found a big cardboard box, for the plump little quail, that didn’t care to go into the box but sat outside along the glass door on a mat, until I finished reading at night, let’s say, 2:00 a.m. and learning she was afraid of the dark—I had to learn Quail-logy, the tone of my voice she knows now, and I’ve told her it is safe to go into that box house at night, so after I leave my office at 2:00 a.m., she does just that. She’s just a big baby, and shits as must as one big human baby, or as often I should say, as one. She had my sympathies for a while, but to be truthful, it is waning. “Hurry up over here, see Marcelina,” my wife cries to me, a few days ago. She’s learned something new, I think from the sparrows, or maybe me. “What?” I ask my wife. “Look, just look at her all sprawling body and soft feathers, and kind eyes, laying there.” She actually looked as if she was sunbathing on the Lima beach. So I looked, and she was correct, Marcelina had learned fast how to be lazy. ‘Gee whiz,’ I said to myself, ‘what’s next?’ Well, what was next is this: every time a pigeon comes, she now calls me to come into the garden—breaks my concentration of writing, and sure enough, there is a pigeon. But now she calls me at night because she’s still a little afraid of the dark—can you imagine a quail afraid of the dark, by gosh, had I not experienced this with my own eyes, I’d had told anybody who told me: a quail was afraid of the dark, to go see colleague of mine. If anything, I’m getting more exercise these days. I keep thinking of when we go to the mountains where we have another home, and stay there for three months out of each year, what will become of her. Let’s be honest, how long can this go on? My wife is hoping she has a longevity living in our garden. I’m praying she sprouts those little wings (more like fins) and gets married soon, or finds a mate. The good thing is, they don’t get extraordinarily large, the bad thing is, they don’t get immaculately clean. Now for Marcelina Rose’s story. Yes, my wife Rosa has given her a second name of all things. Anyhow, her story is interesting. Some person in a car dropped her off at the church, of all things. It was late in the afternoon, and a dog had chased her, and evidently he was hungry, and had deadly intentions. And Father Marcelo came to the rescue, he and several young church members, they came waving their arms and calling to the quail—as if the quail was going to march over to them. So the quail of course had three traumatic experiences in a roll: the car thing, the hungry dog, and now the kids waving their hands trying to rescue the creature, and did, and put her in a cloths basket—a wobbly prison for her. Dang it all! Now for the neighbour, that is me and Rosa, so we ended up with her; for the first week, she hid behind the totem pole in the garden, and then worked her way all the way to my glass door—I was hoping she’d silently work her way back to the totem pole, but that also scares her at night. And when she yelps, all the neighbours can hear her, she somehow extends that neck of hers four inches or so—and that’s a lot for her, because she’s not much longer than that, and whatever she’s saying comes out like a rustic bell—echoing like a loudspeaker. All channelled through that extended neck. But I have learned something of all this: big brain little brain, I don’t know what she has, but she feels pain, and she feels love and she can feel hunger, and safety, and she knows cold from hot. She can learn certain behaviours, I don’t think Carl Sagan would like to hear this but, she’s not as dumb as you might think she should be—she knows who wants to hurt her, and who doesn’t—she can get tightly gripped with the latter. As for her story—she couldn’t tell it, and so I’ve tried to do my best for her, that is to say, I’ve perhaps used the imaginative side of myself to explain her, but it’s the best I can do—and she has, if anything, thus far, triumphed. No: 785 (3-28-2011) For Rosa, Marcelina and Father Marcelo
Sunday, March 27, 2011
((Fiesta and Dance of the Yunsa) (Murder!))
At Santa Eulalia Rio
The Eulalia Rio—is wild today—
white waters high, rapidly
from bank to bank, and then some.
On the mountain skirts—
the village of Santa Eulalia resides
cuddled by the Andes of Peru!
I love the smooth sound of the Rio
as it passes me by, the warm sun,
warming my old bones of the late morning,
makes me feel alive—
A butterfly, flies by, a bee
is busily, buzzing nearby—
day, just another day to be alive
(that’s how it is this morning
at San Eulalia Rio).
No: 2919 ((3-26-2011) (11:11 a.m.))
The Strange thing was, was that the morning had been so quiet and sedate, not like the afternoon; I do not know why they all didn’t scream at the time. We were in the dance area of ‘Paradise Recreo,’ likened to a countryside restaurant, alongside the Santa Eulalia Rio of Peru ((an hour’s drive from Lima)(it was 11:11 a.m.)), all fifty-two of us, within the group, and there were other folks at this outside restaurant (we all had ordered Pachamanca, a food dish, that is cooked in a fire underground, covered with dirt and hot stones: potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, chicken, pork, lamb, and Humita or smashed corn). We were all on the dance area, after having eaten Pachamanca, drank some wine, the sun was hot, and the Rio was high and the rapids were wild, rushing by—you could hear the sound of the white water rush, it was no more than a hundred feet from where we were. There was a stage to the front of us, a man was singing to background music, and no one started screaming.
Before the incident, Manuel pointed to me to give the axe to someone in the group dancing around this tree that was in the middle of the dance area, it had been cut down, and put into a hole with rocks holding it in place, gifts were attached onto the tree branches as were also balloons, once cut down, the fifty of us would rush to get those attached gifts, it was called the Dance of the Yunsa, meant each person in the group would get the axe once or twice or perhaps even five or six times like I had it, as one person handed it to the next, and took their swing at the tree. Whoever cut the tree down, that is, when the tree fell down because of that last person’s axe thrust, he or she was the person who would—the following year, pay for the next fiesta. It’s how it worked.
Manuel he pointed to me, the preacher’s deacon you might say, and a friend, a most pleasant friend and chap, to my wife and I, said with a smiling face, “You Mr. Evens take it and hand it to someone!” I couldn’t imagine who, then I saw a lady right in front of me, of Peruvian-African origin, and handed it to her and her mate, and she took the first swing.
Then later on when the tree looked like it would fall with one or two more axe swings, I told my wife Rosa, “This man is dancing crazy like, swinging the axe everywhichway, we need to back up!” And sure enough he hit the tree so hard, the tall somewhat hefty tree with all the gifts on it started to fall. This man had ran over to the group from out of nowhere, and someone unthinking, handed him the axe, and as that tree hit the ground, he started stabbing, that is, axing people over the head, in the groin area, in the back, legs, torso, neck: eighteen people injured, killing at least seven. Workers from the restaurant and soon after them, rescue workers from the Municipality had gathered to help the injured.
"The worse,” he said—that evening on the television, the newscaster “were the women with dead children.” Oh yes, most rigorously, I said to myself. You couldn’t get the women to give up their dead children—thereafter. Nothing you could do about it. Although the gender of the seven dead were not immediately known, with two critically injured, and eleven others were wounded. Manuel told the police, and the media:
“The suspect, came here to kill people, none of us knew him.”
And some other person told the reporter, “Early on, he sat at our table, and he said, ‘I’m tired of life.’” And still someone else said,
“He had rented a car in Lima, drove out fifty miles to the restaurant, and it appeared he just grabbed the axe from someone dancing, and he was jumping, leaping while dancing, and chopping on the tree—all simultaneously, and the next thing he was killing people with that axe, and ran off and into a crowd, jumped into a vehicle, and drove off.”
Then there was an old lady, most extraordinary case. I told it to the police, and he said it can’t be true, that I was lying, “There was this old lady,” I said “sitting in a wheelchair, and I couldn’t help but look her way when he ran past her, and just then she died—I assume of fright; he had swung the axe at her, but never hit her, and she went absolutely stiff. Her legs sketch upward automatically, her torso went rigid,” the police officer told the medical personnel, and they told me, it was impossible. But they had taken the corpse out of the area, into the city proper, to its morgue—before I could press my point.
It was as if there had been an earthquake or that some sort of thing –a phantom, had appeared in broad daylight, one we never knew about, they never knew what hit them.
I had sat by the river that morning, at 11:11 a.m., awaiting for the Pachamanca, to be ready, ordered some cheese and corn for my wife, wrote out this poem called “Santa Eulalia Rio,” The river was up, the wind was blowing my hair—I had grabbed the moment you might say—a poetic moment indeed, I got up walked close along the Rio, saw a dog getting wet, drinking from its fresh cold water from the Andes, it evidently was raining in the sierras, because of the white water. I had gotten so dreamy about things. Surprising how a few hours later, it is all covered over with something else; the darkest cloud hell has to offer.
No: 784 (3-26-2011)
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Day of the Corrida de Toros The bull was bright eyed fast as a mouse, cleaver as a cat, strong in the legs, if anything, the young matador was a sleepwalker, and the bull was very interested, never forgetting for a moment what his great horns were for. He was a small bull, but a real bull, with unaltered horns.
For me, bullfighting was just a spectator sport, no more, but a dangerous and attention-grabbing sport. In those days (now a decade in the past), it would have been nice to have a bullfighter for a friend, I could have learned much more of the bullfight, the corrida—meaning, the Spanish bullfight, or the corrida de toros—
I had been to arenas in Lima, Mexico City, Seville, they always impressed me, as did the Barrera, the red painted wooden fence around the ring, where the first row of seats are (expensive, and where the media usually are).
I was aware of the Banderilleros; they take orders from the bullfighters. I also liked the burladeros, the shelter of planks, behind which the bullfighter dodges the bull if in pursuit. It makes the event look more dangerous.
In Peru, I had met two bullfighters (matadors) in the arena; been to the Capea— the informal bullfights held in village squares in which amateurs and the hopeful bullfights take place. For me it is all serious entertainment.
But as I was saying, the bullfighter was a sleepwalker; the weather was very hot in Mexico City. I could tell the bull was a proud bull from the moment he slowly eyed and passed the young matador.
I sensed that day to have great insight, or second sight as the bull was watching this young Matador closely and critically; in consequence, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, he would give the Matador difficulty, if not a great would; my equanimity told me the bull already knew what was going to happen to him, courage or no courage when all was said and done, and hence, he gave the matador a grave wound that hot summer’s day, a reminder for the Matador—until the day he died, he was a brave bull.
The two picadors I had met a while ago, talked to before this main event, were now in the background, towards the red wooden fence, the bull was pumping out hot red blood from its shoulders, bright red blood from the jagged wounds those two picadors gave him. Onto the sand of the arena the blood dripped. The bull saw the blind spot (the very one I had seen); the matador being too close to the horns, and his cape or Capa (cape used by bullfighters), made of raw silk on one side, and percale on the other, was heavy to hold, he lifted and lowered it, and somewhere in-between the bull’s eye caught sight of it, and its horn penetrated the young matador’s armpit, he was lifted like a toy soldier over and across the bull’s head, and tossed to the ground, in what the bull might have considered—‘Absolute technical perfection.’ No: 781 (3-23-2011)
Demonic Fury off
It was a frightfully chilled morning (October, 17, 2010), the blustery weather was fearsome. The morning winds around Cape Horn rocked the ship—shaking its futtlock (rib of the ship), the Via Australis, with its ninety-passengers. I hesitantly went to open the door, of the third deck lounge—similar in location to an older ship’s poop (the enclosed structure at the stern of a ship, above the main deck), a big heavy wrought iron door, I ascended over the bottom part of the iron door frame, as the door swung open, and hit the right side of the ship with a heavy and awfully surprised bag, too heavy to pull back in place for me, outside was this demonic fury of wind and water, I tried to push forward, grabbing the taffrail (rail around the stern of the ship), the winds rushed at me—likened to a football player bombarding you, I was to the elements, the absolute perfect obstacle to lift and push around, with its invisible passion, its intensity was overwhelming, I wrenched my hands tighter around the rail, lashing firmly into a solid stance—my wife behind me—little and as light as she is, hugging my body as if in a bear hug, had she not, she would have been dragged away like a rag doll into its deadly waters. Both my legs got struck awkwardly by the force of the winds, and my spine had to fight to lean forward against it. My face, its flesh stuck to my bones, the waves in the water smashed against the starboard side of the ship (right side of the ship when facing forward), as I made my way to the port side (left side), Rosa’s face was pink from the cold water and wind hitting it, as it twisted around the ship to its bow.
I was breathing with difficulty, with the winds hitting my face, and the waters of the Drake Passage being tossed and lifting three stories high onto the third deck, and this I was told later on was a normal morning.
All in all, it was I suppose, going well, while the bombardment was knocking the ship off its smooth sailing.
‘Here,’ I thought—Where two oceans meet each other, one six inches lower than the other, ‘was where both oceans were fighting one another to dominate the Drake Passage’ around the Horn—where I would be climbing up her stone walls in just one hour. My second-self told me, ‘You’re ridiculous to be out in this open weather’ the weather had horns and hands and was like a bull trying to ram me, wham against the wall of the ship, as if it was crazy drunk.
I continued to grapple with the elements and ship as the waves and winds pounded her lower decks—reaching slightly to the third level—as previously mentioned, thus, rocking the ship to and fro. Then after awhile, perhaps twenty-minutes, the boat stopped rocking—settling down to a smoother voyage, and carefully I made my way back to the door entrance, it was too heavy for me to close, a crewman was available, and did it for me—the door slightly had jammed. My cloths were soaked through. And then as I looked outside the large bay type window, the wind had died down, completely died down, and Cape Horn was in sight.
It was no big cyclonic event, for this area of the world, where legend says 10,000 seamen, and 800-ships have suck to her bottom some ten-thousand feet below—a terrible physical reality, and nearly 20,000-feet in the center of the Drake Passage, but it was for me, a morning rush, if not a little scary.
No: 780 (3-22-2011)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Log Wood of the
Miskito Coast and the Münster
Part One of Two
The Deal (1869)
In the middle of the day, Wooden-leg Joe confronted the barrel maker with an interesting proposition, along with providing him some interesting news, “The same man with whom once owned the sloop, Captain Peron, a week ago is now long gone, therefore, I wish to organize an expedition, with your permission. We have some provisions for a quick sea voyage already onboard the ship (the Peron).”
“Perhaps, I’m listening,” said the Barrel Maker—Pablo, a middle-aged man somewhat robust, showing some interest, “what’s your plan?”
“By the greatest respect, sir,” said Joe, now having his attention and interest, taking in a sigh hoping it would all come out in a few smooth sentences, his eyes a bit cast upward as if trying to draw a diagram of it, to say it, “I’m a good helmsman (a helmsman being, in Joe’s case, an able seaman, who often worked on the bridge at the steering stand, which operated the rudder of the ship, he was considered a quartermaster at the wheel) even if I don’t look it. Been with Captain Peron for a long time, but what I need is for you to support this excursion I have on my mind, I have only one-hundred dollars myself in silver.”
Pablo sighed, “Mr. Joe,” he said, “…come to the point, what are you looking to do with my ship?”
“Cut log wood along the Mosquito Coast of Honduras sir,” said Joe, with relief.
“You know this is an illegal act, and British will surely take offence to it. And besides that, you may never be able to return my ship should the British spot you.”
“Well, that may be true; on the other hand you can remind the old judge Castro—if it comes to his attention, that I stole the ship. The area I intended on visiting, will have no habitation, and once visited, we are gone forever, never to return.”
“I suppose it’s not objectable, I want fifty-percent!” said Pablo.
“Not easily done with a whole crew; thirty-percent, and your up front finances given back?”
“Done,” said Pablo.
Wooden-leg Joe, now Captain of the vessel Peron, helped his crew load the ship, long into the night.
It was now Pablo’s ship, now being allowed to be docked until the last wooden board and every piece of scrap-iron was stripped from its: hall, deck, keel and frame ( fees being a gift of the magistrate and the dock owners—of which they didn’t like), otherwise one could not afford the Wharfage Fees. Pablo was just hoping, the authorities would overlook this clause once the ship left dock and upon its return, thus the ship should not be leaving the port in the first place. In any case, Pablo was not charged a cent. To be quite frank, Wood-leg Joe had paid Jamaica Ernestina—part owner of the dock—a one-hundred dollar bribe, a gift of sorts, to overlook it when he’d bring the ship back. She reluctantly, expressed delight at accepting the offer from, to give Pablo back the space upon his return—although she didn’t like the idea of having to allow him such privilege, and she had ulterior motives in doing so.
In any case, Joe was encouraged by Ernestina’s offer (Ernestina was a short deceptive old lady, nothing to look at: yellowish teeth, the front two upper teeth missing, and little ski-jump for a nose, and sunken in cheeks, but perhaps among the richest women, next to Ashley Walsh, in Havana.)
It was all complicated with the most pretentious courtesies and with intentions and eyes fixed on gifts to be received and expected. Most of the crew came from Delia’s Inn, and were sound of body, and free of disease.
Wooden-leg Joe, Captain Joe (a captain’s job entailed among many things: efficient operation of the whole ship, to include its cargo, officers and crew, safety, etc), rechecked his provisions: rum, pork, water, turtles—recently traded for—in the marketplace, brought in from the outskirts of the city. It was not expected to be a long lasting voyage, just into the gulf area, so tones of food were not necessary, but some live meat was taken on nonetheless (especially, squawking chickens and so forth).
The ship, ‘Peron’ was a sloop of some seventy-feet, with only one cannon, mounted. That was the extent of their armament. What they lacked in armament, they gained in speed because of the sleekness of the ship, and maneuverability.
At this very moment, that is to say, as the ship ‘The Peron’ was being outfitted, Jamaica Ernestina was talking to Captain Apolinario Tapia-Schmidt of the Galleon Münster, who commanded the ship (a middle aged man of German-Peruvian Stock, who had lived both in Lima, Peru, and Münster by Dieburg, in Germany, mother being Peruvian, and father German). The galleon had several hundred people onboard ((seamen, garrison soldiers and sailors) (the keel was of Oak and the masts, hull and decking of various hard woods—and had a long beak to it. It was an old ship; the fluyt and brig were now being more commonly used in the Caribbean waters; the ship weighting just under 500 tones)). She had informed him, that the Peron was heading into the Mosquito Coast waters that were of interest to the British, for the purpose of log cutting. Such information by the British, was paid for in gold and sterling, and paid well.
“Make sure Captain,” said Ernestina, “that that damn ship never comes back again.”
And the captain handed Ernestina a heavy leather pouch—the coinage for her betrayal; thereafter, the Münster had quickly left the harbor, and was six hours ahead of the Peron, heading for Honduras.
The ship was purchased by a Germany Company, built by the Spanish; the crews were mercenary soldiers from several walks of life and many scoundrels, paid by the British Government to guard the coastal waters—off Honduras, and Nicaragua known as the Mosquito Coast. It was an awkward ship, big and bulky, with sixty-cannons, and which took fifteen to twenty men to maneuver each cannon, and was going twenty-knots through the Caribbean waters, to set itself up—and eliminate, as soon as he got sight, the Peron, as the captain had told Ernestina,
“I want to get rid of these treasure hunters, these brigs and sloops and all, wanting to rob the Mosquito Coast, once and for all, get rid of these so called gold diggers that want to plunder her wealth, like the Peron, she will set a good example, the news will spread fast once we destroy her and her crew, every last one of them.”
The Peron was by far no warship, but because of its size, it could hug the coast, sail closer to the Honduras and Nicaragua channels and Joe had wanted to do some quick and heavy log cutting for a long time, this moment was heaven sent he felt. Captain Peron had avoided that area for years, saying “It’s too dangerous and painstaking work.”
He just simply didn’t want his ship blown out of the sea, or trying to outrun the British. Joe always had second thoughts on the matter, but after years of trying to persuade him, he gave up. Now it was his day. In a few hours he’d be on his way.
And so the voyage began, with an outburst, “Shedder any blood!” and Joe was hoping there’d be no blood shed upon its return. To Joe, this was a good omen.
As they sailed out of the harbor, Joe now captain for sure, I mean, actually feeling like a captain, in command of the ship, something he always wanted, the top and bottom of the iceberg for him, it was a magical moment.
‘It will all go smoothly,’ Joe told his second-self, the You, the second voice inside of a person. “It will be a peaceful endeavor, we mean no harm, and can a country own a coast area that is six-thousand miles away?’ And he looked about, ‘How silly,’ he thought, own this and own that so nobody can make a living, it belongs to everybody.’
Early Dawn Light
The Peron with its sails ruffled and fluttering in the heavy winds of the Caribbean, was fast on its way to the Mosquito Coast, Joe made a quick speech, which often times captains do, as he had seen Captain Peron do. Little was said, but it made him feel more like a captain in charge, and he added,
“This is a log cutting voyage, we have no intentions of taking booty from any villages or plunder any ships on the way. Let’s cut the wood we need and get the hell out of the rainforest and on back to Havana.”
((In the mean time, Joe had explained to the crew they’d each would get two-percent and he’d take twenty-percent of the take, or profits from the wood, and other people had to be paid off with the rest. He wasn’t lying, he was really trying to be a good captain, honest. He even had a gleam in his eyes.)(Perhaps those who want something the most, appreciate what others have the most, who never take time to appreciate what they have themselves, and Joe never figured he’d ever have such a chance as being Captain of a ship.))
Seen from afar, the Peron didn’t look as ragged as it really was, chopping through the clear tinted blue and green waters of the sea.
Onboard the ship—not all that conformable, with thirty-heavy muscled, sweating seamen, cramped for space, sleeping in the wind swept nights, and sunny days, wherever and whenever they could find space—Joe was desperate to reach the Mosquito Coast before anyone got out the word of what he was doing, and he knew sooner or later it would get out, it always did.
Little food was given out to adjust to the rough waters of the sea, and at night they could only sail by the light of the moon, otherwise, they’d have to find shelter by one of the dotted islands thereabouts, and they did just that. When at sea, the Captain told the men to simply bare their butts and use the sea as their toilet, the ship was not accommodated with such luxuries for one and all.
Captain Joe did not anchor the ship but two nights, and never during the day, in fear someone might spread the word he was headed for the Mosquito, time was of the essence, and they’d be chasing him on the way back. He had crossed latitude 20, and was on his way towards 15, beyond the Yucatan, beyond Trujillo.
It was on the 8th day when Joe and his crew could all see the tip of the horizon, and near noon, one could see the outline of the Mosquito Coast, an obscure profile.
“Sail ho!” shouted a crew member. With is spyglass in hand, and his left eye closed, his right eye picked up a ship, no flag, no insignia, just a big ship. They had been making good speed.
Captain Joe had to make a decision; it had to be British, for he was too close to the coast for it not to be,
“Ready about!” Joe yelled, and the crew quickly turned the ship about. ‘Odd,’ he thought, ‘it’s as if they’re waiting for us’
The ship was heading towards them; Joe put the spyglass back to his right eye, he saw the flag going up, it had the British colors, and it was an old war ship, ‘the Münster’.
“Damn!” Joe said, then thinking, ‘one cannon to their sixty…! She sold us out, that witch.’
Joe’s wooden-leg did a kind of tapping on the deck, jumping, his nerves were like sparks in a windy fire, it had a mind of its own.
“Try and shoot them out of the water,” yelled the captain to Samuel Llosa, ahead of the fifteen man team who took care of the cannon. Knowing ahead of time gloom was forth coming, knowing the captain of the Münster would have to make a show of it, an example out of them, so the crew could later on get drunk and spread the word around the Caribbean not to tread on the British Mosquito Coast. And he knew it was not a matter of hours before the Münster got within shooting range of a half mile, it would be there within minutes.
A Black Day
It was a dark unlucky day thought Joe, turning and running was now out of the question, I suppose it was always out of the question for him. It would be one shot from his cannon, or capture and capture meant death anyhow. If they were lucky, and the captain was in good spirits, he might allow one or two to live, to remind his kind not to attempt it a second time.
Joe could see the ship’s hull now.
“Perhaps it is better we don’t fight, they’ll blow us right out of the water,” said Samuel Llosa.
“They will anyhow,” said Joe.
Then Joe pointed to the Münster, “Fire!” he yelled. The ball fell short, and splashed into the water.
The gun ports were now open on the Münster, on two decks, “What a way to die,” whispered Joe, “If only Captain Peron was here to see me.”
Then Samuel Llosa, jumped overboard knowing any minute the ship would be bombarded, and perhaps he could survive on some drift wood left over from the ship, then no sooner had he hit the water, twenty-rounds from the cannons aboard the Münster were fired at the Peron, as Captain Joe yelled “Fight on!” and he got his wish, he went down with the ship.
(It was said, the Captain of the Münster fired a hundred rounds on the small sloop, as if he allowed his men target practice, and upon searching the waters, saw Samuel Llosa, and simply smiled, never said a word to his crew, and sailed on by.)(Another legend says, Samuel Llosa made it to the shores of Honduras, and all the way down to Lima, Peru, where he lived until he died of old age, telling and retelling the story of ‘The Black Day,’ so he called it.))
Part Two of Two
Blood of the Münster
((1870) (Port Havana))
Remember the Blood of the Münster
In the streets of Havana, after the bombardment of ‘The Peron’ the summer before, where a hundred old fashioned smashing cannon balls had left the muzzles of the heavily bronze cannons (1801 Spanish Peder style, 508 pounds each, fifty-inches long; bore diameter 37.16; the cannon carriages not included with the weight), onboard the Münster, the mercerenary ship guarding the interests of England, off the Mosquito Coast of Honduras, all the way down and along Nicaragua’s coastline, was now docked at the Port of Havana.
People on the streets of Havana, were calling the Captain’s actions “Madness” on the seas, that “We no longer live in the 16th Century, where we can do as we please by killing whole crews of ships, who might have bad intentions, but have not acted them out in full.” (It was a time when the law of nations were being written and formidable opinions of state pratice by scholars from ten nations were taking effect in the Caribbean especially on coastal rights, and where there was no law of judicial decision, it was left to the customs of a civilized nation and Cuba was a colony of Spain.) Of course the British disavowed this act of insanity, and withdrew its contract with Captain Apolinario and his crew. Having done that, the Captain and the crew were left to the authorities of Havana, or Spain. And the opinions of those seeping out of the United States.
Apolinario was careful in what he had to say, especially in his boasting at Delia’s Inn about his sinking the Peron, mercyfullesly, lest he be hung by those who had family, or friends on the Peron, and surely there were a lot of them. As he told his crew, “Even a light causal gesture could cause a fight to be triggered in the name of retaliation for a deceased member.” Evidently, he had not taken this into consideration the day he sunk ’The Peron.’
The Spanish authorities on Havana made the Münster off limits to the Port of Havana, and was about to apprehend the crew members and its captain, when Captain Apolinario, the night before had scanned the streets and inns of Havana, trying to roundup his crew, finding 489 out of a total of 700, and were out of the harbor before sunrise.
Their aim was to sail to Port du Prince, Haiti, he had friends there, but knew he’d be exposed, and there were many shallow islands in-between, and the Bahamas Passage, coral reefs, and he’d have to anchor in open waters at night or try to maneuver those extending coral reefs, and find a save cove to hide his big ship in. Surely, Havana would send out a warship, Spain had them guarding the forfeited great walls of Havana.
The Captain’s suspicion
Now in the Bahama Passage, Captain Apolinario found himself pacing back and forth between the stern and the bow, he spotted a warship sent out by Havana, or so he thought. It had no flag, but it was huge, in full sail.
“Perhaps she’ll ram us,” he murmured near silently to himself, on the bridge; the helmsman steering her steadfastly.
“I know it’s a Spanish man of war,” he said aloud as if the seamen in on the bridge were a mile away.
The water was all lit up by the bright sun. He could see land, extending outward, but his mind was so confused he couldn’t make out what island it was. He couldn’t concentrate.
He was looking to see if he might find a gap in the reefs but the sun made everything invisible to him. He felt he knew the waters, he ordered to lower some sail, break the speed. There was a coral undersea, under him, he had but five fathoms of shallow water, he knew he couldn’t go any shallower, but the ship carried itself into four fathoms of water and then three before he knew it, and it abruptly stopped with a sharp jerk and ripping, she was more than stranded, and the warship was becoming more visible, and to Apolinario’s surprise his suspicions were not right, it was a Danish Ship, with a Danish flag on it.
He had torn the rudder right off the ship, and it was now marooned on sand, with its sides ripped open.
“Had I been able to concentrate,” he started to say, and a few crew members turned to listen to him, and he shut up quickly, “Damn them coral heads and sand bars,” he said.
No. 779 83-20-2011)