Friday, November 9, 2012

Sister Marleny’s Dilemma

(Summer of 2011, Concepcion, riverside Cafe)

The smile diminished on Sister Marleny’s face. She waited in a timorous silence to hear what Rosa—Dr. Evens’ wife was going to say to the proprietor at the outside, riverside fish café in township of Concepcion. Rosa had been complaining a trifle about the skimpy amount of fish she was given by the waitress, plus it had bones in it, which she had told the waitress specifically told the waitress, she didn’t want.
       They were on the edge of a small embankment, the river to the left side of Dr. Evens, one could hear in the background the turbulent white waters of the river, and it was tranquilizing.
       —Why did you give me this skimpy order of fish that has bones in it? She complained to the proprietor.
       It appeared obvious to Dr. Evens the owner felt his wife was a bit sly, how mistakenly he’d learn she was not sly nor shy, just plainspoken, or candied. Actually he didn’t want to replace the order; he was trying to persuade her to accept it—manipulate her into believing what she ordered is what she got, but nonetheless, there were bones in it, no denying that, bones sticking out here and there, everywhere.
       —Might I ask you what you are talking about. The Proprietor said courteously, again role playing the Good Samaritan, the understanding proprietor, especially in front of Sister Marleny.
       —Indeed you might, answered Rosa; Sister Marleny sitting across from her, inquisitive—and Rosa thinking, so it comes to this.
       —And what part of this do you not understand? She questioned.  
       On the other hand I think Sister Marleny was thinking ‘By gosh, she’s ripping isn’t she’… I mean, the proprietor was trying to convince Rosa what she ordered is what she got, but Rosa stood firm, in that what she got was what the proprietor had, not what she ordered or wanted or expected; it become plain and quite obvious, he simply didn’t have fish without bones.
       —If you think there are no bones in this fish, eat it and find out! Was Rosa’s second choice of war of words?
       Well, this was not to his liking, and he refused of course to taste it. A breeze of momentary irritation blew through Dr. Evens’ hair, deep into his mind, his eyes squinting, staring, and trying to think just what this guy’s motivation was: why not just change the order instead of playing with these coarse insinuations, the pretence, the game playing.  It was nothing amusing and perhaps the Proprietor saw this in Evens’ face, thus, he started to show interest and regard for Rosa’s wants and wishes: the gloomy tenderness he was showing was wearing on him in the end. Then abruptly, a pleasantry came over him, his face now painted like a little boy’s,  no more impatience, he agreed to  exchange the order for another, the problem had vanished.
       The proprietor had looked, glanced at Sister Marleny a few times during this role play, it really was her spot, her secret café, away from it all, you know what I mean, the getaway place, and they knew one another—hence, the owner knew her quite well, and his expression was as if so saying. Then he abruptly escaped to make the new order.
        A soft peal of laughter escaped from Dr. Evens’ lips, bending over to eat his trout; Sister Marleny to his side, as if in a form of unserious caution, that is to say,  slightly guarded.
       Rosa’s moment of annoyance had passed, now it was calm—they all simply melted into, back into that is, pleasant chitchat, listening to the rumbling river, and the voices across from them at a nearby table, and friendship dangled politely as a waving branch on an autumn tree. Although it must be said, seldom within the cafes throughout these little Andean villages of   Peru, food service of a high quality— is a scarce commodity.

#931 (6-20-2012)
For Sister Marleny Rojas