After poking his head into the doorways of several bars, Nuco disappeared into one of them. Capn followed.
Inside the cantina, small wooden tables and chairs cluttered a cement floor. A juke box spit light and sound into the room. Two women stood at the other end of the room, behind a long mahogany bar. Once Nuco had reintroduced himself and presented Capn, he said, "So Daisy, how have
Daisy looked at him for a long moment, then answered, "You never wrote."
"I sent you a letter," Nuco protested.
Daisy repeated herself and Nuco muttered, "Just busy trying to survive."
"For two years?" Daisy replied.
"It hasn't been that long," Nuco protested. "Want a beer?" She nodded. "Salva Vida?"
"Capn, you want a beer?" Nuco asked.
"Yeah," Capn said, concealing his amazement at Nuco's blatant shuck and jive.
"Salva Vida?" Nuco asked.
"National," Capn replied, deciding to try the lighter, less alcoholic Honduran offering.
"Nacional!" Daisy said, pronouncing the word correctly. "Cerveza de mujer!"
"What'd she say?" Capn asked.
"She said you're drinking a woman's beer," Nuco replied.
The beer arrived and Daisy grabbed a Salva Vida and drank. Nuco reached up and touched her face. "You have the same beautiful skin," he said.
"And you have the same smooth talk," she replied. Nuco began speaking rapidly in Spanish and Capn lost the gist of the conversation. He gazed at Daisy, a pretty, olive-skinned woman whose dark eyes revealed the street intelligence of a coastal town inhabitant.
She appeared good natured, so he decided to open a conversation. "So...when did you meet Nuco?" he asked.
"Three years ago," Daisy replied cautiously.
"In the Bar Caribe," Nuco added. "Daisy taught me to dance reggae."
"You speak good English," Capn said, trying to continue the small talk.
"Gringo Imperialista," Daisy replied suddenly.
"What'd she say?" Capn asked, sensing anger.
"She said you should drink Imperial," Nuco translated. "That's the other beer they make in Honduras."
"Sorry," Capn said weakly. "I just wanted to compliment her English."
"Gringo tonto," Daisy replied.
"What'd she say?" Capn asked again.
"She called you tonto," Nuco said, relieved that Daisy had redirected her anger at his friend. "You know, The Lone Ranger and Tonto. You must look like an Indian from that sunburn you got earlier today."
Despite Nuco's attempts to conceal the content of Daisy's responses, Capn decided that he had misread her good nature and retreated to the other end of the bar. Nuco stayed, and incredibly, she warmed up to his lighthearted comments. The mellifluous gaiety in Daisy's laugh deepened Capn's appreciation of her. She intercepted his gaze with a glare and he refocused on his beer. "Nacional," he said, trying to pronounce the beer's name correctly, and hoping she would notice.
Daisy laughed again, interrupting his thoughts. "Capn, she says she likes you," Nuco said. "You can come back over."
Thirty minutes later, Nuco signaled the bartender, who pulled six beers out of a cooler and put them in a bag. "We're going back to the cell block. Want to join us for a cerveza?"
"I'll go back with you," Capn replied.
Outside, the sky had cleared and the temperature had dropped. Daisy nestled against Nuco, who put his arm around her as they walked together down the narrow stip of pavement beside the street. Crickets and bullfrogs called loudly from their lonely outposts in the nearby swampland, lending a mystical longing to the starlit night above. Capn gazed at the couple in front of him and thought of the power of mating calls.
When they reached their cell block, Capn picked up his thin, damp mattress and began pulling it behind him down the hall. "I'm going to see how Medio is," he explained. "I'll sleep there." He turned the corner, leaving Nuco and Daisy to catch up on their two years incomunicado.
Next issue, burning away bacteria on the beach, lifeboat in La Ceiba, and waiting for the boat to hell.