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Voyages of los Testigos - Part 5, Page 1

By the time La Florita appeared in Utila's main harbor, half the town was gathered at the main dock. They began cheering the drunken skipper and crew for having brought the boat across the raging ocean.

Nuco and Medio were two of the first passengers off the boat. "I"m going to find a place to stay," said Nuco, as soon as his feet hit the dock.

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"Needs an objective like a diabetic needs sugar," said Medio to his friend's parting back.

"Watch it. Look out. Careful." Still laying in his propane fortress on the main deck, Capn was steering unwary passengers away from his little brown pile. "Look out. Watch it. Careful..."

The professional soccer player disembarked and saw Medio. "Hey mon, I tol' your frien' 'e got to leave 'is shit, mon," the soccer player said. "Tell 'im 'e mus' leave 'is shit."

Medio turned toward the boat. "Hey Capn, the soccer player says you got to leave your shit!" he yelled. The advice would prove prophetic to his dung defending companion for years to come.

As the prophesy echoed across the harbor, the BigGuy staggered to the side of the boat and glanced down at the dark, oily water typical of the polluted stink found around most ocean ports. Still feeling the effects of the voyage, he then gazed longingly at the dock. Fifteen feet of gangplank stood between him and shore. Although the gangplank appeared to have survived the experience of going overboard in mid-sea, its supports had loosened, and it waited like an angry girlfriend seeking just the right incident to set it off. The BigGuy provided that incident when he began to shuffle along the board. Reaching the middle of the gangplank, the BigGuy stepped on the edge of the first board and it bent, allowing his Rockport to slide neatly into the crack between the two sections. When he shifted his weight, the board snapped back into position, trapping his vomit-laden shoe. "I'm stuck!" the BigGuy hissed, hovering dizzily two fathoms above the murky dockside water.

Capn, reenergized after protecting his dune of doo-doo, pushed his way onto the treacherous gangplank, grabbed the BigGuy's arm and steadied him. Stepping on the offending board, Capn waited for his companero to wrench his foot loose, then led him to safety. The BigGuy staggered along the dock and into the town's main square, where he stopped in front of three older men sitting on a park bench and vomited.

"Sick," said one of the square elders.

"Bad voyage," commented another.

"I hear they almost didn't make it," said the third. All three elders nodded.

Nuco reappeared a short time later. "I found a place to stay. Where's the BigGuy?" he asked.

Medio pointed to a small group of people near the main square. "Over there, giving his welcoming speech."

Once the BigGuy had finished vomitting, Nuco led the group to a large, empty house in the center of town. "Nice place," Capn said, peering in the darkened interior. "Are there any lights?"

"They only come on for a few hours in the evening," Nuco said. "Utila gets its electricity from a diesel generator, but no one in town wants to pay the taxes to keep it running all day."

As soon as the group settled in, Nuco said, "Let's go to the Cubeta de Sangre for a cerveza."

"Cu-what?" Capn asked.

"Cubeta de Sangre," Nuco replied. "Means Bucket of Blood. It's the most notorious bar on the island."

"Sounds good," Medio said.

The BigGuy dropped, exhausted, onto one of the beds. "I'm staying here," he said.

Inner peace

The Bucket of Blood was the most popular bar on the island. Situated on a hill, away from the row of churches that stood guard over the town center, it symbolized one side of humanity's ancient ous recitations of holy hymns; at night, heaven's gates were assailed with drunken clamoring. Capn, Nuco, and Medio chose the wet option for inner peace and after a five minute walk away from the town center, entered the bar and offered their money to its god, cerveza.

La Cubeta's barroom was the downstairs of a large house, and consisted of one room scattered with stiff wooden tables, benches and chairs. The ceiling of the room bore dusty party decorations that had last been changed when Hurricane Fifi blew the previous decorations away in 1972. The bar stuck off the wall in a vee shape, allowing enough room behind it for two coolers full of beer. Above the bar hung the only light in the room, a dusty, bare-framed, flourescent bulb.

After laying money down, Nuco noticed someone outside the bar signalling to him. He went outside. It was the maricón who had taken so much abuse on the boat trip. "You want to try some pot?" he asked.

"Sure," said Nuco. He held out his hand. "My name's Nuco. What's yours?"

His outstretched hand met a spleef. "You can smoke it behind the bar. I got some of that to sell."

Nuco returned to the barroom to get Medio, while Capn stayed with the beer. After smoking the ganja, they returned to the maricón. "That's good pot," Nuco said.

"You want to buy some?" he asked, holding out a baggie.

"Yeah," Nuco said. "What's your name, anyway?"

"Ten Lempiras," the maricón replied, ignoring the question. At the official exchange rate, ten Lempiras was the equivalent of five dollars; at the rate they had exchanged money on the street, the price dropped to less than three dollars. Medio handed over the money and took the ganja.

The two travelers returned to where Capn sat, elated over the deal they'd made. An hour and several cervezas later, Nuco noticed the maricón outside the bar again, signalling him. He went outside. "You want a beer?"

"I can't go in there," said themaricón.

"Why not?"

"The owner don't let me. You want some cocaine? It's real cheap here, only ten dollars for a few grams."

"I don't have any tens on me, let me go talk to my partner," Nuco replied. Back inside La Cubeta, Nuco relayed the offer to Medio.

"How much is he charging?" Medio asked.

"Ten dollars for a few grams," Nuco said. "He said he can get more."

"Shit, we could pay for our whole trip," Medio said. They started to reel off the names of friends who would buy the illegal pep powder.

"How much should we buy?" Nuco asked.

"Give him twenty, give him fifty, give him a hundred," Medio said.

Nuco returned to the maricón. "Here's twenty dollars."

"I have to go buy the stuff," he said, pocketing the money.

"When will you have it?" Nuco asked.

"Meet me at the airport tomorrow afternoon," the maricón said, and disappeared.

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Part 9
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