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Voyages of los Testigos - Part 6, Page 1

Utila's airport is located on the south end of the Honduran island. It consists of a seventy-five yard coral-strewn patch of land and an abandoned wooden building. Above the building's rotted porch hangs a skewed sign reading, "Utila International Airport". Past dreams of glory dispelled, the airport, which used to receive daily service, now witnessed the haphazard arrival of an assortment of small propeller planes.


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Nuco and Medio arrived at the airport at four o'clock sharp, which, given their usual tardiness, indicated concern that their deal was about to go sour. Medio looked down the runway. "They actually land planes here?"

"First time I came, we flew in on a Boeing DC-3," Nuco said. "Now, they use three or nine seaters. The pilots earn more money flying CIA operatives to US-borne low intensity conflicts in the area."

"Less chance a small plane will run off the runway, I guess," Medio said.

"I remember the first time I flew out here," Nuco replied. "By the time the pilot stopped, you could look out the window and see the coral reef below you."

The two travelers waited while the day lengthened, but no one showed up. Finally, Nuco said, "Let's get some shade."

"How about the airport?" Medio suggested.

"No, the porch will cave in." Nuco pointed to a small, walled-in lean-to that was nestled in the tropical vegetation on the periphery of the airport runway, then walked over to it. "You know where we're sitting?" he asked, once seated.

"The International terminal?" Medio guessed.

"This is where Hector used to live, when he was being chased by the tiger."

"They have tigers on this island?" Medio replied, glancing uneasily at the nearby vegetation.

"No, that's what islanders say when someone's starving," Nuco explained. "'E bein' chased by da tigah!" Wanting to divert attention from the looming failed drug deal, Nuco continued. "'E don' 'ave no food ta eat, mon. 'E gunna stahve if no tourist show up ta sell 'is black coral.

"Hector sells black coral?" Medio asked, his penchant to buy unassuaged despite the previous night's twenty dollar ripoff.

"Best prices on the island," Nuco replied. "And some of the best carvings. You tell him what you wanta porpoise, a lobster, he'll even carve you a brittle star."

"How's the quality?" Medio asked.

"Good. He taught himself how to carve while he was in jail," Nuco said. "Says he needed something to do."

"How long was he in jail for?"

"Five years."

"For what?"

"Trespassing."

"He got five years for trespassing?"

"His relatives caught him on their land and sent him to jail."

"Nice relatives," Medio observed.

"Ask him about the quality tonight," Nuco said. "I told him we'd stop by and look at his coral."

"Does he carve knives?" Medio asked. "We may need one if we plan to see our twenty dollars again."

A short time later, Nuco and Medio decided to return to town to find the maricon who had stolen their money. It didn't take long; he stood at the side of a house on the edge of a mango-choked lagoon near downtown. The house was fenced in by a five foot white picket fence.

Nuco stopped near the front gate. "Hey!" he yelled, but he was ignored. "Hey!" he yelled again, and began waving his arms, to no avail.

After five minutes of gesticulation, the professional soccer player suddenly appeared from inside the house. He slowly walked over to the defrauded duo. "Eay, mon, how you doin'?"

"Hey, tell that guy we want to speak to him," Nuco said.

"What guy is dat?" the professional soccer player asked.

"I don't know his name," Nuco said, pointing.

"Roberto?" the soccer player said, "da guy dat rip you off?"

"Yeah."

"Be careful mon, 'is boyfriend is da FUSEP."

"Fuck the FUSEP!" Nuco said angrily. "He owes us money!" The professional soccer player shook his head and returned to the house.

"What's the FUSEP?" Medio asked.

"Fuerza de Seguridad Publica," Nuco said. "Nobody."

"What does that mean?" Medio asked.

"The national security police."

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