Hectored at Hector's
"What the BigGuy says is he couldn't depend on the sanity of this fish," Medio was explaining. The four travelers sat in the living room of Hector's new quarters, a large two story house in the middle of downtown Utila.Nuco snorted derisively. "Barracuda are harmless."
"Obviously, this barracuda wasn't behaving like barracuda normally behave when they come into contact with humans," Medio observed.
"Humans are bigger than barracuda," Nuco said.
"Fine," the BigGuy responded, pulling his attention away from Hector's girlfriend, who was displaying a remarkably good understanding of his Berlitz-tape Spanish. "I may be bigger, but the barracuda had the mobility underwater."
"You were flopping around on top of the water like a harpooned tuna," Nuco said.
"His lower torso was vulnerable and his eligibility as a bachelor was being threatened," Medio continued.
"I'm no fish psychologist," the BigGuy said, remembering the set of teeth that had forced his quick exit from the ocean earlier that day, "but I'd say this one was out for blood."
"It could have wanted an elbow or a rib or something," Capn said, putting down his beer long enough to stand up for the maligned barracuda.
"And if he was near-sighted?" the BigGuy said. "What then?"
"You could have stayed here, as the local eunuch," Medio said. "Now there's the psychological strain that you won't be able to perform after being dominated by a barracuda," he finished, keeping the BigGuy on the defensive
"Ahhh....yeeuhh!" the BigGuy said, not knowing quite how to respond.
Hector entered the room and handed Nuco a leather briefcase. "Here's the coral," he said. "I can carve anything you want."
Nuco looked up. In the five years that had passed since he'd had last seen Hector, the black coral artist had done well for himself. At one time considered an island clown, his natural intelligence had gained him a big house in the middle of town, a pretty "Spanish" girlfriend, and steady enough black coral sales to purchase a nice leather briefcase to display his wares. Formerly in rags, Hector now dressed well and had plenty of reefer. "Nice place, Hector," Nuco said.
The black coral salesman nodded. "I heard about the deal you made with Robertah.," he said, disdainfully changing the maricon's name to the feminine gender. "He doesn't have no cocaine. He jus' rippin' you off. You should have come to me, I would have told you that."
"So would anyone with any common sense," added the BigGuy, happy to guide the conversation in another direction.
"Where were you two last night, when we needed you?" Nuco replied.
"Right," Medio seconded. "Where was our economic adviser? Sleeping and vomiting. Vomiting and sleeping."
"Anyway, we got some pot and his umbrella," replied Nuco, holding out the baggie. "This, plus seven Lempiras equals at least twenty dollars." He passed the baggie to Hector, who began to roll a spleef.
"Plus the fact that when his grandmother finds out he lost her umbrella, Roberto's gonna get an ass whuppin'," Medio added.
"If you want to buy something on Utila, buy black coral," Hector said, pointing to the briefcase on Nuco's lap. Nuco handed it to Medio, who began looking over the merchandise.
Having his ability to find a good deal put in question by the failed drug exchange, Medio was anxious to recover. The BigGuy returned his attention to Hector's girlfriend, who had taken a shine to him. Hector lit the spleef and passed it to Nuco, who inhaled deeply, replacing the air of defeat with hallucinogen. While Nuco passed the spleef to Medio, Hector went to the stereo and put on some reggae. Nuco took the joint back from Medio and stood up. Twirling the umbrella in one hand, he toked deeply and gyrated his white boy shuffle. Hector sat near Medio and began to bargain.
Reggae filled the room.
The doorbell rang and the professional soccer player entered. "Roberto wan' 'is umbrella, mon," he said.
"Fuck Robertah," Hector replied.
"Yeah, fuck Robertah," Nuco parroted, handing the spleef to the soccer player, who took a big hit and offered it to the Capn. Capn waved it away.
"Cerveza," Nuco said, taking a Salva Vida from the cooler near him. "The word comes from Ceres, the Roman Goddess of grain. Capn, you are in love with the Goddess of Grain!" Nuco twirled the umbrella around again, causing the professional soccer player to back away quickly.
"Cerveza, the cradle of civilization," Nuco expounded further, holding up his beer. "We'd still be nomads wandering the Serengetti if it weren't for the god cerveza."
Medio draped a third black coral necklace over his head and turned to the BigGuy. "Senor, what do you think?" The BigGuy, who could usually be counted on for wise investment advice, ignored Medio's question. "What do you think, Senor?" Medio repeated, but the BigGuy was too preoccupied with Hector's girlfriend, who had begun tossing smiles at him like horseshoes. "Capn?" Medio asked.
Capn finished his beer, smacked his tongue against the palate of his mouth a couple times, and nodded. "Looks good," he said. "One for each of your girlfriends."
Nuco stopped gyrating and howled, then said, "Capn, you are in love with Ceres, she is your mistress!", and fell back into a chair. The doorbell rang again, and the professional soccer player answered it. A boy entered. "The boy says Roberto wan' 'is umbrella," the soccer player said.
Nuco looked at Hector. "What do we do?"
"Tell Roberto he can't have his umbrella," Hector yelled angrily. "And tell him to stop botherin' us!"
"Tell him to bring the money!" Nuco added, fortified by Hector's bravado. He looked at Medio. "See, the umbrella more than makes up for the money."
"You might wan' to give 'im 'is umbrella," the professional soccer player advised. "He know da FUSEP."
Hector laughed. "He's the young FUSEP's boyfriend!"
By this time the BigGuy had Hector's girlfriend completely under his spell.
A half hour later, with the party in full swing, the doorbell sounded again. Hector answered it this time, and was confronted by a small, older man, who stood outside and mumbled something.
The professional soccer player leaned toward Nuco. "'E wan' da umbrella," he said.
Nuco looked at Hector, who seemed more impressed by this visitor. "Tell Roberta to stop bothering us!" he yelled, then turned to Nuco. "Give him the umbrella." Nuco held the umbrella out and Hector took it and gave it to the man in the doorway, who silently shuffled away.
"Who was that?" Medio asked, once the man had left.
"'E the next craziest guy on the island," the soccer player said.
"Ahhhh...that explains it," Medio replied.
"We'll get our money back," said Nuco. "We'll just have to reschedule the payments."