When Nuco left the trucha, he was met by a short, shabbily dressed man bearing the kind of leathery, red and white facial skin that betrayed inbreeding. The skin, accompanied by nearly hairless eyelids, gave the man a lizardlike appearance.
A slight dribble of spittle ran down the man's chin, as if he, too, wanted to take part in the Pavlovian feeding frenzy. After sizing up his prey with a slow blink of his eyes, the man asked, "You one a dem guys 'at's buyin' stuff?" Before Nuco could respond, he added, "You wanna see where they got cold beer?"
"Sure," Nuco said, taking the bait.
The man disappeared behind a long row of churches. Nuco followed.
Once inside the bar, the man waved to the bartender, then turned to Nuco. "What you drinkin'?"
"Salva Vida," Nuco said, choosing the stronger Honduran beer.
"You need money," the man said, his intent betrayed by the thin line of Pavlovian pirate slobber.
"I got money," Nuco replied, then said, "Hey, this guy's gotta have some pull being so close to the churches."
"'E got money, too," the man replied.
Nuco ordered and paid for a beer. "What are you drinking?"
"Rum. You buyin'?"
"How much does it cost?"
"Thiry-five cent gold." In keeping with Utilans' Anglo sympathies, the man spoke in US currency, which the islanders called 'gold'.
Nuco handed a dollar to the bartender. "I'll take a double," the man said, his eyes flicking toward Nuco as if sizing up the distance between himself and a meal.
Nuco smiled and nodded, admiring the move. "What's your name?" he asked.
"You know Roberta?"
"I know 'im."
Nuco directed a few insults at the maricon, hoping for a response, but Winston remained tight-lipped.
The bartender returned, set the double shot of rum on the bartop and held out the change. Nuco reached for the money, but Winston took his outstretched hand and shook it. With his other, he took the change and dropped it into his shirt pocket. Tossing the drink down his throat, he blinked slowly, then licked his lips. "Hey, I'm gonna talk to you one day," he said, and ambled out of the bar.
"Who was that?"
"He one 'a the Cooper family," the bartender replied, referring to a part of the clan that had given up barrel making to enter the thriving business of piracy.
"He's pretty slick," Nuco said.
"Yeah, 'e crazy," the bartender replied.
The description gave Nuco pause. "How crazy?" he asked, setting his beer on the bartop.
The bartender thought for a moment, a frown forming creases on his forehead. "'e the craziest guy on the island."