Saturday, March 6th, 2002 1:35 am
Order is everything: Off, bug! Bug off!
That evening, everything in the campfire circle is miraculously back in its original location. Despina's rotten log is again situated in the path of the smoke from the prevailing wind. The fire ant nest is nearly rebuilt.
Cu said nothing about the moved campsite last night when I started the fire in the new location. So this is how he deals with rebellion in the ranks.
Paul Peter leans back, saying, "That Mario can really draw. I've got him making natural bark frames for some of his better work to exhibit at the county fair."
"I bet the 'Natural Alphabet' digital photo series would do well there, too." I wonder how I can get help doing natural frames for them? thinks Despina, but she says nothing more.
Horst adds, "Yes, many of these people are superior artists." He reaches for his cigarette case.
"It's a shame the tourists can't see it. I bet an art gallery would really go over, " suggests Despina, twirling her finger around some strands of hair.
Paul Peter, ever willing to play the devil's advocate, asks, "Where would you house it?"
Tapping her pen against her cheek, she thinks aloud, "Someplace visible from the road."
Jacques informs her, "The fair sets up panels in the open air. It's generally pretty dry then."
"There's a natural spot just north of the first of the hovels -- even has a place already suitable for parking," brainstorms Despina.
"And when it rains?" Paul Peter blows a perfect smoke ring.
Despina frowns. "Move the panels into a hogan?"
Cu looks at her, eyes glittering in the flickering firelight, then adds, "Voy a hablar al consejo tribal."
I hope the tribal council is in good shape the night he speaks to them about building an actual weatherproof hogan, Despina thinks disgustedly, watching Adriana approach the campfire.
"Has anybody seen Alberto?" Adriana asks the group as she adjusts her clothing.
"You look a little rumpled. Did you have a good time?" queries Paul Peter.
Nobody keeps strict tabs on the children as a general rule. PP's right, she does look as if she's been to the cave. Despina, lost in her thoughts, misses Adriana’s response, but from her stiff back, she easily understands that Paul Peter is baiting someone else for a change. Smiling, she returns to her reverie. Since Cu is here, she either must have been his consort in rumor only, or has fallen from grace. I can’t picture him willingly, openly, sharing someone special, or is that just my White upbringing coming to the fore, misinterpreting everything AGAIN? Losing track of his son under such conditions! No wonder she's frantic. After Alberto’s arroyo episode, everyone is not quite as blasé about where he wanders off to.
"Where look you?" asks Bruno.
"The cave, the pond, my house, Cu's house, Miguel's..."
"I'll check the school and the hospital," says Jacques, jumping up with alacrity.
"I'll check su bañera and the riverbanks," Horst states, ogling Adriana.
Noting where his eyes go, Paul Peter quips, "Nice night for a romantic moonlit swim. Who's the lucky beau, or was it a buck?"
Cu silently sets off for the hills between the campfire and the road into town.
"Checking your mother's cave?" asks Paul Peter.
A slight nod is Cu's only response.
"I could..." starts Despina.
"NO!" shouts Paul Peter a second ahead of Bruno, stabbing the tip of his cigarette at the air. "You stay put. At least we know where one of our wanderers is."
Ignoring their outbreak, Despina continues, "Go ask María if she's seen him."
"Good one, Pina. Ask a blind lady if she's seen him!"
"Remember the short story 'Footfalls' in the tenth grade lit book, PP? Like blind Boaz, she always knows who's nearby, calling them by name BEFORE they speak, or asking a stranger how she can help him or her."
"Down, Pina," Paul Peter commands. "Horst will be striding right past her, purposefully, at an odd time. She'll recognize him and tell him whatever she knows."
"I could call Mickey."
"And alienate the tribal police? He hasn't been gone long enough, yet. Think how you'll feel if he's just bunking in with another classmate."
"No sign of him," calls Jacques, returning. "It's too early to involve either police, I think."
"River's quiet," Horst adds, plopping into his accustomed spot.
"If he doesn't show up with someone for school tomorrow, check with Cu about involving Mickey. I'm betting he'll be there right on time." Paul Peter tips his head back to blow smoke into the clear night air.
"Send Sarita back to me if he no show," says Adriana, shaking out her skirt as she stands.
"You're coughing quite well tonight, Pina. Care to go round two with the varmints on this side of the fire?" opines Paul Peter.
"Smoke's a good pesticide. I haven't had to slap a single mosquito all night."
Brave words, but I've had it.
Tired of coughing, she retires early.
As she heads into her "back" door, Cu approaches from the road. From his gait, Despina decides he's also been unsuccessful in locating his son.
"No está en la cueva."
Ah, so I was right. His cave search was unfruitful. She turns to face him with a frown.
"¿Qué son estos?" he inquires as he reaches a point where the scraggly tomato plants become visible.
"Too much water? Oh, is that why the leaves are yellow?"
Cu's melodic Spanish contains a hint of laughter. "A menos que haya chocado con tus rocas ..."
Unless they’ve run afoul of my rocks? With a tinkling laugh, Despina enters her hovel, shaking her head, as Cu heads home. "Voy a regresarme a casa. Quiza está allí ahora." His voice drifts off as he recedes.
Despina replies, “Maybe he WILL be there, yes.”
Alberto is under the chaise lounge in Despina's hovel. Sleeping on the floor is not a hardship to him. Despina's bed is hung with mosquito netting, and the draping falls down on each side of his hiding place.
When he pops out the next morning, he says, "I like it under there. I like the smell of your hovel."
Talking to Maria, Despina discovers that she heard him go in just at dusk while everyone was still at the fire circle, but not come out.
"When Horst went by to look for him at the river, why didn't you tell him where he was?"
"[Bah! That one,]" she says, her Spanish reverberating bitterly in the air. "[When I called out to that one, he ignore me. He no give old ladies the time of day.]"
Live and let live.
Last updated 2/22/10 added A menos que haya chocado con sus rocas and Despina replies, “Maybe he WILL be there, yes.”... cave search2/20/10 changed weatherproof building to hogan and aquí to allí 2/20/10 changed weatherproof building to hogan and aquí to allí 2/3/10 Trying out Where’sMeKilt’s suggestion to bracket English when the characters were speaking Spanish, but I can’t think of a smooth way to inform non-Spanish-speakers what was being said… she says, her Spanish reverberating bitterly in the air. Added Cu's melodic Spanish contains a hint of laughter. 2/2/10 Added more “tells”, corrected blew to blows; Changed leans back and says to back, saying ; Cu’s comments to Spanish "Voy a hablar al consejo tribal."
I hope the tribal council is in good shape the night he speaks to them about building an actual weatherproof building, Despina thinks.
Changed Cheryl to Adriana (Where’sMeKilt) 1/8/10 corrected Cheryl. 7/15/08, Added first two paragraphs from The Cave. (1/4/06 tomate. 1/2/06 removed reaction to moved campfire site) (8/30/04 Added section from "Black Thumb"; Removed "Juan's Day in Court" material added on open air art 8/8/04.) 4/5/02 - Removed from “Pest Invasion”.
Word Count: 1117