Angela of Livingston Guatemala – Part 16
Back at the Restaurante Sanchez Dias, John and Veronica have finished eating the best plate of seafood they have ever had. Somehow Bajando has coaxed flavor out of the Sasquatch of Shrimp in a way that would make four-star chefs scream “sacre bleu” and then hang their Gallic heads in shame.
Daniel was right as was Angela of Livingston Guatemala to direct them here for dinner when they all exchanged greetings at the Hotel Leddie.
Now finishing their post-meal Gallos, they are having a leisurely chat with Bajando, his back monitored carefully by four women, two of whom joined the earlier shift during the meal.
Veronica notices that John is coming out of his stupor and actually has something to say to someone, though definitely not to her. But still, it’s encouraging.
All day it’s like he’s been airlifted to some other dimension where the contents of his personality had been strip-mined and whatever loosened bits remained were, upon his return, set to drift around bewildered earthlings.
Had he been kidnapped by his imagination, held ransom by prime number pixies, or was it simply the relationship six-month itch? She had tried asking John what troubled him, but all she got was: “I’m being visited by old demons. It’s just because I’ve stopped working, sailing, problem solving for business and just stopped that they’ve got me in their sights. I’ll be okay soon, I promise.”
Veronica had decided not to press the point further and so was grateful to Bajando for coming over to talk with them because otherwise she’d be sitting their silent or effectively talking to herself. They were far too early in their romance to have taken up the mealtime vow of silence, the oath that marks the tomblike quiet that a scary, really scary, number of people maintain while dining as a couple.
John is quite engaged in a conversation he’s having with Bajando about the difference between life in Livingston Guatemala and New Jersey. The topic has turned to how each place deals with crime.
“What crime is there in Livingston Guatemala?” asks John. “Seems like a pretty placid place to me.”
Very little crime now, explains Bajando. A few years ago, there was a lot of drug crime, bad drugs, and the worst, crack. It changed the character of the place. People didn’t feel safe in their homes or on the street. Nightlife in town took on an eerie element, not like the carefree strollers and café patrons you see every evening on the main street now.
“Long story short, says Bajando, “My mother and her friends, powerful and respected older ladies, told the men folk to get these guys out of Dodge. No way around it, it was vigilante power. Never even bothered with the police. Corrupt. Don’t you kid yourself, the women in this town rule with an iron fist and people respect that like they ought to. Not like in Jersey, my man.”
“Although there are some other kinds of scary women there too,” he shuddered.
Veronica asks how his mother is doing. “The rash is gone and she says to thank you for the talcum power. It made her feel a lot better,” he says, looking at John with a quizzical expression and then letting it go.
As he’s finishing thanking Veronica for the powder, in walks the witchiest lady of all. She’s got the goods for sure: a very short skirt highlighting long legs that just don’t stop; a body pronounced with curves and a look on her smooth face that says, “And I mean you.”
Bajando leans over to where John is sitting and says, “Can you look after the restaurant for me for an hour or so?” John answers, “Sure, why not?”
Before leaving he tells him the price of the dinner, the only thing on the menu tonight, and what to charge for of beer, rum and sodas. There’s nothing else to sell. “No one asks for a receipt, here man, this is Livingston Guatemala. If you run out of change don’t worry, I can give it to them when they come back or see them in town.“
“Also, we don’t take credit cards. If anyone asks, tell them they’re inflationatory and that we’re doing our bit to strengthen the global economy by prudently and responsibly declining them.”
Bajando, laughing the loudest at his own joke, leaves with his friend.
John opts to stay behind while Veronica leaves to go back to the Hotel Leddie to read. It’s been a long day and she’s exhausted. Mostly drained from the sun at the beach, but also from watching John struggle with whatever is going on with him.
Well, maybe running a restaurant for an hour might do him some good. At least it will keep him busy, she hopes, and not wrangling brain barracudas all evening and into the night.
She’s finding it hard to believe that they’ve only been in town for three days. It feels they’ve both changed so much since they docked the BackTalk and got off here. John, who had been opening up to her over the early months, had now closed down tighter than a Garifuna drum. She’d just have to be patient and not jab him with the worst female line in the world: “What are you thinking about?”
“I swear on my oath that I’ll never say that again to him or any other man,” she vowed on her way back to the hotel. Veronica had never known a man to ask it. “I guess they don’t want to know or don’t consider it a real question.”
John thought he would be left to tend bar for the three remaining ladies who had not received the appetizer, entree and dessert of Bajando’s full attention. “Can I get you another drink,” he says to the one at the bar in what he hopes is his most professional bartenders voice.
She just sighs. Even her breath is perfumed. She gets up and heads for the door. He sees that the other two have already left. As she goes out the door, she turns and says, “He’s not goin’ to be back in an hour, you know. The key for closin’ up is on the floor between the stove and wall in the kitchen. Good luck.”
Now at once the sole guest and entire staff complement in the Restaurante Sanchez Dias, John gets another beer and takes advantage of the alone time to take stock of his situation.
“What have I got that I don’t want? What don’t I have that I want? I know I don’t want the badness, the gift, the power, what ever it’s called,” he says to himself, staring out at the view of the Hotel Villa Caribe as he snaps off the beer cap.
Angela of Livingston Guatemala – TripAdvisor