site called The Art of Manliness.
The scene was now turned around. As I saw it my honor was being challenged as the challenger made it known to everyone that he was about to pummel two big mouths in one day, the two who had sullied the name of a damsel- presumably my neighbor. So, this was the real issue and I honestly did not want to appear to be fighting over some foolish girl.
“Look I don’t have no problem with you,” I said, “but you had better reconsider who you are challenging to a fight!” With that last show of bravado I hoped to impress upon him that I wasn’t afraid of a boy whom I had known since we were in the fourth grade. Then I composed myself and walked past Rico to carry out my daily chore of dumping out our family’s garbage.
I soon forgot the whole thing assuming that this boy had seen me in other battles at school and that should have sufficed for him not to dare to want to go into battle with me. When I thought about it, however, I still appeared punier in comparison to all the other boys in my age grade and it seemed as though most of them had surpassed me in size over the past school year, including this adolescent boy whom I had virtually grown up with in the neighborhood and at school.
A couple of days would pass while I turned my thoughts to more important things like my steady stream of work at my table at the dental laboratory. I was also taken up with a new and dramatic change in my life: being fitted with my “new look,” my new frontal bridge that the men I worked under were making for me. In the meantime Rico had not forgotten the encounter over his assured territory on my side of Magnolia Building.
As I readied myself for work at my trade in the dental clinic one afternoon, Cecil Payne, a Westindian boy whom the neighborhood gang nicknamed “Belleza,” showed up looking for me. “Hey Juni,” said Belleza, “are you aware that Rico is spreading it around the neighborhood that he challenged you to fight and that you refused to fight him?” I said, “Well let him keep talking; I don’t care.” “But he is saying that you are going to have to fight him, whether you want to or not!” said Cecil, rather insistent in his tone.
I had finally had enough of all this stupid talk and said to the boy who was also about my age, “Hey I got to go I got something very important to take care of!” With that I left the boy standing there as I entered the apartment disappearing momentarily from view.
Since I had not hung out with the neighborhood gang for quite some time, I had lost touch with them or, rather they had lost touch with me. They had no idea what I had been doing for the two month long summer vacation that was quickly coming to a close. I had busied myself attending Sunday School at the Salvation Army in Wachipali, better known as Marañon. Ducking through Calabash Alley I had perfected my maneuvers through the neighborhood traveling almost undetected.
I discovered, however, that I had not been as stealthy as I thought since my Sunday School teacher, Captain Chapman, had noticed my presence and handed me a poem to recite at an upcoming Easter event at church. I made every effort to learn this Easter poem and I even went out to find a white Lily to serve as a prop for my upcoming presentation. I had to go all the way to Ancon to The Green House, the only place where you could buy fresh flowers in Panama City. The Westindian ladies who served the public there all knew me well from previous purchases I had made for my family.
Secretly, though, I thought it was a rather sissy poem but I thought it better not to shirk my duty since I wanted to show my appreciation to my teacher, Capt. Chapman, who went through pains to keep us studying the word of God.
This story will continue.