That was the night that my freedom would finally come. It was then that I noticed the expression on my aunts’ faces when they saw that my threats to leave them were for real. After what seemed an eternity my grandmother finally took action to remedy the mess they had left her. She went out into the hallway and snatched back my cardboard box and faintly began to insist saying, “No, wait!”
But the power in the wolf pack paid her no attention or gave her the respect she deserved- they apparently never had- because her daughters completely disregarded her as if they were the alfas of the wolf pack and again said in unison,”Let him go, the snake, the snake in the grass!” By then it was too late for my weakened grandmother because even I had lost all respect and admiration for her. The respect and the fact that I had been her right hand and aid all these years were vanished and I declared, “This has never been a home for me and never will be!” Also, the way they were acting towards me had opened my eyes as to how dejected my mother must have felt in her youth amongst these women as sisters-in-laws.
The devil then whispered to me that now was my opportunity to show some loyalty to my mother. As I decidedly left that familiar door with the cardboard box on my shoulder, not thinking about any other options or if I had any money for a journey like the one I was about to make, I headed down the stairs justifying my actions with the cry of, “I have done nothing to deserve this tonight!” Then the thought occurred to me that all I had really wanted to do was take a shower and go to bed.
As I walked aimlessly the tiredness I felt before came back as I walked up “P” Street toward the top of San Miguel Hill. With the cardboard box on my shoulder I was looking for anyone in the group of boys whom I had befriended and had been instrumental in forming a social club with recently. I remembered the day that these neighborhood boys invited me to join them in shaping the social club they named “Club Wellington.” They had approached me and made me the proposal of joining them in shaping the social club with great enthusiasm. “Hey Juniah…you want to join our social club?”
At that moment I felt like telling them that I had no time for any other activities but I decided not to as I didn’t want to get that kind of reputation of refusing them. So, I agreed, “Hey, sure I do! When will the meetings be?” At the time I didn’t want to have anymore to do with the guys from the neighborhood since I was doing very well in my studies and was making other kinds of friends at the National Institute, friends that I liked and was lest apt to get into trouble with.
By then I had nothing more than a couple of occasions to go to any of their meetings just to discover that their club was made up of nothing more than three or four guys, and that we were the founders of this social club. Then, we each paid in dues and were able to recruit more members. I remember in those days and before our generation had grown to be of age that these types of partnerships we called clubs had become very commonplace. They took time to organize formal parties and dances and raise funds and we could get to meet the most beautiful of the girls in our circle. But, I was torn between the positives and the negatives in these arrangements because, in all honesty, I was not in the least bit interested in getting into engagements with none of the girls I knew.
While those thoughts were taking over my present predicament, I had already arrived by the home of one of the boys and explained my situation to him. “Look brother I’m in trouble and need some money to get to Colon to my mother,” I said. My friend understood right away and quickly said, “Look, Junior, of course if nothing else I have a few coins to advance you, while we’re going to see another member to see if we all can help.”
We stopped by another one of the guys and explained my dilemma to him and he quickly replied, “Sure man, I can help!” Together they collected more than what I needed for my fare to reach the Atlantic City by the Caribbean Sea named after Christopher Columbus. By this time I had left home with so much anger towards those aunts of mine that I couldn’t think of going to any of the other adults I knew to ask them for help.
I soon had the fare raised to make the long trip and something left over to spare to eat the next day. The boys had seemed to understand the anguish I was feeling in those critical moments of my youth and decided to accompany me to the bus terminal. They even took care in helping me with the carboard box passing it between them as we walked along Central Avenue towards the Plaza Cinco de Mayo to take the night bus. I thought, with gratitude, how much I had been in need of simple moral support and that these young boys were giving it to me.
We arrived at the bus terminal area and a bus was almost ready to depart which made our farewells very brief. I was off on a ride with a busload of strangers leaving my buddies on the sidewalk watching that bus take off to wind through the streets of Panama City bound for Colon.
This story continues.