The City of Colon meant a fresh start for me and the chance to experience new adventures. The long walk in the cool night air had lifted my spirits and elevated me into more positive thoughts. For me, a young black man finding himself during the witch’s hours with the starry sky and a deserted city street for a backdrop, it also meant that I could sort through better my feelings of loneliness.
Here I was in Colon not knowing a soul in what was once called The Little Golden Cup- La Tacita de Oro- back in more prosperous and less hostile times. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, that if the West Indians here were anything like those in Panama, I could find myself in big trouble and soon. I was almost audible with these thoughts while I sized up my vulnerability. Until things changed and they came to accept me emotionally into their circle of friends, it would be touch and go.
With the cardboard box slung on my shoulder these concerns didn’t weigh as heavily as they could have until the thought hit me that I was a young black adolescent with a cardboard box on his sholder at those hours of the early morning and how strange that I had not encountered a single policeman.
By then I was beginning to remember something of that part of the city in which my mother had taken refuge and which she had called home since 1944. It had also been my home in infancy giving me pleasant memories of waking up from babyhood into the first four years of my life. It had also been the scene that introduced me to my first encounter with a madman and abuser of kids, something that happened when I was only a child on a visit to Colon.
It was during the only visit to my mother in the company of my father after their divorce, and it had been intended to be a visit with my baby brother and also to spend some time with my mother. I had been with my baby brother riding on the tricycle my father had brought from Panama City. We were just riding around the park near our granparents home where my aunts could supervise us. The agressor was, this time, a latino man, a grown man and a total stranger and he came up from behind us knocking me off the tricycle onto the floor with a staggering blow to the head. There was no apparent reason for this attack but I will never forget the look of unabashed hatred on his face.
Looking back at this incident I remembered that the man had escaped quickly crossing the street and disappearing into a nearby alley. Although my concern this time was mainly for my baby brother and his safety, I felt guilty for not paying more attention and taking better precaustions against the unseen enemies.
With these memories of my previous visits to the City of Colon, I promised myself to be on my guard as I, for the time being, welcomed my entrance into Colon and to a new life.
This story continues.