Eric Turner would show up the next few days after disappearing for days and relate to me how he had been at the local piers working making a few bucks. “ I didn’t know that about getting work at the piers or the Muelle Fiscal was a way to also get work Eric?” I said as we walked and conversed. He would relate to me how a couple of strong young men would eternally hang out at the pier and, when the boats came in from Bocas or other Provinces, they would need them to help unload merchandise and even the travelers’ luggage from the vessels.
“Well Juni, my boy, I am going back to Panama tomorrow,” he said one day. “So come with me because I wanted to introduce you to somebody.” So, again, we walked to the last house for the Silver Roll on the Canal Zone left as he kept talking to me about wanting me to meet “Mother.” And so I just let him speak having no idea what or whom he was referring to, starting to feel abandoned by him but making all efforts to hear him talk about things we had never before talked about. In fact, this would be the first time after being on my own volition that I would find myself meeting someone I would refer to as Mother.
“Mother, this is Juni and I had wanted for you to meet him,” says Eric when we reach her home. Mother appeared to be skeptical about me as she looked me over. Then, Eric, referring to me being useful to them at the house said, “Juni will come and do errands for you and things like that.” That was the moment in our meeting that I would get to meet “Mother Wright” and her daughter, and later would meet her other daughters and two small boys who had just started to attend school.
The meeting with Mother Wright and her daughter would become more intimate as I would continue visiting their home and get to know them. They would become for me much more than key figures of the Beji-Nite/ Jump up Church in Colon, part of the same network of churches that I only knew before in Panama when I would stand outside the door watching the services of an “open church” in the San Miguel hill neighborhood.
Eric finally left and the first opportunity I had to get away from the crowd of us who had to roam the hallways of Abel Bravo College, doing what I called wasting away a whole afternoon doing nothing but gossiping and having fun, to find myself requesting an opportunity to work from Simeon, the eternal foreman.
As I stood in front of him, he asked me, “You know how to simonize Juni?” I couldn’t wait to begin so I responded, “ When do I have a chance to prove myself Simeon?” He didn’t answer right away but took off saying, “You just wait here. I’ll be back.” I waited for what would seemd an eternity for Simeon to return and tell me to come back two days later in the afternoon.
This story continues.