As was his custom, the Big Boss would come into the office and usually not talk to me. At first, I was put off by this although I didn’t show it. However, I had seen how envious the other men who had been with him longer would get and it was wise for me to remain reserved and go along with my benefactor to keep the peace in the office. He was right in his attitude and showing much more experience with these matters of interpersonal relations on the job than me. I would stop to pray daily to continue in doing the best I could on the job.
But my dealings at work paled in comparison to my problems with my girl, Pug. I feared for my reputation as an up and coming young man of responsibility and respectability amongst my new neighbors in Baseline. All had gotten to know me and liked and respected me. But now, with Pug living with me and in her delicate condition, I was beginning to feel anxious about how long I could withstand all the uncertainty.
Since the last time she just ran off to hide in a neighbor’s house after my asking her for a simple show of affection she remained stolid and uncomfortable at my very presence and, what was more discouraging, was that she would never admit or deny that I had done something to hurt her in any way, physically or emotionally. And so my “Calvary” had began. The emotional roller coaster ride had started gaining momentum to bring me to the brink of insanity.
I had known “Clevey” for a long time from Colon since the days when I avoided going home but would hang out at the stretch of beach known as “La Playita.” He had been one of the resident barbers and a kind of acting mayor amongst all the folks of La Playita and served as liaison between the residents and workers of the Canal Zone and the regular residents of Colon.
I met up with him again in Baseline in the office and he became my immediate adversary, watching my every move. I would become haunted by this one man who made it his duty to remind me that he was disappointed in everything I did whenever he visited the office.
Clevey decided to become Pug’s protector for no other reason, perhaps, than to thwart me. He had already gained the reputation of becoming the “new man of the house” and the Chief Cook’s main man who had showed great respect for me since the day I appeared in Baseline. Clevey had always boasted of how he always got the latest news to, in turn, report to all visitors and friends alike of how I was mistreating this wonderful girl.
Well, as time wore on Clevey became my judge, jury and general tormentor. He would appear at the office during as many times of the day as he could manage and stand before me and berate me for being so low down as to be abusing “that little pregnant girl he knew so well.” As it was all a bunch of lies, I started to feel powerless to defend myself. Who would believe a black West Indian boy like me next to the silent “testimony” of a very young, cute and pregnant Chinese girl like Pug who never denied any of this false testimony against me? Her silence damaged me the most.
And so, with my once pristine reputation sullied I became somewhat distant with China and took a bunk at my old single men’s railroad car which served to just rest until I got word of a place for that pregnant girl, who was looking very close to going into labor. I worried about her condition a lot because in all the time that I knew Pug I had never seen her cook a meal or wash her own clothing; everything was done for her and she always appeared to have money to spend during the evening food fries at the Dining Room.
Back at the Dining Room Pug seemed to be surrounded by all the people from her old neighborhood in Colon. She, in fact, introduced me to some of them when she would approach them. They would always ask in the most jovial and familiar manner, “What do you want to eat tonight China?”
This story continues.