Getting Along With Baseline Neighbors


Image is from one of our favorite pages, Proverbs Daily.

The policeman and I walked along in silence until we got back to my room, picked up the money I had so carefully saved away for weeks and left again for the long walk back to the Corregiduria. During the walk the young Westindian policeman asked, “Are you the same Juni from San Miguel in Panama?” “Yes!” I exclaimed dryly, annoyed by all the walking I had to do that day.  “I didn’t recognize you at first…” he confessed and I held my breath. “But then I recognized you right away!”

After that revelation we walked back to the Corregiduria to find the functionary in the middle of hearing the neighbor’s accounts of me and my wife causing a living hell in the neighborhood.

I had to wait for some ten minutes for them to ask me to join them. It was then that I asked the woman who had denounced me, while avoiding looking in her face, “Miss did you say we owed you thirteen dollars?” She nodded her head in agreement all the while maintaining a frightful frown on her face. While I counted out the thirteen dollars, placing them on top of the desk of the Corregidor, he picked them up and counted the money out again and then handed it to the woman for her to count. When the Corregidor felt satisfied he asked her, “Are you satisfied Señora?” She shook her head reluctantly in the affirmative. I piped in asking, “Señor can I leave now?” “Yes you can leave now, but try to get along with your neighbors!” responded the stern corregidor. “I`ll try Señor,” I said as I walked out the door of his office.

By then I was really exhausted and when I finally got back to the neighborhood, I stopped at the workers dining room to eat dinner before I proceeded back home.  As was my custom, I lay in the hammock, something I’d done since arriving in Baseline to help me unwind.

I waited for the women to serve me my evening meal and as I sat eating I noticed my compañeros arriving from the fields. “Send that girl over to eat will you, Juni!” commanded the main cook. “You want me to send the baby too?” I asked, smiling at her and it made her smile back. “Sure, and you get some rest after all the excitement,” she said, showing her more tender, maternal side. But I didn’t respond as I thought about how I almost got put in jail for something I was totally unaware of.

After walking home that evening I was finally glad to enter our room, taking off my clothes for a well deserved rest. I then told Pug,, “If anyone comes to see me, just tell them that I am resting and that you are not to interrupt me ’til tomorrow.”

Within the next few days I, again, found my way back to that same Corregidor’s office only this time it was to register the baby boy as Rigoberto Augusto Reid with his mother’s name as Flora Maria Chong, and me, his father, as Roberto Augusto Reid Green. I then brought back the document and handed it to his mother who did not comment at all on the name of the child or what I had done that day.

After all the foregoing events I figured my next move was to plan a way of getting out of that Changuinola River area of Baseline in Bocas del Toro province, hoping not to end up in jail due to the increasing contacts with the police if I remained united to my thoughtless wife. At any rate, I came up with a way. I announced to my bosses that I had been contacted by my father who was living in the U.S. and I needed to leave as soon as possible.

My tale to Pug, however, was different although a lie just the same. I told her that one of my neighbors from back home in San Miguel had sent word that my father was looking for me. It was during this time that I had plunged back into a deep depression and, in a way, it was my way of freeing myself from the love I had for that troublesome kid of a wife.

I knew that with her I had bitten off more than I could chew, and I could not trust her anymore. In other words, I convinced myself that I had to fall out of love with her, without admitting it to anyone else.

This story continues.

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