Added to our poor marital relationship, Pug and I had started showing our disaffection by disavowing to ourselves and others that we had ever been a couple. Time and circumstance would reveal to me that my dilemma would have to remain a “quiet” issue for as long as I could endure. It was plain as day, however, that that child that I had registered as being mine, in reality was not. But, I quietly tried to remain positive about accepting the child as mine while Pug remained adamant in never wanting to divulge to anyone what was secretly ailing her and keeping her in a constant foul mood against me.
I was reaching my threshold of endurance in the way she had been acting towards me, rejecting me outwardly, acting as if she was more than competent living alone. On many occasions I myself felt like she was the last person in this world with whom I wanted to be. I even pondered traveling back to Baseline to return to work there and, knowing my boss as I did, I knew that he would never refuse me employment. I honestly considered it until my reason won out telling me not to go back to slave for someone who totally rejected me.
To confirm my suspicions and misgivings about my relationship with Pug, during my walks through downtown Bocas Town, I would run into people I knew coming off the launches from Colon who would start to insinuate that they were surprised to hear how I had been behaving with Pug. Although I remained reluctant to hear the gossip about me, I would hear the tales- lies, really,- that I had heard back in Baseline, lies that Pug had fabricated. Those shameful innuendos had come to my ear to hurt me and to mar my reputation while Pug seemed to joy in it. For me the whole thing stank of whoring, or putería as the Spanish people called it.
It reminded me of Panama City where I had grown up and become an ardent fan of Victor Boa`s Band, whom I had first heard at the old Chesterfield Building. That orchestra would play as they transmitted even their practice sessions over the radio. It was in those transmissions that I had first heard those same words about prostitutes and such.
Well, just outside of the Bocas Town Pier those memories all came back to me when I overheard some Westindian guy talking to some very beautiful girls he happened to be escorting right there near that pier. Those young girls were breathtakingly beautiful Panamanian girls, like the kind I loved to run with at school.
Out of curiosity I struck up a conversation with them and asked, “You girls teaching here?” Happy to be leaving on the next launch, they all laughed and told me just how much they had been “teaching to fuck so far up there.” It just floored me to know how easily the most beautiful young women could get mixed up in such a sordid lifestyle as prostitution. They walked away laughing happily, as if it were such a light matter, to catch their boat to Panama while their tall and lanky Black “escort,”- their chulo– whom they paid to protect them, hovered over them like a hawk.
I stood there all of a sudden bemused and perplexed how that Chinese girl I had been living with seemed to view that sordid lifestyle as the grandest thing in the world- something to imitate- anxious to grow up and practice the age-old art of whoring all her life. I had to remember the day when my mother also tried to talk to me about that girl that I lived with. She had been wiser about the disgraceful “whoring” lifestyle she was involved in, although I could not see it.. I suddenly remembered how my mother talked to a neighbor about “putería,” and she (Pug) being a Colon girl also. It would be the first time that I thanked God for revealing these things to me so that I could readjust my life plans so as not to include her in them.
This story continues.