Despite my occasional reprieves from the everyday worries of being a young adult, my emotional state during this time was in continual flux over how Pug and I had fallen out of love. We were in a real period of splitting up. But I didn’t want to duplicate this scenario with Barbara. I’d come to the conclusion that I could not have a real love affair again after my failure with Pug.
With Barbara it could have been because she was a part of our circle of school friends and a romantic relationship was something that at first I did not want, for, however close to me some of the girls at Abel Bravo School seemed, I would find some excuse not to get involved with them. With Pug it had been a unique story, looking so much like someone from the heart of China as she did. I suppose that there had always been an enormous attraction to the Chinese community on the part of us young West Indians. But now all that attraction for Pug simply led me to want to forget her, as her immaturity and her penchant for fabricating lies made left me gun shy to even consider other school girls. I did everything I could to lose Pug out of my life.
One morning, however, I discovered her following my tracks all over Colon. But, since she knew where to find me at any time of the day or night, I took this as a reason to drop out of my studies at Abel Bravo School and even forsake my dream of graduating with my beloved classmates and choir members. I also wanted to stop relying on old Simeon to provide me with work since getting him to pay me for the cars I washed and detailed had become like pulling teeth. I stayed in my room trying to figure out what else to do so that I wouldn’t have to go too long without regular meals.
One day I decided to walk over to Sixth Street to see if some of my noisy buddies from school were still around our old haunt having a good time just visiting Tita and Barbara. As I climbed the stairs I could hear them talking loud as usual, and laughing even louder. It made my heart glad to hear things were as usual with all of us. I hadn’t seen any of them since my return from Bocas. When they finally saw me they were so glad that they and rushed over in a group to hug me, showing me how much they had missed me in their company.
“Where the hell have you have been Cobert Reid!” they yelled joyfully. But, before I could answer I detected the inviting fragrance of baking bread which, as hungry as I was, overcame my famished senses. It brought back memories of all our ties together and our ritual of eating Pork Gâteau together. The baker was the same gentleman, the man with the secret of baking the best “Pork Gâteau” in Colon. It was made into generous sized buns impregnated with the most tantalizing flavor of spiced pork. We all loved to nibble on this delicacy especially after school and, I must confess, that they were really delicious.
The aroma that filled the air got to my very soul and my impulse was to immediately rush to the back of the old board building to see if there were any buns available for purchase.“No, son they are not ready as yet,” said the short dark skinned West Indian man responsible for these baked wonders; “Another fifteen minutes more,” he added. The memories of our reunions there on the balcony of that old board building rushed back to me to bring back the days we would spend just hanging out letting off steam.
When I looked over the balcony, however, I spied Pug tracking my whereabouts in Colon and was about to leave. Pug purposefully stood out in the open for me to see her spying me as she walked around in her slippers- her usual mode of dress. I noticed her doing this when any other girl showed an interest in me. Suddenly, I felt myself caught in a big bear hug by old “Nick Paganini” one of our classmates.
The guys then grabbed me and pulled me aside to whisper in my ear, “Look Cobert man, Barbara is madly in love with you!” How could I tell them that I was running from all girls and emotional entanglements. All I could say was, “Guys please!” That day, however, I would be more carried away with the sweet smell of bread, of the simple but savory smell and taste of “Pork Gâteau.”
This story continues.