Cuento 5: “Mañanita”
4:25am [Typing, ecstatic]: Marta and Cesar can’t sleep, hear my pacing, and whisper, “Douglas, café?” over the inside wall.
“Agua,” I answer, blow out my light, lock la puerta. My stomach churns from all the café and bile. Flashlight and cup en mi manos, I cross the darkened solar. No luna. I click my foco on.
“Cuento 1” will have to do for the Internet this morning. The rest? Too politically incorrect. I just can’t face the terror. Or bring myself to pray for OHG.
Kíler, the family perro, growls, snorts, starts wagging, his tail thump-thumping my leg. He’s stationed where I used to pee, before mi pichinga. “This dog knows who butters his tortilla,” I snort. Most do, in Nicaragua and in the States, but here, with a difference: understanding “gracias,” they’re grateful for butter, since they almost never get it.
I wait outside the kitchen door, click off the foco, my shoulders slumped with metaphysical defeat. I can’t see a foot in front of me. There’s not a streetlight for miles. Slasher territory, es cierto. On goes the foco. Cesar’s removing la barricada within, their night’s further caution: a lock’s too expensive, since it’d need attaching to a brand new puerta.
I hear Marta light a candela. Her door finally opens. I enter, sit. The barricade goes back up.
"You're sad again, mi hermano." Cesar knows me inside-out. So does Marta. "It's true, es verdad, but I'm happy to be with you, familia." We loll, wiped but smiling, in red plastic sillas, drink each other’s salud, one more time, in the Nica candle’s glow.
"And, to my haunted government, peace, por favor, gracias por todo," I whisper. We nod, wryly, grin, clink our cups.
“Douglas, have you used "Pichinguita," yet?” Cesar laughs at his new coinage.
“She's full,” I reply, on the beat, and once again, los trés are muchachos, giggling under hands, not to wake the niños. Or, sleeping in la sala, just over the wall, my Betanco parents, sighing in the Nicaraguan noche. I gulp mi agua. "Ay, Pichinguita!"
Don Moncho talks in his sleep. “Mi amor,” he murmurs, at almost 80. What a macho!
Palomas coo, flutter in the rafters.
We’re startled by a bolo, roaring out his drunkenness too near, outside on the road: this sets off Kíler, ferocious Chow from Hell en la noche, and dainty vicious Pinta, black and white whippet, who, in eternal round, spark the roosters’ crowing, early, before even a blip of a promising glimmer, yet, in the eastern sky. Marta asks if Cesar’s got his machete. He checks his bota.
She listens quietly. “So many voices, in here, out there.” She sips her café. “Can you hear them en la vienta, Douglas, in the wind? Oh, they cause us no harm, gliding east and west, south and north, a country of whispers. En noche, they sing. Douglas, can you hear?”
“Only the breeze, mi hermana.”
“Douglas,” says Cesar, “they’re the spirits of sleeping campesinos, whispering as we do here, but from their dreams. Common as pichingas, they sing so bravo from their hearts, so hushed now, from pobre to pobrecito.”
“Cesar, mi hermano, what do they say, amigo?”
“Listen, hombre. Just listen.”
A macaw screeches in the kapoks down by the rio Limon.
Palm trees rustle in the dawning swell.
I hear it, though not in the wind, as Marta’d said. Rather, in my breath, the loudest stillness:
"Estoy libre! Estoy libre! Si, si, I am free!”
It leads me to a certain rapture. For one-sweet-endless minuto, everything is right.
"Por favor, la barricada, y gracias, hermanos. I need to get back to my writing." Then, comes a distant ángelus, the bells of welcome to the sun. Ay, Chihuahua, this miracle place! Dawn breaks in Teote, lights the restless heartland of a freer Nicaragua.