Author Topic: In This Time-Ch 9--Political novel set in Peru (1456 words)  (Read 410 times)

Offline Sharon L

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In This Time-Ch 9--Political novel set in Peru (1456 words)
« on: December 06, 2011, 09:59:01 AM »
APRIL 2007
Chapter IX.

"Wake up, man, I need your help!"
                     
Scratching the sleep from his eyes, Rodrigo could hear that someone was at the point of breaking down the front door of his apartment, but could not make out the words that disturbed his slumber. Already up and giving him a dirty look, Silvia took their baby in her arms and attempted to soothe him. Barefoot and barely dressed, Rodrigo decided find out what was going on before saying something to her so he went to the bathroom, grabbed his robe and headed towards the front door.

"Hey! Who the hell are you and what do you think you’re doing at this hour?"

"Rodrigo, it’s Estuardo. Sorry for the mad timing. Please, let me in."
   
Everyone in the building will soon be gossiping about the type of company we keep, Rodrigo thought as he yawned into the peephole before looking through it. He unlocked the main bolt after confirming that it was indeed Estuardo. Rather than greet Rodrigo as he entered, reeking of the local gut-rot, Estuardo kept his former classmate at arm’s length, concealing his stump as long as possible. Feeling as if he had just been launched from a gutter, Estuardo was happy that the lady of the house hadn't answered the door.
   
"I need to I borrow your truck to look for Milagros," he said. "I’m sure I saw her two days ago and I think that she is back in town."
   
"Who do I look like to you at this hour, an auto genie? My truck has less than one liter of gasoline. Sorry, but it doesn’t seem you are up to filling the tank in your condition, much less driving to follow this crazy pipe dream once again."
   
"Even so, I need your help."
   
Recognizing that he was getting nowhere, Rodrigo stated, "I need to go to the county building this morning. Drop me off there then pick me up at my office at three. That should be enough time to work this out of your system, right?"
   
"I promise I’ll bring you back home."
   
"Fine. Take a shower here for God’s sake and we’ll leave right after breakfast before another idea pops into your head—or before I change my mind."
   
It was past eight in the morning when Estuardo deposited Rodrigo on Avenida de la Constitución. Not really knowing where to start his search, he drove along the Río Mantaro as far as the main road would take him to formulate a plan. Knowing he could call up his cousins in Llacsapirsa, Estuardo didn’t want to be shamed about the heartfelt postal communication sent so many years ago—now, it made him even more self-conscious than displaying his half-limb. They’d only wonder what the hell I want with Milagros now, he mused. His memory of the nights next to the woman who still obsessed him was what would guide him.

Sure that Milagros was living within Huancayo’s city limits rather than in the mountainous Pariahuanca district, Estuardo was willing to chase his fantasy until he made a breakthrough. Lead-footed and determined, digging up a few more long-buried coins from beneath the front seats, Estuardo hit the gas pedal, found the nearest petrol station then headed west.
   
Rodrigo believed that his friend was at the brink of starting another dangerous outing. Imagining that Milagros was holed up in a peasant village somewhere, he figured that by checking out the barrios outside Lima he’d be more successful locating her once and for all. Maybe in Ventanilla—the latest squatter’s village gone township—with a husband and three children to boot. If Estuardo thinks I’ll be spending more than a day encouraging this expedition, this time he will have to convince me that she needs a prince mounted on a white horse to come to her aid. Next week I have to be in Tingo María so the truck will not be available.
   
"Senorita Rojas, can you send out the emails I’ve saved on my computer by four this afternoon?"
   
"Gladly, Señor Luna. I’ll do that before I leave for the day," replied his secretary. "Do you need more information for the managers with whom you will meet on Monday?"
   
"No, thanks. I already have the boss’ cell number. Just in case though, if he tries to reach me later today, tell him all be at home."
   
"Do you want to me to call your wife to notify her that you cannot meet with her at one this afternoon?"                  
"No, no. I will inform her after she sees Miguelito with his lunch at school."
   
Back at his desk, Rodrigo’s cell phone rang. It was Galván. Briefly he told Rodrigo what was happening between the farmers and hidden coca plantation owners. When he hung up, Rodrigo noted that they’d only been on the phone a couple of minutes. Closing his office door behind him, Rodrigo sat down behind his large desk. He was sure that his days working directly with his counterparts in the jungle were numbered now that his son was enrolled in a good primary school. It will be more comfortable only having to come to the office and Silvia, at least, will be happier to have me taking my fatherly duties more seriously.
   
Upon reuniting with Rodrigo that afternoon, Estuardo was convinced that Milagros was living in Ayacucho, but he didn’t elaborate on this point any further as they headed back to the Luna household. Sober now, he recognized how reckless his latest search for Milagros had been. Waving his stump out the truck window as if he were assaulting windmills hadn’t been the best way to reintroduce himself to the town he grew up in after being in Tumbes for so long. Located near the county offices, the Parras’ restaurant was often the site where most of the local high school’s class of 1989 gathered every fall. Estuardo stopped by that morning, knocking on kitchen door knowing he’d be able to get a cup of coffee even though the front entrance was still locked. Asking about Milagros’ whereabouts at this hour would be less risky than reaching out to family right now—hers or his. In the background, the brand-new, large screen TV blared out a replay of the Sub-17 soccer match between male teens from Perú and Ecuador while he gathered more information. (The tied match put Peru’s team in fourth place which qualified these young men to participate in the Sub-17 tournament in South Korea.) Long gone was the dance floor, but a Karaoke machine on wheels livened up the place these days.
   
According to Señor Parra, no one had seen Milagros since the time Estuardo brought Soledad with him to share a braised chicken meal there on her birthday. Together they had already shared a huge Pachamanca feast at Rodrigo’s home that afternoon, but for dinner they were looking for a more intimate candlelight affair. The two women practically collided on their way in (Soledad) and out (Milagros) of the ladies’ room. When Soledad got back to the table, Senor Parra stopped by and they complimented him on the success he was having with Huancayo’s late-night Friday crowd. Parra pointed to the singer who was setting up for the après-futbol party on his makeshift stage—none other than the self-effacing Milagros. Now, driving back to the Luna household, it occurred to him that, at that moment, Soledad took four steps back in their relationship. Genuinely wishing he had time to make amends before setting out on this journey, Estuardo acknowledged that his stroke of luck with Soledad had finally run out. And with that, he let go of any wisps of longing for her that had, to date, remained.         
______________________________________________________________________________
   
Few of Covar Vasdea’s supporters in the Congress seemed wary of what the TLC would do to smaller partner nations regarding their ability to publicly regulate commerce when accommodating the large corporate interests of other nations. The U.S. Congress would review this accord and make its own recommendations. If all went as planned, the increase in profits that had benefited Peru for the past couple of years through the extension of the ATPA plan could continue to build up and bring more U.S. products into the country.
   
The fear among those with more leftist leanings was that those who had approved this agreement were not looking at the bigger picture. How would the small businessman in Perú compete with U.S. products? Wasn’t it enough to deal with Asia to diversify the consumer market? And what if, down the road, Peruvians no longer had any say about which U.S. products made their way into the country? How would this benefit the nation in the long run?