Copyright 2017 by Wendell Blue
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Sue, January 5th (3 PM)
“Skinny people in the seats, fat people in the aisle!” shouted the ticket collector as he struggled to advance through the mob of passengers.
Sue’s lips tightened, “Yea, right, like I’m going to get out of this seat to let a skinny person have it. Right! I guess it’s OK for you to call me fat and take my seat away, but I’m not supposed to call you a spic. Even though you are a spic, you little runt.”
After three months of constant heat, humidity and pestering by local men, Sue had just about had enough of life in Nicaragua. Yes, she was fat, but so were about half of the people in this country. And eating a steady diet of rice and corn tortillas wasn’t helping her or them in this regard.
“You come here to help the people,” she thought, “and where does it get you? What do they do? Hiss at you, comment on your fat ass – if it’s so fat, why do they try to pinch it?!”
With these thoughts in head and her broad posterior firmly planted on the hard plastic seat, Sue stared grimly forward, practically daring the steward to try and dislodge her so that a skinny person could have her seat.
The diesel fumes from the ferry were choking her nearly as much as the bile bubbling in Sue’s throat as she considered the injustices heaped upon her over the past couple of months. Not even the sight of the island of Ometepe, her destination in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, could completely mellow her troubled mind.
Her head full of angry thoughts, Sue slowly reached into her backpack, and pulled out a large bag of potato chips
“Well, maybe a few days out here in nature will be good for me,” she decided as she thoughtfully stuffed a chip into her mouth. “A few more days in Granada and there would have been a few dead brown boys on the streets.”
Aside from the chips and the beautiful sight of the approaching Ometepe, the only thing cooling the indignant fire in Sue’s soul was the thought of Ramon. While she had experienced nothing but frustration and anger with the macho attitude of Nicaraguan men, Ramon had been the exception. From the moment they had met in the volunteers’ office she had realized that Ramon was a pure and beautiful soul. And it wasn’t only his soul that was beautiful.
What began as a cooperative effort to help the underprivileged children in the impoverished barrios, had quickly developed into a passionate affair. Sue had been the one to take the initiative for, unlike the other men she had met in this godforsaken country, Ramon had not been aggressive or obnoxious with her. She had been the aggressive one.
Ramon, January 5th (3 PM)
“What are you doing, hanging around with that fat gringa”
Ramon looked coolly at Luis and replied, “We have a relationship.”
“Yea, right. A relationship. Face it, she just wants to have sex with an exotic loverboy and you’re hoping to get something out of it. What has she given you … other than access to her bloated body?”
“Ay, Luis, you don’t understand love.”
“I understand love, Ramon. In fact, I’m in love with about ten women right now. And all of them were born in Granada. And all of them will still be in Granada long after your so-called relationship with the gringa has ended.”
“So why do you think Sue should ‘give’ me something? What have your girlfriends given you?”
“Oh, come on, Ramon! Don’t be naïve. You’re not in love with that woman. Never mind that she’s so big, she must be at least ten years older than you. You’re hoping to get something, and we both know it. She’s got money; you don’t. You want out of this country, and she’s your ticket to the USA. Don’t tell me you’re not in this “relationship” to get something. I wasn’t born yesterday.”
“So, what have your girlfriends given you? Ramon demanded, “You still haven’t answered me.”
“Among other things, they’ve given me the same thing the gringa has given you: sex. Only in my case, it has been good sex with hot young Latinas. I haven’t been crushed in the process, like some people in this room.”
“Fuck off, Luis. You don’t know what goes on between Sue and me.”
“Thank God for that. I don’t want to know. It scares me just to think about it. On the other hand, this so-called relationship of yours just might pay off for both of us. Yea … if we play our cards right, we might just benefit from this. I’m going to think this over, my friend. There might be an opportunity here for both of us.”
“Well, when you have figured things out, be sure not to tell me,” Ramon muttered angrily.
“Hey, hey, easy there, boy. Don’t be so negative. Your big gringa might just be our big break. Just let me think about this…”
Sue, January 8th (noon)
The ferry was scheduled to leave Ometepe island for the Nicaraguan mainland at 12 noon so naturally the boarding process didn’t begin until well after twelve thirty. As soon as the gates opened, the mob waiting at the harbor began pouring onto the boat.
Looking down from a bird’s-eye view above, it looked like a stream of ants heading into their ant hole. Among the stream of brown ants there appeared a large white termite. The termite was Sue. She was heading back to Granada to continue her volunteer work with the NGO. More importantly, to her at least, she was heading back to inflict some heavy loving on Ramon.
While the brown ants appeared to be dry in spite of the mid-day heat and humidity, the large white termite was soaking wet with perspiration. This fact was not lost on the termite.
“Don’t these people sweat?!? They’re either dehydrated or they have some kind of genetic anomaly.”
As these thoughts crossed her mind, something sharp jabbed her in the back. Looking back, she saw that one of the small brown ants was impatiently struggling to advance in the line. In this, he was no different than every other Nicaraguan attempting to board the ferry. Patience did not seem to be a Nicaraguan virtue.
“Bloody hell! Why can’t these people behave like civilized human beings!” she thought as she cast a hate stare at the offending young man, who smiled sweetly at her, blissfully unaware that anyone could be offended by shoving or jabbing someone in the back with a small suitcase.
“Do you mind?!?” she shouted.
Well, that was what she thought she shouted. Because of her bad Spanish language skills, she actually said, “You matter to me.”
In response to this unusual utterance, the young man replied, “Gracias.”
Sweaty face red with heat and anger, Sue impatiently began to press against the woman in front of her in a vain attempt to speed up the boarding process. This woman, who was also pushing against the person in front of her, was oblivious to Sue’s sweaty body. Their joint efforts did nothing to speed up the boarding process. Nor did the impatient pushing efforts of every other person in the line.
At one-thirty the ferry left the island with its two hundred passengers aboard. Since the legal capacity was one hundred and twenty, the passengers to be squeezed uncomfortably aboard the overcrowded boat.
Unfortunately for Sue, the locals were much more adept than she at squeezing their way through mobs of people. The result was that there was no seat available for her to sit, which left Sue with a choice: she could either sit on the floor in the filthy aisle or she could stand for over an hour.
Staring resolutely forward like the martyr that she considered herself to be, Sue stood. As the sweat trickled down her soft white back and with anger and resentment welling in her soul, she stood.
Ramon, January 8th (noon)
Ramon lay face down in his darkened room with his face buried in his pillow.
“My God, she’s coming back this afternoon. What have I got myself into? Luis is right, this relationship is hopeless. Worse than hopeless, it’s miserable.”
Slowly rolling over, he peered at his watch. Realizing that the ferry would have already left Ometepe, he hunched his shoulders and placed his face in his hands.
Ramon was having sex on a regular basis for the first time in his life, but this came with a price. A heavy price. A heavy price in the form of a heavy woman who was overwhelming him.
“What was the basis for their relationship other than the sex?” he wondered. You couldn’t call it a meeting of the souls. Half the time he didn’t even understand what she was saying since her Spanish was so bad. And when he did understand, he often wished that he didn’t. The theme of what she said was always the same and could be distilled into these four words: Nicaragua bad, America good.
Perhaps there were two themes in her rantings. The second theme could also be distilled into four words: Men bad, women good.
Yes, Sue was a heavy load in more ways than one, but what to do about it? Timid by nature, Ramon was reluctant to stop the affair, aware of the abuse that would then be directed his way. Sue wasn’t the type to meekly accept rejection.
On the other hand, he was already receiving lots of abuse from his colleagues in the office. It wasn’t only Luis who was tormenting him about this cursed relationship. If only he weren’t so small – and she weren’t so big – perhaps people would be less inclined to make comments about boys having sex with their mothers – or worse.
Glancing again at his watch, Ramon stood up and began to stare sadly out the window at children playing in the street. “So carefree,” he thought.
After playing all day, they could go to bed and sleep in peace. How different that was from the fate he would suffer when Sue, with her endless needs, bedded him down. The thought caused him to shiver, and he once again buried his face in his hands.
Eventually, just as Sue had done on the ferry, he stood.
Unlike Sue, though, who stood long in her martyr’s pose, Ramon then turned and quickly rushed out of his apartment.
Sue, January 8th (2 PM)
“Damn! My feet are killing me,” Sue thought as she resentfully observed the Nicaraguans who had beaten her to the seats. “Yea, sit there on your hard plastic seats. Pretty soon you’ll be sweating in your tin-roofed shacks while I’m in my air-conditioned room.”
The thought of her approaching arrival in Granada appeased her a bit. She didn’t plan to be alone much longer.
The visit to Ometepe had been a disappointment, like so many other features of her experience in Nicaragua. The bed in the cheap hotel had been uncomfortable, and considering the red bite marks now covering her white flesh, she suspected that it was infested with bed bugs. There had been no air conditioning in her room, and she had nearly suffocated under the mosquito net. “Some paradise. Hot as hell and full of blood-sucking insects.”
That was all in the past now, and the immediate future was looking much brighter. Eagerly taking her mobile phone into her sweaty hand, she dialed Ramon’s number. “Get ready, my little man – it will only be a couple of hours now.”
“Hmmm…that’s odd. No answer. What the hell?”
Ramon, January 8th (2 PM)
Sitting in the back row of seats on the old chicken bus heading out of Granada, Ramon felt his phone vibrating in his front pocket. It wasn’t necessary to look at his phone to know who was calling.
The young woman seated next to him cast a quizzical glance his way as the phone rang repeatedly.
“She’s leaving in three weeks,” he thought. “I’ll just disappear for a while.”
Ramon wasn’t sure how he was going to explain (i.e. lie about) his absence from the office to the director, but his dread of reuniting with Sue was greater than his fear of losing his scholarship and job.
His tension gradually melted away as the city’s buildings gave way to the countryside.
Sue, January 8th (5 PM)
Standing outside Ramon’s door, the truth of the situation had begun to dawn on Sue. She had knocked on his door and attempted to call him multiple times to no avail.
Standing there alone, her thoughts drifted.
Life hadn’t been easy. Even as a young girl she had not been happy. Her classmates had picked on her because of her weight. She had often been excluded from birthday parties. But even worse was the time she was invited to a classmate’s party only to be told that she had to leave at 8 PM – while the other girls were staying for a sleepover.
And it hadn’t got any easier as she had grown older. As a great fan of all-you-can-eat buffets, she had often been presented with a big girl’s dilemma. If she took small helpings at the buffet, there were sure to be whispered comments, “I bet she’ll stuff her face when she gets home!”
But if she took the big helpings she desired, “Look at that! It’s no wonder that she’s so big.” She, like all big girls, just couldn’t win.
At home her parents had been critical rather than supportive. “You’ve got a pretty face, dear. It’s such a shame that you’ve gotten so heavy.”
“You’ll never find a husband if you don’t lose some weight.”
It had been a lonely life.
When she heard of the opportunity to volunteer in Nicaragua, she jumped at the opportunity. She would help those in need while collaborating with like-minded volunteers her age.
But these “like-minded” people her age weren’t interested in her. They were fit and slim – and oblivious to her existence. She was just as “invisible” among the volunteers as she had been all her life.
Then she met Ramon, and everything seemed to change.
Now, standing in the hallway outside his door, she realized that she was alone once again.
Sue slowly turned and walked outside into the Central American heat and humidity.
“What a strange sight,” thought the young Nicaraguan woman as she carefully avoided the large sweat-soaked white woman who was sitting on the curb sobbing.