A bit of entertainment.
By now we are used to the police or whoever in authority coming round and demanding handouts. A while back I was quaffing a G&T over at Rico’s place when a delegation came in and, to cut a long story short, wanted a hand out to pay for some party for some visiting police general. Rico was away so it was his new manager that had to decide. Seeing his indecision and his clear lack of Portuguese, the police asked me to translate and point out to him that had we not been free of police raids, visits by the economic police, immigration etc.? Al Capone could not have done it any more smoothly. ‘Make your request in writing’ I said, ‘any donation like this is tax deductible and we need it for the Ministry of Finance’. They pushed off.
It was still broad daylight when I left my place to fetch water and I did notice this car parked there on the inside of Rico’s gates so when I returned, hours later and in the pitch dark, I was surprised to see the same car still parked there.
Marcia breathlessly filled me in.
A senior policeman had gone into Rico’s place with his girlfriend, tucked into the buffet, drank at the bar, swam in his pool and then tried to leave without paying. When confronted, the guy had gobbed off at Rico. It was the usual routine, ‘Do you know who I am?’ Well of course he bloody didn’t. ‘You don’t want to know who I am!’ So like me, I guess Rico didn’t bother to ask. ‘This is OUR country, Whiteman! We go where we want to! This is our land, you go home!’ So Rico told his guards to lock the gates.
‘You mean the guy has been sitting there all this time?’ I asked.
‘WITH his girlfriend!’ she laughed, ‘He’s been phoning everybody and Rico’s guards have just chained the gates and cleared off!’
This was true, they were all drinking in Marcia’s shop. Bloody good on his guards for loyalty; most of them would have been intimidated and let the guy go. Also drinking in the shop were a bunch of heavily armed, green clad frontier police. I looked at Marcia quizzically.
‘Oh, I invited them in case the guy in the car tried to shoot Rico’, she explained.
Well, that was damn thoughtful of her, I thought. Gunfights between the various police forces or the police and the military aren’t exactly that uncommon here and the shop was filled with plenty of witnesses to the outrageous behavior of this particular copper and as each can of ice cold beer was sunk, the retelling was ever more lurid.
‘Rico was ever so polite’, said one witness spilling a bit of Indian scotch down the front of her heaving bosom in excitement, ‘he said that this was his house and how would the policeman feel if he came into his house and abused his hospitality?’ Fair point but I was still coming to terms with the words ‘Rico’ and ‘polite’ in the same short sentence. That would be like a witness for the prosecution describing my behavior during the argument that led me hand cuffed to the dock as reasonable. The locals were siding with the white man. So long as Rico did not lose his cool and call the guy a monkey, he was on a winner. As an aside, I avoid the universal outrage that the blatant racism of a white guy calling an African a monkey elicits by calling my protagonists a Panina instead (PANINA –a Penis-Vagina. Used when someone has a very small penis, is a transsexual or has both a penis and a vagina). That usually gets them going enough to throw the first punch leaving me in the clear as all my brief has to say is ‘my client merely defended himself, M’Lud’, as well as getting a good laugh from an appreciative crowd bored with television.
‘All Sr. Rico wants is an apology’, said one of his guards sticking into another beer, ‘if the guy just said sorry, Rico would let him go’
I strolled over towards Rico’s driveway. The guy was pressing his car gingerly against the chained and padlocked gates.
‘You!’ he shouted, ‘Let me out, NOW!’
‘I don’t work here’, I pointed out quite truthfully, ‘I am just noting down your registration number so I can let Sr. Rico know who bust his gates’ and then I strolled back to the shop.
‘He’s still there,’ I said, ‘and he’s really angry’. Everyone fell about laughing so I invited everyone to my Jango, which is right next to Rico’s gates, for a ringside seat. Think of his poor girlfriend. She thought she was going for a romantic lunch for two beside the river and now, here she was with her increasingly apoplectic policeman boyfriend trapped behind locked gates only twenty yards away from a hooting crowd. Television is crap here and this was pure live soap. The guy got out and spread a blanket over the windows of his car so we could not see in (they had the interior light on). The crowd howled with glee and I sold yet another round of beers. The guy got out again and told us to piss off lest he arrest us.
‘Policia na cadeia, policia na cadeia!’ the audience chanted in response (police in the prison) which, you have to admit, was rather witty.
I asked Marcia if I could nip over and offer them room service. ‘Don’t you dare!’ she said but I could see she was tickled.
At around nine in the evening, about five hours after their incarceration, the Rapid Intervention Police pitched up. Obviously they were separated from the victim by a high gate secured by an overly dramatic length of chain. One of Rico’s guards dashed off to let Rico know the heavies had arrived and in due course, Rico strolled up nonch as hell. None of us could hear what Rico said, probably something along the lines of, ‘is there a problem, officer? But we could all hear the reply. ‘Open the bloody gate!’ There was an immediate hush so we could quite clearly hear Rico say, ‘When I get my apology’ and he turned his back and started to walk away. This was cooler than a spaghetti western, I mean, these guys are really tooled up and it was all happening live in front of us. And the thing is, Rico is teetotal so he must have known exactly what he was doing. It was awesome. Actually, it was surreal. The place was illuminated by security and headlights. Long shadows were cast, the audience now breathless. In my mind I heard Enrico Morricone’s haunting score to ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly’ and immediately lit up a cheroot. OK, it was just a local SL cigarette. Beneath us is a beach, just sand but you could still have heard a pin drop and I could have sworn I heard Rico order five coffins from his carpenter.
‘Oi, Senhor, faz favor!’ called out the leader of the intervention force.
Now this shows respect so Rico stopped and turned round.
‘Por amor de Deus, só pede desculpe e vamos voltar em casa!’ said the exasperated copper to the guy behind the locked gate. For God’s sake, just say sorry and let us all go home.
We did not hear the apology but clearly Rico did because he ordered his guards to unlock the gates. As he strolled back up his very long drive clearly fuming with rage, I couldn’t help myself, I cupped my hands and called out, ‘Hey, Big Don Rico! You need a horse’s head, I got one!’
This morning, two of Rico’s boys came round for a chat. Wesley and Bradley. Nothing special about them apart from the fact they are built like brick shit houses and smile a lot. ‘Wazzer! Bradders!’ I called out. After all, if you are going down, might as well go down in flames.
‘Rico’s cracked’, Bradders said. Oh Bollocks I thought.
‘Yeah, he wants your water’ said Wazzer. Bradders just nodded. A man who just nods without being obviously pissed out of his swede scares me more than a man who talks. It is a bloke thing isn’t it? Two guys go into a bar and pull their chairs up real close, invading a guy’s personal space, letting him know there is no place to run. It’s like, we are going to have a chat now and you got ten questions which, if you answer correctly, you don’t get a million, but you do get to go home. Shit, this WAS my home. It’s not like I had far to walk.
‘Water?’ I gulped.
Is this some South African gig? Italians just rip your eyeballs out having drilled a knee cap or two. Were they now going to dig through my abdomen and rip out my bladder? For Christ’s sake, it was only a joke.
‘And lobster’ said Bradley.
‘Thirty five of them’ confirmed Wesley.
‘Hang on a sec,’ guys, ‘why has Rico cracked?’
The boys told me that before I called out to Rico, he was mad as hell. Then he heard my remark and started laughing. He was still laughing when he got back to his lodge. Then he heard from his guards how Marcia had arranged some neighborly back up in case things got nasty and how, once I arrived home and heard what was going on, had repositioned my truck so I could block the exit if the guy had tried to smash through the gates.
Bradley and Wesley know all about the antipathy that existed between me and Rico and how I had been trying to get on with him as best I could by helping out wherever I could. I had good reason to be pissed with him; he flooded all my land by digging drainage channels in an attempt to save his place during the Great Flood and when I complained, told me it was my problem. Any help I received from his side was arranged surreptitiously by one of his staff. Now he was formally, and in his own name if not in person, asking me for help.
I cannot tell you how delighted I am. Neighbors don’t necessarily have to like each other but they should get on. Two people cooperating rather than fighting can achieve miles more than the sum of their individual effort.
Naturally I will supply Rico clean water from my well. Naturally I will supply him lobster when he wants it. Bradley and Wesley also told me that as soon as Marcia’s new shop was open, Rico would enter into a formal contract with her to supply his lodge. That would double her turn over and help fund the patisserie I know she has set her heart on. Rico’s lodge managers are forever coming to us for cakes or anything they can offer as a dessert; wouldn’t it be good for them if Marcia had her patisserie? Rico’s place, the Kwanza Tarpon Lodge, and Fat Hippo’s would become THE places for fine dining in beautiful surroundings.
Could this be the start of a wonderful relationship?
One tip though, if you eat here, don’t try doing a runner…