We were having lunch when the sound of cars on the track below the house sent the dogs into a frenzy.
Normally, they take no notice….they know all the regular cars: Hugo’s SUV, Luis’ pick up, Franklin’s van and the two motor bikes which bring the Mariachi’s workmen to his finca down over the river.
These come at their appointed hours and apart from the odd grumble from the poodle pass without challenge.
But today the dogs were out in full fig: Arthur, periscope ears rotating as he gave tongue….the two pups hanging over the edge above the track presenting their less attractive profiles as they barked in baritone…Black Tot and the poodle yapping hysterically and bouncing up and down to see over the bushes.
Danilo’s dogs joined in, nothing loath: Calamardillo showing his crocodile teeth….the Hyena giving it laldy…and tiny Bigote – more hair than dog – yapping along with the best from his vantage point on the table in the porch.
The cars had stopped by the time we had left the table and gone to investigate.
Two large, shaven headed men were looking up at the canine reception committee, then a hard faced woman peered out from the lead car and seemed to call them back.
The convoy turned in the entrance to our neighbour’s corral and departed whence it had come.
Lost? Plenty of people do get lost, thinking that there is a road through the valley….
But it appeared that they were not lost…they were on a quest.
All was revealed when the young man who delivers goods after dark turned up with a further installment of wire fencing.
Had we seen the enforcers?
Well, we’d seen the men and the two cars.
Yes, the enforcers. They’re looking for The Neighbour
He of the crisp white hat with a curly brim has been remarkable by his absence of late.
Yes, he would be. he’s lying low.
The fencing unloaded, the story was recounted over a beer.
The Neighbour – while ostensibly making his living from transporting cattle – has other occupations.
He works for one of the local Mr. Bigs doing goodness only knows what which pays very well in cash
However, when the opportunity arose to do some moonlighting for another of the local Mr. Bigs in the same line of business he seized it with both hands.
Flush with this doubling of his income, The Neighbour has been extending his social horizons.
Banned from every bar in town and for several kilometres around he decided to go further afield and betook himself to one of the casinos with which San Jose is blessed.
This did not please the lady who has moved in with him in the hope of one day depriving him of his house by accusing him of ill treating her and thus being awarded possession of his property under the provisions of the law protecting women from domestic violence..
The hostesses in the casinos look considerably more like Shirley Bassey than she does and are even more expert at cash extraction.
Apart from the hostesses and their lack of apparel, the casinos have other attractions….free meals and snacks…and free booze.
The Neighbour’s dream.
Until it turned into a nightmare.
Flush on the attractions of the casino he appears to have ventured past the one arm bandit area into the maw of the beast – the gaming tables – and there to have laid down some four thousand dollars on one turn of the roulette wheel.
Whether it stopped on the red or on the black our informant had no idea…but he lost.
Collapse of stout party.
He could pay…but he was now skint.
And he had immediate calls on his money – because the money he had lost was not his, but money belong to Mr. Big 2 which The Neighbour had collected on his behalf.
Resourceful as ever, The Neighbour betook himself to Mr. Big 1 and negotiated a loan of four thousand dollars to tide him over.
He then paid this to Mr. Big 2 and settled down to a period of enforced domestic economy to pay off Mr. Big 1.
Enforced domestic economy had not pleased the lady resident on his premises. In return for the donation of her favours, not to speak of the washing, ironing, cleaning and cooking, she expected considerably more than a diet of rice and bananas, while his refusal to share the remaining whisky on the grounds that decent women did not drink alcohol only exacerbated matters.
She took herself off to Mr. Big 1 and revealed to him that The Neighbour was
A…working for Mr. Big 1’s rival Mr. Big 2
B…the money he had borrowed was to pay to Mr. Big 2.
Then, wisely, she retired to her daughter’s house to await results.
Mr. Big 1 was displeased. He intimated to The Neighbour that
A… he wanted his money back. Now.
B…there was no future employment for The Neighbour’s talents. Not at his address.
The Neighbour had a problem….he might not have future employment with Mr. Big 1…but if he did not cough up it was likely that he would have no future at all.
Sell the truck he used to transport cattle.
But he has not only to find a buyer willing to pay his price…he has also to have the sale ratified by a lawyer – and they don’t work at week ends.
So until both conditions are fulfilled The Neighbour has been lying low…and Mr. Big 1’s enforcers are hunting him down.
We wait with bated breath to see if the previously resident lady will reveal to Mr. Big 2 what The Neighbour was doing with the money entrusted to him….in which case the dogs will have a lot more barking to do.