He stared at the red capped cathedral. Sparklingly lighted, it laid enveloped in the Mantaro Valley, in the city of Huancayo, surrounded by what he called Mountains, and the inhabitants called hill.
He had been in Huancayo for two weeks, hand not really got used to it; the Plaza de Arms carefree composure he liked.
In the countries he had visited–which were many–few were lit up like this church. Yet he been told, and was aware the side streets were to be feared at night (ah, yes in deed, there was a difference between day and night in this Andean city); likened to the haunting-ness of the Dark Ages, with its cobblestone streets, and its Spanish balconies. He had come form the 20th century, United States.
The bus was a passenger vehicle; it was being loaded, he knew it was going to leave by one O’clock this very day, leave to go to Lima, Peru, through the Mantaro Valley, and then the Andes, and onto the Imperial city of Kings. They put boxes upon boxes in the side hold of the bus, along with the baggage left on the outside of the bus, two men lifting up the heavy loads, baggage and boxes, silently, as if they were on a mission, throwing them into the hold like sacks of potatoes, tossing them into the deepest part of the hold.
The bus was being made ready for its trip to Lima, and the Huancayo rains had stared (December rains); the rains rose and descended from city to city, town-let to town-let, village to village, black clouds shifting all day long, drifting throughout the valley.
The rains engulfed the whole region (within a short period of time), from, and to include Concection, to San Jeranimo, Cajas, and Sapallanga, was flooded, and the heavy downpour in Huancayo, flooded the street likewise.
The rains were heavy, and the cities first stank, and then got swollen with the seepage of waist, especially in Huancayo. He felt he was not all that safe in the rains, and wanted to get onto the bus.
Beyond the Andes had become the last hope for an American fugitive, as he called himself, a veteran of the Vietnam War (know in Huancayo as the Americano). Here he thought he felt safe, avoiding justice to keep his freedom, which could be purchased in Peru. This was the gate to tolerance, so he called it, if it was not to be had here, than where (?) He was lost for a plan ‘B’ perhaps condemned to be imprisoned in a concrete jungle in the United States where his visa was a one way ticket to Hell and freedom unobtainable. Only one thing mattered, a new identity, and here he found it.
He had blackmailed fate, married a Peruvian, found his way to Lima, changed his name, got a residency card, and paid a few people off.
The Bus tickets were sold out, and he could not pay even double the amount to get another ticket (even too late to bribe other passengers).
He had made his plans to move on, not sure where, but Lima would be a centralized point to start, and then elsewhere, he was familiar with the city slightly. This bus was the last way out of the Andean city, on this holiday urgent vietnam evisa weekend. He was the only gringo, in Huancayo, and felt he was the only unescorted foreigner.
He asked the bus driver if he could pay double fare, and sit in the isle. An absurd idea for even if he had talked the driver into it, allowing it, where would he sit–everyone had mounds of luggage by their seats in the isles…but I suppose in desperation or despair one tries anything.
(Haunted he was, and paranoid of capture)) who knows what logic was reasonable for his reality)).
It was early in the morning (3:00 AM), and the Plaza de Arms was almost deserted –but for a vagabond (beggar in the morning, vagrant at night, he had seen him before), sleeping hunched in the doorway of a shop, across the street stood, Lugar Cathedral. The vagrant was sleeping, hunched in tightly. He became aware of a second homeless soul, as he walked indecisively about, paced the plaza platform, and stared at the two street people.
He took no further interest in the two down-and-out, as they wakeup and stared, watching him pace. He kept his watch, still fearful of the police, though he had done no wrong in Peru.
Fearful, he kept in the shadowy areas of the plaza, the cathedral. He walked about slowly, as if he were about to be captured at any moment, while trying to design a new plan.
He stopped for a rest, heard steps behind him, nearer and nearer they came, he then started back up walking. If he got arrested, he would be questioned, and his wife would find out he was missing (leaving), she was sleeping at her sisters in El Tambo (a district of Huancayo), thinking all was well.
He then disappeared down a side street, a very narrow cobblestone street, adjacent to the plaza. Now those footsteps were next to him. The shadow of the man behind him was large, larger than his.
“Are you lost?” said a voice in Spanish.
He shook his head ‘no’ and kept on walking (the street lights allowed the shadow to see).
“Americano?” Indirectly, questioned the voice.
He didn’t answer the voice, but continued walking, looking at the red-shadowy tile roofs on the houses and the moon’s glare. (He knew very few people in the city spoke English, and he spoke very little Spanish.)
“I’m not the police,” said the voice, in smooth English, with no British accent.
He did not believe the voice and continued his pace, although he did take a quick look behind him, noticing the large man was not wearing a police uniform, but rather rough looking civilian cloths, with a motley looking jacket on (gloomy like his facial appearance).
It was a chilly night, wet, light rain intermittently. He had been arrested, he told himself: too many times in America, he wasn’t going to take any unnecessary chances now, not here, not anywhere. He knew he had papers on him, showing he was a resident, but he’d have a hard time explaining himself with the little Spanish he knew to the authorities, and he did not, DID NOT! What them to find out that he really was, not who he was, or what his papers said he was suppose to be.
“I saw you looking at the itinerant men back at the Cathedral,” said the large man (who seem to be educated but down and out himself), “So I got thinking…!”
He showed indifference to his statement he didn’t care what he looked like, he wanted him to vanish. He needed to find a place to stay, figure out his next step, a new plan, he was wet, and getting hungry, and he had missed the bus, he wanted to get out of Huancayo.