Bestbird Page Nine:

Hot dogs! - a lottery, a pig, a cat, a duck.

.A short vacation, another plan:

Hot dogs, it's Mervino's Hole in the Wall:

Crossing with Cruz again:

The whole show:

A cop, a drunk, and a pig: (03 Mar 2000) One night in late October, or on some other night which was not honored by a poem whose words I remember, I didn't hold my load well enough to make it to my hammock and settled for sitting down on Front Street and leaning against the wall of Mervino's Hole in the Wall. Why? I don't remember. Maybe I was guarding it. Maybe I wanted to be near my entrepreneurial handiwork, of which I was very proud. Maybe I was just too drunk to move on. What's the difference? Of course, I was soon soundly asleep. But, in San Pedro, to be drunk and sleeping on the main street of town was not fraught with danger. In fact, nothing bad could happen to you unless, of course, you were wearing a wrist watch or had money in your pocket. I had neither, having already been relieved of the former, and most of the latter, long before that particular night. Along about dawn, the local Sergeant fortuitously came along, tapped me on the foot, and said, "Mervino, do you need some help home?" I did - so he did. W. S. Gilbert was right in his wise lyric pointing out that a policeman's lot is not a happy one when constabulary duty's to be done. I was glad he noticed me before others did because the sense of shame in an old drunk is a fragile thing, which brings me to the point of why I wrote this long and boring paragraph. I hoped to pen an introduction which would lure you into reading a short poem which begins with the words "One night in late October" - just as the paragraph you're reading now does.

Jenny's Store - liquor and friendship:

The "Group W" bench:

Buy there and drink milk:

Panades and Johnny cakes: (01 Apr 2000) I recall that, during my earliest day's at Fido's, a lady would come in and sell fish panades. Panades, in San Pedro, are what gringos and Spanish speaking people not from San Pedro might call empanadas. San Pedro panades are small pockets of corn batter sealed around a bit of fish (usually either shark or bonefish which were never eaten in other forms) and fried almost to the point of being crisp. They are delicious - particularly when washed down with a Belikin or two. They were served regularly at Victoria House and all the other hotels at the time, and the tourists loved them. However, I don't think that lady selling panades in Fido's was Ms. Dora, but it may have been. But, it definitely was Ms. Dora who sold me Johnny cakes at Mervino's Hole in the Wall and Mervino's Lookout. No, I didn't buy them for resale like I did both corn and flour tortillas, but for myself to gobble down. They were freshly cooked on a dirt grill in the same manner that Bernice had cooked them for my family at Victoria House. I won't tell more here about Ms. Dora because you can see a good picture of her and learn more about her life, including what she's been up to since I left San Pedro, by visiting Isidora "Dora" Elijio - a page complete with music and comments.

A "backer" and a cat:

Life is a lottery:

Betting on the cop:

A Lion gets sponsored:

Mind your head: (06 Feb 2000) The Paslow Building was, and I guess still is, located on Front Street in the center of Belize City, near the swing bridge. Before Hurricane Hattie and the new capital in Belmopan, it had housed about all of the organs of government; and, when I was there, it housed the main post office (first floor) and (upstairs) several courtrooms. Despite its rickety condition, the building served well the municipal functions of Belize City and, periodically, central government functions, including courtroom trials and hearings regarding the license of any establishment which served alcoholic beverages, which latter function occasioned my first trip up the "stairs" to the second floor. The quotes are used with "stairs" because the stairway is really more of a narrow, winding, passageway enclosed in wood on the top, bottom, and both sides. It gets you to the second floor, but not without some hazards like bumping your head. However, I was very impressed with the sign which gave a warning as you approached the lowest spot in your ascent. It struck me as a sign which, for the benefit of lawyers and their clients, should be placed on all the stairs, low ceilinged or not, which lead to all the courtrooms in North, Central, and South America. As you may have guessed by now, the sign's simple and apt admonishment was, "Mind Your Head".

The sergeant and the duck, or a fowl demise: (11 Feb 2000) The second time I had to mind my head, or get a knot on it, was when I needed to go to a hearing on the second floor of the Paslow Building in order to get my liquor license renewed - for Jenny's Store, Mervino's Lookout, or both. To lighten up the somewhat dreary proceedings, a fellow booze-dealer who lived in San Pedro and I sat near each other exchanging whatever gems of wisdom we could muster, my reason for that companionship being that he had a humorous outlook towards life, despite his having been a Sergeant Major (or a "God", if you will) in the British Army. I will not betray his name here, but (at the time) there were only two ex-Sergeant Majors living in San Pedro, and some wise guy or gal will figure it out. It was near the end of the first day (yes, neither one of our cases came up the first day - the testimony in each case being longer than usual, maybe) when an attorney for an absent client, who was seeking a license for his restaurant, made an eloquent presentation of his case - especially for a lawyer without a client. Then, the Inspector, who seemed to think the license should not be granted, testified that, only two days before, he had spied a live duck in the establishment's kitchen! One of the Judges (there were several) asked the lawyer for his response to that damning accusation. The lawyer said he was unprepared in that regard and requested a continuance until the next day when he would bring his client to the courtroom, and that request was graciously granted. The next day the Sarge and I, still patiently awaiting our turns, noticed that same lawyer enter the back of the courtroom with an Asian looking gentleman, who we presumed was his client and the owner of a restaurant serving Chinese delicacies. The same Judge also noticed and interrupted the current proceeding to ask the lawyer, still in the rear of the courtroom, what mitigating evidence he had to present. The lawyer then announced in a loud, firm voice. Your Honor, the duck is dead! As a relieved silence was about to fill the room, my ex-Sergeant Major friend said, in a voice just as loud and firm, "Long live the Duck." The British will be British, whether about cabbages, kings, or poultry.

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