Deputy Bernard “Barney” Fife Is Watching Me

And may I remind you that I live in a pretty rough neighborhood. A guy down the road who works on one of the banana plantations got his fingers chopped off by his drinking buddy just the other day. Pretty much everybody around here carries machetes everywhere they go and from time to time someone gets seriously injured or even killed. The perp is almost always a good friend or work colleague of the victim. You’d probably never guess this, but usually copious quantities of fire water are involved. 

Lately there have also been some reports that small bands of armed Nicaraguans are coming into the area at dawn or just before dusk and creating temporary road blocks where they rob the car/bus drivers and passengers. They stay maybe 45 minutes or so and then fade away. The robbers probably figure that 45 minutes does not allow enough time for the local cops to receive the report and organize an armed response. For this and other issues that we’ll get into later, I usually carry both a machete and a .357 S&W magnum on me. 

As if there is not enough to think about, suddenly I have a new concern. Seemingly out of the blue and for several weeks now, one or another of the Barney Fifes (rural cop) has started sitting on his motorcycle across the street from my house. Not every day, and never when it rains, but most mornings he is sitting there when I go to work and he is sitting there when I come home after work. I wave to him and usually he’ll acknowledge and wave back, but one or two of the Deputy Fifes are not so friendly and just stare. Sometimes he is still there after I’ve cleaned up and am heading out for the evening. Occasionally, if I don’t stay out too late, he may even be there when I get home after dinner and cocktails. I should probably take him a six pack and some Marlboros to help him pass the time; but since he’s on duty, maybe he wouldn’t appreciate my thoughtfulness. 

If not for significant detrimental impacts to my morale and welfare, he could sit over there watching me come and go until hell freezes over as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately the harsh reality is that Officer Fife’s sudden appearance has coincided with fewer late night surprise visits from a lovely Tica cocktail waitress. I’m guessing that she wants to avoid becoming the focal point of our “small town big hell” rumor mill if Barney sees her rolling out of my house in la mañana, but it is also possible that she was warned to stay away from me. We met a few months ago when I was invited by some Ticos to the bar where she works. I must have made an outstanding first impression on her, and she probably was digging on me when I almost got into a bar fight with a guy I had met earlier that very same day during the moonshine drinking Phase I of the operation. 

I’m usually quite timid and retiring but somehow she noticed me in the crowd and took a shining to me. Still not sure if she is more attracted to my pesonality or my smooth pura vida and laid-back style. Good thing that the fight didn’t happen because as the only American in the bar the odds were heavily stacked against me, the ratio of Gringo to Tico was not at all favorable, and not having anyone to watch my six might have eventually worked to my disadvantage. Interestingly a few days later I found out that the guy I almost scrapped with was one of the local paracaidista enforcers y un hombre muy mal. Which also gets me to wondering if my meeting him was not just a coincidence? Well like I always say, make love not war. And that, gentle reader, is why I grow piper nigrum in Costa Rica.

Semper Fi.


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