Friday, January 27, 2012

Gilbert Murdered

Gilbert Murdered
Chavela now has spent the past 5 years working at the banca selling lottery tickets. The banca is a kiosk sized building just on the other side of the colmado next to our house. She opens lazily around 4 or 5 in the afternoon and then hangs out on the front step with Chany and chats with neighbors or plays dominos. Across the street in front of the banca is Gilbert’s colmado. It is a grungy little colmado in a perpetual state of failure. Gilbert is, or was, a kind of goofy harmless tiguere who, when smoking drugs, would stay up all night cranking the jukebox in the colmado. He had long arms, short legs, a drooping lower lip and had two sons one 6 and one 11 years old. Altagracia and I were out of town when she got the call that Gilbert had been killed.
The banca was open and Chavela, Chany, Gilbert and 4 or 5 others were hanging out on the front step. The phone rang inside Gilbert’s colmado; one of the kids answered it and yelled out that it was for Gilbert. Gilbert got up, went into his colmado and when he did two men no one had paid much attention to who had been loitering nearby followed him in and pumped four 9mm bullets into his chest. They ran out, sprinted up an alley and disappeared. Gilbert slumped against the counter and died almost instantly. Both his sons were there. Chany heard the shots but has since been told that Gilbert went to Nueva York.
The prevalent theory is that the two assassins were hired to kill Gilbert by the father of Omar. Omar was murdered a month ago and his father had heard a rumor that Gilbert knew who the killers were but would not tell the police. The phone call that was placed to the colmado was so that the killers could identify Gilbert by seeing who got up to go the phone. The rumor that Omar’s father heard was wrong. We are now waiting for one of Omar’s brothers to be killed in retaliation by one of Gilbert’s brothers.

Kiki mostly stays in Elias PiƱa but pops up from time to time. When he is in the area he stays with Chavela who has moved into an apartment down a narrow side street behind the banca (she and Calderon are back together). A couple of weeks ago before leaving to work in the Zona Colonial on Sunday, Altagracia and I swung down her side street so we could deliver Chanel’s clean laundry. I knocked on the door and after a few minutes it opened a crack and Kiki’s face appeared. We were equally surprised. He said, “Good morning“, I said, “Good morning“, I handed him the bundle of laundry and turned and left.

Joanglish continues as before. He is now working as a Municipal Policeman two days a week. Altagracia sends a plate of rice and beans daily to his apartment a block or so away. He is still not allowed in the house.

Niningo is still working 7 days/week at the casino. Altagracia has taken his banking passbook and deposits the money he gives her on paydays.

I have rented a street level stairwell on El Conde three days a week and set up a little gallery of the cave photos. In general it has gone very well although as the elections approach tourists have been warned to stay away. Yesterday I sold $0. Campaign activities paralyze the city daily creating huge traffic jams. The activities involve setting up bandstands with loudspeakers the size of tractor trailers to play reggaeton at volumes at which you cannot hear a car horn honk, itinerant clowns on 5-foot stilts and free rum. I have heard of individuals being paid as much as 1000 pesos ($27 at today’s exchange rate) for their vote. When the election results start coming out the celebration can include pistol shots either into the air in happiness or horizontally in revenge.

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