Monthly Archives: March 2020

Diary: El Cajón de Grecia, February 2020

I’m a little late posting this month. I’ve decided not to post until after the meeting of our writers group, as my fellow writers always seem to have great comments and suggestions that I end up incorporating into whatever I’m working on. The delay should mean the work is a little more polished.

So here’s the next chapter of The Four Horsemen of Zacharia.

Chapter 3: Errands

Eva had asked Zeke to pick up an order from the butcher. Isidro no longer worked for himself, he had sold his shop to a local chain and was now working for another butcher in the Mercado Central in downtown Grecia.

Zeke pulled the old Suzuki Sidekick into the loading zone in front and stepped out right at the counter that opened onto the sidewalk. He waved to Beto, the owner, as he walked up to speak to Isidro.

Buenos días, Zeke,” Isidro said. Good morning. Isidro doesn’t speak any English. Everything good? Where’s Eva?

Pura vida,” Zeke replied, continuing in Spanish. “It’s all good, Eva’s at home. And you, and your wife Silvia, your son and daughters?”

“I’m fine, Silvia too. Carolina is studying at university, Noelia is working in Escazú, and Kevin has a job as a mechanic in San José,” Isidro replied. “And what can I do for you today?”

“Turkey sausage, a tenderloin of beef, and a kilo of hamburger for the dogs,” Zeke answered.

Isidro put the order together, weighed, priced, wrapped and bagged everything. Zeke pulled some bills out of his wallet and laid them on the counter.

Muchas gracias,” said Isidro, thanking Zeke as he handed him his change. “Have a good day.”

“You too, and say hi to Silvia for me,” Zeke responed. He turned to the car, threw the bag on the seat, climbed in and headed back up the hill.

When Zeke got back to El Cajón he pulled in at Taller Barrantes, José’s shop. Back in December Zeke had talked with José about bringing the car in for its yearly servicing and for Riteve, the mandatory yearly vehicle technical inspection. With no visitors or invitations on their calendar, Zeke and Eva could manage without a car for a few days.  

Zeke pulled up to the open bay of the shop, the taller, and got out. Leo was standing just inside.

Hola Leo,” Zeke said, in Spanish. Leo didn’t speak any English, either, so Zeke continued in Spanish. “Is José here?”

“No, he’s not here,” Leo answered.

Where is he, will he be back soon?

“No, he’s gone for good,” Leo said, brushing his palms together and sweeping his right hand up and away while making a little whistling sound.

Zeke had noticed earlier that a building was going up right next to José’s  house, bigger and taller than the house itself. The next time he saw José, he’d have to ask him what’s going on.

“Well, can I leave the car with you?” Zeke asked. “I have a list of things that need to be done. And the car needs to go to Riteve too.

“Sure,” said Leo. “Need a ride home?” 

Leo drove Zeke up the hill and dropped him off at his driveway.

* * *

Friday, four days later, Rick had picked up Eva and Zeke for the weekly trip to the feria. They pulled over at Taller Barrantes just down the hill to check on the car. José was there, he called Leo over. José told Zeke that the car was ready, but the bill wasn’t. 

“Take the car, you can stop by and pay me later,” Leo said, in Spanish of course. 

Zeke turned to speak to Rick and Eva. “You go on ahead, I’ll met you at the feria.” He then turned back to talk to José. “What’s going on with the shop, José? All the construction at your house? And here at the taller, a new building around the lift?”

“My heart,” José answered, “The doctor says I have to slow down, take it easy. I’ve leased the shop to Leo and Maynor. I’ll still do a little work myself at my house, the shop I’m adding. No more than three or four cars at a time, work referred by Leo and Maynor that they can’t or don’t want to do themselves.”

“That sounds great. The most important thing is to take care of yourself. We want to have you around,” Zeke said. He took the keys and turned to walk to his car.

* * * 

That evening when they walked into Isabel’s they found that she had laid down a new rule: no more moving tables. Isabel had them all pre-arranged as six-tops, with one three-top in the back corner. “I’m losing too many seats,” she said. The previous week she had had to turn away customers, there were plenty of seats but no free place to sit at the pushed-together tables.

Back home in bed, Zeke again awakened in the middle of the night just as a dream was drawing to a conclusion. Once again, it was a dream of horsemen. He quickly got up and went straight to the kitchen to jot it down before the images faded to oblivion. The next morning in his studio his fingers massaged his notes into the form of a poem.


A Scene Set at Starbucks

Back in the States
Oregon, college town
a coffee shop, Starbucks
three men seated
wearing breeches, boots
jackets of leather
sipping their coffee.
The dreamer approaches
addresses the strangers.

My name is Zeke.
Three steeds outside
white, red and black
hitched to the bike rack.
They must be yours
you look to be horsemen.

The horses, ours
the first stranger replies.
We’ve been travelling long
hither and yon
each our own way.
Our paths crossing
we being old friends
get together to share tales.
Zeke, pull up a chair
seldom a local does
dare to approach us.

Zeke sits with his latte
licks foam off his lips
then takes a sip.
You all seem familiar
a picture, a painting
a story,  a dream.
The horsemen of legend.
But were not there four
the last on a horse pale?

Riders, horses
the times they change
second rider explains.
The foreboding you mention
the fourth rider named Death
Hades at heels.
The rider who draws
the pale horse yet
must take care being seen
the pace of that mount
drumming of dirge.

The dreamer curious, inquires.
Do four paths not cross
you all sharing stories
a meal, a drink?

Third rider pulls at his beard.
Pale Rider of these times
not a brother, my friend
but a woman, beguiling.
She not to be crossed
humors not to be trifled
keeping for counsel
only her Shadow.
We convene but when summoned
to set forth our findings.