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Juanita, a girl of whom I first heard in a bar on Via Argentina, brought me the first hint that

becoming a no-shit-giving, social dissenter wouldn‟t be a straightforward task. George, or Jorge,
was leaving for the States, his dash for independence in form of a car parts store in Panama had
petered out. As finances go, so do matters of flesh. Juanita, George‟s local girlfriend, would be
soon left behind, to fend for herself. Looking at his squat physique, facial features obliterated by
fat, forehead extending up to the ears‟ latitude, I suspected that the pure love was not the reason for
their association.
Juanita could be mine, George intimated, in fact strongly recommended. In case I wouldn‟t
take his sales pitch seriously, he produced a photo showing an acceptably pretty and amazingly
young face.
“Oh, yes! That‟s exactly what I need now, two months into my freedom, the divorce papers
just signed and legal. Another woman in my life . . . thirty years younger . . . That will surely make
my days full of sweetness and relaxation.”
“You‟d be surprised Art,” George forcefully disagreed. “We all went through it.” Other guys
solemnly nodded. “That‟s exactly what you need. You went through months or years of hostilities
and disrespect, harassment by her lawyers and exploitation by your own. Finally, you have been
spit out and landed here. If you are anything like the rest of us, you feel like an old sausage, so
disgusting that it made even a dog to puke it out. Now you‟re resting on the ground, flies all over
you, happy just to be left alone.”
George, actually, caught my mood quite accurately. I made a vague gesture: go on.
“The longer you stay on dirt, the more flies will settle on you and more impotent you‟ll feel.
That‟s exactly were your ex wants you. If she could, she would castrate you before the final shove
off, but your current condition comes pretty close.”
I didn‟t have any surgical procedures, as far as I could remember through the haze of
tranquilizers, booze and depression, but had its functional equivalent. Sex did not appear even in
my dreams for many months. Paradoxically, I felt some relief to hear from the men younger than
me that I was not the only invalid veteran of the war of sexes.
“A woman, any woman can fix this problem. First, you have not been castrated, even if she
tried her best . . . Or have you?” He grimaced with fake compassion, as the Rumeros chuckled. “If
you haven‟t . . . you need to prove it to yourself. Any girl you like will do, and Juanita is better
than just any girl. She will clean your place, cook your food and will do anything you ask of her.

Maybe I had been castrated after all. “I didn‟t. She shrank despondently at her failure to win a new employer but another hundred sent her away smiling. but having a youthful charm and unpretentious loveliness of a country girl. holding on stale memories like a spinster on her love letters. theoretically could be done. *** Los Rumeros were in session when I arrived to the bar. swinging her hips slightly. take her on my payroll.” Dr. Not your daughter.” Chapter 3 Juanita Juanita sneaked timidly in through the half-open door and stood on the doormat.” “No? Why not?” George asked seriously and other guys stopped their glasses mid-air. Juanita took five twenties delighted at first. Whatever. looking down. she seemed just . his eyes disappearing in the slits of his sly half-smile. .” . something you can easily afford. “Gorgeous ass. but who will do such a thing? “The overly sentimental limbic system. waiting for an invitation or instructions. and much more effective.She will have no demands and cause no trouble. She is surely cheaper than my shrink . Didn‟t feel appropriate. . dark-skinned. slim. . too young for this line of work. . regardless of her willingness to work. but a moment later. but could be very easily! Ah. “How‟s Juanita?” George asked. “Well. “Dishes. . She turned the kitchen radio on and efficiently washed two plates and a cup I had left in the sink. . eh?” “Actually.” I downed my rum. No more than twenty. erh . Juanita went straight to the kitchen. all for a few hundred bucks a week. also relieved from the tension of the first encounter. like killing an old sick dog. back in her comfort zone. Nowak would say. trying to overcome the sense of unease. short legs and neck suggestive of Mayan ancestry—not beautiful. crazy amygdala. the basic fact was obvious: the test would not take place with this girl. grinding her buttocks rhythmically. I weakly tried to persuade myself. I was definitely not anywhere close to mine. can you do the dishes?” I stammered. she realized that no one gets paid hundred bucks for doing three dishes.

have a place to sleep and frequently must take care of a kid or two. to eat. doing inappropriate things. So don‟t push on her your fake morals. he probably doesn‟t have STD and he gave her enough money to rent a small apartment for her and her son. And you know. and probably yours if you are here. but Henry slapped me on the back.” The Rumeros looked at me with mocking faces while George threw his arms open and looked expectantly into the ceiling. They all need to eat. She kept her honor in this honesty. There are thousands of girls like her in this city. but I‟m broke. they all had local girlfriends. many people sneak in here. he‟s right. but she was safe. Unless she finds someone to pay her regularly. fly tomorrow morning.” He threw a twenty on the table. he had really pissed me off. observed when enraged George left. “Didn‟t feel appropriate. Seems like that‟s the major product in this part of the world. “Fact is. unlike my ex-wife. awaiting the divine intervention. Panama seems better off then most places south of the Rio Grande. Still. “Don‟t worry. There are lots of girls like Juanita. I think the girl is from Nicaragua or . as he described it so romantically. you can‟t save the world. I wish I had more money to leave her. more than janitorial jobs. Poverty. “Why don‟t you sign her up for a community college. she will end up on a street.” George gave me a sizable guilt trip.” “He got really attached to Juanita. Actually.” “ We keep my wife out of it. He treated her well. but she never told me „I love you‟ or any such shit. she should try to make something of herself. George‟s small eyes were angrily drilling into my face. you think? It‟s your money. Fuck you. but let me tell you this. With him. so you can buy yourself a fucking goat for what I care. amigo? That would be appropriate! Her reading might be on a weak side. Having sex with me—or with you for that matter—is for a girl like her about as much fun as scrubbing a toilet. Ugly as he is.” Henry. the Bostonian. “I meant. “She gave me what I needed and was good at it.” The other Rumeros nodded their heads in agreement. though. she scrubbed this toilet twice a week. I saw them laughing together and she certainly was not afraid of him.” I pounded the table. She will catch some nasty disease and get beat up now and then by a drunk. she wants to clean toilets because there are very few other things she can do. instead of sleeping with guys like me for money. she can‟t afford them. you asshole?” His face changed hue to a darker red. and her kid. she is more honest about it than a few millions American wives who fuck their husbands and hate them at the same time. looking for better life. “I‟ve got to go now. “How often it is appropriate for her. high-minded asshole.

. And then. She had to be a tough scavenger. ready to do anything. to survive.” Turned out. in my moral book. should put her way up in the line for resources. she needed to eat and have a roof over her head. Juanita‟s options were truly limited. middle-class American young morons. but that won‟t make much difference overall. An illegal immigrant. if you can help someone that‟s nice. she had nowhere to turn. not quite legal. ahead of bored. afraid even of the social services. Still. We are by-standers. I admired this overpowering drive to live and protect her brood—the quality that. self-destructive. there was a child.Honduras.