UNITED STATES—That winter’s night with the raw wind blowing, Sam Delaney left the orange glow of the fireplace of his home in the uptown Garden District. The residence was not large, by neighborhood standards, but had accouterments of Sam’s growing fortune. The two children were asleep with the nanny. He bathed in the deep rich tub in the bathroom luxuriantly tiled in glossy black and creamy yellow ceramic squares, the room equipped with the opulent hardware for cleansing the hind quarters of any residue to remind the toilet user of their animal nature.

Sam walked, dreamily, as the flamed of the blaze curled some document into tissue black wisps: this man who had little use for logs, ledgers, receipts and petty cash disbursements, cancelled check after cancelled check, rescinded to carbon.

“I’ve got to get rid of this. Nobody ever needs to see these papers.”

When he said goodbye to Rebecca, who had stood by Sam through thick and through thin, she said, “Sam, you’ve got too much to be proud of.”

Despondency glued his shoes to the edge of the Persian carpet and the grate of the fireplace. He gazed down and at the crackling flames and he could almost sense the reek of cordite his little insurrection would leave on the Costa Norte. Rebecca sensed the misgivings below the thick Bessarabian skin, ashen in the light of the fireplace.

“You can’t give up on all you’ve worked for. You can’t let it go that easy. That couldn’t be tolerated.”

Rebecca had a way. She had a way of looking straight through him.

His driver took him down to the port, Clinton. Not long after leaving the warm and cozy vestibule, Sam Delaney joined General Padilla and his aide-de-camp in private yacht bobbing in the riptide by Skull Island, not to mention Machine Gun Kelly. They caught up with the surplus Naval vessel and its payload of rifles and munitions ready to overthrow the government. The government change in Nicaragua had been accomplished by fiat of the State Department, the US Navy, President Taft, the marines and cavalry. Sam Delaney, exacerbated by the Secretary of State Cox, in a corner had to do it on his own. There was no other way, as Rebecca reminded him at just the right time…

Saveedra, in Nicaragua, had been a protege of the now deposed President Padilla Ortiz of the neighboring Republic. Padilla Ortiz began to feel uneasy about Saveedra when his once potent ally in politics and the military started welcoming exiles from Honduras in an attempt to overthrow Padilla Ortiz, who had suspended the 1908 presidential election and was looking more and more like a dictator. Saavedra invaded established a junta, meanwhile Padilla Ortiz escaped barely in his underwear, after attempting to resist with help from the Salvadoran army and fled aboard a waiting U.S. ship.

Sam Delaney was at loggerheads with Saveedra and was mortified (there is no other word for it) at the idea of paying taxes in Bananaland—that would raise the cost of doing business so much the business would choke. Unconscionable. President Saavedra wanted foreigners doing business in his country to obey their laws and regulations—something Sam would not and could not submit to.

Sam saw the grim writing on the wall: Saavedra was ripe as a blackened banana to be ousted. He was ready to go to the rest home for old dictators in Biscayne Bay, Florida. Secondly, the additional flurry of paperwork generated by the Bananalanders in their zeal to match old Europe’s opulent bureaucracy would be an onus, especially for a man who eschewed, ledgers, receipts, petty cash disbursements. With characteristic resolve he set out to do the overthrowing himself. President Saavedra was in a lonely place now. The British were threatening to invade. If he accepted a loan from the American Bankers, namely the Wall Street titan, Julius Welch, he would be called a traitor to the nation, if he turned down their loan the Americans would punish him.

With Eve Chapman at the helm, on New Year’s Eve the Marlin neared the island of Útila and took it fast, the fruit practically fell off the tree before they touched it. The government forces surrendered after firing just one shot. They woke up the local commander, dragging him out of bed in his undershorts. Holly told him to put his hands up. “I accept your surrender,” said Holly. “Yes,” said the commander big-eyed. Only Joe Holly harbored doubts about the surrender’s sincerity and bid the local commander run around shouting, “Viva Padilla! Viva Padilla!” With President Saavedra still pondering his move, the rebels on the Marlin quickly secured the port city of Trujillo, moving onward to La Ceiba. “La Ceiba is impregnable…Everyone knows that,” said one of the hoplites.

Captain of a nearby American ship trawling the turquoise Caribbean waters detained the Marlin and put it under military guard. The insurgents on board—the finest riff-raff mercenary-adventurer-whorehouse habitue denizens of New Orleans—were read the riot act and sternly warned to refrain from any further attacks, they defied his owners, and attacked La Ceiba. Delaney’s ship way seized for violating American law about not attacking a nation at peace with America. Joe Holy led his men from the impounded ship toward La Ceiba, the major town on the Costa Norte.

The Captain who seized the Marlin had sent a message to General Hugo Martinez in Tegucigalpa, stating that La Ceiba had been decreed a neutral zone. All the Honduran soldiers were ordered out. So the unfortified city was Joe Holly’s and his rebel troops for the taking.

To be continued…

Graydon Miller is the Wizard of Fiction.

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)