UNITED STATES—The dense smell of plantation suffocated the nostrils with its creamy aroma. Somebody had set up a projector with a bicycle generator in the jungle. Sheets were hoisted up on ropes outside the barracks. And there were scenes flashing past of gyrating artillery, and guys with helmets in trenches, and there were scenes of Paris and the Paris talks, and cities with plumes of smoke rising above.

As it was an American film with titles; there was an appearance by America’s poet lariat who had Cherokee blood running through his veins. Men in top hats and steampunk cars that scooted in and out of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The scratchy film took a long, long time to reach Bananaland, so it was just as likely that peace had already been attained, or that a new and more scabrous war was already being waged somewhere on the planet…

“I don’t know what The Hague is but somebody ought just invade and occupy it and we’d be done with the whole kit ‘n kaboodle…Diplomats are just as essential to starting a war as soldiers are for finishing it… You take diplomacy out of war, and the thing would fall flat in a week.”

There are battleships chugging along on the high seas. The doughboys on they way, they are a-smiling to beat the band. British U-boats have a range on 9000 miles, challenge Britain’s command of the sea. East Prussia, 90000 Russians Hostage, uncoded messages, etc. It was a virus that passed from continent to continent. People were dying and showing heroism in places they could have found only by dropping a pencil by spinning a globe and shooting it with a squirt gun. Turkish soldiers frozen, the killing zone between the trenches.

There was a whooping cry in the jungle and a woman drew a machete and slashes the bedsheets strung between the banana trees. Blockade, Germany Hindenburg’s Russian assault, more success against Austro-Hungarian Empire, the losses two million. The screen was turned into shreds. Poison gas, zeppelins, chemical weapons race. Smithereens. Lusitania 128 Americans aboard, the line used by Brits to carry supplies. Tormented by heat and flies…And this shakes America’s neutrality and gives Bernard Lukasey a fast-track to blazing the trail for American propaganda, like you never heard before. Of course he got his mojo going with that campaign for the pig farmers, that got America to believe that a healthy breakfast stated with eggs and some form of pork. Oy vey.

World war two the white fleet of ships, including the Admiral Dewey and the Selma because of their good mechanical condition were taken by Great Britain during the way. As Germany unleashed the U-boats, they ships weren’t running up and down in the Caribbean—this will be some good stuff ‘cause you’re gonna keep it up, right through this. The company got by on selling sugar cane through these years, that’s how Chamelecón made it, survived and thrived. Became Cunard of the Caribbean.

Thomas Johnson’s single bunch of bananas displayed front of his shop in a part of London, called Holborn. It came from the Bermuda, which Britain had taken over, conveniently for merchant and botanist Johnson. Quite likely it was a Gros Michel, now a species extinct and remembered wistfully. As in the United States at in Britain, the type of banana would be the Cavendish, bred in the 19th century by a man who was the head gardener at Chatsworth (not the city in the San Fernando Valley) instead of Paxton. This was the surname of the Duke and Duchess of Derbyshire, honors the family name of the owners of the Chatsworth Estate.

Un-hearted was the man who solicited work from the gringo manager and was further humiliated and belittled by the man who didn’t look at him directly, clutched papers in his hands with the ornate engraving which bore a great similitude to that aesthetic found on gringo’s paper money. The lack of eye contact or recognition, even, hurt. After not knowing what he should do, Marcos felt relieved when another told him, “There’s been an accident with a toppled steam shovel.”

And the manager, in vest and collarless shirt, ran off, severely altered by the news.
Fermin shrugged his shoulders and trudged on. clinging to the borders of the shade and where that was not possible, clinging to that shade carried with his hat made of woven junco. Off he went with the leaden gait of a tired animal and yet the bird of freedom swelled within Marcos and stretched its wings.

The guy looked out, defeated by the gringo shunning words. His thick fingers combed through his bristly black beard: the problem of the negative absorbed him: at the barracks he would have had a place to sleep, a hammock, beans to eat. The gringo’s cold and disinfected reply to his request for a job (“No dice, maje”) disabled to hopes kindled by the promise for work and subsistence.

During the sale of his finca, be had been buddies with the Company bosses, their bond backed up by the phrases, “We are your friend. You can always count on us,” were contradicted by the cold cold shoulder.” Good time with the gringos from Alabama. At Puerto Cortés he’d partied royally with the higher-up in the Allied Fruit Co. and they addressed him as Don Marcos, even though this honor was premature for, Marcos knew it himself, he was proud of their prescience, and the men surely treated him as one of their class. All a mirage, he thought tramping through the dust, black dirt impregnating the khaki legs of his pants. The gave him the seductive promise of life in the city, everything you wanted, without sweat or toil.

His gait quickened at he sensed the nearness of the railhead in the Valley de Sula.

To be continued…

Graydon Miller is the Wizard of Fiction. His new story collection “Watsonville Stories” can be browsed at amazon.com.