Compatriots

…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…

The man did not look like he was from London or England really.  The shade of his skin was darker and he spoke with a different twang.  None of the group could quite place it.  He dressed at the upper end of plain.  A man of minimal wealth, but without the struggles of the impoverished.

“Many things are amusing, Sir,” replied Noemi, “though they may not be as so to you as they are to us.”

The man liked the reply, anything that kept a conversation moving was music to his ears.  “You don’t sound like you’re from around these parts friend.  Where are you from?”

“Far away,” said Noemi, “except for her, she’s closer to home.”

“Very cryptic, my friend.  Let me properly introduce myself and then perhaps you will tell me more?  My name is Alvaro Calazan, a travelling merchant, originally from British Honduras, but I haven’t been there for years.”

A smile formed across the faces of Noemi and Jose.  They couldn’t trust this man more than any other and they knew too little about him to decide what type of man he was exactly.  Still, hearing that he was from the small patch of land where they had spent almost the entirety of their lives filled them with a small and inescapable joy.  It was as if the mention of something familiar brought warmth into their hearts.

“That is where we are from as well,” said Jose,”though we have only been away for a few months.”

“So were you there when the Poyais sufferers I have read do much about arrived?”

“Indeed we were,” said Noemi, “I even tended for many of their sick in the hospital.  Our friend here, Emma, was one of them.”

“A Poyais sufferer!? My dear, a thousand condolences.  You must have been through so much.”

“If rather not speak too much of it,” she noted.

Alvaro did not fight and moved on, “would you believe that I had the fortune, or perhaps misfortune, to bump into the mastermind.  Gregor MacGregor.”

Their eyes all widened at the mention of the mans name.

“Was this when you knew what he had done?” Interrogated Emma.

He chuckled, “of course not!  Though it was when he was fleeing.  I just hadn’t read the newspapers at that point.”

“What did you speak to him about?”

“Nothing in particular.  The weather, where he was going.  His family.”

“Where he was going?” Noemi enquired.

“Yes, Indeed.”

“Is that the type of information that you might share with us?”

He measured his response in order to make his statement land exactly right, “for a price, of course.”

“Same old story with everyone,” said Emma, “so  what is your price?”

“Not as steep as you might imagine my dear.  There is a special discount for compatriots and sufferers.  All I require is a drink and some company.”

“That we can do,” said Jose, rising to buy another drink and returning quickly.

Alvaro took a long sip of his drink, saluted and then continued, “well, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but rumour has it that he bolted to Italy with his family as soon as things started to heat up in relation to his Poyais.  Seems as though the man can’t help but misdirect and lie though, as he certainly isn’t in Italy.  Though as a side note, with his particular financial trickery, going to Italy with their merchant banks may have been a good idea.  Anyway, I know for a fact he is not there.”

“For an actual fact?  Why would he share real information with a stranger?” Emma asked incredulously.

“We’re all very suspicious here,” Alvaro said with a wry smile, “that is a very good trait to have in life!”

“It may be, though it doesn’t answer my question.”

“So impatient!” Alvaro threw up his hands as he spoke, darkness now fully set in outside, “and even when you’re getting information at such a discount!”

Rather than prod further, they all waited patiently while Alvaro sipped his drink and smiled

“I know he wasn’t lying, b cause he wanted something from me when he found out where I was from.”

“Another scam, no doubt,” said Jose, fully cementing his cynicism.

“Indeed young man!  Not even an inventive one.  He wanted to redo his Poyais scheme on Frenchmen!  He was on his way to Paris to start.”

“How would you help?” Emma probed.

He gave off the air of a man that definitely knew, but wasn’t sure he wanted to share, “I don’t know exactly.  I think the idea was to add credibility by having me pose as a Poyaisian official of some sort.  He knew immediately that I had taken an affront to what he had suggested and so did not continue describing his plans further.  Still, it was definitely a scheme of some sort and I for one was not interested in participating.”

“Well, I for one hope he fails,” said Emma, to which all saluted their drinks.

The statement was more half hearted than should have been expected, as was the salute.  The group, all except Alvaro, considered whether there was a piece of the next scheme to take and whether their conscious would allow them to.

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