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For All Nails #56B: I, Mercator (Part 2)

By Carlos Yu


... if I am ever jailed, I do hope they put me in as fine a calabozo as we housed Suarez. A lesser mansion in the canyon country surrounding Puerto Hancock, the former hideaway of a Kramer lackey, for us simple military men it was the height of elegance, fitting for the dignity of his office. Crystal chandeliers, parquet floors like a ballroom, and a splendid view of the brushwood hills. The swimming pool had gone green and foul with neglect, however, and the soldiers argued who would have the honor of cleaning it for the Admiral's famous morning exertions -- an entirely backhanded honor, I am sure.

Ah, like Sterne's caged bird! "I can't get out, I can't get out!" But I tell you it did not happen that way, not at all.

We soon realized... we? Myself, my fellow commanders: the Perfidious Eleven! You know, I love the mythology that has been created around these events. It makes my job far easier.

Now. Where was I. Ah, yes. Much as we loathed Silva, we -- our cabal, if you will -- grew to realize that the admiral was wholly unsuited for civilian rule, especially in those troubled times. There was no conciliation in his makeup, no lenience, no flexibility. He had no bend! The very virtues that made him a perfect warrior at sea would have been damning sins had he taken the reins of government. Instead of uniting Mexico, he would have disintegrated it.

Well, that is your opinion. There is a barnyard saying in Jefferson about opinions, you know. I spoke with the man on a regular basis for four years, till the end of his life, and I can tell you I have rarely conversed with anyone so stiff-necked.

I see that you're dying of curiosity. Let me paint a mental picture for you, then, of Admiral Suarez, as I knew him. He was built solidly, like a wrestler. He always wore white: his dress whites; a white turtleneck, his wife's Christmas present; white swimming trunks; a white hospital gown. He was a man of simple tastes. Every night for dinner he ate the same detestable Navy chili -- but out of a silver pot -- and drank the same ration of aguardiente -- but out of a crystal glass. His table talk was stultifying. The only animation came when he refought the battles of the Pacific using his tableware: this plate that carrier, that fork this airmobile group. His mistress visited him like clockwork every Saturday; but they only played chess, to avoid any improprieties while under surveillance. In his sickbed Suarez discovered vitavision, like Colón making landfall, and forced all his guests to watch the most incredibly hackneyed shows, all the while giving his own running commentary in his wornout voice. His final words were meant for his wife, and are private.

I should add that I did not poison him.


(Proceed to I, Mercator (Part 3).)

(Return to For All Nails.)

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