What Robertico Told Me When I Went to Buy Dos Panes, Una Rasuradora y Seis Pesos de Salami

Congoses are so stupid. Here we are, all of us, wanting to leave this evil batey. I’m going to play baseball, God willing. I’ll get my break soon, and then I’ll be contracted. Cheyito is working in the zona and saving up money to build a house with his woman in San Pedro. The rest of my buddies are trying to be cops, except for Frede, who is stupid, just like his Haitian dad.

No, Frede made some girl’s belly swell, and now he drives a god-damn tractor. He says he wants to stay here with his family, the whole lot of the patois gurgling stupids. Which is pointless, shit! There’s no life living here. That’s why I’m going to make a break. They’re going to sign me, and then I’ll have some money.

The problem is that these Haitians want to take over. They just finished screwing over Haiti– there’s not enough room for all of them, so they have to come over here. My dad says that before all these Haitian brutes came, you could make an honest living and raise a family in the batey. But now, it’s only bottom suckers from Haiti, congoses, who can make a living here. And they’re no good for raising a family, either, because say you’ve got a kid like my little nephew Tomacito, who lives in the batey. Well, those Haitians have so many kids they can’t master them, so the kids go running around teaching their bad habits to all the kids. It’s bad. So now Tomacito is one little fresh wiseass, hanging out with these bastard Haitian children.

So, anyway, where was I? Yeah, congoses, Congoses are stupid. They actually pay good money for someone to bring them to the batey so they can work like slaves. I’ve seen this for as long as I’ve been alive, 18 years now. So it’s nothing shocking. I’ve known it for years: congoses are stupid.

But this really takes the cake. ¡Coño! The other day, last Wednesday, I was looking after the shop while my dad, Ruben, went to go sell lottery numbers in another batey. It was about five or six, and the congoses were coming back from where they were cutting cane. A group of ten or so of these guys comes up and all start yelling at me at once.

Now, they don’t really speak a language, it’s just a sort of jumble, but I know enough that the Haitians won’t get over on me. But they didn’t want what the congoses usually want– rice, beans, pote of rum. So I wasn’t understanding all ten of these men, such brutes that they can’t speak right.

So I said, “M’pa tande, m’pa kompwan aishen.” That seemed to do the trick because one of these big black men stepped up and started speaking barely intelligible Dominican. “We have find,” he said, “this bags in cane field. They is sugar and we sell good price to you.” He pointed out about five sacks marked “Sugar, Granulated White, 125lbs, Ingenio Romana.” I asked where they had gotten these sacks, and the spokesman said, “Sack in middle of cane we find. We sell good price to you.” So I asked what price, and he said one hundred pesos a bag.

I said to myself, “coño, Diablo, that’s not even money. And so what if it is white sugar? People usually buy crema, but at this price, who cares?”

“Tell you what, sirs,” I said as politely as I could, “Why don’t you all leave those sacks here so that when Ruben comes back from selling numbers, he can have a look and then give you your money.”

This seemed to please the group of grimy men, and thus they left me with 625 pounds of what I thought was sugar. I opened up one of the bags so we could dispense its contents. Some of the white powder fell on my hands and I habitually went to lick it off. But it tasted nasty, not sweet at all. I thought it was kinda fucked up that sugar wouldn’t be sweet. It’s what you put in coffee, am I not right? Okay, fine. Just then it occurs to me where these sacks are from and what they’ve got in them. Ingenio Romana C por A my ass! I’d seen it once on Primer Impacto, drug dealers shoving their goods out of planes while being chased by the police.

So I quickly make up a plan. My friend Enrique would help me out. I’m not greedy, and I’ve never been into crime, thank God. My parents raised me well, thank goodness. But things are difficult these days. There’s no life here. You’ve got to grab whatever opportunities God grants you, or else. And Enrique, the company’s guard in the batey, would help me do just that.

So I call Enrique over and show him the goods. I explain how my oldest brother Roberto is in the police stationed nearby, and how he’ll help us make a bit of dough. First thing Enrique does is to find those congoses before my dad gets back. He accuses them of theft, and demands to know, in perfectly good Haitian burble, where these men got the sugar. So the congoses are afraid of Enrique, stupid brutes, and agree that the sugar belongs to the company. Enrique says he doesn’t entirely believe the story of them finding the sacks, but tells them that anything of value that falls on company land is the company’s. He tells the congoses that he’s going to call the police to investigate. That shuts the congoses right up, the illegal filthy bastards.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get the crappy cellular to work so I can call my brother, the police sargeant. Finally I get through, and tell him to come on out. He arrives riding on his dirt bike with two other policemen on the back. Enrique makes a great show of rounding up all the congoses he can find and making a grand speech. “You will not steal here. You think that things are one way, but they are another,” speaking in Kreyol, and then, in Dominican, adding “¡Cono! ¡Carajo! ¡Que mañosos son!

It was all good, though. With my little cut of the deal, I’ll be able to move to San Pedro so I’ll be closer to the training camp. That’s what family’s good for, you know– got a brother here, a compadre over there, you can echar pa’lante. Get some relative in the police and they can market anything.

Did you want that in a bag? No change? I don’t think we can change that bill. Don’t worry– we’re here to serve. Yeah, don’t worry about it at all. You’re not going to rip us off, am I right? No problem, whenever you have it. A la orden estamos.