Up From Gualamala

The first time anyone saw Tito it was even before he started working for Randal. He was riding his bicycle in the rain. Beatrice and her daughter Megan said they saw him. “Why would he ride in the rain?” they said, laughing.

Tito found Randal’s brother first, who gave Tito $2 and Randal’s phone number.  Then he found Randal who put him to work right away, at a wage good enough for someone used to nothing. Randal also let Tito stay in his shop, a small building on his farm. Having this little man staying on his property, sleeping in what was essentially the outdoors, you couldn’t close the door without it getting unbearably hot, got the whole family’s imagination going. All they talked about was Tito.

“The Lord did that man a good turn when He sent Tito to me.” Randal declared.

“What are you talking about, Randal?” his wife, Lila, asked, “you work that little man to death for the small amount you pay him. Did you bring him some of the leftovers from last night?” When Randal said no, she would bark, “Well, why not!?!”

Timmy, Randal’s son-in-law, suggested a screen door on the shop so he could keep the mosquitoes out. Ruth, Lila’s sister, and her husband, Darryl, took an interest too. Since the shop had electricity they got him a microwave and a little TV, and pretty soon he had a small refrigerator.

“Where’s Tito from, Randal?” Ruth asked.

“I believe he’s from Gualamala,” Randal said and people laughed.  “Either that or Hungary,” he added.

“Hungary?”

“Hun…”

“You mean Honduras?”

“Hon… yeah, Hondras, or Gualamala.” He swallowed the word, “Hondrus,” but articulated “Gualamala” very distinctly.

“Which one is it, Gualamala or Hungary?”

“What language does he speak? He doesn’t speak Hungarian does he?”

“I believe he speaks Mexican,” Randal said and they all laughed some more.

Randal couldn’t help referring to Tito as a Mexican, which Tito didn’t like.

Everyone contributed to this little man’s upkeep. Everybody brought this little man some leftovers. They all laughed when referring to him as “little”, he was barely 5 feet tall. There was usually some casserole left over from some pot luck dinner at the Church, which they would share with him. He didn’t speak much English so no one could really learn that much about him, but that didn’t keep them from speculating.

“What’s his last name, Randal?”

“I don’t believe I know that,” Randal said.

“I doubt Tito is his first name,” barked Lila.

“Do you think he rode all the way from ‘Gualamala'”, they always made sure to pronounce it just the way Randal did, “on that bicycle?”

“Where is Gualamala, is it in Mexico?”

“You don’t think he would eat one of Darryl’s goats, do you?”

“Why would he the way you guys feed him?”

Like that.

They would watch him ride his bicycle past their homes each day, and they would stare. This little man on the bicycle was what was happening.

Randal was talking about getting him a moped, even though that still wouldn’t protect him from the rain, but Tito wasn’t working out as well as they had hoped. He started hanging out with other “Mexicans.” He spent some of the money he earned buying alcohol, and the drinking made him a bit unruly, especially when he was referred to as Mexican.  Randal tried to talk to him about his drinking, but Tito responded in broken English, “I not Christian, I not Christian.”  The more Randal gave him a hard time the more Tito showed off what little English he knew. “No more bewshit, no more bewshit,” he said.  He moved on, one rainy day, probably, on his bicycle, leaving behind a perfectly good microwave, TV, refrigerator, screen door, casserole dish and most of Darryl’s goats.

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