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, from Church, said they saw him and, they said that this short, white haired Mexican riding his bicycle in the rain was a pretty funny sight. “Why would he ride in the rain?” they thought, 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, no doubt at a wage good enough for someone used to nothing. Randal also let Tito stay in his shop, a small building on his farm, since he had nowhere else to stay. And having this little man staying on his property, sleeping in what was essentially the outdoors, because in the summer you couldn’t close the door without it getting unbearably hot in there, was what got the whole family’s imagination going. All they could talk about was Tito.

“The Lord did that man a good turn when He sent him to me.” Randal would declare.

“What are you talking about, Randal,” his wife Lila would say, “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?” she would ask. When Randal said no, she would give him a hard time,

“Well, why not!?!”

And Timmy, Randal’s son-in-law said they should put a screen door on that barn so he could close it and keep the mosquitoes out. Ruth, who was Lila’s sister, and her husband, Darryl, took an interest as well. 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?” they laughed.

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

“I believe he speaks Mexican” Randal said and they all busted out laughing some more. Randal couldn’t help referring to Tito as a Mexican, which Tito didn’t like and would get angry when he heard it.

Everyone contributed to this little man’s upkeep. Everybody brought this little man some leftovers (they always laughed when they said “little”, he was barely 5 feet tall). There was usually some casserole of some kind left over from some pot luck dinner at the Church. He didn’t speak much English so no one really learned 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 in their lives.

Randal was talking about getting him a moped, even though that wouldn’t keep from having to ride in the rain, but Tito wasn’t working out as well as it seemed he would at first.  He started hanging out with some other “Mexicans” he used to live with, before he came to Randal.  He must have spent some of the money he earned buying them all alcohol, and the drinking made him a bit unruly, especially when Randall called him a Mexican.  Randal tried to talk to him about his drinking, but Tito just said, 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.  Then he moved on, one rainy day, no doubt, to another farm, or another town, who knows?  He left behind a microwave, a TV, a refrigerator, a screen door, a casserole dish and all of Darryl’s goats.

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