Vagabond Dreams Outtakes are “deleted scenes” from my book. Think of them as a “Special Features” disc of outtakes and curios. This incident took place in the Petén region of Guatemala…
I stumbled out of bed at four thirty to prepare for the last long distance bus ride of the journey: the hard packed jungle track through the eastern Petén to the Caribbean Sea and Belize City. It was a sobering thought to realize that in another couple weeks it would all come to an end.
The night watchman brought a cup of coffee to my room when I returned from the cold shower at the end of the hall.
“Gracias, amigo. I needed that.”
He patted me on the shoulder, shook his head sadly, and went back to the darkness of the restaurant.
I packed and drank the coffee, then dragged my bag to the stout front door that had been locked against the lawless jungle night. The watchman limped up behind me. He peeked out through the small barred window, first to the left, then to the right, as though looking for bandits who might be lying in wait.
“Not yet,” he said, motioning for me to follow him back into the darkest recesses of the restaurant.
We stopped at the bar to pour more coffee. I followed him to the patio over the lake, where he sat at a table and watched a Spanish western with the sound turned down very low. I think he sat there every night, watching TV alone in the dark.
“You like?” he asked, pointing at the screen.
“Yeah. I like westerns.”
We sat in silence, and the blue light of the TV flickered over his tired old face and his sad glazed eyes. What an eternity it must be, passing a lifetime in that way.
The bus pulled up at a little after five. The watchman let me out and shook my hand with a weak, dry grip.
“Safe journey,” he said quietly.
He shuffled back inside and bolted the door against the night with a loud click, then watched me through the little barred window with a face marred by jail shadows until we pulled away.
I felt sorry for that lonely old man, living in a jungle backwater with no hope of ever having enough money to leave, and probably nowhere to go even if he could. Stuck in that same dusty place, always watching others go but never leaving himself.
Those who sit and wait, they also die.
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