Buster was sitting at a table on the malecon, relaxing and enjoying a very rare moment of peace and quiet at Buster’s on the Beach. No problemas, the Livin’ and Dyin’ in ¾ Time boys were nowhere to be seen and the day’s ship was pulling away after another fun day in Costa Maya, so he sat down with a cold lemonade and a week old newspaper from Miami. Life in paradise, ahhh … Mahahual.
Buster was not even through the front page when suddenly Pancho, the hammock maker, comes driving up on, to his surprise, Buster’s bicycle. It was an unmistakable piece of junk, held together by mainly rust and dirt, and showing most of the half dozen colors it had been throughout its long and difficult life. Buster had paid $200 pesos (about $15 USD) and a half bottle of very bad tequila for it a few months before, always wondering if the old dude he had bought it from had stolen it and if the rightful owner would confront him in much this same way sometime. He asked, “Pancho, where did you get my bicycle and why are you riding it?”
Pancho looked confused and said, “This is my bike. I just bought it from Pedrito for $100 pesos.”
Buster didn’t know if he should be upset more that Pedrito had stolen his bike or that he had sold it for just $100 pesos. Buster had added a new seat and some really cool hand grips which had to have added greatly to the value of such a fine machine. What a bone head. $100 pesos and not even a drop of tequila!
“Pancho, I hate to tell you this, but that is my bicycle. I think Pedrito stole it from me and has sold you my bike.”
Just about that time, Comandante Jorge (the police chief) happened to be walking by, so Buster stopped him and told him the story of his bike. The Comandante of course said he would love to help, but really had some other important business that he unfortunately needed to attend to. Perhaps “mañana” he said to Buster. Well, he knew what that really meant was “look gringo, I make $500 a month, and for that, I’m supposed to keep the peace, which I do. You want more than that, you’re going to pay for it or you won’t receive justice mañana or any other time for that matter.” Of course he did not say that but Buster had lived in Mexico long enough to know how “pay as you go” government works.
“Senior, I know you are very busy right now and dragging you away from your duty will surely cause you to have to work even later tonight and yes I know, they won’t pay you a peso more for doing it either. Sorry government,” said Buster, trying to find some common ground with the Comandante before he began his negotiation. “How about I pay your overtime, and you help me with this matter. That way, at least you’ll get paid for your extra work.” This of course made perfect sense to the Comandante who said he would hold the bike, find Pedrito and all would meet at the police station in an hour.
Some 59 minutes later, Buster walked into the police station and low and behold, there sat Pedrito, Pancho, Comandante Jorge and the bicycle. The discussion was going at what appeared to be a furious pace until Buster walked into the room, when it suddenly became quiet. The Comandante seemed to have gotten to the bottom of the matter, coincidentally just before the arrival of the gringo. Apparently it was all a big “misunderstanding” as he put it. The Comandante explained that Pedrito mistakenly thought Buster no longer wanted the bike. Seems Buster had parked it in front of his casita, the spot he parked it all the time, and with no apparent owner in site, Pedrito assumed nobody wanted the bike and took it home. An honest mistake he explained that could happen to anybody.
“Oh please. You can’t think we are that stupid,“ said Buster said to Pedrito. “You stole it and you know it. Give this man his money and my bike back.”
Comandante Jorge said, “Por Favor Senior Buster. I have known Pedrito for many years. He is not a smart man. He is one stupido actually, but is not a thief. You can have your bike back and it seems to be in good shape. He was just about to return the $100 pesos when you walked in. I will make sure this does not happen again and all will be fixed. He walked over to Pedrito and held out his hand. Pedrito reached into his pocket a pulled the $100 peso bill from it and handed it to the Comandante. He gave the money to Pancho and returned to Pedrito. Suddenly, he open handed slapped Pedrito so hard he fell from the chair. From the floor he looked up just in time to catch the second swipe, this time from the return backside of the Comandante’s giant hand. Pedrito went all the way flat on the floor. Comandante Jorge stood over him and said, “Pedrito, don’t you ever make me come get you again. If you do, I’m really going kick your ass next time. Is that understood?” Pedrito shook his head yes and slowly began to pick himself up.
Buster grabbed his bike, Pancho had his $100 pesos and Pedrito had a welt the size of Rhode Island on each side of his face that seemed to assure, his bike stealing days, at least in the Comandante’s town, were over. Case closed, no court costs, attorneys fees, jury duty or gloves that don’t fit. The bad guy received enough punishment to probably deter any future criminal activity and the Comandante got paid his overtime.
Don’t you love a happy ending!