Sugar Mountain High II

Pedro was the son of my mother’s helper, so we had seen him as we grew up. But the Pedro I am speaking of here was a different Pedro, older, sweatier, more muscular. He used to wear a white cotton vest with dark trousers whenever we saw him. These clothes were a symbol he told us, when he had joined our circle.

The circumstances leading up to this event are mysterious, and have assumed the status almost of myth. It would appear that Elmo had struck up a friendship with Pedro in the summer of our final school year. At the time it seemed a strange thing for Elmo to do. Even more strange was that he wanted Pedro to enter our circle. Now I had previously noted certain actions by Elmo that would have made me cast aspersions on his character if I did not know him so intimately, but I had written these off to his relative youthfulness.

Elmo, you see was quite a few months younger than the rest of the group, and when you are of that age, months can seem like a lfetime. And besides, as we liked to joke, Elmo had been born pre-mature. He still walked with a little limp because of it. I suppose had it not been for our group, Elmo might well have become an outcast, what with his physical deformity, and his peculiar habits, such as not wanting to be touched by anyone, or the way he held his hands on his hips. But when he brought Pedro to us, it seemed an extraordinary thing to do.

To be sure, Pedro was not without his charms. As we had grown up, one could not miss the unmistakable signs of his coming into manhood. He used to come round to the house on Saturday mornings to chop wood in the yard. I pretended to ignore him, of course. But surreptitiously, I used to go to my room and take a peek at him. It was especially thrilling when he took off his vest to reveal his tanned torso. In a kind of slow motion he would use his vest to wipe the sweat off his brow, and then cast it off to the side in a majestic sweep of his arm. I had not, of course thought of him in any other way until Elmo brought him to our circle that fateful day.

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