Most of the small seaside town of Puerto Cielo was still sleeping, but the Bernie brothers had already assumed their positions. In the shade of the overhanging veranda, sitting side by side on the bench outside the entry to the 3 B’s store, they had a commanding view of Main Street. From this strategic location, armed with a cooler full of beer on ice, they could monitor the town’s goings on. And so they did each day, from sunrise until sunset, excepting Sundays when their wives dragged them to church and the beer cooler was off limits.
At their feet, laying dead still, was Lazarus. Nicknamed “Lazy,” the mutt had adopted them mostly because the morning sun on the wood deck made for a perfect place to sleep. There was very little that could stir Lazy from his deathlike slumber.
The brothers were identical triplets, much to their mother’s surprise. In fact, so shaken was she with the news that the expected single baby boy turned out to be three, that she named them all Bernardo. Her logic, which to be fair makes some sense, was that if she called them all by the same name, she would never mix them up.
This practicality turned out to be quite convenient. If someone asked the name of one of the brothers, the response was simply, “oh, that’s Bernie.” However, between themselves, the brothers had adopted the nicknames of Paco, Poncho, and Gus.
The three had turned out to be an enterprising trio, starting the town’s first video rental store, which had done exceptionally well. They’d been practical businessmen, offering video’s that did not conflict with the town’s religious standards, although it was rumored that a special collection of “art films” existed in a secret back room.
The brothers had expanded into other branches of the blossoming IT industry, from computer sales and repair to business networking. By the time videos had disappeared and DVDs and online streaming became the rage, younger family members had taken over the business. 3B’s was now the town’s largest internet service provider, along with cell phone and computer sales and service.
Looking at the three old grizzled faces under their bleached cowboy hats, wearing faded shirts, dirty dungarees and scuffed boots, one would never guess that these were the three richest guys in town.
And so, each with a cold brew in hand, they surveyed their kingdom.
Three wrinkled faces turned to peer up the street, past the rows of crammed together multi-colored buildings on either side, towards the sound of an oncoming motorcycle.
Patrolman Castillo was in a hurry. Having taken longer than usual to shine his knee high boots, adjust his uniform, primp in the mirror, and wax his mustache, he would now be later than desired to reach city hall. He gunned the little motorcycle’s 200 cc engine and it howled like a hive of mad hornets as he steered to miss the street’s ubiquitous water filled potholes. the ones he could not avoid sent a bone shuddering pain up his spine.
The three Bernies watched as Castillo came into view, his cycle thunking with a splash into one last pothole before slowing in front of the two story white Stucco City Hall building across the street.
The patrolman kicked out the bike stand and dismounted. Removing his helmet, he ran his fingers through the well oiled receding hair atop his head and gave his mustache a final twirl. Then he adjusted his equipment belt which included everything from a service revolver, flashlight, pepper spray, handcuffs, and ticket book. He hoisted and jiggled the belt about his ample waist, then stopped, took a small bottle from a chest pocket, and liberally doused his face with cologne. Satisfied that he was ready to introduce himself to the extremely attractive new girl in the accounting department, Patrolman Castillo put his helmet under one arm and strutted up the steps to City Hall to make his conquest.
Across the way, a bottle was removed from the cooler and the top popped. The dog’s ears moved and one eye opened. The bottle of beer was put in front of his nose.
Lazarus came back from the dead. Slowly bringing himself to his feet, Lazy watched as a weathered finger pointed towards City Hall. He shook himself awake, then turned and slowly sauntered across the empty street.
With all the patience of a priestly ritual, Lazy squatted beside the parked motorcycle and dropped a steaming load. Not quite done, the dog then lifted his leg on the front tire, leaving a stream of yellow urine dripping down the wire spokes. Satisfied, he retraced his steps to the porch. Here, the dog sat in front of the three Bernies awaiting his reward.
The opened bottle of beer was tilted into Lazy’s mouth. He chugged the entire contents empty in a series of long gulps, paused for a deep breath, then belched. The morning exercise over, Lazarus turned two circles before collapsing in his favorite pool of sunshine and resuming the posture of his namesake.
It was Paco’s turn to make the call and he dialed 911. In a frantic voice, he told the operator that a domestic dispute was happening and gunshots had been fired. He gave the address of the mayor’s house in the west side of town and then hung up.
Patrolman Castillo had made the mistake of stopping their sister, Sylvia, for a bogus speeding violation. When she wouldn’t pay the bribe he really wanted, and screamed abuse at him, he had added harassing a police officer to the charges. The ticket had been tossed by the municipal judge, who recognizing Sylvia’s connection to the 3 B’s enterprise, was not going to jeopardize access to his favorite videos in the store’s back room. Still, Castillo had made lifelong enemies of the vengeful Bernie brothers.
Three new bottles of beer were retrieved from the cooler, tops popped, and the boys waited.
It didn’t take long. The city hall entry door flew open and patrolman Castillo hurried out, adjusting his motorcycle helmet on his head. He stepped around his cycle, slid a leg over the seat and kicked the engine into life. He rocked the bike forward to release the stand, then stopped and looked down, slowly raising his left boot.
Despite the helmet covering his face, the patrolman’s curse could be plainly heard across the street. As the frustrated cop putted off to deal with a calamity that didn’t exist, the three Bernies smiled and clinked bottles for a job well done.
The three B’s were always surprised that Castillo never grasped that he was being played. They’d sent him to investigate a peeping Tom at the town’s bordello, a robbery at the twenty four hour laundromat, and theft of the mayor’s car, all obvious hoaxes upon close inspection.
For his part, Lazarus was only too willing to help out for a tall cool one.
Moral: Never underestimate the power of a cold beer.
Note: This is an excerpt from my current writing project, “The Resurrection of Puerto Cielo.”
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