El Morro sunrise

The fellow dismounted the black BSA on Calle Del Cristo in Old San Juan on the coast.

The hour was dark, and there was a bloody rip in his foot. Kickstarting a motorcycle barefoot, especially when the rubber pad is missing, is always a stupid idea. Only a drunk would do it.

He crossed the street of blue cobblestones, made of old ballast from Spanish galleons, and entered the bar El Batey for a cuba libre.

The beefy blond owner with the name of Davey Jones said hi while Jimmy Buffett sang Margaritaville from the jukebox.

The fellow took a barstool next to the deep window, the one where Luis Muñoz occasionally entered when on a bender. Luis Muñoz was the middle-aged, troubled son of Puerto Rican patriot-hero Luis Muñoz Marín, a fact that haunted him always.

Luis Muñóz and the fellow worked together on The San Juan Star.

Now and then, after work, Luis Muñoz invited the fellow home for post-midnight supper of sausage quiche prepared by his girlfriend Ana, a petite ballerina of renown.

They would sit under candlelight at the long table, the three of them. Two were drinking, but the ballet dancer would be half asleep.

The thick-walled building was ancient, and they would dine to backdrop tunes of tiny tree frogs called coquíes, hidden in damp vegetation of the open patio where late-night rain often fell.

Luis Muñoz was an artist, and one soused night he gave the fellow a print of two nude lovers sitting on the step-street next to the Hotel Convento there in Old San Juan.

Three framings and 40 years beyond, it hangs in the Ranchito stairwell, sunlit in daytime via the glass bricks just above.

A few cuba libres later, the fellow lurched from El Batey and limped to the BSA across the cobblestones. He made it home as dawn began to frame the fortress of El Morro.

Later that day the bloody foot throbbed like nobody’s business.

* * * *

(Note: Luis Muñoz Lee died in 2003 in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. He had been born in San Juan in 1921.  I never saw him after 1975. He was a grand guy.)

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