Women´s Panties 4 (the denunciation)


¨I denounced him this morning,¨ she told me as I entered the shop. ¨Es una plaga, el,¨ she said. ¨Ese malparido viejo is a plague upon the block and I have denounced him to the police.¨

I realized she was talking about the owner of the minutos shop next door.
¨But we have nothing against him,¨ I said.
¨Sure we have. It is this one of ill-birth who provides the false notes that are passed.¨
I had never seen the shop owner sell anything. He stood out front on the sidewalk drinking beer and guaro with a wretched assortment of thieves and addicts. Throughout the day bazucheros went up to the apartment above the shop and came down later with a blown look in their eyes. He was running a perico lab and even if I didn´t like him I understood him. He didn´t need to pass off false bills on his neighbors.
¨I called the police and gave his address and that he sells bazucho and in his apartment has fake notes. I spoke with a paisa accent so that they will not know me.¨
I shook my head. I didn´t like this denunciation but perhaps it would be a good thing. It meant we wouldn´t need to sweep up the broken aguardiente bottles and beer cans in the morning. It would mean no more crackheads whistling for the shop owner and throwing pebbles at his window to let them come up.
The minutos shop was shuttered a few days later. There was no gossip of a police raid but during the week we did not see the owner. That Sunday, after Señor Roberto had closed the bicicleteria, a young kid who was clearly a thief passed by on the street and looked into the panty shop. Ines was alone in the shop and when the kid walked by a third time she came out with her pepper spray and cursed him and he ran off.
The children´s clothing shop three doors down was robbed the following day. Just after lunchtime two professional appearing men in suits entered and asked about boy´s pajamas. One pulled a knife on the shop girl and the other shut the door. They advanced upon the shop girl demanding money and her cellular. Then she realized they intended to violate her too and it was only when she protested that she was pregnant and they had her shirt off and saw her stomach that they left.
The old man at the corner mercado said that for six months now the block has not put money together to pay for a vigilante. And when the thieves do not see the vigilante in his security uniform and baton they return again to rob us. Without the vigilante there is nothing to do but to give the ladrones what they demand.
¨It was safer for the cuadra when the minutos shop was open,¨ I said to Ines. ¨The thieves and addicts that gathered out front were a security for the block. These other thieves arrive from beyond the barrio. Because no sensible thief performs his thieving in his own neighborhood.¨
¨Tienes razon, negro. It was a mistake to denounce el viejo,¨ she said sadly.
But later in the week the minutos shop reopened. The owner had been on vacation in Baranquilla and Ines was quick to welcome him. She now greeted him with a friendly ¨vecino¨ and he was much angered to learn of what had happened while he was away. He and his friends would watch to make sure nothing further would happen, he said. Of course it was unacceptable that there should be any sort of crime occurring on the block.

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