Nicaragua (A Pre-Regulated Country)

A scurry of goats dip their heads behind the herder as their tin bells clang, hoofs clacking past the lichen-ribboned ruins of colonial hospitals and royal thumbs of ancient cathedrals now disused. Shacks have bloomed in the rubble because they are more necessary. Nicas barter over lumps of goods passed down from the 1st World, bits of carrion that float down to the ocean’s bottom for lurking albino fish.

The Coke dealer fears no cop, holds the baggy up to the light for examination. The chele cops it and the day is done, the sun sinking in stages until it stops whipping the thick air into waves. There are no cops to fear, so there is everybody else—the streets can smell greenbacks, they whistle for them, and so the dealer is stocked with weapons like a buccaneer.

He treks home past trees polluted to death, cadaverous boughs hacked down for cooking-tinder. Sewage rolls over saturated mud and into plastic-clogged brooks where young men pan for anything.

A pick-up truck stacked with amps blares a beat, and the oncoming bus jumps to it—a Technicolor jalopy slashed with so many colors they leave vapor-trails. The driver is hard into Catholicism, and he’s painted a brown-skinned Jesus across the buses’ snout. The bus carries bags atop its head like a Caribbean woman, and the travelers have exceeded the occupancy limit—you can see the litany of regulations they don’t abide by plastered on the wall from its days as a yellow school bus in New Jersey. But it failed inspection and (everything is recycled here).

Guard dogs slouch out of alleys like crips and stare coals as intruders. Their days are filled with the search for meat (scraps, vermin) and they have no time or respect for neuroses.

A single goat kicks away from the group to settle her haunches flat, shitting the street—the call of nature answered immediately.

But it is night and the group carries around a corner. The guard dogs materialize, smoke wafting from their nostrils. The goat brays for its herd, but the dogs tear her up for her protein and the blood has nowhere to drain. And they are full now.

A chele dismounts the jalopy and sees the blood. He has never seen so much in real life and suspects murder. He remounts the bus.

The Coke dealer nurses is family with the money that night. He gathers his guard dogs around him and scratches their heads as he stares at the unregulated sky.

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