I could tell she was hesitant to tell me, but Emelda and I had become friends and I can be somewhat persistent when I feel like I am on the verge of something interesting.
I had been asking about her previous jobs. She was a cook, before that a cleaner, before that she worked in a fish processing plant out in El Bluff. Before that she spent four years in the bush.
I asked her to clarify.
“I was fightin. I was a Contra.” she clarified.
Emelda is in her late thirties. She is a heavy-set creole woman who, with her big cheeks, bright eyes and big smile, could double as Aunt Jemima. Though her haven’t-seen-you-on-a-week mommy hugs could nearly squeeze the life out of her teenage kids, violent is not a word I could use to describe her. My jaw dropped when she told me how once she had killed every man, woman and child in a jungle village.
“I was hungry. All a we was hungry. We been walkin in deh bush fa days eatin coco an cassava an whatever we can fine in da bush. One day I go walkin alone ta look guayaba an I see five, six houses, somethin so. I gon up to one house what have one tall stack a tortilla, fresh! I ask deh lady if she wan sell me an she say deh no fah sale. I was beggin she but she say she no wan sell none, not one! So I leave, an as I goin back to me company, I see from deh top a deh hill a next company a Sandanistas goin ta deh village.
“I run back to me company an tell dem what I seen.
“We took position on deh top ah deh hill where I was when I seen dem deh firs time. An you know what? Deh Sandinistas dem was all sittin down eatin deh same tortilla the lady no wan sell me! She no wan sell dem because dem was fa deh soldiers what was comin!”
There Emelda ended the story. But the story did not end there. “So what happened?”, I asked, hanging on every word.
“Ahahaha…” she gave a laugh as if she was about to tell a curious kid the sky is blue. “What you tink happen? We killed dem!”
“You killed them? All of the soldiers?”
“Deh soldiers and deh res ah the village. Everybody. Deh people in deh village was helpin deh Sandinistas, so we had ta kill dem too. Man, woman an child.”