Ladiana walked into Coca Cola looking for a fight. She was tolerant of me-only reasonable I thought considering I was paying- but completely rude to Jamie, my new lawyer. Refusing to shake his hand, she fell onto a chair Agua had retrieved for her from another table and glared. Her dark, slightly pitted face, pretty enough when she dropped her tough guy act, was unresponsive to platitudes offered by the men around the table. Glances were aimed at us, but nobody in a city always brimming with blare and bluster was curious for more than a moment.
I had asked them to come to meet Jamie so that we might produce a new plan to free Agua of his bondage. It was meant to be amicable. I had intended buying food, making the event into a sort of celebration, but it disintegrated into an atmosphere of malice. Jamie was remarkably tolerant. He was a mediator, which was his nature, not given to head-on confrontations. Truth be, he also needed a payday. When Agua and Ladiana left, nothing had been settled.
‘Café con leche,’ I asked one of the angels, a small Indigenous woman from the Kuna nation: island dwellers, fisher people. Tiny, independent, exceptional workers who were prized employees in Panama City. They had a flair for colourful outfits and beaded calves. She smiled, spreading her lips stiffly, exposing her teeth — odd but sincere. She put a comforting hand on my shoulder before retreating to the kitchen area. Jaime had been called away by the restaurant boss, seemingly none the worse for wear.