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Silencing the Mango Man

Devolver bien por mal.

Juan worked as a bartender long into the evening, six nights a week. He went to work in the late afternoon and returned to his home after closing the bar in the early hours of the morning. During his normal shift he dealt with demanding boozers, the constant smells of the bar and keeping count on the money in the register. When it was all over he refurbished the liquor, stocked the coolers, mopped the floor, arranged the furniture and secured the door before leaving the place to the light of day.

He always slammed a parting shot on the way out the door, fired up a smoke and coughed his way through the winding streets back home to his peaceful bed. Exhausted, he fell usually asleep in moments. That was before the Mango Man.

For months the morning offered quiet solitude. The world of the bar seemed millions of miles away. He could pull the heavy curtains, don his sleeping mask, turn on the ceiling fan, and pull the covers back. Sometimes when the town crew was repairing the streets or on a festival day he would use earplugs, but he hated them. After the ceaseless bar noise and the repetitious music the earplugs did little more than cause an echo affect with a sprinkling of acute irritation in his right ear.

“Mango! Mango! Mango!”

“Most mornings I’m so tired I could sleep through hurricanes, jackhammers and the abrasive car alarms,” he said. “It’s all a matter of developing a workable pattern. Besides, I have no choice. My work hours are my work hours. The bar wouldn’t make any money if we opened from eight to five. “

Juan could survive on six hour of sleep but combined with the drinks, the stress and the tobacco he was clearly on the verge of a collapse. His only redoubt was his room on the second floor where his smoky, rum-soaked world had no sovereignty. For a few hours each day Juan could escape to this tiny realm. Safe from the sins of the night it was the only immediate remedy but it’s walls were slowly crumbling, chipped away by another puff, another swig.

“Who wants to live forever anyway?” coughed Juan.

Then one day the Mango Man expanded his territory to include Juan’s neighborhood. Before that there were fruit venues to be sure but they called irregularly at best and with much less fanfare. The Mango Man was not so subtle. He was a blaring presence every morning at six with his familiar “Mango! Mango! Mango” careening off the sidewalks and the concrete structures. “The man must be from high in the Andes to have grown such lungs,” thought Juan. “I wish he’d go back there.”

Now every morning the noise began anew. “Mango Mango Mango!” kept Juan awake. “Mango Mango Mango!” overwhelmed the fans, the curtains, even the cumbersome earplugs. Juan now tossed and turned in what had been his one refuge from the daylight insanity around him. Although the Mango Man was quick to come and go, his chant was becoming a plague. Tomorrow I will talk to him. Maybe we can work something out.

As the sun broke through the next morning Juan was waiting out on the sidewalk. He spied the Mango Man, approached and purchased two ripe mangos. After the small talk was suspended Juan explained his predicament to the Mango Man who listened intently shaking his head and frowning. Now, enveloping the conversation, was a brewing confrontation.

“Can’t you visit this neighborhood later in the day toward the end of your route?” he asked after the purchase. “I work at night and I’m trying to sleep during the period that you visit. If you will do this simple thing for me I promise to buy five mango per day, even while you work out your logistics.”

The Mango Man told Juan that he fully appreciated the situation and that he was terribly sorry but that he picked up his morning cargo just a block from here and that if he didn’t call right away he would have to double back in the afternoon. Besides, Juan’s neighborhood offered a new, lucrative market and the morning was the time people bought mangos!

“They are like my children. They are used to me coming early, before they go to work,” he whispered. “I cannot risk my enterprise by changing it up in its infancy. Besides I need to cover my expanding route by mid-day since my wife needs me at her restaurant in the afternoon and then I visit my mother near Little Botero Park before calling it a day. She will be 96 next month and relies on me for everything.

“So as you can see I have to sell here early in the morning or lose the income and starve to death.” whined the Mango Man.

“You could eat mangos,” coughed Juan to himself, now trembling from lack of sleep and the booze from the night before.

The first mango cart

A groggy Juan returned to his bed, unable to sleep despite his near exhaustion. The next morning Juan intercepted the Mango Man on the way home and bought all of his mangos, every last one. “That ought to keep him off my street until I can figure out something.”

But the Mango Man had upped the ante. He was back in fifteen minutes with a new cargo of ripe mangos. The noise bounced off the concrete and plaster walls, stacked horizontally like squared off and cramped cubicles in a captive canyon of their own creation.

The following day Juan bought all the mangos and the cart as well as the little air horn the Mango Man sometimes used as a first notice the he was in the area. As he was falling asleep with a smile on his face the Mango man returned with a new cart full to the brim with delicious mangos. Juan woke up cursing. The little horn tooted away.

“Ave Maria…What will I do?” he cried.

That afternoon Juan painted two signs in his bedroom. One said, “No soliciting between 5 am and 11 am” and the other read “Baby sleeping-Please be quiet.” Although the signs were attractive enough and didn’t bother any of his neighbors they did not detour the Mango Man who, sadly, was quite illiterate.

Exasperated, Juan consulted with his contemporaries at the bar. As might be expected some suggested cunning while others suggested violence. One particularly loud man who always sat near the doorway said he had friends that could “strongly encourage the Mango Man to change his venue and habitual routine”. Of course Juan would have to cover their expenses and might owe them a favor down the road. Juan shook his head.

“I don’t want to hurt him. I just want him to stop yelling the repetitious Mango Mango Mango! at 6 am. Besides,” frowned Juan, bullying barrio icons will backfire. My neighbors love him.”

“What then is the core of your problem?” asked another of the barflies. “Mangos,” he thumps on the bar like a college professor, answering his own speculation. “With no mangos there is no Mango Man. So, clearly, we have…”

He then stopped mid-sentence and returned to his dark rum and jovial ice cubes. He swished his drink around incessantly, attempting to punctuate his postulate. Then he ordered another and sat quietly not offering further half-baked wisdom to the now boiling pot.

Others joined in, vaulting the place to intellectual heights not seen since the last round was lovingly consumed. It was if Socrates and Plato had, unbeknownst to Juan, stopped in for a shot and a beer.

“Steal his cart,” offered one man.

“Sic your dog on him,” gestured another, his arms swinging wildly barely missing several of his loopy fellows. “Even barking alone might make your noisy interloper think twice about disturbing the dawn.”

Bad ideas from breaking legs to releasing bees were introduced over the next few hours. Juan again rejected violence and added that “bees preferred a bouquet in a rich man’s lapel than a beggar’s banquet in the middle of the daybreak street”. The clientele seemed quite impressed with such metaphors, then finally started to go home.

As he stepped into the doorway to light another cigarette Juan sighed.

Looking at the sordid collection soggy philosophers and failed dream engineers, clutching their glasses like lifeboats, he said: “You people are crazier than I am.”

Unfortunately Juan had not considered that his job at the bar might be the problem. He drifted back to a mound of solutions when he closed for the night. He lit up and walked home thinking about setting a trap for the Mango Man. In his growing madness Juan thought that if he could catch him out of the view of the neighbors he could then haul the fruity intruder along with his machinery of chaos to the suburbs and away from his street. He would then gingerly push him out the door of whatever kidnaping conveyance he was employing. The Mango Man could sell mangos in a better neighborhood and make more money. He’d be helping him out. He’d need a car.

Setting yet another conspiracy on the back burner, he decided on immediate action. Tomorrow he would let an ambulant and less than instinctive Chihuahua out onto the cockcrow street. When he did so it became clear as Aguardiente that the strategy would fail. The dog soon loved the Mango Man and especially the chicharron that he tossed.

Having failed at yet another task, Juan followed the Mango Man and at an opportune time secretly grabbed the cart full of fruit, covered it in a blanket and hid it at the rear of a vacated butcher shop where he thought no one would find it. As luck would have it the cart was easily discovered after a throng of loyal, patriarchic, alley-sweeping neighbors canvassed the precinct. The mangos and cart were once more in the possession of its proprietor.

And so the next morning it was “Mango Mango Mango!” once again bouncing off the walls, vying with the pre-recorded church bells for the morning’s loudest decibel level on a ludicrous logarithmic scale.

Back in his mid-day sanctuary Juan plotted, dog tired, his aggravation growing with each sleepless minute. Now not only the noise kept him from slumber. His frustration and obsessive plotting deprived him of the most meager harbor, even in the afternoons. His head swirling, he decided on another, more belligerent course of action.

The next night Juan did not go to work at the bar. He could not stomach the scene there. The booze, the smoke, the fools had worn him to fragile bits. He finally slept and at 6 am was awakened by the familiar chants of the Mango Man, “Mango Mango Mango!”

Juan bolted out of bed and ran to the street. He forced the mango cart away from the grasp of its purveyor and sent it careening down the lane until it tumbled over a cliff into the town dump and into little pieces. Juan stood by shaking, stunned at his actions and growing more conscious of the anger growing around him. Several neighbors swung at him. Others cursed him. It if were not for the local police, who had been called to the scene after the destruction of the cart, he might have been lynched.

The Mango Man sat quietly on the curb, taking in the show.

In the settling dust the police arrested Juan for menacing, willful destruction of property, assault and disturbing the peace. He was soon released with a hearing scheduled for later in the month. He would have to pay for the damages for certain and criminal charges might be forthcoming. However the peace and tranquility of a quiet jail cell was denied him.

Mango Man on his route in the morning

The neighbors quickly procured another cart that would suffice as a temporary mango transporter until someone could go to Magdalena to get him a better one. They even bought him a new horn. Meanwhile Juan, now under the scrutiny of the authorities, was ashamed for what he had done to the poor Mango Man.

He worked his last shift that night, giving notice to his aloof, indifferent boss. As he strolled out of the bar at closing time he felt a resilient peace down to his bones. A few hours later, when he saw the Mango Man guiding his revamped cart in his direction, he greeted him.

“And good morning to you sir,” said the Mango Man. “You are up early. Would you like to buy some mangos?”

The Mango Man didn’t show the slightest bit of anger or even a hint of resentment. He just smiled, offering a plump, ripe mango.

Juan bought a few then in passing remarked to the Mango Man “You know these neighborhoods. I have left my job as a barman and I am now seeking gainful employment. If you hear of anyone looking for help please let me know.”

Sizing up the man who had been his nemesis for the past few weeks the Mango Man smiled, seemingly elated by the news.

“I have recently purchased a second mango cart and was hoping to find someone local to help me expand my business, he explained. “There are new routes yet to be exploited, new customers to harvest. One must be regular, punctual and only sell the highest quality fruits. I think you’d be perfect. Would you be interested?”

Stunned, Juan said he would ponder the offer which he did all that night and the following day. Sure, he’d sell mangos, at least until something better came along. Why not? It beat killing himself in the bar. No more smoke. No more bad music. No more nightlife. A mango route assured him of acceptance and place in the community with reasonable prosperity.

Juan sought out the Mango man and accepted the offer. Tomorrow he would be a Mango Man. He too would yell “Mango Mango Mango! down the cobblestones and boulevards of the town.

In just a few months his health improved. The morning hours were bright and stimulating. He slept peacefully at night. Without the bar’s environment he soon stopped his chronic consumption of tobacco and alcohol. And he was selling mangos like gold, like hot potatoes.

– Kevin Haley

Blue collar plot would drop 10,000 bowling balls on White House

The sky isn’t falling yet, despite the efforts of a group of angry blue-collar workers who police say planned to rain down bowling balls on the White House.

The assault on the power point had reportedly been planned for a weekday when Trump wouldn’t be playing golf in Florida. Police remain baffled as to the details but concluded that “someone was pissed”. The alleged weapon, estimated to be thousands of bowling balls, has not been located. The heavy balls are believed to be hidden somewhere between Toledo and Detroit.

In connecting the dots on this crime of gravity the authorities confirmed that over 50 helicopters would be in the air above the presidential residence until the culprits are brought to justice.

And that’s not all. Remember the Chinese space lab, Tiangong-1, that has been orbiting the earth since 2017? It is expected to crash down to earth in latitudes corresponding to the location of the White House. The reentry is expected in early April.

In stepping up security in and around the famous residence police found mounds of broken pottery shards scattered all over the chief executive’s office. Whether this was a precursor to a quick departure for parts unknown.


(Cork) Gaelic mariner and self-proclaimed discoverer of America, Finbar the Sailor, remains lodged in the belly of a large blue whale according to sources here. The infamous old salt has been in that capacity since before Christmas. Although communication has been all but nonexistent since that time, scientists studying the phenomenon feel that Finbar is still alive due to atypical, sporadic acts on the part of the marine mammal.

Finbar remains in the belly of a whale like this one as of this afternoon.

“We don’t think the whale meant to eat Finbar,” said Dr. Efram Pennywhistle, a British marine biologist assigned to the case. “It was just a case of being at the wrong place at the right time and looking like lunch on-the-swim. The whale would probably have preferred fish and chips to that gasbag Mick,” the Englishman offered.

The Republic of Ireland has pledged to call in an assortment of experts including Jacques Cousteau, to aid in Finbar’s rescue. Already a convoy of French battleships is anchored of the coast in apprehension of Finbar’s release. They plan to dump gallons of cheap, green champagne overboard in the hopes that the host animal might consume the stuff and burp, thus expediting an uneventful release of the seaman.

Friends say that the Irish sailor will be disgorged whenever he, or the whale, gets around to it. Critics say his predicament is of his own doing.

“He’s always been fascinated by the Biblical account of Jonah and the Whale and now he’s got a ring-side seat for all the action. It’s just one more of his cheap publicity stunts,” said Mona Kelp, of Save the Whales. “I, for one, say leave him in there!”         -Gloria de Quirk

Salvaging Comun 13—Medellin, Colombia

The price tag on hope

Back in the early part of this new century, Comun 13 was still the most dangerous neighborhood in a notorious city called Medellin. Things have changed.

Comun 13, along with most of Medellin, has put on a new face with bright eyes and an ongoing conversation about a brighter future up the hill in Barrio San Javier.

Pop culture is alive and well in San Javier. Street art and music have rescued the neighborhood

Hope begets pride and pride begets quality of life.

No one here will tell you that the job is completed. There is still danger about. There is still poverty. But now there is real community and a drastic cut in the social ills that plagued this once steep, crime-ridden hill crammed with brick houses and winding stairways.

Art, along with Hip-Hop, saved the city. It gave people an outlet to express themselves. We’re not talking some strung-out bozo with a can of spray paint.  We’re talking about exploding talent gracing these once dodgy walls and perilous walkways, once home to guerrillas, drug cartels and paramilitary killers. All the gangs aren’t gone. All the hoodlums aren’t gone but at least now people aren’t afraid to come out of their houses at night.

Stairways that once led to danger now lead to a cold beer and vibrant commerce

It all started by building well-stocked libraries with workshops and internet access right there in the long ignored slums. Then came the roofed escalators (part of the Metro that carries millions of people per day) which allowed easier access to other parts of town and encouraged general assimilation and employment all over Medellin.

Street art abounds in Comun 13

Then came the tourists who now flock to this quirky, spectacular area creating an burgeoning economy within the reinvigorated community. Bars, coffee houses and restaurants (quaint epicenters for idle hours) are popping up daily. Knowledgeable residents charm the visitors and delve into the dark history that, until recently, dominated the scene here. Soccer fields and basketball courts beckon in what was vacant space. Houses are again being painted. Streets are cleaned. People are moving back.

This miracle on a hill west of Medellin was not cheap but it appears to have been a stroke of genius. Cities in the US would do well to take note, even though they are under the thumb of a nation that spends billions on bombs and little on brains. Some of the more progressive locales already understand that a better life is something we all deserve and that without community there is nothing.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has found an anomalous champion in what was once a ghetto of despondency.

– Kevin Haley

Horseshoe to open bureau on Mars

(Hellas Basin) The San Juan Horseshoe has announced that it will merge existing journalistic efforts, synchronizing control of most media west and south of Noachis Terra the scene of recent unrest on the Red Planet. The news bureau will be responsible for daily news, peppered with a few feature pieces relating to the burgeoning populations of Lunea Planum.

Thanks to the efforts of Pathfinder and Viking I the popular website will be available to anyone with Internet access. It is seen as a diplomatic gesture aimed at combating the influence of Russia and China who have stationed a skeleton crew of reporters on Venus and Saturn respectively.

Although no decision has been reached on the editor position most polled say it will be Roo Glant, a Japanese-Martian, a stickler on political analysis with extensive experience covering and interpreting galactic policy.

The bureau will include news, weather and sports as part of the daily while the impressive retinue of scribes is sure to dazzle readers all the way to Pluto.

“It’s a grand day for press freedoms,” said one reporter. “From up here it’s easy to see what’s going on down on our mother planet. Let’s hope we’ve learned not to make the same mistakes up here.”

The page is accessible through

Great Moments in Crested Butte Dog Court

Prosecutor: And we can prove that on the night of June 4,1987 that this transient mongrel, Spot, did willfully mess on Elk Avenue right in front of a group of tourists who were reportedly carrying as much as $1000 on their persons.

It is further noted that Spot has will fully attempted to sabotage the efforts of the Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte Chambers of Commerce and Governor Hickenlooper’s  “Dome of the Range” program…

Defense: Objection, your honor. Spot doesn’t even know Governor Hickenlooper. We have no malice here…

Spot: Woof:!

Judge: I find the defendant guilty on all counts and sentence him to two days in the pound and fifty hours of public service. Can you handle a shovel son?

Spot: Woof, Woof!