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Subject: For All Nails, Pt. 56b: I, Mercator (continued)

... if I am ever jailed, I do hope they put me in as fine a calabozo
as we housed Suarez. A lesser mansion in the canyon country
surrounding Puerto Hancock, the former hideaway of a Kramer lackey,
for us simple military men it was the height of elegance, fitting
for the dignity of his office. Crystal chandeliers, parquet floors
like a ballroom, and a splendid view of the brushwood hills. The
swimming pool had gone green and foul with neglect, however, and
the soldiers argued who would have the honor of cleaning it for the
Admiral's famous morning exertions -- an entirely backhanded honor,
I am sure.

Ah, like Sterne's caged bird! "I can't get out, I can't get out!" But
I tell you it did not happen that way, not at all.

We soon realized... we? Myself, my fellow commanders: the Perfidious
Eleven! You know, I love the mythology that has been created around
these events. It makes my job far easier.

Now. Where was I. Ah, yes. Much as we loathed Silva, we -- our cabal,
if you will -- grew to realize that the admiral was wholly unsuited
for civilian rule, especially in those troubled times. There was no
conciliation in his makeup, no lenience, no flexibility. He had no
bend! The very virtues that made him a perfect warrior at sea would
have been damning sins had he taken the reins of government. Instead
of uniting Mexico, he would have disintegrated it.

Well, that is your opinion. There is a barnyard saying in Jefferson
about opinions, you know. I spoke with the man on a regular basis for
four years, till the end of his life, and I can tell you I have
rarely conversed with anyone so stiff-necked.

I see that you're dying of curiosity. Let me paint a mental picture
for you, then, of Admiral Suarez, as I knew him. He was built solidly,
like a wrestler. He always wore white: his dress whites; a white
turtleneck, his wife's Christmas present; white swimming trunks; a
white hospital gown. He was a man of simple tastes. Every night for
dinner he ate the same detestable Navy chili -- but out of a silver
pot -- and drank the same ration of aguardiente -- but out of a
crystal glass. His table talk was stultifying. The only animation
came when he refought the battles of the Pacific using his tableware:
this plate that carrier, that fork this airmobile group. His mistress
visited him like clockwork every Saturday; but they only played chess,
to avoid any improprieties while under surveillance. In his sickbed
Suarez discovered vitavision, like Colon making landfall, and forced
all his guests to watch the most incredibly hackneyed shows, all the
while giving his own running commentary in his wornout voice. His
final words were meant for his wife, and are private.

I should add that I did not poison him.

[more to follow]