Is There a Fungus Among Us?

by Lou Barba on April 24, 2011 · 22 comments

Author’s note:                       "Just Me"

In this episode, we are going to explore a reaction to an unhealthy influence in The Village on the  Edge of the Sea.  We know from previous stories about the Village, (see the free eBook available to the right) that “stuff happens” there.  Carlos, Armando and others connected with the police all had a hand in dealing with the problems.   Fortunately, most problems are not police problems, and require other kinds of solution.

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On with our story.


Adrian was returning from his last call of the day at the home of Armando Garcia.  Armando was part time farmer, part time police officer, and had many good friends in the Village.  It was always a good visit at the Garcia home.  He and his entire family were devoted to the wholesome ideals that most people in the Village clung to.  His wife never let Adrian go without a basket of grapes, or a wheel of cheese… sometimes even a bottle of their homemade wine.

After he put his packages away and got into some comfortable work clothes, Adrian headed for the garden.  He wasn’t too happy with what he saw there.  The tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers were beginning to get covered with some sort of fungus disease.  He hoped itAdrian's garden wasn’t the same blight that caused the Irish potato famine.  That disease did surface now and then, but Adrian didn’t think it was damp and cool enough.  He kept a supply of the latest organic solutions, and found a bag of fungicide in a trunk he kept locked in a shed near the garden.  “That should take care of it” he said after applying the white powder to the affected plants, and some others he thought might be infected.

Sister Dorothy came through the garden gate carrying a hoe.  “I guess it’s my turn to take care of weeds today.  What are you putting on the vegetables?”

“I noticed a fungus disease starting up and this is a fungicide I get from one of the organic supply companies.”

Sister Dorothy started hoeing around the plants.  “Yes,  you better deal with that, or you might as well forget about any more vegetables this year.”

They worked in silence for a while, until a disheveled figure walked through the garden gate, carrying two large buckets.  His hair looked like it hadn’t been combed, and was going every which way.  His gray beard was long and unkempt, but his appearance was not a match for his robust stride and bearing.

“Well, hello Bernardo!  Long time no see.  What brings you our way today?”  Adrian warmly shook the gnarled hand of the hermit.

Bernardo removed the lids from the five gallon buckets, revealing a large number of fish.  “I was down at the market, selling fish.  I was doing pretty well, too, until that fellow Cipriano came along.  He pretty much hates me, because I’ve confronted him about the mean tricks he plays on some of my friends.  So, he bought up all the fish from the other vendors, and gave them away to the crowd, just so I wouldn’t sell any more.  Didn’t buy mine, mind ya, just everybody else’s.”

Adrian had encountered Cipriano, but hadn’t yet been victimized by any of his cruel pranks.  “He’s the only one around here that has enough money to do something like that.

“That’s true, Adrian.  Anyhow, I had all these fish left over, and I thought you and your refugees in the shelter could use them.”

“Yes, we certainly could use them, Bernardo.  That’s really nice of you.”  Adrian motioned to Dorothy.  “Could you bring some of the women over so that they could clean these fish?  What we can’t eat today, we’ll put in the freezer.”

Soon, there were several women cleaning the fish.  The families that stayed at the shelter forBernardo's catch abused women loved to have chores to do.  The only reason Adrian ever got to do anything in the garden was because he wanted to…it was a pleasant diversion for him.

” You sure made them happy, Bernardo.  Why don’t you stay around for evening Mass?  Lots of people come as they are, so you don’t have to be concerned about not being dressed up.”

Bernardo stroked his beard, gazing out across the sea.  “You I know, Adrian.  It’s your bosses that bother me.  They remind me more of the Pharisees that were around when the Lord was here than anyone else.”

“I share your concerns, Bernardo, but here I am anyway.  Maybe someday I’ll have my own confrontations and wind up out there with you.  But for now, I’ll do what I can.”

“We have different purposes, Adrian…at least for now.  You take care of these people in a way that I can’t.  And I take care of them in a way that you can’t.”

Adrian was familiar with the way that Bernardo confronted wicked deeds in the Village on the Edge of the Sea.  He was a prophet, in the sense that Elijah was a prophet, or John the Baptist was a prophet.  God took care of Bernardo, and pointed him in directions that served His purposes.  Adrian wished He would point Bernardo in the direction of Cipriano.  Cipriano was a disease that could infect the whole Village, if something wasn’t done.

“I hope you can do something about Cipriano, soon, Bernardo.  He is like this fungus disease that is beginning to infect my garden.”

Bernardo’s eyes twinkled, and he laughed.  “I’d prefer to think of him as one of the plants that has the disease.  Maybe we should put some of your dust on him.  Let’s pray that God will show us what we can do.”

With that, Bernardo picked up his buckets and went out through the garden gate.  Adrian agreed with Bernardo’s interpretation of Cipriano, but he also knew what happens to plants that don’t recover from their infection.  They get pulled up and burned in order to prevent them from infecting the other plants.

When Adrian was finished with his tasks in the garden, he went inside to clean up for the evening activities.  There would be a Mass, and then there was ainside the church wedding rehearsal for the upcoming wedding of Carlos Realto and Angel Martina .  He expected a large number of people, since all of Angel’s and Carlos’ friends and family were attending the Mass and the rehearsal.  Angel had invited all the residents from the shelter and the excitement was building.

After the Mass, the members of the wedding party stayed in the church, waiting for instructions about their role in the wedding ceremony.  Carlos waited in the back pew with his best man, one of his best friends from his hometown.  Lisa Realto, Carlos’ mother,  sat up front with her husband Lonny.  Angel had asked her Aunt Maria to be her maid of honor, and they were waiting in the foyer with Zane Martina, Angel’s father.  He would be giving her away, and would walk her down the aisle.

“Okay people, let’s go through it and see what we’ve got,” Adrian called out.  “All the visitorsorganist who aren’t in the party, take a seat.  Everyone else, take your places.”  The organist began playing the entrance song, and Angel, Zane, and Maria slowly walked toward the altar.   After four tries, everyone seemed to be familiar with their parts.  So, Adrian dismissed them, reminding them all to be at the church half an hour early.


Cipriano took his usual spot in the clubhouse bar at the Village Dunes Resort.  He was pretty pleased with himself for having ruined the old hobo’s day.  “Nobody’s going to talk to me that way and get away with it,” he muttered to himself.  “That was just a taste.  Let him come back if he wants a full course dinner!”

Two of the waitresses stood on the other side of the lounge from Cipriano.  The girl who had served him the night before asked the other ,  “Do youwaitresses think you could take care of him tonight?  He tried to pick me up last night…actually said there would be a BIG tip if I went with him to his place.   Bleeccch!  Even if I were hooking, I wouldn’t go with him.  I’ve heard the stories about how mean he is.  Have you?”

“Okay, I’ll take care of him tonight.  If he offers me a big tip, I’ll just take it and not show up.  Let him call the cops!”  She laughed derisively.

“Be careful.  I heard he’s been doing his dirty deeds since he was a young kid, and he has a lot of money.”

“Don’t worry about me, honey.  I’ve been dealing with jerks like him for a long time.  He’s got money, but I’ve got “people”.  I’ll take people over money, any day.”

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