A Party Forms
A faint coastal breeze stirs Lucia Fraschini’s hair, as she and John Sloane make their way along Lima’s newly paved streets from the Hotel Maury to Bar Cordano. Accustomed to a much faster pace, the young Italian grand prix sensation adjusts her brisk stride to accommodate her companion’s methodical limp. John had survived the Great War, but his patella had not, and relies on his bull-dog headed cane to maneuver down the crowded sidewalks, packed with vendors, sailors, and tourists.
Since their meeting in Cuba, she had wryly enjoyed listening to her new friend’s boastful tales of glory. That and the excessive flattery the young dilettante lavished upon her after witnessing her crushing victory over Cuban race car driver, Marcelio Amador at Oriental Park. She had been consulting officials in Mexico City about their planned speedway development when she received John’s excited telegram about this Larkin Expedition. And now here she was on some outrageous quest for Peruvian treasure with this bombastic American. Although, she could not deny her excitement about extra funds to support her new engineering workshop in Milan.
Stepping through the double doors into the Bar Cordano, the pair immediately takes note of a jowly older man with a bulbous red-nose swinging a drink wildly in the direction of an attractive, but bookish woman standing at the bar. Betraying the decorum conveyed by his well-coiffed gray hair, finely-tailored suit, and polished wing-tips, the gentlemen loudly regales his perplexed audience with the virtues of his beverage – the Pisco Sour. Hearing English, John and Lucia instinctively approach the odd pair at the bar. As they walk past, a large man sipping a beer at a nearby table warns them in a British accent, “I wouldn’t get too close if you plan on staying dry this evening.”
Overhearing the remark, the enthusiastic older gentleman at the bar interjects, “My God, man, you should know that we Americans should avoid staying dry at all times. Dreadful state of affairs back home! The boys back in DC really cocked everything up and good! Damn happy, I got out of the House before that whole Prohibition mess!” With a flourish and a splash, the man steps forward to the group and introduces himself, “Lyndon Palmer, former US congressman, but my friends call me Tip. This fine young lady…”
“My name is Irina Martin, and I can speak for myself, gramps. Also American, and from the Crescent City down South, New Orleans. Y’all here for the Larkin excitement?”
At this point, the stocky British man stands and extends a hand to Irina, “Dr. Arthur Dibden, charmed, truly. I can’t speak for the others but I am certainly here for the expedition. Heard of it during relief work in nearby Colombia. Have always wanted to see Peru, and thought I might be able to offer some medical expertise. And what is your profession, mum?”
“Well, I was a librarian back home, but I’ve dreamed of opening my own book shop. If this pans out, I should have the means to make it happen.”