Did you know you can highlight text to take a note? x

Summary: Part I, Chapter 3, from “The Gangster We’re All Looking For” to end

The Gangster was deeply involved with the Trujillo regime. His parents kicked him out of the house at the age of seven. By twelve, he had professed his admiration for Trujillo and become involved with the Secret Police. At fourteen, he killed his first Communist, and this led to a range of other illegal activities. He showed a particular affinity for the “flesh trade,” and by twenty-two, he operated several brothels. Meanwhile, the Gangster’s devotion to Trujillo enabled him to move up the ranks.

When Beli started dating the Gangster, he romanced her intensively. He also confessed that he felt tormented by his past crimes. Despite her initial reservations, Beli connected with him over their shared orphanhood, and she eventually fell in love. The Gangster promised to marry her and buy her houses in Miami and Havana.

Beli grew proud. She acted contemptuous of others in her neighborhood and broke all of La Inca’s house rules. The Brothers Then fired her from the Palacio Peking, and though they hired her back after the Gangster threatened them, Beli quit.

Beli’s affair with the Gangster played out against a background of violence as the Trujillo regime struggled to maintain control. The Gangster began disappearing for weeks at a time, and Beli had no way to reach him. During a particularly long absence, Beli visited the men who used to pine for her and told them about her new love. The Fiat dealer flew into a rage and attacked Beli, who bludgeoned him to death with a whisky bottle. Arquimedes, the student, reacted with silence.

When the Gangster came back, he took Beli on a vacation to Samaná, where he was born. Samaná is a remote village on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, and the narrator describes it as a paradise. He speculates that one of the authors of the King James Bible may well have used Samará as his model for describing Eden. The vacation made Beli feel close to the Gangster, who showed her his childhood home and brought her to all the best restaurants. One night, he confided that, unlike ordinary people, he felt free. Beli said she wanted to be free like him.

The next day, someone came to tell the Gangster to report to the palace immediately. He left Samaná and promised to send a car to return Beli to Baní. No car came. Angry, Beli hitched a ride with some farmers. Passing through a ramshackle town, she thought she saw a man without a face waving at her.