Arguello was five or six, living in the poorest barrio in Managua, Nicaragua,
his father stared down the black shaft of an abandoned well. It was as good a
place as any to die.
shoemaker ached from the contradiction of his life. When he worked all day and
evening to sell enough shoes for his wife and eight children to survive, he had
no time for his friends and felt alone. When he stopped working to share
homemade whiskey with his friends, his family went hungry and he lost all
control of his life. No decision was clean—all choices carried complications
that made him feel dirty. Where could a man find resolution?
mounted the edge of the well and said a silent farewell. This, at least, would
be a definitive answer. And he dived.
A moment later, a
groan came from the well. There was water inside—Alexis Arguello's father was
Oh my God, cried
the shoemaker's wife. Call the fire department before he dies!
rumbled down the un-paved street, tied a rope to a chair and lowered it into
the well. Sit on the chair, they shouted down. We'll pull you up.
hesitated. Should he go back to that world of ambiguity? He undid the rope,
looped it around his neck and retied it. Here, he thought—here at last was
something clean and final. I am ready, he hollered up. Pull!
When the body
came to the surface, Guillermo's face was blue and his tongue hung a terrifying
distance from his mouth. Then his chest heaved and he opened his eyes and
groaned. Was nothing clean? Was there no such thing as resolution in this
Down a long
concrete path between two tall shelves of aluminum bars walked a dark-skinned,
hooded figure, a seeker of resolution named Alexis Arguello. The second-shift
workers at Aavid Engineering looked up from their drill presses and forklifts
to stare at the oddity of a Nicaraguan walking toward a boxing ring in a New
to them curtly, for the change in him occurred when he approached the ring, as
it always did. He slipped off his robe and began punching the air. Faint tracks
of scar tissue pocked the hoods of his eyes, but the rest of his handsome face
and body looked taut and young, revealing nothing of the recent beating he had