Saturday, March 17, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment eighteen)


Gina Night had a fear for the world. She talked about the end of nature, the dirtying up of everything. To Gina the planet had broken up into a medieval mix of little armies and thrift land parcels.

“Gangs and their guns, terrorists and their guns, hunters and their guns, police and their guns, drug kings and their little armies, corporations and their big ones. Sometimes they’re more scary than the government,” was the tune to her favorite elegy for some time gone by that I doubt she ever knew.

“My world has changed so much I don’t what my world is anymore,” she had observed on occasions elegant and distant from the realties with which she was concerned. It was all the newspaper’s fault. Reading it was something she’d picked up hanging about the salon. But those days were no longer haunting her though, and the habit slowly melted away. She’d always preferred records to the printed word.

Cortez took her to a movie. “I couldn’t believe it. She watched it like a child, like the story was the thing. Like it really happened and she was viewing it all through an anonymous window. It’s not an art form produced by camera for her,” he mused over his Bustelo and steamed milk, “to her it’s a thing that really happens each time it’s rerun.”

All of this made her seal a world that was tighter than an oyster shell, into which only a few pearls were invited. She didn’t go out because she understood what awaited her. I felt the same way. I should have asked her to marry and move to Mexico and live it for what it was worth. But my mind was on a long walk in the wilds.

One night Gina and I were watching videos, sharing German chocolate and sour creams, when we heard the picking sound of the lock on our door and before we could move a tall man in a fedora trundled into the kitchen carrying a bloody pile over his shoulder.

“Jesus Christ, help with this idiot,” he graveled and threw his burden on Gina Night’s café au lait-covered modular.

“Popi, my divano! she trilled.

“It’s my divano and I’ll crap on it if I want to!” he said and then turned and fixed on her with terror. “I’m sorry sweetheart. I didn’t mean that. Really. I’m sorry,” and he kissed her hand and loved her like no man was ever going to be able to love her.

“Popi, this is Dominique.”

He shook my hand and I told him. “Honestly, this is a great, goddamn incredible pleasure, sir.”

“The same goes here,” he said, cordial, but preoccupied and focused on his turning
to her.

“Your cousin Joey’s been rumbling with Jimmy Santinello’s kid,” he tells the opera girl. “Him and one of his classy friends beat the Santinello boy up so bad the police weren’t sure who he was when they pulled him out of a dry creek bed.

Santinello’s boys were stomping Joey’s face for a pound a flesh when I saved his ass. I’m hiding him here for the night.”

“Oh Popi please don’t bring your world in here…”

“Sweetheart please, he’s not much, but he’s family,” he stroked her. “You don’t mind do ya Dominique?”

He was calling in his chips with me and I shrugged. History was cranking up her wheels of speed and Gina and I were about to get ground in the gears.

Two men knocked on the door with the butt of a gun at 4 a.m. and woke Joey and Gina up. “Your father wants ta move de both a you to a safer place,” is what they said. I was groggy and it was dark. The shadows moved on walls and mirrors like an army of people instead of just four. She kissed me more richly than ever before, grabbing at a bunch of lost things. She grabbed a fist of my hair and twisted, shook and pushed my head into the pillow in a desperation that had no other way to be. “Ooooh,” escaped her and reached me, just before she went away.

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