Saturday, July 14, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment thirty)


His own departure was the last change Cassius had been able to arrange in our already scrambled timelines. Elendele wasn’t really that bothered by his having been with Saturn. “Anyone could understand that,” she would always say. “Besides, it’s possible for a person to be wrong and still do the right thing.”

She made too precious use of her energy to engage the delicacies of jealousy. She was disillusioned with him because he had failed as a person in her eyes, failed to make good on one single goddamn dream.

She was a secular nonbeliever still holding us all to a pledge of aspiring godliness.

“I let my guard down Cassius,” she tried in pricking his thick skin. “I let you know who I was and what I dreamed and I let you touch my body, and in exchange I learned what you don’t want people to know…that just because you’re wearing a white hat doesn’t mean you’re the good guy.”

Cassius knew he would lose the scene, but retorted more cleanly than she had accused: “Peeling your orange mostly resulted in piles of skin Elendele. All the gears are there, you just can’t seem to mesh them. I worked with what you gave me.”

He would have insulted her less by sodomizing her, than by besting her rhetoric one last time.

“Behold the white male and his unnerving collection of confidences!” my lady hero sobbed in surrender.

Saturn and Cassius had moved on from their seduction of each other, leaving Elendele to clean herself of its secretions.

He immediately ran back to his well on Wall St., made some kind of name for himself punching out his boss and getting hired by the rival firm seeking to portray an aggressive marketing stance. Cassius cut Elendele a check for what he said he owed her and made her cry again, one time after that.

She was bitter at his success: “I’m the one who taught him about the inherent brutalities of business…the advantage of the aggressive option.”

Elendele was here and stuck with me. So we unstuck ourselves and finally went to Mexico after making a mint selling cappuccinos at a series of arts and crafts affairs. Elendele was dousing them in Colombian aguardiente and passing them off as Vienna brown with cinnamon, “to avoid the alcoholic beverage control bureaucrats,” she whispered her regular customers, clandestinely.

She just adored a good conspiracy.


Elendele had to be the first sports enthusiast the bronze boatboys had ever seen throw a marlin back into the water after a two-hour battle to dock it. They all loved her in the port and those Mayan children would all of them make motions, with two clenched fists that they brought close to and then pushed away from their pelvises, suggesting a most fundamental piece to the human ballet, every time they saw her.

She would say they were disgusting and then revel in the attention.

Her body was tight and tanned from days of swimming and goldbaths that began when darkness caved in completely, and the outboard motors of those heading for work woke up everybody that didn’t have to.

During the days Elendele would work the beachfront bars, making friends and findings us a boat we could sleep on. Boats and boat people. A world unto themselves. A life that is difficult and big with its dinghies back and forth to shore and the persistent wetness. The dreamer men and jobless girls that ride the choppy blue carpet talk about a sense of freedom they feel when they’re finally, and once again, on the open sea. It’s what they say they like most.

“It’s what they talk about when you bring up the problem of wet blue jeans,” noted Elendele.

“These are real working women,” she would say of the raggedy creatures we’d see sweeping the floors of their shacks and carrying loads on their backs. “They are not painted or brushed. They’re beautiful, don’t you see, Dominique? Beautiful without being trophies.”

There at the tip of the world we poured over small things, over the dust on the backstreets and the sand and sand and more sand. We endured the dance lighted boats and buoys, swaying for free, for those in houses around the surrounding mountains of night.

There are hundreds of dogs there in our paradise. And one night when Elendele leaves Estela’s Cantina with another guy because I spent too much time in the bathroom, and because she found some bobby pins in my suitcase, I walk home alone. I can hear those dogs. I can hear them call to each other, and talk their language issued forth from yards along side one or two-room shacks, from which girls step out all dressed to go uptown dancing.

Beautiful clear-eyed girls with clearer minds, free of drugs, and filled with the strength of noble insistent fathers guiding them in the backs of their heads...

...Beautiful girls. Beautiful dancers. Beautiful dogs and donkeys and cows springing forth from bushes at 3 a.m. when I’m walking alone, tequila drunk and dreaming of the saltdust and the sand and the sand and the sea all around me.

On Christmas there were Santa Clauses riding the dirt streets of the tropical cove town in the backs of pick-up trucks. Elendele and I watched them from hard seats on a wooden table outside a storefront, where the beer was cheaper than anywhere else. It was not a bar at all, and so the table was brought out front for the lazy and yellow-fevered.

We stumbled home shameless before the celestial witnesses of another lithe evening. We took cold showers, because there were no hot ones to be had, and we cuddled close under wooden blankets, to draw warmth from each other – one of the better habits we developed together.

Some hours later, under cover of dark and St. Tequila, a ghost sat upon the bed next to ours. He was crying and nodding his head in pitifulness against a mutilated and bloody shoulder. He told us he was the kind of ghost that was stuck between hell and earth. That he’d died in a horrible accident before his spiritual clock had ticked out. That it had been in a church burning in which he’d perished. That this was his room now.

“We’re out of here in the morning,” Elendele managed to tell him through dry throat. He was about to leave when I said, “Elendele, you’ve got to remember that he didn’t clarify his terms and he failed to allow time for rebuttal.”

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