Gracias de Dios

I took a couple of the folding chairs down to the hanger floor in prep for the arrival of the undead Ms. Moreno, wheeled a wooden, end-table-height cable spool over next to them. One of the benefits/hazards of this abandoned airfield was that it had been a dumping ground for industrial cable spools from huge to more huge. Mixed in with the big guys were quite a few useful-as-furniture sizes. I discovered the better you were with a circular saw the more furniture you could coax from them. My trailer and surrounding grounds on the small lake not far from here were furnished and landscaped with them.

I opened the hangar’s sliding doors before I hit the switch on the giant exhaust fan. The fan that required a cheater bar to flip its switch. It was 16 feet in diameter, had three galvanized blades with a top speed of about one revolution every three minutes. It moved a lot of air very slowly. I fed it oil and it kept the hangar tolerably cool and the dust moving away from me and most anything else that was in the hanger. Which at the moment was limited to me and my blue-and-white brush-painted 1959 Chevy Fleetside pickup. The geezer I bought it from, who bought it new, told me it had never missed a day of work for Al’s A-1 Plumbing. Since retiring it managed to piss me off almost daily.

I did a pit and fingernail check, and I was clean. Enough to meet a dead girl anyway. I was thinking about food. And one of the little Cuban cigars. And a beer. Mostly, though, I was weaving those around thinking about what did I say to a dead girl, who wasn’t dead, for killing her boyfriend who was dead, because I thought he’d killed her? Sorry?

***

She rolled up through the hangar door in the Fiat, top down. Pale pink silk tank, colorful skin-tight capris. Or Yoga pants, who knows, and sandals. After an awkward moment enhanced by her no eye contact sunglasses and silence, she’d hugged me. Tight and in earnest. I decided the cigars would stay upstairs because she smelled like a buy-her-some-roses kiosk in an airport or hotel lobby and no way I was fouling that. With my arms around her I laid out my dilemma with her and her boyfriend to the top of her head. She unclinched, raised her sunglasses into a headband, laughed her unmistakable, deep, not so ladylike honk laugh. “‘Sorry’ will do, Comparo, but only for leaving me to the CIA.”

What? It must have been all over my face.

“He wasn’t my lover, he was my insider. And a pathological liar. I could never figure whose side he was on or who he was ranting about. I don’t think he could, either. I slept with him once to see if he’d crack and make sense after busting a nut, but he didn’t, and he took it to mean much more than it did.” She sipped from a stainless water bottle, shook her head when she set it on the floor. “He went off on some weird possessive trip after that. It wasn’t real, except in his head.”

“We do that, you know. Men, I mean. If we think a girl is something special we try to hang on.” I thought it sounded enlightened. Self-aware. Possibly romantic. It sounded stupid and garnered me a quick set of furrowed WTF eyebrows.

“Anyway, it turned out he was mad as hell at everyone. When he found you, and I…in flagrante delicto…” I could have sworn she blushed before she looked away. “The entire world he’d built for himself with the Cartel’s money he didn’t have yet went ‘poof,’ and he snapped.” Her expressive hands were a sideshow of their own, popping open with her eyes on ‘poof,’ her fingers snapping with ‘snapped.’ “It’s a good thing he was supposed to crash through the door and accuse us and shoot me with blanks and scare you into running out to the door in fear of your life only to be cut down by guerrillas.”

“Nobody tells me anything.”

“Awwww, pobrecito.” She patted my arm and that was all the salve she offered for my wounded by not being cut down by guerrillas ego and went on about the blood bag that would have been useless naked and thank Madre de Dios again for the blanks on Lupe’s first entrance, why she’d told me to turn my back while she re-dressed in her baggy fatigues to hide the bag, how when Lupe came back with live rounds the two shots she’d taken at close range in a thin, prototype protective shell held up but cracked two ribs and wow wasn’t that blood spatter convincing? How she’d wanted to cry when I was gone and Lupe was dead. Not for Lupe, the miserable whiny psycho dirtbag and sorry, waste of time piece of ass, but for me being cut down and her ribs.

But all the plans I knew nothing about didn’t have me yanking Lupe’s pistol and into him being dead along with two more uniformed Columbians before I picked up both their AKs and shot up the jungle, good guys and bad guys alike, like an overzealous, over adrenalized, okay, scared shitless Rambo on crack. Or aggressively violating Columbian air space by dropping grenades on a government-authorized cocaine convoy from a wounded but still flying DC18. But then whoever planned to keep me out of the loop and have me fed a diet of bullshit and candy about big money I never saw hadn’t considered how pissed off I might get when assholes I didn’t know killed a girl I just made love with and shot at me.

Well, Cavanaugh Moreno was a far cry from dead, and I hadn’t killed her boyfriend. She was also prettier than I remembered, if that was possible. But then the last time I saw her she was face down on a dirt floor in a pool of blood. Her voice, though? Still lullaby quality. You know how romantic some Latin music can make you feel if it’s a long way away and there aren’t any accordions involved? I got lost in her voice, in her hand and facial animations. She could have been reading stock prices out of a week-old newspaper, it wouldn’t have mattered. But she had a disposable styrofoam cooler in the front seat of the Fiat that I knew would only come out when she quit talking over and through me to wipe out whatever issues she thought I might have with her not being dead and waiting a year to tell me.

“Cav?” I waited. She kept blowing. “Yo, you. Moreno.”

“…and I had to…si?”

“Can you…Well…Shut up?”

Gracias a Dios.” She raised her eyes, put her palms together in front of her chest. “I thought you’d never ask.” She put a hand on my knee, stood, bent a little to stretch her legs or hitch her spandex, bent a little more, gave me a peck on the cheek and headed for the passenger side of the Fiat. I silently seconded that Gracias a Dios.

 

Anonymole has decided on a whiff of an idea from me that September is scene month. Not every day, but often, we should offer a short scene that stands alone and when you walk away you have a decent idea of what’s going on and might want to turn the page. This is number 2 of “Hukt awn seens werks fur mee!”

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Phil Huston

https://philh52.wordpress.com/

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