copyright kevin r. hill
Breathe deep, now relax, you can do it.
I brushed my slacks and noticed the ceiling reflected in a polished shoe. With taunt fingers hooked around each other I bent forward and glanced at my barrowed Rolex. It was about to be show time, and this show had to be just right.
The hostess smiled from behind a podium and pulled the microphone to her mouth. "Raphael, party of three, your table is ready," she said, her voice amplified across the old mission converted to a restaurant.
I heard Liddy’s high heels clicking on Saltillo tiles, smelled her perfume a second before she turned the corner and stepped into view. Still the same perfume. I wonder how many men think of her when they smell it.
Now act preoccupied and happy.
Liddy turned the corner and lit up like she was on stage. She smiled and leaned forward, squinting. "Oh, Tucker, you look so nice." She scratched the lapel of my blazer, pressed her nails into my hand and kissed me.
It means nothing! You've heard it a thousand times. Now smile and do the act.
I glanced at her cleavage and that body that stopped cars. Memory betrayed me and swept me back to a hammock on a Caribbean beach, a bottle of tequila, and Liddy contorting above me, sweat mixing a bitter taste with her perfume. I remembered her hair tossing about in the shower as she clung to the pipe over head.
"Thanks, Liddy, you look beautiful; you always did. I'll bet every guy in town is chasing you.”
"They sure are! These cowboys, Tucker, they're aggressive," she whispered, sliding close and hugging my arm. "I'll tell you all about it."
"Isn't your ... boyfriend coming?"
"Oh Tuck', he can't afford this place. I've wanted to eat here for so long. Thanks for taking me. I'm poorer now than we were in Mexico. Oh." She pouted like a little girl.
Don't be affected. She does that act for strangers. You remember.
I remembered lying on the bed of our little palapa in Mexico, laughing as she stripped before the window so the neighbor boys could watch.
"I think we're ready," I told the hostess.
She led us across the quiet dining room. The fire crackled and made the room glow. Everything on the table seemed to welcome us: the red linen, the fine silver, the flickering candles. I pulled Liddy's chair from the table and she sat down, so graceful, so feminine.
But the animal side, you remember. No, don't think about it! Go on with the plan. Smile and be light hearted.
I held the tie against my stomach and sat down. "This is a beautiful place," I said, sweeping the room with my gaze. "It must be the adobe that makes it so warm."
Flamenco guitarists crossed the dining room and came to our table. "It was built in the sixteen hundreds. Look at the windows," she said with wide eyes, leaning across the table, rubbing a foot on my leg.
Pat her leg and ignore it. Pat it like a brother would pat it.
"Yeah, you can see how thick the walls are."
"All the windows are shaped like a cross. That's because they used to shoot Indians. With the shape of the cross they could swing a rifle any direction. Just think, real wild Indians used to ride right outside." She moved her leg higher.
"Isn't your boyfriend waiting for you?"
"Ah ha, he trusts me. I'm a good girl," she said, smiling.
"Like I trusted you?"
"Oh Tucker, I'm sorry." She pouted. "I tried to wait, but a girl's got to get some dicking or she goes crazy."
Back out of it. Smile and look around the room. Don't let her think you're affected. I picked up the wine list and ordered a Cote du Rhone for fifty dollars.
She withdrew her foot for a moment, and when I felt it return I knew she had removed her shoe. I smiled and looked around the room. Liddy tilted her head to one side.
"That was expensive wine. Are you sure you can afford this?"
I laughed. "Sure. But didn't you bring some money with you?"
"What money? I'm broke," she said, sitting up straight.
"Oh, don't worry; we're going to have the most expensive items on the menu. Just like old friends should." That was good. Keep it like that. String her along.
"I'm sorry if I hurt you, Tuck. I mean with all our plans and stuff."
"No Liddy, it didn't mean a thing. He sure knows how to make that guitar feel, doesn't he?" I nodded toward the old musician.
"Neither of us really wanted to get married, did we?" She picked up my hand.
"No," I laughed. "We were just good in bed together and in a strange country. I guess you cling to someone more in a different country."
"Yeah, oh baby, we were good together. We had so much passion. I sure love my Butch ... he has such muscle ...and those eyes, oh Tuck, you should see them."
Breathe and smile. Look at the musicians like you're not concentrating on what she's saying. Just a little longer.
She tossed her blonde hair over a shoulder. "But Tucker, he doesn't do me like you used to." She rocked her water glass and leaned forward. "I hardly ever get the big one with him," she whispered, digging her foot into my crotch.
"I think I'll have the lobster."
"Are you listening?"
"We all make choices, Liddy."
"I mean only one night, Tuck."
"I have someone else now. She wouldn't like it." Perfect. Now get through the meal and make the play. We talked about Mexico, about spear-fishing on the reef, and about our parrot. Greeny learned to imitate Liddy's screams during orgasm. We laughed about how he would do his wild thing scream when we had friends visiting. Of course we reminisced about the hurricane, how our house had been destroyed. I wanted to ask her how she got out of jail without so much as a fine when she was picked up for working without a permit. But I had my suspicions. I had partied with the immigration officer who arrested her. But such is life. We ate slowly and savored each bite. With desert, a second bottle of wine, liquor and coffee, the bill was well over three hundred dollars. When it came time to pay I took out my fine billfold and looked over the bill. A moment latter I sat it on the table with the billfold on top, and excused myself.
"I'll be right back."
"Never keep a lady waiting," she said, running her gaze up and down my pants.
I walked to the toilet. Just wait until the hostess leaves her station, then hurry. A few minutes passed before the hostess walked away from her podium. Without looking back into the restaurant, I pushed open that massive front door that had once held attacking Indians out, and got in to my car, pulling off the tie as I started the engine.
She would probably wait about five minutes before opening the billfold and finding the fragment of an old hand written note, the writing of a woman in love, that read: ‘I’ll wait for you, Tucker.’
No, no hard feelings. Washing dishes would be good for her. Liddy always found a way out of trouble.
As I drove through the mesa, the setting sun casting a beautiful golden hue over boulders and cactus, I felt free, like I could just drive and drive forever on that road. And then I thought about the laws that keep us all in order, living together. When I thought about laws and courts, I realized there should be some sort of justice system for crimes of the heart, because some words once spoken change the course of a person’s life and can’t be so easily released.