Tuesday, June 12, 2012

MOJITOS AND A TURQUOISE NECKLACE (from a novel in progress)

     Maya pointed to an ad in Arizona Highways for a place called The Blue Buddha Bar and she was driving the Yukon so I said, Sure, why not? and I buckled up, the Camaro fueled with the key under the mat, white roses resting at the Comfort Inn, and two police cars side-by-side flashed lights but no sirens down Navajo Drive as we pulled into the Buddha. Inside, blue neon striped the bar and high spotlights spilled amber on tables and booths. The waitress mixed 60s Indian-chic retro with green day-glow earring loops. Maya ordered while I wondered how long I’d last here with my side shrieking from a million screaming nerve-ends. I’d lifted two vials of pills from the hospital, but not the Pentacozine. I wanted to numb the pain for a while until the waitress served two cocktails with contrails.  Dry ice vapor. The waitress gave her spiel about the house specialty drinks. Blue Velvets.  
     “You know you never order sushi in the desert, right?” I said.
     “Sushi?” Maya sipped and fog curled around her lips like a vampire kiss. “I never order sushi.”
     “Then what are we doing at a sushi joint? In Page, Arizona.”
     “I like the name.”
     “I’m not drinking this Blue Velvet. I’ll take a bullet, but the Marshals would kill me anyway for drinking anything blue.” Maya laughed and her khaki shirt fell away and her shirt almost matched the neon décor. “I’ll eat, but I’m not drinking.”
     “I pay you back for the haircut.  And the sunglasses.”  She took her glasses from the top of her head, her black hair shining in the spotlight with hints of dark brown. She held the glasses to the light and looked through the lenses.
     “Don’t worry about it,” I said. “Your hair looks good.”
     “I pay. Everything on the books.”
     “No you don’t.” I leaned across the low cocktail table, Maya on the tan faux-suede bench, me on the chair and, and I said, “You saved my life. You didn’t have to.”
     She put the drink down. Her ruby red lipstick looked wet, maybe from the industrial Buddha Bar light but she looked dynamite. “I can see your aura,” she said. “It shines and it is not the light. Hold your drink up, I want to see it too.”
     My drink, a Blue Velvet, was a cross between a Mojito and a Turquoise Necklace, the waitress had said. When I’d asked her what a Turquoise Necklace was, she said, “Use your imagination.” I called her over now and ordered a Pacifico. 
     “You are healing,” Maya said. “How do you feel?”
     The waitress brought a cold bottle and a frosted glass. “After half a glass of Pacifico, maybe okay. You serious, you see auras?”
     “You have a beautiful one. You have pain, you show sorrow, maybe you need rest, relaxation.”
     “Watching that botched shootout, I heard sounds.” I told her about the wailing and the drums with the volume down on the television.
     “Chango,” she said.
     “You think no?”
     “I don’t know. A soundtrack for murder? Tell me.”
     “Can’t tell you. I show you.”
     “Here?” I said.
     “No, no. Too much noise. I like this music though. It’s what, dance?” Steady bass and minor keyboard chords ramping three at a time. Congas and cowbell.
     “Lounge music. Chango, tell me about it.”
     “I can’t tell you. Not here.”
     “So the roses, those were nice. Thank you.”
     “De nada. Listen, I have something you want to know, but I don’t want no part of it, okay?”
     “Tell me.”
     “I didn’t get a hospital guide or nothing, but I see a big trailer rig in the hospital lot.  You see it?”
     I said no.
     “You ask me for information about the hospital, remember?”
     “I remember.”
     “I think the bodies are in a trailer,” she said, “a refrigerated trailer on the edge of the
     “You see anything out there,” I said, “or see anyone?”
     “Yes, but now I think it is a bad idea.”
     “These aren’t things you choose to do. They choose you.”
     “Enough with the nightmares, don’t do it. You need to get better, not hack heads in the night.”
     “I didn’t make the rules.”  Two tourists walked by, a floral print man and a bouffant blonde. “They cut me loose, took the badge. Sabatino doesn’t send a man to take my side of things? I’m on this case. I’m on this with or without a badge.”
     “No, don’t go making it worse.”
     “It couldn’t get worse. Teri, the Captain. They dumped him like a fucking UPS delivery.”
     “You can’t make it right.”
     “But I can make somebody feel it. Send a message to someone who needs a reminder.”
     Maya’s vapor drink was almost empty. The waitress came by to see about refreshing our drinks. Maya said we were fine.
     My half-glass of beer was finished, and I said, “Did you see anyone going in or out at the trailer?”
     “Night time, I see men out there, opening the doors to a trailer.”
     “Anything going in or out? Gurneys, boxes, bags?”
     “You want the spirit? Is that it? By doing this, this dread, you will be closer to the power? It’s not like that.”
     “Whatever your ceremony is, I want you to do it. Just cover me with whatever you can. Put a spell on it.”
     “You don’t anger the Orishas. Chango, Ellegua, they punish me.”
     “Backing out?”
     “I buy what you need but I don’t have to go. I can’t ask them to protect that.”
     “You hung with the cartel for two years and these spirits wait to punish you until now?” I shook my head. “Beheadings in Juarez, forty thousand dead along the border and they’re coming here to . . .” I stopped short of mentioning the bomb threats at the dams.   
     “I watched for a few minutes last night,” Maya said. “Around eleven o’clock. Two vans pull up and men pull two bags out and go in the trailer.”
     “I was too far to see. But you, you can get in.”
     The waitress pointed at our drinks and I asked for the check.
     “First, rest and relaxation,” Maya said. We drove to the Comfort Inn Motel.

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