“We thought someplace tropical, you know? Off the beaten path. We were thinking, umbrella drinks. But certainly not what happened. I mean, it was just that we hadn’t quite given up. There was something about the idea of really giving ourselves over to the hope of rebuilding right then, giving ourselves to that maybe. But maybe we couldn’t quite lend ourselves to it fully, I don’t know. Maybe we didn’t want to make a decision.
So there was the drinking. It wasn’t fun anymore, like it is when you’re a kid. I guess it really isn’t fun then either only that it seems ballsy, maybe? To say you’re going to get hammered then stay that way. To start the day with a beer. We used to do that. We’d practically live in our bathing suits. Get up lighting cigarettes, cracking open a long neck. Everyone’s hair kind of turning into some dread- locky looking mess. The scent of my almond oil permeated every breeze. So there was the drinking, but that wasn’t working anymore. You know? It felt too much like what it was, denial. It isn’t vogue anymore. It isn’t the thing to do, to drink too much. Smoke too much. To seek chemical alterations.
There was this boy I used to know, he had said to me that I should always try to stay a little on the thin side, because I have such good bones. That’s what I was thinking about, looking at my round hips, my little bit of a belly, lying there. Sweltering, I could hear that low hum of summer bugs. Could hear the lake lapping at the edge of the dock and thought to go for a swim, didn’t. He was swimming. I thought, when we got back to town, I would put on this great dress I had. Wander around these shops I couldn’t afford to buy anything in. Drink something that would never be caffeinated enough to do the job and concentrate on starving myself thin like that again. Angular and raw looking. I feel good that way. Though the winter coat does lend itself more to disaster preparedness. We‘d been joking about the Donner Party on the way up. Why do people do that? Joke about things like that?
We went back up to the cabin. He wanted some lunch. I made sandwiches and didn’t eat. We thought someplace tropical, you know? The cabin was for healing and I don’t know, I didn’t think he was going to stay. We drove down out of the mountains the next day. The twin-engine landed on that narrow runway next to the coconut grove. We were looking for a place to get lost in.
The hotel, with those kind of open windows onto a porch with a private courtyard, there was a hammock there then. We made love. When I woke up, it was like it was when you saw it, the gate broken. They left it that way. There was this sound, like the whir of an air conditioner in a cheap motel, kind of steady but clicking every now and then. Felt like something had a hold of my ankles. My body arching against it, my skirt was bunched up around my waist. I thought it was Patrick. They heard me, the people in the next bungalow. My moaning woke them up. They were pounding on the fence between, yelling. It wasn’t Patrick. There was so much blood, you know, in that one place at the gate, his Saint Christopher medal in the puddle. He wasn‘t Catholic, only, superstitious. I’ve been here looking for him ever since.
I keep a place on the edge of town. Some of the locals have taken a shine to me. They want it caught and killed. So far, I’m the only one that hasn’t run away, until you.
You want to stay away from the tequila they call ‘Diablo Verde’ and the woman they call Tikal, after the Mayan City. She has long reddish black hair, claims to be a Priestess and maybe she is, but, not the kind you need or want. I don’t even like to say the word, what she practices. At any rate, it won’t help you. You can get clean drinking water from the man who owns this place but it will cost you, for a while at least, until he trusts you. Don’t get drunk any place public, or don’t be drunk any place public. If you decide you’d prefer to smoke something, come see me. You can’t buy anything reliable unless you know someone, it’s too dangerous. It’s all tainted.
I saw it once. It stands about five and half feet tall, if that. Has some fur, more like feathers almost but it was dark. What I saw was in shadow. I looked into it’s eyes. It has human eyes. Dark color, blackish brown. Don’t sleep outside or with your bedrooms windows open. Sleep in a closed room. There are other beings, things that are more airborne. More ethereal, shall we say? Some of them friendly. Some of them make you moan loud enough to bother the neighbors. I think they’re taller than some of the others, who are not so friendly. You have to be careful. Los poderos del mal, the powers of dark. Very seductive. Not to be trifled with.
I went back, you know, to the States for a while. Checked our house, the cabin, bank accounts. Nothing was touched. I don’t know why I think Patrick is still alive but I do think it. I believe it. There’s no life without love anyway. I’ll probably see you around, if you stay that is.”
She snuffed out what looked like a brown cigarette but somehow I knew it wasn’t. It smelled different, like cinnamon pot, if there was such a thing. She left lipstick on the rim of the Corona bottle, empty but for the lime wedges stuffed down in it. Salt shaker next to it. She was wearing a long skirt, loose cotton blouse, a straw hat,. Her hair in a braid, loose around her face. Her wrists were covered in fabric braided bracelets. She wore gold pirate earrings and necklaces that looked like an array of lucky charms. Her shoes were plain canvas sneakers, no socks. The golden glowing brown of her skin in contrast to the washed out yellow color of her hair made her seem strangely in place, as the one out-of-place thing. A fish out of water no more, her three- wheeler bicycle with mountain bike tires on it and a large basket that held several canvas bags giving her the air of a local.
“How long has she been here?” I asked the bartender, not realizing he was the owner of this beach shack cantina that she frequented. He shook his head ‘No’ at me. Later he explained his loyalties, protecting the privacy of his “people.” Eventually she told me herself she’d been there for three years.
We used to sit in those chairs on the beach at sunset when we weren’t looking for it. Let the water wash up over our toes. She never pulled her feet away, no matter how cold it was. I didn’t think I would get anywhere with her so I maybe waited too long. But then, she was amazing. She kept those doors and windows closed though and it was so hot in that room. She said she liked it that way, liked the sweat sliding off of us. I can vouch for her having good bones. Her ribs showed, her hip bones like razors against mine. Not a tan line on her. She was like salted honey. She’d stand there in the doorway, the light filtering through whatever thin thing she was wearing. I know she did it on purpose, but not. She knew I could see and liked it but she would have stood there to smoke even if I hadn’t been there. It was so hot in that room.
I don’t know if I forgot or wasn’t thinking or if I was thinking and it was just too damn hot. I opened a window. I remember climbing back into bed, looking at her naked back, the sheet pulled down to her waist. I didn’t want to wake her. The last thing I remember was falling asleep with my hand on her. Then I heard her, moaning, like she did when she was about to…like she did. It took a minute for my eyes to focus in the dark, the bedroom door was open. The curtains blowing out the window and that didn’t make sense to me.
The front door was open, pulling the air through the house. There were marks, on the porch, in the dirt leading down the trail from the house, toward the water. They disappeared before the beach, the drag marks. I’ve been looking for her ever since.
This story was written in May of 2011, originally titled “Verde Oscuridad.”