Rick Edelstein was born and ill-bred on the streets of the Bronx. His initial writing was stage plays off-Broadway in NYC. When he moved to the golden marshmallow (Hollywood) he cut his teeth writing and directing multi-TV episodes of “Starsky & Hutch,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Chicago,” “Alfred Hitchcock,” et al. He also wrote screenplays, including one with Richard Pryor, “The M’Butu Affair” and a book for a London musical, “Fernando’s Folly.” His latest evolution has been prose with many published short stories and novellas, including, “Bodega,” “Manchester Arms,” “America Speaks,” “Women Go on,” “This is Only Dangerous,” “Aggressive Ignorance,” “Buy the Noise,” and “The Morning After the Night.” He writes every day as he is imbued with the Judeo-Christian ethic, “A man has to earn his day.” Writing atones.
This Is Only Dangerous by Rick Edelstein
They entered each other’s life at an unusual place: Koo Koo Roos, a huge cavern of a glistening fast-food emporium specializing in skinless chicken, turkey, and courteous well-trained young Hispanic servers.
Olivia went because old people had not as yet discovered this particular franchiser’s location. She was 59 and would not feel, think, or act old as she assiduously avoided gatherings of any sort which favored—and she hates the expression—golden agers. She insisted on geographic chasms of separation lest she catch what she regarded as a pandemic surrender to aging, which was considerably less than golden. She reluctantly gave up one of her favorite past-times, matinee movies, because instead of being protected in the anonymous dark of the theatre she was constantly assaulted by the invisible intrusions of click-clacking dentures crunching cardboard popcorn and liver spotted hands noisily unwrapping sticky covers of tiny candies announcing their flavor in triumphant sucking sounds through wheezing breaths. She would not join their submission to the catabolic destiny of chronological time. Olivia lived her life as if sickness and aging were dark entities in fear of her power.
David—who never forgave his parents for such a commonplace name—went because it was within walking distance of his house and although he knew how to cook he relinquished the kitchen to memories of servitude long gone-by. He relished the polarity of public privacy as he played invisible, enveloped by surrounding diners’ conversations and innocuous background music, all beneficial as welcome distractions, blocking out not-so random thoughts of disquietude.
At the ripe age of 38, David recently retired with full disability pension from the Police force. His former colleagues reminded him how lucky he was that after three operations, the bullet and resultant shrapnel were successfully removed leaving him with scars unseen when clothed, insisting that when women discovered them in bed they would make him a hero and even hotter than before. David smiled and nodded to fulfill their expectations as he dropped his badge, gun and police persona disappearing from their lives. And from his. Although he could not disappear the scars of killing a 15-year young blonde kid with glasses. Yeah, over beer, the story was loud and justified in that the zonked out asshole of a kid fired and almost killed David as he flew backwards from the bullet’s impact; his trained instincts were on automatic, firing wildly in that reflexive feral instant killing the 15-year young blonde kid with glasses. Prior to that moment David had worn the wardrobe of appropriate societal dress-code which included marriage, his lamenting wife’s, “You’re never home and when you are you’re not here because you are solving some crime out there ignoring that it’s a crime in your own home how you’re treating me, our marriage,” ad infinitum, ad nauseam add a subsequent divorce, a promising career in the police department as one of the youngest Detective First-Grade officers with three recommendations accompanied by the shielding vest of disgust over the inhuman condition of the perps he often collared, reputed in the department for his mastery of martial arts often decking skanks without a shot. But not that kid. Yet over beers it was clearly shouted what the fuck was that pasty faced white blonde kid with glasses trying to do! Robbing a bank in the middle of the day! Of course he had drugs in his system. The skell didn’t have to shoot, the dumb fucking 15-year young pasty faced punk with glasses didn’t have to shoot!
It’s been a year since. David has returned no phone calls, moved three times and lives what might be perceived as a quiet normal life by some nodding neighbors not sensing the maelstrom of a deadening nihilism in a man who seemingly was young enough to embrace life. In his present garb of anonymity he shared no facts or fancy of his past with anyone as such history is only to be revealed on a need-to-know basis and David created a restless solitude ensuring that there was no one who needed to know. He no longer needed suction with his department superiors. He no longer cared if a small-time dealer was trying to re-up his supply. He no longer cared. Neighbors assumed he was shy. How sweet.
Friends have told Olivia that she dresses too young and sexual for a woman of her age and full body. Each morning—as Olivia divorces her friends—she showers with close to scolding water trying to wash away the pain hiding in the dark corners of disillusionment. Each morning, as an extension of her determined choice to transcend overcast inner weather she declares a victor’s assumption that today is Olivia-day and subsequently celebrates this option by adorning herself in textures, beads, bracelets, hair combs, earrings, perfuming her lush proportions with a subtle scent of gardenias offering no justification for friends, merely supporting her existential hedonism which to Joseph Campbell might be following her bliss and to Olivia resolute to doing what feels good on Olivia-day. A silent aggression of what feels good, whatever whenever, however. Each and every morning. How others feel is none of my business. She rejected unsolicited opinions as to what a large-boned beautiful woman should be like as she liked the way she chose to be.
When her first-born died at child-birth Olivia descended into repugnant guilt that only a mother’s sense of failure would know. Ultimately three subsequent children provoked a need to rise above, to not be at effect, coño, of God’s beautiful and mean mysteries. And today, Olivia-day, her choice, si, estoy hermosa, a woman of substantial age which does not mean anything other than a woman with enough experience to choose wisely or wildly. Or both. Solo estoy haciendo lo que me hace sentir bien. I am only doing what makes me feel good. Hoy! Today! My choice! Olivia threw down her velvet barbed gauntlet to ghosts of friends. If those myopic critics only knew of her many lives—just this lifetime—mother of four, yes she named Maria before she was born and died, three children from two different fathers, six men whom she loved but was never in love including an East-European sex-machine who seldom showered or said anything of interest so she kicked him out; as a waitress, bartender and subsequent manager of a Cuban restaurant, college drop-out because she could not put up with the required advanced mathematic courses which had little to do with the rash on her 4-year-old daughter’s butt. And now, all of her experiences are a shrug of her past as a contribution and contrast to life’s offerings without moral equivocations.
After fourteen years on the force dealing with mopes, bums, thugs, junkies peddling over-cut yayo, decks of heroin, slabs of crack to pay for their own habit, hairbag suppliers and fences, buff cops who did a three-sixty on the take, and the white kid with glasses who mooshed him the night he was shot...he tried to entomb their memories, to dismantle the charge of ugly that had its own vibration, to disappear into a cavern of escape. He indulged in the haven of sex as a holy immersion, the primal visceral erotic heat of mindless no boundary sexcavations. Too often he was returned to planet earth’s restraints with the woman who wanted more; more sharing, more than the silent salvation he valued, sought after, was essential to his next breath. “Talk to me baby.” “Nothing to say.” “Why are you avoiding intimacy?” “All that means is into me see.” “Fuck you.” “Now that’s as good idea.” As she pouted he pulled out, literally and metaphorically.
Olivia walked or rather strode in a rhythm that was accentuated by the long purple-black and silver-gray hair thickly meshed into a single braid bouncing along her voluptuous back. Her skin tones resonate as if the sun set inside her flesh. Her face boned as an ancient Mayan woman perfectly adorned by a European Utrillo-like nose punctuated by black eyes which alternated between a bruja’s conceal but more often seemed to glint with a joke to which only she knew the punch line.
David tried evading the continuum of a grating past in his present by indulging in drugs. That didn’t do it. Grass made him paranoid and hungry; cocaine started as a mountain stream of forgetful joy too quickly devolving into grinding teeth and a nose flowing fluids foreign to his vocabulary. As a result of his street connects he could score from any one of a hundred skanks; smack, crack, reds, whites, ups, blues, downers, speed, meth. There was—despite his nihilistic choice—an ancient survivor rein that pulled on him when he got close to the edge. No matter his pain, nightmares of floating glasses reflecting a distorted acne faced blonde boy, the rein would permit no more than a toe over the edge.
Olivia did not know her father who abandoned them before she could talk yet she believes she remembers his rough hands touching her infant cheeks which occasionally burns today in the real or imagined loss. But she did know, revere, venerated, cherished Papi, her Mexican Mayan abuelo, her grandfather. Watching him work for hours, for days as he chose particular stones on their walk and then grinding them down with a tiny drill, piercing holes in each, eventually held together with a weathered leather string which he placed around her neck whispering, “Esto siempre te protejera, mi Chiquita.” This will protect you forever. Her Papi would awaken her at dawn, tip-toeing out of the house holding her smooth olive skinned hand in his calloused safety, to the sputtering car, rushing to their magic place, sitting down in the dry dirt leaning against a boulder. Olivia cuddling into him as they both stared at the fading darkness. She could feel her young heart beat in anticipation of the magic-to-come. Papi would make a grand gesture toward the horizon and every time he did that, every time, the sun rose. Her abuelo made morning.
When Papi died, even though she was a young adult, the loss was so profound that she flirted with madness. Sitting in a public place not understanding how no one seemed to know that the world lost the most important being, she would scream loud enough to frighten adults and make children cower. She knew she did it and in owning her expression of private pain Olivia smiled proudly of her public act of mourning valor. Walking, she saw a street sign, SLOW; she moved as if in a stop-start-frame movie. She walked by a forefront with a sign, DANCE; she started dancing and dancing and yet more dancing, tears finally streaming as she twirled in her homage, an appropriate wake for her Papi. Some adults stared. Others made her invisible protecting their Bingo-every-Saturday night world. Two kids joined in the dance.
One recent morning Olivia awakened at 3:03 a.m. (She loved palindromes.) Her excited gasps inhaled the presence of Papi. In an oxymoronic enthusiastic joyous panic she ran out of the house barefoot with nightgown billowing accommodating her supply rippling body in all its graceful generosity. She opened the door to the neighbor’s car reaching under the thread-bare mat finding the key and took off in a gasp and a shake rushing toward the highway then turning off to a long drive up and up as the car protested but didn’t dare give out as Olivia’s power demanded it reach the top of the mini-mountain in order to look over the world facing East. She sat down leaning against a tree, gasping/breathing the cold near-dawn air stinging her lungs in insistent pleasure; her heartbeat slowed until she achieved perfect balance. Calm now she knew Papi was with her as her arm lifted toward the horizon. The sun rose. Tears graced her glistening olive skin, touching the stones of his protective necklace she nodded, “Si, te quiero, Papi.”
David was good with his hands. He could fix anything. His innate talent fit his current life style like a perfectly honed dowel gentling flawlessly into the hole of the furniture he created and repaired. He worked alone according to his outrageously exacting standards. His rare ability to work on wood furniture without using nails attracted enough customers to pay him enough money along with his disability check not to worry about having enough money.
It may have been pre-ordained by the gods-of-madness-&-humor because each of them usually avoided the lunch hour crush by arriving at 11:45 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. but the stars may have been deliberately crossed as they were in line at 12:04 p.m. David ordered a half original skinless chicken with side orders of yam and string beans remembering his Bulgarian aunt who was the only one in his family who loved him unconditionally, insisting, “Mishe, jazh zeleni zelenchutsi vseki den i nikoga niama da se rasszboleesh.” My little mouse, eat string beans every day and you never catch cold. He took his tray with extra napkins because he liked to eat his chicken with his hands, sat down at the last empty table in the very large space crowded with nearby office workers on their lunch break. He was in the middle of gnawing on a delicious bone when he felt her presence. He looked up seeing a woman, an older large woman who pulled out the other chair at his table, tilted her head, smiling as if asking and answering the unspoken is-this-seat-taken, putting her tray down.
Watching her fork scoop and deliver to a generous succulent mouth devouring the garlic mashed potatoes in juicy delectable pleasure, he wished he had ordered some. When she swallowed and closed her eyes he could swear he heard her purr in an almost orgasmic bliss. He smiled at her unabashedly sensual experience with garlic mashed potatoes. Olivia opened her eyes in time to see the last vestiges of his smile and nodded as if the two had just shared a secret. They continued eating as if they were long-time lovers with a comfortable history, permission of silence granted.
At the end of their consumption he wiped his fingers with the napkin although not totally succeeding in removal of the chicken grease. She noticed, put her napkin in the glass of water, reached over, took his hands and dampened his fingers. He burst out laughing at this seemingly innocent maternal gesture which was bizarrely intimate particularly since neither had exchanged a word but somehow, some how David gave in to Olivia’s cleansing as if it was a common form of nurturing between them.
She stood tall and straight, especially for an older woman, he thought, as she looked at him so directly he almost turned and avoided her power but street conditioning as a cop who would never back down demanded that he engage the challenge. Olivia’s voice was a refined alto of a warm rasp. “Tomorrow let’s beat the rush.” She turned and her walk, David noticed, was as if she was leaning backwards enjoying a strong breeze leading with her pelvis, orchestrated in a fugue of a sexual wiggling tight butt on strong wide hips. he found her very attractive, for an older woman, that is.
That night each intruded on the other’s sexual fantasy.
David was watching the eleven o’clock news with a snort and a shake of his head cognizing that there is nothing newsworthy but rather escapist high ratings presentations of network salacious sound bytes parading as news. He pushed the remote and channel-surfed for about twenty minutes until his eyelids told him it was time for bed. he went upstairs, stripped, pee’d, got into bed, put three pillows behind him, leaned against them sitting up to read, reached over for his bedside book, “Sister’s Secrets,” knowing it was a graphic-tacky-just-what-he-wanted-lesbian-lust as he pulled three tissues ready for action. He stroked himself near orgasm, put the book down, turned off the lamp and continued caressing his dick fantasizing the two women making love to each other sandwiching him. Moments before orgasm, she—the purple-black-silver-gray-braided woman’s rotating buttocks insinuated herself into his projected countenance—and he came.
Olivia was almost reluctant to end the gentle strong rub of the soothing aromatic lotion on her light bronze skin as if she was a male lover who knew just how to caress. She put on a nightgown of silken gauze-like latticed material which revealed as well as covered her full breasts and sinuous stomach. She lit two candles, one had a scent of vanilla, the other gardenias. She pushed a button and a bandoleria played a tense sensual Piazzola tango. Olivia lay down her full body with a gentleness of a dove’s fallen feather barely making an indentation as her hands greeted the nipples of her breasts like long missed friends and she quietly chanted in her Spanish tongue of her Mexican-Mayan grand-father: El padre es el amante la hija es querida...the Father is the lover. She changed St. Augustine’s gender-son word to: The daughter is the beloved...and the Spirit is the love each has for the other. Se repeated in a drone accompaniment to the tango as her left hand pinched her copper nipple and her right hand rubbed her clitoris insinuating two fingers into her chocha chanting again and again her breathing audible until the fourteenth time: el amor que tienen uno por el otro...the love each has for the other. The image of the young man she met in Koo Koo Roos appeared. She smiled and grunted. Si, si hombre, mas, y mas hombre, y mas querido, mas muy fuerte muñeco, ayy, mi amor! She came.
Tomorrow arrives as surely as today, she remembered her Papi saying, carrying a tray of early lunch deciding to sit outside to see if he would come.
He looked at the clock, eleven-forty, shrugged, put down the hammer, picked up the sand-paper, whooshed it three times over the curved arm, blew the fine smelling wood dust, decided to finish strengthening the frame after lunch. put on his shades and walked towards Koo Koo Roos not wanting to think of her but wondering if she would be there.
She saw him across the street—walking and then slightly changing his direction, arriving at the corner pushing the button, the light changed and he crossed.
He saw her sitting at an outside table. She smiled and with a barely perceptible nod indicating that his chair was waiting. He almost smiled, almost stopped, almost nodded as his eyes blinked acknowledgment and went in to get lunch. He returned with the tray looking around at other empty tables on the patio. She stared at him eliminating any other choice. He acquiesced and sat at her table. She nodded shyly as a 15-year-old offered a corsage at her quinceaños. They ate in silence for a few beats and ultimately as if synchronized, burst out laughing. Olivia enjoyed David’s infectious wonderful original laugh accompanying it with her unique sound of delight. Other diners caught their energy and smiled. David stopped laughing, looked at her, wanting to speak but not knowing what to say. She eased the pressure, talking in a quiet tone as if gently applying an aloe salve to a stinging burn. “That was very nice what you did across the street.”
He remembered her alto-warm rasp of a voice as a pleasing sound. “What was that?” he asked.
“There was a large purple flower that had fallen off a nearby plant lying in the middle of your walk. Instead of stepping on it you moved around it. In respect. That was nice.”
He paused, then remembered it exactly as she described but not as anything worthy of recognition and certainly not as an accreditation of his character, which made him feel uncomfortable—to be considered “nice”—a quality which was an anathema on the streets and alleys and dark corners which still had their grip on him. “I wasn’t aware of what I was doing,” he dispatched any significance to his behavior.
She nodded in affirmative appreciation, “That is exactly when we are connected to source, when we do something nice without applause.”
“Source,” he grunted dismissing the old new-age clichés by crunching and maiming the meat and bones of his delicious chicken as an act of impatience with her ‘sourcing,’ refusing to look at her.
She got his unholier-than-thou judgment and made a choice not to do overt battle with the typical male arrogance that has inflicted wounds long healed over but still stings when it rains macho drops. Although her juices stirred inviting the dark joy of challenging all the men in her life who tried to categorize everything from a woman, from this woman, as less-than. What is it with the male animal, she reverberated silently, he always has to label something good or bad, valuable or useless, working or needs fixing, never just accepting everything and everyone as part of what makes life life. At this moment she gave a metaphorical shrug assuming it was a higher force who told her: tender this one. Although her wounded beast ached for retribution for the father who touched her cheek and...she shoveled a hefty forkful of garlic mashed potatoes into a grateful mouth easing the decision but to avoid total capitulation into that conflicted male energy she still had to—albeit in a quiet voice with the lid covering the fire—“When we commit an act that is inherently kind and unconscious as a result of instincts rather than an intention to be good because it is perceived as good, that is good, entiendes, hombre? You have good instincts. Why is it bothersome to be recognized as good?”
“Good as in good for whom?” He snapped the whip.
His voice pitch in form and content aggressed inviting battle but Olivia assuaged not by surrender but rather in softening her tone to an oblique whisper making him lean forward as she countered in a soft steam-roller going down a steep incline, “Good for whom, hombre? Good for Green Peace, Save the Whales, Democracy, Fascism, Socialism, ism isms, oppression, repression, Freud, Jung, Mommy, Daddy, The Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Most people do good to be considered good to be noticed as worthy to get the acknowledgment, the Nobel prize the Mother Teresa Ghandi Schweitzer King Mandela medal of the year. You, guapo, avoided crushing a beautiful fallen purple flower for no public recognition, doing it as a private act just because it felt good. To you. Punto coño.”
He didn’t know how she did it but he was disarmed. He grunted a grin. “Anything else about me, doctor?”
Olivia’s voice shifted in subtle vibration. “You don’t have stretch, hombre.”
David, unconsciously expecting a charming feminine compliment was surprised at her response. he stopped chewing and wondered if she was playing him, switching the game without letting him know the rules. He put down the chicken wing, looked at her. “Stretch? What does that mean? Stretch.”
“You’ll know when you have it.”
“Yeah, sure. For those who believe no explanation is necessary, for those who
don’t none is possible.” He uttered the cliché dismissing her with an aside exhalation, “Give me a break!”
She tilted her head at his condescending dismissal but this miss wouldn’t be dismissed. Rather than a full on frontal attack she recognized his rejection as having more to do with who he was and wasn’t, than her, and prudently refused to retaliate or confront him, laughing a throaty three-beat sound, enjoying the male/female game they were intuitively playing even though he wasn’t aware that he was participating. “You have wonderful eyes,” she said with a smile obliterating any thought of confrontation.
A shift surprising him with no feel for a counter-move, as she grabbed a piece of chicken off his plate, stuffing it into her generous mouth, chewing amid eyes of amusement, “What kind of work do you do?”
Ah, a linear question permitting him to shelve the conflict, the issue, the what’s-at-stake game. “I’m a carpenter,” he muttered, closing the door to any further inquiries.
But she entered through her own door. “Carpenter, like Jesus.”
“I don’t use nails. Not like Jesus.”
“Jesus didn’t use nails. Those pinche cabrones who crucified him, they used nails.”
“Whatever,” he dismissed her.
“Whatever?” It was on again. “You sound like those teenagers chewing gum. Whatever! I think you are a man with a better vocabulary than whatever.”
He didn’t know what was going on with this perfect stranger. Or rather imperfect but he was getting irritated into the old time swamp of “you said I said” crap he endured with his ex. “Look, I don’t even know you and...” he took that proverbial breath trying to control his disquiet... unsuccessfully, “What the hell...I don’t even know who...you don’t know me! I am having a power struggle with a stranger in Koo Koo Roos! Whoda’ thunk!” He trumped her hand most assuredly. He thought.
She was not to be denied by paltry moves. “Do you know, muñeco, know what true power is?”
He was tempted to ask for a translation of muñeco but he also knew that her question was rhetorical. He pushed his plate aside, looking at her beautifully sculpted face of high cheekbones, skin with a glow from within, and a generous mouth reminding him of...he stopped observing as, after all, she was much older. Yet something, something allusive about her, he didn’t know the parameters. He laid back, awaiting her words. Some-magic-how her look and tone shifted the energy. He exhaled slowly, inhaled even more slowly...the irritation subsiding, looking at her as if she was an apparition of...of what...of enabling him to feel what...safe, challenged, oxymoronic? He almost smiled but not quite and was surprisingly easy about an undefined moment when their...their what? He shrugged it off and released his death grip ready for battle, peace was declared. For now. Albeit confusion reigned amid the stillness of the moment.
“True power,” she continued, “is not doing anything remarkable and being totally comfortable, at peace, tranquilo, hombre.” She stood tall in all of her substantial bodily power, lifted the glass of lemon water tilting it toward him, “Salud,” she toasted, “To Frida!” He tilted his head like a confused puppy. She grunted a laugh, “As in Kahlo,” drinking half the glass completing the instant.
David remained seated ready to nod goodbye as he lifted his glass and one-upped Olivia, “Salud. To Diego. As in Rivera.”
Olivia acquiesced to the ersatz winning position the man required to be deemed a man and nodded, looking down at David’s seated male self. She reminded him of a Botero or the statue that used to be in the garden of the New York Museum of Modern art which Gaston Lachaise sculpted this magnificent larger-than-life brass woman with huge breasts, stomach, thighs and an ass that despite the overwhelming glistening bulk was a demanding sensual invitation. Olivia remained standing awaiting for David to do something of which he knew-not. She laughed and said, “Come,” turning and walking toward the parking lot without looking back.
He was irritated at her surety that he would follow. He sat there in his polarizing struggle to refuse to follow, looking at her wonderful leaning-back treading form spreading the air before her pelvis, wanting her to turn and be surprised that he was not following. She did not turn. He actually sighed the sound he heard his long since deceased father emitted to express disdain when he didn’t fulfill Daddy’s expectations in Bulgarski, “Po dyavolite, hlape!” God damned kid! At the last gasp of the sigh he assumed an in-control humorous madness at this bizarre event, standing with an attitude of nonchalance which was more attitude than reality...he followed. But slowly.
Arriving at the parking lot in the back of Koo Koo Roos he saw her open the passenger door, crawl over the seat and stick-shift, settling into the driver’s seat as if her maneuver is the most appropriate way to get into a non-vintage 12 year-old car with dents attesting to her lack of driving agility. David ambled towards the car as she tried to start it. Olivia was talking to the non-starting car, “Andele muñequito! Vamos mi carachita, por favor, mi amor!” Trying again and again to no avail. David wondered why people create an animate relationship with inanimate objects as he leaned over and said, “You’re flooding ‘mi amor’.’”
She looked up at him, “It’s Friday the thirteenth. What can you expect!”
He laughed, “Yeah, the car knows the date.”
“Oh, a smart cynic although I don’t know how smart you are as cynics are just protecting their fear of feeling, thrusting their ignorance to cover their vulnerability.”
He was surprised at her assault and slammed the return with impatient energy. “What are you talking about? Feeling? Ignorance. Vulnerability. You don’t know me and...”
She interrupted him by reaching out and touching his arm gently. “I apologize. You’re right. Correct. Por favor. I was...it wasn’t you. Just the father of my son who always...ayyy...por favor, hombre, it wasn’t you I was talking about...to...forgive me.”
He was about to walk away but her ‘forgive me’ was real. He nodded but wouldn’t give it up entirely. “And your Friday the thirteenth. Speaking of ignorance, superstition is the epitome of ignorance. Friday the thirteenth! Yeah, sure.”
“For your information, and please do not take offense Mr. Man but I know some things perhaps you do not. How many months in the year? Twelve. Number of gods of Olympus, signs of the zodiac, number of Jesus’ disciples: Twelve.”
“Jesus had thirteen disciples. And what does all that have to do with Friday the thirteenth?”
“Twelve is completeness, muñeco. Thirteen is the departure from being complete. Who was the thirteenth disciple? Judas Iscariot. and the thirteenth tribe of Israel was the only tribe left without land. So please, hombre, do not be asking me about thirteen.”
He shook his head, smiled enjoying her rant. “And Fridays?”
“You don’t read your Bible, do you? Eve gave the apple to Adam on Friday. The great flood began on Friday. Execution day in ancient Rome was Friday. Jesus was crucified on Friday.”
“I surrender,” he mock bowed.
Olivia looked at him trying to determine if he was making fun of her or actually listening. Most men hear but don’t listen. She adjusted to more practical concerns, her voice transmuting in tones as if in the middle of a novena lighting a candle to the virgin. “You know about cars?”
He had at last earned an easy grin feeling the relationship taking the form of male comfort. He knew. She didn’t. She needed help. He could help. “Pop the hood.”
Olivia stared at him. “What does that mean?”
He burst out laughing and despite the circumstance she caught it and roared with him.
“How long have you had this car and you don’t know how to open the hood?” He leaned in through the open window, reached over, she did not adjust her lush thigh as he had to move against it in pulling the lever popping the hood. Olivia leaned her thigh against his hand. David experienced a static-like emanation and ignored it but she knew that he got it.
“Two hours. I borrowed it from a neighbor, a friend. Pero que mugre carcacha. Quizas an enemy by now.”
He disappeared behind the raised hood. Olivia leaned out the window and yelled, “You know about cars, coño?”
“Turn it over now and don’t step on the accelerator.”
“You’re doing it to me again, hombre. Turn what over? What is the accelerator?”
He moved his head peering over the hood looking at her in amused amazement,
“You do have a driver’s license?”
“I know how to drive.”
He shook his head to the gods and quietly said as if to a 12-year-old, “Start the car but don’t push down on the gas.”
“Why didn’t you say so? Claro!” She did as directed. He jiggled and adjusted. The car started. She whooped with joy and burst into spontaneous applause as he slammed down the hood, walked over to her, wiping his hands on his black jeans. She beamed at him. “Is that what you do? Of course! You’re a fixer! Que ideal, perfecto, hombre, si! Get in, Fixer.”
He did not. David stood there smiling in a calm victory of a validated checkmate position. “I don’t think so.”
“Please, you can’t get off now, the elevator is going up and we are on it. Get in, mi Fixer.” David hesitated. She reached out and put her strong, graceful hand on his arm. Again he felt the static from her touch and tried not to flinch. Her voice was like dark molasses, “We have things to learn. From each other.” He leaned back, looked at her eyes, almost black but with a glint of humor, sexuality, and unprotected wanting.
“And go where?” David asked, remaining outside the car with an assumed amused indifferent detachment but his mouth was dry and his heart beat was palpable, testifying to his lack of stoicism despite the pose.
“On an adventure.”
“I don’t know you. You don’t know me.”
“I know more of you than you know of you, believe me, Fixer.”
“Why should I get in? I have no idea of where, what, why, when...”
“Oh you beautiful men,” she said as if in a caress after great sex, “If you knew all that then we wouldn’t be having this adventure, cariño.” Her voice lowered in that chocolate bass, too quiet, so powerful, “Get in, muñeco.”
He knew he lost his standing as choice dissolved into the kid who had to obey the coach. He didn’t like the feeling and yet...and yet he got in.
They were driving through the city in a cumbersome tour that made him restless. She felt it. “What? What is making you crazy now?”
“The way you drive. too slow. Overly cautious. I could get there faster, easier, smoother if you let me drive. Just give me the directions ‘cause you drive with one foot on the brake and other on the accelerator. The gas.”
She pulled over to the side. Put it in neutral, pushed him out of car, slid over and out, gesturing as if she was maitre d’ at an expensive establishment. “You drive, Mister Man.” He laughed, shrugged, got in, slid over and waiting until she was settled. “Which way, madam?”
“Straight for twenty-two blocks, straight again and then take a right.”
He maneuvered through traffic with grace and pace which she appreciated. “You drive like a swan in a rush. Nice. What do they call you?”
“You wouldn’t want to hear the names they call me.”
“Que tu quieres, guapo. Okay, hombre. You are Fixer.”
“Ah, Davíd,” accenting the last syllable.
“David,” accenting the first syllable.
Ignoring his correction, “Davíd, a good strong name.”
“It’s a boring name. Millions of boring Davids.”
“Your name and you know so little about your name. Que lástima, hombre!”
“A rose by any other name...please!”
“No, please no! Davíd means beloved in Hebrew.”
“You speak Hebrew?”
“No, do you?
He burst out laughing, “Who’s on first.”
“Que dice? First?”
“An old routine. No, I don’t speak Hebrew.”
“You don’t read your Bible either, do you?”
“I don’t have ‘my’ Bible, thank you. And if you’re going to quote scripture on me, you’ve got the wrong guy.”
“Just information, coño. Davíd was the second King of Israel, who as a boy killed the giant Goliath with a slingshot. A slingshot, hombre! You come from a line of serious bad-asses. Davíd. Serious!”
“And what do they call you?”
“Nice name. Olivia.”
“Si, pero we have not found your name for me yet.”
“My name for...I don’t have a name for you. Olivia. That’s your name, right?”
“You will find your name for me in time. You were supposed to turn at that corner.”
“Was that twenty-two blocks already?”
“Numbers are important to you, are they? Take a right here and then a left and
three blocks there is a building that is fading magenta, more on the purple-red side I think. What is that word, puce? I don’t like that word. It sounds like parrot vomit. Park in the driveway although it does not look like a driveway but it is and you can tell by the fact that there is no car parked in front of the indentation by the sign “Don’t-Even-Think-About-Parking-Here.”
TO BE CONTINUED
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