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
David felt stoned, high, as if watching himself doing something that was not his nature, out of balance, following a woman many years older than him into her home, not having an inclination as to why he was there and wondering if he, indeed, was in a dream or a disguised transference into another realm like those bad sci-fi reruns on TV.
Olivia busied herself at the stove working in ease and comfort the way she would if Davíd was a long-time lover and she was preparing his favorite meal.
David had a confused half-smile on his handsome craggy face looking at the huge room which was a combination living-room-kitchen-den-artist’s loft...it reminded him of those wild gardens looking as if nature just tumbled but somehow the eclectic jumble fit, well not exactly fit but the result was pleasing as he walked about, touching a thick fabric from North Africa disguised as a lampshade, a convoluted piece of aged wood which upon closer inspection had grown into an old face. He couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman’s face and it did not really matter as he was moved by the rough hewn ragged power. He was startled by a canvas on an easel, an acrylic painting of bright orange, reds, and blues abstracted and yet very specifically a woman’s vagina, or was it the inside of a pear, he wasn’t sure but it was...it was lush.
There was a bookcase, actually not so much a bookcase but shelves stuck on mason bricks groaning against the weight of many books, some in English, Spanish, and one seemingly Chinese. He reached for the musty beautiful fading burgundy binding which had Chinese lettering, opening it revealing yellowed pages with the strong delicacy of Chinese calligraphy.
Olivia came to him carrying two steaming cups of Turkish coffee, giving him his cup. “Ah, you discovered my favorite book.”
“You read Chinese?” he asked.
“No.” She sat on a magnificently aged rocking chair, held her cup of coffee, blowing the visible steam to cool, sipping through a cube of sugar stuck between her teeth.
“Mi Papi, mi abuelo taught me this sugar cube.” She sipped loudly enjoying the sound of her slurp.
David couldn’t stop grinning, almost surrendered to being here without question. Almost. He sipped, grimaced, and she laughed noticing, “Too strong, Fixer?”
“No, it’s perfect, just takes some getting used to, as do you, and what the hell am I doing here?”
She ignored the question, crossed her legs revealing a flash of her upper inner thighs which David did not miss wondering whether that corner of revealed dark was her pubic hair or black underwear. Olivia did not miss Davíd’s glimmer as he sat down on a nearby chair not wanting to reveal his bulge and wondering what the hell am I doing getting a hard-on over a woman old enough to be...his erection wouldn’t permit him to end the sentence.
Olivia laughed as if she read his thoughts and his bulge. “Tomorrow I would like you to drive me to a particular spot by the ocean where the waves are very dramatic. I like the way you drive.”
David stared at her appreciating the beautiful mouth that had too-red lipstick curving from thick to thin in such a graceful line that he lost himself for a moment. Seconds later as if a recalcitrant echo reverberated, he heard her suggestion of tomorrow or was it a soft demand? He was in a dream, he was sure, yet liking it and ambivalently trying to ground himself in reality. He started to talk but the words wouldn’t come. He sipped and made less of an effort as his voice now sounded quiet and rich as the Turkish coffee, surprising him upon hearing an unfamiliar tone easing from his larynx.
“What do you do? Who are you? I should do what, drive you? Tomorrow? I won’t be here tomorrow. The Ocean? Why? Why in blessed hell am I here?”
“Blessed hell. Oxymoron.” She mumbled as if her voice was dripping in warm honey. She uncrossed her legs slowly. This time he was sure it was a thick patch of black pubic hair with a surprising slash of pink leaping out as she stood, walked to him in a slow rocking motion, leaned over and adjusted a loose spike of hair sticking out in the back.
“That’s too much of a question too early, Davíd, Davíd, a good name, it has fabric in my mouth. Come my Davíd. Vamanos cariño.” She took his hand and he allowed her to lead in confused obeisance.
Entering a small dark room whose walls were casually draped with purple and magenta flowing pieces of graceful silk she gave him matches and disappeared into an adjacent bathroom.
David emitted the family tree sigh trying to find the rhythm to normal breathing which his body forgot as he walked around obediently lighting candles. Then he heard the sound, a woman singing in Spanish, sounds, ayyy trilling of ancient ranchera yearnings.
The door opened and she came out humming in a flowing garment that revealed and hid her body as she barefooted towards him holding a large cloth of black silk in each hand. Olivia gave him one, turned her back and helped him tie it as a blindfold around her eyes. She, feeling for him, used the other and blindfolded him. She took his hands and placed his finger on her lips. He traced the graceful shape and then pressed down on her thick underlip, surprised as she gently sucked his two fingers into her mouth. Simultaneously she slowly undid his belt and unzipped his trousers pulling gently on his shorts as they fell to his ankles. She turned her back to him, lifting her billowing gown, then reaching back with one hand on his now bare ass, pulled him to her. She felt his erection snuggle against her thighs and buttocks and moaned, “Háblame dulcemente muñeco, dime algo dulce, muñeco.”
He reached his hands around, under her gown up to burgeoning breasts, softly pinching, caressing her huge nipples. His breath was reaching for itself in tremulous gasps.
“This is crazy,” he said as sweetly as if it wasn’t.
She moaned to his lowering hand gently working through her mass of pubic hair slightly glancing back and forth on her substantial clitoris.
“No, mi hombre, the world is crazy. This is only dangerous.”
Ever since the blond kid with glasses, David’s slumber evoked the cliché sleeping the sleep of the dead. It wasn’t rest. The nightmarish visitations of the glasses splintering had played out and eventually his sleep was devoid of life. A chilling oblivion retained a grave weight on his awakening. David accepting this, almost welcomed the unspoken burden as a form of mea culpa. But now, now in the dawn time, instead of the overcast mass usually sensed within, now without totally awakening but yet in that hair’s breath of a moment between sleep and consciousness, in the absence of guilt, David experienced the texture of delectable relief, of a smile on the inside of his being, of an ease in breathing that was foreign to his mortality. He relished in the rare moment of a...what...a trance, a vision, a sweet hallucination of a feminine hand gently rubbing his head. He softly resisted awakening, circumventing awareness, choosing to remain in that no-place of a safe place where reality and fantasy dissolve their differences, someone was singing to him. She was humming, tenderly wording a lullabye, “Duerme, duerme, mi cariño, sueña con los angelitos ...duerme, duerme mi amorcito, sueña conmigo al ladito.” David submerged into a profound slumber losing the thread of consciousness breathing into a safe haven where he could disarm.
Later, much later David is awake. Not wanting to open his eyes because he knows. He knows he is in her home. He knows the sex was transcendent and he also knows the overwhelming reluctance to face looking at a woman many years older and pounds heavier as aromas invade his nostrils with a pleasing enticement.
Olivia, dressed in a sinuous flowing of burgundy and amber, previously braided hair now open and fanning her striking Mayan structured face. She is humming her recipe as the hands of a woman used to working coincide with her verbal caresses. “A cup of uncooked arborio, a half cup of water, un poquito leche con dulce, cinnamon...a person needs a taste of sweet in the morning to greet the day, don’t you think, Fixer?”
He was surprised that she knew he was awake as he lay there too quietly breathing unwilling to embrace or reject the demanding reality. He could only clear his throat and open his eyes. Slowly.
She continued working in the kitchen area with a grace as if she was dancing en la Plaza de almos. “Raisins, chocolate blanco, and corn husks...and then mi Davíd, the crowning perfection that will endear you to me for the rest of your life, Salsa de Chocolate...with a little fresh mint and powdered sugar as a subtle exclamation point.”
‘Subtle exclamation point’ was not a phrase he expected from her. He looked up, head tilted like a questioning dog only to see her spin and walk towards him with a wooden spoon dripping with some thick concoction.
He smiled, shook his head as an accented comment to a situation beyond his control—and he was definitely used to control—licked the spoon in mute obedience, very lightly. He was startled by the deliciousness of it all, laughed, opened his mouth for more and the cooperation of her extending the spoon, joining his laughter, touching his face tenderly as he cleaned it of the chocolate.
“Now,” she said, “We can start the day, guapo.”
He actually smiled in relief. No talk of last night. No mock assurances or cover or retreat or evaluation or facing reality or assessing the situation or anything but dealing with the exigencies of the day according to the book of Olivia.
“There is a particular place, a spot, a position, an extraordinary living pleasure at the ocean we must go. I like the way you drive, hombre.”
And for a reason unnecessary to investigate, although he was curious about a ‘living pleasure at the ocean,’ David went. Perhaps it was the Salsa de Chocolate.
Driving towards the ocean David felt as if he took a drug but wasn’t sure if it was a good or bad trip. His linear mind couldn’t compute the logic of his involvement in this journey. With a woman who...he glanced at her and her head swiveled to meet his eyes as if he had said something. Which he did not. He turned back toward the road. Driving.
“Your thinking is too loud, Fixer.”
“You better talk before you implode.”
David was surprised she knew the word implode, and then immediately judged himself for a bigoted assumption. He did not turn towards her but rather focused on the drive toward the ocean. As if it was his ministry of redemption to arrive at the water. Redemption, he questioned? What do I have to be ‘redempted’ about?
“Is it my age or size,” she asked?
He was tempted to say the polite thing, the words that would assuage but they wouldn’t come. He wondered if he could be institutionalized as a man out of control in this moment because he fantasized, in turning the narrow lanes going down a steep grade, not turning but in an uncontrolled insane moment to hurtle off the edge into the deep abyss.
Olivia got it on some level because she reached over and tugged the steering wheel towards the side of the road. David yelled, hit the brakes as the car came to a dusty stop on the dirt shoulder. He looked at her violently, “Are you crazy?”
“No, hombre, tu eres loco ahora!”
“You could have killed me!”
“And you could have killed us. Que pasa, Davíd?”
He was catching his breath as he got out of the car, stomped around, kicked the dirty, yelled, “I don’t know what the fuck I am doing here, with you, now!”
“Aqui ahora conmigo o en tu vida?”
He was in a rage without an object, without an obvious enemy, just on that perennial edge that lay within him ready for...he stopped...knelt down...picked up a handful of dirt. Lost.
Olivia came next to him, kneeling, picking up a handful of dirt.
They looked at each other. He exhaled loudly, shook his head, resigned to the madness. She laughed and threw the dirt at him. He responded and threw his dirt in her face. And like two adults with the kids turned loose they played in the dirt until they were breathless leaning against the car, not understanding what happened.
Olivia still wanted a personal answer. “Verdad, muñeco, una vez mas. Is it my age or my size? Y por favor, do not go into that loud silence that makes me crazy porque after all I am yet still a woman with sensitivities...” and balancing that vulnerability...”...y muchos cuervos which many men like and lust after. Háblame, Davíd!”
He sighed. Almost smiled, looked at her, and then looked off into the horizon of verdant hues of foliage, rolling hills in the distance that looked like a woman’s body. Hers.
“No. Yes. Not what you think. Once again, you, me, my life, driving this rickety car to the ocean which means nothing to me...once again validating that I continue to be out of step.” Olivia reached out to adjust that loose lock of hair in the back that refused to stay put as David just stared at her as if she was a stranger. “I don’t know what I’m doing with you.”
“Out of step with what, hombre?”
He stood up and moved back and forth as if the panther within demanded space. “Everything. My age, profession, ex-profession, colleagues, ex-colleagues, perps, skanks, the fucking world. Out of step with them, it, all, I feel like I’m in a foreign movie without sub-titles.”
She was silent, sitting in the dirt against the dented door, watching him pace, stop, kneel, stand, pick up a rock, throw it, sit down again leaning against the car staring straight ahead, avoiding her eyes. Actually she liked his angst. It had the energy of a bubbling volcano in contrast to so many Ameraqiches who are too controlled, too cool, too together, too neat, too too.
Sitting in the dirt, leaning against the car, a restless quiet was broken by a man, dirty sneakers, worn army fatigues and a face that hasn’t seen soap in a week, walking on the road, stopping, seeing them, reaching into his pocket, withdrawing a small gun.
Yes, the cliché resonated as time and people froze.
“I want the keys to your car.”
David started to get up but the gun and the voice said, “Don’t get up. Just the keys.”
“They’re in the ignition.”
“And your wallet.”
David reached into his pocked and gave him the wallet.
Pointing to Olivia’s neck, “And that necklace.”
Olivia’s hand instinctually reached for Papi’s protection, whispered a fearful, fervent, “No.”
David, “Do what he says. Give him the necklace.”
Olivia was unmoving in the impossibility. “No!”
“No?” Aiming the gun at her.
“El es de mi Papi! No!”
“Give me that necklace unless you want to die, bitch!” He reached down to tear it off her neck.
David lightning-shifted into the cornered cop who refused to stay cornered, slapping upward, knocking the gun out of the perp’s hand and then kicking him in the balls. The man fell down cursing, groaning, crawling toward the gun laying in the dirt a few feet away. By now David was on his feet kicking him again, and then again, and sat on him and started punching him unceasingly in the face as the cause of all his pain until Olivia’s, “Basta! Basta! You are killing him. Enough, Davíd, basta!”
She pulled him off the man who was almost unconscious and bleeding profusely from the mouth and nose. David standing, breathing hard, the feral animal not yet caged looked at Olivia as if she was an alien until he heard her assertive soothing tones, “Tranquilo, muñeco, tranquilo.” He looked down at the wounded man who was doubled over in moaning pain. David nodded in cognition that the skank was neutralized. Picked up the fallen gun. Removed the bullets and threw them in one direction and the gun in another over the edge of the high road as far away as possible into the cavernous thick brush. He picked up his wallet, turned, grunted as he kicked the man in the ribs one more time, walked and opened the door to the car. They both got in. He drove away leaving the groaning man with dirty sneakers writhing on the ground.
Neither said a word as David drove...his singular focus was on driving as if riding on the road of the energy of this strange almost exhilarating battle for this momentary warrior, Olivia understood and in her way loved him for it.
Thirty minutes later, sitting at an outdoor café, large paper covering the rough tables, a bowl of coloring crayons, salt, pepper, napkins as each of them doodled with different colors on the paper and in between, drinking from a pitcher of Sangria, a declared silence was finally broken as Olivia wiped a red Sangria’d stain off his cheek. She felt it was now a safe place to talk about it. “First you give him your wallet and tell me to give my necklace...”
“The gun was loaded. Your life is worth more than my money or your necklace.”
“...and then you do a Zapata on his ass like fierce lightning. What was that?”
“When he called you bitch.”
“I have been called worse.”
“Not in front of me.”
“No one insults my woman.”
“Acaso soy tu mujer, ahora, muñeco?”
Downing the Sangria, emptying the pitcher, “We need a refill.”
“We’ll get drunk, mi hombre.”
“Know of a better time?
“Ahora es perfecto, querida.”
They never did get to the ocean as they Sangria’d the time away on a small table under an umbrella shading them from the afternoon sun. Perhaps it was the Sangria or the drama/trauma that eased David’s dark rage, for the first time there was an effortless peace within him and with Olivia. She needed words, something to strengthen the web of their connection.
“Do you have children?” she quietly asked.
“No. Just a brother, sister, four aunts, two uncles, and thirteen cousins.”
“Large family, good.”
“Large family, not so good.”
“Family’s always have differences. That makes it fun.”
“Not for me. I divorced them along with my ex-wife.”
“You don’t miss your cousins, brother, sister, uncles?”
“What do you miss, hombre?”
“Who says I’m missing anything?”
“We all have a missing inside. That’s God’s devious plan.”
“And that God is a maniac. Look at this world. Yeah, the only thing I’m missing is belief.”
“In what or who?”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Have some more Sangria.”
As he poured, and they were slightly drunk, she sipped some more, “You will discover what you have been missing when you surrender.”
He drank some more. “Surrender? Surrender to who, what, where?”
An attractive woman, considerably younger than Olivia, walking on the street with a shopping bag from Neiman Marcus stopped in front of the table and in a faux delighted voice, “David, how nice to see you. Again. After all this time.”
He looked up. Shaded his eyes to recognize someone he cared not to recognize. He stood, “Hi.”
“Hi? Not hello Rebecca? Good to see you, Rebecca?”
“How are you, Rebecca?”
“Do you really want to know or is that just a rhetorical meaningless greeting?”
Glancing down at Olivia with an attitude that could curdle milk, “Well I assume you’re not going to introduce me, you son of a bitch.”
“Hey, I don’t know what side of the bed you got out of today but I...”
“No, you wouldn’t know what side of the bed because you left my bed before dawn and somehow you didn’t call me after you said you would or shouldn’t I believe anything a man says in bed? Or don’t you remember?”
“No, I don’t remember, so...Rebecca, nice seeing you and yes, that is just another rhetorical way of saying goodbye. Rebecca.”
“Here’s my way of saying goodbye you misogynist pig!” She slapped him. Hard.
Olivia stood up very quickly and before she could depart Olivia put her face in Rebecca’s carefully made up countenance. “No one can hit my man except me, bitch!”
“Your man? You’re old enough to be his mother.”
“Nadie me cachetea a mi gabacho, al menos que sea yo, puta!” Olivia ended her sentence with a strong slap across Rebecca’s lip-glossed mouth. Rebecca was shocked, looked around in panic, then ran off being trailed by Olivia’s Spanish curses.
Olivia stood there, tears of rage rolling down her sculpted cheeks, muttering, “Old enough to be his mother...puta de madre!” David reached out and gently led her back to the table, to sit. She shrugged off his arm angrily reusing to sit. She stared at him in icy fury, “Is that how you are with me, you motherfucker!”
“Hey...come on, baby, don’t buy into a woman whose only cultural life is based on shopping at high end...”
“But you with her. That puta!”
“I was with a lot of women in my life, not all good, obviously.”
“And me, cabrón, am I not all good?”
He took her hand and led her to her seat. “You are different than any woman I have ever been with.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“Good. Very good.”
She nodded and sat.
Silence a few beats. Then, “What did you say to her in Spanish?”
“No one slaps my gringo man around unless it’s me, bitch!”
He nodded, smiled, sipped some more, “Fair enough.”
Drinking Sangria, both close to happy drunks. David smiled, shook his had to the gods. “Two knock-downs in one day. Pretty good.”
“I didn’t knock her down like you did that pinche cabrón.”
“Oh she’s knocked down, believe me.”
They laughed, drank some more. Long hazy silence. Almost comfortable. For David but not Olivia who still needed words when she non-sequitured with emotions threatening to overload. “I will not move to Dallas!”
David leaned back wondering whether this threatened rage was an overload from the recent scene or a new storm brewing. “You will not move to Dallas. Uh...where’d that come from. What’s boiling now?”
“My daughter lives there.”
“Ah, got it. You have a daughter who for some reason you don’t want to live near.”
“I love my daughter. She loves me. At least I think she does. But no, not Dallas. There are certain things, even for love, a woman cannot abide.”
“I don’t know if it’s the Sangria, you, or me but I don’t have a clue.”
“They want to ban people, people who own their own houses and live in them from painting colors of their choice.” Olivia reached for some of the crayons as if they were hot pokers and rowdily scrambled colors over the tabled paper as they were her declaration of freedom from invisible chains. She shouted, “The Ameraquiches call it ‘garish colors, crudely showy, excessively bright.’” She glared at David. “It is the skin of you gringos that is crudely excessively bright. We Mexicanos paint our houses in happy colors, not those brick boring boxes they call homes. I will not move to Dallas.”
David took her hand, stopping her madly scribbling with the crayons, “Hey...you are not old enough to be my mother, but you are young enough to be my lover.”
She stopped. Looked at him to determine if he was telling her the truth or just another Ameraquiche. He got the source of her anger. He nodded. She nodded as if a pact has been reached. He put the glass of sangria in her hand, took his and toasted. “To multi-colored houses.”
She smiled, clinked her glass, spilling a little, “Salud, cabrón!”
He sipped, wanting to ease into personal with no charge. “Do you have any other kids or is it just your Dallas daughter living in a boring box?”
“Yes, all together, two daughters and one son. Two different fathers with the same reason for disappearing.”
“A strong, smart woman is too threatening to un hombre Mexicano.”
“And some gringos, too.”
“Do I threaten you, Davíd?”
“But what!” she hurled as if a hot spear to ward him off.
“Easy, baby...I’m not the enemy.”
“You don’t threaten me but...you surprise me and I’m not all that comfortable with surprises.”
“Surprise is good. Keeps you from getting dusty.”
He laughed, toasted. “Your kids?”
“One daughter who won’t speak to me but she is in Africa working in AIDS clinics so I am proud of her.”
“And the others?”
“Ahh, Maricel is still on her journey. She was a waitress, then cleaned rich people’s houses, then became a writer, and now she is first Latina on the masthead—she taught me that—as associate editor of a major magazine in Dallas. And she is so far gay.”
“Her journey is not yet ended.”
“You have a problem with gay people.”
“No, gay people are fine. They are very clean, neat and like to have a good time. No problem with gay people. Just with my daughter. Quiero una nieta. I want a grand grand-daughter whom I can teach the ways of Spirit and the world.”
“Sounds like a contradiction.”
“Of course. That is exactly why she needs her abuela to teach how to walk the treacherous path.”
“I won’t even ask about that. Your son?”
She smashed the crayons into bits of pieces, looking up and talking to the clouds, “Como es que puedes ser amoroso y tan cruel.” She turned and looked at David with more energy than he liked. “How can God be so loving and be so mean!”
David was silent in the face of her raging pain.
Then she spoke. “He was dealing drugs. Now he is in jail.” She swept the crumbs of the crayons off the table and stared into the distance seeking surcease from the pain.
David quietly asked, “Do you see him?”
“The jail is two thousand five hundred miles away.” She sighed, wiped a tear forming in her beautiful dark almond shaped eyes. “I send him tortillas.” The tears flowed down her cheek as David reached over and put the palm of his hand on her high cheek boned Mayan face. Olivia leaned her head against his strong calloused hand in appreciation, expecting him to move his hand away momentarily but David kept it there. She put her hand on his, pushing it gently against her cheek as she sobbed quietly.
“He was my first born. A man-child. The pride of what my boy, my man would become. Pride goeth before ...something, right Fixer?” With his other hand David wiped away her falling tears.
“You are a good man.” She sat up, put his hand gently down from her face, breathed deeply, laughed a guttural sound of cleansing. “I will be all right.”
“You are all right.”
“Claro. Estoy bien.”
They drank some more Sangria. Quiet. Then David uttered, “We never got to your ocean.”
“The ocean is not going away.”
Just then two kids came running down the street tossing a ball and one hit the blond kid in the face, knocking off his glasses. He stopped, picked them up, put them on and they disappeared into a nearby alley, laughing and yelling.
The kid with the glasses enforced an obligatory flash of the memory David wanted to bury. Unsuccessfully.
Olivia felt his obvious shift in mood. Looked at him. He wouldn’t look at her. Closed his eyes. Breathed deeply, let out a disgusted sigh, still refusing to look at her.
“What?” she asked quietly and yet insisting on a reply.
David was too quiet.
As if she was caressing him with her voice. “You are living a nightmare during the day. We have come too far, Davíd. You must tell me.”
He stood up, knocking a half glass of Sangria onto the table, looked at the spilling liquid as if it was strange matter. Olivia walked into the restaurant and returned with napkins, cleaning the table. David was standing facing away.
“It is all right.”
“Don’t placate me!” It was his turn to rage.
“I meant the glass, hombre, the Sangria, all cleaned up. It is all right. I am not placating which I think means trying to ease your rage which no one can do but you although I am not encouraging you to knock over any more glasses but it is all right now.”
He turned and looked at her. His anxiety was subsiding.
“I know about the animal inside of you, my Davíd, the craziness, the pain, because I, too, have it although we share different sources, it is all right with me. Entiendes, cariño?”
He looked at her unsure as to whether he could believe her.
“Verdad, coño. Today’s men are so sensitive that they can cry. Me, I want a man to hold me when I cry like when you held my face, wiped away my tears. You, my Fixer, are a man, and yes, I even love the wild beast that knocked that guy down with the gun. Digame, muñeco, tell me your story.” She extended her hand, he took it as it led him to sit next to her. Softly she said as if caressing him, “Háblame, muñeco.”
David sitting, facing away, talked, almost to himself. “He wouldn’t stop. Fifteen year old, freckles, glasses, his gun...at me...no matter...he wouldn’t stop. He shot me and...I...and I...my hand pulled the trigger...I killed a fifteen year young boy.”
“Ah, that is where you received those impressive scars.” David said nothing. “He shot you. You had no choice.”
“I killed a kid with freckles, glasses.”
“Yes, you did. Si, mi amor, it happened.”
“Don’t tell me it’s all right!” He whispered angrily. “It is not all right. Never!”
“No, Davíd. You have a scar from where he shot you and another invisible one where you shot him. It hurts and that is good.”
“Good?” David mumbled.
“Si, if it did not hurt you would not be the man that you are, who God and I care for.”
“You and God, huh?”
“And you, cariño, God decides when we are born and when we die. In between it is what you call free choice. It was time for the fifteen year old to go.”
“That is ludicrous. I can’t believe that.”
“It was a terrible thing, muñeco, but not intentional. You did not mean to kill the boy. You were trained to respond. Your killing him was an unintentional accident. Feel the pain but do not be the accident of guilt.” She leaned over the table and gently kissed him. To his surprise he morphed the kiss as they embraced in public with a feral passion to erase the pain.
They broke, looked at each other, nodded, he poured Sangria for both and they each drank, tilting their glasses in a silent toast, in recognition of the pain of being human. Words were not necessary...he looked at her across the rough hewn table with unprotected affection. He got it. Smiled. Easy silence.
“I think now, my Davíd, you are beginning to stretch.”
He nodded as if a long due reward was granted. “Beginning.”
“What is a misogynist? That puta called you a misogynist.”
David laughed recalling her reference. “Hatred, dislike, distrust of women.”
“She deserved to be slapped because she is wrong. I can always tell if a man likes women the way he makes love. You, my Davíd, love women. Yes, you do!” She said with a dirty twinkle in her yes.
“I love some women, not all. Not her. I couldn’t make love to her the way I do with you.”
“Thank you for that. You are not a misogynist.”
“No, I may be a sexual hedonist, or even an existential misanthrope, but not a misogynist.”
Olivia laughed, “Now you’re showing off with so many words. I like that you are smart.” She toasting, clinking glasses, “Sometimes I know that I am enough smart but when you talk like that I am not so sure. Hedonist, misanthrope?”
“Misanthrope...I love humanity...I just don’t care all that much for people.”
He drank, looked at her, swimming into her deep dark eyes, teasing, “You? What about you?”
She played the coquette, “Do you like me? I am people?”
He gave up the game, nodded, reached out and touched her bronzed cheek. “Yes, baby, you I like.”
She wondered if it was the drinks or the truth but she preferred to buy it as the truth even if it was Sangria loosening. “Baby. That is your name for me. Good.”
“What do you like about me?”
He smiled, shrugged, the game was on again.
“Tell me. A woman needs more.”
“Any particular woman?”
“Your dark, dark eyes that are a chasm of power.”
“Chasm of power. Power I know. Chasm I will look up later. More.”
“Your generous mouth.”
“Bueno...y mi chocha?”
“I love you, Davíd.”
“We may be lovers but...” he trailed off.
“How can you love me? We’ve been together for twenty metaphorical minutes.”
“Metaphorical. It rolls in the mouth so I can taste it. Very sensual. Met-a-phor-i-cal. How long did you know your ex-wife before you got married?”
“A year or two.”
“See what? That’s my point!”
“You knew her for a year or two and you got divorced. Love has nothing to do with time.”
“And you think you love me, hmmm?”
“Not think. Do. Not only love you but love loving you. You don’t know how to do that yet.”
“The operative word being yet, huh?”
“You’re beginning...when you have more...”
“Stretch,” he laughed, “Right, I’ll know how to do that and get rid of disease and pestilence in the world and effect peace and plenty and...”
“Basta, hombre, don’t spoil the moment. Just remember that I love you.”
“Why? How can you be so sure? How can you...why do you love me?”
“Because I love you.”
“Because? That’s a kid’s answer.”
“It is the best answer.”
“And do you love me, muñeco?”
He shook his head. Not as a negative but more in wonderment of how and what he was feeling in the moment.
Olivia persisted softly. “Not forever. Do you love me now?”
He smiled, slightly nodded, “Yes, baby, I do.”
“Don’t push it.”
“I am pushing.”
“Why do you love me?”
She wouldn’t relent. “Why! I need the words, porque, muñeco, porque?”
In a naked moment of explosive revelation and unprotected clarity he said, “Because you are a wild, juicy, spontaneous, unpredictable creature who makes me feel...feel like I haven’t ever felt...who, like me, doesn’t fit.”
“Oh, I fit, cariño.”
“Yes. I fit perfectly.”
“En tu corazón, mi Davíd.”
He was still. Not running. Not hiding. Just still. Quietly admitting past his protection. “You do, in some bizarre way, baby, you do fit.”
“You need to kiss me now.”
He leaned across the table, put his hand on the back of her neck, brought her closer and they kissed. Both eyes closed they heard a skateboard and a young voice, “Nice!” They looked seeing a young teen whizzing by applauding twice in appreciation. Olivia nodded to him, then turned to Davíd and touched his cheek.
“You have beautiful, strange, wonderful eyes, brown, yellow, gray, mi amor.”
He smiled. “You know this is crazy.”
“No, this isn’t crazy...”
He burst out laughing and together they harmonized. “This is only dangerous.”