Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chapter 4 -- Forgiven Not Forgotten

Chapter 4
Forgiven Not Forgotten

I spent a restless night tossing and turning with scattered dreams in my hammock.  Hardly able to sleep at all, I arose in the morning twilight and took a dip in the Pacific, then set out on a long walk up the beach, to measure my next step.  To leave meant I was free to go anywhere, to do anything; to stay, I had my own room, a job and some friends on a beautiful beach.  I was still repulsed every time I relived the inescapable kiss, impressed so deeply in my memory, and which fired my fury; but then recalled to mind Manolo’s words about the greatness of providing laughter for your friends by brunting a joke. 
As I walked and the day brightened, I started noticing bikini clad women take to the beach and the water.  And I became aroused.   I thought about Podi, and realized that she hadn’t been coming to mind so much lately, and that perhaps the pain was finally starting to fade.  After about ten miles I came to a sign that read:  Playa Desnuda, which translated is: nude beach.  My eyes scanned ahead, then I wandered in, and soon was surrounded by quite a number of beautiful naked women.  I started burning within, and the unquenchable fire had been reignited in my loins. 
I admired the exquisite view for several minutes, then left the nude beach and headed back, slowing down and breathlessly beholding every bikini that swam or walked or lay before me.  I had decided to forgive Manolo and Juanito their stunt, to try and blot the kiss forever from my memory, and to stay a while.  The upsides were obvious, and I was free to leave at any time.    When I reached my cabana there was an envelope tacked to the door addressed to Gitch. 
It contained 140 dollars US, and a note, which read:  Dear Gitch, we pray you can find forgiveness in your heart, and repeat our invitation to share our little piece of heaven on this beach.  We used the photos to collect the bet after you left last night.  It was five hundred dollars US.  We divided it four ways, then each contributed an extra five dollars to your share, thus the 140 dollars.  That will exchange to many more pesos.  The job and this cabana are yours if you want them; we hope that you do.
It was signed:  Muchas Gracias, Manolo and Juanito (and Orlando).
I laid the money and the note in my hammock, then went into the restaurant, where they were seated at breakfast, and an empty chair awaited me.  They were visibly pleased at my arrival, and all paused chewing while Manolo stood up to greet me. 
“So you’ve decided to stay, or come to say goodbye?” he asked.
“To stay,” I replied.  “For now.”
“Muy bueno,” Manolo replied.  “Please, join us.  I’ll fix you a plate.  He went into the back and returned momentarily with a dish of huevos rancheros and tortillas, a glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee, which he cautiously set before me.
“So you got our note and the money, I assume?” Manolo asked.
“I did, thank you,” I replied.  “I’m just going to forget it like a bad night, and I’ve put a few of those out of mind already.”
They settled into the banal chit chat that often takes place during meals, then went to start their days.  Before I started on my chores, Manolo and Juanito and I made plans to go into Mazatlan that night, to introduce me to some of their other friends.  I said he looked forward to it, then started work emptying the toilets. 
As I toiled through the morning chores I came to several resolutions.  In a corner of the restaurant was a shelf filled with random books; they had been left behind by tourists and were free to be taken by anyone.  Among them I found a Spanish/English textbook, and an accompanying dictionary, and, determined to learn the language of the land, I took them to my cabana and decided to spend at least one hour every day studying, to listen carefully as it was spoken, and to be fearless in both speaking and asking questions about grammar and words.
I also determined to take some sort of sweet revenge on Manolo, Juanito and Orlando.  I even looked the word up in Spanish: verganza.  I had no clue as to the what, when or how, but I intended to keep a sharp lookout for any and every opportunity. 
In the afternoon, Filipe had me stock the outdoor tiki bar with beer, liquor, mixers and ice.  There were several attractive women at the bar sipping exotic cocktails, and I moseyed through the task as slowly as possible, the more to admire the gorgeous specimens of the fairer sex.  The bartender was a good looking young German guy named Klaus, and I watched his every move, and with each libation Klaus concocted, I memorized its ingredients and their mixing.  When I had finally finished all that needed to be done, I went to my cabana, translated the phrase: if you ever need a bartender on short notice, or a new one, I can work out there for you.  I memorized and practiced it, then went to Filipe and said:  “Si jamas necesitas un cantinero en una emergencia, o uno nuevo, puedo trabajar el bar para ti.”  Filipe asked me if I had experience, I lied and said I did.  Filipe had taken a liking to me, and replied that it was good to know and that he would keep it in mind.
There is a dreaminess about Mexico that causes time to pass at a different speed, and I quickly took to the beach life like a fish to water.   The days were long and leisurely, and the nights eternal and peaceful.  One evening Manolo, Juanito and Filipe were drinking tequila together.  I intentionally avoided the alcohol, and drank guava juice. Long after dark, when sufficiently inebriated, Filipe suddenly broke out his trumpet and started playing softly.  Juanito retrieved two guitars, handed one to his brother, and they began strumming along.  They quickly tuned the guitars to the trumpet and the family band played a few mariachi songs together.  As I listened they sounded quite good, but my eyes were riveted to the guitars…and my fingers literally twitched with longing. 
When they took a break from playing, Manolo said:  “So Gitch, do you play?”
I paused before replying: “No, but I’ve always wanted to learn.”
Manolo offered his guitar to me and said:  “Well, what better place than in a hammock on the beach?  Here, take this one, we have several.  I can show you some basic chords later if you like.”
I had to resist the impulse to lovingly cradle the guitar in my arms before setting my fingers ablaze upon it.  “Well, thank you so much,” I said, receiving it.  “I can’t wait to get started.”  I then fumbled my fingers awkwardly all over it as I pretended not knowing how to play.  Soon thereafter they retired for the night, and when I was locked inside my cabana I lit two large candles then sat lotus in the sand and tenderly tuned the guitar.  It felt so perfect against my body, like an appendage.  I quietly diddled and riffed and strummed and ripped it up for hours.  A melody became fixed in my imagination, and I sang over and over the short refrain:

My heart is like a broken boat,
That sank to the bottom of the sea,
And if you can hope to make it float,
Then you’ll restore my heart to me.

Keeping my identity a secret being of paramount importance, I reminded himself repeatedly to be aware of my surroundings every time I touched the guitar; to feign being a beginner in the presence of others, while being extremely certain of being alone whenever I cut loose.
As part of my master plan to become the afternoon bartender, I started trimming my hair and beard, though maintaining a long, shaggy look.  Opportunity wasn’t long in coming.  A week or so after I had made known to Filipe that I was available to work the bar, Filipe came to me as he was hauling buckets of ice and said:  “Gitch, Klaus is not here yet.  I want you to watch the bar until his gets here.”
I was elated.  I hurried to my cabana to change into stylish casual, put about 100 pesos in my pocket, then went and minded the bar.  It was early in the afternoon, which was normally quiet anyway, but I was restless for some action, and the opportunity to prove myself to Filipe.  I positioned myself at the front of the bar and waited, but when nearly an hour had gone by with no one approaching the bar, I decided to take matters into his own hands.  I had been staring at two bronze bikinis lying in the sand, and boldly went over to them.  “Buenas tarde ladies.  My name is Gitch; I’m bartending there at Mariscoes.  If you get thirsty come on over and your first drink is on the house.”
The one was a gorgeous blonde and the other a beautiful brunette; they looked up together, gave me a hard look, then the blonde rolled up to her side, smiled and answered:  “That’s an impossible invitation to refuse; we’ll wander over shortly.”
“Great,” I replied, then held my eyes on them as long as possible before breaking my gaze and returning to await them at the bar. 
They came by just a few minutes later and took up seats, which were actually swings.  I was there in an instant to greet them, and after introductions—Gitch, Sabrina, Merillee—I suggested they allow me to concoct a surprise cocktail.  I pulled a fish bowl on a stem down from the shelf, filled it with a potent, fruity potable, adorned it with fresh melon and floating strawberries, placed two straws therein and set it between them.  My fantasies ran wild as they placed their faces close together and sipped.
“That is spectacular!” Sabrina, the brunette, gushed over the slush. 
“Delicious!” Merillee confirmed.  “What is it, and what’s it called?”
“It’s my own recipe; I call it Gitchie Goo.  Glad you like it.”
“That’s a clever name for a cute bartender’s drink,” Sabrina coquettishly observed.
As I maintained my conversation with them I rang eight pesos into the register, which I took from my own pocket and placed in the drawer. 
The girls were from California. I told them I was from New Orleans, and they chatted with each other while flirting with me as the cocktail quickly reached the bottom of the bowl.  When it had, I said:  “I can offer you another Gitchie Goo on the house, but you’ll have to perform a painless task to earn it.”
They eyed me suspiciously, and Merillee asked what I had in mind.
“Go to the beach and find ten beautiful women in bikinis to come to Mariscoes for their first drink free.  This afternoon only.  And make sure to bring only the most beautiful girls.”
“That’s it?” Sabrina scoffed.  “The beach is teeming.  We’ll be back in ten minutes.”  And they were.
In that meantime Filipe and his buddy Charno came and sat at the table near the bar where they played dominoes almost every afternoon.  When they had just finished setting up and starting the game, they were surprised when a posse of twelve glistening, half naked honeys filled the swings around the bar.  As promised, I bought them each a drink, which I paid for from my own pocket, then commenced to individually introducing myself to everyone. 
I broke from the ladies and wandered over to Filipe and Charno and said to Filipe:  “Te gusta que tu ves?”
He was wide-eyed with shock.  “Si, me gusta muchissimo!  I never see so many beautiful women….”
“Now, watch what happens,” I replied.  “It shoudn’t  be long before the men flock in to buy them drinks, and the party really starts.”
And that is what happened.  A couple of guys wandered along, noticed the bevy of babes, and stepped up to the bar and bought a few drinks.  A couple more came along, then a few women, then some more men, and pretty soon the bar was humming with people.  While slinging drinks I turned up the reggae music and it was a full fledged party.  Filipe looked on with great delight while playing dominoes.
The spontaneous fiesta lasted into the night, and when it was finally over, Filipe was ecstatic after counting the receipts, while I broke even on the eighty pesos I spent to seed it with tips from American tourists.  Filipe informed me that Klaus was no longer employed at Mariscoes, and that I was taking his place.  And when I awoke in the morning and started on cleaning the bathrooms, Filipe intervened and told me that I was no longer responsible for such duties, nor even allowed to perform them; and that I should go to the beach and rest up for my afternoon behind the bar, and to perhaps introduce myself to any women I might encounter.
And thus I settled into my own little piece of heaven.  I applied myself ardently to learning Spanish, and started every morning by spending an hour doing exercises in my Spanish textbook, and practiced all day by asking many questions about new words and pronunciations, and acquired the language quickly.  I also pretended to learn the guitar by faking playing badly after the occasionally lesson I allowed Manolo to give me, while in the privacy of my cabana I was keeping my chops razor sharp.  I also feigned progress, so that I was able to strum and sing a few simple songs.  My heartaches slowly faded and gave way to some contentment.  I became beloved of Filipe for the register receipts, and of Manolo and Juanito, who had made their father proud by befriending and bringing me home; but as time passed my desire for revenge on the brothers who had duped me into kissing la mujer barbuda only increased.  I pondered it occasionally in the back of my mind while my eyes vigilantly watched for any opportunity.  And nothing short of spectacular would suffice.

One afternoon Deak browsed the little reading section of Marisco’s when he saw a rather fresh copy of Rolling Stone that caught his eye, as his name was on the cover.  It was one of the smaller headlines along the side, and it read:  Deak Presumed Dead.  He sat down, found the page and perused the short article, which read like an obituary.

Last week, on the one year anniversary of the last known sighting of internationally renowned rocker Deak, a judge officially declared the rocker dead in response to a petition to finalize his ex wife Podi’s divorce filing.  The rocker was last seen staggering drunk through the streets of the French Quarter after playing a very sloppy set at the Absinthe House earlier that night.  During his last days he was frequently seen in the company of the homeless hobos by the riverside, two of whom swear seeing him stumble into the Mississippi river in the dark of that night, where he is presumed to have drowned. 
Born Deacon Downes, The Deak was a bona fide superstar.  Charting thirty six number one singles in his youthful career, he fronted a number of bands, including The Ducks, The NPS Express…
Among his most well known songs are….

Once I had finished reading the article, I tossed the magazine back onto the heap, asked Filipe for the afternoon and evening off, and went for a long walk up the beach to come to grips with my own death.  It was effectively what I had hoped to achieve, to be forgotten by the world, but now I felt empty.  There was still love in my heart, to give and receive, and for the which I could not be dead.  At some point I would have to  resurrect myself, and the more I was forgotten the more sensational would be my return.  Still, it was a wistful day of my life, and when I had returned to my cabana late after walking probably thirty miles, I laid back with the guitar and wrote the melody that would become Sayonara Till Tomorrow before exhaustion gave me a profoundly restful and refreshing sleep.

Filipe would have had me work the bar every day, but I insisted on two days off every week to explore Mexico.  One such afternoon I meandered down the beach several miles until I heard a reggae band playing in the distance.  They sounded fantastic, and I followed the music to its source.  It was a live band called Sunset Splash playing on a makeshift stage outside a tiki bar.  The sun had just set, and there was already a sizeable group of people dancing in the sand.  I was barefoot, and jumped right in.
As my body melted with the music, I was overwhelmingly relieved to experience the joy of dancing again, and had been grooving with my fellow dancers for some time when a beautiful woman literally fell into my arms.  She had tripped in the tangle of feet, and I caught her fall.  I held her in my arm for a moment; she smiled and said, “Gracias.”  We started dancing together, and stayed so until the band finished playing, shortly after midnight. 
Her name was Marguerite, and she was a stunning Venezuelan blonde.  I invited her to the bar for some refreshment, where I learned that her cousin was the bassist, and that she was visiting for two weeks.  The band members held a private after hours party, and Marguerite invited me to escort her.  I’d already germinated the idea to have them play at Mariscoes, and when I wasn’t being captivated by Marguerite, I introduced myself to the band and made arrangements for them to come by and see me and work something out with Filipe.
The party went into the wee hours, at some point wherein Marguerite and I wandered off and spent the night lost on the beach….
The next morning I kissed her and parted from her and returned to my cabana; and that evening she came to visit my bar while I worked.  She was accompanied by her cousin Emilio, who arranged with Filipe for Sunset Splash to play there the following Friday.  Once that was confirmed Emilio had one drink with Marguerite then departed.  Soon thereafter Manolo and Juanito showed up.  I introduced them to Marguerite, and the moment their eyes lit up at her beauty, the light of inspiration turned on in my mind.  I knew how I would take revenge.

Chapter 1 -- Bootleg
Chapter 2 -- Bootcamp
Chapter 3 -- Sands
Chapter 4 -- Forgiven Not Forgotten
Chapter 5 -- Revenge
Chapter 6 -- The Flying Lightning Shows



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