TEQUILA TRIP

A Short Story by        Gerry Stewart

 

            Bigfoot squinted against the bright sun as Leslie sauntered up the beach.  She loomed over him hands on hips, blood-red finger tips splayed over her flat wad of stomach, smooth black skin glistening as she pulled at his arm.

            "Come on in, honey."  Her low, smoky voice sang with the soft musical tones of Dominica as beads of salty sea slipped off her skin and splashed in tiny shivers on his chest.  He reached for her hand.

            "You come on down."

            Leslie gave a throaty chuckle and ran down the sugar sand her toes splayed out like a dancer.  He pushed himself up and lunged clumsily after her.  She dove in the surf, he under the lip of sea catching her ankle.  She turned and grasped him, kneading him between long tapered fingers. 

            A wave broke, a wash of white foam sweeping him off his feet.  Breaking surface he spluttered, spitting salt.  The undertow raking the sand, rasped his skin.  A Styrofoam brick wrapped in plastic bobbed in the frothy sea between his legs.

* * *

            They lay under the blue and green beach umbrella.  Leslie watched his pink tongue flick granules of salt off the glazed glass of Margarita, his eyes squinting in the harsh Mexican sun.  This ruddy-faced man-child with long girlish eyelashes and the bushy brows that knitted together giving his big baby face a look of permanent surprise.  She figured for all his bluster and rough language he was out of his depth - a shy country boy acting the city slicker floundering on his big feet like a clown wearing flippers. You can take the boy out of the country, she thought, but you can't take the country out of the boy, at least when it came to women and drugs - street stuff.  She wondered if he'd asked her to Mexico to buy her off after she'd found portions of his book-keeping left something to be desired.  His neat curlicue handwriting flipping figures, dollar figures slipping from one account to another in neat tidy columns.

            Bigfoot laughed, as Leslie humoured him with a giant yellow comb, hamming it up like a vaudeville clown brushing her thick black braided hair.

            "We could sell it," Her husky voice soft, persuasive. "It would be dead easy."

            "Dead, you got that right."

            The Styrofoam box filled with cocaine lay between them hidden under the Mayan blanket patterned with an evil looking red and black snake.

            She said.  "Do you know how much that's worth in Toronto?"    

            Bigfoot frowned, "Enough to kill for?" 

            He scanned the beach, peopled with sun-starved Swiss and Swedes, Dutch and Danes … lashings of lithe long-legged Europeans.  Jeez, licking his lips, he wondered about them, Europeans.  They were supposed to like it more than men.

            "We could sell it. No one would ever know,"  Leslie insistent, breaking into his thoughts, stroking him with that nice easy tone.

            A crocodile of oil-slicked Mexicans flip-flopped splay-footed down the sugar-sand, gringo groupies, rummaging the beach for Yanqui blondes, or elusive Europeans in search of excitement.  Bigfoot frowned at them, thinking, a bunch of fucking losers.  They had no money and no way of getting any outside of knocking somebody on the head - like tourists.

            "I know."  Bigfoot gave her a look then shifted his bushy gaze to the sea, the sea with its subtle layers of emerald green fringed by palm trees and miles of golden sand.  He sighed seeing the travel poster on his office wall with the girl in her string bikini, hair tied back, the hint of a wanton smile on her lips with the promise of more to come.  She was running out of the ocean, laughing, her skin beaded with sea water. And here he was with Leslie and still thinking of the damn picture and beginning to worry about the white brick under the blanket.  The evil snake glowering on the towel bothering him,  shit, he could end up behind bars.

            "What's the matter, honey?" Leslie's warm voice cooed. "Tell mama."

            What he'd like to do was lean over and pull her hair loose, slip the tie on her string bikini, but he said, "nothing, it's hot that's all."  Leslie's bantering tone was beginning to wear thin.  Sure she was cute, but weren't they all.  He didn't like to let them get too deep, too close, let them inside his guard.  Next thing you knew they were talking about feelings instead of fucking.  God, who was he kidding, this was the first time he'd gotten up the nerve to ask anyone on vacation and here he was bragging, bullshitting himself.  He turned over, sprawling on the blanket blocking out glaring red and white reptile.

            Virgil Judd, nick-named Bigfoot by his staff, was an overweight, medium-sized,

grey-eyed, brushy-browed lumbering country boy from Orangeville.  He’d burrowed his way through college devouring book after book while his college buddies were out partying. Well it worked. He knew he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawer, as his mean-minded father constantly reminded him.  But he’d made it and he had his naked inscribed on a bronze plaque on his office door.

Bigfoot had been day-dreaming, looking at the blue-sky on the holiday poster on the corridor wall outside his office. He was day-dreaming again.  Leslie, an accountant with an actuary company, was conducting an audit at his office.  She'd sashayed past his glass-walled office with a sheaf of computer print-outs and a knowing smile - exotica stifled in a high-necked school teacher's blouse.  He'd been seduced by her red-lacquered lips set in an O.  A tempting pouting O with their promise of heaven.  He'd sat shuffling financial reports unable to concentrate, fantasizing, imagining her warm moist body - her pouting lips dragging the sperm from the soles of his feet.

            On impulse he'd asked her down to Mexico, and jeez, she'd gone for it.  Councilor Mario Borghese handled the tickets by way of a favour.  Panic set in and he'd had a sleepless week sure she'd stand him-up at the airport check-in, but there she was looking like a million bucks in a tight fitting business suit she’d never bought at Wallmark.  He'd made a fuss at the airport bar, the waiters scurrying.  Then he'd blew it, poking himself in the eye with the straw from his drink, knocking a Bloody Mary over her school-white blouse.  She'd laughed, covered up his clumsiness.

            They took the early flight to Cancun, a local bus to Playa, then a bicycle-taxi to the palapa on the beach front next to Pedro's bar.  A couple of stiff shots of duty free vodka, a quick dip in the ocean, then Leslie waiting in the room.  He'd been sick with excitement.  His first black woman, the pungent smell of Africa between her legs.

            Taboo! 

            The room was hot, filled with a warm musky odor.  Her steepled breasts silhouetted against the sheets.  He'd moved to the bed, pinned her wrists above her head.  She knew it was her color he was raping.  Raping a myth, the myth of movies and magazines, video fantasies fulfilled.  She was excited too, biting his shoulder, tasting the spurt of blood.  He crushed his lips on hers, tasting himself.  He came in a heavy gush, thrashing like a whale out of water, then fell back his bushy brows knitted in surprise.

* * *

            Bigfoot watched the beach.  A supple Chinese girl with short stubby nipples strolled by.  He gazed after her, wondering.  The boyhood rumors about Oriental women, only one way to find out, he thought.  He grinned to himself, a day ago he'd been tongue tied - now he figured himself for a stud.

            Money! 

            Money was the answer.  They wanted you if you needed them.  If you had money, they needed you.  He thought of the white brick of dope then dismissed it from his mind.  Jeez, but what wouldn't he do with the stash that could bring.  Then the thought hit him hard. Bam!  That's why Leslie had said yes to the trip.  She thought he had money - real money.  A hidden stash, built on column after column of curlicue figures.  The knowing looks maybe because she figured he was embezzling - awarding contracts, taking secret commissions.  Kickbacks!

            She'd hit the nail on the head!

            But she only suspected.  She had no proof.  He tried to think back had he bragged.  Let loose his mouth trying to impress her.  Give her something to work on.

* * *

            What he'd like to do was disappear into the Mexican jungle after reading the registered letter he picked up at the registration desk. A blue envelope with the corporations coat of arms with its angry Blue Jay emblem looking like a sick seagull staring back at him.

A shiver ran down his back as he read the polite note from the City solicitor, on matching blue notepaper, asking him to return to Toronto at his earliest convenience to clear up some minor discrepancies.  No accusations mind you, not until they had him safely back in Canada.  He flinched at the realization that they already knew which hotel he was staying at. And frowned, thinking hard.  How did they know? His mouth ran dry as he reached for his drink gulping it down and reaching for the bottle.   

What if Leslie could sell the stuff, perhaps he wouldn't have to go back. His mind groping for a solution. Any solution that didn’t end in a jail cell.

            He flinched as Leslie ran her fingers through his thick thatch of chest hair that looked like, as a studio lighting guy had remarked, Julia Robert’s bush.  How to tell Leslie it wasn't doing it for him, it was annoying and chafed his chest skin.  He brushed her hand away.  Leslie whispered in his ear about a job, "I can help.  I've got a degree."

            A degree in shower curtains, Jud thought viciously.

            "Tonight by moonlight, I'll sing you Ariel's song."

            "Who the hell...."

            "...Temper," she admonished.  "The Tempest.  Shakespeare...."

            "...You read Shakespeare?"

            "A girl's got to do something in Grenada."

                       Under the greenwood tree

                       Who loves to lie with me.

                       And turn his merry note

                       Unto the sweet bird's throat

            Incongruous, lilting Shakespeare from this tall exquisite black beauty with the purple centered eyes. her face half hidden behind a curtain of dreadlocks.  Fascinated, he looked at her again, making his own rime.  Silky cerise cheongsam split up the side matching lips and lacquered smile.  Leslie smiled, her eyes soft and smoky like her voice.  Maybe something more to this girl, than he thought. Maybe he should pay her more attention. make double sure he didn’t let any thing slip.  He pointed to the Cessna dragging a sign across the sky,

                                               PEDROS PUNCH PARTY TONITE. 

            A wedge of pelicans skimmed the white capped waves.  An albatross spun imaginary circles in the sky.  Over the ocean, red and yellow para-gliders billowed like grotesque birds of prey.  At the pier the wump, wump, wump of sight-seeing helicopters rumbled the quiet afternoon.

            The Chinese girl passed again, Bigfoot imagined she gave him the eye. "Leslie, let's forget the smack and take a nap?" he said amazed at himself.  He seemed to want to do it every hour on the hour.  Jeez, he was even yelling olé when he came.

            He made love quickly, feverishly.  Leslie lay silent, aloof.  Bigfoot wondered if making love was the only time she was quiet. 

            Afterward she mumured, "Honey, you sure needed that."  Waiting until he was almost asleep luxuriating in the lazy afterglow of sex, she whispered. "I met a guy earlier, said he knew someone who might be interested in buying the stuff."

            Wide awake now. "I told you not to do anything.  The people who lost it might be looking for it. Jeez, Leslie, you could get us killed.  Some Mexican figures we got it - wants it back - we could be out of the picture, period.  You tell him you were joking.  How do you know he wasn't undercover, a cop or something?

            "Trust me, I know he wasn't a cop."

            "Why should I trust you?  You ever seen inside Mexican jails?  Just find the guy and tell him you were joking.  Where is the stuff anyway?"

            "It's in the bank in  . . . ."

            " . . . You opened an account with . . . ?"

            " . . . a safety deposit box."

            "How do you know this guy is straight," he said as if disinterested, changing his tune, impressed she’d done something smart, but playing it cool, keeping his thoughts to himself.

            * * *

            He dozed under the beach umbrella until the glotted German girl's voice woke him.  A tall girl bent over virtually shoving her rear-end in his face.  She was blonde, beautiful, and begging for it.  Bigfoot glanced at her boyfriend, a zit-faced anemic mess.  He sympathized with her.  She leaned to straighten her towel without bending her knees, giving him a shot.  Her thrill-filled bikini almost sliced her in two.  Bigfoot imagined himself with her in a whirlpool at some German spa sipping schnapps.

            "How do you know this guy wants the stuff is straight?"  Bigfoot asked again sneaking a glance at the German girl stretched full-length on her towel.

            Leslie frowned as Bigfoot checked-out the girl.  "That's the risk," she said. "The downside.  No risk, no pay.  But we're safe, we can't be reached.  No one knows we found it.  We tell him we brought it down with us.  We give him a sample and set up a meeting through a third party.  They’d never know you're in it."  She knew Bigfoot was thinking of the girls money could buy, knew he could be persuaded to deal if he thought there was no risk involved.

* * *

            Dusk seeped in under the thatch, a moist cloying sun-oiled Mexican night.  Colored strings of lights blinked beckoning the beach-lovers.  Pedro's restaurant humming with chatter, plummy English vowels, Irish brogue, phlegm filled Frisians, long jawed Texans, and the fast sing-song Spanish, por favor.

            Leslie’s slick profile silhouetted by candlelight whispered, "That's the guy at the door, with the Blue Jay sweat-shirt. The big guy."

            Bigfoot glanced casually at the 300lb Mexican Bluto dressed in grey slack slacks and sockless white loafers.  His trouser  crotch  hung down by his knees. Jeez he thought, the guy looks like the arse end of an elephant. The band started up, trumpet and sax playing in thirds like chainsaws.  Too much treble.  Too loud.  Tequila slammers smacking the bar like bullets. 

            "Olé! Olé!"

            The velvet smiling Mexican Elvis swung to and fro on the wall.  Its upper lip synched in a sneer.

            Bigfoot shouted, "Boost the bass man, too much top."  Jeez, they used enough treble to chop a tree down. The bass player nodding,"Si. S,”. Thinking his comments a compliment.

            Bigfoot's head throbbed from too much sun and booze.  His bones still stiff from the rattling Cancun bus ride.  Hours of scrabble scrub jungle, the bus leaking gasoline, the wait for the cab shared with the driver, his family and their pets.  Now his skin taut, burning, where the sun, sand and sea breeze had seized on his white northern skin. 

            Leslie ordered lobster off the chalkboard menu.  Bigfoot, asking for stuffed snapper, "Pescada," in bad Spanish.  He ransacked the fish with teeth and fingers, tearing out the octopus and squid, stuffing himself.  Chugging his Dos Equos, wiping his mouth with his sleeve and belching. He finished licking his fingers and swabbed mouth with slices of lime.  Leslie flinched with distaste as he sucked noisily at the flecks of fish stuck in his teeth. 

            Bigfoot's brows knitted as he peered at the mascot behind the bar with a puzzled expression.  The marionette with the distasteful leer and thick lipstick smear gave him the creeps.  It sat propped between a ketchup bottle on one side, a bottle of Johnny Walker red and a quart of Jim Beam on the other.  

* * *

            The band quit and the juke-box kicked in, Jimmy Buffet singing Margaritaville.  Bigfoot relaxed, this was more like it.  Boy, he'd heard the lyrics before, but this was different - this was living them.  What did Lennon say, “Life is what happens while you’re making plans,”  Well this was happening, he grinned  sipping his Classic Cola over crushed ice, tasting the tang of rum and looked at Leslie scintillating in red, asking her to dance, her silk dress soft to his touch.  A drink, dancing, rubbing himself against her. Just getting into a nice slow groove,  Neil Diamond’s throaty voice adding to it all when someone stopped the tape and the mariachi band back on stage picked up the song, a poignant trumpet breathing sadness into the night. 

            The beaded curtains rattled apart and a mustached bandido strutted into the room.  He wore a silver-bulleted bandoleer, embroidered shirt, oversized hat, and twin pearl-handled pistols strapped to his slim waist.  He stood like a Hollywood caricature of a Mexico cowboy tottering on four inch Cuban heels with a beautiful sequind-drenched blonde on his arm. Her blue eyes bright, catching the flashing lights, her face flushed with Tequila.

            The band struck up a fanfare, trumpets blaring.

            "Señors y Señoritas.  Flamenco!" 

            The wooden dance floor a cacophony of music and dancing – tambourines - hands clapping making the rhythm.  Skirts swirling, smooth olive thighs twisting and turning.

            "Olé! Olé!"

            The Bluto-shaped Mexican in the Blue Jay shirt strolled into the room with a tall slim girl in an orange-sherbet dress.  Her glossy gleamed-back hair, a long-thin nose, wide scornful lips.  A Chihuahuan cock-chomper, what he would give for a piece of that. Bigfoot watched the fat man carefully lower himself into a chair.

            "Did I mention, you're some heavy duty dude for a white guy."  Leslie said ego building, pumping Bigfoot up.  He was the one was going to have to meet Bluto and clinch the deal.  They didn't deal with women in Mexico even if you were a Blue Jay fan.

            "Really!  You mean that?"

            Leslie, “You know it, I was there, remember.”

            Bigfoot grew two inches, shrugging his shoulders off-hand, like they all said this.       

            Leslie watched the waiter tilting Ixtabentum, a honey mix of Kalua, brandy, and licorice into the uppermost glass at the top of the pyramid. Then lighting it, flames cascading from glass to glass like a waterfall of purple fire.  The mustached bandido joined them, slapping Bluto on the back and leering openly at the orange-sherbet girl, luring her outside with his eyes, provoking Blue Jay Bluto.

Sherbet girl’s nostrils flared contemptuously, sharp words like darts.  Bluto's Blue Jay hand sneaking for his stiletto.           

            Instantaneous combustion.  Pearl-handle pistols blasting Bluto onto the bandstand, emptying the floor of frenzied dancers.  On the wall, the velvet Mexican Elvis sagged, sneering, peppered with shots.  The sax player screamed his fingers trapped in mother-of-pearl keys, bolero jacket torn blotched with blood.  The trumpet shrieking!  Blue Jay Bluto splattered over the stage like a ranchero omelette.  Silver trumpets faded in glissandos, marimba mallets stuttered to a halt in a hail of bad notes.

             "Holy Mother of Mercy!" The orange-sherbet girl crossing herself, silver rosary flashing.

            Then pandemonium.  Screams like glass-shrieked mirrors.  Strobe lights imploding, neon fire dancing throwing shadows like liquid rain.  A terror stricken babel of voices.  Howling banshee ambulances.  Ketchup seeped like blood from the marionette.  Jim Beam empty, splintered glass, twisted bottle top.

            Policiá!  Papparazzi!

            Jeez, the press!"  Bigfoot found himself trembling, seeing himself in some hell-hole of a prison, prey to pimps and pornographers. "Son of a bitch!"

            A confusion of flash-bulbs popping, cameras snapping, sobbing Scandinavians. .  The police bristling like military, weapons enough for an insurrection. 

            "Jeez!  If the papers get this’? 

            "Mama's here.  Honey, mama'll take care of things."  Leslie's voice, whispering,urgent.  Now insistent in Spanish.  Now determined to protect Bigfoot.  And protect her investment in him.

            The policia  answering Leslie. "No podrá salir sin que los veamos."  He won't be able to leave without our seeing him."

            Leslie, "Es que nunca mato a nadie.  He has never killed anyone.  Look at him."

            The officer amused giving her the once over, placated.  Bigfoot sitting slumped over the table slobbering his Cuba Libre.

            "Buenas noches, Señorita,"  the officer said sympathetically, eyeing Bigfoot.

            "Easy honey."  Leslie took Bigfoot by the hand and led him down the sugared sand into the shadows and into the safety of their palapa.

* * *

            Bigfoot woke clutching his head.  Leslie was out somewhere with the aspirin in her purse.  He stumbled outside in T-shirt and shorts, the sun scorching his brain.

            "`ello, `ello."

            "Fuck-off, parrot."

            He had to get some aspirin.  He squished his eyes shut against the blinding sun.  Outside the street was crowded with beat-up pick-ups. The air gritty and thick, a mixture of limes, tanning oil and diesel fumes.  Jeez, the din, he thought.  Mufflers extra like air-conditioning, or radios with volume controls.  A band struck up.  Brassed off trumpets in thirds.  Omp pah pah with latin rhythms. 

            "Olé! Olé!."

            In the pharmaciá, quiet white coats moved reverently between the aisles straightening goods on the shelves like priests at the altar.  He stood in-line behind the cracked face Mayan women poking for pesetas to make exact change.  Jeez, his nerves jangled, women the world over holding up the check-out line for the exact persate or penny.

            "Gracias."  Bigfoot shoved the aspirins and handful of change into his pocket and fled into Pedro's bar next door. It was dark.  He blinked, his head better already. 

            "Como esta usted?"  The waiter giving him the once over.

            "Good. Bueno.  Gimme a shot of Tequila.  Make it two.  Dos, por favor."

            "Si, anything more?"

            "Yeah, shoot me." Bigfoot clutching his throbbing head.

            "Señor?"

            "Don't bother.  One more amigo?."

            Splat!

            Bigfoot jumped a mile as the waiter slammed the Tequila Slammer down on the marble bar saying, "You die, Señor."

            "Funny.  Very funny."  Bigfoot threw 2O,OOO pesetas on the counter and stood up.  The ketchup-smeared marionette propped against a bottle of Tequila gave him the that funny look.

            Behind the sneering dummy the mirror shattered.  Bigfoot sagged against the bar.  In the fractured mirror the bandido smiled, pearl handled pistols smoking.  Bigfoot's brow knitted in surprise.  He staggered to one knee his eyes misting over.  He thought he glimpsed Leslie looming in the gloom clutching the blue envelope and the white styrofoam brick as he slipped, his eyes misting over, to the floor.

* * *