home | login | register | DMCA | contacts | help | donate |      


my bookshelf | genres | recommend | rating of books | rating of authors | reviews | new | | collections | | | add

* * *

Moran opened his eyes to see the balcony in sunlight, the sheer draperies stirring, puffing in the breeze. Facing away from Mary he felt her move and get out of bed saying, Yuuuk, I drank too much wine. Moving toward the bathroom her voice said, What time is he going to call?

I dont know, maybe he wont Mary?


The guy I shot was right-handed.

She said, You can remember that?

He heard the bathroom door close. He lay staring at the clear sky framed within the balcony, hearing the water running in the bathroom, thinking of the swimming pool then and winter ballplayers. The bathroom door opened again and Marys voice said, I forgot. I brushed my teeth and drank the water. She came into his view, her slim body in the nightgown clearly defined against the sunlight. If Im gonna die I dont want it to be from drinking water.

Moran said, I can see him holding his weapon and he was right-handed. Somebody shoots at you you can close your eyes and see it anytime you want. He wasnt that far away.

She turned from the sunlight, eyebrows raised in question, her face clean and alive.

He was wearing a Cincinnati Reds baseball cap, Moran said, an old one. I can still see him.

In Boca Chica, twenty miles from Santo Domingo and twenty years ago, the home of a wealthy family close to Trujillo was confiscated soon after his death, turned into a clubhouse by the sea and passed along to a succession of young men who drank rum and looked for girls and sold goods on the black market. The house now stood in an old section of the resort community that was decaying, losing itself to debris and tropical vegetation. Nearby was a beachfront caf'e that had once been a gas station but now seemed dirtier with its litter of paper cups and ice-cream wrappers that were never picked up. There was blue Spanish tile in the mens room where, to Rafis recollection, the toilet had never flushed. Late in the morning he would walk from the house to the caf'e for his coffee or sometimes a Coca-Cola and sit outside beneath the portico at a metal table. He made phone calls from the caf'e and brought girls here that he picked up on the beach, to buy them treats and eventually talk business. In an informal way the caf'e was his office.

This morning he was interviewing a girl by the name of Loret. She was seventeen and had some good points, some not so good. She was attractive, she seemed intelligent enough-at least not out of the cane-but she was sullen; her normal expression was a frown, almost a scowl.

Smile, Rafi said.

Sitting with her can of Seven-Up, Loret bared small teeth. Her smile seemed defensive.

Relax and do it again Thats better. Now relax your smile very slowly There. Thats the expression you want on your face. Very nice. And sit up straight; dont slouch like that.

For a girl so small her breasts seemed to fill her T-shirt and pull her shoulders forward with their weight.

What do you use on your hair?

A rinse, I make it lighter. It was a shade of henna, too bright for her tawny skin.

Maybe well put it back the way it was.

I like this, Loret said, touching her wiry hair. I dont want to look Negro.

This increased her sullen expression and Rafi told her, again, to smile. You want to be rich, you have to learn how to smile.

What do I get? the girl asked him.

The world, Rafi said.

She could have it. Hed settle for a home in the embassy section of town, a few servants, an armed guard at the gate hed present with a cigar each evening as he drove out in his Mercedes.

Rafi had been hustling since he was seventeen years old, since working the aduana trade during the revolution of 65 when they looted the customhouse and the docks along the Ozama and sold everything on the black. TV sets, transistor radios, tires, Japanese bikes. It had been a training ground: learning how to get ahead when you begin with nothing. But he was up and down, spending half what he earned on his appearance, to look good in the hotel lobbies, and he had nothing of substance to rely on for a steady income. The few girls he managed worked when they felt like it and cheated him when they did. Hed threaten to cut them with a knife and theyd give him big innocent eyes. Lorets look was more sulk than innocence.

Push your lower lip out a little more.

What do I get for this?

He loved her more each time she said it. It was a sign she was moved by greed.

Push the lip out Yes, a nice pout, I like that. Aw, you look so sad. Let me see a little more-youre filled with a great sorrow Yes, thats good. Begin to believe youre very depressed. You feel lost.

She said, You better tell me what I get.

Tell me what you want, Rafi said. But not yet. Youre too depressed. Something terrible happened to your sister that you loved very much

He cocked his head at different angles to study the sad little girl. Not bad. The breasts were a bonus. She would have to be rehearsed, of course; still, he knew he was very close to what he needed. Work with Loret the rest of the day. Present her sometime tomorrow.

In the meantime he should pay his respects. Call the Marine and tell him youre onto something but dont tell him what. Youll get back to him later this evening. Yes, you want to look industrious. You dont want to seem to be just hanging around.

He called the hotel and asked for 537.

When there was no answer he got the operator again and asked if Mr. Moran had left word where he would be.

The operator said, Mr. Moran has checked out.

What do you mean hes checked out? Give me the desk. He was sure there was a mistake. But when he spoke to the clerk he was told, Yes, Mr. Moran has checked out. What about Mrs. Delaney? Yes, she also.

Rafi said, Did Moran leave a message-Im sure he did-for Rafi Amado?

The desk clerk said, Just a moment. He came back to the phone and said, No, theres nothing for you here.

| Cat Chaser | c