I lit the Coleman lantern and Emiliano Zapata tottered off to his
“Where’s the lantern fuel?” Sam asked as the Coleman sputtered and faded.
“In the cabinet. Can you stick in Dr. Loco while you’re inside?” After eating, I was feeling frisky—maybe a little baila to “Muevetè” would be in order. Dr. Loco’s Rockin’ Jalepeño Band was made up of a bunch of university professors and students, some from Stanford, and often played in the Bay Area. I’d bought a cassette at a concert at College of Marin, one of my two tapes in Spanish. This would impress Fernando, I thought.
“Let’s listen to Simon and Garfunkle.”
“Trying to impress your new boyfriend?”
Oh, good lord, Sam had to go. Where was Fernando? It was completely dark and the roar of the waves breaking on the shore sounded closer and louder than before. The heat radiated out of the sandy ground in the cooling evening air and millions of stars pierced the navy blue sky. It would have been perfect, if only. . . .
“Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson . . .” played. I glared at Sam, but it was hard to be angry with Simon and Garfunkle singing. He screwed a new canister of propane onto the lantern, set the Coleman onto the table, lit it with a soft pop, sat down, and tossed the empty to me.
“So we’ll get out of here in the morning and go to Huatulco. Club Med. Without the Mexicans,” he said. “Hand me my book, would ya. It’s on top of the cabinet.”
“Sure,” I answered. I tossed the spent canister into the garbage bag and handed him a dog-eared paperback. Fernando had just stepped over the low wall surrounding the “house” and my stomach did that little baila—butterflies dancing—as the Maná song went.
“Hey. What’s up with the old lady?” I asked him, gesturing toward the wing chair.
“Religious. She doesn’t approve of men and women traveling together. I said you and Sam are married and she relaxed.” He drummed his fingers in time to the “59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin Groovy)” and smiled. “Me gusta mucho Simon y Garfunkle.”
“Hey, good musical choice, Sam. Fernando likes them too,” I said in English, and then in Spanish, “So you think we’re safe?”
“Ask him if these bandits are going to rob us in the night,” Sam demanded.
“We’ll be okay,” Fernando said.
“Okay? He said Okay?” Sam leaned around the hissing lantern to see me on the other side of the table.
“Sam, you’ve studied more Spanish than I have. You can understand him. We’re okay, and tomorrow, after checking this place out, we’ll leave.”
“What do you mean? We’re leaving first thing. As soon as it’s light.”
I rolled my eyes at Fernando, who could see me clearly. He jerked his head. “Come on, let’s go check out the beach,” he said.
“What did he say?”
“Fernando wants to know if we’d like to walk down to the beach.” Parsley perked up her ears at the word walk.
“And just leave our stuff alone? You go with your boyfriend, I’ll stay and watch camp,” he said, his words trailing off into the implied it’s what you want, poor me.
“Come, Sam. We’ll lock up. Everything will be fine,” I said crossing my fingers behind my back to mitigate my lie and stood up. Parsley woofed and bounded from under the table, snuffling and wagging into Fernando’s open hands. They’d already fallen in love, and I saw the shadow of recognition cross Sam’s eyes. He knew what was coming, perhaps before I did. If my dog loved him, I would too.
Sam got up and pushed past me into the bus “I’m going to bed. Take your key.” he almost spat the words at me.
Fernando had followed the exchange closely and asked, “¿Todo esta bien?”
“Si, vamanos a la playa, yes, let’s go to the beach,” I said and grabbed my chair.
He grinned and grabbed his.
“Night Sam,” I said as he slammed the camper’s door shut.
Fernando and I skirted around the silent hovel, guided by my flashlight. I flicked it off when we cleared the house and hit the deep sand shining under the brilliant sky. The waves breaking onto the shore rumbled peacefully, a lion purring in its slumber. The rich odor of un-groomed seashore tantalized my nose—it smelled like home or the home in Sausalito’s Waldo Point Harbor I’d given up to come on this crazy adventure. I felt a little prick of hot tears at the corners of my eyes. For just a moment I missed my houseboat and my funky Schoonmaker Building office, my eclectic bunch of bookkeeping and tax clients, my family, and yes, even the almost ten years I’d shared with Sam—but that had ended when he signed up as a contractor with the DEA and left to chase drug shipments through Belize and the jungles of Guatemala. He left me behind and I’d learned to live just fine without him, thank you very much. And now I was on my own quest. But what was I looking for?
Whatever I was after, the ghostly white beach, the rich balmy air, the gentle roar of the surf, the luminescent foam cresting off the waves, and a hot guy slipping his hand into mine as we trudged to the tide line was lighting me on fire. I trudged into my future, giddy with anticipation. The Past wasn’t going to hold me back, no matter how nostalgic—I was on my way.