Carnaval

by Meg W. Stein

Walking through the strange streets, she felt like a stranger. Men called out to her in Spanish and whistled. Would they rape her around the next corner? Were they mocking her?

Narrow, cobbled streets tangled and intersected. It was a maze designed to make you forget you had somewhere to go.

She had no idea how she'd find her way back to the Pinuarita Promenade. Back to Cal and-- where were they meeting? Some nightclub called the Top Hat. Had he called it a disco?

The unfamiliar island city was caught in shadow. The narrow streets stifled her. She thought of trying to find Cal early, but then felt too angry with him to go. Why didn't he insist on going with me? She thought. What kind of guy would let a stranger in town go wandering off on her own?

Goddamn!

Her face felt flush from the heat. In her thin-soled sandals, her feet were tired and sore. Her sundress was wilted. She thought of Cal's crooked smile when he said, 'Why can't you just relax, Glory girl?' She took a deep breath and tried to relax, but the tension was set in her face as if in clay.

She came upon a bustling marketplace. Old Spanish women crowded around vegetable stands, filling their sacks with choice items for dinner. Tourists looked on, intrigued, as if something secret were going on. As if they'd forgotten that there was a country where they were the natives, where they haggled with grocers and shopped for food. Where they were on display like the tomatoes and tangerines.

Weary, Gloria sat down at a table at a sidewalk cafe. As she sat, the lop-sided table rocked back and forth. Damn! But she felt too self-conscious to get up and switch.

She motioned for the waiter and ordered wine. How does Cal live like this? The aimlessness of the days, the heavy drinking, the unrelenting heat. Through letters, she'd come to know him. But she didn't really know him at all.

A three legged dog hobbled through the courtyard before disappearing down street.

The waiter returned with her glass of Chablis. Before placing it before her, he took a dingy rag from his waist band and slid it across the table. The table rocked for him, as if performing. Unfazed, he took a used matchbook cover from his pocket and shoved it beneath one leg of the table. It helped a bit.

She handed him pesatas. He nodded and turned away. She wished her hair was thick and dark. She wished she wore a crucifix.

She wished she could pass for a native. But I'm an alien, she thought.

What's it like for Cal, she wondered, to be an alien among aliens? There was a whole little society on Canarita of expatriates like Cal. They'd lived there for years, barely learning to speak the language. By being foreigners, they could go by their own rules. They could exist in their own reality. The 'revolucion' was not theirs.

Just like the tourists, the expatriates overlooked the heart of the city. I want local color! She thought. I want to feel this city's heart beat like a hummingbird caught in my hand!

She watched the people. She envied the women, the natives in elaborate Carnaval costumes, confident in their chiffon and lace. She envied carefree, hollow-cheeked Moroccan's who sold their wooden carvings from table to table.

Another female tourist, Scandinavian perhaps, sat alone at a table beneath a Tia Maria umbrella. Her blouse was open to her navel, revealing a tanned and wrinkled cleavage that seemed to go on forever. She was smoking a thick, man-sized cigar. Did she do that at home? Or did she think that here no one would 'see' her?

The heat was intense. Murder weather. Gloria tipped her wine glass to her lips. Above the din of foreign languages, the buzz of crickets suddenly crackled to high voltage, and then stopped. Seemingly connected, the lights inside in the bar dimmed and brightened and then darkened.

A vampire swooped in and out. The lights came up again. Everyone acted as if nothing had happened. It was a conspiracy of silence. But who would awaken beside a body? Who would awaken holding the knife?

Gloria has a sudden urge to sleep with a native. Until I've been with a native, she thought, I haven't really been here.

She noticed a group of Spanish guys pointing toward her and talking. One broke away and walked up to her. His walk was cocky, his smile cocky.

He said, struggling with his English, "You wait for your boyfriend?"

"I'm meeting someone later," Gloria said.

He nodded and sat down across from her. He waved for a drink. He said, "I am Miguel."

"Gloria."

"Ah!" he said. "Gloria!" The waiter brought two more glasses of wine, which Miguel paid for. She let him pay. It was so much easier that way.

He smiled at her. He was tall and thin but strong looking. Maybe a physical laborer of some sort. His face was pockmarked like the grottoes which dotted Saint Bernadette Mountain. But Miguel's face was a deeper, browner color.

"You want to go to party with me?"

"I need to be heading out to the Promenade to meet my friend soon," she answered.

"Ah," he said. "This friend is a he--?"

She laughed awkwardly. "Yes, he. But, um, we're just friends."

"Ah! Well I can walk you back to your friend."

"I was going to just ask you to point me the right way."

"Oh no!" he said. "I will take you."

She didn't pay attention to the roads they were walking, she just followed along. How would Cal feel if she showed up with a guy? It might do Cal some good to see she's desirable.

"It is there," he said, pointing up the street.

"I see it now!" she said.

Up ahead were the restaurants and behind that, the lovely tiled boardwalk, the Pintuarita Promenade. She suspected that had she not been pointed to it directly, she would've missed it. She turned to thank Miguel.

Before she could get the words out, he was kissing her. His breath smelled slightly oniony, but then the kiss tasted okay. It wasn't too soppy anyway. She hated them too soppy.

She let him kiss her. A native, she thought. How could I leave without at least one kiss from a local boy?

His body pressed against her. She felt aroused. The strangeness. She let him push her out of the streetlight and back against the cool cement of a building.

I could marry Miguel, she thought, or someone like him. I could settle down in town here. Learn the language, learn the streets. Learn to shop at the marketplace. Make babies. I could keep a journal up in Daddy's trunk in the mountains just like he did. I could visit it once or twice a year. I could even visit the market at Marrakech.

His hand found its way up her dress and into her panties. He pressed her against the building. He had his cock out.

"What?" she said. It was muffled by his lips.

"Come on," he said, "we have time."

He pulled her dress up around her waist. Her panties weren't even pulled down, he just pulled the crotch over to one side.

"Is it big enough for you, American girl?" he asked.

She couldn't believe she heard that. "What?" She decided she didn't hear it.

He poked his big, hard dick at her. He kissed her again. She was no longer kissing back.

His cock moved between her thighs. He was fucking her even though he wasn't really inside of her. At the rate he's going, she thought, he'll be done soon. She wriggled against him, trying to speed him up. It worked. He came in a big splash.

Her thighs and underpants were a mess.

He was grinning. "Very good," he said. "American girls-- very hot. You no want to go to party?"

"I'm meeting someone," she said sheepishly.

"Okay." He zipped up his pants. "Bye, Gloria."

She walked carefully, trying not to get her dress wet. After he'd turned the corner, she stopped and ducked into the shadows beside a building. It looked residential and uninhabited at the same time.

Her thighs were chafed. She slipped off her panties and wiped Miguel's cum off her. She checked her white dress. Miraculously, it was still clean.

With her purse still slung over one shoulder, and her panties balled in her hand, she walked slowly back toward the Promenade.

Naked sandy children ran by laughing. She crossed the boardwalk to the ocean side as the laughter receded. She felt as if they had been laughing at her.

She stood on the edge of the lovely tiled boardwalk. The tide was high. She threw her panties out into the ocean. 'She and Billie Joe MacAllister was throwing something off the Tallahassee Bridge.' She knew they'd wash back ashore, but she'd be gone, and they'd be clean.


Copyright 1995
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