Where Gringos Don’t Belong

Posted on July 28, 2015

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“Not right away, Jorge. Listen to me. Give her three days—three days at least if she doesn‟t call you. She‟s been through Hell—worse than Hell, she isn‟t herself, it‟s going to take time—a long time. All of them coming out—the women, that is—they‟re in shambles. You talked to Lucía, you heard. Help Pati, don‟t push her. Give her time, okay?”
“Sì pues,” he slid the cell phone into his pocket. Claudi, María Sal and Nick peered questioningly at him.
“Pati,” he told them, “she‟s been released.”
“She‟s here!”
“No. Her mother picked her up. She‟s—she‟s on her way to Mexico City.”
Vaguely he heard them exclaim Great! Wonderful! At last! as “Excuse me” he mumbled and stumbled towards his bedroom. He closed the door carefully in order not to slam it and buried his face in his hands. He desperately wanted to roll up into a tiny ball of tears but tears wouldn‟t come. Just hurt. Images he couldn‟t control. Voices. Patricia‟s desperate call
the night of the police assault; we‟re fucking her really good; Lucía Ramírez she looked like she was crying all of the time. Words from before the Night of Horror when he and Patricia were together, her strength when they made love, her laughter, all of it mixed up with the guilt her felt for having left her the night of the assault, for feeling as strongly as he did towards Claudi, his constant urge to strike out against something, someone, the armed police, the government…
Vaguely, in a different part of his awareness, he heard someone rap lightly on the door, then open it; without turning to look he knew it was Claudi.
“Jorge? You okay?”
Mumbling an affirmation he nodded, expecting her to put her arm around him, comfort him. But she remained apart and he realized that he needed to say something more.
“She, that is, Thelma, Thelma said Pati didn‟t want to see me. She didn‟t call. She, she doesn‟t want me to contact her.”
“So this is about you? Your feelings? Not her?”
Her voice, crisp, accusatory, drilled into him and he felt his shoulders stiffen.
“Both, about both. I, I just—“
“Look, I think it‟s wonderful she‟s been released. It‟s what we‟ve wanted for weeks, a month—longer. María Sal and Nick and I are going to celebrate it with a toast. We‟d like you to join us.”
Where Gringos Don’t Belong / Page 133
The door closed with an abrupt click! Devastated, totally alone, he sagged onto the bed. Wonderful that she‟s been released… Slowly the jumbled images began to clear enough that he could picture Claudi, stiff, stern, standing behind him, asking—demanding—so this is about you? and he wrapped his hands tightly around his shoulders to contain the shudders shaking his body. Then, inhaling deeply, he stood up, opened the bedroom door and walked into the livingroom.
“I‟m really thankful that‟s she‟s been released,” he said deliberately, facing the three of them and fighting to keep the tremors from infiltrating the words.
“It‟s what I‟ve been hoping for.”

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Posted in: Fiction