The ancient washing machine
is a jalopy of metallic complaints. And its symphony is a signal that anyone who didn’t get up earlier is in for a tepid shower because Leddie, who venerates the goddess of electricity to the point of fetish, has turned off the current that heats the Suicide Showers. That’s okay, it’s already 35 degrees in the shade.
Alex Vermeer has successfully negotiated the deal with Leddie in which room and board payment is deferred while he waits for his replacement ATM card
to arrive in Puerto Barrios
Guatemala, a sprawling gravy stain of a port town
. It’s a 20-minute boat ride and a distinct world away on the mainland.
The deal requires him to help Angela with hotel tasks for at least six hours a day. He’s sweeping the sand from the patio, which he swears he swept away an hour ago. Doesn’t matter; he gets to be near Angela and that means he’s in her aura for those golden hours each day. When he talks to her in passable Spanish
her breath reminds him of a meadow.
His buddy, the extremely hung over Lorne Cellini, is camped on a protesting and aging lounge chair medicating with Gatorade
and a cold wash cloth Angela has mercifully placed just above his bleary eyes. Worse agony than the “goma” is the sight of Vermeer now helping Angela onto a chair and steadying it so that she can reach the cobwebs in the patio’s high corners. She’s telling the spiders she’s sorry. They’re saying they’re cool with it and sending filaments of their silk onto her dark hair, giving it an unnamable glisten.
John and Veronica are finishing breakfast at a table near the suffering Cellini. They have a glow about them this morning, having celebrated to maximum benefit the aphrodisiac powers of last night’s Gifiti. They are clear headed and happy, a distinct contrast to the besotted lump beside them. To help cheer their new friend, they invite him to join them for a tour of the town and surroundings led by local Garifuna
guide, Daniel. He’s due to arrive at 10.
, thank you so much, but I think I’ll like just sit here wishing I was dead for a while and then maybe think about how to improve my walking mojo.” They see he is hell bent on his formula to invoke the magic that will send Angela into his arms, namely the nightly practice of walking backwards, beginning at the sea and then through the town’s main street. The ritual requires first dabbing his eyes with salt water, which burns like a bastard, turning in a circle three times, calling her name and then reverse gearing into town. ”I think I’ll try to get another appointment with Wanda, like that fortune teller girl? To see if I’m like doing this right or if I’m leaving something out.”
Veronica offers in a whisper, “Why don’t you try just talking to Angela?” This evokes a wince of pain. ”Nah. Like I don’t really speak Spanish and when I do try she’s all nice but I get nowhere. I’m like desperate.” Now he sighs so long and hard a drop of blood leaves his heart. Vermeer has Angela’s hand in his as he helps her down from her cobweb duty.
Just then, John and Veronica turn from Cellini’s anguish as Daniel arrives. While Veronica goes to get her water and backpack, Daniel turns his attention to Cellini. He knows the story and easily interprets his wretched state this morning. ”Mahn, you got to stop drinkin’ and smoking’ and walkin’ rear like you do. I see you last night splashin’ de water in your eyes and howling like a lunatic boy. Go talk to de girl you crazy-ass fool. And stay away from dat poor class of witch Wanda. She just be takin’ your money and laughin’ at you.”
They leave the love wounded and now even more slumped Cellini to his devotions. Veronica pats his shoulder as they go.
Once on the street, John smiles in sympathy and tells Daniel he basically said the same thing last night but it all fell on deaf multi-pierced ears
. ”Don’t you be discounting’ de magic,” Daniel cautions. ”Many times dat ass-forward walkin’ do de trick. But you got to be from here for it to work proper.”
John and Veronica share a look that says they agree to spend more time here than planned.
Then the three happily set off on a guided tour of Livingston Guatemala.