Cid Octavio Cortejo and I meet here because nobody else does. Not in the daytime. People take their kids to the park on Clinton that’s mulched at its base, from plastic slides to swings, and connected with monkey bars and floating tunnels...
Still loaded to the gunwales, I kick in the door and brandish my cutlass. The blade shimmers in the electric lanterns’ murky flames. I’m rusty on my hinges. You know how I get, Zaffy. “Scurvy dogs!” I say, but my intentions stick in my throat. All deadlights are on me.
“Welcome back, friend,” says a swarthy man with spectacles. He gestures to an empty seat in their circle. “Join us.”
The other participants, a rainbow of wretched humanity, shine their smiles at me, nodding. The ceilings are low, the light dim. The subterranean space always reminds me of the innards of a leaky schooner. I wander to a table littered with mangled pastries, grab a tiny cup and fill it with coffee. Hot but thin. I’d like to nip from the wineskin I took off that Spaniard near Hispañola, then funnel a spot of kill devil into my cup. But wouldn’t that defeat the purpose?
Gabe knew the kid wasn’t really named after him, but he still liked to say he was. He was the padrino, after all. Oscar’s girlfriend’s father and at least two other relatives were named Gabriel though, and Oscar and Lynette felt it necessary to bring that up whenever Gabe tried to boast. After the baptism they’d gone back to Lynette’s house, where Gabe took off his tie and ate carne asada and chicharrones and drank the good Stone beer he’d bought during his last trip to The Stuffed Sandwich on Las Tunas. The sun set and the grandparents wanted the party to end, but Oscar wanted to keep it going. Before Gabe knew what was happening, the keg was sitting in the bed of his truck, a silent stowaway. Then Oscar and Lynette started fighting, as usual, Oscar finally waving Gabe off and sending a text message later that the keg was Gabe’s and could he just bring it back the next day...
After sex I like to water the houseplants, share with them my body after fruitless mating and feel the heat of their little blossom breaths on my skin. Then the geese start up. I go to the kitchen window and there they are: going. Nina comes out looking like she’s about to cry, and part of me wants to go to her and tell her we’ll be fine without them. But these days all she cares about is that she’ll never see a goose again. She goes back to the bedroom and shuts the door.