6.5.07

The Mexican Hat Dance

Laura pushed open the door to La Cita and beckoned me inside. "Age before beauty," she said while sporting her trademark grin that had gotten us into more trouble back in Long Beach than I care to remember.

"I hope that doesn't make me the responsible one," I shot back as I stepped into the dark interior of the bar. As our eyes adjusted to the spastic decor, I noticed we were not alone in our search for early morning booze. At the bar sat two older men of indiscernible Latin origin, four seats apart. Each looked like he was a leftover from the previous night's festivities, which wouldn't have surprised me. They gave me a brief glance and Laura a more discerning review. We took our seats at a table that was about ten feet from the door. It was damp. Hard to say what the source of said moisture had been and I didn't want to think about it. Instead I looked at Laura.

"So," I said.

"How's life in boystown? Are you adjusting well to the move?" Laura put her purse down between her legs and stared deeply into my eyes.

"Aren't we here to talk about the deep, dark secrets of our college professor?"

We are," she replied, "but we don't have drinks in our hands yet. Speaking of which..." She motioned to the middle-aged man behind the bar with a wave and a wink, causing him to immediately put down the glass he had been wiping clean and come over.

"Buneos días, señorita y señor. Can I get you something to drink?"

He stared lustfully at Laura's ample cleavage, as if the answer to his question lay there instead of upon her face. I couldn't help but smile as she too, glanced down at her tits before replying.

"Dos margaritas Cadillac, por favor. Y algunas virutas si usted no importa."

He looked at me and smiled. "Bueno. And for you, señor?"

Laura laughed. "I'm not sure I can handle two mags on my own. Yet. You might want to just order some breakfast."

"chorizo and eggs, please," I said.

"Good choice, señor. It's very delicious. I'll be right back with your margaritas."

I looked back at Laura. "You ordered us some chips, right?"

"You're getting better," she smiled. "And here I thought you were wasting your time in school learning French."

"Luckily the two are pretty similar. But to be honest, I was kind of guessing."

"good guess. So tell me about life with Jason. Is near-marital bliss all that it's cracked up to be?"

"You know, it's not quite what I expected, but it is really...nice."

Laura raised an eyebrow. "Nice? What the hell does that mean?"

"It means that living with Jason is nothing like what I expected in many ways. There are pleasant surprises and there are not-so-pleasant ones, but I'm having a wonderful time. For example, I'm not to thrilled about the neighborhood we live in, but our apartment is awesome. Since we live above Sunset, we're sort of halfway up into the hills. Jason calls it the "Swish Alps." We get cool evening drafts, which is good because I run warm and barely sleep with any covers on the bed as it is. And we have a huge patio that I spend way too much time gardening in."

"So then what's wrong with your neighborhood? It's like, one of the most expensive parts of town these days."

"Well, that's half the problem right there. The other half is the people who flock there at night to party. The only thing high real estate prices brings with it is high maintenance assholes who can't drive for shit. And their children." I was suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to spit. "I love Jason. I love the life that we're making for ourselves. But I really miss LB."

Laura nodded. "Yeah, I miss it to. And for what it's worth, the Valley ain't much better." The bartender swooped in on our table, delivering the drinks and chips. "Just in time," Laura sighed. "You looked like you were about to pull out a gun and go postal. Does WeHo really get on your nerve that much?"

Most of the time, yes. But like I said, there are a lot of good things about being where I am. Jason and I just don't plan on sticking around for very long."

"You're not going to leave SoCal though, are you?"

"I've thought about it, but no. Too hard to leave your hometown when it's so goddamn pretty all the time. All this town needs is a good earthquake to shake the nuts down from their treehouses. Then you and I both will find L.A. far more bearable."

"Joe, that's a terrible thing to say! Funny, but terrible."

"Like so many things in this town," I deadpanned. "But enough about my angst. I want to know what got your knickers in such a twist that you demanded an audience with moi."

"Well your highness, it started with professor Ray and the Rusty Pelican. I swear, I don't know why he didn't just ask for your phone number."

"Enough with the suspense already. And bring me another margarita!" I shouted. Perhaps a little too loud.

"Tequila's kicking in, eh? Good. So Ray and I headed over to the Pelican after my book signing and he promptly ordered us each an L.B. iced tea. He asked about my life and all the normal blabbity-blah blah stuff, then casually started asking about you. So I filled him on on what gory details I knew: doing well, living in sin, throwing a mean brunch during the pride festival. Then he started telling me about one of his friends, a guy named Karl Diessen.

"I figured Karl was some colleague of his, which turned out to be true. He's also a professor, but his specialty is California history. He teaches at UCLA. Anyway, Ray said that he really wanted you to talk to him. Wouldn't go into much detail about why, though he did say it's the kind of shit that you'd write a book about. His words, not mine."

"Well that's not much to go on," I sighed. "Here I though you were going to tell me some creepy ghost story."

"Well, there is a bit more to my tale," Laura said. "But first..." She took a healthy swig of her half-empty margarita. "Ray told me two other things, and only after I pressed him for an explanation. He said that Karl's friends are systematically disappearing."

"That's only one thing, Laura." I eyed her suspiciously. She stared back. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"

She grinned. "Hell yeah. But I honestly can't wait to see your face when you take a look at this."

Laura reached into her bag and pulled out a small silver metal box about the size of a booze flask. She held it up for me, turning it so I could see the strange etchings that were on what appeared to be the top. She passed it across the table. "Go ahead, open it. I dare you."

I picked it up. It felt like nothing. No, it felt less than weightless. There was a strange energy that I could feel around my entire hand, gently tugging it. "What the hell is that?"

Already with the questions and he hasn't even seen what's inside!" Her words were meant to be comical, but her expression was tense. I could tell she was on the tip of her seat.

I opened the box. And I gasped.

2 comments:

  1. I can't wait to find out what is in the box...

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG...more, more!

    ReplyDelete