in Narrative

El Hombre Tacaño

We were seated in El Trapiche my second night back. Sancocho was ordered. But instead of eating it we were drinking and arguing about money.

Alex was angry I’d “only” spent $300 on “her regalos.” I heard the word “tacaño.” I reminded her I’d just spent $6k for her life-saving medical care. Perhaps I went too far when I suggested “her love should be more about giving and less about receiving.”

It went quickly downhill after that. I paid our tab and gave her more cash. I told her to get what she wanted. I was really thinking: maybe it’s time to move on.

Out front, Alex leaned in and kissed me. She smelled like jasmine. She gabbed my crotch and held it just long enough to get me hard. Then she insisted we hold hands.

I’d almost forgotten how persuasive she could be. We walked up Via Argentina until my erection softened. I stopped to look at the sky. Great, swirling grey-black clouds were forming above us.

I pulled my notebook and started writing: Girlfriend disappointed -still kinky. Lightening strikes getting closer and more frequent. Rain imminent. Find Weed. Soon the crocodiles will come …

In the midst of all that word genius, I became aware Alex had disappeared from my peripheral. It felt as if she’d been sucked away by a dark force. I looked up from my pad. She was running like a fiend for Calle Alberto Navarro.

I glanced up and down the street, hoping there were no witnesses to my shame. The streets were empty. Rain started to fall.

From under a palm I conjured Alex safely inside the apartment: closing the windows and slider, pulling in laundry, drying the wet floor. She was always helpful like that. A sweet and practical girl beneath a feral, escort persona.

How could I hurt her with the truth? How could I tell her I’d had all the “love” I could stomach? How could I tell her it was too late, that I’d seen too much?  What I’d been, and allowed myself to believe in, could never happen again.

It certainly wasn’t Alex’s fault though. I’m not even sure it was mine. The cumulative effects of betrayal, the kind of shitty things people do to get by, had damaged us both.

Rain pounded the buildings and cars around me. Water rolled down the glistening sidewalk, sloshing over my shoes. I ducked under the eave of a nearby building. In minutes the entire street had flooded.

In Panama, they say April’s the cruelest month. Because the sun’s at a more perpendicular angle, and the clouds are few. But I’d say it was that rainy November in El Cangrejo. Our last month together before the crocodiles came to tear us apart.

-Cojito @ Panama After Dark.

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