Pedro watched the girlish cabana boy from behind the weave of his pink straw hat, chin resting in the crook of his arm. His forearm was sandy and his dark brown skin smelled of Bain de Soleil and marijuana resin. He would've nodded off to sleep, but he liked the cabana boy's round fat culo and the cabana boy knew it.
Evil stopped, looked back flirtatiously at this lithe newcomer to his part of la playa, and smiled happily. It was love at first sight and not even noon.
He nodded to the bank manager and they turned their keys. The manager nodded back and left Pedro alone with his thoughts.
Pedro noticed that his knuckles were skinned, still bleeding, and as he piled the stacks of fresh bills into his safety deposit box, his mind drifted back to a simpler time:
The old days. Puerto Vallarta. Good. The town was still sleepy. There was only one road from the little aeropuerto, and just two flights a day brought los turistas to the Hotel Conceptión. Christobal Bielorrusia, the boy who grew up, ironically, to be known as the Evil One, made his living bringing beach towels and drinks to the norteamericanos. His first lover, Pedro, was a whore.
Pedro Chocolates was Native Mexican, born in Mismaloya, a poor village south of PV where John Huston filmed The Night of the Iguana with Eva Gardner and Richard Burton. Pedro turned his first trick at the age of eleven. The assistant make-up man gave him five dollars American and a canker sore. Pedro enjoyed the experience for the most part, enjoyed the money more, and managed to invest the five dollars in an ounce of marijuana and a new shirt. Una camisa guapa. By the time he was fifteen he had two hundred thousand American dollars in the bank. Pedro Chocolates made things happen.
Evil fell in love at first sight. Whether it was ever anything more than just a "marriage" of convenience was irrelevant. When Pedro was not with the Americans, he was with the Evil One. He took a job as a cabana boy too, the better to meet the rich ones, and business had never been better-mixed with pleasure than that summer on the beach. They were so happy together.
Christobal leafed slowly through his fotografías as he awaited the taxicab to his future: There they were that Easter Sunday in Manzanillo, Pedro looking so apuesto, so handsome. Pedro was smiling, something he almost never did anymore, unless he was working por timo, a con, a ripoff, an angle. Pedro never smiled anymore. Christobal turned the page:
And there they were on the set, the day Sloane met Sondra, the four of them so delirious with joy, awash in drugs and booze and sex.
This is what he had learned: as good as it was, new, with a stranger—Exploring. Size, shape, texture, smell. Style, rhythm, intention, experimentation—as good as it was, in time one grew bored.
Time, in fact, had brought Evil yet another realization: He ached still for Pedro. In Pedro's arms he was at peace. With Pedro's voice in his ear he had no fear. And Pedro's manhood…
As the church bell rang for vespers, Christobal experienced the first of what were to be many doubts about this latest turn in his life. The cab driver honked, impatient, inharmonious with the bell turned suddenly ominous.
Pedro stared at the pornographic bibelot, dangling from the mirror of his Volkswagon Rabbit, tongue and genitals lolling like Aztec fetishes. The pinche sign at the on-ramp said three cars per green and here they were, waiting, at the mercy of a freeway-full of immigrants who couldn't read, and natives who couldn't break old habits.
He tried to imagine what the scene at Sloane's would be like. Would it be like the old days, wine flowing like blood at Tenochtitlán, girls and boys free for the asking, like the cocaine, which was the only material thing they all had in common in the first place? Would Sondra be there, the only woman who had ever tempted him to go the other way? And, truly, was it possible that Cristobal was still alive, his Evil One, his Cabana Boy of Paradise?
The air-horn of a big diesel tractor on his rear startled Pedro, and as he smoothed out the clutch, the bibelot wagged lasciviously, to and fro. The Valley was twenty minutes away. All would soon become clear.