The one window in his hospital room faced due North, so he was never able to actually see the sun. And, since he would likely never leave this room alive, that meant that he would never feel the direct warmth of the sun's light on his face again.

He had turned quite pasty as well as gaunt. Christobal had lost over 200 pounds now and was down to under 100. Sometimes he would have a phlegmy laugh about how he must have looked at the height (or width) of his obesity. Someone out there had that picture of him in a red Speedo at Sloane's pool party two summers ago. He wished he could see a copy of that now. He tried to imagine that image in his mind: A besotted queer weighing in at a cool 315 with a martini glass in one hand and the other flitting in mid-air as if to call attention to himself with a make-believe castanet. . . A receding hairline and jowls framed above a pair of moobs which literally made a flapping noise each time he took a step. . . Mockishly thin legs for a man of this size almost hidden by the enormous gut which all but covered up the little piece of bright red spandex hiding the nervous little apparatus. . . The little twitch in his suit which would finally seek out the death sentence . . . The sentence which would lead him to this dim hospital room where he could lie in a haze and look forward to a painful release.

He had usually kept his desires in check well enough to avoid the disease pits which had claimed so many of his friends and their friends. He had spent most of his emotional chips on Pedro, and (aside from that madness in Mexico so long ago with Sloane), there had only been half a dozen others to whom he'd ever released himself. The rest of his love life had been in his mind and his right hand. So what had happened at that pool party that hot August day to make him so reckless? He tried to put the pieces together in his morphined mind as he looked at the bibelot on his bedside table and then rang for the (not exactly ugly) black male nurse and some forgetfulness.


The experiment with religious salvation had not lasted long. Sondra had actually agreed to attend the church services with him after Pedro had left him in that desolate state, which seemed like a lifetime ago. The folks at the church were nice enough, but Sondra had wasted no time in treating the congregation like she would any of her other circle of friends, and soon it was no secret that the good folks had invited a couple of reprobates into their fold who were probably not going to be part of the Flock of the Lamb anytime in this lifetime. Sondra only went back once, but Christobal stuck out his attempt at redemption by way of the Blood of that same Lamb for almost a year. Toward the end of that year, no one at the church really wanted to speak to him. They would smile and nod, but then the whispering would begin with flimsy Orders of Service sheets held up to tight lips.

Those Christians really opened those tight lips when it was chow time, however; and they taught him how to enjoy food again. It seemed to him that they might have misunderstood the parable of the fatted calf somewhat. The potato salad and BBQ ribs and lemon meringue pies looked like false idols to him, but if all these good folks were digging in, the Lord must approve.

It astounded Christobal to watch himself rationalize somehow that God wanted him to substitute food for sex. He thought about the camel and the eye of the needle and he thought about Christ fasting while awaiting a confrontation with the Devil himself. And then he thought about how good those baked beans looked with that bacon on top.


So, one year and one hundred solid LDL markers later, he had left that church where the men played basketball while the women cooked their lunch. He hadn't seen Sondra or Sloane for months, and a part of him was curious as to whether they were living or dead. He called the last number he had for Sloane and got a message saying, "This number has been changed. The new number is ....." The new number had an exchange in an area which Sloane could have never afforded. This piqued Christobal's interest and he dialed the new number he'd been given.

"Who's calling," said the gruff voice on the line.

"I'm a friend of Gordon."

"They're all friends of Gordon, asshole. What's your name?"

"Tell him the Evil One is calling."

"You're fucking with me, right?"

"No, you tell him what I said and he'll know who I am."

The gruff-voiced fellow laid the phone down with a couple of grumbling "motherfuckers" and was gone for quite a while. Christobal could hear many voices in the background and the sound of splashing water. After about ten minutes, Sloane answered. "Is this you, you fat-assed queen? Goddammit, I thought you'd been pulled up by the Rapture to hear Sondra tell it. What happened? God couldn't lift your fat fucking carcass up in his glorious whirlwind? And how come I didn't read about this in the fucking paper? Where in the fuck are you?"

"I'm in the same apartment, Gordon. Where are you living?"

"I'm living large, asshole. I'm five by five out here in the valley. Hell, we're having a pool party. Why don't you get on your tricycle and haul your belarded butt out here? Shit, I might even have a little surprise for you, old buddy."

After hanging up, Christobal thought of at least a dozen reasons why he should forget this invitation. And then he called a cab.



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.


Let me step on the shoulders of giants, and inform you that a "bibelot" (pronounced bee b low or bee b loh) is a small decorative object. A classier word than tchotchke, it evokes images of small tables covered with tiny silver and crystal Swarowski objects... maybe even small porcelain items. A bibelot needs not to be kitsch.

Apparently the etymology boils down to the Latin word bellus, an adjective meaning "beautiful" (through French).

Bi`be*lot" (?), n. [F.]

A small decorative object without practical utility.

Her pictures, her furniture, and her bibelots. M. Crawford.


© Webster 1913.

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