Confused, bewildered, and fighting back panic, Bubbles tries to settle down and think. Could they have been robbed? No, nothing of hers was missing. There’s no sign of ransacking. Everything—but Marco’s stuff—all in place. Could he be staying with his rock climbing buddy, Eddie? Marco didn’t mention anything about that, and he left this morning with just his climbing gear and his lunch. Well, she’d better try and call Eddie. He’s gotta know something.  She’ll have to pull herself together and go out to the corner store and buy a phone card to use the public phone. The phone in the apartment was dead (figures), and Marco had convinced her that it was too expensive to get cell service for the short they’d be in Rio (typical). Thank god she had her address book in the apartment and not in her handbag.

After the treacherous trip down the stairs, Bubbles laboriously makes her way down to the store where she buys a couple of phone cards, some smokes and something to eat. Food helps ease the shakiness, and thankfully the phone on the street was nearby in a well-lit spot on a busy corner. As she dialed Eddie’s number she remembered that Marco had been reluctant to give it to her. She insisted, and he finally relented, but what was that all about?

“Hey, Is this Eddie? Yeah, this is Bubbles. You know, Marco’s friend? Yeah. Hey, is he there with you? No? Well, when did you guys get back from rock climbing, cuz he’s still not . . . He didn’t show? You didn’t see him at all? You’ve been back since when? No, Marco left this morning at 7:30, said he was meeting you at the café. Yeah. He didn’t call or anything? Well, I don’t KNOW where he is. That’s why I’m calling! This is crazy shit, Eddie. I broke my leg today. Really! Yeah, my leg! What a crazy fucking, fucked-up day! And get this—all his shit is gone from the apartment. Everything! Listen, I gotta go. If you hear anything, will you come by the apartment and let me know? Thanks. I don’t know, Eddie. I don’t know if everything’s gonna be alright. I don’t know what to think.”

Bubbles hangs up the phone and drags herself over to a bench. What did Eddie mean, “Marco’s always up to some crazy shit?” Tears cloud her eyes, blurring the scene before her. Nighttime Rio, noisy and crowded, a swirl of colors and sounds, everything incomprehensible, disorienting. She’s never felt so lost and out of place before. What’s she going to do now? She has her plane ticket, but no I.D. Would they let her on the plane to go home? Has she got enough money to make it back? Maybe Marco will be there when she gets back. “Oh, god, let him be there when I get back.” A light rain falls as she begins the slow trek back to the apartment. She pauses under an eave to pull out a smoke. She fumbles with the pack, angrily tearing off the cellophane, and in her haste, manages to drop the pack into a puddle in the street. Desperately she snatches the pack and shakes out the soggy cigarettes. Shit! Two, maybe three survive. She lets the drowning victims fall from her hand into the street, casts her eyes to the heavens, breathes a heavy sigh and continues on her way.

Finally reaching the landing at the top of the stairs, she holds her breath and says a little prayer. She turns the key and leans hard into the door. It swings open with a bang, sending the cat scampering from the kitchen, the wastebasket toppled, garbage strewn around the floor. “Marco? Goddamn you, where are you?” She slams the door and flings her crutch at the cat, who has returned to peer at her from the bedroom doorway. She forces back the urge to throw herself on the floor and collapse in a pool of self-pitying rage. “Chill, chill, chill. You’re a big girl, you can deal with this. A bath. That’s it. That’s what I need.” She snaps on the light to the bathroom, sending some crawly things scurrying for the cracks and crevasses. “I’ll pretend I didn’t see that.” She lights up one of the last of the salvaged smokes, cranks on the spigots to the tub, setting the pipes to banging and groaning. In the bedroom, she throws off her damp clothes and grabs a towel. Back in the bathroom she sits on the john and fusses around with the cast—should she take it off or not?—deciding it’s best to leave it on and just hang her leg out of the tub. She turns to find the tub three quarters filled . . . with brown water. Not kind-of brown. Really brown. Like fifty gallons of coffee. She sits on the floor and sobs a bit, then calmly turns off the water, pulls the plug and calls it a day.

Bubbles Meets the Prince of Darkness
International Assholes' Day
Bubbles Runs the Voodoo Down
Bubbles Takes a Magic Carpet Ride
Big Brown lets Bubbles Down
Bubbles, Baked and Fried
Bubbles, Biff and Binny
Bubbles and the 99 cent Epiphany
Bubbles' Trip To See the Doctor
The Doctor and the Prince of Darkness Meet Again
The Doctor and the Naked Glory
More Troubles for Bubbles
What a Lame Vacation
Cristo Redentor
In Careless Act, 17 Drown, 3 Survive.

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