I write this as I listen to Fonseca’s “El Arroyito.” I recall his smile and that moment.
I am in the restaurant below my apartment and my phone rings—it is Caballito. The background noise drowns the words, the words I have painfully anticipated. I bolt for the door—that is bolted. I am trapped. My breathing is heavy. And I fumble insanely, making a scene. Success. The warm air welcomes me. But the music and insufferable voices are simply replaced with the admonishment of the wind and an uncommon passing of trucks. I anticipate a siren next.
I retreat to a small refuge in the building’s façade. His tone is unyielding, his words abbreviated. And his anger, seething—horses’ nostrils flared.
I grasp for pieces of his diatribes, clumsily threading them together. “Enrique tells me everything.” I cannot comprehend what he is saying.
It was 4am. As Enrique rose from my sea of white and the athletes left my apartment, my thoughts shifted to Caballito. Despite my ditching him, he was and is the center.
Caballito and Jorge, his friend of 25 years, were walking to his car. The athletes to theirs. I lingered on the phone, waiting for the bang of the inevitable collision. Caballito proposed to pick me up. He hung up and I heard nothing more that evening of a collision. They arrived. Impatiently waiting, Jorge was sent, or came on his own accord, up my stairs. He grabbed me. Kissed me, or tried. I get in the car and we drive to Caballito’s. Where we danced to Fonseca. Where we had that moment.
Later, Jorge followed me to Caballito’s bed where Caballito was sleeping. When he too laid down, I left and chose the couch for the evening. Caballito awoke to put his arm around me and discovered Jorge. After which, Jorge left the bed and discovered me on the couch. He crawled behind me. His arm around me, spooning me and cuddling. I was three hours with sleep. Exhausted and half dreaming, I didn’t quite contemplate the light brushes against my shoulder. It was soothing and it felt amazing. Until, the hand traveled south and I was extracted violently from sleep as he discovered (luckily, just barely) I wax. I jumped up quickly. AHH
I recalled the evening. How much Jorge tried. I recalled the circles I danced and the attention I received. I sadly thought how insignificant I must be. What a statement when one’s friends, their kin, pursue you. I was angry at Caballito. Disgusted at Jorge and exhausted at his continued attempts. But, understanding. What boundaries does a non-relationship give?
In the morning, Caballito drove us home. He interrogated my leaving with the athletes. He told of the collision. And this is when he gifted me his succinct bye. Ok, so what. He knew I left with them. It wasn’t done on the sly.
But it was something. 38 hours. Of waiting. Until my phone rang in that restaurant. I couldn’t comprehend. What I did not know.
I am in my refuge. Phone to ear. FIghting off the noise. And Caballito’s words unveil that something happened. Something more than vodkas, waves, and my apartment. I am furious. Confused. Yet, enlightened to the anger, the countless hours of waiting. He says more. Something happened. I raise my voice. I walk in circles. “What I had a threesome with two 19 year old boys?” No, something with just Enrique. “And where was Marco?”
I then notice, I am on display. My refuge, a floor to ceiling window to the restaurant’s VIP table. They stare. I am but a movie. I turn away. To find I am imprisoned by the wind. My apartment steps tease me. I calculate the run, but my purse is sitting at the bar. I am having one of those public moments. Causing a scene. And I cannot escape for the fear that if I lose Caballito in this moment, I will lose him forever.
My words are strong. My voice frantic. In disbelief. We are fighting. Both. Screaming. This is an extreme first. I plead, hold on, for one minute. I run. Grab my purse. A spectacle.
My apartment. Dark. Empty. The ocean screams. The ocean is, for the first time, not calming. I, like a well-trained sailor, shutter the walls of windows. And I learn that Enrique told Caballito of an incident. Boasting of something in my hallway bathroom. My words stop. I don’t question. I don’t dispute. I cannot tell Caballito his son, his kin, his athlete, his confident, lied. I do however, recapitulate the evening, or rather from leaving the pool to arriving in his car. Jorge happened after. Thank god.
My story disproves Enrique’s lie. But, I am also willing to step down. I need not win this battle. I pale in significance. My phone beeps. It is dying. The avengers will not relent.
I laid, my head on the marble. Curled, like a fetus, I cling to my phone plugged into the wall. Beeping. Don’t die. I had waited 38 hours for this moment. The fight ended with me thanking him for his call. I told him while I was sorry he was angry, I prefer it to indifference. To him not caring. “If I didn’t care I would not have been so livid that I couldn’t speak to you for two days . . . I could not call you yesterday, because I couldn’t have lived with what I would have said.”
I am not a seeker of drama, not a screamer. Yet, I loved our fight. A smile formed. The first time in 38 hours.
In the conversations since, the lie, the evening, remains unmentioned. “Movie night?” he asks. “Yes,” I smile. A lie will watch us from the distance.