Last night sweltered, hot and sticky. A sweaty twilight slid into pulsating reggaeton, and spicy Latin food from the cooking pot of a feisty Borinqueno named Sergio who celebrated the grand opening of his small restaurant on Miami Beach and insisted that nobody leave until after midnight. If it wasn’t for the laughter, the food, and Paco stealing a grope or two under the table littered with perspiring curvy glasses of amber beer and platters of half-eaten buffalo wings, Fan would have strutted her high-heeled butt out of there, supremely annoyed, and gone and sat in the car until her date Paco tore himself away from his cousin Sergio to take her to the place he had originally promised to take her: Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale.
They were supposed to have had dinner at Mangos–just the two of them. Then take a stroll out toward the intra-coastal to people-watch but particularly to drink in the views of the luxurious marine vessels berthed in private docks. Gleaming white sterns of luxury yachts rising up to overshadow the facades of the multi-million dollar water-front homes on the intra-coastal.
That was the vision she’d had of her evening out with Paco; a vision that faded fast in the haze of cigarette smoke, steam rising from platters, laughter competing with the lilting rolling pulse of the Latin reggae music. Of course she was more familiar with Bob Marley’s kind of reggae, but having lived a while in South Florida after being transplanted from New York by sour circumstances, reggaeton made her hips pulse the same way Marley’s and Beres and Sean Paul’s reggae music made her hips pulse.
She finally excused herself, smiling all the while so that Sergio would not think her rude and unfriendly, but she cussed in Paco’s ear so that only he could hear. He responded, “Lo siento, mi amor. I am sorry. We’ll leave real soon. Wait for me in the vehicle while I say my goodbyes.” She ignored his look, his leer as he handed her the keys. He obviously thought he was giving her a compliment.
She unlocked the vehicle in the reserved parking space and made herself comfortable in the front passenger seat. Her cell phone buzzed, its screen turning luminous in the half dark like a firefly. Annette, texting her for it seemed the millionth time that evening. She sympathized with Annette’s current plight but she wished Annette would allow her at least one evening out alone with a man–undisturbed. What the heck, Paco had already allowed his cousin’s impromptu grand opening to disturb what could have been a very satisfying evening for both her and Paco. Fan’s slender index finger slowly swiped her cellphone screen and opened the text message, just as Paco extricated himself from some clinging female arms in the front door of the restaurant as he tried to leave, talking in rapid-fire Spanish to not one, not two but three different females ranging in age from a pert dyed blond twenty something to a blue-rinsed abuela in a Hawaiian mou-mou. Fan rolled her eyes, sighed and returned her attention to her cell phone.
“Fan, don’t forget about my problem. I changed my mind. I want you to take me to see your officer friend at the police department. I need to do something. You said you would help me.”