Día de los Muertos: Chapter 20


Amigo Motel / 8:00 P.M.

Calhoun walked down the dark court of the Amigo Motel to his room on the end, furthest away from the street. He had two tickets to Mexico City in his pocket; he’d gone over his plan a dozen times on the way from his meeting with Slaughter. He got his room key out and unlocked the door. The phone started to ring in the darkness – the room’s phone old-fashioned, sounding with a bell. His heart began to pound involuntarily, almost painfully. For a moment he stood in the dark and listened to the bell-hammer. Frozen. Since the shot from the vet, his whole nervous system could go ballistic. He stared at nothing. The ringing suddenly stopped and he felt himself start to breath normally again. Can’t cave in now. Work the plan. Work the plan. He went to the window and closed the blinds. He walked through the dark to the closet and slipped off his jacket. He found a hanger and hung up his coat. He took a suitcase off the shelf and walked it to the bed and opened it. The phone started up again. He took his jeep keys and put them on the nightstand. It didn’t matter, he told himself. Nothing mattered anymore except leaving Tijuana. Nothing but leaving with her mattered. He would deliver this last cargo and then leave Tijuana for good. Forever.Calhoun turned around and walked toward the ringing. The phone stopped just as suddenly as it started, then started again. Over and over. He faced the telephone, afraid that it was El Cojo or the police checking to see if he was here. He wanted to tear the phone from the wall. He grabbed it with both hands, felt the hand set come off the cradle. He heard a voice.

“It’s me. It’s Breen… Vincent…? They’re here…in Tijuana at the office right now. They’re looking for you right now. I’ve got to go. Did you hear me?” Calhoun brought the phone to his ear.


“They have a list of places,” Breen said.

“I understand.”

“I’ll do what I can to…” the phone went dead. Calhoun sat down on the bed. He knocked the suitcase off angrily, then got up and walked across the courtyard to Celeste’s room. There was no time to pack now. They would take nothing.

He knocked and waited. There was a strange light on behind the curtains, a flickering light. There was no answer. He knocked again, nothing. He turned and looked through the courtyard to the street. He’d parked the jeep in the courtyard and wished he hadn’t. The police would be looking for it. He turned and faced her door, backed up and kicked it open. The lights were off. He switched the light on and looked for her.

“Hey, baby.”

For a long moment he was caught immobile, held by what he saw. He saw the candle, a small white one on top of a beer can, flickering. It gave the room its miserable light. There were big shadows on the wall behind them that acted out the nightmare. Paloma Vasco behind her with the thing on humping so she was big on the wall and Celeste, her face turned toward him, all of it on her face, every thrust in her eyes that caught the light of the candle. A car drove by behind him, the headlights shining into the room, and they didn’t stop.

“Stop it.” Calhoun heard the sound of his own enervated voice. Paloma Vasco turned and looked at him, her beautiful face darker in the shadows, smiling, thrusting her hips, quickening, as if to taunt him.

“Do you want me to stop, mi amor?” she said. Vasco was looking Calhoun dead in the face, not caring about the door being open or any of it. The thing was moving between them, Celeste reaching her hands up, climbing the wall slowly as she was fucked, trembling, climbing up the wall, green shadows on the wall and a yellow brightness that caught the expression of her face.

“I said, stop it.” Calhoun’s voice sounded strange and pathetic. He took his gun out and walked across the room. He could smell them. Paloma Vasco looked at him and kept humping, not afraid.

“She belongs to me. Not you,” Vasco said.

Calhoun raised the gun. He thought of shooting Vasco. He put the gun up against Vasco’s jaw. He could smell them even more strongly now. He could see Celeste’s face and the long line of her body and her hips in the candlelight. She was looking at him.

“Tell him…who you want,” Vasco said. Her hips saying it with her. Calhoun didn’t want to look down at her. He heard Celeste’s voice.

“I want you,” she said. “I want you. Oh god, I want you… Paloma, fuck me,” she said. Calhoun felt the gun pulled, Celeste had grabbed it and pointed it toward her own face.

“Please, don’t. Please…Vince. I need her.” He felt himself sink to his knees. Calhoun looked up again and for a moment he thought he was dreaming, that it was the vet’s shot, that it was a nightmare. Celeste was holding the gun, barely. Paloma Vasco was fucking her again. It wasn’t a dream because he heard Celeste and felt her clinging to the gun barrel, pulling it slowly to the rhythm of the fucking.

“Get out,” Vasco said. “Get out.” She reached down and made Celeste let go of the gun. Calhoun let go at the same time. It fell heavily on the floor at his feet. Vasco started laughing at him, laughing and fucking her with that thing on. He picked the gun up and walked out into the night.


Celeste came into the room while he tore up the tickets. It felt cold in the room. They were at his feet. He’d torn them and torn them into small pieces until they were too small to tear. She was wearing jeans and was barefoot, one of his shirts on.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“How long?”

“What does it matter?” He didn’t know. He couldn’t answer. She touched his hair, pushed it back on his forehead. Sat on the bed next to him.

“I want you both,” she said. He looked at her, the idea that it wasn’t over between them suddenly possible.

“Then come away with me,” he said.

“I don’t know what to do.” He turned and looked at her. She was flushed from the lovemaking. She looked more beautiful now than she ever had. “I thought you were going to shoot her,” she said.

“I almost did.”

“I want you both,” she said. “Is that wrong? I want you both. I’d like to make love to you both. Right now. That’s why I came here. She’s waiting for us. She says she… Vincent, she said you…”

“You’re crazy.”

“No. I want to make love to you both at the same time. That’s what I want. I want you both. Why can’t we? Why? Why?” She was speaking very softly. She touched his face, kissed him.

“Because. I can’t, that’s why. You’re sick.”

“Why, because I want two people?”

“No. I don’t know.” He didn’t know what to say. It was as if he were drowning. “I want you with me,” he said, as if that was somehow an explanation. “We’ll go away. I’ll take care of you. That’s what I want,” he said. “I want you for myself.”

“You mean like a car. I’m not a car, Vincent, or a bank account.”

“Don’t you understand, I love you, it’s not about all that.” He pointed to the outside. “I love you.” He turned around and put his hand on her leg. “I loved you all this time.”

“What about Paloma?” she said. He shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“Come back with me.” She stood up. Her shirt was open. She grabbed him by the hand. “I’m this way. I want you both. If you want me, you have to have me this way or not at all,” she said. “Give me the gun.” She pulled his jacket back and lifted his automatic out of the holster under his arm. She took it and slid it in the front of her jeans. He looked at it. The door was pushed open; they both looked up. Vasco was standing in the door. She was wearing a robe, black satin. Her black hair fell on it.

Celeste took off her shirt. Vasco moved across the room. She had it in her hand, dangling. The dildo and belt it was on.

“He’s beautiful. I told you, look at him,” Celeste said.

“Not like a woman,” Vasco said. She stepped closer into the room. For some reason Calhoun was afraid of her in a way he’d never been afraid of any man. She slid her robe off her shoulders and let it fall to the floor. He saw how tall Vasco was. She looked like a brown Amazon.

“Well? Who’s more beautiful?” Vasco said. They both looked at Celeste. Celeste had climbed to the center of the bed.

“She doesn’t care,” Vasco said. The phone started to ring again.

“You nodded off,” she said. Celeste was looking down at him. Calhoun tried to sit up. He tried to swing his legs over the bed. He got one leg over and stopped trying. It was as if he suddenly weighed a thousand pounds. The fever was back and different now. He looked at Celeste’s face. It turned into a pattern, like cards. There were seven or eight Celestes looking down at him. Her mouths moved. He closed his eyes. “Where is she…Vasco?”

“She’s gone,” Celeste said.

“What time is it?” he asked. It felt hot in the room. He touched his face. It was burning up. He lifted up his head and looked at the clock on the table but couldn’t make out the blurred digital image. He was naked, just a sheet over him. He felt the warm touch of her along the length of his body. She climbed up on him.

“Almost nine o’clock,” she said.

He looked into her eyes. He waited for his vision to be normal again, then reached out for her. Held her. He felt his arms circling her naked waist. Celeste looked at him. Kissed his face. He pulled her closer to him in the dark

“I want you to leave here with me,” he said. “We’ll go to Mexico City.”

“What about Paloma? I can’t change who I am,” she said.

“I’m taking her and her parents across tonight. Did she tell you that?” Calhoun said. Celeste nodded her head. “She’s going to America.”

“Yes…I know.”

“Then it will be over between you.”

“Yes.” Celeste rolled over away from him. He looked at her back. He put his face against it, felt her backbone, ran his finger along it.

“Then it will just be you and me?”

“All right.” He got out of bed slowly. Turned the light on, put his pants on.

“We have to leave here. The police are looking for me. I want you to go to the central police station, ask for Miguel Castro. I want you to wait there with him until you hear from me.” Calhoun turned her around.

“Celeste, do you love me?” She nodded her head.

“Yes…that’s the problem. I do,” she said.


“Vincent… You promise you’ll still take her tonight. Paloma and her parents, for me.”

“I promise,” he said. He got dressed. There were a thousand things they didn’t say to each other.

“You promise me,” she said again while she dressed.

“I promise you.”

“You liked it, didn’t you? She said. He was putting his shoes on. He thought back to the moments of passion. Of watching her come.

“No. I tried, but I didn’t,” he said. “It’s different when you love someone,” he said.


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