10 – A Chance Meeting
Sean LePen rises early the morning after checking into the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, steps out on the balcony overlooking the plaza below. She stretches her arms toward the rising sun, and grins. What a gorgeous morning! She decides to shop for new clothes today. I’m sick of this jacket, of these shitty black pants. I’m sick of washing out my damn underwear every night! For the moment, however, when she showers she puts on the same underwear, stockings and outer clothing she wears for more than half a year.
She steps out of the hotel forty minutes later, walks toward the plaza. Along the edge of the huge square is a line of evenly spaced black iron benches. Most are empty, but on one Sean notices an odd couple — an old woman with a strange character sitting beside her. She watches them. The woman is small, even smaller than Sean herself. The elderly woman holds a large carpetbag on her lap and a long umbrella stands upright between her thighs, making her skirt hike up around her ankles. On the other hand, the man is young, dark skinned with a brown beret atop a head of black hair. He wears hideous forest green slacks and a boxy brown shirt that buttons down the front. On his side, under the long shirt, Sean is almost certain the man carries a handgun of some sort.
Sean leans against a small tree and crosses her ankles. She watches the interaction between the two. The woman is obviously trying to buy this man’s services. He’s interested but she’s not got enough money. Just as Sean thinks this, she sees the man turn in an abrupt manner and walk off. He doesn’t even look back. And the woman; she’s dejected. She’s trying to hire a gun. And the gun she wants is for a seriously dangerous job. Oh my.
Intrigued, Sean approaches the woman on the bench. She stands behind her a moment, listens. The old woman is softly crying. Sean comes around and sits down next to the woman.
Grandmama Maria stops crying. She looks at the young woman next to her. The woman is crystal white with blonde hair — still damp from the shower — that falls around her shoulders. Her eyes are sharp, bright blue. Maria moves the carpetbag from her lap, places it on the ground in front of her. She takes the umbrella, holds it straight out like a sword. She says, low but with a clear voice, “I know how to use this.”
“As a weapon,” says Sean. “I know, but you won’t need it. And it’s not going to rain this morning either.” Sean looks at the sky, winks at the old lady. She ventures, “What are you buying today?”
Maria shakes her head, says, “Nothing, señora.”
Sean says, “Too bad.”
Maria adds, “I have nothing of value on me, señora.”
“I realize that,” says Sean.
“What are you doing then?”
Sean says again, “What are you buying today?”
“Nothing you sell, señora.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” says Sean.
Grandmama Maria says, “I will be here tomorrow too.”
Sean stands. As she walks away, she says, “Then I will see you tomorrow, señora.”
Sean spends the morning in the shops near the plaza. She finds a pair of dark sunglasses, a cotton dress she likes, a white linen jacket that is long like her black one, and a pair of black and white sandals that almost fit her small feet. She buys these, folds them into a neat bundle that she places in one large shopping bag.
Then Sean looks for a bar or a cafe, stops in a tall side tent with a makeshift counter for a bar. She sits on a short wooden stool and orders a straight tequila with a slice of lime. The bartender — an old man with a handlebar mustache — pushes the glass at the woman. Sean downs the shot, and orders a draft beer.
“No draft, señora. Only bottles,” says the old man.
“Okay, sure,” says Sean.
The old man opens a small white cooler and pulls out a bottle, puts it on the counter. Sean takes the cold bottle of beer and slugs back a few mouthfuls. She wipes her chin, grins at the man behind the wooden slanted counter. She says, “I’m looking for a man with a brown beret and ugly green pants. You know a man like that?”
The old man stops, stares at the woman. He shakes his head, whispers, “No señora. I know of no such man.”
Sean looks at the clientele in the tent bar who are all men and who appear to work construction. They look hot and are dirty even this early in the day. Sean leans in, says to the bartender, “I’m hoping to purchase a gun.”
“A gun, señora?”
“Yes,” says Sean.
“Well, don’t ask for a man with a brown beret and green pants.”
“The gun,” says the bartender — here he grins broadly — “is likely to be a gun that puts a bullet in your —.” Here the man pokes Sean in the torso, between her small firm breasts. “This is where you will find a gun, señora.”
“Well,” says Sean, “thanks for the warning. But, I need a gun that I can point at that man’s chest.”
“You want to point a gun at Los Zetas?”
“Los Zetas?” asks Sean, though she recognizes the name of the Mexican drug cartel that the Cock likely deals with when he is alive.
“Los Zetas,” repeats the old man bartender.
The old man leans down, disappears briefly under the counter, comes back into view. In his right hand he holds an old towel in which something is wrapped. He places the towel on the counter, pushes it toward the young woman whose blue eyes sparkle like topaz. The old man says, “I will take four thousand pesos.”
“Three thousand five hundred.”
“May I?” asks Sean as she pulls back an edge of the towel to peer at the gun. The gun appears old, although the tent bar is dark. She bends close to the towel and smells the gun. He keeps it clean, well oiled. Sean looks at the bartender, whispers, “Loaded?”
“One full, another half.”
“Okay,” says Sean. She pulls out her wallet, opens it, counts out three thousand five hundred pesos, pushes the small stack of bills at the bartender. He takes the money while Sean puts the towel into her shopping bag. She then finishes her beer. When she puts down the empty bottle, the bartender offers her another. Sean declines, pays him for the beer, picks up her shopping bag, exits the tent into noonday sun and heat. She slides on her new dark sunglasses, then strolls through the narrow streets that surround the large square plaza.
Later in her hotel room, Sean unwraps the gun from the towel. She smiles. The weapon is a Beretta Px4 Storm Full. When Sean first sees the pistol in the darkened bar she hopes it’s a Beretta, but she’s not certain. She handles the weapon now as she sits cross-legged on the hotel bed. She stretches out the small towel, ejects the Beretta’s magazine, checks the chamber, then breaks down the gun. She takes a small cloth from the inside pocket of her jacket, unrolls it on the bed, then wipes down the gun parts. The gun is clean, as she surmises when she first smells it. She reassembles the weapon; smiles again. I made a good deal.
2014 Copyright by Carley Eason Evans
All Rights Reserved