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105# Roses are red, balls are blue

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

-"A nice meal, a bottle of wine, and attention. That's all you need...'" Captain Rich

Dusk was the best time of the day. A light sea breeze freshened the hot afternoon and blew the dust out of our porch, ideally located along the river. We had visitors every day. Penelope, Sally, and even Karleen joined us after sunset. Evening plans started with a drink on the porch, and drinks on the porch often became the evening plan.

Our rooms were next to each other, all facing the river. James and Sally were on one extremity. I was in the middle and a gentleman named Rich had moved in the third room. Rich was in his sixties. He worked as a cargo boat captain and came to Mazunte between two contracts. We spent most our evenings on the porch, chilling or playing chess. Rich was quick with a joke, joyful and full of crazy stories. He could not get high because of his job, but he could drink. And so, Rich drank.

One evening after the girls had left, Rich and James asked me about Karleen. I told them that every move I attempted has failed, and that I was short of ideas. James expressed a compassionate silence, and Rich pointed out that we were February 12; two days toValentine’s day. "Even if they don't admit it, all women like a little romance", Rich said. James confirmed. He had everything planned for Sally, starting with roses. A romantic Valentine’s date could be my tipping point with Karleen.

James and Rich insisted that every detail counts. I texted Karleen to save her evening, for a surprise. We would meet on the beach in front of her house, one hour before sunset. It would be the romantic, intimate, infallible plan: the sunset picnic! A towel, wine, ice, cups, food, cutlery, weed, and mosquito repellent. Even condoms were on my list! I bought homemade empanadas and juicy mangos, pre-rolled two joints, got a bottle of white, ice, and loaded everything in my backpack. Good food, good drinks, and a magical scenery. If that doesn't cut it, I don't know what would.

My plan was to walk with Karleen on the beach until we could see the sun behind the cliff. She was swimming when I arrived. I took out my book and read on the sand, waiting. She came out of the ocean in her yellow bikini, dripping and shining like a Greek goddess. I sat there, looking at her, drinking in her body with my eyes.

We walked for almost an hour before we could see the sun. I laid down the towel on a flat rock, popped the wine and filled our cups. We were right on time. We sat facing the sun as it disappeared under the sharp sea line. "Cheers to the good life. Happy Valentines!"

San Agustinillo, Oaxaca. Mexico.

I finished my supper and cracked a joint, when Karleen asked me for a puff. I hesitated, remembering my last misadventure with Jackie. Karleen smoked cigarettes so I guessed it was okay. I handed her the joint. She took a short drag, a second one, and started coughing. She took a sip of wine and we watched the scenery in silence. I got closer, put my arm around her and caressed her face. She looked alarmed.

- I'm dizzy

- That’s the weed. It’s gonna pass. Here, have some mango.

An awkward silence ruined the moment.

- I don’t feel well.

- It’s alright. Take your time, you can lay down if you need to.

- I want to go home.

- Now!? The colors are about to come out. It’s the most beautiful time of the day.

- I want to go home.

- Relax. The dizziness is gonna pass.

- Take me home. NOW!

Her voice was sharp with mistrust. It triggered me. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and exhaled my anger. Fuck you! Leave if you want, I’m staying, I thought. Then the memory of Jackie fainting haunted me. It was dark and Karleen was tipsy, stoned, and alone. What if something happened?

The weight of responsibility crept on my shoulders. I saw Penelope, Jackie, Sandra, and all my female friends judging me. Blue balls it is…again! Rich is gonna laugh at this. Guilt took over pride. In the coldest tone, I mumbled:

- Help me pack. We’re leaving.


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