Read Part One | Read Part Two
At the small harbour, Edward asks the first fisherman how much to take him out to the island. The answer is five pesos – as it always is – and Edward haggles – as he always does. He asks the next fisherman, the next, and the next until, after swears and curses, a little push and shove, he reaches the last boat. The boat is painted yellow and turquoise, the colours separated by a line of white upon which he reads the words: "Delia Elena San Marco."
Su madre? he says to the young boy sitting on the harbour wall.
The boy stares ahead, spits out a piece of melon rind, stands.
Isla de Huesos, Edward says, his chin gesturing to the island. The boy looks back towards the men who are huddled in a group, some grabbing at their balls, others kissing their fingers while calling out Pepita's name.
Cinco, the boy says.
Más adelante, says Edward.
You no pay, you no go, the boy says.
Edward looks back at the men who, now bored by their quarry, are returning to their boats, their nets, and their tequila. Edward takes the map from his pocket and shows it to the boy.
Mucho dinero, Edward says.
You pay now, says the boy.
Bollocks, Edward says and turns to walk away.
Pepita, says the boy.
Pepita, says the boy and makes the shape of a woman with his hands.
Who's that? says Edward and laughs, OK. Pepita. Más adelante, Edward says.
OK, says the boy.
He can be no more than twelve years old, thinks Edward. The boy's body, taut, whiplike, is already muscular. Edward smiles at the thought of introducing him to Peppy. He smiles again, and says,
If you had breasts, you could be her twin sister.
¿Que? says the boy.
Doesn't matter, Edward says.
The sea is calm and Edward can just make out the island in the distance. Pepita had gone home alone. Back to the hut, the pit, the crash-pad. She'd probably be soaking in the tin bath, having spent the ten pesos on soaps and fancy shampoos. He couldn't go back there. Not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe never. Just one more trip to the island, one more picking over of the bones. Dreams were all he had left. At times, sitting in their tiny room, Edward would watch as Pepita drifted in and out of his vision. He wasn't sure if it was the peyote or the mescaline but sometimes she was fully there – her smell, her ugly toes, her fig-like breasts – and at other times there was a wisp of her, a faint outline, a whisper, and he would shake his head to pull her back to his dimension, his misery.
She believes in him. This is his problem. He is always one day away from giving it all up, returning to New York, reclaiming his squat, hanging around the park. He looks at the map and hears once more her tales of treasure – the pirates and the slaves, Henry Morgan and Captain Mission, the sea beasts that protect the island and the magick that benights it. The boy grins and points to the northwest.
I know, Edward says, I bloody know.
He is gone there, I can tell, Pepita says, pulling on her denim skirt.
Now? Today? says the man rising from the bed, running a hand along her spine while poking a ten-peso note into her waistband.
Yes. I see the look in his eyes. He not go for weeks and then today he has the look.
You want I should follow?
No. He knows the island like he knows me. He has been over every inch of us.
Why does he keep going back?
Because he is looking for something he will never find.
About the author:
Steve Finbow lives in London, very close to King's Cross Station. Next year he will live in Tokyo, very close to Shinjuku Station. Is this a terminal addiction? You can find out here http://indifferentmultiplicities.blogspot.com/ and here http://theglasshombre.blogspot.com/.
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