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Pepita looks out of the window, out to sea. The boy had told her that Edward asked him to leave him on the island, that he would stay the night, that the boy was to return in the morning to collect him. Pepita opens a chest that doubles as a table. From it, she pulls photographs — Edward and Pepita in the Horseshoe Bar — a young man, knife-thin, high cheekbones, acne scars stands in the background. Edward and Pepita at the beach — the same young man in profile at the edge of the photo, hand up to hide his features. Edward and Pepita outside their building — above them, the young man rests his arms on the balcony's balustrade, a thin line of spit hangs from his mouth, dropping down towards the couple.
Pepita starts to pack her things — there aren't many, and the last item she puts into the small holdall is a bag she has taken from beneath the floorboards. Before she places it among her scant belongings, she opens it and looks in; inside are hundreds of deep-green emeralds.
She closes the door behind her and walks across the square. Men hoot and gesture, yet she lifts her chin and continues to the harbour; there she will wait for a boat to take her along the coast to Cancun and then a flight to New York City. She stands on the edge of the dock, lifts her hand to her eyes, shades them, looks out to sea, awaits his return.
Blood drips from Edward's head along his nose and into his mouth. He can taste it, he tries to swallow but his tongue is tumid and the blood drops to the floor and sparkles carmine in the sun. He can think of nothing but the map. Knows he checked every inch. What was in that bag? The leaves rustle. Edward cannot move. He looks up through swollen eyelids and sees Pepita dressed in a Teenage Jesus & The Jerks T-shirt, her hair cut short. She raises something over his head. A crown? The sun goes out.
If I leave the body to the elements, it will leach into the sand, the body fluids pooling, the flesh at first expanding as the gases push outward, splitting the skin, the rotting fruit of a human. Butterflies are always first at the scene, then other insects — flies, beetles; then come the mammals — rooting, snuffling; then down drop the birds — the king vulture followed by the black, rending flesh, snapping bones: Edward Brady — English gentleman, junkie, would-be lover of my sister.
I wipe my hands on my Teenage Jesus & The jerks T-shirt and open the animal-hide bag, undo the hair string, take out an object, turn it in my hand, open the clasp. It is a locket — inside are two photographs — one of me when I was a boy, I am wearing shorts, no top, no shoes. The other is of Pepita, she is dressed as I am — we are both smiling. In the background of both pictures are the masts of the boats in the small harbour of Cuerpo.
Pepita came to me after Edward had brutalized her in a burnt-out building in Alphabet City. In the morning, I found her huddled in my stairwell among the discarded needles, the pipes, the pink and leaking condoms. I'd seen Edward in the streets around Tompkins Square Park with his long hair and the coat that made him look like a cowboy. He had even been to my apartment. Not that he remembered. Not that he cared. I nursed my Pepita. Bought her drugs. Washed her tiny body. Promised her things. Took an old letter from our parents, slowly erased the words of love and longing, took a fountain pen, watered down the ink, added tea, drew a map, and in the centre of it inscribed a cross.
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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