So he says - Are you sure it’s not too late?
So I tell him listen, Carlos had told us anytime right, so that means anytime, and it’s only twelve fucking thirty in the morning, so he mumbles something like still, it is kinda late, and I say look, his dad is doing that fucking midnight show with that third wife of his - Yeah, the bleached blonde I know, yeah, she is kinda hot, in a slutty way but she is way over thirty you know - but I can tell he’s not connecting the dots and he just stands there and stares at me, you know sometimes I think he’s just doing too much weed, I mean, it’s like nobody’s home sometimes - Don’t you think?
So here we are, standing at the door, you know, and Juan moves just out of sight of the little peep door, like in the old San Juan doors, a little door and the wrought iron grate, and that big ass wrought iron knocker below. So I knock, bang-bang-bang, and it’s fucking loud and I think Juan is going to shit a brick, and I notice the street is like real quiet and I’m thinking, ok, so maybe I am a bit high myself, and maybe this is not such a hot idea, and Juan is going to be all moody and bothered that we left the bar and gave up the primo seats and maybe we could have met some girls, as if.
Yeah, he does come to the door, and he is, I am not shitting you, wearing a purple velvet smoking jacket, and it’s a bit surreal you know, cause it’s gotta be his dad’s, you know? Carlos is all slim and pigeon-chested and the jacket is too wide in the shoulder and too long for him and anyways, who the fuck wears velvet in the tropics even if you have the A/C pumped to eleven, but he's just standing there grinning and cool and all come in, come in and I would not have been surprised if he had pulled a fucking cigarette holder from his pocket.
Of course his parents were not there, not only are they not there, they’re not coming back.
No asshole, that night -They’re staying in some presidential suite his dad got comped for plugging the hotel on his show. So we walk in the foyer - have you been to his house? - we walk in the foyer and it’s all colonial and high backed Spanish inquisition mahogany chairs and a gigantic fugly abstract painting on the wall staring at us, but, wait for it, casually tossed on the foyer table, ArtNews - and whats on the cover? - yep, you got it, the fugly painting. It’s not his mind you, it belongs to the museum. I know I know, but they let him borrow all this stuff, like the two suits of armor flanking the painting, also the museum.
Yeah, senior is on the board and I’m sure he gives them money but he gets’ some pretty impressive shit for the house, right?
So, he walks us out to the interior patio and you know, it’s beautiful, a fountain fed by a couple of Moorish stone lions, a whole row of mahogany doors to the bedrooms - The lions? I don’t know - reproductions maybe, doesn’t fucking matter, they look real and expensive. Carlos is just talking and talking like a tour guide about the art in the foyer, and then how each door came from a different country in Europe - I don’t care if he’s just a sophomore, we were never that uptight - and we are walking in this garden with dwarf palm trees and it smells of limes and oranges from the miniature fruit trees and it’s lit like a fucking resort, you can’t see where half the lights are coming from and Carlos is going on and on about the open air dining room and how it’s fucking period correct - who talks like that? - for the house and that the kitchen is separate from the house cause it was dangerous when you cooked over an open flame and that the tiles are reproductions from the ancient synagogue of who knows what from Toledo, I mean, his dad has done a job on that kid, he wont shut the fuck up and I say to him cause, Juan you know, has gone all quiet and I don’t think he’s tripping, he’s just, you know, like impressed and I say So Carlos, do you have any beer? it’s fucking hot and I’ve had three or four rum and cokes and god knows what Pipo - Remember Pipo? Yeah, the bartender at El Batey puts in them and I swear it’s not rum, more like grain and I am parched and he says, sure and we go into the kitchen and Carlos points at the industrial glass doored refrigerator and there’s like a case of India beer so I grab three and open them and Juan you know, is still like a mouse, cowed and I’m handing him a beer and he just grins at me, I swear he’s losing it... So then Carlos says let’s go to the disco and I’m like, we just got here.
I know, it was already late, but you’re not going to fucking believe this - so I say, but we just got here and he laughs and says no I mean here and you know, that doesn’t help, and I’m lost and thinking that something is either wrong with me or Carlos but we are just not connecting when Juan pipes up, first thing he’s said since hello how are you, you have a disco in the house? and Carlos puffs up and I swear he almost fills out the fucking smoking jacket and smiles and just walks out of the kitchen.
So, I hesitate just for a second but Juan just follows him and I’m just standing there like an idiot holding the two beers and then Carlos, he opens this door and it’s a small room - but - there’s a mirrored ball, flashing lights, a parquet floor, loud music, red velvet everywhere, and I mean, the place is like the inside of a fucking velvet pouch, walls, benches, and, you are not going to believe this, sprawled on one of the benches - oh my fucking word - it’s fucking Wes.
What do you mean Wes who? How many Wes’s do you fucking know? the English teacher, you know, Bam-Bam. Yes, him, in the fucking flesh, the blond bowl cut hair, the stupid colored levis, the Izod shirt. He stands up in a fucking hurry when he sees us, almost toppling the rum bottle on the table in front of him and you know, he’s lit and I mean, a little slurry and swaying and embarrassed and laughing way too hard and being goofy and I have no fucking idea why he’s there.
I know, I know - he was all dressed and everything but I’m thinking FUCK he’s a teacher, in a sophomore’s house, and the parents are away, and I mean out for the night, and it’s way past midnight. And Carlos doesn’t seem to think there is anything wrong with this, and I am thinking, is he that innocent or just playing at it? And it’s too loud in there to say anything complicated so we scream hellos at each other and Juan is screaming at Carlos how cool the disco is and asking him if he can do the dj’ing and where are the records and does he have any Patti Labelle and does he have any Kool and The Gang and I’m looking at him like maybe it’s just me and who gives a shit if Wes is there. - How old you think Wes is? No, he’s younger than that, he just got his masters, he can’t be older than 26 and you know, then it hit me - I look over at him and see him chatting up Carlos and I think, he’s just lonely, he doesn’t know anybody outside of the teachers at school and most of them are priests even if they are Jesuits. He’s also a hick from the sticks - you know? - Grew up on a farm and always talks about how busy San Juan is and how he used to get up to milk the cows before light, he’s probably never seen the kind of money Carlos’ father has.
So I don’t really remember how long we hang out, Juan is happy playing with the lights and the equipment and keeps hitting us with blasts of the fog machine but I am getting more and more anxious I mean Carlos is on now to Wes about the BMW that his dad bought for him and how it's not ready and he's missing parts and they are so hard to get and he has to order them from Germany - What? Of course he cant drive it, he's 15, but it doesn't matter cause it’s not running anyways - and I feel like I can't breathe anymore what with the paintings and the velvet and Wes slowly falling asleep on the bench still balancing a glass of rum and I'm thinking that the cut glass tumbler is probably worth what my dad makes in a graveyard shift at the printing shop and maybe we can go back to El Batey and have another mystery rum and coke from Pipo and half the time he doesn't even charge us.
I get up and stumble and realize the rum and the beers are really hitting me hard and my lips are numb which is always a bad sign so I grab Juan from the dj booth where he is still riffling through the records and tell him that I'm taking off and I think he was just hiding at the booth anyways so he says he’ll come with me - Which is good cause he’s my ride - so I go up to Carlos and say man, we have to get a move on and Carlos right away starts in with where are you going and I'm just bracing myself for it cause I know he's going to want to come along and even Wes is waking up sort of.
So we all leave and thankfully Carlos has taken the velvet jacket off and we start down the street and I’m just - you know - not exactly paranoid, concerned, but maybe it’s just the weed, cause we have to walk past that police station at the entrance of Fortaleza where all the governor’s cops hang out, but it’s nice to be out and now its like two in the morning and I think everybody is feeling a bit weird I mean, we make some group and the street is even quieter and I notice that Carlos is way drunker than I thought and he is just not used to it - well, not exactly falling down drunk but, weavy and grinny - and as we are going now up the hill trying not to slip on the wet cobblestones Carlos just comes up next to me and says - hey, there’s a car just like mine - and sure enough, there’s a BMW just like his but green - you know, I can’t find an oil plug for mine and I really want to get the engine started - he says to me and I’m thinking ok so, but I slowly get it, he’s looking at the car and looking back at the cop station down the hill, and I'm like, you are fucking insane - and he’s like, no, I already got the hubcaps from another one in a garage, I can do this, there’s no one around, and I say I’m not with you, I don’t know who you are, but Juan is like what’s going on and Carlos is asking him whether he has any tools in his car and I’m like dude, don’t give him any tools but Juan is already walking to his car and Wes is clueless about what’s going on cause we've gone back to Spanish and its too fast for him but I think he can sense that something bad is afoot, specially when Juan gets back with a wrench and then just grins at me - I know, he’s all quiet and all but he does have a mean streak - So Carlos sticks it in his back pocket and walks over to the car and we just keep going up the hill to the little plaza. And now I think I have reason to be paranoid - hold your horses I’m getting to it - so we are hanging out, you know friends having a chat under a lamppost up at the plaza but we are all stealing looks at Carlos and he is about as subtle as a hippo, a fucking wrench sticking out of his back pocket - fucking rich boy - and all of a sudden he drops and scoots under the car.
So Wes sees this and I think he has had enough he just takes off, no goodnight no nothing, just scared I guess and I’m beginning to think this is a really really bad idea when Carlos starts cursing from under the car and it’s echoing down the street and all of a sudden I hear someone rounding the corner - you got it, a cop - and he is heading down the street and just then Carlos starts cursing and scoots out from under the car and he is covered in oil and the cop is on him and we can’t really see what is going on cause as soon as I saw the cop I started up the plaza towards the wall but they took him in.
Nah - He told me they just took him up to the station and when they asked him his name they said any relation and he said yeah, my dad and they just let him go, can you believe that shit?
Oh yeah, right, sorry, I had to tell you the whole story, no? That is why Wes is no longer with us - just left a letter of resignation and didn’t even pick up his last check according to Juan.