I met him in a bar called El Gato Negro -- the Black Cat -- on Marilyn Monroe's birthday.
He was dark and distant and looked like Stanley Kubrick. I don't know why else I was attracted to him. He smoked cigarettes.
At that time I was still a thousandaire and had a rebuilt engine and four new tires on my Isuzu. He hardly spoke English and I hardly spoke Spanish, but for a while we lived on love and the $2 a day I make teaching and we drove around.
I don't know if I've mentioned him to you before, but Nicolas is the guitarist who's been playing the background music to the letters I've sent you from Saltillo in the past year.
He left after reading my diary.
He didn't pay the rent or water and I had to sell the refrigerator, the bed and my favorite Lucite platforms with the roses in the heels and I was mad as hell.
I'm the only gringa who lives in El Centro, downtown Satillo, and the word of a blue-eyed blond woman searching the bars for her missing esposo spread quickly.
This is great, I told myself, as I wandered through the market pretending not to look for him. "Who needs him," I'd say as I peeked into the cantinas where no women are allowed, but I knew he'd sold his guitar and wasn't playing anymore. I even drove to the Red Cross homeless shelter to see if he might be there.
But then the brakes went out of my Isuzu and I demolished the small aluminum car in front of me. Since I had no Mexican insurance I had to leave my car as collateral until I paid the damages.
Suddenly I felt very far from home.
I am very sad that Nicolas disappeared. I have been reduced to the old brujerias (witchcraft) recommended by my neighbors such as calling his name into a glass of holy water.
I made one of my little altars with the requisite honey water, hummingbird prayers and the stray black hairs of my lost lover.
Since I couldn't find a picture of him I used a picture of Karl Marx that I found in an old Utne Reader. Then every day I placed a tiny cup of coffee in front of him and put a doll's sugar bowl there too since he likes it sweet. The two old seľoras down the street recommended that I call out his name three times a day.
While I was at it, I put a toy Land Rover in front of the altar box and prayed for my car to be rescued too.
My desperate attempts to change my luck are always tinged with dime store trickery and Sunday School teachings mixed in with hippie karma stuff and God knows what all.
I was scared.
Sunday morning, a stranger knocked on my door and handed me a phone number in Celaya, Guanajuato, where Nicolas was waiting for me.
Monday, the sweet little neighbor lady, who happens to be a lawyer, made a few phone calls and my Isuzu was released. Halleluja.
I still haven't got enough money to buy gas or oil or have the brakes fixed but at least I'm back in the good graces of whatever gods may be. A group of evangelistic Christians has invited me to go with the to preach the word and distribute old clothes. I'm not sure what the word is.
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