There are some elements of this story that could go into making a novel.
It was one of those perfect days, as Fleagbag and I set out for our beach walk. One sniff of that sweet and briny air and I’m ten years younger. Hundreds of small fish were swarming on the surface near shore. The sea birds were diving for a feast. As we passed Hotel Plaza Las Glorias I spotted what one might call a mystery gal. At any rate, there was a lot of gossip about her. She was stretched out on a blanket sunning herself with her old dog flaked out beside her. That wasn’t all the company she had. There was a fellow I’d been introduced to as her pilot, smoothing Coppertone on her already well-tanned shoulders. Just as I got close enough to get a whiff of the sunscreen, I heard her say, “Philip you devil, stop that.” Every time I see this girl she’s seldom without male company. All she has to do is lay there in her bikini, soaking up the Mexican sun.
Rocky Point is great for sea, sunshine, and gossip. In the last few weeks I’d heard that Kathy, (her friends call her Faffey) owned a popular cat house near Vegas. Another story had her as an Olympic swimmer married to a reclusive millionaire. Some were impressed that she flew her jet. I probably knew her better than anyone. About a year ago I met her in L.A. when I was looking for an illustrator for a story I wrote. It wasn’t until I got my finished art that I found out she owned the whole agency. Last month I ran into her in Laughlin at the crap table. They had lifted the table limit, and I personally saw her win what looked like about twenty thousand dollars. The dealers and cocktail waitress called her by name. (I was impressed) What really got to me is she has an old Golden Retriever that goes everywhere with her. Even that night, in that crowded casino, NO DOGS ALLOWED, there he was curled up by her feet.
She does look like a swimmer, tall, long dark hair, and a really perfect body. Seeing me, she propped herself up on one elbow, “Lui, What are you doing up so early? It’s not even noon.” Philip gave me his best ‘get lost’ look. No one can ignore Fleabag. With sand flying in his wake, he piled onto the blanket, tail wagging and full of love. Her old pal made it to his four feet on the third try. Fleabag always brings back a little of the puppy in him. “Lui, did you hear about that widow with the three kids that lost her trailer?” “Yes”, I answered, “Propane leak. I understand it burned to the ground.” Faffey touched the sand next to her and said, “Sit down and have a glass of wine”. “I can’t. I’m supposed to meet some people at Puesta del Sol”. About then an attendant from the hotel screamed at me to get Fleabag out of the pool. Faffey laughed, “At least they know his name”. What delighted me is that her old golden and Fleabag were hunkered down in the hotels beautifully tiled Jacuzzi with just the top of their heads showing.
Thinking philosophically, that time is man’s angel, and that I had a whole beautiful day ahead of me, wouldn’t it be nice if I could get rid of Philip. “Philip,” I said, “Don’t you have to go check the plane. Maybe put air in the tires”? (They flew in one of those new Cessna Citation Excel business jets.) “No Lui.” Someone wrote the dictates of the heart are the voice of destiny. Well my destiny was not to spend the day with Faffey, so Fleabag and I headed for Puesta del Sol.
Out near the blue line some brown pelicans were doing their fish dives. They have to be my favorite bird in the world. See one perched on piling and you have a philosopher. As usual, I couldn’t pass up some of the glass and sea shells I was seeing. Getting from one place to another on the beach when you’ve got a friendly dog and know a lot of people takes time. The trailer fire was very much the topic of the conversation with the locals I met. Yvonne told me they were taking up a collection. Sad Sammy was out collection cans. His greeting to me was to demand to know what an American girl with three kids was doing living in Mexico. I knew the answer, but didn’t feel like telling him.
About a year ago I met this woman and her three kids on the beach. They had lost their Foxy, the kid’s dog. When we found the little terrier, one thing led to another, as I was invited back to their trailer. Sally was the oldest at ten, and twin brothers Michael and Jimmy were six. They fell in love with Fleabag. Mr. Lui, as they called me, fell in love with them. Susan, the mother, was thin as a mosquito and could have passed for the baby sitter instead of the kid’s mother. Her picture would have made the perfect photo of the girl back home that a soldier might pull of out of his wallet to show his buddy. She had an excited way of speaking, and she kept apologizing for what was an immaculate interior. Everywhere I looked there were treasures they’d picked up on the beach, from shells to driftwood. As we sat and talked, the seashell wind chimes tinkled. Sally bashfully brought out drawings from school. Michael showed me his dads Swiss pocket knife. Jimmy asked if I knew how to play Monopoly. My attention was drawn to a photo hanging over the couch. It was Susan and a handsome young man in uniform. Jimmy noticed me looking. “That was our daddy. He’s dead”, Michael added. “He got killed in the war. Desert Storm,” Susan offered. Susan wouldn’t take a “no” for lunch, and while we ate, she told me the whole story.
Her husband’s family had a lot of political influence in the Phoenix area where they lived. They had never approved of the marriage, and soon after her husband’s death they took legal action to get the kids away from her. They charged her with drugs, neglect, and child abuse. After six months in and out of court, the judge ruled in her favor. I can still see the anguished look on her face when she said to me, “Lui, that wasn’t the end of it. They filed an appeal.” It was then she took off for Rocky Point. The trailer was something she and her husband had bought shortly after they were married. The Mexican population of Puerto Peñasco has a lot of love and sense of family, but in this tourist economy their precious peso never goes far enough. Then there are Americans who would have loved to help, but are living on small pensions and social security. The long and short of it was – the fund to help Susan only covered the rental of a small trailer, some clothes and household items. I contributed money, but it should have been more.
A mining project I have near Elko, Nevada was having troubles with some environmental laws. I was gone for almost a month. The first day I was back I went over to see Susan and the kids. An elderly woman answered the door. I introduced myself and she told me that she knew who I was. The way she said it I didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing.
“Is Susan home”, I asked?
“Oh my no. She doesn’t live here anymore.”
“Where did she go?”
“Won’t you come in for a cup of tea”?
“No thank you,” I said and repeated my question.
“She has a house now, not far from the Malecon in Old Port”.
“A house,” I repeated?
“Oh my yes. I’m told a very wealthy young lady from the United States put up the money. Someone at Lily’s was telling me she runs one of those bad houses near Las Vegas”.
“Don’t believe that,” I said. “I think I know who you mean, and she’s a very successful artist.”
RPT reprint from 1998