Thursday, July 4, 2013

Parakeet



I thought about killing her.

The traffic outside the window fractured through rain. Glancing over my shoulder , I could see no one followed me.  Glad I thought about MARTA.  It may be a political joke, but it gets me where I need to go.  The blonde crew cut wig, loose flannel shirt and ratty camera bag made me look like just another internet entrepreneur.   Everybody should have a good con.  Lord knows, she did.

I almost didn’t recognize the squeaky voice, and then I wish I hadn’t. I had to disappear the last time I heard it.  Two weeks in Mexico, acting as a mule not my kind of fun and I didn’t even get laid for the trouble.  Three years later, I was still trying to forget her and Guadalajara.  If I thought moving put her in the rearview, I was wrong.   Like a bad penny, she was back and all she would say is to meet on the train.  What kind of harebrained scheme had she thought up this time?  

 “Next Stop.  Arts Center…Arts Center Station… Exit her for Piedmont Park and the Woodruff Art Center.  Art Center Station…”

Three more stops.  I tried to envision what she looked like now.  In Mexico, the hair was dark and smelled like cocoa butter and tequila.  We thought we were alone when all the gunshots rang out.  With a quick kiss, I was hustled out the back door.  One of the Federales saw me and gave chase.  Hotwiring a truck, I hightailed north towards L.A. and a much lower profile.  

 I braced myself as the train braked slowed.  My feet slid a little as I stumbled into the woman next to me. The smell of cocoa butter and tequila invaded my nose.  Really?  Hide in plain sight, I guess. Wearing a loose fitting linen top over a pink flowered swimsuit, she looked like she had escaped from a Jimmy Buffett concert.  The long hair had been done up in a bun and she carried a bag with a stuffed red and blue parakeet sticking out of the top. With her was a large black man with a Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned far enough to show an Aztec tattoo on his chest.    The only thing missing were the plastic fins most Parrotheads carry.  They began to gather their things and in the process turned on the toy parakeet. 

“Need a margarita! Need a margarita!” squawked the bird.  I had to agree.  I needed something, even though I hate limes.

“Pardon me.”  I said, winking as I helped her back to her feet. 

“Oh, that’s awwright.”  She slurred.  “This is our stop.  Got a good party to go to in the park. You should join us.”

“Mary!  You don’t know him.”  Hawaiian Shirt replied.

Oh, hush, Malcolm.  He’s harmless.  Aren’t you, Honey?”  The last word blew a large cloud of liquor in my face.  

“Need a margarita! Need a margarita!” squawked the bird.  

“Hah. Even the toy’s excited.” She went on. “You look like you’d be lots of fun.  I hope we don’t get arrested like last time.  People objected to us dancing naked.  Can you imagine that?” She turned the bird off and headed toward the exit doors.  

 “No, I can’t” I said.  “It sounds like fun.”  You know, I think I’ll join you.  My name is Hank.”  As I followed the couple onto the platform.

“Maria.  And this is Malcolm. He’ll be your buddy.”

The sign to the escalator pointed to the left.  Walking along the granite lined tunnel, I could hear the echoes of high heels as the owners hustled towards the outbound trains. Their day was done.  Mine was just beginning.  I just hoped it wasn’t ending.

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