Monday, November 17, 2014

Punta Concepción—short story

"Punta Concepción" appeared in BRIDGE literary magazine (now defunct) way back in 2005.

            He is staring at us on the ferry to Santa Rosalía. Jan doesn’t see him: she is staring at the water, the waves off the bow. She points and says, “Dolphins!”
            He comes over to watch. He stands next to me. There are three dolphins. Sleek, shining in the sun.
            He is next to me, our arms touch. I sigh and say, “Beautiful. Aren’t they beautiful?” Jan turns to me smiling. She sees him. They look at each other.

            It is in class. No, it is before class. I am reading my Mexico travel book. She sits next to me and asks me if I’m going to Mexico. I say I’m thinking about it. She says she’s thinking about it too. She says maybe we could go together.
            I am noticing her now, for the first time. She sits in the back of the class, but today she sits next to me. I am staring at her as the professor talks. She is listening. He face changes when she disagrees. She has strong arms. I can tell she runs.

            He says his name is Johnny. He says he’s driven down from Phoenix. We tell him, Jan tells him, we are backpacking, traveling, exploring. He asks us where we are from. Jan says she’s from California. I say I’m from Tucson, though really I’m from Ohio. I want to be from California. We both go to the University of Arizona in Tucson
            We talk. It is warm here, even in December. I want to see if there’s a point where you can’t see land, where you can’t see Sonora or Baja. But I fall asleep next to Jan on a bench. When I wake up we can see land to the west. I think we’re early, that we’re making good time, but it takes us three more hours to get to port.

            John says he has a truck. He’s going to find a deserted beach and camp out. He asks us if we’d like come, or if he can give us a ride. Jan says yes, then looks at me. She is telling me I should say yes, but she doesn’t have to tell me.
            He is handsome: Tall, thin, long hair and high cheek bones. I like his smile, though he tries not to. He looks at us: I can see him looking. With two women it’s harder for him to pretend he’s not. When he goes to buy us Cokes, Jan elbows me and says, “He’s checking you out, Sheila.” I blush. She says, “It’s ok, I’m not jealous.” She puts her hand on my thigh, she says, “Maybe a little.”

            Out first night in Mexico, in Guaymas, we find a cheap hotel. La dueña is a large friendly woman. She is happy to see us and tells us how pretty we are. She gives us a room with a double bed in the back of the courtyard.
            We are tired and oily from the bus ride. It is dinner-time. We decide to shower and go out to eat. Jan tells me to go first. She sits on the bed looking at our travel book. I hesitate—I’ve never undressed in front of her. I don’t want her to know I’m hesitating. I take off my shirt and jeans. She glances up at me. I go into the bathroom.
            When I come out with a towel wrapped around me, she gets up and undresses. She has a lean runner’s body. I ask her if she lifts weights. She says yes. I tell her she has a nice body. She laughs.

            The ship docks. We wait for John in the parking lot. He has a blue Toyota pick-up, with a white ‘camper shell’. He tells me it’s called a ‘camper shell’.
            We throw our backpacks in back. There are only two seats, so I sit on Jan’s lap. She puts her arms around me, laughing. We pull onto the highway and head south. Johnny says he wants to explore a place, a peninsula where the highway doesn’t go, so there won’t be people with RVs.
            Half-way there, we stop in Mulegé for food. There’s a store that caters to americans and even has cans of refried beans without lard, and fresh vegetables. Johnny is a vegetarian too. Jan buys tequila.

            Jan and I go out for dinner. We walk along the main street of the town. There are more people on the streets here. There are girls and boys, in separate groups, staring and laughing at each other.
            We find a restaurant. After we order food, a man comes to our table. He asks in broken english if we’re american. Jan tells him, in spanish, to go away. Vete. The man is surprised, but he does. He goes to the bar and talks about us to his friends.
            She is stronger than I am. I couldn’t have told him to go away. I would have talked to him. I tell her this and she laughs. She says on another time she might have talked with him. She says maybe she would have gotten a free dinner out of it. But, she says, this is our adventure and she wants to talk with me.
            After dinner we walk along the main street a bit. The boys whistle at us from their cars. We go back to the hotel room.
            I undress. I wear a t-shirt and underwear to bed. Jan comes to bed naked. She says, “I hope you don’t mind.” I say no.
            We lay next to each other. All the rooms of the hotel face into the courtyard. Jan says, “Listen”. We can hear a couple having sex. We can hear the woman. Jan says, “Sounds like she’s having a good time. Maybe when we get to Cabo...” I ask her what she means. She says, “You know, maybe we’ll meet some hot guys.”
            I don’t say anything. I listen to her breathing get softer. Then she moves closer. She says she’d cold. She puts her hand on my hair and tells me goodnight. I say goodnight.

            We head south through hills with cactus and bushes that go right up to the edge of the ocean. There are beaches filled with RVers. There are RVs lined along the shore. Johnny finds the turn-off. We turn left, east. It’s a dirt road. Johnny drives fast and I lean out the window. Jan turns up the mexican music on the radio, with lots of accordian, which we all think is funny.
            The peninsula goes east, then curves north, creating a large bay. The road is rough.
            We drive an hour, exploring. We find our beach. It is late afternoon, the sun is out. Johnny stops the truck and we get out. Jan and I run to the water. She takes off her shirt and stretches. She starts to take off the rest of her clothes. I look back at Johnny walking toward us. He has his shirt off too. Jan smiles at me. She says, “Come on Sheila. Let’s go skinny-dippping!” She runs naked into the water and dives.
            I take off my clothes and run in. I dive.
            The water is cool, almost cold. Refreshing. I swim to Jan. She stands up; the water is waist deep. She pulls her hair away from her face, glistening. She yells at Johnny to come in. We look back at him. He takes off his clothes, down to his underwear. I can see him hesitate, looking at us, looking at him. He takes his underwear off and walks in slowly.
            He swims out to us and we stand together. We laugh about the desert, how it comes right to the water here. We talk about Arizona. Jan dares us to swim out furthur. We follow her till we can’t touch bottom. She lays on her back and drifts. We all do, but I am scared. I swim back and Johnny comes with me.
            We come out on the beach and walk, naked, to the truck. Johnny opens up the back and we get towels. Johnny says he’s glad he can enjoy this with two beautiful women. I say we’re glad we can enjoy this with a beautiful man. I feel stupid, obvious.
            Jan is waiting for us. We lay the towels out and lie down. She tells Johnny he should lie between us, for balance. He is still nervous, not looking at us, trying not to look. I’m not nervous. I stare at both of them. We talk but we are sleepy. Johnny covers his eyes with his rolled up shirt. Jan smiles across him at me and motions her chin down his body, to his cock. She mouths the words: touch it.
            I shake my head. She shrugs, turns over on her stomach.
            I take a short nap. Jan and Johnny are still asleep. I get up and go back into the water. I swim a little ways, lie on my back, drifting like Jan and stare at the sky. I listen to the water. I think, there will always be this.
            I look back at the beach, she has him in her mouth. He says something. She lies on her stomach again. He takes her that way. I watch them do it. I crouch in the water up to my neck and watch them.
            I walk out of the water. Jan says, “Enjoy the show?” She says, “I hope you don’t mind. I needed that.” She says, “I couldn’t wait.”
            The sun is going down. The sky is pink and orange. It cools. We put on our clothes. We put on sweaters and jackets. Johnny sets up his tent. He says it’s small. He lays down blankets and extra sleeping bag.
            Jan and I cut up vegetables and cheese for tacos. Johnny finds some small logs and twigs for a small fire. He puts a can of beans on it to heat them. We take turns on the tequila bottle. The stars come out. We can see the lights from the RVers across the bay.

            Johnny tells us stories. He is a firefighter with the Forest Service. He tells us about fire and about travel, Montana, Alaska. Jan asks if there are women on the firefighting crews. He says yes, some. I wonder what they are like. Jan says she would like to be a fire-fighter.
            We drink half the bottle of tequila. It’s time to sleep. Johnny says Jan and I can sleep in the tent, he’ll sleep in his sleeping bag outside. Jan pouts. She says, “I thought we could all squeeze in together.” Johnny looks at me. I nod.
            Jan and I get in first. Johnny finds more wood for the fire. When he comes into the tent, Jan tells him to get in on the other side of me. I am in the middle.
            It is cold. We cuddle under the two sleeping bags. Jan and Johnny are on their sides. I lie on my back. Jan pushes my shirt up and rubs my stomach. She leans over and kisses Johnny. She tells him to kiss me. He kisses me. She says, “I think Sheila’s been waiting for you to do that all day.” It’s true.
            Johnny pulls down my underwear. He puts my hand around his cock. I look at Jan. She smiles, kisses me. Johnny moves between my legs. I say no, that I want him to do it like he did it to Jan. I turn over. I turn my face to Jan. She lies next to me while he does it. We kiss while he does it.

            We spend the day on the beach. We swim. We read. We talk. We touch each other. Johnny uses his mouth on me. I want to do that to Jan. I taste her. She is salty. Johnny watches us. He says he likes watching us. Then he and I do it again.
            He goes for a walk. Jan and I kiss. We use our hands on each other. I fall asleep on her shoulder.
            We spend another night. We have no more food and water. We talk about getting more and coming back. We decide to go south, to Cabo.

            We are in Cabo. It is mid-afternoon. We are eating at a restaurant. We are talking about what we will do. Jan says she wants to go dancing later. I want to go dancing too. Johnny says no, he doesn’t like to dance. Jan says, “How can you not like dancing?”
            Johnny shrugs. He says he’ll camp out again. He doesn’t like the city. There are lots of rich American tourists. He tells us he’ll meet us tomorrow.
            I say we don’t have to go dancing. He says no, he doesn’t want to spoil our fun. We’ll meet on the beach tomorrow. He kisses both of us. He kisses me first.

            Jan and I find a hotel near the center. We shower and put on fresh clothes. We go out to a bar and drink and dance. Jan is a good dancer. It feels good to dance and watch her dance.
            Some guys start to buy us drinks. We dance some more with them. There is one who likes me and dances with me a lot. I don’t realize how drunk I am until I fall on the dance floor and he catches me. Jan laughs and comes over and kisses me. Which makes the guys yell. It’s silly, but exciting too, so she keeps doing it. Then she takes off her shirt and everyone yells more and we keep dancing.

            They leave the next morning. They laugh quietly and I wake up and wonder why two guys are leaving and wonder where I am and fall back asleep. I wake up late and remember: It’s time to meet Johnny. I get dressed. I tell Jan to wake up. She looks at me. I say I’ll meet her there. She says, “Don’t tell him.” She says, “I knew you liked him.”  She says, “Sheila....”
            I run down to the public beach. There are Americans everywhere. I see Johnny. He’s looking out at the sea. I touch him on his bare shoulder. He turns around. I put my arms around his neck. I kiss him. I say, “Let’s go back.”
            He asks, to our bay, or Arizona?
            I say I don’t care.

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