Monday, November 12, 2018

Not that I was looking for love. Far from it.

I know, I know.
I shouldn’ta been there in the first place. 
Even as I crawled onto that barstool at the Giggling Marlin, “…looking for love in all the wrong places”—my favorite line from one of my film favs, Urban Cowboy—ear-wormed its way into my head despite a bajillion decibels of Mexican pop music blaring from huge speakers. 
Been there, done that, failed hard.
Not that I was on the prowl for another future ex. Far from it. I was after a cold beer or six to drown my misery. Love stinks, anyhow. 
It wasn’t as though the popular Cabo San Lucas bar wasn’t familiar to me; it was my hangout. My, “Where everyone—at least the regulars and bartenders—know my name,” joint. And what with the American media and even the State Department warning tourists of gang warfare, and the kidnapping, drugging, rape, and even murder of foreign visitors to Mexican resorts, I picked the Marlin to blot out my sorrows. A place where I was known. 
As a part-time bartender at an upscale resort, I was tuned into all the local scuttlebutt on where to drink and, more importantly, where not to. 
My main gig in Cabo was hawking timeshares to tourists. Yep, I’m that annoying person. However, because I never quite mastered the art of luring tourists into purchasing a piece of paradise by offering them a free breakfast and quick tour of whatever place we were pushing, I probably ran up the worst sales track record in the whole of the Baja peninsula. 
My boyfriend, Barry, swore I couldn’t sell icebergs in Saudi. Luckily, he’s my boss. 
Make that EX: both boyfriend and boss.
I’d learned that EX part about an hour before crawling onto that barstool at the Giggling Marlin. I should have smelled a skunk when Barry, the cheapskate, uncharacteristically took me to an upscale restaurant that didn’t comp him. Concerned that he was going to do something stupid, like propose marriage, I’d obsessed over a suitable answer all day. Something diplomatic enough to delay a commitment until I could find another place to live and secure a new job. I’m romantic that way. 
However, contrary to my expectations, the jerk plied me with fine food and wine and pronounced me dumped and fired. 
Jeez, he could have waited until after dessert.
My disastrous dinner date with Barry explained why I was spiffed-up in a shortish sundress, espadrilles, and sported a smattering of face paint when I mounted my favorite barstool at the Marlin, instead of wearing my usual uniform of shorts and a tee shirt. 
My normally wild hair was somewhat tamed into an Evita-like do, or had at least started the evening that way. Cabo’s humidity had other ideas and I could practically hear the sprong! of tendrils busting loose. 
Pushing to half-standing on the barstool’s foot-rings, I steadied myself on the sticky wooden bar top with one hand while snatching a napkin from the server’s station. Dabbing my eyes and cheeks, I checked for mascara smudges. Why, I have no idea, because I had yet to shed a single tear over Barry, the blackguard. I’d cry for myself, and maybe Argentina, later—after I’d rendered myself properly sloshed. I was already halfway there.
“Enrique, Pacifico, por favor,” I yelled above the music. Within minutes, a galvanized bucket with six unopened pony bottles artistically arranged in a mound of ice arrived in front of me, along with a plate of cut limes. Even though a bottle opener was attached to the bucket, I pulled my key ring from my purse and used the one attached to it. I’d lived in Mexico for enough years to know it paid to watch out for those dastardly amoebas lingering on publicly used…anything. And those lime slices? Lord only knew where those limes had been.
A guy slid onto the barstool next to me and let out a snort loud enough to be heard over the musical din. “You always carry your own opener?”
“You ever mind your own bidness?” I snarled.
He gave me a lopsided grin, raised his own beer in a salute, and sucked down half of it. Corona? Spare me! A friggin’ tourist. Obviously one who had been overserved enough that he didn’t recognize a blatant invitation to buzz off when he heard one. 
As he leaned in closer, a hint of aftershave titillated my nose. It had been a long while since I’d smelled it, and I suffered a moment of homesickness. I almost said something to him, but then, of course, he ruined the moment. “Let me guess, Red. You’re a Texan?”
I considered eviscerating him with my handy bottle opener when a cheer arose near the dance floor. He stood, turned away from me, and took a couple of steps toward the hubbub. Little did he know his curiosity probably saved him from a couple of stitches, what with the mood I was in. 
As he moved away, I couldn’t help but notice he was tall, maybe six-two to my five-six, and his sandy-reddish hair with scattered strands of gray brushed his shirt collar. Tourist, for sure. Locals who hang out at the Marlin don’t wear shirts with collars. And they danged sure don’t look or smell like this hunk. 
I mentally slapped myself upside the head. BAD Becky!

Excerpt from Baja Getaway
By Jinx Schwartz

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