The knock at the door made Rudy jump. Kak. Back at last. He opened the door. Carter surged into the suite, fresh and happy.
“I don’t like her, just so you know,” Carter said, going straight to the mini fridge and opening a Sunset Ale.
“Don’t play dumb.”
“At least tell me why.”
“She and Lili. Those two bitches. They’re in cahoots.”
“What? They can’t stand each other.”
“They don’t have to.” Carter swallowed a mouthful. “Because you know who they hate more? Us.”
Rudy shook this off. “Where’ve you been all day?”
“Lying around Lili’s. Watching TV.”
“How is she?”
“Haven’t seen her. That’s what I’m telling you. Those whores are up to something.”
They stood on the balcony, the clatter of Mallory Square just audible to the left.
“What are you going to do?” Rudy asked.
“I’m going to drink this beer.”
“What are you going to do after that?”
“Drink another one.”
Carter knew what he meant. Rudy watched the pool man closing the umbrellas on the boardwalk that ran the length of the property below. It was late for this kind of work. It was late for any kind of work but the clock in Rudy’s head wouldn’t stop ticking. Every twenty-four seconds the man closed one and move to the next. At that rate the 34 umbrellas would take 816 seconds or 13 minutes and 36 seconds to close. And the fact that he knew it didn’t matter a bit.
“Fine,” Rudy said. “I’m asking about your intentions regarding Lili.”
“What are you, her father?”
“Fuck me? Fuck you. My intention is to live up to my responsibility.”
“Why is that good?”
“Because that’s what I’d do.”
“What you’d do? That’s a riot. You have the luxury of not doing a thing. Don’t quack about what you’d do.”
“You don’t know what I have going on or what I have to do. Besides, she’s my friend.”
“And that’s all she’ll ever be to you. Know why?”
“You heard me.”
They’d never talked about that night.
“It isn’t you deciding what to do,” Carter went on, “because you couldn’t close the sale.”
He was right.
“I don’t want to be a dick about it,” Carter said.
“You don’t seem to mind.”
Carter drained his beer. “What are we doing this for, brother? Let’s get the hell out of here. Fly to Nassau. Hop down to Havana.”
“I thought you were going to live up to your responsibility.”
“Havana and my responsibility are not mutually exclusive concepts.”
“To be honest, I was thinking Roatán.”
“Now you’re talking. They speak English there?”
“More than they do in Havana.”
Carter leaned back in a quick check of the suite. “Have you seen her today?”
He meant Kak. “No,” Rudy said. “Not yet.”
“You close the sale with her?”
“It isn’t like that.”
“Buddy,” Carter snorted. “It’s getting to be a thing with you.”
Rudy didn’t rise to this bait.
“Seriously,” Carter said. “It’s like a shot clock. You get eight hours. If you can’t score by then you lose the ball.”
“I was thinking maybe Roatán.” Sometimes to pull Carter back you had to repeat yourself.
“Not the worst idea,” Carter said.
It wasn’t. Rudy had called Key West Express. Kak hadn’t taken the ferry back to Fort Myers but there were other ways off the island. She hadn’t paid for the ticket so it was no loss to her. For all he knew he’d never see her again. He began to feel stupid about the preparations in the bathroom. It was expensive and probably useless now.
“Roatán, it is,” Carter said. “I’ll even spring for the Uber to Miami.” He leaned back, draining his beer. “To hell with those witches. Give us Honduran women. Honduran weed. We can be on the first flight in the morning.”
Carter was right, of course. It was time to snap out of it. To hell with the witches.
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