I was woken up by a knock at the door of my shabby motel. It was a strange place. The interior was flush with brand new nightmarish 1950’s wallpaper. The muted pinks and beiges all melted into a low hum that matched the staleness of the dust sprayed exterior.
The thick motel curtains had turned the mid-day sun into a swallowing darkness, and the room, oddly enough, had no clock. I answered the door in a pair of boxers, still soiled from the dust and grit of the desert.
When I opened the door, a giant stood swallowing the entire door frame with his bulk. His knock had had been soft; I expected some frail housekeeper. But now, a hulking one eyed monster stood before me.
“Israel,” he said with a hint of Boston in his voice.
I nodded my head, trying to squint the sleepiness from my eyes.
“Get dressed; we’re going for a ride.”
I nodded again, closed the door, and rummaged around the room to find something clean to wear. The night before I’d had a choice between a bottle of rum and the Laundromat. Nothing was clean.
I walked out the door to stinging afternoon sun and put on my glasses. The beast was leaning against the wall beside my door.
“You smell like shit,” he said.
“Thanks,” I answered, lighting a cigarette.
His eyes perked at the wafts of smoke, so I slid a bogey from the cartridge and offered it to him. He lifted it from my hand with tenderness.
As my eyes began to adjust I got a good look at the man. He was a crimson tauren. His shoulders could have been four feet across with a booming chest. He looked like a sun burnt Viking oarsman. His cherried face and tree trunk forearms were peeling. The dome of his head was bare except the red curtain of hair he braided down to the middle of his back. His fiery beard covered from his chest to just beneath his eyes, one of which was covered with a black patch.
“You a Jew or something?”
I gave him a strange look.
“Not tryin’ to offend you. Just, don’t see many Jews around here.”
I just stared at the man for a minute. He had an innocence about him. But the cave on the bridge of his nose showed he had some stern vices as well.
“What’s your name big guy?” I asked.
“Name’s Red Bird.”
“And how do you know Cortez?”
“I’m his pilot,” he said, stamping his cigarette butt on the ground. “Let’s get moving.”
When we got into his car, he tossed a dusty hemp sack onto my lap.
“It’s only business,” he said.
I reluctantly slid the bag over my head. We drove for about ten minutes before he started asking me questions.
“What kinda music you like?”
I didn’t answer.
“Oh c’mon, you don’t have to be so cold about the bag. He said I have to. Now come on, I don’t see many Americans around here and the Mexican music is shit. It’s got no sack, you know what I’m sayin?”
I didn’t say anything. I could feel his cheesy smile.
“I tell you what though. The one thing they make down here is chick’s asses. For fucks sake man if I knew they made em’ like this I woulda never stayed up north for so long. You know why everyone in the North East is so pissed off all the time? Cause’ they got women with flat asses and cold pussies.”
“How long?” I asked.
“Oh so you can talk.”
He waited for me to say something else, then huffed.
“We got about an hour to the air field, then about an hour flight. So you best start talkin’ or this is gon’ to be a long ass ride.”
The road got rugged. I could hear dirt crackling beneath the car as we whirled down an un-paved road. I still wasn’t talking back to the big lonely man.
“You a fag or somethin’?” he asked.
“Can you do me a favor?”
“Please just shut the fuck up.”
He didn’t say anything else for the rest of the trip. When we got to the airfield he didn’t take the sack off my head and roughly handled me into the cockpit of his airplane. The cockpit was baking with scorching wafts of old leather and farts. When he slid into the pilot’s seat I was squished between the roasting steel and his globs of hair, sweat, and fat.
The flight wasn’t pleasant. I was helplessly smushed into his girth. It swallowed me like a memory foam mattress. I heard the Redbird bump a few lines then he exploded into a faucet of sweat and rancid fumes. The sack around my face grew heavy with the moist air steaming the cockpit. He even seemed to be ripping farts intentionally, just to make this aluminum sarcophagus a little more unbearable.
When we landed I could hear yelling outside the plane. My door swung open and a swirl of fresh sea air gushed into the plane. The big bird shoved me from the plane and I landed face first on the ground.
“Hey, hey, hey. What the fuck do you think you’re doing you fucking ogre?”
Javier’s voice was strangely reassuring. He lifted me up and took the sack off my head.
“I’m so sorry about that. Good help these days, am I right?” He threw his arm around my shoulder and squeezed me in so we were cheek to cheek, then pointed out to sea.
“Look at her, isn’t she the most god-damned beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your god-damn life?”
When he pointed, I saw her. Just off the pristine beach, floating on the caps of a deep green sea, sat a hundred foot submarine with Angela standing on the tower with her hair flailing in the wind..
“Yes.” I said. “Yes she is.”