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Worm in the Bottle – A Not-So Short Story

I walked into our hotel room, and I could hear Maria in the shower. The room was not bad. A medium sized kitchen. A small dining room. A small living room with a sofa, flat screen TV, coffee table, and a wooden chair. Not bad at all. Two large windows showed you the infinity of the ocean. A beautiful breath-taking view. You could see the windsurfers playing with the waves. A cargo ship sliding away over there at the end of it all.

There was a wooden dresser with a wide tall mirror. A small table next to the bed with a bottle of Mezcal on top of it. Next to the bottle was this small plastic cup with sliced limes, a saltshaker, and two shot glasses. I served myself a shot. Put some salt on the palm of my hand. Squeezed a piece of lime into the shot glass. I heard Maria turn off the shower. I licked the salt off the palm of my hand and took the shot right after.

Maria came out of the bathroom with her pink towel-like robe on. She looked very sexy. Her robe was short. Very short. Almost like a mini skirt robe. I gave her the I want you look. She gave me the come and get it look. I started to undress and while I did that, Maria walked over to the small table and served herself a shot, drank it down without salt or lime.

I was now naked and under the sheets. You could see my friendly ghost sticking up, making a tent out of the flowery blanket. Maria unleashed the robe and climbed in next to me. We fell asleep after sex and when we woke up, it was already dark outside. We looked out from the window, and it was still there, the immense ocean and the moon sneaking up slowly.

Maria looked at me and started to laugh. She was laughing hysterically. God, she laughed so much that she even released gas. That’s when I started to laugh. When she released little bits of gas that made noise. We would look at each other and laugh. We would look out the window and laugh. Laugh. Laugh. Laugh. God, we felt so happy laughing.

For the past three months, Maria and I had been having horrible arguments. Most of them were my fault. We would both annoy the shit out of each other, and one of us would always end up leaving the house for a few hours. The arguments always got loud and nasty; in the middle of them, I would always end up breaking something. A mirror. A plate. A coffee mug. A broom stick, or just about anything breakable that was right there at the reach of my hand. But now, we were OK. Laughing naked in bed. No arguments. No screaming. No hatred. Only love. Love and pleasure.

In fifteen minutes, I was dressed and perfumed. Maria wasn’t dressed, and her hair was not done. I figured it would take her an hour to get ready, so I decided to go downstairs to the lobby and ask about local bars with live music. Before I left the room, I reached over to the little table and took hold of the Mezcal bottle and a shot glass. I poured the Mezcal into the shot glass; I noticed a dead yellow worm floating at the bottom of the bottle. I took the shot, and I told Maria I was going to be back in a few.

I was now in the lobby and the man behind the check-in desk was the same man that had checked us in earlier. There was now a woman next to him. She had dirty blonde hair and a tight green dress that was very long. It went all the way down to her ankles. I approached them.

“Mr. Fuentes, how may I help you?”

“Know of a good place to eat, have a few drinks, live music?”

“Oh, La Cantina Negra, around the corner, it’s a very nice place,” the woman responded.

“Yes, Mr. Fuentes, that’s the place where the beautiful Sofia performs,” said the man pointing at her and looking at her with puppy eyes.

“Really?” I said, feeling a bit curious.

“Yes, Mr. Fuentes, if you go tonight, I will dedicate the show to you and your wife.”

“Oh, that would be very kind of you, I’m sure we’ll enjoy it,” I said to her.

She looked deep into my eyes as if looking for something. I could tell she didn’t want the guy to find out she was looking at me the way she was. I gave no reaction to her staring.

“Well then, thank you, Sofia. At what time does the show begin?”

“At ten, the show begins at 10:00 pm,” the man responded.

“Sounds good, see you both at ten.”

I left them alone. I went back to the room and Maria was beginning to blow-dry her hair. I sat on the edge of the bed next to the dead worm, took off my shoes and looked out the windows. The full moon. The large windows. Maria was blow-drying her hair. The towel that covered her breasts. Her hair hung all the way down to her thick tanned thighs. Half her ass uncovered. Her dark, long sexy legs. Her staring at me through the mirror. I felt happiness.

Maria was almost done drying her long black strips of hair. I looked at the worm inside the bottle. I stared at it for a moment. With my thoughts, I tried to communicate with the dead insect, but there was no reply. Then, I turned my head and looked at Maria’s legs. I looked at her curves. Then, I looked at her legs again. And then, my eyes focused on her beautiful round ass. I stared at it for a moment. I started getting excited. I kept on looking at it.

Then, I screamed, “I’LL EAT YOU TOO!! JUST LIKE THE WORM!”

Maria jumped.

“What the hell was that?” she asked, laughing.

“Oh no, don’t mind me, I’m just talking to myself here while I wait,” I said to her, smiling.

I turned to look at the bottle. Grabbed it. Poured some Mezcal onto the shot glass. Brought the shot glass to my lips and drank it down. Served myself another and poured one for Maria. I drank mine in one gulp, Maria drank hers in two.

Maria was finally dressed and perfumed. She looked good. She had gotten dressed to impress. She was wearing a tight glittering short black dress with black, six-inch heels. I served myself two more shots, and the goddamn worm was still there at the bottom of the bottle.

I grabbed the key to the room and walked out. She followed me. I locked the room and we started toward the lobby. We didn’t say a word to each other on our way to Cantina Negra. We just walked in silence, holding hands.

At Cantina Negra, we were sitting on these comfortable brown leather chairs with wooden arms. Our table was round with a white tablecloth over it. We sat three tables away from the stage and one table away from the middle aisle. There was a long bar next to the entrance of the place. On stage, you could see a drum set, three microphone stands, a trumpet inside an opened trumpet casing, a pair of conga drums, and maracas. A small man in a pink suit was working on the sound check.

The waiter came to our table and Maria ordered two margaritas, and the waiter went to get them. The musicians started tuning their instruments loud. I looked at my watch and it was already 10:00 pm. The small man in the pink suit stood behind the main microphone stand in the center of the stage. He adjusted the stand so that the mic would be right there in front of his lips, then he spoke as the waiter came back with our drinks.

“Good evening, ladies, and gentlemen, and welcome to La Cantina Negra. Tonight, we have an excellent show for everyone. Please feel at home and feel free to get up from your seats and dance to the rhythm of our BEAUTIFUL SOFIA!!”

The musicians started beating and blowing on their instruments. The music was loud. It sounded like mambo music. Then, from the stage-left, Sofia came out wearing a feathery dress. BEAUTIFUL. Just plain beautiful. She walked up to the small man in pink. Gave him a kiss on the cheek. He adjusted the mic-stand for her and walked off.

She raised her arms up in the air making a V. The musicians simultaneously stopped playing. Sofia took hold of the cordless mic and snapped it out of its stand. She began to sing softly without the musicians. Her legs were long, thick, and firm. Her voice was very much like the voice of Ella Fitzgerald. Enchanting. Sexy. God, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. All I wanted was to take a hot bath with her next to a giant window overlooking the ocean, a bottle of Dom Perignon, Esther Phillips playing softly, and a nice thick sponge to slowly scrub those sexy legs. Love, Love. I had fallen in love, and no one knew a thing. I could feel Maria staring at me. I looked at her.

Then she said, “Close your mouth, will ya? You look ridiculous with your mouth open.”

I left my mouth open for a little more just to bother her. Then, I closed it.

Sofia, the exotic singer, sang a set of ten songs and then came the break. Maria and I had drunk three margaritas and we were now ready to eat. Maria signaled the waiter, and he came running to our table; we ordered our food. I had caught him staring at Maria a couple of times and I had also caught Maria giving him the eye, but I had decided not to say anything. Maria and I were nicely drunk, and an argument would have just spoiled it all for us.

The waiter came to our table with the food; two chicken quesadillas and two more margaritas and two Cuba-Libres. Maria got up to go to the washroom. She went into this hall where the restrooms were. Our waiter followed her into the hall. I pushed my plate of food to the side and gulped down my margarita.

“Hey there, Mr. Fuentes,” Sofia said to me as she slipped into Maria’s chair.

“Sofia, bravo, beautiful voice, you’re truly talented,” I said to her, not really knowing what else to say.

“Where is your wife?” she asked.

“Oh, the washroom.”

“Do you have a pen with you, Mr. Fuentes?

“Yes, here.”

She took one of my paper napkins and started writing down numbers.

“This is my room number,” she pointed out on the napkin. “And this is the time I want you to come see me. Your wife should be asleep at that time.”

“Yes, she should be, but Sofia, listen…”

“Don’t say anything, Mr. Fuentes. I hope you can make it. See ya,” she said, getting up from Maria’s chair.

I watched her walk up to the stage. That’s when I grabbed the napkin and took a close look at it, folded it in half, and put it away in my pant pocket. I had to meet her at 5:00 am in Room #32. I turned my head towards the hall where the washrooms were and noticed the waiter walk out of there drying his face with a napkin and fixing his shirt. He went behind the bar and served himself a drink. Then, out came Maria, and her walk was clumsy.

Sofia and her musicians began with their second set and the music was louder this time. As Maria got closer and closer, I noticed new wrinkles on her dress. It didn’t fit her evenly, at least not the way it had looked before she went to the washroom.  She sat down on her chair. Her hair was uncombed and the lipstick on her lips was no longer there.

“Oh, I feel so relieved, Oscar; you don’t know how relaxed I feel.”

“I can imagine,” I told her, feeling insecure and jealous towards the waiter.

“Oh my God, I had forgotten about my food… Wow, I feel so drunk you don’t even know.”

I reached under the table and started feeling her long, smooth legs. Through my fingers, the memory ran, of all the times my hands had rediscovered her firm, tanned legs that had always led me to her melting gold.  But now, they were a bit sweaty. I worked my hand up her outer thighs, felt on her ass and I didn’t feel her panty. She was wearing it when we left the hotel, but now she wasn’t, maybe the waiter was the one wearing it now.

Maria was devouring her quesadilla and her forehead was starting to sweat. Without saying a word, I got up from the table and started towards the women’s restroom. The waiter was still behind the bar drying his face and neck. I could feel him looking at me as I made my way into the little hall. I swung the door open. I walked in and there were two young women fixing their hair and makeup in front of a long mirror.

“Don’t mind me, ladies. I’m just looking for my wife’s underwear,” I told them as I knelt on the tile floor to look under the three toilets behind them. And there it was. Just the way I had thought it would be. I got up on my feet and walked over to the last door, opened it, and there it was on the floor. I picked it up, and it was ripped. It had been ripped off her beautiful body. There was a used condom floating inside the toilet. I took a deep breath, smiled, and walked out of there. The two women were looking at me through the mirror in disbelief. I could see on their faces a look of stunned gossip and scandal, a look that they were here when it all happened. One of them turned around and asked me, “WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO TO HER?” The other turned around and waited to hear what I was going to say. I looked at them for a moment. “WELL, WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO TO HER? ARE YOU GOING TO DIVORCE THAT BITCH OR WHAT?”  said the one that had asked me before.

“Look at him, Rebecca. I think he’s going to cry,” said the same girl.

“Are you okay, Sir?” Rebecca asked. She looked concerned.

They both wanted to take care of me. A man who didn’t know what he had until he lost it. I knew I had lost her. Maria was never a good match for me.

Out of all the women I had dated and fallen in love with, I had to marry Maria. I had always been doubtful of those that told me they loved me. I never really trusted that love they felt for me; somehow, I felt they were sleeping with other men while they were sleeping with me.  For some strange alien reason, when I decided to marry Maria, I felt sure. I believed in her. I felt lucky. My friends envied me. I enjoyed showing her around because I knew she loved me. She had told me so. Her friends had told me so, but now I was here, in a women’s restroom with her ripped panty in my hand. Broken in half. Disappointed. Feeling 10% human. I looked at the girls and walked out of there without saying a word.

I came out of the hall and looked to my right. The waiter was still there behind the bar. I could tell he was waiting for me to come out. He looked curious. He seemed ready to fight, but I had no beef with him. If I had been in his shoes, I would have probably done the same thing. Maria was not an ordinary woman. Perfect proportions. Beautiful face. I couldn’t blame the guy. He had done what he had to. I ignored him as I walked. Maria was still there. Sofia was still there. The music was still loud. As I approached the table, I thought about my food. Thinking about it made me sick. I sat next to Maria. She had already eaten her quesadilla and half of mine as well.

“Where did you go? I missed you.”

“Come on, let’s get out of here.”

“Where are we going?”

“Back to the hotel. I want to show you something.”

“I don’t wanna go to the hotel right now; let’s stay a little longer,” she said to me, almost begging.

“No, we need to go now, Maria. Get up from that chair.”

I signaled the waiter, and he sent another waiter with the bill. I paid him cash. He took the money and left.

“You’re not going to tip him?” Maria asked.

I looked her straight in the eye. Then, started toward the entrance door. Maria followed me. As we walked, I heard the music stop. I turned my head and searched for Sofia. Just about everyone now stood and whistled and put their hands together for the lovely woman on stage. I kept on walking. The waiter was there behind the bar. I caught him smiling at Maria. I turned to look at her, and she was smiling and waving goodbye. I swung the door open and now we were out in the open, only a block away from the hotel. Maria followed me. We didn’t talk. The moon was still out. The stars were still there. I reached into my right front pant pocket and her ripped panties were still there. It was dark on the streets. The streetlights were out, but I was no longer in the dark. I had finally seen the light.

I still had knots in my throat. I tried to swallow, but I couldn’t. I thought about the Mezcal bottle in our hotel room. I thought about the worm that sat at the bottom of that bottle. No worries. No betrayals. No nothing. I needed to be inside that bottle.

The first thing Maria did when we got to our room was vomit in the toilet. She drank too much and now all those margaritas along with the quesadillas were inside the toilet about to get flushed. Right after vomiting, she got in the shower for a moment. When she came out, I handed her a towel. I watched her dry her body. With her eyes closed, she walked up to the bed and got under the sheets.

I was sitting on the edge of the bed. I looked at my watch and it was already 1:00 am. I took off my shoes. Undressed. Got inside the shower and only turned on the hot water. I could feel the water burn the top of my head and my shoulders, but I didn’t care. Life was full of unresolved commitments that end up becoming dead-end streets for most of us. The burning water was my punishment for my poor choice in women, for always pursuing the unavailable ones. I knew that Maria would never be available for me only, since the first day we met. I saw it in her, but maybe it was never her. Maybe it was me all along, meditating and asking the universe for a sweet loving woman to come my way, but in my asking, I’d leave out all the important detailed qualities in her.

I got out of the shower. I looked at my watch and it was already 3:00 am. I got under the sheets next to Maria and thought about Sofia. Maria started to snore. I closed my eyes and tried to fall asleep, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to. Now I really had to go meet Sofia at 5:00 am. I got off the bed, got dressed, and sat on the living room sofa with a rum and coke in my hand, feeling ready for revenge. Our relationship automobile was already out of our control, traveling full speed on a head-on collision with a dead-end wall. I placed the ripped panty on the coffee table. At 4:45 am, I walked out of the room and looked for Room #32. I took the elevator down two floors, the doors opened, and I could instantly hear soft music playing at the end of the hallway. The music was coming from inside Room #32. She had left the door open. Esther Philips played softly. I knocked quietly. Then, I heard Sofia’s echoey voice, “Come inside, Mr. Fuentes. I’m waiting for you. Do lock the door behind you please.”

Next thing I remember is waking up next to Sofia, our legs tangled under her white bed sheets. She turned to kiss my face, my forehead, my lips, my chin, and she smiled and kissed me nonstop. I was still a bit dizzy from last night’s Cuba-Libres, Bacardi Rum fumes in my morning breath. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming all this with Sofia, but I quickly realized it was no dream, when her lips started kissing my feet. I had always been very ticklish on my flat feet, and she was now giving them soft little kisses, and my natural, involuntary reflexes kicked her hard on her nose.

“Aaargh!!!! What the fuck, Mr. Fuentes!!!”

“I’m so sorry, Sofia. I’m terribly ticklish on my feet. And please, call me Oscar.”

She then threw herself on top of me, and we wrestled lovingly, made love for the next four hours under the white of her bed sheets.

Around 2:00 pm, Sofia and I found ourselves in her kitchen. I was fully dressed, and she had on this short Japanese robe that had me hypnotized. She had made me a delicious coffee, and, in my heart, I had already made her the love of my life. Without saying a word to each other, we sat at her kitchen table staring deep into our lustful eyes, sipping on coffee and smiling. Sofia looked even more beautiful in the morning without any make-up. I was flying back to Miami in just a few hours and her Japanese robe had already manipulated my perverted thoughts, and her hands, like two loving serpents, unbuttoned my shirt slowly and unzipped my blue jeans for her last kiss.

Back in the hotel room, I noticed Maria was already gone. There was a small handwritten note on the coffee table where I had placed the ripped panty. The note read, “You deserve someone better. Have a good life!”

That same day, I was back in Miami. Back on Biscayne Boulevard. My Dodge Dart drove itself to Biscayne Bay just to welcome me back. The sunset colors on the Bay were electric orange and purple. With my eyes closed, I could feel the Biscayne wind reminding me I was back home. I got back in the Dart and was back on the Boulevard heading North past 36 Street. Through the rearview mirror, I could see the neon lights of the motels flickering. Stop on red. Drive on green. My memory would journey back to Sofia’s lips, and then memory flashes of that bathroom scene with those girls feeling concerned for me.

Driving, I thought about the first days I had met Maria. I was stunned by her beauty and her disarming smile. I remember the time when I was addicted to her sexuality. It was a time of passion, of excitement, of danger. I met her when I was least expecting it, and from the moment I saw her, I knew she was different. She was married, but separated, and I didn’t know that at the time. She gave me all the right signals, letting me know she wanted me as much as I wanted her. Stop on red. Drive on green.

Our affair was like fire, hot and intense, and we could never have enough of each other. We would always introduce ourselves to strangers as husband and wife. We were like two magnets drawn to each other, and we couldn’t resist the pull. But then one day, her husband returned to her life, and she had to keep me as her secret lover. At first, it didn’t bother me too much. She would escape to my place, and we would devour each other for an hour or two, and then she would leave. But little by little, it started to bother me more and more.

I wanted to spend more time with her, to be there for her, to show her how much I loved her. But she would always leave me alone and run to his arms. It was like I was addicted to her, to the feeling of being wanted, of being needed, of being desired. And I couldn’t break free.

This went on for about four years, and I was slowly losing myself to this addiction. I was addicted to her violence. I was losing touch with who I was, with what I wanted, with what was important in life. This one time, I was reading this book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, wait, or was it seven languages?  A book that was supposed to outline five general ways that romantic partners express and experience love. This one time, I was reading on the sofa, and she walks in the room, and I tell her enthusiastically, “Look, babe! The Seven Languages of Love!” Hoping she would also find it exciting and curious to know what love language would define ours, but I had forgotten about her explosive violence.

Maria just walked towards me, angrily snatched the book from my hands, swung the book up to the right with her right arm, and brought it down with the most violent speed against my face. It must have felt like the impact of a brick or a baseball bat across my stupid face. She apologized a few days later, and I forgave her, of course. I needed to break free, or just give in to masochism. Stop on red. Drive on green.

But then, something happened. In one of her violent rages, she told him about our affair. She told me he went crazy and wanted to look for me and kill me. We started seeing each other regularly and stayed the nights. That was the beginning of the end of our relationship. Maybe the thrill of the danger was what kept us together and interested, but it wasn’t the same anymore. Maybe she had asked the universe for someone like me to help her break free. Who knows? I guess true love is not just about sex, but about respect, trust, and honesty, something I never really felt with Maria.

Two years later, I make a right on Biscayne and 33 Street and parked on the side of Biscayne Hotel. In a world full of dogs, where everyone is trying to chase their dreams, I found solace in the Biscayne Hotel. Surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Biscayne Boulevard, it was the perfect place to find inspiration. Picture-perfect days, beautiful women with fashionable smiles, and endless opportunities for adventure were waiting just outside my door. It was the kind of place where a writer could dive into the depths of his imagination and create poetic magic.

And for the first time in a long while, I was happy. Happy to be alive, happy to be in Miami, and most of all, happy to have Carmen in my life. Her curly hair, her cinnamon skin tone, her Spanish accent and the hypnotizing way she danced salsa had influenced my poetry and the way I considered commitment. Sigh. I can honestly say that it felt like the love train had finally arrived at Poetry Love Station after stopping at so many wrong stops with dead-end streets.

The Dodge Dart sat parked on the side of the hotel, and the hotel guests sat at the bar across the pool, laughing and joking around. The four water streams deep-splashing in the pool added to the serene atmosphere of the place.

Today, I could really appreciate the hotel.

It felt beachy, antique, and stylish all at once. Relaxing in Miami with style was a luxury I was grateful for. It was nice to know that there was a place for hybrid vagabond poets like us. Mid-century modern architecture inspired the muse in me, and Carmen was always on my mind. It was a hopeful feeling that pushed me off the cliff and propelled me forward with an inspired vagabond spirit.

As I left the hotel towards the Dodge Dart, I saw the Copper-tone girl with her pooch across Biscayne Boulevard. The Biscayne skyline painted against the Miami sky and casting and spilling its beloved shadow on those humid, undulating sidewalks I knew too well. I took a deep breath and thought to myself, this is home. I got on the Boulevard heading south. The Dodge Dart cruised through the neon lights of motels flickering in the rearview mirror. The Biscayne wind in my lungs was slowly turning me into a wolf ready to howl. Stop on red. Drive on green. I made a left on 25 Street and headed all the way down to the Bay, my daily Miami ritual, to stop and listen to the Bay. I sighed and listened.

I got back on the Dart and headed south on the Boulevard towards 20 Street. Right before making the turn, I realized that I wasn’t alone in my car. I could feel the spirit of the Bay sitting next to me, caressing my shoulders as I drove. I was heading over to Kush restaurant to meet Carmen for some gator bites and a beer. Kush was on the corner of North Miami and 20 Street. Driving there, I realized the Biscayne muse didn’t only live beneath the waters of Biscayne Bay. She also lived in the Wynwood wind, in the breeze streaming through my Dart, in my sweetheart’s loving eyes. Like a blessing and a curse, inside this poet’s heart.

Inside Kush, the life-size wall painting of Purvis Young looked through me, so I turned and faced the window instead, looking out at North Miami Ave. We continued sipping on our beers and waited for our gator bites. Glancing out the window, looking at my baby sip on her beer, the beauty of Miami was all around me, and I was finally in tune with it. Immortality could never feel more real. It was a call to action, perhaps, a whisper in the wind, to shake off the lazy wolf syndrome and get back to my Biscayne Hotel to continue writing. But with Carmen by my side, writing would need to wait until I was done giving her all my little gator bite kisses, like the ones I was once a receiver of.

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