The guy just stared, totally fascinated but not in a way that alarmed her. Which was a good thing, considering she seemed to be laying on the only bed in his weird little hovel, naked under a huge beach towel printed with jaguars and parrots peering out of a jungle. She didn’t see any of her clothes and couldn’t remember showing up here. The lack of a hangover led her to think it wasn’t another one of those deals, though. She just didn’t have a lot of recall at the moment. No big.
He brought her bottled water, then just sat staring at her. She sat up clutching the towel to her chest, smiled prettily, swept a handful of gold hair back from her face, and accepted the water. She sipped, then guzzled greedily, realizing she was very dry, perhaps borderline dehydrated. Might have something to do with her brain not hitting on all cylinders. He sat watching her drink, seemed to be working something out in his head. And must have finally figured out what it was because he suddenly said, “What your name?” in heavily flawed English.
“Let me get back to you on that,” she told him seriously. “But how about you?”
It only took three re-wordings of the question to understand that the guy was named Ganzo. Good start. The rest would come back pretty soon. It always did, like it or not. Meanwhile, she scoped Ganzo out. Obviously local, but taller than the normal Mayan and pretty easy on the eyes. Which rang a bell somewhere in her head, but she ignored it. Nicely muscled, maybe a swimmer. The tight, chiseled calves you get from using dive fins a lot. Another ringtone back in the warm, dusky wool. What she was really wondering was whether of not the guy’s looks and her nude presence in his bed were connected and if that was going to complicate her life. She kind of doubted it.
For one thing, she was getting the feeling this Ganzo guy was beyond uncomplicated: was more like not all there. Not so much because of his blank stare and limited conversational tools, or even the fact that he had a great-looking naked blonde in stock and didn’t seem interested in much more than staring like a little kid: there was just a blankness to him, like a big dog or draft horse. Exactly the kind of animals she was very comfortable around. More so than good-looking men, actually. Legacy of her rodeo farmgirl childhood. Hey, now there was backstory right there. She lay back to think that over, but when her head hit the ball of T-shirts that served as a pillow she yelped in pain. Apparently her head had been beaten pretty badly. Hmm, head trauma, can’t remember anything: just like the cartoons.
Her gingerly explorations of her lacerated scalp indicated that her wounds had been treated with iodine and a band-aid here and there. But no matted blood in her hair. Had he washed her hair for her? She palmed a handful over her nose and sniffed. It smelled of cheap hand soap. Like the big yellow cake sitting over there on the rickety table by the plastic paint bucket.
She raised the towel and took a peek: yep, her golden gorgeosity was marred into a camouflage pattern of scrapes and bruises. She thought about that a little as she drained the last of the liter of AguaPura, but came up with zip. Ganzo came up with another bottle of water. This time she patted his hand before taking the bottle and chugging another few pints. “You rescued me, didn’t you?”
He cocked his head at her like a dog, and with as much comprehension. Not much of a talker. She rather liked that in a guy, sometimes. Apparently. She toasted him with the bottle and slugged down some more.
And no, Ganzo never talked much. For one thing, he didn’t have much to say. A physical type, you could call him. But also there was a sort of reticence inside him. When he worked the beach he held up his wares for examination, dickered with the foreigners using his fingers, stared at the women when they tried to draw him out–and all the time conflicted whether he wasn’t worthy to talk to them or they didn’t belong in his world. Or something. Concepts swirled in his head like clouds. Sometimes the clouds came together and massed to form shapes. He could express those shapes, adroitly carving them onto shell, coconuts, coral, driftwood, fruit pits. But the clouds almost never formed words.
Meanwhile, she figured her dehydration was responding well to treatment because she had to pee. She looked around the cluttered little palm frond shack but didn’t see any sign of a bidet or vanity. She looked at Ganzo, who was still squatting on his heels, regarding her with his calm fascination. First word in Español a girl picks up around Mexico: “Baño?” He pointed at the door without breaking his stare. Okay. the towel was big, but not really up to a Dorothy Lamour shot. She tried another major word in Chick Spanish: “Ropa? My clothes? Nice fluffy guest bathrobe?”
He stood up smoothly and stepped over to some sort of workbench, snagged a bright red rayon sarong off the plastic armchair. Very nice hibiscus pattern. A Barcelona girl had given it to Ganzo two days ago. He’d looked a complete espectaculo, striding up out of the surf bronzed and naked, a blond goddess hanging off his hands. She wouldn’t have been completely comfortable with the idea of a guy just carrying off a naked unconscious woman like that, but one thing Tulum beachniks figured out was that Ganzo was harmless. She’d made a bit of a play for him, like some of the other little sluts in the cabañas, but he just didn’t seem to swing that way. He’d just stare at some topless Euro-hotty modeling his jewelry salaciously in front of him, his inner drum wacking out.
So she’d draped the red sarong over the comatose blonde and waved them off into the dusk before turning back to the bar swing for another cup of black espresso, shot of mescal, and line of toot.
When she stepped out of what amounted to an outhouse with a fall pipe located on top of a two story cement building in some tacky little village, she had figured a few things out. Or remembered them anyway. This was Mexico, the blue shine she saw to the east was the Caribbean, she was American, she’d been pounded over a coral reef. Indicating a familiarity with reefs. Another thing she figured out: she could just walk down those risky-looking wood stairs, head up that dusty street and be free of this situation. She wasn’t exactly kidnapped here. Slightly later she realized that walking around wounded, wearing only a wrap, with no money or clues, wouldn’t be the best plan of action available. So she turned back to Ganzo’s hovel, seeing it now as a palapa, a wedge of woven palm thatch sitting up here on somebody’s roof. She pushed aside the plush acrylic blanket with fading Mayan calendar print, stepped back into the dusky, gold-shot light of the palapa, and almost ran into Ganzo. He extended his hands toward her, running them into her hair and around her throat.