The realtor fumbled with the enormous key ring. “Sorry about this. We haven’t had time to get a lockbox put on. It just came on the market.”
“So you said.” Squinting in the icy wind, her irritation was evident.
“Here we are.” The stiff lock clanked. The realtor held the door open. Dim blue light from the frosted windows made the enormous space look like a black and white photograph, the atmosphere still carrying a faint odor of stale sweat.
“The old man who owned it died five years ago,” the realtor said. “The daughter finally decided to sell it.”
She strode in and tossed her gloves onto the kitchen table. “That gardener is just impossible. I am surprised anyone uses him.”
I glanced at her over my paper. “What is it this time?”
“The roses. I specifically told him I wanted the hips saved when he cropped them for the season. I could not have been more clear. That moronic Mexican threw them out. Threw them out!”
“Did you tell him in English?”
“Of course not. He can barely speak Spanish. I think he drinks.”
“He’s a Mormon.”
“Let’s get out the dictionary and see what you told him.”
“You owe me a dollar.”
“What time is it?”
“Five to six. Pay up.”
He joined her at the window. The old man was out there working his snow shovel.
“I haven’t got any money.”
“I’ll add it to your tab,” she smiled.
He kissed her. “I love your teeth in this light. Whiter than the snow”
She hugged him. They stood watching the man. “He’s a hard worker. People now don’t work like that.”
“They use snow blowers. Make a goddamn racket.”
“I wonder what it’s like. To be that old.”
“We’ll know someday.”
“I hope we’ll know together.”
The hotel floor creaked with the weight of them as they barreled up to the bar. They spoke no Spanish, but instead a simplified English that would have been comical if it wasn’t so insulting.
“Hey, Peedro! What’s a fella got to do to get a fucking drink around here?” bellowed the fatter of the two.
Olivár made the snap decision to take the high road. He turned slowly and placed his hands on the tiled surface. “What would you like, sir?” he said in his perfect English.
“I’ll be dipped in dogshit!” said the other. “This wetback speaks American!”