The Mexican did not come back to the docks.
Nobody knew his name, though the boss did,
after saying he didn’t know no Gomez . . .
The guy’s name is his own business, he spat.
I kept on working another month. No one,
nothing turned up. At the house Barbara said
his name was Gomez, she knew him quite well,
he was her lover briefly when she came to town
from New England, she had no idea he was
what he was now, obviously, after she heard
Betty’s story. Jack was Barbara’s new lover,
soft spoken, shy even. He loved Jack Daniels
and shared his Tennessee love with Barbara.
He was the guy who managed the downstairs:
the movies, the free drink, the hors d’oeuvres,
the couches and pallets lining the courtyard.
The brass bed upstairs was the bed he slept in,
and that was that. The horror story was ended,
he declared. For such a mannerly Southerner
he could display a sharp temper. He went back
to being the nice guy, everybody’s friend, lush
with purpose, the surprising house Casanova.
Nobody but his now former boss knew the name
of the Mexican. They called him Gomez because
that’s what he told them. No one knew otherwise.
After that month I had a cache of money saved,
staying at HOTEL HOTEL made a difference,
working weekends at THE SALOON helped,
I still had not visited Johnny’s mama’s house,
I feared I was too weak to resist temptation’s
underworld, besides I had eyes for Betty only,
and Johnny was too involved with her for me
to have a part in her scenario: her daddy lost
his farm and moved the family to a little town
her lover drove his blue Ford convertible down
to squire her through the hurdles to pregnancy
and birth at Fort Riley, Kansas, where the army
sent him. Her husband and her brother fought
and she divorced. It was not amicable. Daughter
Sherry lived with her daddy now. Betty feared
Sherry would stay with him. Her brother Ted
went to jail for drunk driving, too many times.
She worked around the clock waiting tables,
going from one café to another, saving money,
and here she was in the fabled Land of Dreams.
She met Johnny her first day in town, in a bar
where he was waiting for stripper Lili St. Cyr
to take the stage, saw her at the door and here
she was at his table, her red hair and long legs
above and below, and Lili St. Cyr never showed.
(7 November 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander