Bobby was in Puebla with Sanchez and Company when he met her. She said later she knew she could love him, and since she was usually wrong about men she was happy he loved her.
He was playing clarinet, Paula was singing Angel Eyes, and Tony, Clark, and Sanchez were delivering the melody, tempo, rhythm on piano, bass, and drums. She watched the reed man swinging his horn as he followed the rise and fall of the song, and she thought she would like to hear him talk to find out if he also listened to women.
Bobby had made a special effort to come here this time because once while working with the quartet in Cuernevaca, he had taken Manuela Roma's advice, rented a car, and outside Puebla followed her directions, leaving the highway where the huge El Pacifico cerveza billboard marked the beginning of the climb up this winding road in the Sierra Oriente until reaching its end, the Totonacan village of Cuetzalan, having passed on each corner, as he later recalled, flowers garlanding the graves of those who had not made it to the top.
He told her his name was Roberto, then added Bobby, both names she found to her liking. And he smiled when she told him her name was Esperanza, and as though he needed to feel he would as easily have found her in Seattle or in Mexico City, thinking how they would reach Veracruz if they kept going east, his lips formed the word and said “Hope.”
(13 September 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander