the call issues from a smile with a wave of the hand.
behind it dark water laps gently, stretching across the wide surface of the lake to merge with the low mist. malo mayo. the start of the rains. the too perfect cones of dead volcanoes slowly drifting into reality as they rise through the fog. the smell of diesel and the rattle of ancient engines invite me to leave but i am happy here.
the dull cyclic repetition of swimming and beer is enough. when people, strangers, talk to me i smile and spin them the story; the car accident that explains the scars, the need for peace and quiet. occasionally i go for a run along the lake edge, past the suspicious eyes of the women clothed in thick black and the opportunist shouts of the children. un peso. i laugh and run faster, leaving them behind.
sometimes i go out on the water, taking the hotel's little plastic shell of a boat with the tourists here to dive. riding along the water, wet suits and air on, leaning in to keep the weight of the tank inside so we don't fall off until the engine is cut and we roll backwards two by two. dropping though the dark, the strange feeling of the hot mud where the earth's skin is too thin, the feel of the pipe of hot water as you swim through. not too often. the murk of the water leaves me claustrophobic with the memories the ride can dredge up.
i'm lying in the hammock with the pynchon i managed to claim from some young college student. i glance up to take in the new arrivals. one of them is checking their phone with annoyance. no signal here. only hardline. a figure throws out a rucksack from under the tarpaulin covering the roof of the little ferry. a subconscious hidden markov model flags up a warning and i watch the man climb out of the boat with growing concern. i know him.
i have six exit routes planned. but with a sense of inevitability, even curiosity, i sit and wait. if he had come to kill me then he would not have come with the tourists. it's part of the message; parley. he looks over to me, his legs firm on the slippery wood of the jetty, and nods. i sit up, struggling with the sucking gravity of the hammock, feeling very out of shape. i want to run. i want to slide the knife strapped to my back clear and hit him before he reaches land. instead i place my bookmark on my page and reach for my beer.
he lifts his pack onto his shoulder and walks past me, following the others to where the young guy on an expired visa waits for them, ready to check them in and find them a bed in the varied wooden accomodations spread across the steep hillside behind the bar. i take another sip of beer and wait. this cannot be coincidence.
within a few minutes he is back, carrying a beer of his own and a packet of cigarettes.
mind if i sit down.
i wave my hand and he takes this as a yes.
how did you find me.
you got caught in the corner of a photo, uploaded, we found it eventually. followed it up with sat before i came. surprised you're still here.
i like it. it's a hard place to leave.
he looks around. yeah. he takes a sip of his beer and lights a cigarette. i can see that. blue smoke catches in the afternoon breeze. he reaches out a pocket pulling out a small metal box, dull and brush polished. a black square comes to life on it with a swipe.
know what this is.
i brought a linkup with me. i control it from here. i can turn it on and bring you on service again with a brush of my finger. it's keyed to me, of course.
so why don't you.
i'd rather you volunteered.