De tu Amor
The angry Mexican sun sizzles the retina with hot tamale rays. Dry eyes scan the dry landscape beyond the structure’s lone window. Bloodshot and boozed up, I struggle to my feet with a guttural groan. My skull pounds with hangover drums and visions of a woman I once loved, the acidic brine of vomit and blood loitering on my tongue.
It’s some little adobe, hidden in the arid innards of the Sonoran Desert. I limp out of the bedroom and into the only other room. Sparse. Barren decor, no hanging frames, a single piece of furniture. Atop that otherwise empty table sits a milk bottle vase sprouting a single black rose.
The doorknob turns and even before the intruder reveals himself, I know why he’s here. The fury of woman scorned, he is, sent by my brown-eyed baby to stop my heart. His form is that of a dead-eyed assassin notorious for putting gringos in graves. He doesn’t flinch when the light hits him, illuminating that leather prune face battered by incessant sun and straight tequila nights.
He takes no pleasure in this. Stoic, he raises an antebellum Colt revolver and croaks, “De tu amor.” When he cocks his pistol, I hurl the vase in adrenaline-charged desperation. It crystal-shard shatters across his face, and he hits the deck. He gropes around blindly, finding only glass. I take the revolver and point it at his chest.
We both have holes in our hearts now. I run my fingers through his blue-black Navajo hair, comforting him as he leaves this world. He dies as he lived, in a cloud of pistol smoke. When I leave him, he is clutching that black rose for eternity.
The desert is quiet; there is no sign of a partner. This man’s only partner was Death. His horse is calm and needs no coaxing. Accustomed to carnage, she is content long as she rides with a renegade. I climb her near side, and we bareback book it out of there in a dusty clomp.
Saguaros and ocotillo rush by in a frenzied blur, the unfriendly flora reminding me of her, the way they carve scars with their razory spines. Soon, the Arizona border is nothing but a tired-eye memory. Tumbleweed roads eventually give way to civilization.
There is a house, an industrial design of concrete coolness wedged in a craggy mountain crevice. Where the red rocks meet the muted gray there is a door. I know this is where I’ll find her.
She’s a mess. Black-bagged and pink-tinted eyes stare straight ahead. A semi-automatic handgun is pressed to her temple. She greets me with a sad little smile and releases the safety. “Hello,” she says as her manicured finger slides toward the trigger.