Hotel Castelar

She walked out of the arrivals gate looking as beautiful as ever, if slightly off and a bit stiff from the many hours on the British Airways liner that had brought her to BA. He had been waiting in the airport a few hours, since arriving from Miami earlier that day. He hadn’t gone to the hotel, had just parked himself and his small backpack at one of the airport’s bars, as the hours passed and his nerves grew. He’d had a couple of drinks to do something about the nerves, but they hadn’t helped. He had tried talking to the waiters and to other passengers, and had felt very odd about the way his Spanish sounded. It was still allright, but the heavy Argentinian accent was almost gone, replaced by neutral Puerto Rican and Mexican, and something else: he had forgotten how to say certain things quickly in local dialect, and he would literally translate American expressions that sounded very forced and artificial in Spanish. All in all, he had found himself one of them, and not one of them at the same time, as always and everywhere.

But she looked great, that’s all he could think about, as their eyes met and they smiled. Shorter than he remembered her. She had a slight limp, probably the arthritis that had been bothering her. She was pushing a cart with just her jacket and a small valise in it. When she got to the railing where he was waiting, she left the cart aside and they hugged for what felt like a long time. He buried his face in the back of her neck and her hair, and smelled her. How had she smelled back then? She was doing the same thing, thinking the same thoughts, feeling his arms, his back, trying to recognize that man in him. She hadn’t thought he’d be so big, so tall. But it made sense, every part of the puzzle made sense now, everything was coming back, and they hadn’t even said anything yet.

– Hola, he said

– Hola, Rulo…

– Let’s not leave your bag like that. In this town, it will be gone in a sec if we don’t watch it, he said, and grabbed it, while she picked up her jacket and tried to analyze his accent – definitely not like back then, much more American now, but still a hint, still a trace there of the old thing. Not American-born, not by a long shot.

– Have you been to the hotel yet? Or you just waited here?

Ohhh, he thought… OK, I’ve got that, but that accent will take some getting used to… the ups and downs are all in the wrong places, for starters… if she says anything more complicated, I’ll have trouble understanding her, but… it sounds so great on her… I remember now… I remember that accent, and how it sounded in her. Ouch. Am I breathing here? Breathe, breathe, fool.

– I just waited for you here, Lily. How could I not? I sat at the bar and tried to read the papers and had a couple of drinks, to be honest with you.

– I know. I smelled them. Gin and tonics.

– Ooops… bad first impression…

– No, good first impression. I want one too. Later. Let’s get out of here.

– Let’s, let’s… c’mon…

They jumped into a cab, their luggage was so insignificant that the driver didn’t even ask if they wanted the trunk opened.

– Hotel Castelar, Avenida de Mayo… lo conoce, no?

– Si, si, muy bien.

They were holding hands and completely ignoring the efforts of the cabbie to make conversation. Lily’s eyes went from Rulo’s to the city unfolding outside as the car started speeding and got on the freeway. Housing projects. Suburbs. Rail lines. Suddenly, the traffic getting much slower, and then the reason why: a group of young Che Guevara lookalikes blocking some lanes, with signs and drums and chants, while riot police watched from some distance. The cabbie spit, as they passed, “piqueteros chotos de mierda”, fucking picketing assholes, and he sped.

– What was that? Is there a lot of that going on?

– Yeah, maybe. It looks like these days, everybody who has an opinion or a complaint can go ahead and block traffic for however long he wants. To make a point. But this is a new thing, it wasn’t happening when I left. I guess it’s one of the many layers happening here. This is a complex place, don’t form too quick an impression of it or you’ll be surprised later.

– Mmm, would that apply to Buenos Aires, or to you, Rulo?, she said, and smiled. He smiled right back, looking straight into her beautiful eyes.

– Both, Lily, both. You know… I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say that this is a high point in my life, and fuck the consequences, you know that, right….

She laughed loudly, musically, and didn’t answer. He knew then that their South American weekend (3 days, in fact) would be good. He could sense it already. That laugh. The way she smelled. Her eyes, of course.

The hotel was old and very classy, but unpretentious too, with old spittoons in corners, a barbershop inside, and sawdust around the bar. It had an old-world charm everywhere you looked, from the ancient elevators with the equally ancient elevator operators, to the soft classical music piped into the corridors, and the brass and mahagony fittings. It was one of many hundred year old buildings along a wide avenue lined with mature trees, heavy with traffic at that time of day, right next to a Subte, or Tube, entrance. Shoeshine and newspaper boys came in and out of the lobby as they checked in.

Finally, they were in their room, and as they got rid of jackets and shoes, the drinks that they had ordered arrived. Rulo signed the bill, tipped the bellboy and put them on a table. Lily was checking out the late afternoon traffic from the window, and he joined her and embraced her from behind.

The good thing about their time together during this trip was that every second felt perfectly natural. The bad thing was that the time wasn’t enough.

But back to Lily by the window, he hugged her, and soon they were kissing, lightly at first, then tongues playfully going in and out of mouths. She turned to face him, and they almost fell, so they had a laughing fit. They got their drinks and laid in bed, touching each other, kissing again now and then, and then some more, and yet some more, until they felt the urgency to just leave the drinks on the nightstands and undress fast and go at it. They started fucking, he on top, just facing each other and not saying anything, eyes firmly on each other’s. This went on for a while, as he felt closer and closer to coming. Not looking into her eyes helped avoid the moment, but the second he opened his, hers were there, like deep blue pools, and he could feel his spunk welling up and control fading fast. So he pulled out and somehow rudely turned her around. Her being so petite, and him being so big, helped make things happen with a minimum of effort. Loving the roundness of her ass, he took her from behind, and not staring into her eyes helped him control his urge to come. But then she started moaning softly as she climaxed, and turned around some, looking at him from over her shoulder – and the second eye contact was made, he came too, in powerful spasms.

They were so tired and jet lagged, they fell asleep without saying anything, they barely had enough energy to cover themselves with the sheets. He woke up in the middle of the night. The nightstand clock said 2:58. The lights were off, but a glow came from outside, and he could see some letters from the big neon sign, “…el Cast…”. Trying not to wake her up, he went to the bathroom, took a long pee and washed his cock, his hands and his face. She opened only one eye and looked at him through the open door, and when he turned to come back to bed she pretended to still be asleep, to see what he’d do.

This is what he did: he sat at the end of the bed for a while, staring at her in the semi darkness. Then he started kissing her feet lightly, and touching her toes one by one. His hands started caressing her legs, and his kisses followed. When he got to her knees, she had to breathe harder, and she felt his face tickling her thighs as he went up, but didn’t smile, just buried both hands in his thick hair, still black with just the first strands of gray. He could barely breathe as he got closer to her pussy, overpowered by the scent and the memories. He grabbed at her ass cheeks with both hands and was about to sink his face there when she said, “Shhhh………….barely touching”, and the memory of a night so many ages ago came back to him as powerful as the attraction of what was between her wide open legs. He slowly fingered her clit for a long while, and as it got harder, and moister, he went closer and kissed it, very lightly. Then he started playing with it in his mouth, and he could feel it palpitating, could hear her moans, and feel her body shaking. He looked up and her eyes were on him, and he couldn’t help almost coming all over the sheets, looking into that, her beautiful eyes, as her pussy contracted and her ass cheeks hardened and her clit swam in his mouth, in a sea of saliva and salty juices, and two fingers went inside her and she was coming too, her blue gaze not leaving his eyes for a second, or a fraction of a second, eyes just glued, welded, fused together, except when uncontrollably rolling, and then coming back into focus and looking into each other again for a while, rolling, coming back, rolling, closing, opening, coming back, coming, coming.

Well, what’s to say about all that. Not much more. Or a lot more. Enough for now.

Dawn found them eating spicy chicken curry at a Peruvian immigrants’ restaurant, many miles away from the hotel, slightly drunk but looking so sharp, ill-tempered and dangerous that even the toughs in that two-bit, hole in the wall joint left them alone after a cursory glance. Football team posters lined the walls, and kitschy folk art from the Andes. She had been crying, for sure. Her blue eyes had rings of faded black makeup all around. Her hair was a mess. She was wearing jeans and a see-through blouse, only she had forgotten to put on a bra. His surplus American army jacket was on her shoulders, as a chilly wind had started blowing in the wee hours. He was wearing a black t-shirt, and she stared at his tattoos often between bites of the spicy stuff. His eyes were very red, from smoking or crying. OK, from crying. Yet they attacked the curry (“picante de gallina”) and the beers with energy, famished after sex and talk and a long walk in the night. Finally, they ended their bowls, and Raúl noisily spat a chicken bone on the floor. Lily burped, took a long swig at her beer, and made a gesture for another one. A fat, brown woman brought it with a half smile, and Raúl asked her, “tiene Pisco?” “Si”, she answered – Bring the bottle then, señora, por favor, and she brought it along with a plate of lemons cut in quarters, and spicy peanuts and chilis.

A drunken brawl on the sidewalk barely caught their attention at all, and they started talking again, while bottles broke outside and a police siren got closer:

– You’re not gonna…

– No, no, shush…

– ‘Cause it’s been enough and…

– Nah, I got you… no more… this is brilliant….

– It fucking is, my friend… it is…. fuck…

– I love you, you know that….

– Shut up, shut up. Yeah… I know… please, shush…

– You should leave that alone now

– You’re drinking too… I’ll stop when you stop….

– I can’t stop….

– I can’t stop either then

– Keep it down, the natives will fuck us… you don’t speak English at a place like this…

– Oh screw that…

They looked at each other for a long time over empty bottles and chicken bones. All of a sudden, the place started smelling like coffee. The night crew was going out, the early birds, cab drivers and construction workers, were coming in for breakfast. The fat brown woman brought them two steaming cups of black coffee, without being asked to, and they looked gratefully at her. Rulo poured a little Pisco into his cup, Lily had two sugars in hers.

– So what did you tell Pilar?

– Oh. That my tooth was killing me and I had to do something about it.

– Uh?

– You know how expensive health care is stateside. So what I do is, I don’t have health insurance there, I just stash some money and if I need to, I come here and see my old dentist, pay her cash. It’s cheaper than dental insurance.

– Shit. So you’re here to see the dentist?

– Exactly. She’ll open the place for me, have her assistant over, and take care of me even though it’s the weekend and stuff. Greenbacks talk.

– Unbelievable. So you’ve been putting up a show?

– Very painful. Especially after dinner. Has to be treated with bourbon, and bed early.

– Crafty. Very crafty.

– You?

– In fact, I didn’t lie. I said I needed a weekend to figure out stuff.

– What did he say?

– Nothing. He said nothing. He said he’d take care of the kid, and that I go and figure out what I need to figure out.

– Wow

– Yeah

– So what will you tell him?

– I don’t know. Stop it, OK? It’s our first night here. We have tomorrow, and then tomorrow night, and then Monday.

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