Lorraine was stretched out on a comfortable, floral-print chaise lounge beside El Chapo’s massive swimming pool enjoying the sunshine. She was wearing a modest black bathing suit and a wide-brimmed black hat the size of a large pizza. She refused to get sun on her face. All those years of expensive face creams…Her mani-pedi needed some serious attention, but she could live with that. Chappie had an old nail clipper she could use if worse came to worse. She nibbled on fresh fruit brought to her by house staff and sipped an icy margarita. Lunch time approached and she could smell the delicious fish tacos being prepared in the kitchen.
The holidays had come and gone and she had successfully avoided all of the hoopla by relaxing in Mexico. She had missed Thanksgiving and the hoards of Frederick’s family staring at her across the table at 44 Cherry Street like the walking dead. She had missed Holly Jolly and its screeching children and the Owen High School marching band. And she had avoided Christmas with all that gift buying and New Years with those damn collards and black-eyed peas and their horrible resulting gas. It was never her plan to run away for an extended period of time, but she lost track of days at this luxurious place. The idea of returning to 44 Cherry Street was lurking in the back corner of her mind, but she was having too much fun to even consider doing so.
She didn’t have to lift a finger here. She had cute dogs to play with, Chappie’s Chorkies. She had a new complete wardrobe of colorful, hand-embroidered Mexican clothes that made her look like a better-looking Frida Kahlo. She, unlike Frida, kept her brows carefully plucked. Maids waited on her and did her laundry. And best of all, she had only to wiggle her fingers from her lounge chair and a bartender brought her a fresh frozen margarita.
She was still fat (really fat by this time) but El Chapo said he liked carne on the bones of a woman, and he told her she looked like a meaty pork chop. His words encouraged her to indulge her food obsessions and eat the delightful food prepared by El Chapo’s kitchen staff: Tamales, Chilaquiles, and Carnitas. Her girth was expanding and luckily her new clothes were loose and hid some of her sins. A nagging voice told her that when she did return home, she would have to go on the South Beach Diet for months. Right now, though, she need not worry about her shape.
El Chapo found her “enchanting”, he said. He called her Gordita, which she believed translated to “Beautiful.” When she asked him about the horrible things she had read about him in the newspapers back home, he explained that he had gotten a bad rap from the press. (Fake news). He wasn’t a criminal, he insisted. He was a modern-day Robin Hood whose drug sales benefitted the local poor people. He negotiated the best price for their products and was making them rich. How could that be a bad thing? And the guns and machetes? They were only for self-protection from useless policemen who wanted to take over his lucrative business. They just didn’t understand, and they were corrupt anyway. She could understand that! She could remember long before when Stephanie from Chifferobe got a ticket from the police when her parked car on Cherry Street was smashed by a church bus.
She could see how much the people loved him, too. His staff jumped at his commands and couldn’t do enough for him. And when local people called at the house, they kissed his hands and knelt down before him. They loved him so much!
One day he brought her a beautiful diamond bracelet and she asked him what the sticky, rusty- brownish stuff was on the backside. He said it might have fallen into some mud, and he ordered a maid to wash it immediately. She made a face and took it away held by the tips of her fingers.
“Oh, Chappie!” she had said, “Where in the world did you find that bracelet? Surely there is not a shopping center nearby.”
“No Cara,” he explained. “I found this at the home of a customer who did not need it anymore. She owed me some money, and this bauble took the place of payment.”
“Please tell her thank you when you see her next time!” gushed Lorraine.
He said that he would not be seeing her again, and he refused to explain why. Once the bracelet was washed clean of the sticky stuff, Lorraine put it on and held it to the light of the grand chandelier in the dining room. It sparked into brilliant rainbows of color. She couldn’t stop gazing at it. El Chapo was certainly the sweetest of men. Next to Frederick of course.