Oxxo & The Tiger
If you want to buy booze, cigarettes, juice, or any other item of convenience in Puerto Vallarta, you go to Oxxo-- Oxxo stands for kisses and hugs, my verdict on that irony is still out. Tristan and I gathered our usual assembly of Don Julio and friends to accompany us on our way back to his apartment. As we walked to the counter, the woman standing behind a plexiglass barrier gave an uneasy nod to the man working beside her.
A second quartet joined the four of us. One wore a bald head and a grin of unshakable intentions. Another sported a permanent teardrop under his eye. The black ink of his honorific token had faded through years of sun exposure.
We exchanged palpable unease with the cashiers and swung the door wide to exit a potentially troubling situation.
“I’m sorry I walked so fast out of there,” I say, “I’m less concerned about offending people. It’s how I stay alive when I’m traveling alone.”
“That’s good; I totally understand that,” said Tristan.
We wait for our Uber in a well-lit area and have a debate about whether our street corner smells more of urine or feces. Tristan insists it smells like shit and I berate his unrefined nasal palet.
We called today, Day Fifteen. On day one we acquainted ourselves with a competitive amount of 2-for-1 margaritas and a brazen depth of oversharing that would make most people cringe. We spent 36 hours ingesting Ritalin while the eyes of the Mexican sun blinked open and shut and open again.
“Time isn’t real”, we told whichever of us became concerned with the hour. It was never me.
Today we walked the shops of La Zona Romantica and I pointed out an obscene silver tiger the size of a small corgi in a jewelry shop window.
“I want that,” I said. “Buy it for me.” I was using my shittiest entitled Coachella voice, too obviously false to be misconstrued.
“If you want that, we’d better call it now.” He said. We shared a sarcastic understanding, but there was something he didn’t know. A very real part of me wanted that god-awful tiger. The thing must have weighed 45lbs, and it was undeniably useless.
When I go to sleep tonight, I’ll dream of the tiger. I’ll see the unsettling green illumination of the refrigerator door opening. My first forward step will tick back his opaque ears in my direction. I crouch to the floor and gather my legs together, leaning against the bedroom doorframe. Behind me are Tristan’s unencumbered deep throat rattles. The silver Tiger could never confuse such soft slumber for aggression.
How could he have found me here in Conchas Chinas? No matter, the pressing issue for us both was hunger. The tiger pressed the metallic sheen of her torso into the refrigerator door. The soft rubber connected and the emanating green light-sliver vanished.
My efforts abruptly turn to wake me now. This seems like a good stopping place to stir and contemplate the silver tiger not appetized by my meager selection, but my lids don’t open halfheartedly as they usually would. My eyes are awake; too wide.
There are thumbnail moons reflected on her body. She suddenly owns a collective of maneuvering lunar eclipses dancing lazily with her movement. A soft scraping of silver fur brushes across the wood of the walnut couch. It echos subtle music box notes of a song I might have known once about a little white cloud that cried. She draws nearer to me, and I ready my legs. I hope to be a suitable resting place at the end of her odyssey.
“Quiet now,” I think to myself, “You can’t speak cat even after years of practice, She is a tiger, and her silver tongue purrs while yours can only manage a whimper.”
My good friend now maneuvers the pads of her paws to my shoulders, and I am shocked by the weight of them. My spine strikes the ground hard and Tristan sleeps.
It took me longer than I’d like to admit before I realized I was the prey my companion hungered for. I silently endured the sharpness and immediate relief that drained from my neck in an ancient liquid warmth. As my deity dined, I only hoped the swelling of my heart would be enough to satiate her. My eyes were the last to go, and I watched the motionless ceiling fan, contemplating the 3% charge on all international transactions.