She's not a hooker. Not exactly. About twenty. Petite. Panamanian. A worldly look that belies her age. Yes, she approached me on the street, but all she seems to want is a place to crash. What the hell--I've got room, and always willing to rescue a fair--or dusky--damsel in distress.
There's room, yes, but very little of it on the rollaway bed--the only piece of furniture in my place--loaned to me at that by a landlady who correctly pegged me as newly arrived and traveling light. It's an attractive apartment, though, here in the old city--and the neighbors! I am next door to the governor's mansion, La Fortaleza, and directly across the street from famed cellist Pablo Casals. I never actually see the reclusive genius, nor has the governor invited me over for drinks, but it makes for some good name-dropping nonetheless.
In the mornings I wake to gentle sunlight streaming through the shutters, and the tickling sensation of tiny lizards thrashing about in my hair. Tourists stroll by and comment on what they can see of my little place from the outside. Governor's staff residence, most likely. What if they knew that inside on a musty smelling rollaway sits a burping, scratching, hung-over Americano in his BVDs--smirking at the irony of it all?
Her name is Tina. She knows my name, but prefers to call me "Stupido." I consider it to be a term of endearment.
She stays over. I leave for work in the mornings, and she heads off to God knows where. In the evenings, she returns. It's a tight fit, the two of us on a rollaway built for one--tight but cozy.
One night she shows up with a friend. A rather rotund American chick named Rosie. The connection between the two of them is unclear. Rosie needs a place, just for the night. I say, "Okay, but as you can see, you'll have to sleep on the floor. " She says no problem. No, I don't mind at all.
We settle in for the night. Rosie seems content, sacked out in the corner. I have no mat, or even a blanket to lend her. She's fortunate, though, in that her girth should serve as something of a buffer. The floor is hard, but the pavement is harder.
In the dream, I am being smothered...crushed underneath some formless, nameless weight. I wake with a start. The nightmare is real! Rosie has clambered onto the bed, sprawled across the two of us like a giant tortoise that's discovered the ideal nesting spot. What's more, she is out cold. The tiny bed groans and strains under its burden. Somehow, I manage to slide from underneath the intruding beast and tumble to the floor.
Bleary-eyed, Tina raises her head. "Stupido...wha's going on?" she murmers.
I don't bother to explain. It is three o'clock in the morning and to say that I am annoyed would be an understatement. I grab Rosie by her shirt and literally drag her off the bed, depositing her back on the floor.
In the morning she is apologetic. "I don't know what got into me," she says.
"That's okay," I reply, beginning to feel like a heartless bastard. That is, until I consider the alternatives: Tina and Rosie in the bed--me on the floor.
Tina on the floor--me and the tortoise in bed.
"I'll be good tonight," say Rosie.
In the evening, we assume our rightful places--Tina and me on the rollaway, Rosie--the obedient dog--on the floor...and all's right with the world.
2 a.m. Rosie is on the bed.
I get up, grab her by the arms and pull. She offers no resistance, nor does she move of her own volition--she is simply dead weight that needs to be transported from one location to the other. I drag her off the bed and back onto the floor.
"STAY! STAY DOWN!" I scold.
4 a.m. Rosie is back--sprawled across the two of us again. I take hold of her legs. ready to give her the old heave-ho. But now she is desperate, clinging to the side of the bed with all her might. I tug. She tightens her grip. Finally, I win out.
THUMP goes Rosie's ass as it hits the floor.
In the morning, I deliver Tina's dose of reality. Rosie has got to go.
That evening, as I turn the key, there is only stillness inside my little abode. Sure enough, the two of them have packed up and moved on.
A couple days later, I see Tina back on the street. Yeah...I suppose she is a hooker.
Anyway, I'm sleeping better now than I have in a while--with just enough room on the rollaway for me...and the lizards.