by andres moxey
2003 Storycove Flash Fiction Award
beach is white and deserted in the midday sun.
I look at the sea, turquoise near the beach, cobalt farther out.
I sit in the shade of the palm tree, as I do every day, hearing
the rustle of the fronds as the wind blows in from the sea, warm
I must have dropped off for a while because Antonio has appeared
and is sitting in his beach chair beside me.
Antonio sits quietly, his thin wrinkled face turned to the waves,
the dark glasses hiding his eyes; the red ball cap firmly on his
freckled head. We sit together under the palms, two withered lizards
basking in the sand.
"What did you have for lunch?" I say.
"I asked for the Cuban sandwich. It was good."
"I had the tuna salad."
"Miguel, you are crazy ordering that on a Monday; all the leftover
salads from Sunday."
"Yeah and your sandwich was all freshly cut puerco, I bet."
"We should go someplace else on Mondays. I don't trust that
Paco guy who runs the shop. Looks like a marielito, one of those
no-goods on the last boatloads."
"The washroom is a disgrace. The only reason I go is because
"Yeah, she's always happy and glad to see us. What a backside
that woman has. When she bends down to pick something up, her dress
stretches tight over it, what a sight!"
"You are becoming a dirty old man."
"I may be old but I still appreciate a good looking woman."
"Juanita is a good person. It's a miracle she puts up with
that jerk Paco ordering her around all day."
"She needs the job. She has two kids to take care of and the
husband took off."
"Here, take this." I say. We switch plastic bags; mine
with the Herald, his with the Sentinel. We only buy the Sunday newspapers.
"I have to think of buying more fruit. I get constipated more
"She reminds me of Concepcion. She was always of a happy disposition.
Always laughing and joking; before she got sick."
We watch the sea for a while. Two young girls, their tanned bodies
shining in the sunlight, walk past beside the water.
"I don't wish to talk of disagreeable matters, but my evacuations
until recently required hardly any paper at all. Everything worked
"Nothing is the same now. I wake in the night and there is
no one beside me; no one to laugh with; no one to talk to."
"And now I have this shooting pain in my private parts."
"Getting through the day; I just think how I'm going to get
through the day."
"I don't like it. Last time I saw Dr. Suarez, he wanted to
take more tests."
"I sit here and plan exactly what I will do after I leave here;
to fill in the hours until it is time to go to bed."
"I refused, you hear? I flatly refused! He wanted me to have
rectal examinations and stuff. I, a grown man letting some young
intern shove a finger up my ass, no sir."
"Come on, Antonio; confess that that is the examination you
like most." I pat him on the back.
"And fuck you too."
We both laugh, enjoying the feeling, appreciating the moment.
Some people have arrived and parasols of different colors appear
on the beach. The cries of children playing by the water's edge
float across the hot sand to where we sit. I think of Concepcion,
remembering her smile, the soft black hair, her warm skin.
Antonio snores softly beside me as the afternoon drags by, the shadows
of the palms growing longer.
I feel the afternoon drawing to an end, the sea changes color and
the clouds take on a hint of pink as the sun dips towards the west.
I look at the spots on my hands; feel the blood flowing sluggishly
through my body. I look at my watch. Soon it will be time to leave
and face the interminable hours, watching the flickering tube in
the empty apartment. Darkness is approaching and I know it is time