The sun returned and found its image in every silver puddle and pool. “I’m going for a walk,” Alma announced, then added, “alone.”
I couldn’t have felt more uncomfortable sitting there in the kitchen. I certainly didn’t want to go on a walk with her. I absently pulled off some petals from the garland, then as an afterthought I removed it. The Patròn was upstairs in a terrible mood and Alma needed to be off by herself. I watched Maria Terèsa bent over the work table making empanadas. I called over to her, “My mother used to make those every Saturday, my sister and I would help.” I left my stool and stood near the table and watched her.
Maria Terèsa looked up at me. “Señor, take her away with you, please.”
“Quien, mamacita, who?”
“La Patrònita, she must leave before it is too late.”
“Too late, too late for what?”
Maria Terèsa shook her head and repeated, “Sì, before it is too late for her.” After that she ignored me.
I was never very good at riddles. I nodded as if I understood, then wandered out of the kitchen and sat on a wooden hanging swing under the veranda and looked out on the rear yard. Leòn was at the gate. He beckoned to me. I went to him.
“Buenas tardes, Señor Aguila, we must talk,” Leòn wagged his head toward the path.
“Yes, what is it?”
“It is about la señora.”
“What about her?”
Leòn made a gesture that I follow him.
“No my friend, say what you have to say to me here.” I crossed my arms. I was tired and I didn’t find the thought of going back down into the selva very appealing. I turned away and headed back to the veranda and sat back down on the hanging swing.
“As you wish, señor. I will come back after sundown. “Con permiso, we can talk then, sì?”
I yawned and stretched out my arms. “Yes, we will talk then.” Leòn was noticeably concerned. He said no more. He politely bowed, turned away and disappeared through the rear gate.
I took on this project to get away from temptation. After all that happened today, it seemed as if I had already been here for a lifetime. I laced my fingers behind my neck, put my head back and closed my eyes.
During the boat trip up the Rio Oscuro I had four days to let the tendrils slowly uncoil from my misadventure with Sylvie. I still didn’t feel a sense of freedom from her, though. It seemed all of the women I thought I loved, or tried to love and wanted them to love me, still clung to my memory. Psychically speaking, I needed a whirlwind of a woman to clear the air.
The more impossible the relationship; the more I wanted it to work. It really wasn’t the person, although everything about Sylvie was so completely feminine and tragic. But, she could have been any woman. I was in love with the ideal of love, and because of that, every one of my relationships ended in the same dismal manner.
I was a product of my profession, a practical man who, when it came to the physical world, did practical things, things that could be controlled; twisted and shaped to fit the need. The more one has control in one part of life, it seems the less he has in others. That was me. I admit, I am arrogant and an egoist and selfish. I was tired of it, tired of my life. I had run away from Sylvie, civilization, my colleagues, myself, and here I was, on the border of two worlds looking down on the jagged silhouette of the unending jungle canopy.