Un paraiso en la tierra…

6 Jun

 

Mark-Anthony and his cuando-popular latino-cubano sound pounded from the speakers. Dice swung from the mirror and a plastic Madonna on the dashboard stared resolutely into nothing. The cab smelt of unwashed feet and cheap aftershave. 

Welcome to bloody Florida, thought Adam. 

The ride from the airport, to the beach-fronted properties had been interesting to say the least. More than once he’d stared into the eyes of Maria and prayed for salvation. The driver, a local man, had been distracted. Too busy juggling a cell phone, screaming abuse at fellow road users, and eyeing the Floridian-talent. Anything with a heartbeat and a set of breasts was getting the benefit of his experienced eye and an open invitation to meet for drinks. Needless to say the objects of the cab-drivers desires, gave the unshaven muchacho the brush off. It didn’t seem to faze him. It was a numbers game, dating on a bell curve. Eventually one of the dusky, long-legged, beauties would acquiesces and join him for drinks at a local salsa bar. Once there, he’d wine and dine her, before trying to slip into something more comfortable. Namely, her! 

“Hey hermano we’re here man. Aye, aye, aye! What a house. You rich or something Bro? Mucho dinero?” 

Adam looked out the window, checked the address on his phone, and then looked up at the house again. Like a modern day pyramid, the house rose up out of the landscape. A stainless-steeled, and glassed edifice that screamed money. Outlined by the perfect blue of a Florida sky and fringed with palms, the place was magnificent. Sprinklers danced on the lawn whilst olive skinned workers in wide brimmed hats clipped hedges and caressed flower beds. He couldn’t believe his eyes. The house was like something from an episode of lives of the rich-and-famous.

He paid the cabby who looked at the cash and lowered his sun-glasses. “Dios mío! What about the tip bro?”

“ I gave you ten bucks man. What you want?” 

“Ten measly bucks. And you live in a mansion? Culo! Get the fuck out my cab before I cap your ass!” 

*

Adam was left with his suitcase standing on the pavement. The dust from the cab wafting around him – samba–sounds still hanging in the air. The cabby stuck his hand out the window and gave him the one fingered salute. 

Faced with wrought-iron gates and white washed pillars, surmounted by lions, he mused on how to get in. The intercom screwed to the wall was the obvious answer. He pressed the button. 

“Yes pleaze?” asked a disembodied Hispanic voice. 

“Hi, this is Adam.” 

“Who?” 

“Adam Freeman.” 

“Signor, do you ‘ave appointment?” 

Adam explained he was there to see his father. A flurry of Spanish washed from the speaker. The gate clicked, and pulled back on oiled hinges. 

He’d been in Arizona when he fist received the news. After working in what the locals describe as dry- heat, which was really akin to an oven, he returned home to his negative equity. A stick-built that he’d bought for a couple of hundred grand a few years back, that was now worth peanuts. With sliding equity and a negative economy that wouldn’t bounce back if it were made from rubber, he’d resigned himself to a life living in a shitty neighborhood, filled with foreclosed homes, and meter high grass. Life sucked and there was no way out. He was trapped and he knew it. 

The phone rang. He looked at the caller i.d. Florida – he didn’t know anybody in Florida. He put it to his ear, and then recoiled in shock as the samba-music and female screaming nearly pierced his ear-drum. Holding the phone at arm’s length he pressed the loud speaker. 

 “Adam? Adam? This is your Dad. I’ve won the frigging lottery boy. Woo hoo!” 

The music was getting louder and the giggling more intense. “I love you son. Wish you were here. Say goodbye girls.” Three different voices cooed goodbye. The telephone went dead in his hand. He looked around his house, contemplated suicide, then realized he couldn’t afford the bullet. The rate his luck was going, he’d probably miss anyway. 

A couple of months later the letter arrived. An all expenses paid ticket, first class to Miami Florida. The note inside said: 

Give it all up son, and come to Miami. Life is good. We’ll want for nothing. Its frigging paradise. Love you, Dad. xxx 

What did he have to lose? He phoned the bank, put the keys for the house in the mail, and posted them the next day. 

Goodbye Arizona. Hello Miami. 

A white aproned house keeper opened the door and ushered him into the atrium. Fearned  and marbled, the place was opulent beyond opulence. Bronze statues posed on crenellated plinths whilst expensive paintings of dubious subject matter hung on the tiled walls. It took his breath away. Clearly he’d walked through the mirror and was on the other side of the looking glass. Adam heard him before he saw him. In fact, he smelt him before he heard him. The rich tobacco scent of Cubans cigars wafted through the air-conditioned vastness of Miami grandeur. 

His father appeared. 

In a straw hat with a Hawaii shirt unbuttoned to the waist, he personified new money. Everything he was wearing was designer-brand, down to the sunscreen he’d rubbed through his hairy chest. In his hand was a drink with an umbrella that could have sheltered twenty natives in a monsoon. Draped over his arm was the most beautiful woman Adam had ever seen. 

Although he’d been in agreement with the taxi driver when encountering the local-ladies, the woman with his father’s was beyond belief. The same age as his dad but well preserved, with perfect hair, makeup teeth, coloration. She defined femininity. Adam caught himself and looked back at his father. 

“Adam my boy we’re so pleased you made it. This is it son, this is the life. Well never have to work again!” Adam was an only son. His mother had died years ago in a bull riding accident. 

“Alright now don’t be shocked. I wanted to surprise you. This is Alexis.” 

“Hi Alexis. I’m Adam.” 

“She’s my new wife!”Preened his father. 

The beautiful creature draped across his father’s arm slunk towards Adam, embracing him like a long lost friend. As she hugged him he could smell her hair, taste her scent, feel the swish of soft fabric surround him. 

“ ‘Ello Adam,” she whispered in broken English. 

… A misnomer, as broken describes useless, to be discarded. Her broken was to be adored, costered, listened too for hours. The depth and beauty of her mispronunciation was like waves breaking against sand strewn rocks in a Caribbean lagoon. Sunlight dancing on water. Wow! 

The days passed easily. He’d enjoyed his father’s hospitality. The luxury that twenty million dollars could buy was unbounded.

 Nothing but the best. 

Not just for a couple of weeks vacation, but now and forever. His father had made it plain, that what was his was his son’s. Given the land of milk and honey that spread before him, why would he ever go back to his old life? Of course he’d tried to play it cool, but eventually gave in to his father’s request, just so long as the old man understood that he didn’t accept charity and could make his own way in the world. His father understood, and he’d agreed to stay. Of course he was going to stay!  He’d be a fool not to. 

Although his father had won millions, it was his generosity that surpassed the total sum. He couldn’t do enough for Adam. Clothes cars, money, nothing was a problem. Whatever he wanted he got. 

*

Lying by the Olympic sized swimming pool, working on his tan, surrounded by eager house maids ready to do his bidding, Adam smiled. Life was good, and he congratulated himself on his good fortune. It was hard to reconcile his previous life with the one he now found himself enjoying. He’d come a long way from a dusty, hot, going-nowhere-job in down-town Arizona.

The ocean breeze stirred the plants and bushes. The cultivated greenery against the blue of the sky, and the white of the building was picture-postcard perfect – the crash of the breakers in the background, music to his ears. The net curtains wafted in the ocean breeze at the French doors of the house, and then, like a dream, she appeared. 

He couldn’t help but stare, his fathers new wife was beautiful beyond compare. Tanned and toned, wearing the smallest of bikinis, she tip-toed her way to the pool in stripper heals. He could smell her expensive perfume before she got to him. 

“Good morning Adam. ‘Ow are you? Would you mind eef I join you? Eet can be so lonely out ‘ere by yourself.” 

Adam looked around at the multitude of gardeners, servants and security guards, totally understanding her isolation. 

“Sure. Sit down.” 

 A man servant manipulated a sun bed, and positioned a parasol to shade her from the morning sun. She pulled off her bikini top and released herself from its restricting confines, then turned and smiled,walked to the pool’s edge, and dove in. 

The ceiling fan creaked, and somewhere in the house there was the sound of music. Lying in his room that night Adam thought over the events of the day. He couldn’t take his mind of Alexis. Today wasn’t his first encounter with her and he’d noticed how she smiled at him, hugged him a little too long when they met, or brushed his arm whenever the opportunity arose. He saw how happy his father was with her, saw much he was in love, and recognized how overjoyed he was to share his good fortune with his son. It had been years since they’d spent time together. His thoughts returned to Alexis. He was falling for her fast. After everything his father had done for him the last thing he wanted to do was make a move on his wife. Finally he fell asleep, but it was Alexis who filled his dreams. 

Adam had been at the house for a month when it finally happened. It was inevitable. The sexual tension between them was inescapable. 

After a day by the pool he’d returned to his room to shower. He was going out with his father to some Cuban restaurant that apparently did the best pork-whatevers on the coast. Water splashed his body as he soaped himself down..He didn’t hear the bathroom door, nor did he hear her undress. The first he knew was when she appeared through the steam and stood naked in the shower beside him. 

The affair continued over the following months. They were careful not to be seen. Sneaking around the house late at night or meeting up in hotels to pursue the lust they had for each other. Life had never been so good. Money wasn’t a problem and his every wish was his father’s command. Not only that, but he was making love to the woman of his dreams. 

It was a Monday morning when his father asked to see him in his office. The room was lined with books, his father was seated behind a large mahogany desk. 

“Morning dad.” 

No reply. Clearly his father had something on his mind. He wasn’t his usual cheery multi-millionaire self. 

“Sit down.” His father demanded. 

Adam hadn’t been spoken to like that since he was a boy. He recognized the tone and took a seat. His father tossed and envelope to him which he opened. The photographs inside spilled into his lap and onto the floor. He didn’t have to look twice, he already knew. Pictures of fond memories and warm embraces with Alexis, that now betrayed their illicit union. There was no point denying it. The evidence was clear. 

“She’s already gone. I want you out of here by midday.” 

Adam moved to protest but there was no point. He’d been caught red handed.

He stood, faced his father for the last time and walked away. As he left the room he heard his father’s sobs and realized too late that he’d broken the old man’s heart. After everything his father had done for him, he’d treated him so badly. 

*

Adam stood on the curb, the iron gates slowly closing behind him. The only place he’d left to go was back to Arizona. Back to the desert wilderness, a shitty apartment and a nine-till-five. What the hell had he done? He’d thrown away a dream – and for what? He’d hurt the only man who ever loved him, touched the only thing in the world forbidden to him. Not only was he ashamed, he was pissed. 

What a frigging wanker he’d been! 

The yellow taxi cab squeaked to a stop. The window was down, and Adam could hear Mark Anthony blasting out the speakers, saw the dice hanging from the mirror, and spied the plastic Madonna on the dash. 

The Cuban pulled down his shades,  recognizing him from the months before. “Leaving so soon esse?” he asked. “You only just got here. What you don’t like Miami?” 

Adam stashed his case and climbed into the cab.

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