Felipe Renaldo Manuel Lopez burst into an Italian aria with a Spanish accent. His heart soared as he pulled his water taxi into an unscheduled port on the San Antonio River and helped Esperanza Maria Montalbana into his boat. He sang about laughing brown eyes and her throaty laugh. He created words to describe her healthy bosom and slender waist, and how his hands burned when he caressed her creamy golden skin.
Tourists chattered, extended selfie sticks for camera pics, and allowed his voice to envelope them, assuming this was part of the Riverwalk package. No one asked him questions or cared about the required spiel. They busied themselves – pointed out restaurants, planned their next meal, thirsted for margaritas. Felipe sang of fiery tequila, habanero peppers, and quenching his passion with Esperanza’s kiss.
She undid her ponytail, shook out wavy tresses, dark as midnight. Felipe reached to touch a lock, and she batted his hand away.
“You smell like motor oil,” she complained.
He shrugged, “Engine malfunction on my noon round. It’s my job, this is my cologne.”
She crinkled her nose and resumed texting. Felipe mustered enthusiasm to tell tourists about the Hemisfair Tower in the distance, a blurb about the Alamo, and he pointed out his favorite County Line BBQ joint. One more roundtrip and he could go relax with his hot tamale, his Esperanza – his hope.
He bent down and whispered, “I can’t wait to undress you.”
“Oh, Luis, soon.”
Flashes exploded in his brain. His cheeks flushed. His ears pained him. The timbre of her voice, the underlying sensuousness, the quick breath she took to say, “Luis.”
Felipe turned off the boat motor, and shouted, “Luis, really. Luis?” He grabbed her phone, glanced at the texts, and heaved it into the river.
One large red-faced man complained, “Hey, kid, finish our ride.”
Felipe, with clenched anger, said, “Fine, but she’s not on my boat.” He swept Esperanza up in his arms and, as she kicked, he tossed her overboard. Shocked customers protested. Cries of alarm arose. Parents pushing strollers beside the river stopped to point.
Esperanza flailed and wailed, “I can’t swim, you bastard.”
Felipe replied, “Stand up, you cheater. It’s waist deep fool. With a probe you can find your damn phone.” He tossed her a paddle, and then kicked on the motor. “When you find it, call Luis to come get you.”
“My friends,” he addressed the twenty people on his boat. It was a slow early November day. “My friends, I apologize for this godforsaken whore…woman. I turn my back and we move on.”
Felipe began to sing a Hispanic funeral dirge. A few people clapped.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. Published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint, she also has poems in Silver Boomer anthologies and Old Broads Waxing Poetic. Joanne is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba. Look for her humorous memoir My Zoo World: If All Dogs Go to Heaven, Then I’m in Trouble, a story collection Wordsplash Flash and three poetry books – Wordsplash Poetry Puddle: Nature, Hazy Memory, and Tread Water on Amazon. Her latest book, Athletic Antics, is on Amazon now.