Book: Return to the Same City

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Next: Chapter Three

The Story of Luke Estrella as Told by Alicia
(Just as Héctor Belascoarán would later remember it)
He killed her, I know he killed her. But it couldn’t have been him. He wasn’t inside the bathroom, she had locked herself in. It wasn’t with his hands, it’s not that he pulled the trigger. He killed her another way, and of that I’m sure, because I know he killed her. He was pushing her down a damned dead-end street, at the end of it was the bathroom with the door locked from the inside and the revolver, and she was sitting on the toilet with her brains smeared across the wall, while the neighbors knocked on the door and a tape recorder in the apartment was playing Manzanero music. That’s how she had to die, to Manzanero music. She was always listening to sugary boleros, you know? Toward the end, she listened to those boleros all day, all the time. She and the tape player walked the house together, while he was pushing her down the hall, sometimes yelling, sometimes with a kitchen knife telling her to take off her clothes so that a few friends who’d come over for dinner could see her naked.
When I was in Miami in April, three years ago, she told me that she had moved their twin beds as far apart as she could. But every night he pushed them a little closer together. That time she showed me the burns on her arm that he had made with an iron because she didn’t want to try cocaine. And it ended in that, too. The autopsy said she was drugged up to her ears, to the marrow of her bones. But how could that be, if before the most she ever took was Pepsi Light, for the caffeine. How was she going to be on drugs if she never even took two aspirin at a time, one at the most if her head ached too much. That prick, that son of the cunt of his mother, son of a fucking bitch, faggot. That guy would get high and turn red from all the shit he put up his nose, injected into his veins, and then he’d think himself a man and his dick wouldn’t work for shit. How could foolish Elena go and marry a wretch like that? My sister was naive, she was an absolute idiot. Because the guy was handsome, Luke Estrella, the handsome rumba dancer, the charmer. In the beginning he even convinced me with all his turns of phrase, showing off his muscles under his clingy T-shirt, showing off his balls with his fitted jeans, and showing off his dollars and the red sports car that had cost him eight thousand bills right here, right now, old lady, and here it is for you to try out, and my sister, the fool, letting herself fall, drooling over her golden mulatto who would take her away from eight hours in the office and would take her to Hollywood, and instead of that pure bullshit, he gave her sixteen in hell and eight in damn purgatory.
He killed her. He was pushing her toward insanity and no doubt saying, Don’t you dare? Kill yourself. I bet you don’t have the guts. She wrote me a letter—I don’t have it anymore, I threw it out; the letter went to hell all full of tears, all snotty from my crying—where she told me that he once made her crawl on her knees through the house while he threatened her with a gun. Because that’s how that son of a bitch really was. One day he’d take her to a fancy restaurant to dine over French wine and the next day he’d take her credit card so she couldn’t use it while he was away. One day he’d cry in front of her and tell her he’d never loved anyone so much and the next he’d introduce her to his boss in a bar and leave her there so the other could take her to bed. He was a shiteater, that guy. A sick rat. Elena told me once he was poisoning her with cockroach-killing powder, and then she told me he wasn’t, that he was putting sugar in the cockroach envelopes so she would think he was poisoning her. He wanted to kill her in the head, drive her crazy. He threatened to shoot her if she tried to escape, then he would disappear for weeks, but some gringo would call her every day on his behalf, asking her if she needed anything.
Elena left the only way she could leave, blowing her brains out. And he must have been quite content because the only thing that mattered to that shit-crazy pig was power. To have her enslaved, to control her so much, so much that one day he could kill her to prove how much she was his, how much he had her. Luke Estrella, the very proud widower, so radiant in his black silk suit, shiny patent leather shoes, little white vest, the asshole who is on his way to Mexico.
You’ve got to fuck him up, for me. He’s coming to Mexico next week. I’m sure, he’s arriving on Pan Am’s Thursday night flight. Pan Am from New York. I work for an airline and I asked all my friends to tell me if his name came up on the computer. He’s got a reservation to come to Mexico on Thursday and no doubt he’s coming to pull some kind of shit, because that’s the only thing he knows how to do. Up there in Miami, he was always involved in strange things, in drugs, I think, and that shit, with the Cuban mafia in Miami, the gusanos, the guys who owned the neighborhood. And so you have to find out what it is and you have to bring him down, so they can grab him and he can rot in some Mexican jail, forever, to pay for what he did to Elena. Look, here’s a photo, look at him, so smiley, the big asshole, as if he were saying Nobody touches me. Forty-five years old, he was older than my sister when they got married. So you can, can’t you? You’re going to fuck him good, right? There is justice and that son of a bitch is going to die in a Mexican jail, right? Isn’t that right…?”
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Next: Chapter Three