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At the Tail End of Dusk Inn

Sergio Ortiz

“And down the fitful breeze thy numbers flung,
Till envious ivy did around thee cling.”
Sir Walter Scott, “Our Lady of the Lake”

As a child Reneida was like tap water
scurrying through our fingers.
She grew to be a beautiful woman,
lips constantly in bloom,
a stare that made you rush
to find a maid of honor.
She went hungry so many nights
it came as no surprise when she married
the eldest Villalobos, owner
of the At the Tail End of Dusk Inn.
We counted the months and scratched out
greed as her motive.
She gave birth to a baby boy
twenty four weeks after the wedding.
He was so big she delivered him in parts.

I got caught in another of those leaf
storms that makes you want to use a cilice belt
and go to confession on Sunday.
The day Reneida and I took the kid
to get baptized, a runaway car
suddenly covered me in dirt. When I looked back
Reneida was in a puddle, eyes fixed on the baby,
and a smile that made you think
she had gone to heaven, or slept with Ricky Martin.
Reneida saved the child but died soon after.

Villalobos sold everything he had.
He wanted my godson, Luis, to starve,
to never learn to walk,
never find anything to prop him up,
so gravity would pull him closer to gloom.
He gave me the boy when there was
nothing left of his estate.

Luis graduated first in his class
and got a job as a chemical engineer in London.
I do cameo appearances on Grey’s Anatomy,
as bi-polar nurse reciting verses
from Our Lady of the Lake.

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