THE WORRY DOLLS
There is a legend amongst the highland Indian villages of Guatemala.
If you have a problem, then share it with a Worry Doll.
Before going to bed, tell one worry to each doll, then place them beneath your pillow.
While you sleep the dolls will take your worries away.
Chapter 2 – “Kristen’s Blues”
The blue Volkswagen Coupe came hissing to a halt at the deserted intersection. The VW was bejeweled with sapphire raindrops. The red light ahead smeared itself into all the puddles. Muffled music pumped inside the VW. The woman driver reached up with an impatient reflex and started to adjust the rear-view mirror.
She and the mirror held each other.
Kristen Jackford was realizing that she had come full circle. She was lonely before she had met her husband, her “Kahuna”, her Detective Brent Jackford, and now, twelve years later, she was lonely with him.
Brent had always liked to tell people that their first date had been all-inclusive, just like the Yucatán vacation package he had booked for himself when they first met.
Kristen’s face kindled a smile and she slightly nodded at those memories of Montejo.
Montejo was twenty-five miles inland from Cancun. Montejo was a town that moved slowly under the sun. But under the moon, it danced and sang. It had been the end of summer, and the rains had not yet begun.
It had been late afternoon and Kristen had been standing inside the wooden gate of the breast-high stone wall surrounding her little house. Her father’s dog Zorra was sleeping against the wall.
Her father had owned this little house before he died. She imagined that it was his lonely spirit that she had begun to feel.
She looked up and down the earthen alleyway. All the little homes had similar rough stone walls with trees leaning against those stone walls like visiting neighbors.
She suddenly noticed a man in a bright yellow and red shirt who was shuffling down the alleyway toward her. He was taking pictures of the overhanging vegetation and the red ginger blossoms. Kristen looked away but not indifferently. She felt a thrill of adrenaline.
The man was close when he noticed Kristen.
Somewhat surprised, he grinned, “Hola, Señorita”, tipping an imaginary hat.
Kristen ventured, “Hello.”
The man asked, “American?”
Kristen had picked-up the Latino annoyance with Gringo arrogance and she replied, “America is all the lands of the Western Hemisphere, so I’m thinking: ‘yes’.”
The man winced, “Ouch. Lo siento mucho. Oh, and I’m also very sorry.”
Kirsten parodied him, asking, “Tourista?”
The man grinned again, asking, “Was it my shirt that gave me away? I’ll have you know that this is vintage cabana-wear.” He was offering to let her pinch the material.
When Kristen remained unmoved he placed his open hand over his heart and bowed “My friends call me ‘Kahuna’. In real life I play a police detective. In fact, I’m here in Yucatán to celebrate my new promotion.”
Kristen made a wry face and asked, “Kahuna? Isn’t that a Hawaiian witch-doctor or something? How did you get that name?” Kristen then rolled her eyes, teasing, “And I can hardly wait to hear this one.”
Kahuna stepped back in mock indignity and said “It is a tale that cannot be told in less than an evening over dinner.”
Kristen tried not to smile, saying, “I see.”
Kahuna humorously insisted, “You do want to know how I got my name, don’t you?”
Kristen pretended to ponder. Zorra awoke at Kristen’s feet and sniffed at the stranger through the wooden gate. Zorra snorted dismissively.
Kristen teased, “Well, I do want to know about that dinner, anyway.”
Kristen wondered in self-amazement where the hell this bold and fearless Kristen was coming from.
Kahuna said triumphantly, “So it’s a date. I’ll pick you up in a taxi at seven-thirty.”
Kristen raised her hand and proclaimed, “It’s a date, but I’ll pick you up in my car. Take it or leave it.”
Kahuna opened and closed his mouth like a fish out of water, pretending to be stunned speechless.
The blue Volkswagen Coupe stayed at the deserted intersection as the stoplight changed to green, to yellow, and back to red. The rainclouds broke open. A rainbow surrounded the full moon like the iris of a celestial eye. It looked down coldly upon the embers of El Pueblo de Los Angeles.
Kristen had asked, “So, where are you staying, Tourista Kahuna?”
Kahuna answered, “Well, I’m actually staying at the Playa Tropica, in Cancun. I wanted to see the real Yucatán, so I took an auto-bus here to Montejo.
The Playa Tropica was one of the Yucatán Peninsula’s most expensive Five Star hotels, First Class all the way from the health club facilities to the international cuisine restaurant located on the roof-top of the twenty-fifth floor.
Kristen had been around the Yucatán Peninsula long enough to know that the room rates at the Playa Tropica were way above her comfort zone and she wondered how this “Kahuna” could afford that kind of luxury. On one occasion Kristen’s father had taken her out to dinner at the Playa Tropica. The breath-taking view had been every bit as delicious as the gourmet meal but what had really taken their breath away had been the bill!
Kristen narrowed her eyes and asked, “You’re staying at the Playa Tropica?”
Kahuna’s chuckle held a note of concern, asking “Why? Is there something wrong with the Playa Tropica?”
Kristen hesitated, “No, it’s just that…”
Kahuna caught-on and said, “It’s just that I don’t look like someone who would be staying at the Playa Tropica, right?”
Looking down, Kristen’s face began to warm.
Kristen looked up and into Kahuna’s eyes earnestly and said, “OK, that is what I was going to say, but not the way you meant it.” She added quickly “Most of the people who stay at the Playa Tropica do exactly that, they stay at the Playa Tropica. I’ve heard of guests who’ve spent two whole weeks there, never getting their sun-burned butts off the beach or out of the in-house restaurants.”
Kristen was suddenly out of words. She simply did not know what to say next. She lowered her eyes, seeking anything of interest.
Kahuna asked, “So it’s still a date? Or do I have to show someone my sun-burned butt?”
Kristen laughed. She raised her eyes to meet his again, saying, “Yes, it’s a date. So where will I find you at seven-thirty?”
Kahuna said, “I’m headed to the plaza here for a while, so give me your number and I’ll talk you in later.”
Kristen shrugged, “Well, I have to go that way to the Mercado, anyway. We can program your cellphone on the way.”
Kahuna teased, “Are you afraid I might get lost? I see that you really do need that dinner, don’t you?”
They continued together on Kahuna’s alleyway stroll, parting at last in opposite directions at the Avenida Del Mercado.
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