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 6 – “Help Me! I Dance!”
Now it was raining and Kahuna had been dreaming.
In the real world his home telephone was ringing.
His wife Kristen had been furious with him and she had gone out. Certainly she would not be calling. And Kahuna had no friends who would be calling now to chit-chat.
Kahuna snatched the over-sized couch pillow and smothered the phone. He then mentally squeezed back down the rabbit-hole to find that dream again.
Kahuna had been dreaming about the Kristen he fell in love with.
The Kristen of now was tired of being a widow to someone who was not dead. Kristen wanted more of what used to be their life together.
Kahuna in his assignment as husband was giving Kristen a comfortable life and building a good pension. A good pension for later when they would have lots of time to spend together. Kahuna’s better angel now confessed that it was all an excuse so that he could dwell in his job without feeling guilty about neglecting Kristen.
Kristen and he had been at it with each other for the last three days. This had not helped his migraine at all. And it was all the same old re-runs, with each of them repeating their self-acclaimed star performances as victims of each other.
Finally, Kristen had stomped out of the house declaring angrily, “I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know when I’ll be back.”
Kahuna nastily had growled back, “Oh, I’ll be counting the days.”
The telephone now stifled under the over-sized couch pillow vibrated another seven or eight times.
It made no difference now. Kahuna had found his way back into that important dream. Kahuna thought to himself vaguely Screw the person on the phone. And their mother can watch.
In his dream Kahuna was with Kris “back in the day”. Back when they had first met in Montejo outside her father’s old stone house.
That day had been extremely hot. And so had Kris! Never accused of being the shy one, Kahuna had asked her out to dinner and she had surrendered to that ol’ Kahuna magic.
From that moment on, for a long time, they had been in agreement on almost everything, at least everything that really mattered.
Kris had rendezvoused with him in the Montejo town square and they had driven back to the Playa Tropica hotel so he could change his cloths. Running up the stairs to the hotel entrance, sprinting through the lobby to the elevators, finally popping into his room he was thankful that he had thought of bringing something for a night out on the town, just in case. Jumping into his black dress slacks, black dress shoes and his favorite Hawaiian shirt he sprayed a cloud of Davidoff Cool Water Cologne over his face and chest and under his arms and he was off again back to the elevator, out through the lobby, and running down the stairs.
Kristen had confessed to him years later, “When I saw you reappear wearing those black pants, black shoes and that gaudy blue and green Hawaiian floral shirt, all I could think was…”
Kahuna interrupted, “…how lucky you were?”
They had talked and laughed through their dinner at the Villa Ramos restaurant. After dinner they had strolled through the Villa’s immaculate gardens, caressed by the cooler night air. Kahuna remembered Kris doing most (if not all!) of the talking. Kahuna was content just listening to her.
Don Ramos had walked them to their car. Seeing Kristen’s yellow VW Cabriolet he said, “Canary yellow suits you so well señorita Kristen. So may your spirit fly free and high. And may you be blessed with all the good things in life and the wisdom to know it.”
Kristen and Kahuna had driven off slowly. So slowly that Kahuna was wondering if her one glass of wine might have had a positive effect on her driving. Unfortunately it was only a courtesy extended to Don Ramos. For as they left the Villa grounds and entered the main road Kristen had stomped and roared off (that is to say, as loudly as a VW can roar).
As the car swung its way back towards the coast, the city lights of Cancun could be seen in the distance off to their right.
Kristen turned to Kahuna and asked, “Do you dance?” as she was rounding a curve and crossing over the center line.
Kahuna flinched and grimaced, “Jesus, if you get us killed what difference does it make?”
There was humor in the way he had said it but just to be on the safe side he had let his hand slip down to confirm that his seat belt was properly fastened.
Ignoring the critique of her driving abilities, Kristen said, “Look up at those stars. Somewhere out there Fred Astaire and Ginger are still dancing.”
“Roger that, but I’m in no hurry to join them dancing with the stars. Por favor!”
Kristen had reluctantly eased her foot from the accelerator. The road which they had been traveling abruptly plunged toward the coastal highway. Kristen made a hard left, cutting the corner short, leaving the city lights of Cancun behind them as they rolled up the coast.
The main highway followed the shore outline for several miles until it reached a small bay and turned inland once again. Kristen made another of her tight turns. Veering off the paved highway, Kristen had aimed the little car down a “secret little dirt road” – and Kahuna had thought a “dirt trail” would be a more accurate description.
Kahuna said, “I thought you were taking me dancing. Is your gang of banditas out here waiting to have their way with me?”
Before Kristen answered, the car cleared the top of the rise, up which they had been zig-zagging in the vain attempt to miss at least half of the pot-holes.
Kahuna’s breath had been taken away by what he now witnessed.
Stretching out in front of them was the entire Gulf of Mexico, divided by a highway of moonlight. It was as if a thousand candles shimmered in the waves.
Kristen whispered, “There it is.”
Kahuna asked, “There it is… what?”
Kristen pointed ahead on the road and announced, “El Frijol Saltarin, the most wonderful unknown dance spot on either side of the Gulf.”
Kahuna mulled the name very seriously, “El Frijol Saltarin? El Frijol Saltarin. You know, it sounds like a bean dip.”
Kristen shook her head and laughed, “It means The Jumping Bean.”
Kahuna strained his eyes but he could only make out a small house down on the edge of the shore. He could discern an adjoining patio, partially covered, that was at least three times the size of the small house. A row of candles flickering around the patio was the only light he could make out. He had not seen a single person.
Kahuna was skeptical, saying, “This place looks exclusive alright. I don’t think there’s anyone around except maybe a lost grunion down on that beach.”
They drove the final approach in silence. As they got closer Kahuna had seen there were a dozen, maybe twenty, cars parked in an unlit area on the far side of the house.
After seeing how small the house really was Kahuna thought that a “hut” was all it deserved to be called.
Kristen eased into a narrow place between two old pick-up trucks. As she turned off the engine Kahuna heard soft tinny music mixed with boisterous laughter escaping from the hut.
Kristen turned to Kahuna and in a very serious voice said, “These are my friends. Almost my family. So please…”
Kahuna smiled, “I’m hurt.”
Kristen repeated, “Please…”
Kahuna asked, “Should I wait here in the car?”
Kristen rolled her eyes and got out of the car.
Kristen had given the house door a cryptic knock and received an equally cryptic response. The door opened and Kristen entered first. The people inside abruptly went wild.
There were wolf-whistles and loud laughter and someone yelled above the turbulence, “Sweet Madre, its Kris! Long time, Senorita!”
As Kristen became engulfed by the crowd they noticed Kahuna entering behind her. Kahuna suddenly felt as if he were in one of those dreams were everyone is staring at you and you suddenly realize you are buck-naked. The tinny music escaping from the radio hung motionless in the air.
Kristen simply announced “He’s with me. He calls himself Kahuna. And I have no idea if he can dance or not!”
One soused señorita shouted, “Hey Kr-eeeeees, I can give Ka-ooona private lessons to dance if he needs.”
At once the place exploded into jubilant shouts and more wolf-whistles, this time from the females who were giving their “seal of approval” to Kahuna.
To Kahuna’s surprise Kristen announced, “Calm you, damas. Whatever that one needs he’ll get from me.”
Kristen and Kahuna participated in a course of hugs, hand-shakes, and not a few pinches. They were handed drinks.
Octavio, a big burly guy who Kahuna later learned owned the hut and who was founding father of El Frijol Saltarin, said, “You guys got here just in time. I was about to crank up the music for the first dance.”
Kahuna had looked over at the small radio, thinking, “How far can you crank that thing up?” But then, remembering Kristen’s warning, he thought twice about voicing his gringo-devil thoughts.
Without any exhortation everyone began moving towards the side-door leading onto the large patio. The candles outside seemed to lead into the canopy of that star-filled Yucatán sky.
Couples claimed their spaces on the huge patio. No one had brought the radio outside so Kahuna had called to Octavio offering to go get it.
The crowd burst into laughter.
Octavio sounded a small dinner bell, hushing everyone into silence.
“Damas y caballeros (ladies and gentlemen), honored guests Kris and Kahuna. It pleases me to have you all here tonight and so without delay I now ask Paco to crank up La Cosa Maldita (The Damn Thing)!”
Everyone began to count-down boisterously. “Tres, dos, un, vamos! (three, two, one, let’s go)!”
Paco hit the switch to a diesel-powered generator. It coughed once and then its heavy cylinders began to bongo.
Kahuna wondered for a moment if they were supposed to dance to the generator’s percussion.
Suddenly, Kahuna thought he heard Jehovah-His-Almighty-Self coming, as a wall of flamenco fusion music hit him, vibrating his clothes and causing all the candles to shudder.
Octavio had stacked arena-sized loudspeakers along the entire outside wall of the patio.
Then the real lights came on: four large flood lamp arrays, surrounding the patio, shinning down from their perches atop twenty-foot high palm trees. It was blinding shock-and-awe all in one apocalyptic moment, even for those who knew it was coming.
Then the bright white lights were dimmed to allow the patio floor to glow, painted in fluorescent greens, reds, blues, yellows and gold.
As the beat undulated from the speakers everyone began gyrating.
Amid this tumult Kahuna thought “Man, I am way out of my gringo dancing shoes!”
And so Kahuna unscrewed all of his gringo joints and swam into the cauldron of music. He chose to go down in flames of humor instead of down with a gawky splat. Forgetting his promise of good behavior to Kristen and throwing both hands high above his head he gyrated wildly and yelled red-faced, “AYUDEME! AYUDEME! BAILO! (Help me, help me, I dance!)”, followed by an even louder “BESEME MUCHO (Kiss me a lot)!”
Kristen then danced to his side, laughing, swaying seductively as Kahuna then fixated on her, mirroring her undulating moves, the two of them moving like the flames of an unquenchable fire.
And so they all danced and drank and sang and shouted until their bodies were molten with sweat.
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