“One of these mornings, very soon, you’ll be in paradise with me,” I said.
I could have said: The angry dog bites the hem of the blue pants.
Or else: The lake here doesn’t turn into a skating rink because the air is not as cold as it is over there.
But I said: One of those mornings, very soon, you’ll be in paradise with me.
Cris was back to her senses. She pressed her closed lips against mine. A move so fast and instantaneous that it gave me no time to react.
I then realized we were both sitting in the chairs of the stadium near the shelter, watching the old Eldorado play. Apparently, it was an important match for the team. The stadium was crowded.
But I wanted to know something else: what were Cris and I doing seated in those numbered stadium chairs? We, who depended on other people’s money for our most basic needs? We sat there as if we were father and daughter—or an almost-old-man and a nymphet, it doesn’t matter—the two of us, serene, showing a mild curiosity toward what happened around us…
Cris looked at me, her ponytail reaching the back dip of her violet dress. She handed me a package wrapped in a white scarf.
“Look later,” she said. “Just keep it in your pocket for now.”
But I could not resist. When she was not looking, I opened the edges of the scarf. There was a wallet containing hundred dollar bills.
“Yeah, man,” I said to myself when people started cheering. Just another of Cris’s brilliant heists… And I remembered how we got there, to those comfortable numbered chairs, to that important match for Eldorado.
The next day we started planning our escape. People would never accept that I ran away from the shelter with a minor. We needed to execute our plan well without leaving any trail behind us.
We started spending less time together so no one would suspect our plot.
It was a pretty easy escape in broad daylight.
We arrived by bus in Harmada. At nightfall.
I knocked on the door of an old friend of mine, Bruce, an actor
like me, from the same generation. He hadn’t heard from me in years. We gave each other a long hug.
I told him my story. I said that, as incredible as it sounded, I wanted to go back to the theater. And now, directing Cris, a girl who was be- coming an actress more and more each day.
“I’m confident in my stage capabilities.”
I spoke, feeling like the most ridiculous of mortals. Maybe fatally unforgivable for the picture I was trying to paint for Bruce. I tried to fix it by changing the course of the conversation.
“Here’s big Bruce,” I said, with my hand on his shoulder, in a jolly tone I hadn’t used since I left my acting career behind.
Bruce was still a well-known actor in Harmada. I had followed his career in the newspapers that eventually fell into my lap at the shelter. He offered us a room in his apartment. Two large beds. A view that
overlooked half of Harmada, including a beautiful stretch of beach. Cris and I started sleeping in that room. Cris had the bed by the window. She’d often get on the mattress and lean over the windowsill. But, when we were not sleeping, we usually moved around the large apartment as if we were at home, and the feeling felt real, such was
Bruce’s warm welcome.