Monday, October 26, 2009

Cuento de Mi Id

“Casa de Cambio”

“There it is,” Rebecca pointed. “Right there on the corner.”

“C’mon, Becky,” said John. “We’re in bumper-to-bumper traffic. We don’t have time to stop right now.”

“Hey, it wasn’t my idea to cross the border at this time of year. The least we can do is take advantage of the best rates.”

“Yes, I know that. But can’t you at least wait until we cross the border before you start hitting the casas de cambios. They got them over there, too, you know.”

“Yes, I know that. But the rates are always better on the American side. Can’t I just get out here and go do my business while you go drive round the block?”

“I guess so. But they better not have a long line in there.”

“Don’t worry,” Rebecca said with a smile. “I’ll be back out as soon as possible.”

“That’s what you said the last time,” muttered John. But by that time, Rebecca had already disappeared inside the casa de cambio and there was no sight of her to be seen in the rear-view mirror.

Just as well, thought John. Rebecca always goes overboard when she goes shopping in Mexico so she might as well get the best rate for her money. Considering how bad the traffic was today, though, he hoped that her rate was a pretty darn good one.

Rebecca was already outside by the time John had made it through the maze of one-way cobblestone streets which constituted a typical Laredo “drive around the block.” She smiled and waved at him. John did not bother to wave back.

“That was fast,” he said as she got in.

“Well, they weren’t really changing dollars today,” she said. “Sorry.”

“No problem. What were they changing? Krugerrands?”

“Can’t you tell?” Rebecca pointed. “My eyes are now brown and my nose is no longer a pug. Doesn’t that give you a clue?”

John nearly broke an axle in his haste to get back to the casa de cambio. However, the person who had been his wife was no longer inside. No one was. The whole place was just an empty shell of a building with a sign on the outside.

By the time he got back to the car, the woman he had thought to be Rebecca was still patiently waiting for him.

It wasn’t until he stopped at a Chevron station on the north side of town that he finally heard the ticking noises that the Laredo traffic had drowned out before. Needless to say, they were not coming from the engine.

Or his watch.

“How do I get her back?” he asked after a long while.

“You don’t,” the thing that looked like Becky said. “Unless, of course, you have something that you wish to exchange in her place.”

Like a soul, perhaps, he thought. Or a little finger. Maybe even a foreskin. Somehow, he doubted that the people who took Becky also took checks.

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