Rooms at the Desert Chihuaua were a cool eight dollars each, when the price was translated into U.S. currency. "Score!," shouted Craig, when he saw the price. Damn, thought Angela, I could afford to get my own damn room and not even sweat having to fight this guy off all night.

For the price, the lobby was decorated well enough, a kind of mixture between a tropical island motif and something reminiscent of the Old West, as it has been portrayed in Hollywood, at least. Potted palm trees lined the walls, backed by wall-length mirrors that gave the place a vast wasteland-type feel. Haphazardly placed were pink flamingo sculptures, each one in a unique stance, as if every flamingo in the state of Nuevo Leon had been bought up by the mad flamingo collector who obviously owned the place.

Quite out of place were the elegant, low glass coffee tables flanked by black leather sitting chairs. As if to offset the obvious fluke of taste, each table was adorned by an exquisite giant cactus bouquet, effectively preventing anyone from actually using the tops of the tables for anything else lest they make a wrong move and accidentally impale themselves with a thousand various exotic cactus needles.

The reception desk was a piece of work in itself. It looked quite out of place, being a giant and, apparently, solid piece of carved mahogany wood that looked like it had been imported from the palace of an Indian prince, except for the fact that every orifice in the thing that may have at one point carried a precious gemstone of one sort or another was quite empty, except for a precious few near the bottom where enterprising children had deposited their various and many-splendored colors of used chewing gum. Every inch of the wood was a carved representation of either a multi-limbed Indian Hindu goddess or else an elephant, and from time to time in some parts of the desk, a multi-limbed Indian Hindu goddess riding upon an elephant. Above the desk was a nice collection of Longhorn cattle heads, though a few of the horns had started to droop and three or four were missing altogether.

Behind the desk and seated upon a tall three-legged stool was an elegantly dressed man of Hispanic appearance. He remained seated as Craig and Angela approached, and he greeted them in full-on english. "Hello, how are we doing today? Can I help you?"

Craig, on the other hand, decided it was an opportune moment to practice the little bit of spanish he had picked up in the various cheap mexican discos and brothels he had frequented. The man behind the counter obviously had no idea what he was saying, except when he interrupted indignantly with "We do not have those kind of services here, sir, this is a respectable establishment!"

After a few minutes, Angela felt this had gone on long enough and took control of the situation. "Sir, weíd like two rooms please. Por favor."

Craig looked like all the wind had been knocked out of him. "Hey, Angie, the rooms here are big enough for two! Whatís wrong, donít you love me anymore?" He began to pout very effectively, as if he had taken professional pouting lessons as a child, and looking at this very cute, sad-faced boy in front of her Angela felt herself quickly losing control of the situation.

"Hey, Iím not quite that easy. How many dragons have you slain for me lately?" Noticing Craigís frown she added, "Itís a long trip, remember? Believe me, Iím worth the wait." Then it was Angelaís turn to frown. She felt she was playing some kind of game that she didnít know the rules to, a game that she didnít really want to be the type of person who played. A tease, she? Now what was the point of that? Who was she saving herself for, or protecting herself from? She turned to the hotel clerk, who had been observing them with great interest and amusement. "Sir, please excuse us, we would like to know if your honeymoon sweet is available. Iím sorry, but we do not have a reservation. The wedding was rather a spontaneous affair. You know how it is, young passion and all." Sensing what was going on behind her, she quickly turned around and glared at Craig just in time to prevent him mouthing another "Score!" to the man at the desk.

Roberto Diego just smiled and picked up a large skeleton key whose handleís end had been melted into a globulous brass heart shape. "One honeymoon suite, located on the top floor. Welcome to the Desert Chihuahua, a finer hotel you will not find in all of Mexico."

"Oh, but it goes without saying, senor," laughed Angela as she grabbed the key and ran up the stairs, Craig in hot pursuit.

When they reached the top of the stairs and had located the innocuous looking door with "H.S." hand carved into the middle of the door, Craig grabbed Angela and swept her up into his arms. "We should do this right", he said, in the most romantic voice he could muster. "Itís bad luck not to carry the bride across the threshold." Without resisting, Angela casually twisted slightly in Craigís arms and unlocked the door. He carried her inside and was about to gently lay her on the bed when she flung her arms around his neck and begged him not to put her down just yet. The fact was that she had never been picked up before, no one had ever wanted to pick her up. And here was Craig treating her as though she was light as a feather, not even one bead of sweat on his forehead. Maybe somehow she had been transformed into a feather, or else a pair of wings that suddenly had the power to leave the ground whenever they desired. She was suddenly overtaken with an urge to throw open the windows and leap out into the wind that would surely only sweep her upwards higher and higher into the atmosphere. Feeling this she only held onto Craig tighter, sensing that she had lost her grip not only on the floor, but also to reality to an extent. She did not know what leaps of faith she was capable of, and she wasnít quite ready to find out.

After a little while, she motioned for Craig to put her down, and when he grudgingly obliged they surveyed the room together. The bed was medium-sized, with bright pink sheets. Both the walls and the thick shag carpet had a very dark, forest green color, which worried Angela a little as she wondered if anyone could really tell if the room was ever vacuumed, or if instead the carpet held a sordid history of every person that had ever stayed in this room. She thought of her first roommate and shuddered to think of trillions of microorganisms swarming through the fibers of the carpet to get at her. Best not to think about it.

The room wasnít huge, but there was space for two sets of dressers and a tv, as well as a largish writing desk upon which were a few sheets of the hotel stationary and a couple of bottles of Perrier mineral water. Craig flung himself into the bed with an enormous "Aaaaaaahhh," as if he had journeyed ten thousand miles. He turned towards Angela who was now pacing around the room examining all its features in a subtle effort to not get too close to the bed just yet. "Iím glad you changed your mind," he said. "I really think weíll have more fun if we stay together." And then he went out on a limb: "And hey, donít feel like thereís any pressure to do something that you donít want to do. Iím not that much of a low-life. I donít want it if you donít want it."

Even as he was saying those words, Angela couldnít help but think that it looked like he was flexing.

Chapter 19


Chapter 18 was first written November 24, 2001

It was last edited December 28, 2001