For my sake and the sake of everyone around me, I had to pretend that I didn’t know who this man was.
I went over to the bar and poured a special edition of Patron that we only had for high rollers, my hands shaking so badly that the tequila spilled over the edges and I had to mop it up with a washcloth, then took the shots over to the table. I thanked Jesus that I had worn my ballet flats to work today instead of the ridiculous heels that Bruno often made us wear.
The men were conversing with each other, voices low, and I stood back for a few moments to let them finish before I placed the shots in front of them.
“Here is a special edition of Patron.” For the patron, I finished in my head.
“You didn’t get one for yourself,” Salvador said, smiling again. He did have very white teeth, probably all fake. Even though I had seen his picture on the news and in the paper on occasion, I’d always imagined his teeth would be gold.
“I can’t drink at work,” I told him, forcing confidence into my voice and trying out that smile again.
“That is nonsense. What do you think this is, America? Of course you can drink at work,” he said. “I don’t see your boss anywhere and I promise I won’t tell.” There was a teasing quality to his voice, the kind that people used when they were flirting, but the concept of Salvador flirting was a hard thing to swallow. I was reminded about how wrong this situation was.
“I’ll go have a shot for you after work,” I said.
“And when is that?” he asked. He still hadn’t had the drink yet. “When do you get off work?”
“When the bar closes, at three a.m.” I tried to sound nonchalant, adding an extra hour.
“Then we shall wait here until you are done with your shift. And we will have the shot then. Isn’t that right, friend?” he said, looking across the table. The pale man nodded but didn’t say anything.
“I don’t think that sounds like a lot of fun,” I said, the words coming out of my mouth before I could stop them. Salvador stared at me, his thick greying brows knitted together but I still continued. “I mean, there are better bars here in Cabo. This one is pretty boring—I should know, I work here.” I attempted a smile again. I felt like I was slipping. “Are you two just here on business or…?”
Salvador stared at me for a few long moments—moments that had me cursing in my head—before running his stubby fingers over his mustache, his gold rings glinting. “We are not here on business. We are here to relax. Have a little fun. Enjoy the beach.” He picked up the glass of Patron. “And we’re here to get drunk. And I don’t think you have any right to tell us where we can do that. If we want to get drunk here, if we want to wait until three in the morning for you to get off your shift, we can do that. And we will do that.”
At that, both he and the other man slammed back their shots.
I gulped and squeaked out a “sorry” and then turned to leave.
“Oh, Luisa,” Salvador called, stopping me in mid-step. “Do come back here. We aren’t finished with you.”
I closed my eyes, trying to find my inner strength, willing myself to stay calm, before I went back to him.
“Yes?” I asked.
“I have a few questions for you. If you answer them truthfully, I will not wait for you until you are done with your shift. I will leave now and leave you a lovely tip for your cooperation. If you lie to me, I will not tip you. I will instead wait for you. And then hopefully you will learn to be honest with me—at three in the morning. You understand?”