Boca de Iguanas

Boca de Iguanas

As the vivid tones of ocean and sand gave way to a more downcast layer, the heat began to fade. Far-off, bronze spots clustered toward every conceivable entrance, carrying fluorescent lines. An unassuming breeze enveloped the coast and altered the rhythm of the waves. The once muffled sound of the tide surged in a form that overwhelmed the senses.

Attuned to the distinct pulses of my body, I maundered in and out of sleep. A giggle broke the trance. I opened my eyes to the sight of Liliana and Sandra struggling to light a bonfire. Reclining a few steps from me on a cooler, Adriana could not contain her amusement.

“Come on, girls! You have the alpha males out for beers.”

Her legs and arms were swathed in streaks of black, which suggested she had already given a shot at helping.

“Hey, you’re awake. Why not assist the ladies?”

I stood up and went over to see what could be done. Before I had chance to catch a glimpse, Liliana and Sandra yelled and danced with unbearable glee—a bright red tongue quivered in parallel. Not to feel too useless, I threw some sticks into the fire.

“There you go! Impossible without him. Right, girls?”

In the midst of delight, they had no ears for anything other than their chant. I went back and snickered.

“Always late. Not useful for drinks, not useful for fire.”

Adriana grabbed a beer that was hidden below one of her thighs and passed it.

“I don’t like drinking alone.”

Its taste was tolerable. Liliana and Sandra stayed close to their triumph and made no attempt to lure us. They cuddled against a log and prattled. Adriana threw some grains of sand on my knees, more as part of an abrupt brooding than as a playful gesture; there had always been something patently physical in her reveries.

“We’ve barely talked.”

The last word straggled, intimating disappointment. I turned my face in her direction; she was staring at her toes, which sank deeper into the sand.

“Don’t you think?”

“You’ve spent most of the time with Isaac. I can’t really talk to both of you.”

She cupped her hands, filled them to the brim with sand, and covered what was left of my knees.

“Why is it a big deal?”

“Because it happened.”

She observed Liliana and Sandra, who were now asleep. The purple tinge of the evening swallowed almost all their bodies. Their faces glowed.

“You’re both important. I’ve always refused to toss things away just because. I still have all my shells.”

“I’d like to agree, but… why be a hypocrite? I’ve been in his place.”

I began to feel a slight cold. A strong wind blew and the waves sparkled. Distance clothed boats here and there as will-o’-the-wisps. I was bemused and looked once again at Adriana. Her big eyes betrayed a similar ignorance.

She rose and dropped her shawl. Her short olive legs shone despite the faint reach of the fire. They were robust, much livelier than I remembered. She walked until an outline replaced her. She stretched and, even with the ocean as backdrop, her movements were lithe; they bespoke a successive bloom. This was an aspect of her with which I was thoroughly unfamiliar.

I knew not whether to join or stay put. The decision, however, was taken for me. Isaac’s boisterous screams saturated the air. He carried a box of beers. Close by, Philip lit a cigarette and waved.

Though I regretted the noise, I had to admit calm was meant as a transition; all the trip Isaac’s and Philip’s cheerful tempers were the norm. Liliana and Sandra woke up, encouraged the commotion, and put on some music. Adriana shed at once her pensive vein and brightened.

I grabbed another beer. I could not share in their elation. I simply looked, without acknowledgement. This oyster-like seclusion was a habit of mine when faced with temptation; far from virtue, to say the least, since it had its roots in an unrealistic though cunning desire: attention. I waited for Adriana to draw nearer, to enliven me and realize, as the night passed into dawn, that she had nothing figured out. But to no avail. She spoke eagerly with Isaac, caressed and taunted him, spilled beer over his shirt owing to her ebullience. I sought comfort in her rare glances, reduced to a meanness I had not felt up till then.

Philip sat beside me after a while. He seemed dazed.

“You see those palms over there? We caught a bunch of teenagers trying to bring the coconuts down. You wouldn’t believe their determination: vagrants in a land of plenty, for all I know. Once they did, they couldn’t crack them open. And as they were about to, some policeman in a silly scooter chased them away. Private property, I think.”

“How long did you watch?”

“Lost track. It really was something. And I’ll be honest: I myself thought of going over for some coconuts when we just got here. Scooter cops didn’t cross my mind. Isaac wanted to lend the kids a hand, but it was easy to discourage him. His anarchy dissolves when he hits the stop button.”

“Why didn’t you say yes?”

“It’s just a bunch of kids having fun. We would’ve added uncalled-for seriousness.”

Not much later, Liliana was plastered, and a torpid Sandra guided her to their tent.  Adriana and Isaac went for a dive. Philip, who now made every unnecessary effort to appear lucid, got a hold of his backpack and pulled out a bottle of wine.

“I brought you this present.”

The slur of his voice doubled us up.

“Let’s go over there. I wanna watch the waves. Hear them.”

We took turns drinking. Philip pointed toward the couple.

“Havin’ fun. You wouldn’t guess they’re this happy.”

The wine was consummately cheap. And its intensity quickly knocked Philip out. The wind was at its strongest, yet the warmth I had achieved by then harbored me. There was no sight of the boats. Only the amorous silhouettes leapt through the shadows. I was tired.

I lay down. As I tried to grasp the meaning of Philip’s last comment, a newfound distance between the sky and me materialized. The stars were dim and threatened to wither in the growing gulf. I fought the urge to wake Philip up. It was Adriana I had in mind. And thus I staggered around in the darkness of my conscience.


About the Author

Israel A. Bonilla lives in Guadalajara, Jalisco. He is author of the micro-chapbook Landscapes (Ghost City Press, 2021). His work has appeared in Your Impossible Voice, Firmament, Minor Literature[s], Able Muse, King Ludd's Rag, and elsewhere. Sleep Decades, his debut short story collection, is forthcoming from Malarkey Books (2024).


Photo by Hans Isaacson on Unsplash