فصل 18

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فصل 18

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Chapter eighteen

Mexico City

We stopped at Limon to sleep in the car, but it was too hot. Dean got out and put a blanket on the ground to lie on. Stan slept in the front seat with both car doors open. I tried to sleep in the back, but I couldn’t, so I climbed up on to the roof and stared up at the black sky.

It was still dark when Dean woke up.

“Let’s start the car and get some air!” I cried. “I’m dying of heat!”

We found a gas station, just as the last of the night-bugs threw themselves against the lights and on and around us. I jumped up and down on the pavement. “Let’s go!” I shouted.

At dawn we drove up through the mountains and looked down at steaming yellow rivers below. As we climbed, the air got cooler. We passed small Indian houses and children came out to watch us with their big, brown, sad eyes.

The day was long. When evening came, we were near the end of our journey. There were big wide fields on either side of us, and the late sun was turning pink. Then suddenly a short mountain road took us to a place where we could see all of Mexico City below us.

We drove straight down into the center of the town at Reforma. Kids played football in dusty fields. Taxi-drivers overtook us asking, “Do you want girls?” No, we didn’t want girls now. Then suddenly we were passing crowded cafes and theaters and many lights.

In downtown Mexico City music came from everywhere. We wandered around in an excited dream, then ate beautiful steaks for half a dollar in a strange Mexican cafe with loud music. The streets were alive all night. Beggars slept wrapped in newspapers; whole families sat on the pavements, playing guitars and laughing in the night. Dean walked through it all with his mouth open and his eyes bright with excitement.

Then I got a fever… and the next thing I knew I was on a bed, and Dean was looking at me. It was several nights later, and he was leaving Mexico City already.

“Poor Sal,” he was saying. “Stan will look after you. Now listen to me if you can in your fever. I got my divorce from Camille and I’m driving back to Inez in New York tonight. I wish I could stay with you. I pray I can come back.”

When I opened my eyes again, he was standing with his old broken suitcase looking down at me. I didn’t know who he was any more, and he knew this and was sympathetic.

“I’ve got to go now, Sal,” he said. “Goodbye.”

When I got better I realized what a rat he was, but then I understood how complicated his life was, how he had to leave me there, sick, to get on with his wives and his troubles. “OK, old Dean, I’ll say nothing” I thought.

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