by Jim Foreman
"I'll bid two, no trump," said Rebecca.
"Two Clubs," said Pam, who sat to her left. Pam was divorced from her doctor-husband who had dumped her to marry his twenty year old receptionist. The cost of going through the change of wife for the horny doctor came to half of everything that he owned plus alimony to the tune of four thousand a month until one or the other died.
It was the regular Tuesday morning bridge game that took place in Rebecca Crenshaw's plush, North Chicago, 24th floor glass and chrome apartment. Rebecca had a corner apartment which provided a panoramic view which swept from Lake Michigan to the stark Sears Tower in downtown Chicago. Outside the protection of the floor to ceiling windows, a cold north wind drove whitecaps across the path of a freighter making its way northeastward to escape through the Straits of Mackinac.
"Pass," said Janet. She, like Rebecca, was a widow in her early forties because her husband had devoted far more time to his work as a stock broker than he did to the upkeep of his body and had died of a stroke.
"Three clubs," bid Sybil, who had married well three times and divorced even better the same number. All four of these women lived in the same apartment high-rise just off North Shore Drive. Some people referred to the place as "Little Fort Knox" because of its security and second, because it housed so many people of considerable wealth.
To enter the garage of the building required an electric garage door opener thing, however this would only open the first of two doors. As you entered the first, a laser scanner checked a small bar-code sticker in the lower left corner of the windshield. Any vehicle which did not have such a sticker was blocked by the second door until a security guard verified whether you belonged there or not. Even after a person got into the garage area, entry to the apartment area required a key and personal recognition by another security guard.
"Four hearts," bid Rebecca as she gazed out across the lake. "I heard that they had an early snow in Aspen and the skiing is good. I think that I'll fly out there for a week or so, might help my outlook on life."
"A week cuddled up with some big Swede Ski Instructor in front of a roaring fire would do wonders for my outlook on life and most everything else," said Pam.
"All that the men here in Chicago think about is work, work, work," said Sybil. "I'd like to meet a good looking Wyoming cowboy who had nothing to all day except poke cows and me."
"My idea of a really romantic setting is a warm beach with a handsome Latin man," replied Rebecca. "Someone like the star on the TV show, Fantasy Island."
"You mean Tattoo, the midget," laughed Janet.
"No, Ricardo Montalban," replied Rebecca.
"I'll agree with you about Montalban," said Sybil. "That man really blows my skirt up. What do you have to say about Latin lovers, Maria?" asked Sybil. "Are they all as good in bed as most people think?"
"I wouldn't know about that, Senora," blushed twenty-year-old Maria Ortiz, Rebecca's live-in maid, as she poured coffee for them. She had been with Rebecca since the day she moved into the apartment. They had been introduced by her brother, Emilio, who was one of the movers who had moved her furniture from the country house to the apartment.
"Come on, now," teased Sybil. "You're from Mexico aren't you. A pretty girl like you has bound to have been chased around the bed by a lot of young men."
"Actually, I'm from a small town in Baja, and I left there when I was sixteen. My Aduana never let me out of her sight when I talked to boys."
"Incidentally, Becky," said Janet. "It's been over a year since your husband died. Have you begun to go out yet?"
"Oh yes, I've been out a number of times," replied Rebecca. "The Potters have me over for dinner every month or so and I went shopping with Judith Goldblat last week."
"That's not the kind of going out that I mean and you know it," said Janet. "I mean going out with a man, and if things go right, coming back home with him."
"Oh, you mean dating," replied Rebecca. "No, I haven't had any offers and I don't know if I'm ready to accept one if it came along."
"It's about time that you did," said Sybil. "I never let being married interfere with my dating. In fact, it made it even better in some ways. If a guy began to get too serious, I could just tell him that I thought that my husband was getting suspicious and that usually cooled him off."
"Did any of your husbands ever suspect that you weren't always faithful?" asked Janet.
"I doubt it. They were usually content to have a couple drinks each night and go to sleep on the couch. They were just happy that I wasn't after them all the time."
Interest in the bridge game took a second place to the discussion of romance, sex and men; although not necessarily in that order. When the game broke up, and Maria was clearing away the cups, she said to Rebecca. "Senora Crenshaw, if you would like to meet a handsome Mexican man, I could introduce you to my uncle Fernando. He's not married and he is always as horny as a Macho Cabrio. How do you say it in English--a billygoat. Here is a picture of him with my family."
Maria handed her a black and white photo showing a family group on the steps of a church. There were two men, one woman holding a baby and two other children. "That is Uncle Fernando," said Maria, pointing to one of the men in the photo. He looked to be about forty years of age and Rebecca had to admit that he was very handsome.
"I'm flattered by your offer, but such a meeting is impossible. Your home is in Mexico and so far away," replied Rebecca.
"It's not too far from Tucson, and you have a sister living there, don't you?" said Maria.
"Yes, my sister, Eleanor, does live in Tucson. How far is it from there to where you live and what kind of a place is it?"
"I live in the town of Mulege on Baja and it is not very far. You can easily drive from Tucson to Guaymas in one day and then it takes one day for the ferry to cross the Sea of Cortez," replied Maria. "I found this picture of Los Cabos in a magazine. It is much further south in Baja, but it will show you what Baja looks like."
The Los Cabos merchant's association, made up mostly of hotel owners, had contracted with an advertising agency to promote their area of Baja. The advertising agency came up with a full-page ad which featured the famed rock formation at Cabo San Lucas, over which an artist had airbrushed a nude woman lying half in and half out of the water.
Rebecca looked at the full-page color advertisement in the magazine. "Los Cabos, Where The Fun Never Sets," it proclaimed.
The more that Rebecca thought about Maria's Uncle Fermando, the better a trip to Baja sounded. A few days later, Rebecca casually asked, "Maria, how would you like to spend Christmas with your family in Baja?"
"Oh Senora Crenshaw, it would be so great to spend Feliz Navidad in Baja. I haven't seen Mama and Papa in four years."
"Good, let's start making plans for the trip right now. We will need to call the auto club for the road maps and Mexican insurance. First we will drive to Tucson to see Eleanor. After we visit with her for a few days, we can drive on to where you live and let you see your family."
"Senora Crenshaw, there is something that I must do before I can go and it will cost money which I do not have," said Maria. "I must have some papers so I can get back into the United States with you. My brother, Emilio, knows where to get them, but they cost fifty dollars."
"Fifty dollars is no problem, but what do you do with the money that I pay you? I've never seen you spend any of it."
"I send it to my family in Baja so they can send my younger brother to the university. Emilio also sends some, but it costs so much money; much more than Papa can make driving his taxi."
"Call Emilio and tell him to get you the papers that you will need and I'll pay for them," replied Rebecca.