The wind flooded over el Monstruo’s body. Sitting on a rocky over hang, he watched the swirl and rush of the incoming tide. He kept his baggy white linen pants clean by balling up his shirt and using it as a cushion. His muscles were relaxed, yet his mind was stirring as wildly as the ocean. Without a job, he wouldn’t be able to stay in Little Arkham much longer. If he couldn’t pay his rent, he would have to move back in with his mother. El Monstruo began to feel like he was a failure, just like Julie said he was. El Monstruo thought back to when he was Grant, to when he had goals and a future.
He wanted to be a physical therapist; he wanted to help people like a doctor would, but he didn’t want to see too much blood too regularly. He wanted to see people overcome their problems through his help. Julie liked that; she liked just about everything about him. His head dropped into his hands as tears welled up in his eyes. She had always been there for him, and he had always been there for her, but yet that wasn’t enough. Their dates would turn slowly into debates and their debates would quickly become arguments. Most nights together involved at least a little yelling. There was love in their relationship, but it was insignificant compared to the animosity that always dwelled just under the skin. He was uncertain why he asked her to marry him.
Was it because I thought it would let us overcome the widening gulf between us? Was it because I truly thought that love would conquer all? Or was it just because I knew that she was the only woman that would ever dare love me
? The cool breeze washed over his sun warmed skin. I can’t stay here much longer, or I’ll get a sunburn. A shadow fell over him and he looked up to see Rita silhouetted by the sun.
“Hey there, hero. What’s good?” she asked flippantly as she sat next to him. She was a contrast to his bulky form: short and nearly skeletal, except for a tiny bulging belly. Her hair was short and she smelled like the sun. Her smile brought a smile to el Monstruo’s face.
“I’m not much of a hero, and there’s not much good going on. I’m gonna need to leave soon.”
“Why soon?” asked Rita with concern.
“Because I have only two-thousand dollars left in the bank. It’s enough for a couple months, but then I’d be broke. I can’t get another job at the shops, and unless I finish classes when the fall hits, I’m heading down bum road.” Rita wanted to hug her friend, to pull him close and tell him everything was going to be fine. However, she also wanted to keep her distance from him; while she cared for him, she didn’t want to suddenly become his rebound girl.
“You could always get a job at one of the bars. I heard Arouna talking about your fight at the four S, and was wondering if you’d come in and be a bouncer for him. You know how it gets down at his place.” said Rita with a smile. She didn’t know if it was the best suggestion, but she felt compelled to make it. El Monstruo considered her suggestion with his thumb and index finger rubbing his chin. Rita watched him closely. She wasn’t sure what the whole mask business was about, but she knew it had something to do with his break-up with Julie. He didn’t seem like he went insane, but she wondered just the same. The wondered if he was even safe to be around.
“I’ll go talk to him about it.” said el Monstruo at last. He looked into Rita’s honey-brown eyes and saw love there, or at least concern. He stood up and grabbed his shirt from the ground and slid his arms into it. He looked at Rita’s thin, long legs as they took in the sun’s rays. He furtively studied her small breasts until her eyes again met his. “I might as well get going now, right?”
“Right, I guess.” answered Rita, still smiling. He saw him looking at her and felt equally awkward and flattered. He seemed to like what he saw, but it was hard to tell with the mask. She abruptly stopped her thoughts from wandering down that path. She didn’t want to be the rebound girl, and she didn’t want to be the girl going out with the guy in the mask. She watched as he left, his shirt still unbuttoned and flapping in the breeze.
El Monstruo walked the mile and a half to the piers. He looked at the myriad of restaurants and tourist shops. It wasn’t terribly unlike the street of shops he had worked on before, though it was a younger crowd at the piers. He made his way through the jungle of tourists and found Arouna’s bar and grill, The Freeky Tiki. He looked at the ramshackle place that was frequented only by tourists and let out a sigh; the decor was tacky and outdated, but the drinks were cheap and the food was serviceable. The dimly lit dining area was empty, while the bar featured a couple of guys who seemed far too young to be drinking downing shot after shot of a clear liquor. He assumed it was Zima.
“Hey! Look who it is! The Monster himself. How are you big guy?” Arouna’s smile was wide and yellowy and his African accented words spilled together musically. The tall barman gave el Monstruo a pat on the back and a shake of the hand, guiding him to a table in the corner. A busty statue of a hula girl stared down at the pair as Arouna laid out the terms of employment. “You come in around five, sit down, watch the TV and look like a mean man. Then, if anyone starts shit, you stop it. I don’t care if you bust their heads, just don’t damage any of the decor. This stuff’s not cheap you know?” El Monstruo stared in disbelief at the last statement, his mouth nearly dropping open in shock.
“The pay is all right. Eight-seventy usually, more now because of the tourists and the trouble they bring. There’s a room for you if you need it, and you get anything on the menu at half price, just no drinks.” It was well known that while Arouna served the cheapest liquor in town, he never drank it. He also expected that none of his workers would either. Arouna leaned back and folded his hands behind his head as he reclined. “Sound good, big guy?” asked Arouna.
“I need a job, so yeah.” replied el Monstruo unenthusiastically. Concern flashed across Arouna’s face.
“You aren’t happy to be working here?” he asked.
“I just don’t know what I want.” replied el Monstruo truthfully.
“Well, God says that if you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything. Think on it, big guy. If it’s for you, then you’ll see that soon enough.”
“Yeah, but I need the job now.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure.” said el Monstruo, all ready eyeing the young drunks at the bar. His fists balled tightly and veins began to bulge on the back of his hands.
“You only start at five,” reminded Arouna, “and you only stop what people start. Got it?” El Monstruo’s fists relaxed as he stood up.
“Maybe you should card those guys at the bar?” suggested el Monstruo.
“I all ready did.” assured Arouna. “Their I.D.’s were fine enough.”
EL Monstruo leered at the guys at the bar with contempt. He asked where his room was and Arouna showed it to him. Might as well save a few bucks and stay here. The room was small, with a bed, a closet, a bathroom, and a television. It wasn’t much, but it would be home.