El Monstruo let himself sink deeply into the warm bath water, but not so deep as to get his mask wet. When he asked if he could use Rita’s bath tub, she insisted that he take the mask off. Despite himself, he told her that he would take it off. While he didn’t feel right about taking the mask off, he was starting to feel itchy; sometimes, it felt like the mask was crawling on his face. He tugged at the laces and pulled the mask off. How long has it been? Two months all ready. I wonder… El Monstruo pulled himself from the tub; dripping water, he walked to the mirror. Apprehensively, he looked at himself in the mirror.
Rita was sitting on the porch watching the tide coming in. She was proud that she stayed ‘just friends’ with el Monstruo. He was beautiful in his own way. He was tender and caring with children, and he had grown to be extremely gregarious since starting his job at the Freeky Tiki. Arouna had confided in Rita that he wasn’t sure if the burly man was the right fit for the restaurant. However, el Monstruo’s presence warded off any chances of drunken patrons starting a brawl and soon he found himself working in the kitchen. Rita was quite happy with the man that el Monstruo was becoming; Grant was meek and mousy, while el Monstruo was quite the opposite. Her quiet satisfaction was interrupted when she heard el Monstruo yell out.
Rita rushed into the seaside condo and rapped on the bathroom door urgently.
“What’s wrong!” she asked, praying that there was nothing wrong at all. El Monstruo didn’t answer. “El-Mo, what’s wrong? I heard you yell.” She put her ear to the door and could hear sobbing. Her imagination painted the picture of a suicide; in her mind’s eye, Rita imagined el Monstruo laying in her tub with his wrists cut deeply. She couldn’t bear the idea of him giving up when everything was going so well. She started to open the door and el Monstruo slammed it shut, dropping his weight against it. Rita pounded on the door desperately.
“You can’t see!” said el Monstruo pleadingly, “I need to put my mask back on.” El Monstruo grabbed his mask and slid it over his head once more. He wrapped a towel around himself and opened the bathroom door to see Rita with tears in her eyes. She threw her arms around his neck and sobbed. He folded his arms around her waist and held her close.
“I was so worried about you.” she said while weeping. “I thought you killed yourself. I was so worried!”
“I’m sorry,” replied el Monstruo, “I just took my mask off.” El Monstruo’s voice trailed off as he lost himself in Rita’s embrace. She smelled nice, like she was kissed by the sun and massaged by the sea breeze. She took her arms from around his neck and took a step away. To el Monstruo, it seemed like she had suddenly became wary and frightened. In truth, she felt his hardening manhood pushing at her from beneath the towel and realized what she was doing. When he saw her turn away, el Monstruo apologized even though he was unsure what he was apologizing for.
“No, you don’t need to apologize. It isn’t your fault. It’s my fault. I just…” Rita’s voice faltered and she felt herself starting to panic. She didn’t know what to say, so she didn’t say anything. The pair stood silently for a minute or more, searching for the right thing to say.
“This is awkward. I just don’t know what to say.” said Rita weakly.
“I’m sorry” responded el Monstruo, frustrating Rita. He turned to go back into the bathroom and Rita took a couple steps forward, and then she noticed that the mask was not tied. In the gaps between the laces, she saw that el Monstruo had black, curly hair and that his neck looked red in color. She stepped back, slightly shocked. El Monstruo shut the door and started to towel himself off. Rita tried to convince herself that el Monstruo’s skin wasn’t actually red under the mask. It’s just my imagination. He just Grant under that mask. But Grant didn’t have black hair.She was still thinking when el Monstruo came back out of the bathroom dressed in white linen shirt and pants.
“Thank you.” he said without much feeling. He tried to stride towards the door, but Rita stood in his way.
“What made you scream?” she asked him directly. Perhaps not the most tactful approach, but I need to know. I need to know what’s under that mask.
“Please don’t be afraid, and please, don’t tell anyone.” El Monstruo questioned his reasoning. He would show her what he saw, and hopefully she would still talk to him. Hopefully she will keep it secret. El Monstruo took off his mask, and Rita felt her knees buckle.
“What happened to you?” she asked as she studied el Monstruo’s face. It was deep red and his awkward smile exhibited a mouth filled with jagged fangs. A wiry beard was growing on his chin and his hair was matted. She could see tiny lumps emerging on his forehead.
“I don’t know.” said el Monstruo truthfully. Rita extended a hand to touch his face; her touch excited el Monstruo’s emotions. He hadn’t felt a woman’s hand on his face in so very long, however she withdrew her hand swiftly.
“Your face is scalding hot!” she exclaimed, trying to cool her hand by waving it about. El Monstruo’s head tipped downward and he felt something growing in his stomach. It was despair, hate, anger, and love all at once. He had truly become a monster; although he didn’t know how he became a monster, he knew how beautiful women usually treat monsters. He also knew how most stories about monsters normally ended. Rita considered what she should do next. She felt the urge to run from el Monstruo, but she also felt the need to help him. He looked at her sheepishly and simply said that he was sorry.