AlvernoINK Spring / Fall 2017 - Page 63

“Poker!”

“You gonna give details or make me guess?” Celestine said giving the cards a full wash, dealing two at a time facedown to each of the players, dragging her chair inwards.

Sol sucked a breath between her teeth. “Each body is missing a heart. Sound familiar?”

“How deep are the lacerations?” Celestine tutted, her interest rattling Sol’s insides, organs piling over each other. Celestine, you are fucked.

“I don’t know how to play poker.” Sol spit out, the tongue in her mouth lashing out protectively.

“Fold.”

Ximena shook her head. “I fold too this game is stupid.”

“We aren’t done,” Celestine interjected, eyes ablaze. “Investigadora Garcia is still in.”

“Celestine, I don’t know how to play poker.”

“Sit.”

“I’ll play,” Sol leaned back in the stiff chair, her tired joints cracking against the unavoidable contact. “but word of advice, you should get someone else to do your work. The one you got now’s sloppy.” She shifted her eyes to Celestine’s tight, unwelcoming face and knew she had struck a nerve.

Celestine let out a low whistle. “You got huevitos Zaparrita?”

“I came to work, not play.”

“We’re cut from the same cloth.”

“That’s not my last name.”

“Maybe,” Celestine pushed her short tresses, flecked with canas, out of her face, and noticed how much Sol looked like Gabriela when she edged closer to the table. “But mi sangre escure through yours. My thoughts find you. I gotta give it to you, eres mas cabrona. I like to think you get that from me.” Her words rolled of her tongue in a slippery slope. Sol shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly, whispering just breathe warily into the corridors of her mind. But Sol knew better; was as far from relaxed as one can be. This morning, when she was startled at the wake of the new hot day, Celestine had been a blink away. In her nightmare, she became Celestine. Had been the one to kill. Before the nightmare was consumed in darkness, she saw herself crouched over a body, the heart in Sol’s hand and bits of it caught between her coffee-bleached teeth. That was just a fucked-up nightmare, Sol pushed the image back into submission.

“The last time it snowed was 1997,” Sol cupped her chin with her hand and rubbed circles on the skin there. She looked comfortable, composed, Investigadora Sol. “then suddenly, we get a bit of snow and I wake up this past March to a killer? It’s a bit peculiar don’t you think?”

“97’ was a good year.”

“I need you to tell me if you have fans. Anybody come snooping around here proclaiming their love?”

Tsk, Tsk Garcia, you didn’t play.”

“Listen, I don’t—”

"Ximena, let’s play another round.” Celestine was suddenly uninterested in Sol, turning completely away from her. Unbeknownst to Celestine, Sol was relieved, finally able to breathe in an unstrained way.

“No, I’m bored! And I’m sure Sol—”

“We are playing another game.”

“I said I’m bored!”

"Renata let’s play.”

Sol’s silver cellphone vibrated in her back pocket, giving her an excuse to wander off as she muttered a mechanical greeting.

“We got another one,” her partner—Maru Villanueva—sighed tiredly. “and this time the fucking eyes are gone.”

“And the heart?”

“Get down here Garcia, yeah?”

Sol snapped the phone shut, pursing her lips into a thin line. The bags of her eyes were bruised, a side effect of her unstable sleep. She shook her head, hand on her hip as she turned on her heels with the murder in mind. The eyes are gone.

“Duty calls?”

“I’ll be back.” Retracing her steps, she was back on the train, heading South and keeping the sleep at bay. With Celestine’s smile etched in her mind she arrived, sweaty, disillusioned, and ready to go home. The last thing she wanted to do was inspect a dead body especially after her nightmare. Her deep brown freckles painted the tops of her cheeks, reaching the edge of her face. The back of her hand wiped off a sheet of sweat, and she brushed over the scar on her face. It was a product of a life she didn’t remember. The scar was lighter than her russet pigmentation, her damaged skin a stranger to the complexion passed down by her mother.

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