"The pits," says my friend Diana who has been through it "enough times to remember but too many times to count." It's amazing, she says, how we revert to childhood, how silence brings out the worst. "I end up resenting the pretense," she adds. "It's insulting to make believe that there was nothing there when you obviously know there was. Actually, what it is is demeaning."
After the crowds drifted away and both Mamadou and Colin had answered questions from the police, the port authority, the company representative of the firm that owned the forklift, the customs people and the Coast Guard, Colin said, “I thought he was gone.”
Mamadou shrugged. “I guess he wasn’t. It was dark in the house...”
There didn’t seem to be too much to say.
The two women had been questioned as well then released and opted to take the first available flight out of Baltimore-Washington airport directly to Florida. Colin drove Mamadou back to his garage in Southeast D.C.. There wasn’t much to say during the ride either.
The extremely fat tourist waved a fistful of dollar bills in the air, hooted, “Over here, honey! Over here!” His voice carried easily over the gut-deep thumping of the music but no one paid attention. Mollie felt the sweat trickle between her breasts, closed her eyes, thrust her hips in his direction. The man yelled, “My heart! I’m dyin’, honey! Come and make me alive again!” Molly glanced at the boss who was tending bar, saw him nod. She finished her dance, found her camisole. The man stood as she approached.
“That was just beautiful! Beautiful! Wanna drink? Two? Three?”
He still held the bills clenched in one hand, the wad folded over to look larger. “Wanna share some of this later?” He pulled a small clear plastic bag from his shirt pocket, waved it in front of her nose.
She shook her head. “Not my style.”
She wondered how much money he had. Every time there was a paying customer, every time she saw a handful of cash, she wondered. She had paid $3,000 for a ten pound bag of flour and now every bill took on a different significance. It could have been, should have been, hers.
The fat man said, “So, how much?”
She looked at him. His face shone in the heat and his eyes bulged. “For what?”
“Everything, Honey. The whole shebang. Up, down and sideways... How much?”
She looked at the money in his fist, looked up. A bubble of saliva was forming in one corner of his mouth.
“Three thousand dollars,” she said.
The man looked at her, grinned as if he’d just heard a bad joke.
She gave him her most fetching smile, ran a hand around the neck of his shirt. “Or two hundred bucks and a ticket out of here.”