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You’re out all the time, but no one seems to be biting. One girl, when you tell her you’re Dominican, actually says, Hell no, and runs full tilt toward the door. One month, two months, three months, and then some hope. You get serious about classes and, for your health, you take up running. You begin to wonder if there’s some secret mark on your forehead. He’s working for this ghetto-ass landlord and starts taking you with him on collection day. Deadbeats catch one peep of your dismal grill and cough up their debts on the spot. You start three novels: one about a pelotero, one about a narco, and one about a bachatero—all of them suck pipe. You harbored a lot of grievances against her anyway. She didn’t give good head, you hated the fuzz on her cheeks, she never waxed her pussy, she never cleaned up around the apartment, etc. Of course you go back to smoking, to drinking, you drop the therapist and the sex-addict groups and you run around with the sluts like it’s the good old days, like nothing has happened. You have trouble adjusting to it full time—to its trains that stop running at midnight, to the glumness of its inhabitants, to its startling lack of Szechuan food. Boston, where you never wanted to live, where you feel you’ve been exiled, becomes a serious problem. His back and buttocks and right arm are so scarred up that even you, Mr. You go to the barber, shave your head for the first time in forever and cut off your beard. When you see other people hitting the paths, you turn away. You scan the incoming junior faculty for a possible, but there’s nothing. Sometimes Elvis joins you, since his wife doesn’t allow him to smoke weed in the house. Almost all her conversations start with In Santo Domingo. She also scoffs at the idea of racism in Santo Domingo. Of course you end up in bed, and it ain’t bad except for the fact that she never, never comes and she spends a lot of time complaining about her husband. You eventually erase her contact info from your phone, but not the pictures you took of her in bed while she was naked and asleep, never those. Arlenny turns over the cards, quotes Oates: Revenge is living well, without you. When you return to Boston, the law student is waiting for you in the lobby of your building. Elvis brings you food and sits with you while you eat. Classes start, and by then the squares on your abdomen have been reabsorbed, like tiny islands in a rising sea of lard. In Santo Domingo I’d never be able to meet you like this, she says with great generosity. Everywhere you two go she shoots photos, but never any of you. Write, you tell her, and she says, Por supuesto, and, of course, neither of you does. You have a sucia in town, too, and in the end you call her, but when she hears your name she hangs up on your ass. And, on closer inspection, that her ridiculously Persian-looking eyes are red from crying, her mascara freshly applied.
Maybe if you’d been engaged to a super-open-minded blanquita you could have survived it—but you’re not engaged to a super-open-minded blanquita. Over a tortured six-month period you fly together to the D. You compose a mass e-mail disowning all your sucias. You cry every time you hear Monchy y Alexandra, her favorite. Your friends begin to worry about you, and they are not exactly worrying types. K., you tell them, but with each passing week the depression deepens. He was pinned under the burning wreckage for what felt like a week, so he knows a little about pain. You breathe non-stop, like a marathon runner, but it doesn’t help. But (a) you ain’t the killing-yourself type; (b) your boy Elvis is over all the time, stands by the window as if he knows what you’re thinking; and (c) you have this ridiculous hope that maybe one day she will forgive you. It’s like waking up from the worst fever of your life. ), but you can stand near windows without being overcome by strange urges, and that’s a start. You put away all the old pictures of her, say goodbye to her Wonder Woman features.