Tears in Taos 4

May 12, 2016  |  Fantasy  |  Share

“Patricio tells me he invited you to the gala ball on Saturday. Do you need to go to Santa Fe for a gown?”

Connie snorted. “Yeah, he invited me but I turned him down. I don’t go out with old guys.”

Old guys!” Ramon pounded the table. “You will go out with whoever I tell you to, especially my best friend. How dare you turn him down? Call him right now! I am ashamed of you.”

Connie refused, and the battle that ensued made the dishes in the kitchen rattle, or so Cook claimed. It ended with an infuriated Ramon dragging Connie to her room, pushing her in and locking the door. A careful eavesdropper would have taken note of the fact that Connie’s tears sputtered to a close as soon as her father stalked downstairs.

She made a cell call a short time later. The man on the other end argued half-heartedly, but when she finished the call, her smile smacked of victory. She placed two more calls, and then carefully packed a soft-sided duffle bag and a tote bag replete with papers. The evening deepened, but Connie did not go to bed. She’d cranked open her window and neatly loosened the screen with a small screwdriver. Her father usually went to bed around 10:30 p.m. Fortunately, his room was on the other side of the building.

Her watch was reading 12:30 a.m. when Connie heard the soft scraping noise outside. Giggling, she leaned out her window and watched as a man, puffing greatly, gingerly placed a ladder against the wall. When this was completed she tossed out first the duffle, and then the tote bag, with the man making a grunt each time he caught one. Finally, Connie squeezed out and crept down the ladder nimbly, as befitting someone who’d excelled at gymnastics. She followed the man to his waiting Chevy, still giggling as she slid into the passenger seat.

“That was a lot of fun, but I think you’d better work out more, Patricio!”

“Don’t you start on me, young lady,” he replied, starting the car. “I’m the one who will have to face the raging bull in the morning.”

Her face softened, a new look of maturity settling on her as she said, “Honestly, I owe you everything. Don’t think I don’t appreciate your help. My father should never have become so rigid. I didn’t realize, until this business of college came up, just how bad he’d gotten in his views.”

“I never figured, all the times he’d praised you to me, that he’d decided we would get married,” Patricio confessed ruefully.

“But you weren’t in a position to discuss your romantic affairs,” Connie pointed out.

They drove to his hotel a half mile away, where Connie retrieved the suitcase she’d brought over a few days previously. Patricio stowed it in his car and they drove north to the ski resort town where the Greyhound bus to Colorado Springs would be pulling in a few hours later. Connie was taking refuge with her brother until the family battle played out. Pedro, or Peter as he now wished to be called, had been aghast at Ramon’s insensitivity.
Once he’d seen her safely stowed in the bus station lounge, under the stationmaster’s eyes, and surrounded by a group of other passengers, Patricio hugged her farewell and returned to his car. In the morning, after a few hours’ sleep, he called Ramon and invited him to a local restaurant for breakfast. It was a popular place where both of them were well known; Patricio counted on this fact to stem the uproar Ramon might indulge in. When Ramon arrived, heavy eyed and scowling, Patricio waited until they’d been served coffee and sweet rolls. Then, he put down his cup and reached across the booth to clasp Connie’s father’s shoulder.

“Old friend,” he said, lapsing into Spanish to mark the seriousness of their conversation. “It’s time you recognized the new world around you . . . ”

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