thirteenth. Nineteen ninety-one. A new world order.
Sheldon Jeffery Sands sat at the table of the little cafe in Cancún, nursing
his bottle of José Cuervo.
Berlin wall? Down. Soviet bloc? Disintegrated. Gorbachev? Out. Yeltsin? In.
PhD thesis, outlining the most likely future for political evolution in
Rejected, as the utter piece of bullshit it was.
Sands carefully, slowly, painstakingly tore each page out of the manuscript,
then carefully shredded each page into tiny, thin strips. At the end of each
page, he took another swig from the tequila.
The pile of confetti beneath his little black wrought-iron chair nearly
obscured the bottle he'd emptied previously.
From the goldenrod-painted stucco above his head, José watched. Watched and
waited. Watched and waited. Being cold-blooded, it helped with the patience,
Eight years is a long time to play lickspittle to the ivory tower little
men, hoping that the reward of sheepskin lay at the end of the path. Eight
years of hiding and playing the game, to obtain that plum of academia, the
endless stream of nubile little pre-law girlies. More female applicants to
law schools than male, in the late eighties, and looked like there was no
end in sight to that trend.
And every one of them, looking for some way to raise her grade, get that
little bit of an edge that would put her in Yale or Columbia or NYU. Willing
to do anything.
Sheldon took another swig, before the page was even finished.
José judged the time was ripe.
Owlish blinking and confusion. No one knew him here. He'd booked the trip as
a celebration of his success, booked it before the results of his committee
came out. Before the Russian election had even been called. Before the
entire basis for his thesis was totally shot to hell but the events of
Fuck reality anyway.
"Saaaaaands," José repeated. "Up here."
He tilted his head back, knocking the sunglasses from atop his head to shade
his eyes from the glaring skies above.
A lizard skittered closer down the wall towards him. Its mouth opened and
then someone called to him again.
"Saaaaaands. Pay attention. Es importanté, sí?"
Sheldon looked at the lizard. Looked at the bottle in his hand. Looked at
the lizard again.
The lizard stuck out a slow, thick tongue, and licked one eyeball clean. "Sí,
muchacho estúpido. Me dirijo a usted."
"Talk to me in English, you asshole. No God-damned respect, even from my
"Ah, but I'm a Mexican hallucination. A Yucatan banded Gecko. If I speak to
you en Español, it adds a certain veracity to the proceedings."
"Fuck off and leave me to enjoy my little wallow in my poo-pile of
self-pity, here, will you? Because I'm having an absofuckinglutely
marvelous time with the entire process of discovering I've wasted my
life to this point. Kapeesh?" Sheldon waved his hand in a vague, drunken
attempt at shooing away the apparent apparition.
"I have instructions for you, Sands."
"Not listening." He took another swig.
"You are to return to your home. You will be contacted by a recruiter. You
will be asked to work for your American government. You will say yes."
"Oh, this is rich. This is really rich. I. Working for the Man." a
chuckle at the thought escaped him. "Right."
"You will ask to be posted to Russia."
"Soviet Union." Sands replied, automatically.
"There will be no Soviet Union by Christmastime."
The heat made the walls seem to shimmer a little, just above the cobbles.
Sands was silent for several moments, wheels turning within wheels in his
"Hoooooooly fuck." Sheldon paused for further consideration. José continued
to wait patiently. "No shit?"
"Your request to be posted to Russia will first be granted, then denied, on
the grounds of your psychological profile."
"My WHAT?" Other diners turned to stare. Oh. Just a crazy drunken
gringo, yelling at a wall. Don't make eye contact.
"Muchacho, you're having an hallucination at the moment, sí?" The lizard
dropped his jaw in a parody of a smile. "You will come home to Her, here."
"Her? I'm not following that last bit. Here?"
"She has decided She loves you. She's rather foolish that way. Often loves
unwisely, and never very well. But She has boundless love that never flags.
Once She's chosen you, you have no choice but to love Her in return."
"Are you done? Have you finished spouting your little riddles and nursery
rhymes? Because I'm going to stop listening to this shit now, and finish
getting so drunk that I lie under this table and vomit up my toes, savvy?"
It wasn't until he had lost his eyes, that Sheldon Jeffery Sands knew She
did love him.
It was many years longer before he loved Mexico in return.