Agave
By John Salter

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Antonio, our mountain ATV tour guide, had warned us that we should drink only one-hundred percent agave tequila and we had mightily obeyed. Eight of us, drunk and exhausted, our eyes burning from sweat and smoke, packed into the tiny rented Nissan after we left Squid Roe, the notorious fisherman’s dive in Cabo. Half your ass was on the plastic console next to your boyfriend who had flown jets in the Marines and had memorized the lower Baja within a day after we arrived, poring over a topographic map on the patio of our rented villa while we splashed in the pool, aware that we’d never flown jets in the Marines, thinking of our own maps of Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, folded and unfolded so many times the creases were white. Memorizing the maps had never occurred to us as we mowed our lawns and fretted over the piles of dog shit we encountered, we who owned no dogs. Your boyfriend carried a picture of his English Setter, taken just after the dog was named Quail Champion of Georgia. In the Nissan that night I was beside you, while my wife was wedged against the passenger window, and the others performed amateur yoga to fit on the back seat. Your boyfriend easily found the road to San Jose, maneuvering deftly on what we’d named the Highway of Death. You wound up halfway on my lap and I felt the heat of my wife’s glare against the back of my head, the same fire she’d thrown at me when you were sunbathing nude on the patio among the other women in one-piece swimsuits covering loose bellies and I brought you out a Tecate and lingered too long while you were in my lumpy shadow. I had tried to avert my eyes or at least pretend to but it was like trying not to look at the eclipse my teacher warned me about when I was a child and just as back then the view was worth the risk. Mexico. The agave worm, according to Antonio, has aphrodisiac powers. At our table at Squid Roe you and I shared the worm and my wife said she would never kiss me again. Hurtling through the night in the Nissan, I had no idea she’d uttered a prophecy. Now I can tell you that what you may have thought was the gearshift knob bumping against your naked thighs with every pothole was not the gearshift at all, but you probably knew that already.


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