I Didn’t Order this Hooker

by Travis Oltmann

Eddie was a tough guy to read. Approachable with a warm smile, yet almost a calculated density when it came to helping tourists at the resort. Problems were chalked up to his poor English comprehension. He would smile at the guests, take their tips, and mess up whatever they asked him to do.

Initially, I thought he only understood certain words and phrases. But when Kevin and I hung out with him later, he told us a long story in perfect English about a school he attended in Cancun. 

“Do you know a place to get jet skis?” I asked.

“Yes, yes, no problem,” he said.

“Can you take us?”

“We can go tomorrow.”

And we did. Seemingly without problem. A large group of us met him at a nearby restaurant with authentic food cooked in a miniature kitchen. We watched a game of soccer and washed carnitas down with cold Tecates. 

Now, at that point, everything hurt. Full days of all-inclusive drinking had taken its toll. My body wasn’t absorbing water and I had a headache like television interference. When people spoke I had to rub my temples so they wouldn’t explode.  

“Jet skis?” I said, revving up an imaginary throttle. I felt better. The beer.

“Yes, yes, we can go now,” he said. 

We arrived at a powdered beach. Soft and alabaster. Accessible through a narrow path with bars on either side that charged fourteen dollars a drink. Eddie seemed to know the bartenders, smiling as we unloaded our wallets for sugar water and tequila. I was too hung over to care.

“Where are the jet skis?” I asked Eddie.

He looked at me quizzically.

“Jet skis?” I repeated.

His eyes avoided mine as he strolled toward the women in our group and talked about Canada. Yes, yes, he would definitely like to visit one day, the mountains and health care sounded great. 

“Where are the goddamned jet skis?” Kevin asked me. He and I had numerous conversations before the trip about driving jet skis directly at waves and seeing how high we could jump them. 

“I don’t know. Let’s ask someone else.”

There were no jet skis on the beach. Verified by everyone we talked to. I gave up.

By then, the group was tired and itching to go back. Paul, Warren, and I were bored with the simulated Mexican experience at the resort and decided to stay with Eddie.

“Let’s go to a bar, you know any good places?” Paul asked. 

“Yes, I know a place not too far from here. We can walk.”

The place was a rundown shack with a single refrigerator and a food prep area outside. Probably serving ingredients that passed through a colon like an air raid. The locals paid us no attention. Our excuse for drinking was being on vacation, their excuse was Tuesday afternoon, but I imagined we were there for relatively similar reasons. We sat and sweated and had beer with lime and micheladas. Eddie handled the translating services and we handled the bill.

All squared up, we hopped in a cab. 

“Strippers! Are there strippers around here?” Warren demanded. 

Eddie smiled and said he knew a place.

The ‘strip club’ looked like a group of people used it for final refuge in a shootout. As the cab sped away down the potholed street, I remembered thinking that most people had epiphanies in these moments.  

Inside was a grungy room with cheap patio furniture. A greasy man I wouldn’t trust with free coupons ushered us to four seats near the back. As I sat, Eddie spouted off like a popcorn maker to a Spanish Danny Devito. They both smiled at the three of us and left. Everybody smiled. The other customers, a man at the bar, three suspicious teenagers by the exit. Eddie came around the corner with a bucket of Coronas and Danny returned from upstairs with three women in tow. Small, medium, and large. ‘Small’ and ‘Medium’ sat on Paul and Warren’s laps. I didn’t want any part but crooked stares prompted me to reluctantly offer ‘Large’ a knee. When she sat, I looked down at the legs of the plastic chair and they slowly splayed outwards. A brief respite from the fact that we had hookers sitting on us in the middle of a ghetto.

Danny wanted our tab cleared, bit of a deal too, at six hundred American dollars. We tried to tell him we didn’t order cheap prostitutes. Mr. Devito, being a reasonable man, told us not to worry, and to give him six hundred dollars. People prowled in the background. As we uselessly bartered, Eddie got up and disappeared. Tension grew under the foreshadow of violence. Paul, who knew the bare minimum of Spanish, started to hear unpleasant threats muttered toward us. Danny motioned to the man behind the bar for something.

Having inside information, Paul took money from his wallet and set it on the table. Danny leaned in to grab it and Paul announced that “We have to get the fuck out of here.”

Warren and I didn’t need to be coaxed. We lifted the girls from our laps and dodged Danny on the way out. I felt an arm clutch at me as we got outside and glanced behind to make sure whoever it was didn’t get Warren. The droning silence as we hit the street was interrupted by shouts from inside. 

All I remember from the five minutes that followed were the green soles of Paul’s shoes and Warren yelling “Faster! Faster!” as a contingency of men were in pursuit. We hit a busy street, spotted a taxi and literally jumped in front of it.

Eddie had been fired from the resort the day before he took us out, we later discovered. Warren and I had a call to our room at four thirty in the morning a few days after. It was Eddie, telling us we owed him a bunch of money and he intended to collect it. We hung up on him.

Never did get to ride any jet skis, either.

 

Travis Oltmann enjoys writing, reading, traveling, and talking about himself in the third person. He updates his published work on his website, travisoltmann.com

[photo via istockphoto.com; adapted]

 

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