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So It Begins...

I decided not long ago to go ahead and start my own blog. I did this fully realizing that their are somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 million bloggers in this country alone and that essentially blogging can be a huge waste of time. Especially if you have no intention of trying to make a buck off the process. Sort of. I intend to post stories I've written along with any other musings that strike my fancy. I like to take photos so there will be some of that here also. But mostly I think it will be stories. both fictitious and real-life. Some of these stories I will collect together in modified editions and publish in book form at some later time. But for now, anyone who stumbles upon this Blog will have first crack at reading these stories here.

That said, the following post is my first story here at Written Down Life. This story came about from my interest in dance and particularly dance crazes like the Lambada and the Macerana. I also wanted to push myself as a writer and see if I could write credibly about a place I have never been. In this case - Argentina, home of the Tango.


Otis Hesitation


 

 

Antonio Borges liked the nickname his friends gave him because it made him sound exotic and dangerous. When he came into work in the morning, passing the women as he made his way to the time clock, his friends would shout out “Tino! How’d it go!” or “Ho Tino! C’mon, tell us all about it!”. In Antonio’s mind the name lent a certain edge; gave a sheen to his reputation. The reality however, was that he led as mundane a life as the rest of his co-workers and friends. The only difference with Antonio was that he could dance the tango so well that on the weekends he could make as much as much as 400 Pesos as a taxi dancer in the downtown bars. His friends revered his dancing prowess because in Argentina the tango is celebrated much like bull fighting in Spain and hockey in Canada. In many ways, the tango is Argentina, and anyone within its borders that can dance well is held in special esteem. Antonio understood that he had been given a gift. He understood the jealousy some of his friends held, and tried to be gracious about his good fortune. As a result, jealous or not, Antonio’s friends were all terribly fond of him.

 

Antonio worked as a finish trimmer in one of the largest beef processing plants in Argentina. He spent his days standing in front of a conveyor belt grabbing large chunks of meat and deftly carving the excess fat away. He had a large knife that he kept in a holster he wore on a belt that was wrapped around his chest bandelero-style. He liked his job okay, but it wasn’t what he felt he was really good at. Meat cutting paid his bills, but it was the tango that paid his soul. Antonio only existed through the week. Waiting to come alive on the weekends. The weekends were where “Tino” lived.

 

 

The weekends were for Tino, and the Tango, and his partner, Mercette. Mercette danced like the flame on top of a candle. For Antonio the middle of the week was torture. You were equal distance from the joy that was the past weekend and the expectant itch that was the weekend to come. The thing that made it bearable was the Wednesday rehearsal with Mercette. A brief interlude of an hour when Tino could quench his thirst at Mercette’s well and know that on Friday night he would drink his fill. And today was Wednesday.

 

Wednesday was also prime cut day at the plant. The line ran just as fast, but Antonio was expected to trim and separate the difficult tenderloin cuts from the huge blobs of beef that paraded before him in a seemingly unending line. It was both tedious and nerve-wracking. Peno, the inspector, stood in his booth a few feet away, watching each piece roll by, looking for imperfect cuts and marking Antonio’s mistakes down in the log. Enough mistakes and Antonio would be docked some pay. Peno had a club-foot and made no secret of his hatred of Antonio’s dancing. Antonio believed that the little insect fudged the log on occasion just to get even, but he could never prove it. Peno didn’t know about Antonio’s luncheon rehearsals with Mercette and Antonio was glad of that; Wednesdays were hard enough without the extra misery that knowledge could bring him.

Finally, the bell rang, and the belt line stopped. Antonio whisked off his rubber apron and knife belt casting a glance at Peno as he vaulted down the stairs on his way to the shop floor. Peno gestured him over by pointing at the clipboard he held in his hand. Antonio’s heart sank as he trudged up to the inspection booth.

 

“Well, well Teeeno! It looks like you are finally getting the hang of this job! And after only 4 years! You had a perfect run this morning. If you run flawlessly this afternoon you'll make this week's target! That’s a bonus of a hundred Pesos, Tino! That’s for everyone on the line, including me. We haven’t made a Wednesday target in months. So have a good lunch, come back rested and ready to concentrate. I know you don’t care about the extra dough, but the rest of us don’t have the tango to support us. So come back, and try not to let us down.”

Peno was such a little machulla. Antonio said nothing; he just nodded and headed out the door. Mercette waited - two blocks away and four flights up. Antonio rode the tram over to an old building in the business district. The building was festooned with baroque cornices and columns made from what was possibly the ugliest marble ever found and the steps, although broad and sweeping, were latticed with cracks and rotten with weeds. It was an old Federale building that had been converted into condominiums in the 80’s. Mercette liked the old-world charm of the building and had paid a pretty sum to live in the thing. Antonio couldn’t stand it. He liked modern things and this building screamed musty age. He could almost imagine Eva Peron speaking from Mercette’s tiny balcony as he took the steps two at a time through the front doors and into the lobby. He waved at old Bernal, the super, as he ran for the elevator. Bernal yelled at the people already in the lift to hold it for Antonio. As Antonio squeezed into the crush he smiled a salute to Bernal who winked and pumped his arm in a crude manner.

The elevator was one of those old cage-like things made from wrought iron and steel. It was open on all sides so you could look at the rotting wood between floors as it creaked its way upward. Antonio was going to the fourth floor community suite, which had access to the roof where they rehearsed. Antonio knew the elevator’s slow pace well and settled in for a good long ride. There were about ten people on with most of them congregated toward the front, eager to reach their floor. Antonio knew better; he studied the maintenance plaque located at eye level in the right rear corner of the car. It said:

Otis Elevator Co.

 

Chicago Il. 1952

Capacity 3000 Kilos

 

Automatically his eyes shifted to the other people; sizing them up for possible capacity violations. The men were all older, stocky people who looked unremarkable by themselves, but when gathered together on an old elevator with a questionable maintenance record and low capacity; they became harbingers of horrible, plunging death. A minor tremor of alarm sifted through Antonio’s psyche. He looked at the women. All were younger or just entering middle age. Two were particularly lovely. Antonio ran his eyes over each one trying to match the wideness, and plumpness of their bottoms with his own internal sense of what that would do to the total weight carried on their frames. He averaged in the breasts at about one and half Kilos each at the most. Mercette had high, large breasts and he knew they must weigh two kilos each. The bottom was the key. That was where the meat, well marbled with fat, resided. The heaviest part of a steer or any other bovine was always in the rump. And humans were no different. Antonio idly calculated the estimation of total weight in the car and came up with a figure well in excess of the 3000 Kilos proclaimed on the plaque. He realized they might be in the Death Zone just as the elevator reached the first floor.

Three of the men and two of the women shifted forward, waiting for the lift to stop on the first floor. The others backed away slightly. One of the comely, young women bumped into Antonio and murmured an apology. She smelled slightly of Patchouli and lavender; Antonio noticed that the nape of her neck was accentuated by a perfectly circular mole. Brown, like a Hershey’s Kiss. The lift stopped and a man pulled on the accordion-hinged, wrought iron door, but it didn’t budge. There was a split second of confusion before the lift lurched slightly down then crept up to meet the edge of the floor. The man yanked again and the door opened with a clatter. Antonio paid no attention because he knew this happened all the time with this elevator. It was like the thing had to hesitate and remember where it was going.

Instead, Antonio watched the woman’s neck. Saw, as the elevator took it’s little hesitation, her skin take on a blush and the pulse rise to the surface throbbing once…twice and maybe a third time but Antonio couldn’t see. The woman had run her hand across her neck in the spot he was looking at, and as she did so, she gave an almost inaudible moan.

Antonio, to be a great tango dancer, had had to become attuned to women’s cues. Years of practice and performing with Mercette had prepared him well to dance with the paying touristas . He had to be able to read a woman’s subtle clues and to answer them with the heavy-handed, but almost irresistible cues of his maleness. To wave the red flag of machismo in front of the washed-out, fat, tourista senoras y senoritas. To get them to do what he wanted them to do, and for them to get him to do what they wanted him to do. But, eventually, to pay for the service after the spell had gone and “Tino” had turned back into Antonio.

 

This ability was good for 400 Pesos a week, but standing in the elevator, watching this woman and feeling the heat from her, Antonio felt the stirrings of something greater than a mere 400 a week roiling around in his mind like smoke from a fine cigar.

 

The five people got off the lift, but Antonio didn’t notice. The young woman glided toward the front as one of the remaining men clanged the door shut. He studied her intently. Her legs shivered slightly as she shifted forward. They bowed out at the knees and her hands fluttered like butterflies across her bosom. Antonio glanced at the older woman who was in the opposite corner from him. She leaned into the corner as if trying to get some weight off of her feet, but she had a Mona Lisa smile on her lips, and her eyes were wide and sparkling. He noticed her legs were bowed also and she clutched a soft-sided attaché tightly to her chest. The elevator rattled upward. Antonio waited, now impatient, for the next floor. He watched the floor slide by from top to bottom; licking his lips. The two women stood tense. One of the men burped and sighed. The floor disappeared under the car as it bumped to a stop.

Antonio stared at the young woman’s back as the lift shifted up slightly then dropped down then slowly up to meet the floor. He saw her hunch her shoulders slightly. Her feet, stuffed into Espadrilles, bent outward at the ankles and a slight grunt came out of her when the car stopped. One of the men unceremoniously opened the gate and all got out but the two women. Antonio went forward to close the gate and continue when the young woman, suddenly shook her head and brushed past him.

“Dispensar, senor, this is my floor.” She muttered as she hurried out and down the corridor. She weaved from wall to wall and her bottom twitched like some nervous, clockwork animal as she marched on unsteady feet.

The idea came upon him as he shut the gate. If he were to add a hesitation into his solo turn in one of his routines. One of the angry, passionate ones. Do the hesitation toward the end. It would drive the touristas mad. Better yet, it might drive Mercette into heights she hadn’t yet seen. If this thing he saw could be made to work; Mercette would forget about her dreams of independence and marry him once and for all.

 

Something in Antonio’s memory banks told him there had been a famous dance with a hesitation in it that drove people wild. Far in the past. It had been a waltz. Yes! He had it! The Hesitation Waltz. It had been big during the 30’s like the Charleston in the 20’s. Visions of fame came to him like angels riding rays of light down from heaven. He could have the next Lambata. He could even have the next Macarena. Right at this moment in this broken down elevator, in this wreck of a building; Antonio Borges held the key to a world wide dance craze in his head. He slammed the gate and rode up to the next floor humming to himself and bouncing slightly on the balls of his feet. The older woman eyed him warily and he smiled back. He saw a sheen of sweat on her forehead and an errant bead sliding it’s way down her ample cleavage. His smiled widened. He day-dreamed about Mercette and himself dancing on television. A worldwide broadcast on Telemundo. It would be fantastic.

They reached the third floor and the woman stared, almost spent, at the open gate which Antonio had gleefully opened for her. She gathered herself up and wobbled out of the lift and down the corridor. Antonio grinned. The woman had been unconsciously kneading one breast as she stumbled her way by Antonio. He felt the wave of her heat drift by and nodded his head. He definitely had something here.

He rode the rest of the way deep in thought. When he got to the roof he was thoroughly distracted; mapping out his moves in his head. Mercette stood waiting off to the side next to a small boom box sitting on an empty case of beer. She was stretching one leg out on the ledge, bending her forehead down to touch her knee. She was exposing her cocoa colored leg from her delicate ankle all the way up to Buenos Aries. Antonio didn’t notice, he murmured greetings and started fiddling with his jacket. Mercette shrugged and began stretching the other leg. She spoke into her dimpled knee.

So Tino, what do you want to do first? ‘The Spider and the Fly’? Or ‘The Passionate Prisoner?”

Antonio tossed his jacket aside and strode to the wide, open portion of the roof with his back to her. He spoke over his shoulder, unwilling to look at her until the dance began. He was concentrating; marshalling his forces.

“The Spider and the Fly!” he barked.

 

Mercette punched the boom box and the music of a tango trio came percolating out across the still air of the roof-top. Mercette started with a solo turn gliding in a snake-like zigzag toward Antonio who still had his back turned. When the music came to a minor crescendo Mercette was on him clawing at his back turning him around. He clawed back and they skittered across the hot tarred roof like water dancing on a hot griddle. Antonio aggressively turned her this way and that causing her to stumble a little from dizziness. Antonio could tell she was beginning to lose herself to the dance. She began to hang limply in his arms and her eyes took on a glazed quality. She was coming to the point where Antonio could lead her through the rest of the routine however he saw fit.

Suddenly, as they were beginning to wind up to the second rise in the music, Mercette tore away to improvise another solo. This was Mercette’s “fly” portion of the dance and Antonio had decided to counterpoint her solo with one of his own. Normally he would stand and regard Mercette while she soloed. He would strike poses and wait for his turn. Instead, he began dancing a solo around her. Mercette looked briefly annoyed but carried on, unwilling to stop the dance. Antonio danced around and around Mercette as she spun and stepped to the music. Antonio snapped fingers on both hands in time with the music that was climbing the hill to it’s final crescendo. At the point where they usually came together in a stylized portrayal of the throws of passion Antonio pranced backward out of Mercette’s outstretched arms and like a ball at the end of an over stretched rubber band, he hesitated. Antonio counted 4/4 time through one measure and then reversed his steps into Mercette’s arms. She gasped.

 

“God! Tino! What was that? What was that thing?”

Antonio spun her outward and flipped her to face him as he slid backward and hesitated again.

“You mean this?” he breathed, giving her his best smoldering look.

Mercette stumbled slightly and gulped a lung full of air. Air that had suddenly become hot, syrupy and charged with electricity. She shook her head slowly and tried to speak but Antonio was on her before she had a chance to protest. He swirled her around and reaching the ledge he bent her over the roof top and hesitated one more time. This time she had no problem getting Antonio to tell her what she wanted to hear. Nor was there any problem getting him to do what she wanted him to do. Right then and right there.

One floor below in a dim hallway, old Bernal was steaming off some wallpaper. Pausing, he listened to the sounds of the tango mixed with love making drifting down from the roof like some kind of erotic sonic incense. He smiled and daydreamed of his younger days thinking how beautiful his wife had been then. Bernal turned the steamer off and listened for a while longer. Then he decided it was too hot to work any more and made his way toward the elevator; his pace quickening as the two voices from above merged into one moaning song of passion. Maybe his wife would be home. Maybe she wouldn’t be tired. Maybe if he played some old tangos on the stereo they could dance again like they used to. He slammed the cage of the elevator shut, and pushed the button. The lift went up slightly, hesitated, then proceeded down. It gave Bernal’s stomach a flip. A squirmy twinge moved further south. Gonna have to fix this damned thing someday, he thought as he rode down to his floor, idly snapping his fingers in nervous anticipation. Muffled sounds drifted down the shaft from above.

 

Bernal shuffled his feet - willing the elevator to go faster.



The End




Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
dabroots
Apr. 4th, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for adding me to your reading list, and welcome to Live Journal! It's a good place for extended writing. It's unfortunate that an overhwhelming number of people are opting for only Twitter and Facebook, these days, under the illusion that they constitute a blog of some kind. This is the real deal, similar to Blogger but better, in that it encourages interaction among keepers of journals here. I've had mine for about seven years. I notice that I'm the first person on your list besides yourself. I have a number of good writers on my list, including one not that far from you there in Michigan, and that's crookedfingers, who's quite insightful, although it's good to read several of his entries to get a genuine feel for what he's about. How did you happen to find my journal, by the way? Oh, and I haven't yet read your story, but I'm still waking up. LATER: You might want to click "Friends" at the top of my journal page to see who I read here on a regular basis, although you'll need to sort through various LJ community posts. And if you haven't already done so, you might use that little search window in the upper right-hand corner of your screen and click on the drop-down menu and find other people who list similar interests, e.g. authors, filmmakers, etc.

Edited at 2009-04-04 01:00 pm (UTC)
chezsci
Apr. 7th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC)
Welcome
Thank you for the welcome Dabroots. I'm just starting out on LJ so I'm slowly learning the ropes. I was looking for a "home" to blog from and I think I've found it. I like LJ's interactiveness. It's not just a bunch of navel gazers writing for no one and for no purpose.Oddly enough - I got here by clicking through Crookedfingers' blog, which I originally got steered into by visiting a band site that we both happened to be fans on. I find Crookedfingers' site to be oddly mesmerizing. It's an interestingly strange mix of religious fervor/devotion/study and unabashed passive narcissism. I find it fascinating that the guy is living a life almost totally of the mind - he does nearly nothing all day but think, listen to music and write. And he never seems to be bored. I envy him a little.
Turns out he probably lives within blocks of me. We go to the same coffee shop and I know all of the places he talks about locally.
Anyway - I've blathered on enough. Thanks for the welcome and glad you dropped by my site. See you around the playground.
chezsci
Apr. 7th, 2009 03:53 am (UTC)
Re: Welcome
Forgot to add that your site came up in the friends list of Crooked fingers - I was curious who would be on that list. It's a pretty eclectic, diverse group. Of course, the cool pic of Dr. Manhattan you have as your profile pic jumped right out and said "click on this".
dabroots
Apr. 7th, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)
Re: Welcome
I liked "Watchmen" quite a lot, without being all that familiar with the characters or the graphic novel(s) that preceded it. Dr. Manhattan's character is thoroughly cool.
markmc03
Apr. 9th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
I have been leery of Russian bots which add people to their Friends List so that they can spam. But I see you are a legitimate newbie in search of exposure to a variety of writing styles. In which case, welcome. Thank you for adding me. I have done likewise so now you can peruse my shielded entries as well.

I can't promise I would give you feedback on your writing, simply because I find writing to be a very personal thing in many respects, what one person sees as a writing faux pas is a poignant stylistic choice in the eyes of another. A writer writes and trusts the universe to guide his or her writing to the appropriate audience.

But be assured I generally will read most everything my LJ Friends post.

Likewise, feel free to comment on anything you read in my posts. I try to be controversial, but I consider myself reasonably open minded.

Cheers.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )