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Ovidio Gets A Smoke
A party turns sour but Ovidio ends up sittin' pretty.
Writer and artist living in South Florida
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Ovidio Gets A Smoke
“Gimme a light,” Ovidio said, cigarette hanging from his swollen lips.
“Man, there’s a million candles and torches here,” said Ivan. “Light the (expletive) thing yourself.”
“Cool it, man,” Ovidio said with a grin. “Cool it.”
Ovidio’s face was red and bloated. He looked scary when serious. His grin, however, flashing brilliant white teeth, dissolved any hard feelings from Ivan, or anybody else for that matter. Ovidio’s grin was his ticket to parties, connections and deals most small time crooks would never be cut in on. Yeah, he was small time.
Ovidio swaggered over to a lit torch stuck into the humid tropical patch of foliage around their camp. He lifted it from the ground and with a sweeping motion, pulled it close to the unlit Marlboro, tightening his lips around it.
“(Expletive).” The flame singed the front of his hair and eyebrows. He tossed the torch to the ground and jumped, all five foot four of him, dropping the cigarette. The men in the camp heard a cry. It sounded like the yelp of a little boy.
“Hey, Mr. O,” one of them said, “You sound like a (expletive) cry baby.”
Ovidio, visibly shaken, hit his forehead with both hands, which only made matters worse. He was in too much pain to care what these (expletives) thought of him. He sat down on the nearest mossy rock and started to cry.
“Here, buddy,” Ivan said. He poured a pan of water on Ovidio’s head. Ovidio threw his hands up, spilling the pan.
“Next time,” Ovidio said almost in a howl, “when I ask for a light, let me have it, okay?”
Ovidio was an expert at blaming others. Had not his wealthy parents with their landed estate of many horses and cattle screwed up his life by cutting off most of his fortune? It was all their fault he was cast adrift like some beggar, in this backwoods swamp, surrounded by rednecks. It was all their fault he couldn’t get a job, not the kind he was suited for. His habits were no worse than anybody else’s. Why couldn’t his family understand?
Victor appeared from the makeshift tent, pushing a heavy canvas flap to the side. Victor was also short. He had a way of walking and holding his shoulders that resembled a jungle cat. Everyone knew he was the boss. He was not the kind to mess up a lighted cigarette. Victor had an uncanny awareness of what was going on, even if he didn’t see what was going on.
“Here, take this,” Victor said. Ovidio looked at Victor’s outstretched palm and seeing its contents, smiled his winning grin. Soon his troubles and pain disappeared into a fog of forgetfulness. He crawled into the tent and lay down on an uncovered mattress.
Victor had sent Ab for some refreshments. The girls from Tango Town were to arrive in about an hour. Victor had paid up front. It was going to be a great party.
The campfire was raging nicely. Torches and candles were lit and in place. Incense sticks poured smoke and fragrance into the humid, over ninety degree evening heat of the jungle. Potatoes had been stuck amid the coals of the fire. A side of pork ribs on a large metal grid, held up by two metal canisters, sizzled as drops of fat fell on hungry flames.
“Turn that thing up,” Victor said. Ivan walked over to a large fallen log where the speaker system was set up, almost tripping on cables and wires half covered by leaves and twigs.
A car motor hummed and then stopped about forty feet away. Trees and brush were too thick to make out the car or driver. As the crackling of footsteps on the ground came close, a tall, fair skinned man pushed his way into the camp. It was Ab. He was carrying a cardboard box.
Several men crowded around the box.
“Hey, you got the good stuff,” Ivan shouted. “Hey Vic, look what Ab brought.” Ivan ran everything by Victor. He was a groupie, or more aptly, a flunkey. Victor didn’t really need any of these characters, but most of them, especially Ivan, needed him. Without Victor, there was no party, no place to party, no fun.
Victor walked over and inspected the bottles. He seemed satisfied. Then he looked at Ab. Ab was looking at the fire.
“Where’s the change?” Victor said.
“Hey, man,” Ab said. “This stuff cost money. I got the best. Look here.” Ab pulled out a bottle the shape of a dolphin.
“Where’s the change?” Victor repeated. He spoke calmly.
“Look, you wanted girls,” Ab said. He was beginning to sweat. “A guy at Last Gasp is gonna send some girls over. They don’t come for nothin’, you know.”
Ab didn’t see it coming. In an instant he was in the bushes. Victor’s backhand had been swift, fast and hard.
The other men stopped in their tracks. No one said a word.The huge speakers blasted techno music, filling the campsite and surrounding woods with loud thumps and shrill riffs.
Victor moved like a jaguar now. Wires were jacked out of speakers; torches flew this way and that. He leaped over to the water hose and turned it on the lit candles, dousing everything in sight. Then he picked up the grid with the slab of meat and flipped it onto the ground.
The men didn’t move.
“Get out,” Victor yelled. “Everybody, get outta here.”
The men scattered into the woods.
“The party’s over,” Victor said to himself. “The party’s over.” Exhausted, he fell into a hammock roughly fastened to two trees.
A distant bird broke the silence with a caw-caw sound. Crickets hummed in the bushes. Once in a while a gunshot would be heard along with a faint echo. Probably some Saturday night hillbillies doing a little target practice.
The flap of the tent moved slightly. Ovidio peered out from behind the canvas.
“What’s going on,” Ovidio said. “Why is it so dark?”
Victor turned his head and looked at him blankly.
“Heyyy, I need a light,” Ovidio said, slurring the words. “Heyyy, who’s got a smoke?”
Victor rose from the hammock. He grabbed a small packet from a wooden pallet that served as a table. Then he reached for a lighter in his pocket.
“Here, sit down, man,” Victor said, guiding Ovidio to a plastic lawn chair near the pallet. Ovidio fell like a sack of flour into the chair.
“Vic,” Ovidio said sleepily. “Vic, my pal.”
Victor moved to the cardboard box and took out the dolphin shaped bottle. He broke its cap against one of the metal bins and poured some of its contents into two large plastic cups. Then he lit two cigarettes with the lighter.
“Thanks, man,” Ovidio said. He took one cigarette and picked up the plastic cup. “Thanks, man,” he repeated.
The night was dark, really dark now. Only a full moon shone from a clearing almost directly above the campsite.
“Hey, buddy, hey old man,” Ovidio slurred. “This is the best smoke I ever had.”
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© 2007 Liilia Morrison
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