Tom knocked on the hotel room door and Dick opened it. He took a pace back and whistled. “What have you done?”
“Isn’t she a beauty?” Tom’s hand twisted into the waist of her skirt as if he were afraid she’d fall over without his support.
Tom and Dick helped her into the hotel room.
“What’s your name, darling?” Harry came out from the bathroom, wearing only his shorts. “You’re a cutie.”
The girl half-stumbled and Tom held her steady while Dick took the bottle from her. Old, and slightly dusty, it had an air of quaint respectability that belongs only to genies or expensive liqueurs.
Dick put the bottle on the bedside table. Tom held the girl, from behind, by the arms, and Harry started to unbutton her blouse. Harry kissed her full on the lips. She showed no sign of resistance, not even when Harry thrust his tongue into her mouth.
“What’s her name?” Dick asked.
Tom shrugged and pointed to a tattoo on the girl’s wrist where the initials “CJ” faced off against a crimson heart around which a large worm-like creature curled.
“Are you CJ?” Dick questioned her and she nodded.
“Op-p-p-pen the bot-t-t-le,” she whispered.
“All in good time,” Dick took her by the hand and led her towards the bed. Tom and Harry looked at each other and started to laugh.
“Oh boy, is this our lucky day,” Tom went into the bathroom and brought out three glasses.
“Only three?” Harry asked.
“She’s out of it,” Tom nodded his head.
“It’s mezcal, isn’t it?” Harry shook at the bottle. “Look: it’s got three worms in it, one for each of us.”
* * *
Later, the three boys sat in front of the television to take in the football game. They sipped at the large glasses of yellow liquid they held in their hands.
CJ lay on the bed, naked, oblivious. Her lips moved as if she were praying. On her arm, the tattoo had changed shape. The worm, uncurling, now flowed into a single word: bruja.
* * *
“First and goal!” The boys stared at the screen. Behind them, the bottle on the night table started to shake.
“Second and one!” The boys were bewitched by the game. Behind them, the bottle on the table grew in size and the three yellow worms that had been sleeping at the bottle’s bottom, swelled with it, and slowly swam to the top of the yellow liquid.
“Third and one!” The boys were besotted, their eyes glued on the tv screen. Behind them, the three worms emerged from the bottle and stood on the hotel room floor, dominating the room, a trio of unspoken elephants.
“Go, go, go!” The three boys raised their arms.
* * *
The room stands empty now.
CJ has gone. She has been returned to her own room where she is guarded by two enormous presences that have cleaned and bathed her wounds. They have blessed her with their twin gifts of wholeness and holiness and now they are allowing her forgetfulness and sleep.
* * *
In that other hotel room, the screen door to the balcony lies open. On the ground five stories below, three male bodies lie. Sirens wail. The police cordon off the area. Ambulances arrive, sirens wailing.
Above them in the room, a yellow presence scours the surroundings, devouring all evidence of CJ’s sloughed skin.
* * *
On the sleeping girl’s wrist, the initials “CJ” face off against a crimson heart besides which three large worm-like creatures stand on guard.
* * *