After-image

After her return to Washington, Dolores realized that her days as Cultural Attache with routine access to the Oval Office were over. The heady emotions of Buenos Aires and her front-page notoriety as a beautiful target of kidnap rapidly dissipated in the daily political ferment of Washington. Occasionally, late at night, Dolores would get a text and a chauffeured limousine would whisk her across town to TuTu’s where she would listen to complex reflective tangos and await the President. One such evening, a lone couple glided across the dance floor, their bodies keyed to the music and to each other. Fabio and Maurice, caught up in Di Sarli’s “Porteno y Bailarin”, barely noticed the flurry of suits that appeared just after midnight. Fabio’s slender fingers caressed the ivory buttons of the bandoneon, wreathing a rhythmic hypnotic refrain around the stoned melodic ellipses flowing from Maurice’s violin.

The late arrivals dispersed unobtrusively around the room. Amancio found a seat by the bar and sipped an Islay single malt, while Willis oversaw security from a banquette at the back, hands steepled over his glowing smartphone, attentive to whispered alerts in his earbud. Sitting at a small table adorned with a shell pink camellia, the President, relaxed and urbane, conferred briefly with an aide, then turned to his companion. Dolores was dazzling in a soft iridescent blouse with his emerald brooch at her breast, a serpentine slit skirt and gilded heels. She rose from her chair and stepped onto the mirrored parquet, guided discreetly by Felix’s palm in the small of her back. Fabio and Maurice segued into “Desde el Alma”, and Felix led Dolores into the familiar complexities of a simple Tango waltz.

“Dolores,” he murmured, his lips grazing the perfect pearled precincts of her ear, “Tell me about the Hotel Fakir.” Dolores’s eyes filled with tears.
“Felix, my family name is Ferreyra; my brother is a journalist for the Buenos Aires Tribune. Marcos Maldonado killed our father. We honored his memory by seeking justice for the Desaparecitos and by looking out for Ignatio. In his own way, through Tango, Ignatio kept the crippled conscience of Argentina alive. In the end, he couldn’t bear a final separation from those he loved. He walked knowingly into the fire, on his own terms, not those of his enemies.” She glanced at the bar, then kissed Felix chastely on his cheek. “I’ll be right back.”

Amancio caught the bartender’s eye and stood as Dolores joined him.
“The Western Isles know a thing or two,” he said. “Care for a dram?”
“Amancio, you’re ridiculous.” Dolores slid onto his seat, crossed her legs gracefully, and touched the orchid in her hair. “How can we dance, wasted on single malt?”
Gazing into the reflective pools of her eyes, he glimpsed tiny songbirds nestled in the warm down of cranes on southward migration. He slipped an arm around her waist.
“Care to dance, Dolores?” he said.

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