Max and Dolores sat on the porch at Tabouli’s, down by the Charleston waterfront. Dolores was wearing a sleeveless cerulean linen dress, her hair gathered and tied with a silk ribbon. He was mesmerised by her dark eyes and the half-smile playing around her lips.
“Amancio told me Tango is big in Beirut,” said Dolores. “It seems they have milongas after all; I thought you just imagined Roxanne in her black tankini, lounging next to the infinite edge pool at the Gefinor Rotana!” Dolores leaned in and sipped her Pimm’s. “What did you imagine in Florida?”
Max saw reality refracted through the prism of imagination. “Ovidio must have realized the FBI was closing in when Fairouz appeared at the iDanze Studio in the wake of terrible thunderstorms. He sensed, dancing with her, an unexpected detachment, an immunity to his well-honed advances. Her serious demeanor spoke of a life beyond tango. The next evening, at the house milonga, he must have noticed her whispering into her phone, and the impassive faces of Amancio and his men. My unwitting mention of Gregorio triggered fight or flight. Not one for half-measures, he did both.”
“Ovidio pursued the refuge offered by tango,” Dolores said, “we do too, for other reasons. Fairouz was helping us, of course, just as we helped her with humanitarian aid in East Africa. I remember Ovidio back in the Hotel Fakir, in his red shirt, black pants and bare feet, the epitome of Tango authority. I noticed a cobra tatoo on his wrist when he came to the bar. I texted Amancio, and his men flew into Charleston the next day. But it was too late.”
“Ovidio threw the Molotov cocktail into the Hotel Fakir, to kill Ignatio?”
“An assassin, yes.” Dolores said. “But it’s finished now.” She paused and fingered her glass tentatively. “You should know, Max; I’ve been disappointed with Tango lately. Too many leaders are boring, cold, and clueless, machine-like in their embrace! Tango without passion is like guzzling warm champagne: no taste and no fun, a mere pretense of elegance. I was almost in tears listening to your Florida story! I felt the humid warmth of the wetlands and shuddered at the sudden thunderstorms. Too bad I wasn’t there.”
She sat back in her chair and smiled.
“Tell me about your last best dance.”