The Cock Crows

She pined for Felix when he was gone. The first night she sat at a secluded table in TuTu’s, her phone close at hand. Men mostly steered clear of her, somehow aware of the protective veils of surveillance enclosing her. Willis, a little coil of wire in his ear, sat at the bar, deeply bored with his assignment. Every few minutes, like a beach lifeguard, he scanned the room methodically and murmured a word or two into his cuff. The tiny orchestra played a set of rhythmic tangos by Enrique Rodrigues. Fabio, the bandoneonista, was nostalgically convincing as he channeled Roberto Flores and his fluid songs of heartbreak. Maurice, the violinist, was thoughtful, flying high on fine Sensimilla he’d smoked an hour before in the mens’ room. Dolores had turned him down politely when he’d offered to turn her on. She was thinking of Felix, or so she thought. But Mademoiselle Quiroga was the one who danced before her inner eye.

She reached for her glass of Malbec. On her phone she googled this re-incarnation of Eva Peron, whose beauty was the toast of Argentina, from balmy Buenos Aires and arid Patagonian deserts to frozen Andean heights. While she sat in TuTu’s listening to Fabio, Mademoiselle Quiroga was waltzing with her Felix, the President. She moved as one with him, her silken body taut but compliant. He leaned intently into her embrace, leading her like the free world that she was. All eyes were upon her, and her eyes were closed against his cheek. Dolores touched Felix’s emerald brooch on her breast, sipped her wine, and succumbed to the violin’s sinuous embrace. A calm familiar voice whispered in her ear.
“Dolores?” Amancio, his Blackberry gone, offered his hand. His eyes caught hers momentarily, then rested on the crimson arc of her lips.

He’d read her perfectly, of course, and led her into a finely calibrated circuit of the dance floor. Her phone uttered a presidential ping as they passed her little table. Willis by the bar stiffened and touched his ear, and she danced on, settling into Amancio’s careful comfortable embrace. A second authoritative ping sounded from her phone, and Fabio, no fool, nodded almost imperceptibly as she passed by. Willis, now on full alert, tried to catch her eye, but he was no tanguero, just Secret Service. Eyes closed, she danced on, attuned to Amancio’s take on the music as he led her body into pleasing rhythmic alignment with his own. The third ping was piqued and insistent.

Amancio led Dolores to her table, his hand on her back. Her phone awaited her on high alert. She picked up, and he retreated to the bar. Ignatio raised an eyebrow in male complicity and poured him a brandy. Dolores stood by her table, toying with the emerald at her breast, a latter-day Botticelli Venus lacking only a scallop shell. She glanced at Fabio and Willis, then glanced at Amancio and smiled. A small, huge consolation.
“Yes, Mr. President,” she said.
“Dolores,” he said, “What do you think? I know she looks good, but in the fourth bar of “Desde el Alma”, where we switch from parallel to cross steps, she lost me.” He fell silent.
“Felix…?”
“Dolores, ask Amancio to get you to Reagan National; a jet to BA is waiting for you.”
Dolores tucked away her phone, smoothed her serpentine silk dress, and leaned back in the banquette. She inclined her head slightly towards Amancio. The cock had crowed three times, and she had not folded. She twirled her glass, smiled at Willis and Fabio and Maurice, and considered her options.

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