That evening they visited the La Paz bar, the place the unfortunate Victor Cortez had told them to visit to find Javier Luna. They hit the bar in that awkward hour where most of the locals had drifted out but the ex-pats hadn’t drifted in yet. Behind the bar was a man whose arms and chest were covered with tattoos.
“Welcome, my fine norteamericanos,” he said in English. “My name is Tonio.”
“We’re here to meet Javier Luna, we’ve heard so many good things about their music,” said Ruby with a finely judged amount of enthusiasm.
“Oh, they don’t come around as much as they used to. Maybe they’ll show up tonight, maybe not. Good guys, though.”
In a corner was a young woman who was reading a copy of Tropic of Cancer in English. Jimmy sidled up to her. “What’s the PTI?” he said, pointing to a stack of pamphlets next to her.
“Parti de Trabajadores Internacíonal,” she said absently. She glanced up, and then put her book down. “Americans!” she said with delight.
“Someone who speaks English!” said Jimmy with relief. “Mind if I sit down?”
“Be my guest.”
Jimmy ordered a couple of tequilas for them. “Jimmy Wright,” he said by way of introduction.
“You sit here a lot?”
“Yes, during the day it is not very loud, so it’s a good place to write.”
“What do you write?”
“I’m a poet. I also take photographs and play music.”
“I used to be a photographer,” said Jimmy, and engaged her for a few moments in pleasant conversation. “You know the Luna brothers?” he said after a while.
“Oh, sure. Actually, funny you should mention them, they’re playing at our rally.”
She handed Jimmy a flyer with a Socialist Realist picture of workers striving together. “Gran manifestacion para…Léon Trotsky? What is that, some kind of rally?”
“I helped design it for Mr. Brooks,” said Elena proudly. “He’s a very interesting man. Very educated. He’s from the U. S. but he loves Mexico, wants to help us through off the oppression of the evil clericists and capitalists. If you want me to introduce you to Javier, I can, but you should come to the rally—Senor Brooks is coming!”
“I’ll definitely be there,” said Jimmy. “And I’d love to see this Brooks.”
“They call him the John Reed of Mexico,” said Elena. “Well, at least he says that he’s the John Reed of Mexico.”
“This kind of opportunity comes only once a century,” said Jimmy.
“Si, Comrade Trotsky is a great man.”
“You ever meet Leticia de la Luz?”
“I’ve heard her music. I didn’t like it, because first it’s extremely derivative and counter-revolutionary with a very bourgeois sensibility. Also, it’s kinda creepy. A little crass, don’t you think? Whenever I hear it, I do this old Indian trick my mother taught me. It’s a song in Nahuatl, you know, the language of the Aztecs. Whenever I hear Leticia sing I sing that song to myself and it drives it out of my head.”
“I’d love to hear it,” said Jimmy.
“Oh, I don’t know…it’s a family thing…”
“I know, but I’d really love to hear you sing it. I’m sure you have a really beautiful voice.”
“Oh,” said Elena, blushing. “Well…it starts like this…”
She pulled up closer to Jimmy and whispered the song in his ear.
[This is a 2-point Flattery spend according to the book to get the song; but here I saw that a rich, intelligent American was spending two points of Flattery on a 22 year old Mexican woman…so Jimmy picked up a crush.]
“The truth is,” said Elena after she finished teaching Jimmy the song, “most people are pretty scared of Leticia. Nobody sees her, and nobody wants to, even if they could find her. Senor Brooks doesn’t let her out anymore. It’s very strange, because she used to always be at her side. I think he was trying to model themselves on Diego and Frieda—Brooks is a great man, but he’s not an artist. Trust me, he’s not an artist.”
“Politics and art don’t often mix.”
“True. You know, I’m going to be going to school soon—I have some money saved. I haven’t decided if I’ll stay here and go to the Autonomous University, or Paris, or America. But I do know that I’ll be able to find other young women like myself.”
Jimmy held his breath. “How’s that?” he said through clenched teeth.
“I got this lovely letter from an organization that I can join. They gave me this gold pin, I wear it on my necklace.” She pulled the necklace out from under her blouse.
“Those are Greek letters.”
“Yes, an Epsilon and a Sigma superimposed on each other.”
“I went to five or six of the best schools in the United States, so I’d be happy to tell you about them,” said Jimmy.
“That would be great!” Elena finished her drink. “So, do you want to get out this place with me? I know a few places nearby where we could be private.”
[RP: Jimmy, I think you’re gonna need to make an Athletics spend…]
“The horrible breath the attacker had,” said Ruby to an admiring coterie of deadbeat aristocrats, threadbare artists, and international drunks. “Bloodshot eyes, red-rimmed…”
“Well, I hope you gave that chap the what for,” said the Honourable Something-or-Other.
“Bon courage, ma chere,” said M. le Comte de Quelquechose.
Geronimo, by way of contrast, was in the corner with the Leftist crowd: Social Anarchists, Democratic Socialists, Workers’ Socialists, Socialist Workers…all were impressed by Geronimo’s tales of working against the Fascists in Spain.
“This PTI,” said one of the less scruffy Socialists, “they’re not a real workers’ party, just a cult of personality around Brooks. The poseur. But he has a dedicated set that obeys his orders without question.”
“That’s counter-revolutionary,” said an Anarchist.
“No it’s not,” said the resident Stalinist, setting off a twenty-minute argument.