Judge Santiago Burdon

Who Doesn’t Like Strawberries

“What do you mean I don’t have any future left,” I asked her. “I’ve used it up? How is that even possible?”

I had no clue as to what she was even talking about. It was a challenge just to listen to her rant with the monster hangover I was nursing. Now I had to make sense of what the Hell she meant by her statement. Please just shoot me my dear and put me out of your misery.

“You’ve spent it,” she said. “You’re overdrawn. Similar to a cat using all nine lives, only it’s your destiny I’m referring to. It’s been wasted, squandered, and mismanaged. Kismet has given up, thrown in the towel. Get it smart guy?”

She motions, pointing to her head while making the goofy face of an idiot.

“Besides, your checkered past clashes with my pastel-colored future, so this relationship or whatever it is, has reached its end.”

“So help me to understand what you’re saying. The fate of my future was that I would run out of destiny. I am without any tomorrows because I’ve used them up in my yesterdays? Fate is determined at birth. My destiny however is determined by my actions. Have you joined the Church of Scientology again? Is this your Thetan talking? You’re sounding a lot like my mother, only she’d mix in some Jesus shit and top it off with some mystic witchy stuff.”

Why is it when relationships end, it always deteriorates into name calling with intention to cause emotional scars? I would much rather walk away knowing the time we spent together was a wonderful ride that just ran out of road. All this screaming and assigning blame is just vindictive, but we can’t help falling into it time and time again.

“And there it is, Mr. Negative putting down a religion he knows nothing about.”

“Hey I’ve done my research and have developed an opinion based on deductive reasoning,” I argued. “Did you know L. Ron Hubbard was a science fiction author before establishing the Church of Scientology? Gives you an idea of how he came up with the doctrine for the religion. You sincerely believe you are an extraterrestrial being? You want to know what really bothers me, is who goes around calling themself L. Ron Hubbard? I find it extremely pretentious using an initial for your first name. Why? Doesn’t he like the name the ‘L’ represents? Are we supposed to guess the name? Does he think it adds an air of mystery about him? It’s like E.E. Cummings or T.S. Eliot, what the fuck is that all about. And why is it that if I’m not in favor of or dislike something, it means I’m being negative? You didn’t like The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down, which is one of my favorite films, and I didn’t give you any shit about it. You don’t like strawberries, do I accuse you of being a negative person because of your dislike of strawberries? No, I never said anything. Now that I think about it, it should’ve been a clue to your own negative demeanor. Who doesn’t like strawberries?”

“How the hell did we get to talking about this shit? I’ll admit Santiago, you do have a talent for twisting a conversation into some obscure subject. But I can’t do this anymore. You should have seen this coming.” 

“How could I have seen it coming? I can’t determine my future if there isn’t any. Let’s not do this. If you are no longer enamored with me please just say so and leave it at that. There’s no need for this destructive rhetoric, it’s not a healthy or worthwhile practice. Also, this isn’t my first breakup, so I’m sort of an expert. I’ve become immune to the derogatory dialogue and insults.”

“I’m more than sure of that. You’re a professional when it comes to this. Of course you’ve built up an immunity after all the relationships you’ve sabotaged.” 

There’s no winner in these types of frays. I’m truly sorry she has built up such loathing for me. However I’m completely without any clue as to what the hell happened here. It seemed to me we were enjoying each other’s company just yesterday. Maybe she’s on her… no, I’m not going to say it. Really? Y’all want me to mention that possibility during this argument? I’m at times a bit dense when dealing with women, but I have learned there’s never a right time to ask the wrong question or to answer truthfully when asked your opinion, especially concerning her appearance. All women want you to lie, it’s one of the many unwritten laws of relationship survival. And all of you want to see me persecuted. You heartless bastards. You’ll have to wait for your sick entertainment at my expense in some other story.

“I’m still without a clue as to your sudden decision to break up with me. I do want you to know I cherish you. You are the complete package and the man that wins your heart is truly fortunate.”

“Stop with the sweet talk. I’ve practiced this dissertation for quite awhile. My mind is made up.” 

‘Well that’s disheartening to hear. How long have you been practicing?”

“I’m sorry Santiago, I don’t mean to act like such a bitch. I feel so… I don’t know… I’m sorry if I hurt you.”

“I’m more disappointed than hurt. I need to know the reason. Let’s not make this any more unpleasant than it already has become. I think it’s better we don’t continue with spilling any more bad blood.”

“I’ve got one question I would appreciate you answering honestly,” she said. “I found your passport in your blazer when I took it to the dry cleaners and I looked inside. You have been everywhere in Central and South America as well as Mexico numerous times in the past three years. Then I found a second passport from Canada with a different name, your picture and the same destinations. What’s up with you? What kind of work do you do? You disappear for days with no communication then appear back without an explanation. You always speak Spanish when you’re on the phone. And that friend of yours, that Donny Rico guy, there’s something seriously wrong with him. He is definitely mentally ill, no joke. Have you ever looked into his eyes? They are so empty without a spark of life in them. He’s definitely an alcoholic and a drug addict as well. What do you see in him?” 

“It’s Johnny, not Donny.” 

“What? You lied about his name?” 

“No, you misinterpreted his name. Johnny is my friend, my only friend and would never hurt anyone I was associated with. I never made condescending comments about your psycho bitch friends. Talk about basket cases, they’re the most judgmental, self-righteous, backstabbing, delusional and evil women I’ve ever encountered. Johnny has always been polite and respectful to you, isn’t that true?”

She nods her head yes.

“And your friends treat me like a leper. What am I doing? I’m beginning to get defensive.”

“So what’s up with you? What do you do for work? Are you going to tell me or not?”

“Why is it of any concern to you now? Since we are no longer together, I don’t feel I owe you any explanation. And I’m feeling a bit violated that you invaded my privacy.”

“Why is it such a big secret? What, are you a spy? A secret agent like James Bond? Santiago please, just because I’m pretty doesn’t mean I’m stupid.”

She opens a drawer in the desk then hands me the two passports.

“Do you want to know what I think?”

“No, not at all. I’m not interested. In fact I should begin packing up and find a place to stay.”

“You don’t have to leave immediately, tomorrow morning will be fine. I’m not going to kick you out until you’ve found a place.”

She sits down next to me on the sofa and grabs my hands.

“I asked my cousin Rodney. He’s an officer with Border Patrol, and he said most likely someone with that type of background with multiple passports is probably a drug dealer or someone smuggling contraband of some kind.”

“You asked who, what about me? Are you fucking insane? Your cousin is a federal officer? You didn’t! You can’t be serious.”

“He’s not like a real cop or anything like that, he’s Border Patrol.”

“Well, tell all the guys doing time for drug busts that Border Patrol aren’t real cops.”

“I didn’t mention your name or give him any information that would implicate you. Listen, I know you’re a drug dealer. Not the kind that sells to people out in the streets. No, you’re one of those movie type characters dealing in the big stuff. There’s a name for them but I can’t think of it right now.”

“What, you mean like narco traficante?”

What the fuck is wrong with me? I leave my passports in my jacket for her to find, and now I identify myself as a drug trafficker. Damn I’m a real tough nut to crack, and to top it off, I’m in a relationship with a woman who has a federal police officer in the family. 

“Yes! Yes, that’s it, narcotics guy. Well, are you? Tell me, I promise not to tell anyone. Please. It’s hard to believe because I’ve rarely seen you do drugs and you never seem to have much money. Tell me!”

“Well that’s just goddamn great! You’re a real piece of work. If I was a drug dealer, you would be in deep shit right now. Believe me, you’d be on someone’s hit list. What the fuck were you thinking? I’m packing up and leaving now. My work never mattered for the eight months we’ve been together, why has it become such an issue now?”

“Why are you so upset? If you aren’t a trafficker, there should be nothing to worry about. This is the reason I’ve decided to end our relationship. You are a mystery, I still don’t know who you are after being together for over a year, not eight months, genius. Sometimes I watch you while you’re sleeping and it seems you  never relax, your body is always jerking and twitching. I wonder if you’re chasing after butterflies or being chased by some monster, in your dream. When your son Nigel visited at Christmas, he told the story of how all of your children were afraid to wake you from sleeping because you would abruptly jump up with your fists clenched in an aggressive posture. So they would use a broom handle and poke you from a safe distance then run out of the room. Everyone thought it was hilarious and laughed, except me. I thought it was sad thinking about what would cause someone to react that way. I asked Nigel later that night and he told me about your childhood with your father and your time in prison. Santiago, the reason for me ending our relationship is that I’m falling in love with you. Why I said you have no future is that you seem to live only for the day, for the hour, for the right now. You don’t ever talk or make plans for the future or for our future. I feel lost, need some security in my life. Who knows what could happen with the life you lead. You’re here one moment and then you vanish in a flash. You could be killed, busted, or decide to just never come back, leaving me all alone. How has anyone ever been able to risk a relationship with you? Oh, that’s right, they’ve all given up. Don’t you want a mellow life, a safe place, a home with someone who will be there for you, to take care of you, someone to love you?”

“And where could I find such a person? Besides, maybe I’m not sure if that type of life is what I want at this time. I did the marriage thing, the house, the eight to five job, the family. I failed miserably at all of it. I’m grateful that my children were able to survive the fiasco, coming through it mostly unscathed. I’m not in favor of doing it all over again. The good side of having made a mistake is that you know when you’re doing it for the second time.”

“Tell me what it is you are searching for in life. What do you want?”

“What do I want? I want a woman with the faint taste of cocaine on her lips. A kiss that takes my breath away. A cool summer breeze in her touch. Her hair with the smell of a far off rain, skin smooth like a river stone. Her laughter, the sound of church bells at midnight, ocean waves splashing in her eyes, a hint of confession in her lies, her breath with the aroma of oven-baked bread and can throw a mean punch.”

“Get out! Now go, you son of a bitch!”

Those were the last words I heard her speak. I packed my things and left as requested, then called up Johnny Rico.

“Thanks for picking me up, Johnny. I knew things wouldn’t work out with her. It’s all for the best. She’s got a cousin or an uncle who’s Border Patrol. Then she tells him about my passports and my travels for the last few years to Mexico and Colombia. And to end it all, she called me a son of a bitch. Can you believe that shit?”

“No way? I know your mother was a very nice lady. Maybe you should want me to get rid of her for you? Make the problem go away.”

“What the hell is wrong with you, Rico? Have you been watching movies again, Scarface or Blow? No, I don’t want you to do anything to her. You got it?”

“Yo entiendo. But I never like that womens. She always stares at me real strange. She kinda freaked me out. I’m happy you’re not with her anymore.” 

“Where did you get this car?” I asked him. “Why aren’t you driving the van we used for the run?”

“Well, somewhere I lose the keys, and the rental guy can’t come till tomorrow with new keys. So I borrow this ride from the hotel parking garage.”

“You stole this car?”

“No, I borrow it to pick you up!”

“Oh Rico! What am I going to do with you?”

“Why? What you wanna do?”

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