Hello again! As I said this morning, a bad cold blindsided me toward the end of this fic, so it is only about half-finished, sadly. But here is the first part. Enjoy!Para que no te olvidara
Part 1 of 2
Billy smirks quietly to himself as the young couple in front of him negotiates their extra baggage. They consider the girl’s purse and her husband’s unnecessarily clunky camera, among other items, standing in indecision as the workers loading up the tiny plane wait with open hands as if part of some half-baked assembly line. Billy has next to nothing on his person; apart from being a more than seasoned traveler (comes with the territory), he’s also seasoned at these little subsidiary connecting flights. While even the thought of them horrifies most people, he’s come to love them, mainly because he’s come to associate them with out-of-the-way paradise islands, sanctuaries from tourism and tourists. Bumping through the air over mountains through tropical winds with the roof of the plane just over head and a very audible engine rumbling under his feet has come to mean that he’ll soon be somewhere special.
The other passengers on his flight to Vieques act accordingly, some clutching their stomachs or the seats in front of them, others going so far as to put their heads between their knees. Billy keeps his eyes on the landscape, the lush, rolling greenery below and the sparkling beaches up ahead, and remembers for the thousandth time how lucky he is.
If Billy’s journey from the Vieques airport to his inn is any indication of what’s to come, he knows he’s going to love it here. His público driver speaks little to no English but shouts pleasantries to him over the mariachi music that blares from his radio, the plump trees whizzing by. Billy stumbles through the little Spanish he remembers from his month-long tour of Mexico nearly a year ago, and the effort is definitely appreciated, even though it’s painfully clear how much of a novice he is. The driver has to periodically stop for a wild horse or two grazing in the middle of the road.
Esperanza, the little town where he’s staying, is less enchanting. His colleagues weren’t kidding when they coined Vieques an up-and-coming tourist spot. Nearly every eatery he passes on the boardwalk is American, filled with sunburnt, tattooed bodies, clutching cans of Bud Light, obvious transplants from the States. Billy pulls out his pad, jotting down a note about these sun-baked, sand-chafed people, how they seem to be a physical manifestation of the island itself, reminding him of those dog owners who begin to resemble their pets more and more as time goes by. He’s never been known for generosity in his writing.
The inn where the mag’s put him up is more obviously upscale, with a spacious patio around the perimeter and a different sort of tourist milling about, wearing straw sunhats and gingerly sipping bottled water, hair, skin, and teeth looking as if they’ve been scrubbed with bleach. He receives a couple of looks as he walks past them through the front entrance, dragging his tidy little bag behind him.
The woman who runs the inn matches her clientele, her American accent crisp and clear as she describes the amenities to Billy and explains that they keep the gate to the garden shut at night to keep out the roaming horses. He gives a great sigh when she finally leaves him to his room, plunking his suitcase on the bed and flicking through one of the binders on the desk, making a note to himself to order a massage from one of the local masseuses for tomorrow.
The first item on Billy’s itinerary is a trip to the nearest beach, where he’ll jot down his first impressions in more detail. Except that when he unzips the suitcase on his bed, he finds a pile of bikinis and sarongs staring back at him.
After an incredibly frustrated (and frustrating) conversation with Cape Air about his luggage, Billy decides to venture out for a change of clothes before attempting anything else. He’d first stepped off the plane in San Juan in a thick jumper and denims with a heavy coat slung over his forearm, being that it’s February and his country of origin is freezing as fuck Scotland. He’d been forced to ditch the jumper in the little plane, with how cramped it was, but his undershirt is quite rank.
Unsurprisingly, there’s a little tourist shop just next door, with everything from sunscreen to swim trunks, both of which Billy’d already packed plenty of in his original suitcase. Behind the cashier’s counter, there’s a tiny pale American boy with big blue eyes and an air conditioner whirring, stirring the pages of his magazine, which he reads with lazy interest. He glances up at Billy for about half a second when he enters through the door, setting off a welcome bell.
Billy heads straight for the t-shirts, rifling through them at lightning speed and finding little selection as far as sizes go. “Extra Large, Extra Large, Extra Extra
Large,” he mutters.
“Sorry, the only one we have smaller than an XL is that tan one all the way on the right,” the cashier finally pipes up.
“‘S fine, thanks,” Billy says absently, nearly tearing one of the Mediums from the rack and marching over to the register before he notices what’s actually on the shirt. He holds it up two-handed, critically, the cashier seemingly waiting for a reaction. Across the chest, the shirt reads, If found please return to Esperanza.
Billy simply sighs, “Fuck,” and slaps it down on the counter, pulling out his wallet.
Despite the nonsense he and his shirt are putting out into the world, Billy feels worlds better after a shower and a change. He’s too famished to be adventurous or discerning, strolling over to the touristy strip of eateries he’d passed on the ride to the inn. Billy’s instantly thankful for the outdoor seating and the seeming abundance of alcohol. He slides onto a bench at a picnic-style table in front of Duffy’s, a pub-type place, and orders a pint and a huge sandwich. His waiter—also the bartender for the afternoon—is English, which also goes a long way to comforting him. The two waitresses, both blonde Irish girls, flirt shamelessly with him as they cater to the few tables that are full at this odd time in the afternoon. He’s quite attractive, tall, dark, and adorable, with long limbs and a gorgeous smile—almost too attractive, really, not Billy’s thing. Not that Billy’s ever gone down that road on a trip for work, though he’s certainly fantasized his share about being that kind of adventurous.
Billy inhales his roast beef sandwich and two pints, earning an impressed face from the waiter, who’d clearly had the wrong impression of both Billy’s normal appetite and the kind of day he’s having so far. He’s able to sit quietly and nurse his third beer, enjoying the palm trees, the clean air, the sun, and the sound of the little waves crashing down below the boardwalk, his blood finally cooling and giving way to a serenity he hasn’t felt in quite a while.
It’s momentarily interrupted by an interesting-looking lad who approaches a nearby table, propping a sandaled foot up on the bench and leaning down toward a family of three. He points at them with two heavily adorned hands. “You guys here for the biobay tour?” He looks like a surfer, caramel tan, all bleached out hair, boardshorts, and bands around every possible limb. Billy tilts his head in contemplation, instantly making up a backstory for him: an ex-pat at the age of seventeen who went backpacking around the world without a dime in his pocket, and Vieques was the last place he ended up before he was no longer able to finagle another trip out of whoever was paying for his travels.
After a couple more stops, the lad saunters over to his table, loose-limbed but somehow heavy-footed at once, breaking through his own imagined past like an apparition come to life. His smile is quiet as he addresses Billy. “Biobay tour?”
Billy takes in the lines around his eyes, creeping off into his cheeks, and decides “lad” probably isn’t the right designation for him. He shakes his head, lifting his pint to his mouth again.
The tour guide glances down at his shirt, his smile turning just a shade playful. “American?”
,” Billy’s voice rises a bit, enough to make the guide flinch. “M’luggage got switched. I feel worse for the girl with my pants.”
“Ah, Scottish. That’s awful, man. About the luggage, I mean.”
It’s only then that Billy realizes that the guide has an accent of his own, but one he can’t quite place; it’s muddled, almost confirming his ideas about the man’s origins.
“Are you traveling alone?” The man cocks his head in a way that it takes Billy a long moment to realize is meant to be flirtatious. He assumes it’s in the name of making a future sale.
“I’m a travel writer,” Billy explains. The man furrows his brow. “Yes, alone,” he clarifies.
“Well, that makes sense. You don’t seem like you’re on holiday.”
Billy shakes his head, starting to get genuinely annoyed. Thankfully, the man seems to get that.
“Sorry. I’ll leave you to it, then,” he smiles, knocking on Billy’s table twice before moving on to the next.
Billy continues watching him furtively as he makes the rounds, slowly but surely finding all the parties for his tour, checking them off a list from a clipboard tucked under his arm. The man reminds him of someone, his energy and the way he carries himself, even around strangers. It’s not until he’s marching off down the strip with his group, chattering all the way, that Billy pinpoints it: he’s a bit like the people who hung around his parents when he and his sister were little, and, he supposes, a bit like his parents were themselves. “Hippies,” Billy whispers into his pint with his first smile since opening his suitcase.
When he returns to the inn, the hostess tells him that his luggage won’t arrive until later that night. “By horse?” he jokes, which she doesn’t seem to appreciate.
The trip and the heat have exhausted him, so Billy decides to spring for his massage early. He calls the first few women listed in his binder, but of course, none of them are available on such short notice. He dawdles around the room a bit, getting as settled as he can with barely any of his belongings, and toys with whether or not to call the masseur listed on a card in the back with a feather insignia: Viggo’s Hands. On the flip side is the address for a shop: Viggo’s Essential Oils. He takes a deep breath and dials, hoping the card wasn’t tucked in back of the binder for any unsavory reason.
Viggo and his hands arrive within the hour, and not by horse, but rather by a very big, very loud lime green pick-up truck. It bumps past the gate out front and into the small lot, causing most of the guests outside to turn and stare, for which Billy instantly loves him.
Billy trots down to meet him as he unloads a huge folding table from the back, which he props gracelessly up against the side of the truck, causing more ruckus. “Are you Viggo?”
Viggo tosses stringy hair out of his eyes and holds a hand out to him. “Billy. It’s my pleasure.” He has a slow burn of a voice and looks like a bit of a cowboy, fitted jeans, boots, sinewy arms, and leathery skin, except for the insane smile, with which he seems generous. Billy imagines if he got any closer that he’d smell like rawhide.
“So, where are we...?”
Viggo hoists the folding table under his arm and slings a linen tote over his shoulder, sauntering alongside Billy. “Usually, I do it in the courtyard out back,” he peers up at the sky, “but once the sun is down, the mosquitoes’ll make a feast of you. They love the oil. We can do it in your room.”
Billy nods and leads Viggo just down the hall, opening the door wide to let him in. Viggo takes in the space as he crosses the threshold. “Well, we certainly won’t have any problems fitting the table.”
Billy smiles somewhat bashfully at that, quickly realizing that Viggo likely doesn’t know the real reason why he’s managed to nab the best room here. He has no plans to inform him, either; he likes that there’s no pretense in their meeting, unlike with nearly everyone else he’s set to meet on the island.
“Why don’t I get everything set up out here, and, uh, you can get undressed in there?” Viggo indicates the bathroom and pulls a big towel from his tote, offering it to him.
“Okay. Ehm... everything?” Billy gestures down at his clothes.
“That’s the idea,” Viggo smiles, then backtracks. “Unless you’re uncomfortable. I’m happy to work around that, and we can consider it not-quite-full-body and adjust the rate accordingly.”
There’s a genuine concern in his eyes that surprises and works to settle Billy.
“Is this your first time in Vieques?” Viggo works oil into his hands and starts on Billy’s feet, making him jump, the sound of the table rattling slightly making Viggo let out a quiet laugh. “Easy, we haven’t even gotten to the awkward parts.”
Billy laughs, getting accustomed to the feel of the oil, already warm and growing warmer against his skin, and Viggo’s hands, which are graceful in their movement but unexpectedly rough in texture for a masseur. “Yes. I’ve been on the main island before, to San Juan and Aguadilla a couple of years ago, but never here.”
“Mm.” Viggo works between his toes, his touches hitting a rhythm and making the air in the room go sort of still around the two of them. “¿Hablas español?”
The accent on Viggo’s Spanish is jarring, different than that of the natives here. “Better not,” Billy says, eyeing the ceiling. “I can understand okay, but I have very little vocabulary.”
“Dale,” Viggo concedes, or at least that’s what it sounds like; Billy’s never heard that word before. “The way you said Aguadilla...”
“How long have you been here?” Billy’s voice sounds small to his own ears as Viggo starts working up his calves, digging his fingers into the hard, unrelenting muscles there, making him grit his teeth a bit. He hadn’t expected to start out lying on his back, and the towel’s doing very little to allay his vulnerability just now.
“It’ll be... four years in May. I came here just after my ex and I divorced. I was looking for an escape, I suppose, and ended up finding a home here.” Viggo is careful to not meet Billy’s eyes as he asks, “Are you escaping?”
“No. Not much to escape, really,” Billy muses under his breath.
Viggo snickers knowingly. “Sometimes that can be enough.”
Billy closes his eyes, envisioning his cubicle at work and his writing desk at home. He hasn’t even been in Vieques a day, but he feels as if he’s been away from those little boxes for far longer.
“Are you renting a car? You’ll have to get around to the other side of the island. This little strip is sort of a tourist trap.”
“Ehm, I’ll be renting a bike.”
“Mira vos,” Viggo says, making Billy’s eyebrows pinch—another phrase he doesn’t quite recognize. “There’s nothing better. And it’s a much easier way of getting to the beaches. A car will only take you out so far and then you have to get out and walk.”
“Mm.” Billy feels himself falling under the spell of Viggo’s hands, the sun nearly completely set and some very loud crickets starting to chirp, at first just outside the window and then, seemingly everywhere. After a short while, he feels Viggo move around the table to hover over his face as he starts kneading at his shoulders. Billy grunts.
“Do you work on the computer a lot?” Viggo asks quietly.
“Constantly.” Billy opens his eyes into slits to peer up at him, intrigued. “Can you feel that?”
“Mm. I see it all the time.” The rhythm of Viggo’s hands shifts noticeably, his fingers harder, seeking and finding, kneading. “I’ll give you some stretches you can do when you get back to civilization. Scotland, I assume.”
“How could you tell?” Billy grunts, joking, his accent gone carelessly thick.
Viggo returns to his legs, shifting the towel so Billy’s flanks are open, bare to the air conditioning. He works the oil gently up the sides of him, thumbs swirling in just at his hips. It’s more intimate than Billy’s used to, but not unwelcome. He feels something inside his chest coming unhinged. “What are your plans for the rest of your trip?”
“What do you recommend?” Billy shoots back coyly.
“Hm,” Viggo closes his eyes, his fingers working circles into Billy’s thighs. “There’s a wonderful museum in Isabel Segunda. If you’re planning on going to the beaches, my favorite is Navio. And of course, there’s the biobay. Have you been yet?”
“No, but I definitely plan on it.” Billy remembers the man who approached his table at Duffy’s earlier, the sparkle of his eyes in the afternoon sun not unlike the ocean itself.
“If you haven’t made reservations yet, I’d definitely recommend doing it with Dom. He has a shack down on the strip.” Viggo gestures vaguely in the right direction. “Nice guy.”
“Mm. I met him this afternoon, I think.”
Billy truly hadn’t meant to sound annoyed or amused, or any combination of the two, but Viggo picks up on something
nonetheless. “He can be a bit much to take, but he knows more about the biobay than anyone on the island.” Viggo’s hands glide up the sides of his thighs again, thoroughly eroding Billy’s defenses. “Give him a chance. You won’t regret it, I promise.”
That night finds Billy in bed early from exhaustion and up early the next morning from jet lag. Rather than stay in bed and fight it, he grabs some fruit from the patio and picks up his bike from the rental shack on the strip. They provide him with a helmet, a bottle of water, and a map with suggested routes, which Billy simply tucks into his back pocket and ignores. Even though his luggage was, thankfully, recovered the night before, he still feels pleasantly unfettered, without need for much of anything but the gorgeous morning ahead of him.
He takes full advantage, riding on flat, deserted dirt roads (save for a horse here and there, of course), and lush, mountainous paths that make sweat crop up on his temples and his quads tighten with effort. He passes through part of a huge wildlife preserve on the west side and up through Isabel Segunda, a town which is bigger and more developed but somehow less touristy than Esperanza. Billy feels unbelievably alive, like he can go on through the early afternoon, but he decides to turn and start making his way back to the inn, not wanting to chance venturing farther and losing his way.
He reaches the strip in the late morning and is forced to dismount his bike and walk alongside it, for all the cars squeezing past each other on the narrow main road. He shakes his legs out as he strolls beside them, rolling his shoulders and squeezing his empty plastic bottle at his side.
Up ahead and across the way is Dom’s shack—Dom’s Water Adventures—which looks opens for business, if the little blonde head hovering at the window is any indication. Billy hesitates for a long moment before squeezing between the cars and slowly approaching.
Dom’s feet are propped up on the counter, this time sandal-free, long toes and graceful tendons on full display. Billy notes with amusement that both of his big toes are painted, one fire engine red and the other a metallic blue. He seems engrossed in the mag draped across his lap, not lifting his eyes until Billy’s dropping the kickstand to his bike. He inhales, shifting to sit properly before rising to his feet, body thrumming as if he’d just received an energy injection of some kind. “Hello there. ‘S nice to see you again.” Billy smiles, unsure how to proceed. Dom leans over the counter on both elbows, taking Billy in. “I see you’ve gotten your luggage back. Feeling more at home, then?”
Billy gives him a bashful smile, somewhat impressed that he remembers. “Yeah.” He startles at a wet nose nudging at his knuckles.
“Oi,” Dom says sternly, then gives a sharp little whistle, getting the attention of the stray dog at Billy’s side. “Leave him alone, Pancho. He’s just looking for food,” he explains, reaching under the counter for a bag of treats and tossing a few to the ground for him. “And he gets it from everyone, the naughty mutt.”
Billy laughs quietly, watching the dog eat them all up and then trot away, down the road onto the next sympathetic face, glad for the distraction.
“So,” Dom says loudly, brushing his hands together, the movement more hypnotic than it should be. “What can I do for you...?”
“Billy,” Dom repeats as if testing the texture of it on his tongue. He holds out a hand for Billy to take, which he does, Dom’s fingers reaching far enough to embrace his wrist.
“Ehm,” Billy takes his hand back almost as an afterthought. “I was wondering if you have any availability for a biobay tour over the next few days.”
“Fantastic,” Dom says brightly. “Tonight is all booked up, but I believe...” he flips through some papers down below. “...Yeah, we’ve got a couple of openings for tomorrow on the seven o’clock tour. ‘S just you, yeah?”
“Yeah.” Billy loses a bit of his nerve, remembering how that part of their conversation had gone the day before.
He and Dom go through the logistics of booking the tour, including attaching a credit card number to reserve, which Billy knows by heart at this point, though the tour itself must be paid in cash, Dom shrugs as he reports. Once that’s settled, Dom takes him in for a second time, making Billy shift from foot to foot as if subtly trying to avoid his gaze. “‘S a gorgeous day. What are your plans for the rest of it?”
“Was going to go to the beach. Which d’you recommend?”
“That depends,” Dom says, his voice going all rough and gravelly.. “Are you in the mood for something wild and adventurous or something secluded and serene?”
“That. The second one,” Billy says, squinting in the quickly rising sun.
“Are you going to bike there?” Dom rises up on his toes to get a good look at said bike.
“No. Think I’ve done enough of that for today.”
Dom smiles, and for the first time since meeting him, Billy feels that there isn’t anything to be sought out underneath it. “Caracas is beautiful, but you’ll need a ride. I’m happy to take you.”
Billy stumbles, the offer thoroughly unexpected and doled out so quickly. “What’ll I...?”
“No charge,” Dom says, his voice much softer now. “It’s not a long drive—nothing is here, really—it’s just bumpy.”
“I don’t want to impose on you—”
“I’m happy to take you,” Dom repeats, making it clear that he’ll brook no argument. “I can get a surf in while I’m there if the waves are any good.” He glances at the water behind him to gauge.
Billy hesitates, trying to recall the feeling he’d had earlier that morning setting out on his bike, that soaring feeling that comes with having no ties. “Alright.”
Translations:Para que no te olvidara
- Something to Remember You By¿Hablas español?
- Do you speak Spanish?Dale
- Okay/FineMira vos
- Wow/Look at you