Candy told me she had never seen the ocean. She told me a lot of things that night.
Her father was a truck driver from Wisconsin; his side line was knocking over drug stores with a ski mask and a snub nosed .38. Her mother was a hooker who used to turn $20 tricks on Fremont before it cleaned up. As for Candy, she was a waitress at the Showboat. She worked the graveyard shift for minimum wage and lousy tips.
I didn’t have to ask her twice to come back to San Diego with me.
We met in the lounge bar at the Showboat, Candy, catching a smoke before starting her shift upstairs and me, drinking my last fifty instead of dropping it at the tables. Candy was 22, petite, and in a harsh way, beautiful. I was none of those and the wrong side of 40. But so what, we were good together and I don’t just mean in the sack, although I guess that was part of it.
We got talking over a vodka and lime and 15 minutes later she had blown off her shift and we were out on the Strip. The rest of the night was a blur; cocktails, blackjack and Candy’s dark eyes.
I woke up the next morning with $2000 plus change and Candy curled up naked in my arms. Someday I may have a better night, but I doubt it. I traced my finger along the curve of Candy’s shoulder and down her spine to the eagle inked at the top of her ass. Its wings spread wide across her tanned skin.
Dusty rays of morning sunlight slanted through the blinds and played on the cracks in the mirror, making her busted motel room sparkle like Christmas morning. I spent the best days of my life in that room; just me, Candy, a pint of tequila and the oldies playing on KQOL. Looking back now I realize it could never last, bright things are made to burn quick. But if I could trade all my tomorrows to have just one of those days back again, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
I saw cherry tops spinning lazily in the parking lot as I pulled up in my Cutlass. Two Metro cruisers and an ambulance were drawn up in front of the motel. Yellow crime scene tape, like you see on CNN was stretched across the door to Candy’s room. Before I knew what to think I was out of the car and screaming her name, pushing my way through the small crowd of gawkers. I was tackled by a big Mexican cop, called Chavez, over his shoulder I saw the paramedics carrying out a body bag
“Easy buddy, she’s gone,” he said.
My whole world was in that bag and I don’t mind admitting I cried for Candy.
I still do.
Chavez drove out to my place at Imperial Beach about a week or so later. He didn’t have to do that, but he was good people. He wanted to tell me in person, they had caught the son of a bitch who raped and murdered Candy. It seems he was run down coming out of a liquor store in Henderson. The Cops had found Candy’s credit card in his pocket and made the connection. DNA did the rest. He had previous, all small time stuff. Chavez said he was nobody, just another low life piece of shit.
He would always be somebody to me.
Chavez told me he was pretty beat up. A witness said the hit and run driver had slammed it in reverse and backed up over him. It would be a miracle if he ever walked again.
I told Chavez, I hoped it hurt.
We sat on the back porch, pulling on bottles of Corona, not really saying much, just staring out at the ocean. Candy would have liked it here. Chavez must have seen my Cutlass sat out front with its stoved in grill and cracked windshield, but he never said a word.
Chavez was good people.