“Cerveza, cold drinks, beer!” Rosa said. The voice of this small, delicate woman boomed above the other vendors. The red silk shawl draped over her shoulders gave her a devilish look. She and the other women on the dock sold more than cool drinks.
“Good business, many ships, many men.” Her business began with a cunning welcome and a promise to show Sal around. “I show you port, Coronel. Want drink? Want Rosa?” She stood by his side as he assessed the passengers loading for northern ports.
He did not intend to buy her beer or her time. Mazatlán hosted a lot of traffic: freighters, fishing boats, and even a ship with a French flag like those Sal remembered at the harbor in Cadiz. He counted the flags of many nations on ships of different shapes and sizes. The possibilities to set sail and investigate were endless.
“¿Si, o no, soldado? You got something for me in your bag?” How could someone so small be so intimidating? She waved her shawl and pointed to Jimenez’s satchel slung over Sal’s shoulder. He protected his twenty pesos.
“You tired, you come rest with Rosa.” She took hold of his arm. Before Sal thought about it, they arrived at her tiny room. Rosa caressed an embroidered silk pillow and urged Sal onto the bed with no intention of resting. An experienced sorceress, she reached into his satchel, extracted two pesos and made them disappear into a fine ceramic vase.
“Mìra, silk de China, soldado, Chinese silk,” Rosa said. Without her shawl, he could see her boney little shoulders, proud and pathetic at the same time.
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