“Hola, Señorita. You wanna look?”
The dark man sat on the shimmering sand with his legs coiled beneath him. In his hand, a red velvet tray of silver-plated jewelry sparkled in the afternoon sun.
The girl shaded her eyes and took one step closer, clutching the hummingbird-shaped coin purse that her parents had filled with pesos for the week.
She pointed at a butterfly ring. “How much is that one?”
He smiled wide enough for her to see his two gold eyeteeth.
“Is 500 pesos. For you 250. Come, Guapa, I put on your finger.”
His mud brown eyes weren’t looking into her hazel ones. He eyed her ruffled Bugs Bunny bikini. The girl crossed her arms over her flat chest and took one step back.
“Ohhh, you no like? OK, Bonita, look at dis big one.”
The girl glanced down, but he wasn’t holding a ring, he was pointing at something that hung out of his shorts, lying on the sand like a fat brown snake.
“You ever see one of dees, Princesita?”
She couldn’t answer or look away. She caught the shine of his gold fangs out of the corner of her eye and heard his hiss of a laugh. Her heart flitter-fluttered. Was it? Could it be? She’d seen some boys’ things in the bathroom at kindergarten last year… but this was different.
The girl blurted out some words, but later couldn’t remember what they were.
This time, the man laughed out loud. The horrible snake jumped in time with his laugh.
The girl leapt forward, trying to stomp on the serpent, but missed, kicking the velvet-lined tray out of his hands. As she flew away, hundreds of silver rings took flight, as well, sparkling anew against the blue Mazatlán sky.
by Laurie Theurer