Everybody laughed and laughed and rollicked and rollicked, and Nestor loved it! but the three text messages that remained had to read them came in while his life was literally on the line while he held the man on the mast between his legs and was descending hand over hand down the jib line. He began burning with curiosity and an apprehension he avoided giving a name and a hopeMagdalena! Once more he averted his eyes for an instant. The first one "y u Nestor y u," it readand it wasn't from Magdalena. It was from Cecilia Romero. Oddly, she was the girl he had been going out with when he met Magdalena. Wacky what did she mean "y u Nestor y u"? Baffling but he didn't show it he rejoined the exhilarating Marine Patrol tide of manly laughter but a tiny doubt germinated.
"How'd you like that little creep going into the Ultimate Fighting mode soon's he's under water, Nestor?" said Officer Kite. "Didn' I tell you those little fuckers turn into monsters as soon as they're under water!"
"I should a listened to you, Lonnie!" said Nestor. Thirty minutes ago he would not even have considered addressing Officer Kite by his first name. "That little prick" he said, feeling very manly, "he's a dead weight all the way down the fucking cable and soon's we're five inches under water, he decides to come to! Before I know what's happening, he's breaking my fucking nose with his bare hands!"
And everybody laughed and laughed, but Nestorhad to read the two remaining text messages. Curiosity and anxiety and a last spurt of hopemaybe one is from Magdalena!compelled him. He dared flick his eyes down to the cell phone once more. Dared tohad to. The first text was from J. Cortez. He didn't know any J. Cortez. It read, "OK u r a big latingo celebrity. Now what?" What the hell did "latingo" mean? All too quickly he got it. A latingo had to be a Latino who had turned gringo. And what was that supposed to mean? Mirth reigned in the room, but Nestor couldn't help himself had to dive to the very bottom. The last text was from Inga La Gringa. It read, "You can hide under my bed anytime, Nestorcito." Inga was the counter girl and waitress right around the corner from the marina. She was sexy, all right, a big Baltic blonde with amazing breasts that she managed to tilt upward like missiles and enjoyed showing. She had grown up in Estonia sexy accent, too a real number, Inga was, but she was forty or so, not much younger than his mother. It was almost as if she could tell exactly what he was thinking. Every time he walked into the place, Inga would come on to him in a flirtatious but comic way, making sure he got a good, long look down the crevasse between her breasts or was she really merely fooling around? "Nestorcito" she called him, because she had once heard Umberto call him that. So he called her Inga La Gringa. He had given her his cell phone number when she said her brother could help him fix the overhead cam on his Camaro which he did. Inga and Nestor teased each other sure, "teased," but Nestor never took the next step, although he was sorely tempted. But why had she said, "You can hide under my bed"? Hide from what? She was just kidding around in her Inga La Gringa lubricious come-nestle-in-my-loamy-crevice way, of course, but why "You can hide under my bed"?
Somehow this hit him harder than a crack like "latingo." "Hide," says friendly, flirtatious Inga? He felt his face fall This time the rest of them were bound to noticebut the Sergeant stepped in and saved the day, saying, "But you know what gets me? Those kids on the boat were such pussies. They were scared shitless because some frightened-out-of-his-mind little guy looking like a drowned rat, maybe a hundred and ten pounds after a Big Mac, shows up on their fucking sailboat. Some a those pussies weighed fucking two hundred pounds, half of it fat, but they're big kids. There's no reason on earth why they had to let that poor little bastard climb their fucking mast and almost get himself killed except they're such fucking pussies! Do they have any clue they got no business taking a boat that big out on the fucking water being such pussies? 'Oh dear, we didn't know if he had a gun or a knife or something' Bull-shit! That little bastard barely had clothes on his back. And so we gotta send Nestor here up a fucking seventy-five-foot mast and play Superman and risk his ass hauling the little bastard down off a bosun's chair about this big and down a goddamned hundred-foot jib cable." The Sergeant shook his head. "You know what? We should a booked all those pussies and sent them to Cuba and kept the drowned rat here. We would a come out ahead on that one!"
Excerpted from Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe. Copyright © 2012 by Tom Wolfe. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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