La Noche del Niño Gitano
The Night of the Gypsy Boy
(Motel Las Fantasías, Los Teques, Venezuela)
The last vestiges of day had fled. The rich spicy aroma of recently trimmed hedges of rosemary permeated the warm evening air. Black wrought iron lamps cast dim light along the arched arcades accommodating the recessed entryways to exotic Sheherazadian fantasies. Light posts along the pathways of the rectangular garden reflected on the surface of a Moorish pool reaching to its far end where a multi-tiered fountain added gentle sounds of falling water.
She drew him down to sit on a bench, where they sat silently watching the glimmer of the rising moon peeking over the red clay roof tiles of the surrounding structure. She shivered, the evening was warm, but she wrapped her arms around herself, the tremor a product of apprehension . . . and anticipation. She thought, can I do this?
Her marriage had become a vacuum, emptiness. For me a vacuum, anger stirred, That bastard is off on a business trip with his assistant. Executive Assistant, she thought, Jim’s bed-warmer would be a better title.
Thank goodness for Armando, she snuggled against his shoulder and looked again at the water. She had never done anything like this in her life, no premarital adventures, no falling away from her wedding vows. And now this, now Armando. She still struggled with her conscience. It isn’t betrayal of Jim. That’s over. I don’t owe him anything. We have no children.
Armando rose with a sigh, “Come, we’d better get ready if we are going to be in time for the Niño Gitano.” He pulled out the key and led her from the garden, looking for their room.
He glanced at her and she refused to meet his eyes. She kept her arms wrapped across her breasts.
“You are very tense, querida. You wanted this, too. Everything will be alright. If you change your mind, I will understand.”
I am committed, She told herself. I can’t back out of this now! But as they neared their room, the apprehension, even fear of what comes next welled in her breast.
The room wasn’t what would be expected of a five star hotel, but it was spacious, well furnished and clean. Centered against one wall a large Spanish colonial wardrobe faced an oversized, fringed canopy bed.
Opposite the entryway, a double door led to a small enclosed patio; a small table and two chairs occupying the center.
Walking out, they saw a wall heavily festooned in vines, and in one corner a wall fountain trickled into a basin. “Oh look,” she peered through tall double windows that opened into the bath. A large tub designed more for play than bathing rested against the wall below the windows. Forgetting her uneasiness, she exclaimed, “Let’s take a bath, now!” She shivered in delicious anticipation.
“Later” Armando smiled, “I want to take a leisurely bath.”
She whirled out of the patio and threw herself down on the bed staring up at the canopy. Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. “This place is truly wicked!” She burst out laughing. A mirror built into the canopy reflected her laugh back into her face. Her mind leapt to the idea of her image in the mirror, fulfilling its intended purpose and modesty propelled her back into her mood of apprehension.
“Come,” Armando said, releasing her from immediate tension, “we shouldn’t miss the Niño Gitano.”
She followed him back to the garden with a sense of relief, postponing the inevitable decision. Now completely revealed, the full moon shed its silvery light on the pool and glittered off the falling water of the fountain. Chirping of tiny frogs added a serenade as they strolled to the salon where the Niño Gitano awaited. She looked up at Armando; shadows cast by the angle of the moon accentuated his gentleness, the soft kindly lines of his face. Her body flooded with warmth, tension forgotten. She grasped his arm and pulled it to her. He looked down and smiled assurance.
The dimly lit room contained a small unoccupied platform in front. Among the shadows a few other couples waited in anticipation. Armando led her to a cushioned booth in the back. An errant thought entered her mind, Has Armando been here before? She felt herself blush. Has he tumbled beneath that mirror with other women? Am I just a toy, a passing moment? Is he just using me? She smiled to herself, We are friends, soon lovers, using each other. She felt slightly feverish, a titillating anticipatory warmth.
The lights dimmed and extinguished, casting the room into blackness. She sought his hand.
After a few moments of silence the beam of a single spotlight burst from the ceiling and centered on the platform; on a low stool a youth of no more than twelve or thirteen years cradled a guitar. Dressed simply in faded jeans and a T-shirt, a swatch of black hair hung over his forehead as he studied the instrument. His hand stroked the strings. And a single powerful chord reverberated through the room and receded into silence.
Appearing unaware of his audience, the boy’s black, liquid eyes stared off into some infinity beyond the small auditorium. His hand struck a new chord, and she thrilled to its vibration.
Her eyes were drawn to his hands. The fingers were long and graceful, imparting a feminine essence to the boy. His manner was not effeminate. He had a youthful grace that would someday mature into a devastatingly handsome young man. She imagined this slim youth in the flickering shadows of a gypsy encampment; a magic spell about to begin.
His fingers came to life. They danced across the strings, the chords light and transporting. Sound seemed to trickle and lilt through the room like a mountain cascade building to the crescendo of a waterfall. As he played the boy’s face held an ecstatic glow. His music thrilled: an ode to joy, to the glorification of life. The cascade faded to background and a wild sprite joined in, to spin and pirouette through the room. Her spirit soared with the boy as his exuberant fingers flew across the strings and frets.
Then his music segued into deep tristesse, the mood shifting seamlessly, naturally. His fingers carried his audience into a totally new sensation. Minor chords, the soul of the Gypsy swept through the room, evoking tragedy, past sorrows, forgotten passions clutching at the innermost depths of the human heart. It sent atavistic ghosts dancing around ancient campfires, light flickering, throwing shadows deep and mysterious. His music soared, subsided, cried in agony and then whimsically, laughed with joy.
As with the suddenness of his beginning, his hands struck a final resonating chord. It shimmered into silence and the room plunged again into darkness.
She drew close to Armando, her hip pressing against his. She grasped his hand in both of hers and held it tightly in her lap. The music had enclosed them in a world entirely their own, the presence of others entirely forgotten. They waited.
The light reappeared and the boy resumed his performance. El Niño Gitano held them in complete thrall, intimately alone. His mystical music sang only to them, crying out the passion, the joy and melancholy of the Gypsy. The thundering signature chord filled the room and fell away into silence!
Again they were plunged into darkness. She felt Armando against her, but she could see nothing. Clutching his hand; she laid her head on his shoulder. They sat in silence, each absorbed in union with the other.
El Niño Gitano broke into the dark silence, striking a throaty chord. It vibrated with energy. The room remained in darkness. This new theme, while dominated by deep chords, teased with a growing hint of exuberance in high counterpoint. The sprite of light notes trilled, twisted and danced, enticing a lover, but with a surging dominance of throbbing sensual energy.
The music absorbed her, all doubts of her decision vanquished. Her flesh burned, her heart pounded. She couldn’t get close enough to him. It possessed him, too. It joined them. They leaned into each other. She drew his hand deep between her thighs and crushed it.
The passion throbbed, the sprite danced, the music soared, and then subsided into gentle caress. And then it surged again with urgency. A dim glow appeared at the back of the room, shadows departing. She rose, clinging to his hand. She drew him with her. He followed her into the shadows of the garden, down the arcade toward their room. The redolence of the rosemary remained in the air. The echoes of the boy’s music followed them.
Copyright © 2021 by Robert Bruce Drynan
All rights reserved. This short story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Please contact Robert if you have any questions or comments.