The false warmth of rented love
splashed on the sand, washed away with the tide.
An uncaring moon leers from above,
while stars laugh at your untanned backside.
It turned out the village was a suburb, as it were, of a much larger city farther up the shore. There were buses and cabs and other eager offers to take them into the town, and some of the men went. There was no such thing as a cafe which didn’t feature a bar and various forms of entertainment. The first was too noisy, and the next had the wrong smell, and something in his intuition warned without explaining.
The third was almost completely open to the air, and he wasn’t the only one drawn by the smell of drinks heavy with the fresh tropical fruits of the land. One end was tables and a buffet of sorts. It was much easier to match his personal tastes this time, so he paid the low price and carried two loaded plates to an empty table. He sipped at his drink and ate slowly as he watched more of his workmates file into the place. An old man with a guitar showed up, and a kid with various bongos, drums, kettles and whatnot on a cart he pulled inside and parked next to a wooden platform. It was tolerable music, though completely foreign to his ears.
He spied the stall with faded symbols indicating a toilet. Deciding it was safe to leave his table for a few minutes, he made a quick visit to the facilities. As he rose to his feet and pulled up his trousers, he glanced over the top of the stall divider, between the foliage onto the sandy alleyway behind the place. A sharply dressed man led a small herd of girls and young women, with a couple of thugs bringing up the rear. The pimp stopped in the shadows, spoke quietly, yet sharply in the local dialect to the girls, then snapped his fingers and pointed to the entrance of the little open air club. The females began coming around the corner in twos and threes, a minute or so apart. He realized he was staring and finished his business.
His table was untouched, and he resumed his meal. One of the girls sidled up to him and took a seat at his table. She was cute as could be, but her profession was no temptation to him. Aside from being a little prudish in the first place, he knew prostitutes were the same all over the world, and trusted them not at all. He tolerated her snatching a few bites playfully from his plates, but when she asked him to buy a drink he shook his head no.
After swallowing the mouthful of food, “You got the wrong guy, babe. I’m not interested.”
In highly flavored English, she replied, “You prefer boys?”
“I don’t prefer anything at all. I’m not interested in sex.”
She stared at him a few minutes as he continued eating, shrugged and rose to walk away, and began stalking another man who had just walked into the place. A server came around and he asked if he could get something to drink in a take-away container. The old woman brought back a what he took for a wine cooler, paid her the full tab and strolled out the doorway. He dropped a tip in the jar next to the musicians.
It was dark now, and the evening was already a bit cooler than the sweltering daylight. He removed his sandals and tucked them under one arm as he sipped the cooler and headed for the beach.