Canto 17 – The Balcony Scene
Rogelio found himself looking up at the second-floor balcony of the Zuniga Inn.
“So, you wanna climb up there?” he asked Steven.
“I have now done it countless times in more than a century of practicing this moment over and over again.”
“So, I won’t die if we fall headfirst on our stupid head?”
“You can’t actually die in this reality unless another living human kills you here.”
“And that’s what we’re gonna do to Yesenia when we get up there?” Rogelio felt a bit panicky over having no control over his own body.
“Not here. Not now. I told you I would give you the reasons for why we have to kill her. But those reasons don’t apply to this moment.”
Steven took control of Rogelio’s arms and legs. He began to shinny up one of the columns that supported the balcony on the second floor. Then like a monkey he swung his legs up over the edge of the balcony railing. It was all solid wood, but Rogelio still felt as if it could fall apart at any moment and they would plummet headfirst to the ground. But he found himself standing on both legs outside the first room on the second floor.
“What if the balcony door is locked?” Rogelio asked.
“It’s not. These balcony doors don’t even have locks.”
He reached over and slowly, silently pulled open the balcony door. Quietly, he entered the room. It was a simple, sparsely furnished room in a Spanish inn. The bed was occupied by two skeletons, a large, blue male one and a smaller pink one that looked like it could be Imelda’s mother.
“Don’t say anything with your mouth. You’ll wake them,” said Steven.
“Are they both asleep?” Rogelio asked nervously in his head only.
Then the male snored loudly enough to remove all doubt. The female moaned at the noise, but merely poked her husband and rolled over.
Steven quietly moved them out of the room and closed the door after them.
“So, I was supposed to expect you to sneak into Momma and Poppa’s room?” said Yesenia/Imelda on the next balcony.
Steven grinned sheepishly. Rogelio noticed that the moonlight made the ghost nightgown she was wearing more visible, but you could still see through it to Yesenia’s beautiful naked body underneath.
“Why don’t you try this room instead?”
The two balcony railings were separated by only about three feet of empty space. Getting up on the railing, it was easy for Steven/Rogelio to step across the gap.
“Gringo, I am surprised that you actually did this. I thought it was just talking.”
“I was talking… to a pretty girl whom I may have fallen in love with at first sight.” Steven was laying it on thick, but Rogelio also knew he was deeply in love with Imelda.
Imelda blushed using Yesenia’s face.
“Come into my room where Momma won’t hear you. If she finds out, she will make Poppa kill you.”
Steven let Imelda take him by the hand and pull him into the bedroom.
“Is what I think is about to happen really going to happen?” Rogelio asked Steven.
“It depends on what you mean by really happen?” he answered by thought alone.
“Have you ever made love to a woman?”
“Only one time in my whole life, but I have relived it more times than I can count on all the fingers in Dallas.”
“And you are going to relive it again now?”
“In my body? And Imelda in Yesenia’s body?”
“And you are a virgin… huh?”
Then Rogelio saw Imelda pulling them toward the bed. And he began to remember how beautiful Yesenia was in real life. He was about to become a man in the world of the ghosts and skeletons.
“You will come to my quinceañera, Steven?”
“I will. And we will run away together?”
“I will go anywhere with you. I love you, Steven.”
At that moment, a loud banging at the door frightened them both.
“Imelda! LET ME IN! I will kill him!”
“It is my padre! He will kill us both! Get out now!”
Steven scrambled out of the bed and grabbed at his clothing. The ghost materials all slipped through his fingers except for his floppy cowboy hat. He was out over the balcony rail in mere moments. Completely naked… with a hat on his head.
Several splinters pierced his hands, forearms, and thighs as he shinnied down the support column. “You come back here, gringo! You will marry my daughter now, or you will die a horrible death!”
The angry shadow loomed over the street, huge and terrible. It shook a black skeletal fist at Rogelio and Steven as they ran down the street naked, not wearing even ghost clothing. Rogelio’s heart hammered hard enough for two people as they barefooted their way down the dirt street.