I sent Irene an email suggesting we spend the afternoon together at Carizalillo. Outside of spotting her a few times with Scratchy, I really hadn’t seen her too much in the three weeks she had been here. She never disturbed me during nap time. She never popped over to my place with any questions. I never spotted her in my Secret Comedor. Make no mistake about it, This Girl was taking care of business, I just never really saw her in action. I sure did feel her presence though. Boy did I feel it.
So yeah, her time in Puerto Escondido was winding down, and I really just wanted to spend an afternoon with her to let her know how much I appreciated her work. I also owed her some money. Two days prior, tucked nicely away in an envelope in the basket where she has the guys deliver my fruits and nuts, she had left a stack of receipts that I needed to pay back. So there was that bit of business. And while we were at it, and now that I had some flip-side information of my own, I figured it would be a fine time to link together this chain of command that put she and I together in San Jose Del Pacifico on Christmas Day.
We agreed to meet at 2pm at the top of the steps that lead down to La Playa Carizalillo. Carizalillo is a small little cove like setting just on the other side of The Marinero. To get to this beach, you have to endure like 500 steps that zig zag their way down the cliff. You’d have to see it to believe it. Pretty blue lagoon-esque. Great for swimming and snorkeling. When you finally get to the hot sand, all ya gotta do is choose a palapa and pretend you are completely somewhere else. A place where time shares are not sold. A place where people don’t showboat their money. A place where you are free to be, so long as you patronize the beholders of your precious shade.
Irene really appeared to be in a good mood. Maybe it was because she was leaving for home in a couple of days. More than likely it was because Puerto Escondido had made its way into her heart. As I’ve said before, this place can be infectious for the soul. Within minutes of finding ourselves a shady home, she was out in the ocean. She spent a good hour out there at least. I sat in the shade and got to page 22 in Cannery Row. I ordered up some fresh fish which came with a salad and french fries. A Cold Beer as well.
By 6pm I would say that I got to know my Girl Friday pretty well. At least better than I had. I learned that she was born in Oroville, CA, but that her family moved to the Bay Area when she was young. I learned that she was brought up in a home with a single mother, and an older sister. I learned that she somehow made it onto The Price is Right when she was 18 and won herself a car. I learned that she also won a full ride to SF State on a swimming scholarship, but chose instead to attend Stanford and pursue her academics.
After the sun had set, we walked back up all the stairs and decided to have a coffee at Cafecito – A popular restaurant and bakery along The Rinconada. That is when I asked her the questions I had been stewing on since my private little meeting with Tino the Great.
“Irene, you’ve been a blessing. Really & Truly. Heaven sent. Strike that. Actually not heaven sent, because if you were heaven sent, then I wouldn’t feel I owe it to myself to find out Who Done It. But Irene…Seriously…I’m sort of dying to know what you might know?”
“About who set you up to be my personal assistant?”
“It’s a long story. Do you really need to know?”
“Not really, other than there is a void in my short story that needs a little plotting.”
“You’re writing a short story?”
“Well is it a short one, or is it a long one?”
“That’s what she said,” I said.
“Look…Irene…Isn’t there anything you can tell me? Like how did you hear about me? Was it actually Tino that personally called you? I’m just dying to know what I’m sure you know. Tell me something! Anything!”
“No, nobody called me. I came home from studying for my winter exams one evening, and my mom said that my services became urgently needed in Mexico, and that it would meet all the criteria needed to fulfill my Masters Curriculum. Four days later there was a flight itinerary in my mailbox. Round trip tickets. Per Diem Allowance. It all unfolded pretty magically. I was stoked! On December 23rd I flew from San Francisco to Oaxaca. The next day I hopped a morning van to the mountains. That’s where I met you.”
“Slow down, slow down. So at some point, you must have told your mother to keep her eyes and ears open for a unique opportunity that met whatever necessary requirements were required.
“Something like that,” she said.
“What’s your Mother’s name?”
“Tell me about her.”
She then went on to tell me that her mother Daisy is a jazz musician, and that back in the budding days of her music career, she was in a duo with Kevin Bacon’s brother Michael, and that..(Insert Massive Interruption) AH HAH!!!!! I KNEW IT!!! It’s that stupid fucking Degrees of Kevin Bacon Separation Game that I always hated and never understood!! “Anyway,” I said.
“Anywayyyy, because my mom and Michael have both made careers out of their music, they have sort of remained in contact over the years. You know, with Facebook and all. I know for sure that my mom mentioned something to Michael about my schooling requirements, thinking that he knows people who know people. He’s pretty well connected. He’s like one degree to Kevin Bacon you know.”
“Is that all you know?” I asked.
“Pretty much. Well the only other thing I know is that I heard my mom mention the name Jasper “Hey Man” Wilkens one evening while I think she was Skyping Michael. I’m not 100%, but I think maybe Jasper is Kevin Bacon’s asset manager or money middler. “That’s all I know Mr. Bossman,” she teased.
Girl Friday went away to use the restroom. It was Deja Vu all over again. I started to break it down in my head. I just learned that Irene’s Mom Daisy got in touch with Michael Bacon, who, regardless of whether or not he talked to his more famous brother, Michael was successfully able to pass the baton to some fellow named Jasper “Hey Man” Wilkens.
(Still doing the math and thinking quietly to myself) I had Yukon Sue, Big Wave Don, Hand Guy, Daisy Burgstrom, Michael Bacon, and Jasper “Hey Man” Wilkens. Including Tino and Irene, that made eight people. Nine if you include me. Where could I possibly be going with this. I was confused. I wondered if the game was called eight degrees to Kevin Bacon, or seven degrees to separation. I wondered why it even mattered what it was called. One thing I do know…I was figuratively in this God Damned game, and that can never be taken away from me! You can not deny that I was a real life player in some sort of real life Kevin Bacon game. Whoa! What are the odds of that?
So here’s what I did. (Still doing the math and thinking quietly to myself) I discarded the names Tino and Irene which left me w/ six. Three people were on one side of the middle, and three were on the other. My intuition suggested that there had to be a catalyst that connected and enabled the two sides. It couldn’t work any other way. Make sense? Well it does to me, and I’m the one trying to wrap this bitch up so I can get on with my life. Still with me? So simple math suggested that there was little to no chance that this Jasper character can connect directly to The Hand Guy without a catalyst or an enabler. And….Not only A catalyst, but THE catalyst.
Irene returned from using the bathroom. It was now dark. We split a cab back towards both our places. On the way home, that’s when Irene told me about her Bon Voyage Party she was having for herself on Saturday Night. “A big group of us are getting together at ArcoIris Restaurant after the 49er game. Perfect Ass Paula said she was going to be there, wink. Don’t blow it boss,” she said. The driver pulled off at The Vaca Loca. I kissed Irene on the right cheek and got out of the cab. She continued on towards La Punta. When I got back to my concrete hideout, I took a cold shower, cut open a medium sized papaya, and turned on my computer. I was on a mission. In the long & skinny, rectangular box, I typed in the words Jasper “Hey Man” Wilkens, and hit Enter.