Barto went home.
There was no sense going to the warehouse when the women were busy getting it ready for the party. He would be in the way, and Angelo’s wife would purse her lips and shoo him away with wide arms. Even behind the locked office door would be too close, since her ideas of decoration clashed mightily with his love of simplicity.
Instead, he stood on his patio looking east down the hill to Palmar, the sea sparkling to the south. Nena tugged at his pant leg, growling with mock-fury at his ankle.
“Are you ready for some changes, Nena?” he asked, bending to scratch the top of the dog’s head affectionately. “Do you think they’ll like you? Huh? Huh?” They wrestled for a moment, man and dog, Nena vying for dominance with the fingers that seemed to be everywhere at once. Finally, she jumped up and scampered across the patio in search of a cockroach to harass.
She will like it here, Barto thought, mentally rearranging the patio furniture to accommodate her easel.He smoothed his mustache and watched a trail of dust springing up behind a car driving too fast along the coastal road. Probably Jaime. Jaime with the broken arms. Just how did you fall off that porch, anyway, Jaime?
For several moments he considered how it was possible to fall off the porch. Maybe the dark. Maybe Jaime had had too much to drink. But how did he know his way up there? He hadn’t been up since the casita’s had been built by his own admission. How did he know when visiting hours were over at the Convent? Exactly why was Jaime so familiar with everything in Planchado? Unless he went there more often than Barto knew. Unless he was a frequent visitor.
An ugly suspicion began to form in his imagination. All kinds of details raced to fill in the empty places in Jaime’s story. He thought of Rosana, and wondered if he knew all there was to know about her. If she had told him the truth.
What were you doing at their house after dark, Jaime? A surge of hot anger raced through him and fumbling for his phone, Barto flipped it open and dialed.
“Diga,” replied the voice on the other end.
“Angelo,” barked Barto, “where are you?”
“Home – is everything okay?” Angelo sat up, swinging his legs down from the table.
“It will be,” his boss growled. “Listen, are you going tonight?”
Angelo laughed a full-throated bellow. “Can you imagine what she’d say if I didn’t show up? I dropped her off this morning and came back here to wait while they do their thing. Can’t be in there with all those wom-”
“Is Jaime coming?” Barto interrupted.
“To the party? I dunno. He showed up last year in time for the pig roast. You want me to go get him?”
“No. But if he comes, I want you to get some information from him.”