Working Title: C1 & 2
Chapter 1 Bienvenidos
“Señoras y señores,” Ren Patterson sips his champagne, grinning, barely able to contain his excitement. “Thank you for coming, and thank you for your patience. We will be going to the Museum shortly.”
The powerful men and women before him, representing some of the elitist of the elites, some of the most feared cartels in the western hemisphere, raise a glass. “Salud.” They all cheer in unison, business men and women of all likes—crooked and straight under one banner in one room with a solitary goal in mind.
“Un museo—quein lo pensaría?” Don Eladio habla al lado con su coci, Don Bernal.
El gordo se rei, his second and third chins rumbling. “Nadie, marica. Nadie lo pensaría.” Se brindan.
Ren waves the heads of the major cartels downstairs, leaving their associates to mingle in Ren’s beach-front mansion along the Caribbean shores of Puerto Colombia. The Capos and legitimate business people have been given free reign of the house and property but know that upstairs is forbidden. On this night, and this night only, they’re permitted entrance to Ren’s home to celebrate their achievement but are never allowed back on his private grounds.
Lorenzo Patterson, by all means and significance, is by definition a self-made man. Born of black and white parents, he never really fit in to the Brooklyn scene. After graduating high school, he moved about the States with no heading in mind. He’d work a summer here , a winter there, all the while fueled by one driving factor that his father shared with him; “Ideas never die, and in this life, all a man needs is one good idea and he’ll be set for life. Find that and you’ll never work a day.” And after all, Ren never wanted to work a again after losing his childhood to help his old man with his dying handyman business.
His old man might not have had a clue but he did hit one nail dead on the head; all it took was an idea. Ren found that his idea would come in the form of never raising a hammer, and through the eyars as his scribbles and scrawls became writing, his stories got better and better until one day he got a hit on a query letter. An agent back on Broadway loved his novel and sold the book, international rights, and film rights all in one meeting with executives form a Big Five Publishing House.
They marketed him as the next Stephen King, more terrifying than Poe, and far-enduring beyond the influential touch of Lovecraft. Over the course of the initial print, they sold out in nine month and a few months prior to releasing the cast and director choices ran a second print that sold out in half an hour worldwide. Though, it would’ve been faster had stores opened earlier or on-time in South America.
By the time the movie was going thtrough the editing process, Penguin had already sold out of third and fourth prints—each time underestimating Ren’s reach with an audience. On top of that, there was a buzz around the film that never stung any other horror writer—not even Koontz’ first and second films.
After the movie was released, that was all she wrote for Ren. He was content to sit back and live off the royalties from his book and movie sales. Who could blame him? $100 thousand for the publishing rights, another $75k for the international rights first print, $300 thousand against six for the film? Plus royalties. The way Ren saw it, he found his idea and was set for life. But after all those dedicated minutes that added up to days, weeks, months, and years he was fucked mentally and actually believed he’d uncovered an ancestral medicine that gave him acces to other people’s minds as well as dominion over ghosts.
After his breakdown (he was arrested in the middle of Times Square making magical noises at tourists), and subsequent release from a mental institution upstate, Ren was hemorrhaging money like Clint Malarchuck’s neck leaked blood. Free of the cuckoo’s nest, he fled south like a snowbird but didn’t stop at Florida. No, Ren found paradise lost in a metropolitan city along the northern coast of Colombia and settled there in a small, rented one bedroom apartment while his royalties padded his account.
After a decade selling short story after short story, he hit with another horror novel—that did well—and sold the film rights to a small production company. The unknown black director who did the film fell short of winning an Oscar for his rendition of Ren’s novel. Comas expanded in his bank account again, his accountant started returning his calls, and Ren was back in the public’s eye. The time couldn’t have been riper because Ren was growing bored. His public image renewed as one of his generation’s greatest horror writers, he could really play his game.
So, Ren started allocating funds and searched the campos for underpaid, underappreciated individuals. He didn’t dreg the bottom of the barrel and because of it, he found the unwanted souls lost to the vast wild of Colombia’s jungles. Once he assembled a privatized workforce, he promised it wouldn’t be long before they had a place to call their own—though no one believed anything except for the pesos he gave.
Next, his workers waiting in the campo, all he had to do was find the property. And he did. 50 million hectares along the beach in Puerto Colombia. Employees, property, all that was left was to build, which he did. First, he started with suitable living accommodations for those people already displaced by Civil war, who promised allegiance. He brought in contractors who built several housing complexes like the projects in the Bronx—minus the violence and neglect.
“At least four buildings. 11 floors each, 11 units to each floor. Enough to house a small militia.” Ren advised his engineers.
On his millions of hectares, they set to achieve his vision. Once the employee housing was finished, he had to provide transportation for his people. All 1,966 of them, including children. His security force and farmers waiting, Ren could schedule shifts and positions for the farm fields while the engineers and contractors finished his home.
Along the shore, west of the outskirts of Puerto Colombia, miles from his workforce’s barracks, they broke ground on his beach-front property. It first started near the shore where Ren demanded a pool that fed into the sea. When the crew finished the stone work, they lifted a makeshift dam that had been constructed, and filled with pool with sea water and fresh water to help the filtration system. It was a lengthy oblong form in the shape of a snake that would eventually have a grotto and rock wall for cliff diving. As it was, a shape without form, Ren gathered the construction crew and men and women who worked at his farms and greenhosues for a beach-side, barbecue—an idea without name that wasn’t entirely foreign to the Colombians helping.
Initially, after the pool was built, there was nothing but green grass and dirt, but Ren’s team set to work. They first dug out the foundation, which came with some fairly odd specifications. First, they had to dig deep enough that they could reinforce the weight of the stainless-steel reinforced walls and vault. Then, for the library, they had to dig an extra 50 meters where it would be situated. The foundation proved to be a nightmare because around the time they got the pit dug, the rainy season arrived. They taped it off but for two months, rain water collected and was dumped day in and day out. Didn’t mean that the ground stayed dry though and once the rains immigrated elsewhere, they had to dig almost from scratch.
Once the concrete was settled, they began arranging the steel beams and girders—the houses’ reinforced bones. This part of the process took much longer than anticipated because the tropical climate grew hot and humid, shortening their day significantly. For months, the skeletal structure sat exposed and Ren grew frustrated. Though the process was slow going on the house, the gate, barn, farm fields, and greenhouses were up quickly enough that work in the fields growing crops could begin. For a short while, it was a comical sight to Ren and the locals who curiously stopped by just to watch Ren’s crew—as well as shoot the breeze when the sun was unbearable. Workers groomed the surrounding landscape, which Ren had confirmed contained usable soil, and by the time the rebar was all in place, the fields were a lush, healthy green that replaced the arid Earth.
Supervising the grounds, Ren grew impatient with the progress on his house. Nearly everything else was ready but the rebar stuck out like open veins and arteries. The gate and fence were completely in-place and wrapped around the grounds from the only entrance along the main road. Plants, herbs, and spices sprouted in the greenhouse, and veggies like tomatoes, peppers, and onions were nipping at the surface.
Once the exterior was finished, Ren and his crew had their first harvest. Most of it went to his employees—not a set amount but whatever they needed—and the rest was set aside for Ren and a food bank he created to reach the struggling community that surrounded his estate. The food bank would prove critical for Ren because initially he was just that hijueputa gringo that bought all the beachfront area west of Puerto Colombia. Establishing the food bank warmed his image in the pueblo and before his home’s completion he had the entire pueblo on his side (for those who didn’t need the food, Ren found other ways of outreach; either giving them free weed from his crop or helping business that struggled to make ends meat). All in all, the outreach he did was equated to Pablo Escobar’s Robin Hood perception in the poorer barrios. People grew to respect him and eventually came to love Ren like he was born in the pueblo.
When the four exterior walls of his three-story home were erected, the men and women began setting the red, clay tile roof and eventually Ren could identify his wrap-around balcony on the second and third floors—the third floor entirely dedicated to a canopied patio, much smaller than the one behind his house on the main level poolside. After the stucco dried, a soft eggshell that didn’t blind him, Ren was getting ants in his pants. While the laborers went to work on the interior, Ren would be travelling to find horses, cows, pigs, and cattle that would help him achieve his dream of a self-sustaining estate. At the same time that his crew went to work on the inside, Ren brought in a crew from the USA to hook up solar panels and two windmills. Before leaving his men and women, Ren left them with very specific instructions and designs calculated to the letter.
In total, his home would have six bedrooms, five full bathrooms, four half baths, a foyer that feed sinto a grand staircase just beyond the entrance doors, an enormous library, a study, a lounge that looks out at the sea next to a game room, a rec room, and a cinema that could be used for gaming or whatever. Other than the vault, the theatre was the only other thing in the basement. On the first floor, there was the grand staircase that split to the left and right at an elevated landing. Inside the doors, to the right, the kitchen would run the entire length of the eastern wall. There would be various sinks looking out from a wall of windows, several stores, and several stoves and ovens but no microwaves.
Left of the doors will be the rec room and main level of the library with a spiral staircase that leads up to the second floor or down into the unfinished pit. Along the backside, looking out at the sea, patio, and pool is a sun room and lounge, and cut out in the middle of it is a dining area that doubles for entertaining guests. A bedroom would border the lounge in the back left and rec room in the front left.
On the second floor are the other bedrooms and the library, which runs the length of the western wall. Along the seaside, looking out at the mar is Ren’s master bedroom, walk-in closet, sauna, and bathroom. Eventually, he’d put a hot tub on the balcony outside his bedroom doors but for now that was left in the details.
His architect’s designs left with his foreman, Ren left to find his cattle and farm animals. One of his farmhands came along and admitted that it was proving difficult to barter and come to an agreement with several proprietors. Either the price was too high for the value or too low for its value. But in the end, they found what they needed, what Ren wants, and returned from the interior by truck, hauling several trailers of health horses and cows. The pigs would arrive later, same as the cattle but for now Ren was content.
Pulling up to his estate, Ren smiled with delight. The automated iron gate spread wide for them and a forest lined both side of the drive so that the farms barns, greenhouses, and guest houses weren’t visible as they approached his home. Nearing the front door, the circular turnaround is completed with the fountain running and LEDs ready for nightfall.
Inside, the house was really coming along. All the first four walls were up, and each room ready for a coat of paint. Ren was so overwhelmed by delight that he invited every one of his workers and their families for another pool party grill out.
Three weeks later, all the rooms were completed and they set to cleaning things up before painting the walls and polishing the floors. That was all taken care of lickity split and finally Ren could begin putting his signature on his home.
Each room would have a different theme but the library and study would be done classically with oak and mahogany because Ren prefers the smell. The lounge was done in modern style, the sun room with a beach theme, kitchen was earmarked with Moroccan tiles and black granite, and different themes and styles throughout every room gelled together like cardinal directions on a compass. Inside the door,s hanging in the foyer is a luxurious chandelier that cost an arma and a leg but really punctuated a warm welcome to guests and visitors. All in all, it took nearly two years and close to six million dollars, but Ren. Finally had his dream home. What would come next he didn’t know but he was sure that he’d need to do something to sustain his savings account. Though, that would come secondary once he realized how bored he was growing. There was, Ren felt, an itch that he couldn’t scratch. He lived so lively before this but now all he did was wake up, drink coffee on the patio, and make the rounds across his estate, farm, and barn. Ren grew to hate the monotony of routine, and had to do something to make life worthwhile.
One night, drinking whiskey in his hot tub with a few lovely companions, the idea hit him like a sadist’s whip. Ren was a beloved public face—here and in the USA. Any business adventure he chose could fail but he was approaching that rich man’s tipping point where he was too big to fail. Politicians all throughout Colombia had been coming to him for months now, so why not liven things up and choose which side of the gun he stood with. And that was an easy question for him to answer. Went all the way back to the late 80’s. Fuck the police and fuck the government. Corrupt or otherwise.
So, he endeavored a new project that would liven up his day to day. A museum that doubled as a secret bank and neutral zone for the most prolific, profitable cartels. That, he though, should be fun as fuck.
Chapter 2 Al Sótano
“Please, adelante.” Ren leads his associates downstairs into the vault. The massive door, filling nearly every centimeter from floor to ceiling, designed to resemble a clock, is swung open. The señoras y señores del cartel marvel at the spectacle. Not only is the vault door discrete and fashionable but it’s two meters of reinforced steel with hidden biometric scanners—one for Ren’s eyes, face, and fingers—as well as a dial that Ren was told is uncrackable. This vault, their vault, makes the Swiss Bank’s security seem like cheese.
Inside, there’s a safety deposit room, boxes secured in the walls and a steel table in the middle of the oblong room. Beyond that is a gated entrance made of vertical steel bars. Ren whistles and an older gentleman wearing a black suit appears in a doorway beyond the gate. He opens the door and invites them in with a flourish of his hand.
Ren guides them through the mahogany door where the caretaker appeared and hold the door as his associates enter. Unlike the cold steel outside, their room, more like a grand office, is warm and cozy yet professional. There are brown leather sofas, chaise lounge chairs, love seats, high-backed chairs, and luxurious tables that match the crimson hue and tint of varnish still settling in the shadowy bookcase built into the three walls. It’s all arranged neatly like a fancy social club but at the far end of the room is a large, study wood desk before a powerful swivel chair.
“Ven, sientanse por favor.” Ren circles them around a knee-high table. He instructs his assistant to pull up more chairs so that all of their guests can be seated while they finish conducting business.
“Now,” Seated in a high-back leather chair, Ren sets his rock glass on an end-table. “As I’ve already mentioned, there is only one rule—well, two if you count my preference for English. There will be no violence here. Leave your beef outside of my gates because we got plenty of chicken.” Delighted with his play on words, Ren smirks at the heads of the major cartels. “No violence on my poperty, in any house, or nearby. Once you, or your men are escorted to the airport, however, each of you are on your own and I can offer no further protection. Are we clear on this?” He looks around the circle of smiling faces and nodding heads.
“No. Ésa no está bien conmigo.” One of the few Colombians in attendance, Don Neto, grumbles.
“Señor, I don’t give a shit what is and what is not ok with you. These are my rules or there’s the door.” Ren leans back.
“Te damos mucha plata, una inversión muy larga. ¿Porque tu determinas todo? Yo digo que votamos.” El gordo takes a cigar from the tray on teh table before them.
“You wouldn’t complain like this is if it was a real bank. Each of you signed a contract before any of this began. I sold you a Swiss Bank located in the Western Hemisphere that operates as legitimately as any other organization. Because of our status as a non-profit, there are certain regulations we must adhere to.” Ren reminds them. “And given that our front is my name attached to a museum, on my land, driven by my vision, money, and motivation I do get to make the rules. So, Don Neto,” Ren takes a sip and also grabs a cigar. “It’s my way or the highway. Not sure if you follow that given your country’s infrastructure. I mean, really, one road from the coast to Bogotá?”
Furious, Don Neto loses his cool and chucks his glass at the bookcase behind Ren. It barely misses his head and breaks into a hundred shards against the freshly treated wood.
“Cule mierda. Nos mamas gallo. Piensas que eres tan inteligente.” His face reddens, veins throbbing in his thick neck. “Tan chistoso. Cara verga. ¿Te di mas que $500 millones de dólares y tu me digas que esto no es una democracia? Hijo de puta.”
Smiling, gazing at his bourbon and ice, Ren looks past Don Neto and nods at his assistant. He bull rushes the much larger Colombian and overpowers him, dragging him to the desk at the back of the room. Laying his fat head sideways on the desk, one arm pinned against his back and the other flailing, another security team member joins the fray and puts his frantic hand in an armbar. The two men holding Don Neto turn to Ren.
The sometimes author slowly gets up from his chair. Average height, he’s not the most menacing presence, but in the low light of this office, something monstrous forms in the wrinkled shadows on his aged face, his mustache, waxed, glistening like a blade. Ren unbuttons his suit jacket and walks behind his chair, pausing shortly before joining Don Neto at his desk.
“Why must you be like this?” Ren sits and leans forward on his elbows. He takes a pen from the limited-edition pen stand made from elephant tusks and spins it like a tale in his new novel.
“Your money is safe from your government and mine. Just like everybody else here. Yet all night you’ve been offensive and rude toward me, our arrangement, and my guests.” Ren pauses and widens his eyes, demanding an explanation.
“La mano de dios—”
Don Neto begins but at the word of God Ren shoots out of his seat so quickly that the heavy chair goes flying backward. In a flash he’s sprawled across his desk, eye to eye with Don Neto, grasping something in his hand.
“No decimos el nombre de El Señor.” Ren mocks. “Sus ojos no nos encuentran acá, sácalo.” Ren instructs the two men holding Neto down. A third man who had been waiting attempts to open Don Neto’s mouth. The outstretched Colombian writhes, twisting and turning his head but Ren climbs on the man’s colossal back and knees him in the neck.
“Abra la boca.” Ren shouts. “Abra la hijueputa boca, gordito.” He nods at the men on Don’ Net, and one of them pinches Neto’s nostril Less than ten seconds later, he’s coughing and gasping, still trying to wiggle free.
“Muéstrame la lengua ya.” Ren commands. “Muéstramela!”
Don Neto gasps, holding in as much air as possible.
“Rómpalo.” Ren looks to the man on his left. Holding him in an armbar, he cranks until everyone in the room has to shudder at the cracking pop and howling from the gordo.
“Si no sacas la lengua, voy a cortarse todo el mandibular hasta que la veo. Tres, dos, eso.”
Ren takes the object hidden in his hand, now visible—a shard from the shattered glass—and drags it across the man’s tongue. Blood gushes on Ren’s hands, and blind, frowning with a sadistic grin, puts all his weight into it. His men let go and Don Neto falls to the floor wailing in agony.
Ren stands up on the desk, covered in blood, holding the severed tongue in his hands, looking down at Don Neto. “Bienvenido a la fiesta, pero tengo que liberarte del cuerpo.”
Shrieking frightfully, Don Neto rolls onto his back and looks up at Ren at the exact moment that there’s a muzzle flash before his lights go out. Ren throws his coat onto the stained desk and undoes his shirt, tossing it beside the jacket and taking fresh clothes from a closet tucked into the wall.
“It is my way or the highway.” Ren grins like a man possessed. Still seated around the table at the front of the room, none of his guests flinch. They don’t even blink. Sure, they’ve all seen this type of thing before but this was supposed to be an exclusive club for the thieves of thieves, the monster’s monster that children don’t just fear, they shudder to utter a name. What would this maniac do if any of them stepped out of line? For the first time since beginning this endeavor and for most of the men and women in attendance, this is the first time they find themselves at the whim of a madman.
“So if any of us step out of order you’ll what, kill us like Don Neto?” Don eladio rises in protest, his hands speaking louder than his shouts.
“Ladies, gentlemen. I hope none of you misunderstand. The government is not welcomed here. The purpose of this museum is so that you may not only hide your money safely, but also so that you may continue in your particular areas of work.” Ren snaps and the two men who held Don Neto sprint for a cabinet hidden in the woodwork and return with a plastic sheet that they unfold and use to wrap the obese corpse.
“We should kill you now.” Don Berna reaches behind his back, forgetting that they all handed in their weapons at the gate.
“Señoras y señores, that man was. An agent of the state, a rat amongst us. Look inot it, I recommend, and you’ll find that he was a pan of Duque who worked with the DEA. Our affiliations are clandestine, so, his presence is unacceptable.” Ren joins them after buttoning his shirt.
“If you knew that, why take his money and let him join?” Doña Meza, an elegant angel in her long, flowy red dress, asks.
“There’s about $500 million reasons that we can either comb through or discuss how we split. Abide the rules and nothing will happen. May I?” He holds his arms out to the side. His guesets nod in confused approval. Don Neto’s body is entirely wrapped, a crinkling in the sheet, and the two men carry him out.
“Your money has arrived and is stored throughout the. Safety deposit boxes in the anterior room. And now, if you’d like, we can tour the museum, unless there are any burning questions.” Ren opens the floor but no one has any lingering questions so he holds out an arm for Doña Meza and escorts them back upstairs where the other guests await the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Upstairs, per Ren’s directions, the staff has ushered the guests outside where lavish golf carts will drive them to the museum. The hundred or so elites of South America—the richest of the rich—laugh and joke under the starry sky.
“Señoras y señores,” Ren waits a moment for his clandestine board members to join the party out front. “If you will please find a cart, we will head over to El Museo Macondo. Please feel free to bring your drink or plate with you but there will be plenty of both once we arrive. The fountain of fishes spit water, lit up in a blue and yellow mist as carts pull up the long driveway. Elegantly dressed men and women shuffle onto the fancy carts, heading up the driveway to the street. For roughly two kilometers, there’s nothing but green farm fields, crops swaying in the gentle wind, just the way Ren wanted it. Around the five kilometer marker of his estate, EL Museo Macondo comes into view.
The entirely glass building, four-stories, is magnificently lit. A burning yellow glistens on the horizon, an architectural marvel that causes Ren’s donors to gasp in awe at the miraculous work of Mafe Safdie. The building was designed with an artistic take, Safdie’s take, on a cattleya, which after all is the national flower of Colombia. There are four, fully-bloomed pedals reaching over the corners of the main structure and a massive conifer rising from the center of the building through the roof represents the plant’s pseudo bulb.
Outside, pulling up, everywhere they look are gardens of spectacularly maintained plants and trees. Earlier that night, Ren explained that the gardens and arboretum were arranged based on the Brooklyn Botanical Garden layout. During a brief presentation back at the manor, Ren displayed aerial images taken using a drone to show the botanical garden’s symbolic organization representing a mermaid. To Ren’s delight, this really caught the attention of his board members and other donors.
Pulling up the long, well-groomed drive, the carts beginning a stop-start as men and women exit their chariots. Ren stationed staff members at the museum to guide his donors to the front entrance where a red ribbon awaits a scissors. Once everyone is there, Ren is the last to arrive, they gather for the cutting ceremony.
“I’ve nearly said all that needs saying so if you will allow me a brief word, we can cut the tag off this beauty and explore at your will.” Ren stands on the top step of the entrance staircase, holding a glass of champagne. “This undertaking of El Museo Macondo wouldn’t be possible without any of you, but we owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who labored arduously over this enduring monument to Colombia and her peoples.” He pauses while they applaud the tremendous effort that went into erecting this wondrous, modern architectural marvel.
“Yes, yes. But beyond their work, I owe a personal thank you to each and every one of you for your generous donation and investment in this dream of mine. Though I hope to speak individually with all of you, I still wish to say, collectively, ‘Thank you all from the deepest depths of my heart, thank you. For all you’ve done, your support, and your encouragement.” He finishes, rolling his eyes, knowing that none of these people here put in any hard work. They bought a bag of goods and wrote a check. Not so difficult, even if any of them have arthritis.
“Now, without any further delay, let’s open El Museo Macondo and celebrate the works and art that make this place as glorious as it is.” Ren takes the over-sized ceremonial scissors, spreading the blades. With the seven board members surrounding him, they pause while shutters flash and cameras click. Finally done with the mundane, Ren snips the ribbon and two red halves fall away to the side over the ground.
“Bienvenido al Museo Macondo.” Ren throws his arms wide warmly. As men and women enter the Great Hall, they boisterously thank and congratulate him, ferociously shaking his hand.
Just beyond the doors, two women wearing white tuxedos distribute maps of the museum. The four floors are displayed throughout the pamphlet, showing each exhibit and specific room in an easily-read array.
Currently, they’re exhibiting Frida Kahlo and Franz Roh works as the crème de la crème. On the first floor are the American wing (South America; North America is on the second floor), Medieval Arms and Armors, and the African Arts collection. The second floor contains North American works, Modern and Contemporary art, European sculptures, and artworks of Oceania. On the third floor are wings dedicated to Greek and Roman art (side-by- side in separate rooms), African collections, and a collection of Egyptian pieces. The fourth floor is dedicated to replicas of integral pieces such as the Tomb of Hammurabi, the Unabomber’s cabin, and a near identic copy of the French guillotine. Cafes and dining are open for business throughout but tonight are shuddered because of the private affair.
On the rooftop, there’s seating for the public, which provides an impressive expanse of the ocean and lovely view of the farm fields a few kilometers down the road. The view also offers visitors a chance to gaze upon the cattleya flowers that spread at the top of the building. For rainy days, when the weather doesn’t permit, a canopy can be fastened to the four pedals, allowing the roof to be utilized year-round.
Downstairs in the Great Hall Ren schmoozes with the donors. “Señor Patterson this truly is a spectacle that will endure as long as the Colombian people suffer.” Alberto Márquez, a Venezuelan oil tycoon who got out at the right time, admires. Beside him is the Venus de Mile, currently out on loan from the Louvre. His wife, Amarelia, all 250 pounds bulging out of her long sequins dress, thanks Ren and kisses him on the cheek before Ren excuses himself and thanks them for their patronage.
For Ren, the nigh drones on like this. Shifting from one dialect of Spanish to the next, shaking hundreds of hands and thanking even more donors one after another. Had he known it’d be like this, he would’ve handed guardianship over to someone else while he hid in the shadows. But no, he acknowledges that wouldn’t work because for this arrangement with the cartels to function he need to be the public face. His connection to art is obvious and because he’s hidden in plain sight, this modern shred of clandestine affiliations would be overlooked and regarded as nothing more than high-society connections once word gets out who attended tonight’s opening.
“Now, Señor Patterson, what motivated you to undertake this adventure?” Señor Maní asks, sipping a fine wine and fidgeting with his mustache.
Ren had gotten this question all night, so he gave the same answer that he gave everyone else. “Me llegó en un sueño.” He desperately wanted to joke each time and add on that Gabriel García Márquez, Salvador Dalí, and Frida Kahlo (based on the donors’ nationality) told him “If you build it, they will come.” But he knew that humor only flew in Iowa and never followed through on it because the explanation would be a waste of time that fell on deaf ears.
As the night wore on and the conversations grew repetitive, Ren was losing his mind. He had to sneak away for a joint, some alone time, whatever. He just knew that he had to get away from the rich snobs. The thought made him chuckle. ‘Such an oxymoron. Does rich connote anything other than snobbery? Fuck, does that—no.’ His thoughts trailed but followed him through the handshakes and vulgar epitaphs spewing violently through his head.
As the night finally winds down, guests being escorted back to the Hotel Pradomar, Ren finally finds himself alone with no one around on the rooftop. Pulling out a metal cigarette case full of joints, he lights one and sits down at one of the covered tables. There’s a soft breeze off the sea, and closing his eyes, letting his head roll back, he inhales.
“Señor?” One of the staffers, Javier, calls from the service elevator. “All of the guests have safely returned to their hotel.” Javier holds the elevator, one foot inside the door. His black bowtie is undone and hangs at the sides of his neck.
“Gracias, Javier.” Ren blows a ring of smoke that quickly fades in the gentle breeze.
“Si señor. Les voy a ayudar abajo si no necesitas algo mas.” He leaves it open-ended in case his employer demands more. Ren smirks, familiarized with this Colombian trait common throughout the lower-income employees in the service industry. Though, now, Javier and the others aren’t struggling to get by and were forced to open a savings account—which for most of them is the first time they’ve ever had a bank account; Ren wasn’t an abusive dick. He didn’t nickle and dime them, and as long as they worked for him their housing was paid for so they could actually make that savings account work for them.
“Sí, Javi. Ven, siéntate conmigo un ratico.” Ren waves hi mover, the porro pressed between his lips. He offers the joint and Javi grins, taking it and pulling up a chair.
“Gracias, señor.” Javi exhales.
“No señor, Javi. Por favor. Les pedí mil veces.” He sighs.
“Entendido, señor. Pero por favor entiéndame, que pedir algo así es pedir un cambio a una costumbre que se existió para signos.” Javier leans back, crossing his arms.
Ren laughs, his head arching back. “Marica, no puedo, ya sabes.” He gets up and goes over the the tkiki bar and brings back an unopened bottle of champagne.
“Tienes algunas metas en la vida, hombre?” Ren uncorks the bottles and pours them both a glass.
“Gracias.” Javi coge el vaso.
Ren smiles. They toast and drink, serving another.
“Sí, señor. Tengo varias metas. Antes de llegaste a mi pueblo, mis metas fueron la comida de mi esposa y mi’ja.” Javier feigns a chuckle.
Ren pauses a momento. ‘His goals were to feed his wife and kids. Christ, that sounds familiar.’ It was a familiar story to Ren. He grew up in the projects in the Bronx and that was basicaly the mentality of everyone there. Whether tehy slung rock or hustled weed, paper was the goal so they could eat. It never at well with Ren that there was only so much he could do with his money. He gave back to the community her in Puerto and aslo made donations to folks back in the porjects but there was only so much he could do, only so far he could stretch his paper.
“Y ahora?” Ren pregunta.
“Ahora?” Pues, señor, gracias a tu ayuda, este trabajo, el apartamento, no sé.” Javi draws on the fat joint.
“Se confunde mucho, nos toca, cuando descubrimos que nuestros sueños no tocan al cielo.” Ren drinks.
“Nada, Javier. Nada.” Ren smiles weakly. Standing up, he waves at the joint and tells Javi to do whatever he wants with the vaina.
“Creo que me voy a acostar. Dejare la palabra con los demás para cualquier persona que trabajó esta noche que tiene el día libre mañana. Ven ustedes durante el día a la casa Macondo si quieren nada en la piscina o el mar. Estará comida pa’ todos. Pero no se sieneten obligados. Es tu dia, pásalo como quiera.” Ren walks over to the service elevator rather tan the guest lift. It’s an odd habit that he’s grown accustomed to after years in the service industry. Javier laughs and thanks him as the doors close.
Downstairs in the Great Hall, men and women tidying up after the evenings events, Ren leaves words about the day off tomorrow as promised. Waving off the transport, he decides he’d rather walk home. And why not? It’s a peaceful night. A successful one at the, Ren grins, thinking f where this all might lead.
They’ve got all the farm fields planted, next year’s soil aerating in preparation. El Museo Macondo is funded for the next 100 years and if he wanted to, he could back out now. So what’s there left to do? Everytying’s in place. Built, set, established. So, what now?
Walking down the road, bordered by the sea to his right and farms to his left, Ren is clueless. The only goal is to have fun and enjoy life to its fullest. But how the fuck do you do that?
What a nightmare to figure out.