The moon disappeared behind a cloud, and the silhouette of the Volcán la Malinche faded to black as the three women shared sangría and goat cheese on Magda’s rooftop.
“We have decided that we can’t pass up such a great opportunity to look like straight moms. We’re going with you; just give Aracely the weekend off and let’s play.”
“OK, I was thinking of a really overpriced trip right around the corner. We can get back to César’s place in forty-five minutes if we have to, and the boys will never stop talking about it – that is, until César gets back, and it’s “Papi, Papi!” and they won’t remember a goddamn thing.”
“Oh, right, Africam – that place has been up for thirty years and I still haven’t reviewed it. Did you know I have a standing offer for free passes and food? We just have to take care not to make it look too much like a date. I’ll have…” Flora’s partner, Anna’s best friend Magda, finished the sentence.
“I’ll use the cinematographic equipment they must have in the marketing office, and Africam will have a promotional video,” gushed Magda.
“You have to get a gringo to narrate this,” Anna observed. “Then you can get this up north and bring the tourist trade from Cozumel right here. And they can climb up the Volcán to make an overnight of it!”
“And stay at the Coloniál, por supuesto,” Flora cooed.
“Now you’re out-Anna’ing Anna,” remarked Anna.
“You just prepare everything for the boys, and we’ll handle the logistics. Do you think Aracely would like to be paid as a production assistant?”
Anna knitted her eyebrows. “By Africam or by El Sol?”
“By me, and if I can sell Africam on the project, I can expense her to both,” replied Flora.
“Don’t spare César,” Anna added. “He will be more impressed with my mothering skills the more of his money I spend on the boys.”
Anna left after she knew that the Leόn da Silva was asleep, so as to allow her friends, old and new, to compare and contrast the reflection of the moon on each other’s naked skin, Magda’s almost as milky-white as the moon itself, and Flora’s rich and tan like a Mayan. With César undoubtedly asleep, Anna’s mind wandered to the impossibility (in Anna’s world-view) of achieving any orgasm worth having without a man involved. When Magda first came out to Anna, Anna was still 14 and a virgin. A smoker, a budding alcoholic, but a virgin. She had never conceived of sex any way other than the usual. Never mind why. Why do most Mexicans like jalapeños in their salsa, while Anna hated the stuff?
Magda and Flora woke up when it was too uncomfortable to lie sweat-to-sweat on Magda’s rooftop. When Flora ripped a seam in the shoulder pad of Magda’s gauze shirt, being three inches taller and twenty-five kilos heavier than Magda, Magda grabbed her jeans and slapped Flora’s buttock and thigh with the pant leg, and laughed, “You want to rip these, too?” A few seconds later, the right fabric slipped on the corresponding body part, and all evidence of the previous night’s picnic and lovemaking had been packed away. Mr. da Silva had been kissed, and both women’s hair rippled out the back of Flora’s convertible. They were on their way for a quick shower and then a strictly business afternoon at Flora’s.
It took more time to pack for Gabriel and Alejandro than it did for Flora to get Africam to agree to unlimited production support, access from any piece of equipment in the park, and 45,000 pesos for the project. Neither Flora nor Magda doubted they could pull this off; after all, La Empresaria Anna would be with them, and this was a game, not work. But what were they going to do with Anna, Aracely, two toddlers, two lesbians, two strollers, an equipment cart, changes of clothes for the adults, entire wardrobes for the children, four battery packs, 50 meters of extension cord, and enough lighting equipment to electrocute a camera crew?
“Sr. Castañeda, one more thing,” asked Flora of her editor at El Sol. “I need to borrow a Suburban.”
Everyone knew their roles except for Aracely. She was listed on the credits as a grip, the person on a set who handles all the electrical equipment, but the toddlers treated her as Aracely the ama. Anna reminded her that Anna’s job was to show what a great mom she was, and that Aracely’s job was to manage the equipment and have a great time. The latter was part of the job description of nanny, but the former, definitely not. It was Aracely’s stroke of genius to get a Plexiglas bubble with a camera in it dropped into the rhino cage, right where Flora, in a gorilla suit, would try to provoke one of the animals into a snorting, charging, two-and-a-half ton assault. Anna, Magda, and the boys went off to feed peafowl when the Flora staged the provocation. César did not hear about this stunt.
It didn’t hurt the promotional film that Aracely and Anna went up in a cherry-picker in the giraffe habitat, taking the boys with them. It is not only the human that has a genetically encoded attachment to the juveniles of other species. Aracely swiveled the camera on a tripod while Anna, dandling one toddler in each arm, let the mother giraffe nuzzle her before offering the little ones the opportunity to stroke the long, furry, equine nose. César did not hear about this stunt, either. Of course, it was Aracely’s role as grip that held the party together. She, of course, didn’t know anything about videography, but it was she that suggested that they perform some on-the-job training. Management agreed, and the next night they left the boys in Anna’s care and hopped back down the Santa Cruz Highway, and thus “La Noche de los Gatos” was born.
Three days later, a completely begrubbied Flora stumbled into the Panaderia Monsieur Remontel with a photo album with several hundred slots – all full. Slip-thin and red-eyed, but in proper business attire, Magda stumbled in to the pastry shop a few minutes later. Anna fresh off another successful business presentation, strode in with her black pumps reflecting her 10,000 watt smile. Back on Calle de los Mercadores Alimentarias, Sr. da Silva breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that his daughter would be back at the office to reconcile the sales and delivery totals for a particularly good week.