The door had opened to the desert heat, the desert sun, and now there she stood—faded, tattered-cuff Levis over cowboy boots, a white tank-top under a pink western shirt with the sleeves ripped off, a Rangers ball cap with her black hair pulled through the plastic loop, and freckles spilling off her nose, down her cheeks and onto the tops of her shoulders.
Somebody yelled, "Trish, baby!" from the pool tables, but she didn't react. I waited.
Two steps in my direction, and then she stopped. I watched her began searching her right front pocket. I caught a glimpse of color as her movement pushed her jeans down to create a gap between shirts and belt-line.
I frowned, and then turned to get a closer look. A tattoo?
She looked down, and then pulled up the tank top an inch or two, and turned to face me. Yes, a tattoo, tiny but aflame. A red and yellow sunburst centered on her navel.
She grinned, pulled her hand from her pocket, took the two steps to the bar. Our eyes locked. Silence.
I reached for my beer, and she reached for my hand. And in it she laid my mother's antique ruby and diamond ring, softly, like a coin offered a beggar.
"Your mama said to take me down to Juarez and marry me."
Gary Presley currently lives in Missouri, but he once lived in Texas. His 2008 memoir, Seven Wheelchairs: A Life beyond Polio, was published by the University of Iowa Press.
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