I waited for the concierge to answer my question but she was pretending not to have heard me and continued to study the ledger book that was spread out in front of her. I tapped the end of my key sharply on the stone counter top and cleared my throat.
She looked up at me but avoided direct eye contact. She seemed to be staring at my chin and I suddenly understood what women felt like when men don’t look them in the eyes.
“Si Señor,” she said. Her words sounded clipped and worried.
“Do you speak English?” I asked her.
“Of course,” she smiled, “How may I help you?”
“I am interested in the Rivera / Kahlo collection at the…” I unfolded the piece of paper I pulled from my pocket. Slowly and painfully I read the words, “…Museo De Arte Moderno.” I massacred the pronunciation.
She clapped her hands, “your Spanish is perfect,” she lied, “no accent.”
“Thank you for saying so, but I am interested in visiting the museum. I understand it is not too far away. Could you provide me with a map or directions so that I might walk there, please? It’s a pleasant day.”
“I am so sorry sir but it is quite far from the hotel, and it is forbidden for us to give directions to tourists. I can advise you to catch a taxi-cab from the front of the building.”
“But, I don’t want to take a cab, I would prefer to walk.”
“I’m sorry sir, but it is forbidden.”
“That’s crazy! Why?”
She narrowed her eyes and her entire mouth moved over to the right side of her face. She evaluated me, tried to decide whether I could be trusted with the truth or not. We stood like that for an eternity and finally she held up her hand and crooked her index finger; beckoning me closer.
“The government believes that tourists come here only to see the tomb of the undead.” She watched me as my eyes got wide and my mouth fell open.
“NO WAY! You mean, like, ZOMBIES?”
She moved her hands up and down rapidly, “Silencio por favor, señor. ¡Cállate!” then she immediately apologized, “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude but no one must hear us speaking of the undead.”
“They’re really here? It’s not just some old wives tale?” I asked.
“They are truly here sir, but contained within the bars of the tomb. We are safe enough as long as not too many people know about them. The great fear is that some curious tourist will open the gate and loose them on the city.”
“Oh my,” I stammered, “I don’t want to be anywhere near them.”
She leaned over the counter and confided, “Then you should probably not go to the Museo. They are but two short blocks away from there.”
“Thank you, thank you so much for warning me,” I said. “I think I need to go back to my room and have a soak. I hope I can recover from this shock.”
She nodded her head and flashed a crooked grin. She saluted me with a couple of finger tips to the brim of her concierge cap. “Welcome, Señor.”
I took the lift back up to my room and put on my overcoat. I checked the machete in the lining and the sawed off 12 gauge velcroed to the inside. I strapped on my 44. As I moved back to the door I grabbed my mirrored glasses and went downstairs to hail a cab.
“Museo De Arte Moderno, por favor,” I directed the driver.
“Si Señor,” he said as he dropped the flag on the meter.
I had a starting point and I had a radius. I had two boxes of shells in my pockets. Hunting season was about to open.