She ate with her hands, with her long white nails, outside a lavanderia. The lavanderia shared its lot with a kabob stand. Men ate meat and played checkers. She pulled her lamb from its stick and chewed.
The man sitting across from her wiped his mouth and talked to his friends in Russian. He yelled to three tables away, threatening a man’s wife, then betting his own on a game of Rumi.
He told the girl he liked how she ate. Healthy, he said. I like a healthy girl.
She said she liked the way it tasted. She said it reminded her of being on a boat with her father. When her mother had packed cold meats in a cooler. When she and her dad would sit in the wind at the bow, throwing crab traps into the water.
She said, to the man sitting across from her, that he reminded her of her father. He put down his fork and he did not smile. He said, that’s another healthy thing. Then he laughed out loud, and his friends joined in, and he pinched the bottom of her chin.
He took her to an apartment. An empty apartment with a few nice things. A large mahagony desk, a marble chess board, a four-poster bed. He put ice cubes in a glass and poured whiskey.
He said she was a beautiful girl.
He told her to be comfortable. She drank her whiskey and said she would try. She sat on the bed in her underwear and bra. He opened the window, so a breeze came through that she felt on her stomach and chest.
She laid on the bed, and said he was nice, and asked him to wrap his arms around her. Like her father’s arms, when she sat between his knees, on the boat ride back through the bay.
He started to hum while she drank more whiskey. He told her to sing him a song. He said he heard her sing the other night. He said get up, you beautiful singer.
He clapped when she was done, like her father would do. Sing again, he said. His moustache stretched as he smiled at her. He said she was a bird.
She stood in the kitchen by a big glass window while he replenished their drinks. I’ll help you, he said. Do you want my help?
Yes, she said, if you can.
Stand in the light, he said. There, he said. She arched her back and sucked in her stomach.
Now stand up straight. He held her by the waist. Her breath hit his face. She sang, and sang again.
She thought of her father, in his camouflage suit, his gun on his hip, as she watched from the airport window. She pressed her palms on the glass, then her forehead, her cheek, and then the plane took off.
She stopped her singing. She drank more whiskey. She looked at the man in front of her.
She took off her bra, feeling the breeze again. She heard cars from the street below. There was the sound of the ocean. Then the feel of his hands. His groan as he pulled up the anchor. She felt the weight of his body, and his beard on her thigh, and her father whispered in her ear.