Below is an extract from the story that concludes Cool Brass, a Slow Boat Media e-book. Although Marianne Messing predominates throughout the three stories, this interlude features Paz Duarte, Caleb Abercrombie’s casual lover. The whole of Twisty may be read as reactions regarding how perceived outsiders create places in their respective societies as well as within their own skins.  

            … Theirs was a celebratory bathe. Six months of being legally American. One month of having a United States passport.

            Arriving as a child, [Paz] became American in disposition and inclination. After a lifetime of routinely jumping through procedural hoops, cubicle-bound immigration clerks relented. Paperwork finally matched facts. At least that’s how it seemed to Abercrombie, who admittedly had something of an emotional investment in Paz. Considerable as her own frustrations were, his exceeded them.

            If his colonial ancestors hadn’t started eradicating First Nations people in the late 1660s, Abercrombie saw himself as one bad immigrant. Patience and education aside, luck of birth failed preparing him for the process behind gaining American entitlement.

            Having skimmed the naturalization study guide given prospective citizens, Abercrombie realized passing the exam might’ve presented all kinds of water hazards. Several Declaration of Independence/Constitution questions stumped him. As he assumed they would most landed Americans. That Paz succeeded raised his esteem of her.

            The most confounding part about her acceptance into the fold was who enabled it. The director of the school where she taught art, Monsieur Ghisalbert. Without his facilitation she still would’ve been rolling sixes, if not a candidate for administrative deportation.

            Yet M. Ghisalbert knew people with means. People who desired their children spoke fluent, accent-free French especially if it required immersion in a French curriculum. Right words in the right ears, proper papers sorted, signed, stamped, filed, along with the usual backscratching abounded. All the more since Paz and her mother, the formidable ‘Dona’ Elena Herrera de Duarte, both Spanish nationals, illegally entered from Mexico.

            Naturally there was a fee. Sex was part of the bargain. The naïve might’ve regarded such an exchange as exploitive. Paz, though, knew it the cost of business. She paid accordingly.

            M. Ghisalbert’s depravations should’ve angered a man other than Abercrombie. However, “the victim” herself refused embracing her victimization. Since Paz saw nothing wrong, why should he? Despite being twice her age, she showed great sagacity in this way of the world.

            Besides, her telling him how lousy a lay M. Ghisalbert was crushed any unjust outrage.

            Well-endowed as she acknowledged M. Ghisalbert, his foreplay bordered on rude. He left Paz sore, never satisfied. His detachment disappointed her and pleased Abercrombie.

            M. Ghisalbert was Abercrombie’s senior by 10 years. The younger man assumed her other gentleman would look upon any time bouncing on Paz as a joyous confirmation of continued vitality. Instead, having met M. Ghisalbert Abercrombie realized the Frenchman merely saw such sweet favors as his due. …

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