placed tables, and served food.
Early in the morning I floated in the sea, letting the soft waves massage me. Suddenly a head poked up out of the water. A sea turtle. He looked at me, tilting his armored head, intelligence in his eyes. I raced to shore then watched the creature duck-dive a wave and disappear. The stray dogs led by Jack, Shawn's dog, watched me as if they were my guardians, but they were really following me everywhere be- cause I had given them food from my plate.
Later that night Shawn, Tonia, and I drove down the coast to a noisy bar. When I saw the Russians I was so drunk I waved. They ambled over, very friendly, and more drunk than I.
"Halo, what you doing here?" Yusof greet- ed me and dropped into an empty chair.
"I took three weeks off from Henry's. My cousin owns a motel up the coast."
"Ah, we going home next day. We come here for private antique sales show. We buy fine arts, old Mission and Colonial pieces. Now we going to drive home in the morning," Viktor added.
"Drop by," I said reluctantly when Shawn handed them his card.
Noon the next day the entire motel was
dead silent as most surfers were out at
the contest. Anyone left was as hung-over as I. Chuy, the cook's grandson, woke me up. The Russians had arrived, and were
asking for me, trailing a huge moving van I could see from my room.
The Russians wanted to rent a bungalow for the night. They got a late start, wanted to rest, and were going to have to stop in a few hours anyway at a motel up the coast. I told them Shawn was at the contest and he'd be back later. All I wanted to do was sleep, but I took the Russians on the terrace, got some tortillas, eggs, and tea from the kitchen, and we sat down. The dogs lay on top of my feet.
"Yah, we buy big old wood pieces, mission benches, tables, chests, bed-frames, some nice painted frames, and wood carvings. Like statues, saints from churches. Very private sale. Carlos running sale, maybe two other people buy, like auction," Yusof said.
"We meet lawyer, Carlos, at Henry's. He been telling us about the sale. One time only, from very old rancheros. He telling us how to get furniture home and making us papers at the border, costing a lot, but we selling for more. We have lots clients want Latins antiques. We can park in front of the room and watch van for night. Carlos been telling us bandits here," Viktor filled in.