Monitoring: Renzo Posada [null]
Córdoba, Province of Córdoba, Argentina
8:40 a.m. Argentina Time
Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
11:40 Coordinated Universal Time
Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
Renzo is about to kiss the woman, Gatitu, again, when the door opens and her companion walks in. A hair’s breadth away from her face, she holds up a hand and rises from where they are sitting on the floor. As Renzo shifts to a lying position, Gatitu takes cautious steps around Georgio and Otilia and picks up a button-up shirt from where Georgio had dropped it. She wraps it around herself like a shawl, and makes no attempt to clothe herself further.
“Noor’s done it,” announces her companion, a man who goes only by the name Mr. Skinned, even to Gatitu (who, herself, has offered no first name to Renzo or anyone else whose services she has procured). “Several videos, from different angles, are circulating online.”
“The protest,” Gatitu says. “Pakistan will notice. India will notice.” She raises a hand to her face, index finger against her chin and thumb against her cheek. “I was hoping that we would have till January, but that was always going to be unlikely.” Gatitu shrugs.
Neither of them seem to pay Renzo or his coworkers any attention, and not for the first time Renzo wonders about the precise nature of their relationship. For Gatitu to be so unabashed in these circumstances seems just like her; even when they are having sex, she seems to not be seeing Renzo, like he and the others are just props that can move under their own power. How probable is it that Mr. Skinned would be just the same way, though, if they were just partners in (hopefully figurative) crime?
“Yes. Well,” says Mr. Skinned, and then he offers a more substantial reply. “There will be something to talk about when we wait for the new year to come in.”
“I would have preferred to catch up with the others. We haven’t seen them for such a long time.”
“We haven’t ever seen them, Ms. Gatitu. Not really.”
“Oh, don’t be silly. You can’t tell me that you don’t miss the others. I’d like to have dinner with some of them again. Wouldn’t you?”
“I never ate with them,” Mr. Skinned says after a long pause. His head hangs low, and his shoulders have slumped further. “At least not in memory.”
There is intimacy in their relationship, but it is hard for Renzo to define its nature or cause. He doesn’t think that it is anything sexual. Mr. Skinned is rarely present when Renzo is working and sometimes carries on conversations in the middle of the job, just as Gatitu is often willing to hold up her half of it in those situations. Neither has he ever seen them touch each other.
But there is a softness in Gatitu’s voice that he has only heard her use when she is addressing Mr. Skinned.
“If that’s how you want to think about it.” Gatitu sighs. “None of us can fault each other for our quirks,” and though Renzo has closed his eyes he feel as though she is looking in his direction now. “We are all looking forward to it, however. We can speak freely, in person. And think of what comes after: it will be good to traipse across some new countries after being restricted for so long, won’t it?”
“It will,” agrees Mr. Skinned.
“So then, where do you want to go? You can pick our first destination.”
“Yokahama. We can see how–”
“No, no, no. What do you want to see, Mr. Skinned? Not who. Forget about the children. Forget about people, too, for that matter. I know you’ve been having trouble with them. Give me a place, Mr. Skinned, a mountain, a river, a valley. Business can wait.”
Renzo must have drifted off to sleep, because he doesn’t quite notice the end of their conversation, and his first notice that Gatitu has returned is when she delivers a light kick to his side. “Wake up,” she tells him. “I’m not done.”