“We should get going,” said Maite, her head resting on Kepa’s chest as they both lay on the dusty floor of the Noriega’s bar. She listened as his heart beat normally, and wondered if the effects of the bullet were really completely erased.
“Bai,” replied Kepa. “Javi’s still expecting us tonight.” He paused. “It’s so weird to think about tonight when we were literally gone for months. I’m having a hard time adjusting to the shift.”
Maite pushed up, resting on her forearm as she looked into Kepa’s eyes. “At least you are here with me. I don’t know how I’d do this without you.”
Kepa pulled her back for one last kiss. As they broke their kiss, he said “Berdin.”
They both stood up, dusting themselves off. Maite looked around the bar. “It’s so weird to think that, only moments ago, this room was filled with people playing cards, talking, and drinking. Looking at it now, all of that life is gone. It’s so sad. All of those people, just gone.”
Kepa nodded. “I wonder what happened to them all? Even Donny. What happened to him after he shot me?”
“Well,” said Maite, “he only shot you in the bubble. All of that was undone when you ‘got’ the zatia, when the bubble popped. So, you never got shot.”
“Right…” began Kepa. “But, I can’t imagine he didn’t go after someone else, the way he was.”
“When we have some time, we can try looking them all up and see,” replied Maite. “But, right now, we better get moving. We have at least a couple of hours of driving to get to Javi’s.”
Kepa sighed. “You are right. But I’m so damn tired. Feels like I haven’t slept for a month.”
Maite laughed as she playfully punched him in the arm. “This from the guy who does a week of gau pasas during the summer?”
“Yeah, but I never got shot during any of those,” replied Kepa with a smile as his hand again absentmindedly touched his chest. “I still remember how it felt when that bullet ripped through my chest.”
“Fair enough,” said Maite as she walked through the doors of the boarding house and onto the street. “I’ll drive and you get some rest. When we get there, you and Javi can go out while I go to sleep.”
“What?” cried Kepa as he climbed into the car. “I don’t get to go to sleep when we get there?”
Maite laughed. “Your cousin hasn’t seen you in ages. Do you think he’ll be happy with you just going to bed right when you get there? I bet he has some big plans for you tonight.”
Kepa moaned as Maite started the car and headed toward the highway. It wasn’t long before Kepa’s snores filled the car. Maite followed the signs that pointed toward Santa Barbara. At one point, the road forked, with signs pointing to San Luis Obispo. Maite vaguely remembered something she read saying it was an important outpost during Spanish colonial times. As she glanced in that direction, she saw another bright light hovering over the sign. She sighed and then shook her head. “Not right now,” she muttered to herself as she passed the exit and continued toward Santa Barbara.
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