Helicopter Rotors

Creative Nonfiction
Matthew Dexter


Beach view from the cliffs
Photo Credit: Jennifer Ormerod

I caught my Mexican sister-in-law climbing through my bedroom window, one leg over the ledge like a crab with its claws trapped in a fragment of coral. She was always pulling shit like this. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mexicans and don’t mind children—but her little girls are monsters. They tear the house apart, never stop screaming, leave fingerprints all over the windows, glass doors, walls, and television screens. Their mother leaves them all day to drive me crazy while she smiles and defiles her body with rock cocaine. But this time she didn’t get away with it.

“Que estas haciendo en mi casa?” I said, asking her what she was doing in my house.

She laughed like an idiot, struggling to raise her chubby leg over the window ledge. Her footprints were on the wall; dirt fell like snowflakes from dirty sneakers. There was a maze of tiny footprints, a trail of mud leading to a puddle of yellow urine shining on the linoleum floor. A patch of sunlight landed on a large tear in the back pocket of her daughter’s pants. The little girl’s ass reflected sunlight like a perverted disco ball. I noticed golden sparkles illuminated by the sun. Apparently, the girl bathed in glitter before breaking into my house.

“Contestame señorita,” I said, demanding an answer, an explanation for the break-in.

“Hola Mateo,” she said. Mouth open, mother dove face-first onto the floor, leaving an exclamation point of mud on the wall from the soles of her sneakers.

Why the hell did it have to rain last night? It hardly ever rains in Mexico.

Waking up to a home intrusion–babysitting ambush is like waking up to an earthquake. The younger girl twirled in a circle like helicopter rotors, running her fingers across the top of my bookshelf—smashing porcelain eggs, glass vases, and picture frames onto the floor. Broken glass echoed as I scolded the crackhead:

“Dios mio, que tienes señorita?” I asked, my god, what the hell was wrong with her?

“Lo siento Mateo,” she said, wiping her ass with her hand.

I went upstairs to go get a broom and dust pan. When I returned she was gone.

“Donde esta tu madre?” I asked the older girl.

The four-year-old pointed toward the window and smiled at me. “Se va.”

The señorita was running down the street through the mud. She looked like a cheetah: stolen leopard-skin coat flapping in the breeze; yellow with black spots made it difficult to ascertain which dark spots were from the animal and which were from the woman.

“Jesus Christ, not again,” I said. There was only one solution: I grabbed the children by their hands and lifted them through the window. I shut the window and ran out the front door. “Nos vamos en el coche, niñas,” I said, instructing the girls to get in my car.

They followed my directions. They had pretty faces and didn’t know any better. They couldn’t be blamed for their mistakes. It wasn’t them I hated. “Vamos a la playa,” I said. I figured the beach was the best place to be; they agreed with my prediction:

“Si, la playa, siiiiiiiii, vamos.”

“Gracias Mateo.”

I started the ignition and drove down the street. As I suspected, the señorita had wisely made the decision to run through the desert. Last time I chased her, I almost ran her down before she collapsed of exhaustion on the pavement. She was sneaky, that crackhead.

We arrived at the entrance to the beach and I drove down through sand dunes, cactus, and a rainbow kaleidoscope of bougainvillea growing wild. White clouds anchored across the horizon like cruise ships. Apparently not moving at all, they would drift in place as if they were a helicopter hovering over a hiker who had fallen from a cliff. And that’s when the idea hit me.

“OK, niñas,” I said, “estamos aqui.”

They knew we were here; they could see the waves. We were parked on top of a precipice. I opened the back door so the girls could shuffle out onto the gravel. We peered over the edge. I held their hands. I could see it all. The white foam from the waves formed a maze and I followed it backwards in time to where I could see the señorita pregnant for the first time, glass pipe in her mouth, bottle of Pacifico in her hand. No fingerprints on her right thumb when the polícia arrested her because she obliterated even the deepest layers of flesh with those goddamn fluorescent lighters. (Señorita burnt through half a dozen lighters a day when she had a pocket full of rocks.)

“Porque estamos arriba?” her daughter asked, wondering why we were high above the Pacific.

“Hablar con dios.” I told her so we could talk to God.

I held their hands. I could see angels. They would be better without the señorita. Their mother would surely destroy them sooner or later, in a house fire or a traffic accident or an insane act of desperation. We walked closer to the edge. No more turds festering in a toilet that never flushed. No more toilet paper covered in feces stashed in the trash. The sea was empty except for a fishing boat drifting along the horizon. I lifted the girls and twisted their wrists, spinning them like helicopter rotors over the edge of the cliff. A minute later I released their arms and closed my eyes. I listened, but couldn’t hear any sounds over the roar of the waves. They were lying on their backs in an awkward position staring at the sky. I called to them, “Vamanos niñas, nos vamos a la playa.”

I picked them up from the gravel and brushed the dust and pebbles off their pants. Their wrists were pink, but they were laughing. As I took their fingers, clouds kissed the horizon and I hugged the girls and there was glitter on my hands.
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Matthew Dexter lives and writes in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This lunatic gringo has been known to drink beer and eat tacos. He belongs in an insane asylum. Email: MatthewBDexter[at]aol.com

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