The Mexican sun had finally set and he took an ice-cold bottle of beer from the big pink refrigerator and stepped out of the farmhouse. He rolled a cigarette and lit it with a match which he was careful to lick before throwing to the dusty ground. He watched the bats diving through the thick July foliage of the maple trees. He doubted they were vampires, but it reminded him to check the mesh on the chicken coop. The scrawny hens softly cackled as he tugged at the wire. All secure. There’d be eggs for breakfast.
For three seasons he had checked the perimeter of the farmhouse before locking up for the night. Slowly, sipping from the bottle, he circled the house, pushing at the windows, checking the generator and smoking one of the few cigarettes he allowed himself each day. He could do the security check with his eyes closed, which was just as well, as the star-lit umbrella of a sky showed no city glow. The nearest dwelling was some fifteen miles to the north, and the nearest store another ten miles on the other side of that. Once a fortnight he would drive the jeep along the dirt road and buy food and petrol and pick-up mail from the Servicio Postal Mexicano.
He opened the thick oak door and bolted it behind him.
The house was a simple open-plan rectangle, with a kitchen at one end and the living space at the other. He walked to the kitchen and binned the bottle before taking a chunk of white cheese from the ‘fridge and placing a thick slice of it between a freshly baked brown roll. Pouring a glass of filtered water from a big plastic bottle in the door of the pink refrigerator.
She stirred, murmuring under her sleep, and he looked towards her pale, bloated body. She lay on the surgical table, the sweat and grime of her face making it seem waxier than usual. She was huge.
He put down the sandwich and walked towards her. Her table bed was the central furniture (he himself slept on a small put-me-up beside it, which he stowed away, methodically, every morning). The IV tubes were secure and the saline bags fresh. He kissed her forehead and ran his fingers through her long brown hair and wiped her face with a damp cloth.
September seemed so long ago. Back in California, picking the girl up from the City of Hope Medical Center and driving her here, away from the addictions and bloodsuckers. And she’d lain here ever since, nourished by the tubes and the light-blue flunitrazepam solution. She’d grown, and he’d had to learn how to massage her sleeping body, bathing her and checking her condition through the wireless internet connection on the i-book. She was doing well. Soon she could go back to California.
He felt a kick and slowly rubbed his hand over her knees, across her thighs, between her short-cropped pubic hair and on to her belly.
Soon she could go home. But not for a couple of weeks yet.
First, the actress had to have their baby.