And to water them he did. Like my younger brothers in India, Ignacio too is still living at home, and being a boy, also like my brothers doesn’t have a clue of how these little household things work. So while watering plants, isn’t it better to water more and submerge the soil than leave it not quite saturated? I must have been gone two weeks and when I return, both of my plants in Mexico are promptly drowned and are drooping limply over the edges of their pots. Oh well! At least I don’t have his ex-wife to deal with and have not earned a permanent place on her shit list!

Other than that first meeting, I never have had a reason to see Antonio in flesh and blood until one evening when I am home early and am lying on the couch reading, I hear the elevator door open and someone getting off. Only other persons who had the keys was Ignacio, and Antonio’s manager Sergio, who would stop by every month to collect the rent. But neither of them would ever show up without first having called. A jolt of fear runs through my system, I jump up from the couch and run to the kitchen.

‘I am sorry for barging in on you. I was in the neighborhood and thought come and say hello to you.’ It’s Antonio. Still dressed in his impeccable business suite with an expensive looking leather briefcase in his hand. But other than the perfunctory apology, what I see on his face is the  entitlement he must feel, and okay to barge in on me just because he owns the joint. I don’t really like it, but welcome him nevertheless. Offer him a glass of wine. I sense he already have had a couple of drinks before he decided to wander in. Whatever! We talk about inconsequential things and somewhere along the line he mentions that perhaps we should talk about raising the rent a little bit.

I am not exactly against it, but I think what I was paying to be a fair rent, and I tell him how I paid only $230.- for my Santa Barbara apartment. But he seems to be in a funky mood.

‘You don’t think it makes any difference to me at the end of the day how much rent you pay, do you?’

And then we trail off talking about something else. Somewhere along the line, he picks up his  briefcase, opens it and slides out of it – a gun. He holds it his hands, looks at it endearingly and almost caresses it. Swirls it around his fingers the way John Wayne and Clint Eastwood do in their westerns. The metal of the gun shines like a newly minted penny and its wooden handle is polished to the T.

‘I just bought this. Isn’t she a beauty? You want to hold it?’

‘No it’s alright. I don’t think I have ever held a real gun in my hands.’

He once again fondly looks at it and puts it gently down on the cocktail table in the middle. We continue to talk, but I am no longer as comfortable. What I am thinking is; what the fuck? What does this man have on his mind? I feel a jolt of fear scurry through my spine.

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