As has become my custom, I found myself sitting that evening at a dusty mexican patio cafe on the outskirts of nowhere, welcoming the twilight with a tumbler full of warm tequila. Miguel pulled down the brim of his big straw hat and pulled back a mouthful of whiskey and swallowed, and smiled a toothful grimace. I sighed and sank into my chair.

It had been a good day. I had risen shortly after sun-up, rested and sexualized by the woman at my side. The breakfast had been sweet and hearty, and over migas I received news of Sancho DeLeon's untimely death. At Marsha's insistence I dropped off the children to be cared for by strangers, and proceeded to The Airfield as the Buggles wailed soulfully over the AM.

I adore the Buggles.

The exchange went flawlessly. Miguel joined me for the afternoon's errands: Delivery to La Plaza. A visit to the orphanage. Dry cleaning.

I am a busy man.

And so it was that I found myself again at Maria's, where the drinks are glamorous, the waitresses are as beautiful as they are naive, and the sun begs to be watched as it dips behind in the hills, bathing Anaheim in its ruddy glow.

My phone rang.

"Yes, Don Jefe?"

"Where. Are. Our. Children?"

"I dropped them off, dear. As you asked."

Marsha's voice cracked.

"Where?"

"Why, my dear," I replied, "I left them with... El Ratón."

 
* * *
 

It was a week before Marsha would speak to me at all. It was a month before she would tell me why.

All of which was fine by me. The woman's character had clearly faltered. Was this the same Marsha I had fallen in convenience with? Was this the same Marsha who would pull a trigger in the name of "a learning experience"? Was this the same Marsha who had taught me how to securely tether a child?

No, of course it was not. The Marsha I knew and slept with had clearly been replaced by a creature as cruel as it was sentimental. This Marsha would hide defiled pictures of my firstborn in my car and my still, would sob spontaneously, uncontrollably, would beat down my nocturnal erections with a thin reed, would leak arsenic into my otherwise delicious carne guisada, would hurl hummel figurines at my head without provocation or warning. The cold, stoney silences and baleful glares became my only respite.

Gentlemen, no matter how good an idea it might seem at the time, never deprive a woman of her offspring. However sophisticated, however enlightened the female might seem, never forget that underneath it all she is wired for a primitive, unreasoning maternal urge that knows no sense of decency or convenience. God help me, there were days I feared our sex life might suffer.

The last straw came late one night when she pinned me naked to the bed and demanded that we have an open, honest conversation. Lying in the afterglow, cooly calculating, I realized how narrowly an ugly situation had been averted. Had I been an inch less a men, it would not have been. I feared the next time, it couldn't be.

Clearly, something had to be done.

 
* * *