“Spoiler Alert” is a serialized short story, coming in 13 parts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. “The Accomplice” is part eight. It’s best if you know the end first, so go to part one if you haven’t read it yet.
“I have a feeling this involves killing.”
“No, no. Don’t worry about that. I just want to talk to the guy, find out why he ruined my life.”
“And maybe show him that gun you stole earlier?”
“Maybe. But look, you came down here to, uh, disassociate from your past, right?” He waited for my nod. “Well I came down here to disassociate from my future. Don’t you see, we’re two sides of the same coin, you and me.”
“So to speak.”
All at once, I felt really tired. I’d barely slept the previous night. Dreaming of mice navigating mazes made for fitful rest. As David regarded me with his best rendition of puppy eyes, I suddenly remembered how, in my dream, I was told to go through the maze also. I thought there’d be a human-sized version of it, but there wasn’t. I had to toe-walk like a ballerina through the mouse-sized maze.
“Look, it’s easy. I just need you to go to the door and ask for Don Zapatero.”
He coached me on the pronunciation a little. “Not ‘dawn,’ not ‘done.’ D-o-n. Don. Rhymes with bone.”
The plan was for me to simply determine that a Don Zapatero lived in the house. “Once you find out he lives there, just tell them anything, like you’re selling life insurance. They’ll tell you to go away.”
“That’s all I have to do?”
“Yep. That’s it. Just be sure that you’re absolutely clear on whether he is in the house. They’ll probably even speak English.”
The task seemed innocent enough. So I agreed to it.
Unfortunately, they didn’t speak English. I knocked on the door and a young woman answered. She was somewhere between 15 and 25, I’d guess, but I have a hard time pinpointing the ages of Central Americans. When I asked for Don Zapatero, she invited me in the house and then left me standing just inside the doorway despite my cries of “No, wait. I’m selling life insurance.”
I contemplated leaving since I didn’t want to face the actual Don Zapatero, but when she returned a minute later, there was no old man in tow, thank God. She said something to me in Spanish. I just shook my head.
“Jour name iss Alan?” She spoke slowly.
“Me? No, I’m Joe. Just your average Joe.” I laughed.
She didn’t. “Joe?”
I nodded enthusiastically, thrilled that I’d communicated effectively for once. But then she left again.
And when she returned, she was speaking more Spanish and showing me the door.
“Well?” David asked.
“Well, he’s there, I think. But they kicked me out when I told them my name wasn’t Alan.”
David’s face went white. “What did you just say?”
“She asked me if my name was Alan, and when . . .”
“What? What’s wrong?”
“Alan was my father’s name.”