Once we were on the ground – and, truly, not even on ground, for between us and the ground there remained the cabin floor, the baggage compartment, and the landing gear, yes, at a minimum, those – Doctor Belloq set about reshaping me into her tour guide.
And later, in an open air market, I searched out baubles for my chokers while she announced she wished to try the flesh of the giant black aquatic centipede. “They are native to this region,” she said to me.
The region was mountainous.
Far from the sea.
“I believe you’re thinking of a scene from ‘Naked Lunch’,” I said, for I believed she was thinking of a scene from Naked Lunch.
“No,” she said. “They really eat them here.”
I am no spoil sport. No, they will never say that about me. I found a suitable vendor – one with nondescript meats hanging in his tent – and I gave it a go.
“My friend here wants to try some of your finest giant black aquatic centipede,” I said, and in Spanish, only maybe I said “big black wet hundred feet”. In my life, such as it’s been, I had never had a reason to say “giant black aquatic centipede” until then. I was unprepared.
His face betrayed no confusion. “¿Ciempiés?” the vendor said.
“Sí,” I said, and I pointed out Doctor Belloq in the crowd. “Mi amiga. Allí.”
“Ahhhhh!” Everything fell into its place. Instantaneously, our wise vendor switched to English and held up his hand in an “okay” sign to Doctor Belloq. “Centipede tastes good, right?”
The “okay” sign was mirrored back by Doctor Belloq.
“You come back tomorrow,” the vendor said. “For you, I have big and black, um…”
“Giant black aquatic centipede,” I said helpfully.
“Yes. Many pounds!” the vendor said.
There are times when I wonder what it was he sold her.