El Bohemio
by R. Narvaez


.....Eulogio Vega thought about maybe working out. Then he thought about maybe playing Metroid Prime. But as he moved toward the video game, the doorbell rang.

......He saw his cousin Mildred through the front window.

......"E," she said. "How you doing, baby?"

......Her moon-round face, framed by wildly kinetic hair dyed auburn, was beaming at him. He beamed back as best he could. Then he noticed another woman and a thin, older man standing next to Mildred.

......"What's up?"

......"Open up. I got a favor to ask."

......Vega sighed, slumping his large shoulders. He padded heavily back through his apartment and then forward through the hallway to the front door.

......Mildred gave him a wet kiss on the cheek and hugged him. "You need a shave. I told these people you could help them. They live in my building."

......"They got a computer problem?"

......"No, stupid. They need a detective."

......"Mildred, that's not what I do."

......"You work at that detective place. I promised you would help them. It's not that hard. They just wanna find their son. You could do it with your computer."

......"But--"

......"Just listen to them. As a favor to me."

......"Okay."

......The woman's name was Cookie Cortez. She was egg-shaped and outfitted in stretch pants and a Mets sweatshirt. Her hair was pulled back in a bun, gray curls sticking out. Her eyes, heavily shadowed, were red and full of sadness. She sat in the only chair in Vega's kitchen, a gray folding chair. The older man stood behind her. Jesus Lugo. Black hair slicked back. Red, pinched face. Bulging, green eyes.

......"My son Danny is missing. Jesus, he is his stepfather ," Cookie said. "We have not seen him for five days. He's just seventeen."

......"Have you tried the cops?" Vega said.

......"They can't do that," Mildred said. "Jesus es un boletero. You know what that is, right?"

......A numbers bookie. "Sure," Vega said.

......"There's money missing," Cookie said. "And they're gonna think Danny took it."

......"Did he?"

......"Eulogio!" Mildred smacked him on the shoulder.

......"My son is a not a thief," Cookie said.

......But Jesus added, "Cookie, amor, we don't know."

......"¡Ay cayete! Tu no sabes!"

......"How much money is missing?" Vega said.

......"Ten thousand dollars," Jesus said, then, more softly, "Diez mil dólares."

......Vega scratched his bristly chin, turned to Cookie, "Do you have a picture of Danny?"

......She did. Danny Cortez looked surly, eyes half closed, mouth half open.

......"His junior high graduation," she said.

......"Would he have any other reason to run away?" Vega said. "Since you say he didn't take the money?"

......"Well," Cookie said, raising her dark eyebrows. "There's a girl..."

* * * * *

EDITOR'S NOTE: "El Bohemio" was first published, in its entirety, in 2007 on this site, and represented one of R. Narvaez's earliest forays into crime fiction. The complete story is now included in the e-book collection Roachkiller and Other Stories, published by Beyond the Page Publishing (April 2012). According to Richie, "Eulogio of 'El Bohemio' is in Rochkiller, but although many of the stories have that first-person P.I. feel, he'll be the only actual private eye. The rest are criminals and good people in bad trouble."

Copyright © 2007 by R. Narvaez


R. Narvaez was born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. His writing has been published in Faultline, Mississippi Review, Murdaland, and Sulphur River Literary Review, and by DC Comics. He is the founder of AsininePoetry.com and edited the compilations Asinine Love Poetry and Asinine/11.

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