Loser's Guide to Life
Mrs. Bush shook her head sadly at the news of the untimely passing of her friend and quondam rival Anna Nikolaevna. How long had it been? Years, probably. The yacht parties. The dowagers. The new kids, fresh from wherever it is they prepare dopes in bowties to man the country's thinktanks and newsrooms. The drinks. The drugs. And the vomit! My goodness, the vomit! One could write a book about that. And poor Anna, so desperate, so misguided. Bit off more than she could chew. And now this. Mrs Bush threw the Globe aside and stepped into the garden for a smoke.
There he was again, old Juan or Pedro, or whatever he was, doing something to the rosebushes. What aborted coup did he tumble out of? One of Poppy's men, probably, back in the day, escaped from some smoking ruin of a Latin American hellhole with nothing more than a Glock 9, a fifth of Sauza, and a stack of shrink-wrapped hundreds. Like so many others. No, what was his story? A widower? Hah! Probably left her in the jungle to her fate. Her travails. Her painkillers. Her ... h'm, Sauza. What time was it, anyway? Too early? Too late? Let's see. She flicked her cigarette butt away. Oops! Right into José's hat! He detected the burning missile at once and slowly removed his hat, shook the butt into the palm of his hand, extinguished it in his fist, then dropped it into a can. He turned to face Mrs. Bush.
Instead of the expected servile loathing, she caught in his eye a flicker of contempt, held in check by a larger sentiment, something that could only be—inexplicably enough—pity! The old gardener got up from his knees and gestured to the thing he had been assembling, a garland of roses in the shape of a heart.
“¡Qué lástima! It was to have been a sorpresa for joo. El presidente, he is so busy, why, he forget even Valentine's! Ay! But here joo are. Please accept thees humble regalo.”
Mrs. Bush was dumbfounded. At length she took the prickly gift and said: “Why, Carlos—I don't know what to say. Thank you. Gracius. I've—if you'll excuse me—I really must—” And without further explanation she dashed into the house, her bosom heaving with sobs...
And old Watanabe returned to his work with a weary smile.