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CORPUS 9 f MOTOR HOTEL Bayfront location in downtown Corpus Christi Balcony suites overlooking picturesque swimming pool or facing beautiful Corpus Christi Bay TV \(some Complete luncheon and dining menu in the Marine Club Coffee Shop and Gift ShopEntertainment and dancing. Commercial Rates Year ‘Round Tele 312/883-3520 1601 N. Shoreline Blvd. P. 0. Box 1248 MOTOR HOTEL Corpus Christi, Tex. 78403 eacated free to ae te9itt the 7exad Meutet idooe 472-2746 TEXAS’ Elroy Bode’s notebook k El Paso WOMAN AT THE BAR A swimmer, I think to myself: a lean Ohioan who has left her Olympic-sized pool to come sit at the bar in Juarez and drink gin fizzes and try to figure out something about her life…. She raises her glass and her blunt fingertips seem rounded by water, the way boulders 20 The Texas Observer LES if 4idektalk calie ht AM& cafteiaearat 61eageta ket, 946teeeed 24d & Sax Armed are; her body is slim, brown, muscular. There is no fat on her; at 27 she is still greyhound lean. She has the face of a Doge: severe profile, with prominent cheekbones; cheeks sunken just a bit. She would leave a striking death mask…. The young woman drinks at the end of the bar, waiting for her husband to return from a shopping tour. She listens to the long-haired Mexican piano player as he bangs away at request tunes: “Stella by Starlight,” “Lover,” “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.” He has a full, red, satisfied lower lip, and he smiles across at her as he plays. He hits more right notes than wrong ones, and the other women at the bar tap their feet and nod in rhythm. The vein in the young woman’s neck distends, thickens as she talks to the bartender, who is making a frozen daiquiri. She smiles at one of the bartender’s comments and instantly her face cracks into planes and angles, into the face of a Zelda Fitzgerald: sharp-edged, silver-painted lips; green, narrow-slitted eyes. Her tanned skin shines warmly in the dim light of the restaurant, and when she crosses her legs in an easy swimmer’s motion her sandaled feet angle beautifully. Her husband returns, carrying packages, and he places them on a stool between them as he sits down. He is a curious physical wreck. His lips and cheeks have fallen, somehow, as if vital facial muscles have been cut. He appears to be unreasonable, suspicious, and almost immediately he begins to sniff the air around the bar for he knows how dropsical his mouth is; he knows how tenuously attached his wife is to his money, his social position, his intelligence. He has a large head, short sandy hair, a thick corpulent neck; he wears amber-rimmed glasses. He stares into his drink and periodically gives long, intense looks down the bar. Has he intimidated her because of his lawyer prestige and lawyer brains? Does she feel loyalty, pity, secret revulsion? Why did she marry him: a water nymph joined to a giant, fleshy, tight-mouthed crab? The questions keep shouting themselves. .. . I finish my drink and begin to steal final glances: Her ear, so intricately convoluted and clean, like a shell washed into the short brown seaweed of her hair; her restless fingers, touching underneath her chin, then sliding absently down the curve of her neck. Lesbian? Martyr? I cannot figure her out. As the lean, smiling piano player launches into “The Rose of Washington Square,” I rise to leave and in passing notice the big vaccination scar on her arm. Almost crimson, it is like a beacon pulsing Save Me, Save Me, in the dim backwaters of the bar. AN AFTERNOON IN LIFE The noise of summer locusts rose in the trees until the street was alive with sound. I was out walking, staring into the hanging August dust. I moved past the small frame houses set back from the rocky, weed-bordered streets houses with afternoon tree shadows softening the look of the rusting window screens and the rotting porch boards. Out in the yards upended tricycles lay baking in the heat.. .. I listened to the steady whine of the locusts and heard the raincrows calling from unseen oaks slurring their lonesome-sounding, two-noted songs into the emptiness of the afternoon and I thought: There is a passion buried in life, and someone has to tell of it. I looked about, hoping to see some wild-haired prophet turn the corner somebody who would cry out through the shadows and pulsing heat: “Listen, everyone; listen to me, those of you in your houses . . . There is a mystery in the world, a terrible awe to behold now, here, in this very afternoon