Author: Juxian Tang
Fandom: Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Summary: Some Sands-angst, what else?
Every night the moon woke him. It stared at his
face, huge, yellow and unavoidable, no matter how he turned and thrashed to look
away. Even when he tried to cover his face with his hands, it didn't work - as
if his whole body was made of glass. And the only way to make the moon go, to
find himself in impenetrable darkness again was to wake up.
This darkness was hell by itself, sheets tangled and
damp with sweat, twisted around his body. There was a blazing rod thrust into
both his legs, and another one, viciously revolved from time to time, into his
arm. The cup he found by touch on the nightstand was always empty, and Sands recalled
that again, one more time, he forgot to fill it, after taking his handful of
medicines before sleep. What an idiot, couldn't he remember even a simple thing
like this? But a few hours ago, when the world had been made fuzzy with
painkillers, such things hadn't bothered him. Then Sands might even consider
his life quite an agreeable thing.
Too bad this contentment never lasted.
The soft murmur of the wireless was the only sound
in the quiet. He couldn't make out the words but it was better this way. Better
than to catch a bit of another nauseatingly inspired speech of the pompous fool
they called El Presidente, about a new chance of life and fighting enemies to
death. It made Sands want to throw up; but when every trip to the loo was an
adventure, he chose to cope with his disgust in some other way.
He hoped someone would dispose of the old fucker
soon - his eloquence certainly merited it. But it wouldn't be Sands who'd do
it, for sure. He had different problems right now.
He kept feeling the moon on his face even when he
couldn't see it. Even when he knew it was not there. And there was no escape
from it, no way to ignore it. In its yellow dull light Sands got up, gripping
the back of the bed to hold himself upright. He tried to smile because it was
what he always did when there was nothing else to do.
"Oh boy. Am I falling apart or what?"
He shouldn't have got up, that was what the doctor
told him, stay in bed, take your pills, and everything was going to be just bien.
Bien. That was so comforting. But at least the doctor was generous
enough with his prescriptions, and for that, Sands thought, he wouldn't kill
him when he didn't need him anymore.
By now his every motion was well-adjusted, the
pattern familiar - let go the bed rail, grab the windowsill - right before the
moment his legs were ready to give up under him.
You'll heal, the doctor said. Oh yes, he was sure he
Push the window open; the air was colder than by
day, moving very slightly, cooling his face. The first pack of cigarettes he
found was empty and he let it fall down, four stairs, to the empty street
below. The second one was half-full and he fished out one cigarette and put it
to his mouth. The lighter was just a sound and slight heat reaching his
fingers, darkness unchanging, and it was one more thing Sands wasn't sure he
could get used to. He inhaled smoke deeply and caught himself on another
familiar gesture, his fingers reaching against his will, to touch the tight
bandage over his eyes.
They will be all right, the doctor said. What
'they'? It was not like he had anything left there to be or not to be all
The moon stared at his face and he lit another
cigarette from the previous one.
"Yes, I'm going to get lung cancer since
nothing else seems to be able to kill me - why do you ask?"
Below him, from afar, the voices of late passer-byes
came, their laughter mixing with the voices of the wireless. He listened to
them leaning against the window. His legs hurt - he hated them.
He hated those nights - and how many of them were
there for him in future?
Future; it wasn't even funny. He didn't know what he
was waiting for. For another agent to come and take over, a cretin who would
fuck up everything Sands had done? For an order to get out of here? For any
contact at all since the last one had been... he didn't remember when.
But he could be patient. After all there were things
he could be proud of. The bitch was dead. Barillo was dead - there were times
Sands thought it was not the moon he could see but his face, wrapped in
bandages, just the eye-sockets dark. How foolish... he was not getting raving
mad plus to everything else. Marquez was dead.
And maybe Sands was waiting for someone who'd put a
bullet through his skull as well - something he had done many times, with
pleasure. All the work of the good doctor wasted then.
"Come and try," he said. "Try to put
me out of my misery."
At one moment it got too hard to stand, so he
slumped down on the floor, against the wall under the window. It was all right,
why couldn't a man just sit and smoke? There was no point in going back to bed
He simply waited for the night to be over.
And he didn't know if he dreamed or if he talked
some more, to himself, and how many cigarettes he stubbed in the overfilled
ashtray - till the moment when from the quiet street a familiar sound reached
him, the cycle bell, coming closer, closer - and then he knew he probably would
have to live through another day, whether he wanted it or not.
He finished the last cigarette and pulled himself up
to his feet, and even though it seemed like broken glass was ground into his
legs, he smiled, looking at the window.
The cycle bell stopped ringing, very closely, and
Sands raised his hand, waving slightly, hearing a soft, small sound of laughter.
"Hola, senor," the boy called, and it was
when the moon was gone.
Go to the sequel Talking to a Strange Man