By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
“Taxi,” he repeated, as if she’d just supplied the one term that would make his life complete. “Taxi, sí,” and he shouted something toward a tumbled nest of straw baskets where a striped Mexican blanket concealed a doorway behind the counter. In the next moment, a boy with his eyes still asleep emerged, took one look at her and ran out into the street shouting the magic word.
The driver knew not a syllable of English, but San Diego was not an Anglican designation and the dollars she waved at him immediately bridged any difficulties of interpretation. The sun hammered her briefly and then she was in the back of the car, everyone grinning now — the pharmacist and the two customers who’d followed her out into the street, the boy and the taxi driver and even the random passerby, a whole world of dedicated grinning. The door shut on her, the car a Tin Lizzie, a flivver, a rattrap of the worst and flimsiest construction — and ancient, the first sedan ever made — but it had a roof, and, apparently, an engine. The thing jolted and bumped as if it were pitching headlong down the side of a cliff, the smells assaulted her all over again, the heat crouched atop her, right under the caftan (and she wouldn’t take it off, wouldn’t show her hair and the sweat and the fright she must have been), but none of that mattered for long because immediately she was dissolving a tablet in water and drawing it into her pravaz and between bumps finding a vein high up on her right thigh beneath the rolled-up sweat-soaked hem of her dress.
After that, the breezes blew and the smells dissipated. The man at the border waved them on without a second glance, the world took on a metallic sheen — the sheen of the high seas as seen from a deck chair on the SS Paris — and she wasn’t in Mexico anymore. She wasn’t in the bleached brown desert of San Diego either, not on land at all. She was on a cruise, perched high up on the rail with the wind in her face and the birds wheeling overhead, on her way back to France.
Excerpted from The Women, a novel by T.C. Boyle, to be published next week by Viking.