Plenty of people know Lisette, but that doesn't make her easy to find. Her notoriety is buoyed by the beauty and exuberance she possessed in her youth. She left a remnant of herself every place she visited so, it feels strangely like chasing a ghost. No one knows exactly where she is or what happened to her after I left, so after spending the better part of two weeks wandering the streets of Little Haiti and Little Havana, I am no closer to finding her than I was when I touched down at MIA international airport.
I’ve been wandering around in the hot Miami sun all morning, chasing shadows getting nowhere. Eventually, the afternoon heat gets the best of me and I find a local bar and sit down to drink a cold beer. I’m mentally drained. I haven't slept a full night since I came back. Being in my old room brings back too many memories—memories that plague my dreams. I wake in a fever, covered in sweat and panting. The memory of Lisette burned into the darkness behind my eyes. I came here searching for her, thinking that she possessed that piece to make me complete. If I can only take that one thing back from her everything would be right again. Now I feel as if I will never find her. I fear that the link between myself and the Other will dwindle and he will become the real Joaquin and I will be nothing but a ghost.
I pay for my beer, but as I stand to leave, a young man approaches me.
"Are you Joaquin?" he asks.
"My name's Eduardo. I hear you're looking for Lisette."
I turn toward him, only mildly interested in what he has to say. Everyone knew her in one way or another. It would probably just be more of the same.
"Yeah, I'm looking for her. Do you know where she is?"
Eduardo fidgets nervously. "I think I have an idea where she might be."
"Come with me," he urges as he leaves the bar.
I follow him out of the bar onto the street. Once we are on the sidewalk he turns to me.
"Why are you looking for her?" Eduardo asks pointedly.
"I have some personal business to settle with her."
"Aren't you that kid who killed her husband?"
I clench my teeth and look around. Fear and anger grip my stomach and twist it into knots. Did this punk bring me out in the street to fulfill the vendetta of his long dead homeboy?
"Do you know where she is or not?"
Eduardo holds up his hands in a gesture of peace. "Relax. I know where she is."
I can’t let myself relax. This kid is acting very suspiciously.
"And I think I know why you're looking for her."
I raise an eyebrow. "You do?"
He nods slowly. His eyes take on a bitter glint. "She did the same thing to me," he whispers angrily.
As we walk, Eduardo tells me about himself. He’s nineteen and he seems intelligent, and seems to have his head on straight; not something you see often in this neighborhood. I also notice that he is a good-looking kid. He reminds me a lot of myself at his age. Slowly, tentatively he begins to tell me his story.
Eduardo is the young son of one of the many families Lisette shacked up with over the years."I met her when I was twelve years old," he says staring at the pavement as we walked. "There was something about her. She was..."
"Mesmerizing...yeah, all of that." He smiles wanly. "I was probably in love with her from the moment I set eyes on her. And she was like a predator. She could smell it on me. It didn't take long for her to devour me."
"I know the feeling," I mumble.
"Anyways...it happened off and on until I was like sixteen. My mother walked in on us and lost it. We were only kissing but Mom got the police involved. She wanted Lisette to be thrown in jail but I wouldn't cooperate so it didn't go very far." He shrugs his bony shoulders and then looks at me. "Sometimes I wish I had, though. Over the years, I've heard of other kids—younger ones—that she's done this to."
I instantly feel a responsibility for the other boys who may or may not be suffering from the same confusion that I am right now.
"What are you gonna do when you see her?"
I shrug. "I haven't really thought about it. I'm hoping it will come to me when I finally do set eyes on her."
"What if you fall under her spell again?"
I want to say it won't happen, but in reality I am so confused about my feelings for Lisette that I can't be sure.