On the morning of his ninetieth birthday the story's Caribbean-roman protagonist is confident of two things to be accomplished on this auspicious occasion. One, he will pen an article for the weekly column, El Diario de La Paz, (which he has done for the past forty years) and of greater importance, he will bed a virgin.
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By the time he was fifty, he'd slept with 514 women, most of which expected to be paid. Those that didn't received gratuity as well. Payment for the times he'd received sex through an argument, or by force. Never the less, he tossed these women money as well. Some threw it away, further insulted.
The only reason he gives for paying for sex is that he is “ugly.”
His peculiar oddities revolved around bedding women with an obsession that leans towards familiarity of location, and sex positions. As a young man fresh out of college he worked as a cable editor for the same company where his beloved column is published. During those days, he had taught high school Spanish at three different schools, going to work afterward at the cable company. When quitting time came around at 11pm he hit the red light district, bedding different women several times a week.
As he conspires with the owner of a prestigious brothel that services top officials she doubts that she will be able to fulfill his request for a virgin on such short notice. Turns out it isn't that hard, she has a fourteen year-old available. Rosa Carbacas is a shrewd business women. They both know she won't receive jail time, nor be fined for trafficking minors due to her client list of city and state brass. He also knows she will charge him top dollar for his request to bed a young virgin. His coffers however are running low. He's never made a lot of money, and what he has, goes towards acquiring sex partners.
He arrives at the brothel on schedule at ten pm. He hasn't seen Rosa Carbacas for years. In fact, his phone to her that morning was the first contact they have had in over two decades. Yet, she was able to get him what he wanted. He learns from Rosa that the young girl is asleep in another room. She appears exhausted. Rosa had shared that she had worked slave hours in a button factory, prepared dinner for her siblings, and attended to her sick mother, before arriving for their date.
As he watches the girl sleep, he allows himself the small pleasure of watching her intently. Tracing the outline of her face with his fingers and moving to more aggressive moves and trying to pry her legs apart. She doesn't fully awaken and he decides to let her sleep. He sleeps beside her without taking her virginity. Something changed when he encountered this young girl, he even leaves her the pay-for-service money.
Rosa is outdone. She can't believe he didn't at least kiss the girl. She accuses him of insulting both her and the girl. He recants how tired the girl was and after Rosa shares that the girl is in fact terrified of the blood that she knows will flow with her first sexual encounter.
Try as he may, he can't get her out of his head. He makes arrangements to see her again and again. He sets up a love nest in his rent for hire space and the on their next date, he still isn't able to take her the way that he has so many others.
When a murder takes place that can be traced to Rosa's house of ill repute, the girl goes into hiding. The writer can't reach her months. When Rosa feigns a happenstance meeting that leads to the girl the writer is overjoyed. A date is arranged compliments of Rosa. He notices right away her expensive dress, jewelry, and a different air. Rosa, has given “his” girl to a wealthy man, one the writer cannot compete with. He loses it, busting up the room.
The girl goes back into hiding, but Rosa knows where she is. They meet up, he apologizes for his behavior, but realizes it is a done deal.
A chance meeting with someone he bedded frequently fifty years ago, allows the writer to share his heart. He's encouraged to find the girl and take care of her, rather than die alone. He's made it to ninety but hasn't known true love.
He and Rosa decide to work together ensuring that once he dies his property will go to the girl. Rosa agrees, understanding that she is twenty years his junior and may not make it to see ninety. When she dies, the girl will also inherit her property.
A madam and a lonely old man, both of questionable integrity look past their lost dreams in efforts to make the future brighter for a teenage girl. Love shows up in many splendid ways.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked that he did not have sex with the young girl.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene came from the writer and Rosa conspiring for good, by agreeing to make sure the girl would be taken care of financially and have a chance at a better life.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked the main character's work ethic. Forty years is a long time to have a running column.