“Five Teens on the Loose in Lourenço Marques” from the No Reservations chapter

We were hot and sticky from carrying our luggage across town in the stifling humidity, but when we walked in the front door of our house, the cool of the brick walls and floor tiles was like a cold-water plunge. We staked out the bedrooms we wanted, the boys in one and the girls in another, and I suddenly felt less shy with the boys. Moving from bare acquaintance to living together in the brief span of three days had transformed them into something more akin to brothers. The sexual edginess I’d felt around them softened into comradeship. Continue reading

“The Case of the Missing Rooster” from the Love Lines chapter

I spied Tomás, our cook, on the cement driveway in front of the garage, squatting in front of a white enamel basin spattered red with blood. I paused for a moment, fascinated by what I saw, and then hurried down for a closer look. A headless white chicken weaved on unsteady legs around Tomás. I couldn’t understand how its legs kept moving or how it held itself upright without the head. Tomás appeared amused at the sight of blood pulsing from the chicken’s neck until it keeled over dead. I clutched my neck in sympathy for his suffering, then burst into giggles. The chicken did look ridiculous, walking headless on wobbly legs. Tomás rather absently picked up the chicken, plunged it into the hot water in the basin, and started plucking off the feathers. Would I ever treat my chickens like they were just food, not animals? Continue reading