The shoeshine boys roll by kicking tin cans and whistling a lonely tune. Last thing on his mind right now is a spit shine on his favourite cognac wingtips. But no shine means no cerveza for señorita Saturday night. That's the way the world works. That's the economy in a peanut shell. And it seemed like every little trinket on his desk was hiding its face. A little dragon hides its fierce face behind the framed photo of his wife when she was a kid with a green top hat covering her entire head. A miniature easel frame of Daniel Striped Tiger faces the wall. Even the old black and white postcard of Frida in Diego's big blue overalls seems to be zoning out. Frida staring blankly at something off camera while bathing in the shadows of tree branches in an alley betwixt two houses. Everyone here has someplace they'd rather be. I sat in that car with her for hours just listening to the rain tap dancing on the ragtop. We killed the radio and hit the lights and just sat back and exhaled. It was a long drive from here to there but now we were together at last and alone. Nothing and no one in our rearview except our home. She nudged her small paws into my hands and closed her eyes. I cracked the window just a bit to let the intoxicating smell of wet asphalt in. I watched the steam rise over the dash. Our heat made fog. Lost at sea I heard a buoy's bell clanging desperately. I couldn't imagine life as a buoy. Must be so lonely out there, just you and the tide. I opened my eyes to see if she was still asleep and she was watching me. I looked down and her feet had become fusiform fins just like in the comic books and the movies. She was a mermaid at last. I drove her to the shore and she said goodbye to all her friends. There were whales and porpoises, a crown-of-thorns starfish and a school of beautiful pilot fish. There were Sea turtles and that old chinstrap penguin she'd told me about. I fell in love with the sea otters and gannets most of all. It was bittersweet. Like Czechslovokian chocolate.