Down the alley, behind Jose’s Rotisseria, 17 chickens marinated in rum, brown sugar and lime juice turn slowly on a spit and begin to drip, the juices sizzling on a bed of red hot BBQ coals. A sweet rumminess rises up, catches the air and wafts 3 blocks east through the open window of Anton’s nightclub, flutters round the dressing room curtain and into the flaring nostrils of Ricardo Perez, tango dancer. Perez snaps to attention, his appetite alive; he reaches for one of the spicy empanadas on his dressing table, bites down, his lips and tongue slowly burning as the meaty filling and buttery crust melt in his mouth.
On the other side of the curtain, Lucinda straightens her bodice, checks her makeup and takes one last sip of her Pisco Sour. Salivating, her tongue is prickled by lime juice and her cheeks pucker from the alcoholic Pisco. She smells the charring chicken and stamps her strappy black heels.
The strains of the tango music start; Ricky and Lucinda swirl out onto the dance floor plastered against each other, thigh to thigh, hip to hip, nose to nose, moving sinuously to the torrid tempo. As they swoop past the birthday table Lucinda’s little finger, dangling, scoops up icing from the tres leches birthday cake. Gracefully, her hand passes her mouth and she laps up the milky icing. “Sweet”, she sighs.
Another a low dip and over Luncinda's raised bosom, Ricky sees the remains of a large platter of grouper in lime sauce on the table while a limoncello bottle is being passed around. Bowls of deep yellow pineapple chunks sprinkled with cilantro are scattered around the stained table cloth red blotched from splashes of the house salsa picante. Half eaten plates of flan swimming in caramel sauce are piled at the table's end. The diners have pushed their chairs from the table and lean back, sipping their mojitos, toothpicks at work. The dancers hear a belch of satisfaction as they make another pass.
As the last few squawks wheeze from the ancient accordion, Ricky and Lucinda assume the classic tango pose, her leg draped over his thigh, her stretched back arched outward, arm raised high in the air; as if mimicking the tortured tango melody, their two taut young stomachs begin a yearning growl .