3 September 2002
Part 1 - Pre-concert Drinks
Juanita had just finished the demanding task of putting on her make-up when there was a wrap on the heavy, brass knocker on the front door of her apartment.
"Quiet Diablo, its just Damon!" she called to the noisier of her two dogs. Diablo, which is the Spanish word for Devil, was a large, black Doberman with a temperament that well suited his name. The other dog, Satanás, meaning Satan, was a Long Haired German Shepherd with a slightly calmer disposition. Both dogs were however extremely protective of Juanita.
"Good evening Damon. Its been too long, I'm afraid you've been neglecting me. Anyway its great to see you now that you are here."
Juanita moved forward and gave Damon a affectionate hug as she kissed him on both cheeks, her smile was beaming and genuine at seeing him.
"I've missed you dreadfully Juanita. I must say in my own defence though, I haven't been neglecting you intentionally, as you know, I've been away with work for several months."
"Come on inside! Your not still frightened of my big babies are you?" she said referring to the dogs who were now lying quietly, yet alert, just inside the door.
"Well the concept of being mauled or eaten when my back is turned has crossed my mind."
"You'll be fine. I'll protect you." she said jokingly as her smile still radiated the joy she felt at seeing Damon after such a long time. She then asked,
"Have we got time for a drink before we leave?"
"Sure we have. We're actually running a little early so we have some spare time for a drink and a chat."
"What would you like Damon?"
"I'll have the usual please."
"Your usual is always what ever I have."
"And it still is. You look gorgeous tonight Juanita, just stunning. Every man at the concert will be wishing they were the lucky one with you in my stead."
"Thank you Darling, you look very handsome yourself and you smell wonderful. Here you go then." said Juanita as she passed Damon a tumbler of Glen Morangie on ice.
"How have you been then Juanita. What's been happening in your life while I've been away."
As Juanita started updating Damon on the latest news, his concentration was on Juanita's breathtaking beauty instead of her conversation. Not that their relationship was a physical one, not yet anyway but Damon certainly understood and appreciated how pleasing Juanita was on his eyes.
Part 2 - The Real Juanita
To describe Juanita as beautiful is ashamedly inadequate. It's an ineloquent understatement. The addition of superlatives does little to attest to the reality. Juanita's beauty is not of a classical nature but is a most complex temporal vista. At the first glimpse of Juanita's face, the viewer does not tend to immediately appreciate the immense loveliness which is destined to grow entrancingly and irreversibly on him, hence forth. From interest to fascination in moments on to continuously increasing adoration over a longer period as the full realisation and appreciation of such a vision materialises. The viewer's growth in enjoyment and love of Juanita's beauty is an unending experience. The more the viewer has the honour to look at such beauty, the more he sees, loves and yearns. It's like watching a movie over and over and each time seeing something which had hitherto gone unnoticed. Such is the effect of a face so hauntingly exquisite.
The first awakening comes from the sumptuous, natural deep red lips; so full, so enticing. No man could look at such lips and remain unaffected. Lips with the full shape of a new crescent moon. The top lip as full as the bottom and both as deep crimson and delicate as the petals of a rose, almost translucent, shining, moist, encasing a row of perfectly white, even, teeth flawlessly sized and shaped to complete a mouth so faultless.
Her eyes are deep and dark and glisten like diamonds in a spot light. They are mysterious. They laugh and they command. They are eyes that tell a thousand stories with the innocence of a child. Eyes that hold grown men spellbound like a horrified mouse held by the gazing intent of a cobra. With lips and eyes such as these no man is any longer permitted the enactment of his own will. Her artistically shaped black eyebrows and long, thick lashes sweeten her face into a vision of delight.
Juanita's skin has no equal. Her impeccable skin has a light golden-tan colour consistent with her Hispanic genes. The child-like complexion is worthy of the perfectly oval-shaped face it covers. Her high prominent cheek bones, her ever-so-slightly upturned nose and small, chisel shaped chin combine into a parcel of pure exquisiteness. Such hair. Big hair. Juanita's hair is a swirling mane of rich chocolate being slowly and contemptuously stirred by God's own hand. The tresses encase her face in a way which enhanced its softness and charm. Parted on the right hand side the sweeping locks flowed like rivers of mocha across her magnificently moulded head and down on to smooth, soft shoulders, curving round to teasingly hide the corner of her expressive left eye.
Juanita is one of few lucky woman who has been gifted with a supermodel body, tall, slender, perfect and yet generously endowed with large, natural breasts. She has a small tattoo of a crimson rose on her right upper arm. It's size and colour make it imminently tasteful and create a depth of allure and mystery that underpins the obvious self-assurance and independence that is the core of her dominant persona. She wears pendulous gold and ruby earrings which are almost always covered by her free-flowing locks.
Juanita has the voice that men crave to hear whether as the recipient of an instruction, a poor unfortunately who has incurred her wrath or a lucky sole who has incurred her favour. Her well modulated, soothing voice; a voice that is strict yet comforting. A voice of confidence, full of teasing, full of fun. A voice which says there's is a naughty little girl in there that comes out at times of her choosing.
Part 3 - To The Concert
"Finish your drink Damon, we'd best be on our way." said Juanita when she realised Damon was not listening to a word she said.
"Good idea. I'm feeling intoxicated and it's not the scotch. Thanks for joining me tonight Juanita, your company makes anything infinitely more exciting."
"Thanks for asking me and for somehow knowing that this is one of my favourite symphonies. How did you know?"
"I can't reveal my sources I may require their aid again. I can tell you though Alexander Nevsky happens to me one of my favourites as well."
Damon and Juanita had been friends for three years. They met through mutual acquaintances and discovered that they shared many common interests. Damon adored Juanita and would be delighted to take their relationship to the next level. At one point he even visited Juanita at The Fetish and Fantasy but she sent him away saying that he could either be her newest client or he could remain one of her best friends. He opted for the latter but always retained a hope that one day Juanita would reciprocate the strong feelings he held for her.
They arrived at the Mrlbourne Concert Centre just as the visiting Sydney Symphony Orchestra were reaching the final stages of tuning up. As they were ushered to their seats Damon took Juanita's hand and she smiled in a way which clearly stated that it was OK for Damon to hold her hand as long as he remembered they were just friends.
Part 4 - A Little More Juanita
Juanita, was born Verónica del Carmen Méndez, of a poor family in San Jose, Costa Rico and migrated to Australia at the age eighteen. Since she was a child she had a dream of being a singer. When she was as young as only ten years of age, Verónica could frequently be seen singing and dancing at local fiestas and school fetes where those who enjoyed the spectacle were certain she would be able to achieve fame and fortune. Eventually escaping from her poor but happy childhood into a life of riches and fame. It wasn't just Verónica's sweet voice that made people love her, it was also her looks and her gregarious personality; her insatiable appetite to be with people. That appetite is still evident in her personality but has been tempered with an appreciation of the value of solitude.
Her mother Laura, always said "Verónica, you are a girl who has been born with many gifts, you must respect them as your greatest assets. Develop them, use them, let them work for you. They will make you successful. They will make you rich. You are a treasure chest slowly being opened. Be aware of pirates my Dear, there will always be someone to take from you what is yours."
Juanita remembered her mother's words throughout her life recognising and capitalising on her strengths and identifying and correcting her weaknesses. Although Juanita's formal education was limited she possessed a sophistication and worldliness that enabled her to be at ease in a diverse range of social and business situations. One night Juanita could be found to be the bell of the annual barristers ball while accompanying a friend, entertaining, teasing, amusing, waxing and feeling at one with the legal fraternity. The following day the same woman could be found as an obsessive supporter of her favourite Australian Rules football team which she did regularly with a group of like-minded friends. Yelling at the umpire, cheering on the players and waving coloured streamers. Juanita loved people and she loved life. She lived everyday to the full. She also liked to spend quiet personal time in mediation and in developing her cultural and general knowledge. Two aspects of herself where, several years ago, she had identified the need to improve. She particularly liked reading and listening to music, her tastes in each were as wide as is possible to get.
Part 5 - The Concert
"The performance was as good as I've heard. Such clarity and expression. It was just quite wonderful. Damon, what's on after the intermission, I'm afraid I was so completely focussed on Alexander Nevsky to even look at the rest of the programme." said Juanita as she sipped politely on a glass of Pentaluma Semillon Blanc.
"Let me see!" said Damon as he quickly shuffled through the programme notes in his hand.
"Its another Prokofiev symphony entitled Lieutenant Kijé. I'm afraid I don't know it, do you?"
"Not well but I have heard it. If its Prokofiev, I'm sure it will be inspiring." said Juanita.
"Juanita, see that guy over there with the shaved head in the grey suit. Isn't that Hedley Guerthe?"
"Yes it is." said Juanita almost in a whisper.
"Come on Damon, quickly, lets move back inside."
"Too late I'm afraid, he's seen you." said Damon with a trace of intrigue in his voice.
"Shit! OK lets go over and say hello but we'll make it quick. By the way I think you're being a little generous suggesting his head has been shaved."
The foyer was crowded with the champagne sipping, society set into which Juanita and Damon would have fitted perfectly had they wanted.
Hedley Guerthe was a very influential federal politician who was based in Melbourne when parliament was not in session in Canberra. He was, despite his senior standing, a very basic man who sometimes bordered on crude and crass. As Juanita and Damon moved through the crowd almost to where Hedley Guerthe and his date were standing, his face appeared to glow red with excitement as he started to gesture to her to come to him. As she arrived Hedley put a crushing bear hug on her that almost squeezed the air from her lungs.
"Hello Hedley, this is a pleasant surprise. I didn't realise you had an interest in this type of music." she said as he released his wrestler-like grip.
"Geez you're looking good kid!" said Hedley in a loud voice that had been developed over the years to attract an audience. Hedley had a habit of pursuing his own conversation and not following on from the previous point.
"Thank you very much. You look very .er..well tonight Hedley" she said hesitating slightly as she searched for the right word.
"Hedley, may I present my very dear friend Damon Everett. Damon this Hedley Guerthe."
"Pleased to meet you Damon, any friend of this beautiful little Spanish Senorita is a friend of mine."
Hedley's behaviour usually made Juanita cringe but he was a very high value client of The Fetish and Fantasy and almost always requested Juanita, she couldn't afford to offend him.
"I'm from Costa Rico Hedley not Spain." she corrected him with a little tension in her voice for the first time since their meeting.
"Pleased to meet you too and who is this lovely lady with you Hedley?" asked Damon of the lady who was clearly Hedley's date but he'd no intention of introducing.
"Sorry folks, where are my manners. This is my good friend and lover Fiona Hass." offered Hedley.
As they exchanged greetings Juanita was beginning to get very agitated at Hedley's rudeness. It didn't often happen but when Juanita got angry she really let the cause of her anger have an ear full. Sensing she was loosing her patients and not wanting to be around if it happened, Damon announced,
"Well it was nice meeting you Hedley and you Fiona but Juanita and I must get back to our seats. We're in the centre you see and its easier before everyone else is seated."
"Thank you so much!" said Juanita still angry as they walked across the foyer, still crowded with champagne sippers.
"How dare he introduce that woman as his lover. What an absolute monster of a man. I almost lost my temper. He probably would have enjoyed the scene anyway if I had given him a piece of my mind."
"How do you know him Juanita?"
"I shouldn't say this but I trust your discretion. He visits me at my work."
"Really!" said Damon with a strange sound in his voice, the sound of a hint of jealousy interwoven with a little ridicule.
"And what type of session does he come in for Juanita?"
Juanita looked at Damon who realised instantly he had no right to ask such a question. Juanita would never divulge such personal information to anyone, even about someone as abhorrent as Hedley Guerthe.
"Sorry Juanita, I shouldn't have asked that."
"No harm done. Lets go inside and get comfortable."
Part 6 - Juanita's Temper
As they sat down in the navy blue, soft padded seats, she began to reflect on the last time she'd lost her temper. It had been the last time she put her car into the local garage for its periodic service about six or seven months ago. The proprietor called Gio, an Italian man with a most amazing belly, took Juanita's details despite her having been there a number of times before. She advised him that there was a noise in the steering pump and it was leaking oil and that he should repair it as well as the fifty thousand kilometre service. She asked for an approximate cost of the work that was to be undertaken. The fat mechanic advised her that the service would be about two hundred dollars plus any parts and a gasket and labour for the steering pump would be anything up to one hundred and fifty dollars. She then left him on the understanding he'd call when everything was completed or if anything extraordinary was discovered. Juanita was definitely not a mechanical minded person but one of her friends was, and he identified the noise as a steering pump. By five o'clock Juanita was getting concerned that the mechanic had not rung so she called him.
"Hello, this is Juanita, you have my red Alpha in for service?"
"Yeh luv!" he said without offering any information at all.
"Well is it ready, you were going to ring me when it was ready."
"Sorry luv, I haven't started it yet, I've been flat out since you dropped it off this morning."
"Well why did you indicate you'd finish it today. I need it tonight. Can I pick it up and drop it off again tomorrow?" asked Juanita still calm and trying to look for an amicable solution.
"Sorry luv, I had me apprentice pull the steering pump out so we could order any parts we needed."
"OK" she said trying not to get angry, "when can I pick up my car?"
"I'll tell you what missus, I'll have it ready tomorrow about five-ish."
Juanita was inconvenienced by not having her car for that evening but didn't let the incident destroy her mood or spoil her evening. It was a different situation the following evening when she caught a taxi to the garage just before five o'clock to collect her car.
"Hello, Gio, is anyone here? Gio? Gio?" Juanita stopped calling as she heard some shuffling in the workshop.
"Oh shit, your early!" was the only greeting from Gio as he limped to the reception desk. "Sorry luv, you're gunna have to give me another half hour."
"That's fine. I'll have a coffee while I wait. I'll be back in half an hour then."
"I've got coffee here if you like."
Juanita looked at the greasy environment and the colour of Gio's hands and said "Thanks very much but the walk will do me good."
Half an hour later and in quite a good mood despite the delay and Gio's rudeness, Juanita returned to the garage to find Gio trying to operate the computer in an attempt to generate Juanita's invoice. After what seemed like an eternity of one fingered key strokes, Gio printed the invoice and limped over to Juanita waiting at the reception desk.
"Here you go then luv, cost a little more than we thought though."
Juanita took the invoice and ran her eyes down the extensive catalogue of parts and service charges. When she'd read the invoice from top to bottom and made some quick calculations in her head she handed the invoice to the fat mechanic and her lips smiled while her eyes held the mechanics eyes in a vice-like grip.
She said slowly and deliberately, "Gio, I believe you have made a mistake. I'm going to sit on that dirty chair over there for as long as it takes you to reconsider our discussions of yesterday morning and reconsider this invoice and reconcile the two. Don't feel bad Gio, everyone makes a mistake from time to time. Consider yourself lucky, you have an opportunity to fix your mistake before any damage was done."
"No need to be smart missus, the invoice is right. We had to replace the whole steering pump instead of just the gasket as I originally thought and as for the brakes, well they were just about worn-out so we thought you'd want them done at the same time. You want your car safe don't you?"
Again very slowly and deliberately but this time without the smile, Juanita began, "Firstly, you may call me Miss Juanita, or even Juanita but you may not call me missus or luv. Is that perfectly clear?"
Without waiting for acknowledgement Gio or either of the two workers who'd just joined the meeting, uninvited, she continued, "You said the cost of the service would be about two hundred dollars and the steering pump would be up to one hundred and fifty dollars, that's three hundred and fifty dollars plus a few parts. Our contract Gio was for up to three hundred and fifty dollars, that's why I had you agree to call me if there were any extraordinary expenses over and above three hundred and fifty dollars. Did you call me Gio?"
"No missus, sorry Juanita! It was bloody obvious I'd didn't think I'd need to call you if it was obvious."
"What's obvious Gio is that you quoted up to three hundred and fifty and invoice me for more than nine hundred dollars. You wouldn't do that to a man. You'd only do it to a stupid woman who would just go ahead and pay up without question."
"I'm not arguing any more, just pay up and I'll bring out your car." said Gio starting to get aggressive.
What he didn't realise in time was that getting aggressive to Juanita was the wrong strategy. Her normally calm personality changed into a hot headed Hispanic rage when confronted with aggression.
"Don't you dare threaten me. You have broken our agreement. You expect me to pay nearly three times your quoted price and you didn't ring me for permission. Your mistake Gio. I'm not a stupid woman and I'm certainly not going to pay this invoice. We can sit down and work out a more appropriate price taking into account the work you did and your original quote or can do it hard, either way is fine by me."
"What did you have in mind." said Gio sensing Juanita would not back down.
"OK I'll pay two hundred for the service as agreed, I'll pay eighty-six dollars for the parts as agreed, more or less. I'll pay one hundred and five dollars which is half the cost of the steering pump and similarly sixty-eight dollars for my share of the brake pads but I'll not pay the two labour charges, they're the cost of your mistake of not advising me because you thought I was just a stupid woman. If we close this now I'll write you a cheque for four hundred and fifty-nine dollars and leave. I assume you have all of the parts that were replaced for the inspection of my engineer-friend."
Gio was starting to feel a little threatened. He recalled thinking how Juanita may have got another five thousand kilometres out of the brake pads. Maybe he shouldn't have changed then just yet. Maybe he should have called. Maybe this woman could make trouble for him. How would he get her out of here without the parts. He knew by now that threatening or aggressive behavior was not going to work so he changed tack.
"OK mis, er sorry, Juanita I apologise for not calling you it was wrong of me. It's not because you're a woman either, it's just I've have been flat out here. I know its no excuse though, I should've called. With the brakes, to be honest you might have got another five thousand k's outa those pads but definitely no more. Brake pads usually last about forty thousand k's, that's about twelve percent...."
They negotiated for another five minutes and just before reaching agreement at five hundred and sixty-seven dollars Juanita said "Five hundred and sixty-seven dollars and you place all the replaced parts in the boot or four hundred and fifty-nine dollars and you keep the parts."
Before the astonished Gio could agree, she began to write the cheque. She never waited for agreement, she never looked up, she wrote it out for four hundred and fifty-nine dollars and handed it to Gio without a hint of warmth in her voice. With eyes of steel she looked at Gio and said " Bring me my car!"
Never was another word exchanged between Juanita and Gio from that day to this.