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CDMX - 1. CDMX • I

“Osh, hungry.” Unable to climb her fathers’ tall bed, Liebe tugged at the sheet covering them.

Owen grunted and burrowed his head further under the pillow.

“Come over here, Munchkin.” CJ hitched himself into a sitting position. When the girl reached his side of the bed, he leaned over and picked her up. He carefully sniffed the air. “Good, no poop. But your diaper’s heavy. Oz, get up. I did it yesterday morning so it’s your turn.” Toddlers tended to defecate soon after going to sleep, so the fathers always checked on the girl before retiring for the evening. Overnight, Liebe seldom pooped, but always peed.

“I’m up! The coffeemaker grinding beans woke me. I was waiting for it to finish brewing.” Owen turned, kissed CJ’s cheek, and pecked Liebe’s. “Where’s Trixie, baby?”

“Don’t know.” Trixie Newman, the teen-aged daughter of CJ’s coworker, had babysat the previous evening. She was asleep in the guest room when CJ and Owen returned from the cocktail party.

CJ sat up, swung his legs over the edge, and stood while scratching the middle of his chest. Dry white flakes fell to the ground.

“Come on, Munchkin. Let’s get you changed since your father’s being lazy. Oz, grab me a cup of coffee when you get up?”

“Put on shorts. We don’t need Trixie walking in with you naked.” Owen fought a recurring battle with both his husband and daughter. If left alone, neither would ever wear clothes. “What time’s Simmone coming over?”

“Around ten. She said she’d call first.”

Simmone Newman and CJ had hit it off the moment they met. When the divorced, single mother found out about Liebe, she immediately offered her own daughter as a babysitter. “It’s a win-win, CJ. You guys get to do whatever you want, and I get a night off. Who knows, I might even swing a date at some point.”

Holding his daughter’s hand, CJ walked to her room. While swapping the wet diaper for a dry one, Trixie joined them. “I changed her last night before I put her to bed.”

“We put a clean one on her when we got home too. I can’t wait ’til she’s potty trained.” CJ winked at the teenager. “Morning, Trixie. I like what you’re wearing.”

With long, curly locks held back by a hairband, she wore a Tupac t-shirt several sizes too big. “It was my dad’s. I kept it after I visited him over the summer.”

“He lives in Virginia, right?” CJ had heard from Simmone her husband wanted her to quit and become a stay-at-home mom after her previous overseas posting. She refused, and he filed for divorce. Trixie spent part of every vacation with him.

“Yeah… Annandale. What time’s my mom coming over?”

“Not for a bit. Liebe’s hungry, so I’m gonna give her some cereal now. You want to eat something too? Or you wanna wait ’til your mom gets here and I cook?”

“Hmmm… I can wait. Can I have some juice though?”

“Sure thing! Help yourself to whatever you want. I think we have orange, passion fruit, and guava.”

“Guava mine.” Liebe was addicted to the stuff.

“Really, Liebe? Is it, now? Did you buy it with your own money?” The serious stare made Liebe drop her head.

She shook it while looking at the ground. “No money. You and Oshie.”

“Well, then the guava juice’s not yours, since you didn’t pay for it. And even if it was, what have we said about sharing with friends?” The lesson would probably have to be repeated countless times over the coming years, but CJ and Owen believed in starting early.

 

By the time the doorman announced Simmone’s arrival, everyone in the apartment was showered and dressed, CJ was mixing batter for waffles, and Trixie assisted the breakfast preparations by slicing fresh strawberries. A small herd of pigs had given their lives to supply the mound of bacon CJ had already cooked.

“Morning, Owen.” Simmone kissed the Aussie’s cheek when he opened the door.

“G’day! Come on in, everyone’s in the kitchen.” Owen accepted the bottle of Champagne she had promised for mimosas. “Please call me Ozzie. It’s what my friends use.”

“I’m flattered. Did Trixie do a good job?” Simmone had briefly met Owen when he stopped at the embassy the day after arriving in Mexico City.

“Liebe likes her. A lot. They were both asleep when we came back.” Owen guided her towards the open swing door to the left of the entrance. CJ and Trixie waved at her when Owen stepped to the side to allow her in.

“Hi, Mom.” Trixie put down the knife, wiped her hands with a dishtowel, and hugged her mother.

“Hey, baby. Did you have a good time last night?”

“Yeah, we watched a little TV and then I read Liebe a story. She was asleep before I finished it.”

“Owen makes up stories for her. Half the time, I’m upset she falls asleep, and I don’t get to hear the ending.” CJ’s comment and crooked smile made Simmone chuckle.

“You’re in luck, CJ. I have a story I want to read to you. And Ozzie.” It sounded as if she was tasting the word to ensure she liked it.

“Yeah? What type of story? Take a seat. Coffee?” CJ nudged Trixie who had returned to his side. “You wanna get the orange juice? Ozzie can get the glasses.”

Simmone sat on a stool and slapped a newspaper atop the granite surface. Retrieving a section, she grinned. “I’ll translate as I read. Help me if I screw up a word.”

CJ doubted she would. Her Spanish, although accented, was excellent.

“This is the Sunday social pages. Something I think you two need to start paying attention to since I get the feeling you’ll be featured in them often. I quote. Last night, at the luxurious penthouse apartment of our publisher, Andrés Barrosa García, and his wife, Felicia, I had the pleasure of meeting two of Mexico City’s newest residents.”

“Oh, crap.” CJ shook his head in disbelief.

Owen chuckled at his husband’s apparent dismay.

“It gets better. Licenciado César Marcos Abelló, the latest addition to the staff at the American embassy in our city, and his charming husband, Dr. Owen Zachary Liston, an environmental attorney, were introduced to some of the capital’s distinguished residents. The handsome couple

“You’ve got to be bloody kidding me! CJ’s in town for two weeks, and he’s already in the news?” Owen shook his head while topping flutes with champagne.

A snickering Simmone arched an eyebrow at him. “What do you mean he? Based on this article you guys are the toast of the town, and you’re the charming husband. Wait ’til you hear what the reporter says about you. She claims you speak Spanish with a delightful Australian accent!”

“True dat.” Ready to cook, CJ spritzed the hot waffle iron with non-stick spray.

“How can she tell the difference? CJ speaks Spanish with an accent too.”

“But only a word here and there. Not all the time.” Simmone grinned. “When he does, he sounds like a native speaker who moved to the United States at an early age. Like those Dreamers who speak English better than Spanish even though they were born in Latin America.”

“You want to eat here or in the dining room?” While waiting for a response, CJ flipped the iron. Because their daughter loved waffles, it was one of the few additions they had made to the furnished apartment.

“Here.” Liebe had already been placed in her high chair.

Trixie and Simmone nodded their agreement.

“I’ll leave the paper, so you can finish reading later. A couple of the pictures are good.”

“Pictures?” Owen sounded worried.

“You think they’d fail to splash your pretty faces while rubbing elbows with the cream of Mexican society at their publisher’s home? Though the one with the two of you and Yevgeny may raise eyebrows at the embassy.”

CJ groaned. “I explained to Ozzie who the guy was. After my dear husband invited him to our place, so he could taste the family wines.” Simmone raised an eyebrow again, and CJ nodded. “I’ll have to file a contact report tomorrow.”

“And deal with your boss who I’m sure will have something to say.” She had provided CJ a sounding board a couple of times already and was aware of his boss being antagonistic.

Hours after arriving for his first day of work, Stephen Northman had called CJ into his office for a lecture on proper diplomat behavior. The urge to call the man a pompous ass had been difficult to resist.

“If he talks to me as if I was a teenager again, I may have to deck him.”

“Don’t do that, CJ. After googling Liston Wines, I don’t want you sent home before I get to try them myself.”

“I should have an idea when we’ll get some by tomorrow.” Owen had opened cupboards, and Trixie helped him set out plates and cutlery. “I’m stopping at the Australian embassy in the morning. When I called them on Friday, someone mentioned they might be able to expedite shipments. Something about having the case sent as part of diplomatic supplies?”

“We might be able to do the same for you.” Simmone worked as part of the American embassy’s human resources office, supervising local hires. “Are you going through them to avoid duties?”

“Not really, we’re more than fine paying those. I’m more concerned about monthly wine shipments not being delayed. Or getting lost in transit.” Owen refilled his mug and turned, holding the carafe. “Who wants more coffee?”

Simmone had joined the State Department during the Obama administration, having spent several years in the corporate world as a human resources director beforehand. Once hired and trained, her first overseas assignment was at the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados. Under the inept management of President Obama’s successor, and his incompetent Secretaries of State, the American diplomatic corps had been decimated. Experienced career officers, unwilling to subjugate national interests and self-respect to political expediency, left in droves.

The exodus led to a scarcity of qualified employees. Simmone had been recalled from the Caribbean island and spent a few months in Washington aware she was being moved to Mexico City. It was then her husband, unwilling to follow, decided he did not want to be married anymore.

“Let me tell you, it’s a minor miracle we’re here at all. If Biden had lost the election, I would have probably quit and gone back to school.” CJ waved his fork around. “Ozzie even suggested moving to Australia for a while.”

“My family would have loved that, but I’m glad he stuck it out. Antony Blinken”President Biden’s Secretary of State“is a marked improvement over Tillerson and Pompeo. Of course, the ultimate responsibility for low morale and chaos in the department rests with Trump.”

“Trump bad.” Liebe proved she paid attention to adults’ conversations.

CJ blew his daughter a kiss. “You’re such a smart cookie. But it’s okay now Liebe. We have a new president.”

Simmone grinned. “I can’t wait to hear what she thinks of politicians when she’s a little older. We have a few Trumpers at the embassy, CJ. Keep your eyes open. Once they find out you worked for Clinton and supported Biden, they may not be as friendly.”

“Maybe I’ll frame the picture of Ozzie and me with Biden. I think it’d look good on my desk.”

“You guys met him?”

“A long time ago. He was vice-president then. We were with CJ’s dads at the annual Human Rights Campaign gala, Biden was the keynote speaker, and someone CJ knew introduced us. Very friendly guy.”

Conversation flowed easily while everyone dug in. Trixie did not say much around the adults, but she paid attention. CJ had noticed her grin when Liebe offered her opinion on the previous president. Simmone insisted they recount the evening and who they had met.

“You two are gonna be fun to hang with. I can’t wait to hear some more of your adventures. And of course, whatever new ones you have. I can live vicariously through you.” Simmone rested her cutlery on the empty plate and dabbed her lips with the napkin. “That was delicious. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. CJ and I end up surrounded by so-called celebrities way too often, I much prefer doing this. Having friends over. But my husband likes to live in the fast lane.”

“Trixie, and I will be happy to accept frequent invitations. And if you need a date when you go see the Bolshoi, call me. I still can’t believe you already have an invitation to the performance and the opening night reception afterward.”

“Is it that big of a deal?” Since he had cooked, CJ remained at the table when Owen rose to clear it. “I mean, we’ve been to a few black-tie opening nights before. They’re nothing special.”

“Of course it’s a big deal. That performance will sell out, and you guys will have great seats. And although I haven’t been to one, Russian receptions are legendary. Expect vodka bottles frozen in ice blocks and an endless supply of caviar.”

 

That night, a couple of hours after Liebe had gone to sleep, CJ slipped in bed and turned off the nightstand lamp. “Are you going to the Conservancy tomorrow?”

Owen remained an employee of the Nature Conservancy in the United States. He had been loaned to the organization’s Mexican counterpart to work on a slew of projects that crossed national boundaries. “Nope. I’ll probably have lunch with the Aussies and come home after. I was serious when I said I was going to pull these people into the twenty-first century. They’ll have to get used to me working from home a few days a week. I’m thinking I’ll telecommute Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and go into the office Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

“I’m jealous.” CJ kissed Owen and pulled the bedsheet to cover them. “Love you, Oz.”

 

Copyright © 2021 Carlos Hazday; All Rights Reserved.
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Thank you to my support team, you improved the story. Any remaining errors are my responsibility. And thank you to all readers for supporting me. I hope to hear from you.

Story Discussion Topic

I miss interacting with readers. And since CDMX won't be published for a while, how about a look at part of chapter one?  

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