What Grows in Heavy Rain


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What Grows in Heavy Rain


Most Recent Reviews of Eliza’s in La Garita, Alajuela, Costa Rica

★★★★ Highly Recommend!

I stayed at Eliza’s with my daughter during the “green” season. I was worried about the insects (west nile, malaria) since Costa Rica is a tropical country, but I found out that it’s actually pretty developed here. Eliza, who rents the cottages, was always willing to help out and knows all of the “local” places to go. And her English is great! The gardener was very nice and usually picked fruit and cut open coconuts for us. It’s definitely off the beaten path...there’s a little store, a soccer field, and a church. It’s perfect if you have kids or if you’re looking to get away.

Bring cash, though...the bank is kind of hard to get to, and won’t always give out dollars.

Also, this isn’t really about Eliza’s but for all of Costa Rica: If your Spanish is good, try to pass as a local...they charge more for Americans. Most tourist spots have a “local” price and a “foreigner” price. It gets pretty irritating.

★★★★★ Home away from home

Eliza’s has been my home away from home for over ten years. I come here every year to get away from winters in canada. Eliza’s is still in a pretty tiny costa rican town...the country as a whole has changed SO MUCH but la garita has not. If you want to see how real TICOS live, come to Eliza’s. I almost want to leave a bad review so no one else discovers what I feel like is my own little secret!

Far away. Disappointing. Don’t other.

Geographically, Eliza’s looks like it’s about a half hour from the beach, and since it’s close to the city San Jose, you’d think there’d be something here, right? WRONG. Eliza doesn’t even have transportation, and getting a cab to any major attraction from here will cost at least fifty bucks. None of the stores or restaurants in la garita are open past 8. They had a gay bar and I’m not gay but I was like, at least SOMETHING is here, but the locals got so upset that the “gays” were so close to their precious church that it got shut down. Apparently there USED to be a karaoke place, and there USED to be a good wing place . . . let me tell you, Costa Ricans are SO OBSESSED with telling you what USED to be somewhere, but there’s not SHIT there now.

Let’s see what else: the Internet sucks, the power goes out whenever there’s a storm, and your shower will run out of hot water after like fifteen minutes. There’s this chick who bangs all the gardeners which is mildly entertaining, but I didn’t come to Costa Rica to hear some blonde ride the cock carousel. You’re better off . . . [read more]

★★★ Nice, but lacking

I came to Eliza’s for three weeks with my two kids. If you don’t have kids, this won’t be such a big deal, but with two little ones, this place leaves a lot to be desired. No car seats, no high chairs, no gates for the pools, the animals (chickens, stray cats) were just allowed to roam free. Even the playground was a rusty death trap—It was the last place I would have let my children play. The neighbors have cows, which I thought was nice at first, but then I learned that there are these large green flies that can lay eggs in your hair, and then that was it for the cows.

Eliza’s is definitely a not-for-tourist experience (which I normally like when I’m traveling solo), but having to go all the way to the grocery store for diapers or wipes was definitely a pain (the local store has some generic diapers, but my kids have sensitive skin and almost immediately broke out in diaper rashes).

In the time we were there, Eliza fired two gardeners and hired another one. I’m not really sure why, but I had the sense that one of them stole . . . [read more]


★ ★ ★ ★ It actually IS normal. Eliza’s is amazing.

As someone who has been traveling through Latin America for twenty years, I can assure everyone that electric shower heads are a common and popular alternative to propane. Buy a guide book and turn your caps lock off.

Eliza has been renting space in her house for as long as I’ve been coming to Costa Rica. I remember when there was only one hotel at Jaco beach, and the whole place was covered in shells . . . times change, I guess, but her place stays more or less the same. She’s always willing to make you breakfast and give you some life advice while she’s at it!

This is a great base for exploring the central valley. If you want to be just close yet just far enough from a little bit of everything, this is the place to be. I usually leave most of my bigger stuff here and take an overnight bag everywhere else. It truly feels like home. If you’re looking for a canned, resort-type place, don’t come here. This is for low-key people—retired folks getting their houses built, freelancers, or, like me, ex-lawyers turned world travelers! And ask about the haunted . . . [read more]




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Chapter 1: New Hires

“I can make bars for the windows.”

“Bars look so ugly, though. I would feel like I’m in jail, not my own home.”

Luis put his oil-stained hands on his hips and looked up for an answer. The wrinkles around his eyes deepened.

“I can make them look like flowers, and paint them white. They’ll look nice, Doña Eliza. If you don’t like them, I’ll take them off. I could also let you use one of my guns.”

Someone had broken into Eliza’s house in the middle of the night. They had pushed the thin panes of glass out of her kitchen window, placed them gingerly on the patio, and climbed in. Eliza had heard something and had come downstairs to investigate. Whoever it was had scrambled out the window and stepped on one of the glass panes in the process. There was some blood on the broken glass. Luis looked at the space in the window. Small. Whoever had done this was thin, limber—probably young.

Maybe he stepped on the glass, and then grabbed for it with his bare hands, Luis thought. That makes him desperate, not smart.

“A gun? Luis, could you imagine me shooting someone—anyone? Especially over what, a toaster? It’s better to just let thieves go. We’ll try the bars first,” Doña Eliza concluded. She was already tying a rag to the end of a handle to mop up the blood. “Let’s just get this cleaned up before anyone else sees.”

Luis nodded and found a broom. He thought: This is why she should have a man around. Luis didn’t like the idea of Eliza being alone at night. She had her guests, but they were customers, not guards. She didn’t even have a dog. Anything could happen. Why didn’t one of her sons come stay with her, at least?

“How long will it take you to make the bars?”

“I can do it today. Probably do it in the afternoon, when it’s raining.” Luis cut the grass and maintained the trees in the morning, before the sun was hot and high. In the afternoon, when it rained, he could do things like sand the bar or build furniture in the garage.

“Whatever you think is best.”

“Doña Eliza, have you thought about calling the police?”

“For what? The thief didn’t even steal a fork. The police won’t do anything.”

“That’s true.”

“Don’t tell anyone, Luis. I don’t want to worry the guests. Hopefully he got scared off and won’t come back. And hopefully he doesn’t know how far back the property goes.”

When Eliza and her then-husband Manuel had bought the property she had been barely thirty with two young sons, who, since they were raised in the United States, didn’t speak any Spanish. There had only been the big house and a swamp. The big house had a patio all the way around and a broken, hourglass-shaped pool. Together, Manuel and Eliza fixed it up, got the bats out of the walls and the zorros off the roof, and cut down the trees that were growing into the pool. Pancho, her eldest son, picked up Spanish quickly. The family split their time between New York and Costa Rica until Eliza discovered Manuel’s raging infidelities. By then, her sons were teenagers. She stayed for a few more years until they were eighteen and twenty. They were men then, and she felt like she had fulfilled whatever maternal obligation she had.

During their bitter divorce, they split the property in half. Manuel built two square pools, a bar, and a restaurant on his side. He charged locals to use the pool and held parties in the restaurant. For a while, things went pretty well, but then Manuel started charging too much for simple meals and stopped people from bringing in their own food. He started to gear the place towards Americans, and Americans weren’t willing to go to central Costa Rica for food and a pool, especially not with all those hotels right by the beach. His business dwindled and, for reasons Eliza and her sons did not understand, Manuel decided to build a giant brick wall to divide his property from hers. The wall was built sloppily and cost thousands of dollars. Manuel ran out of money before he could finish. Their sons laughed and nicknamed it “The Berlin Wall,” but deep down, the divorce hurt them.

While Manuel sank money into his failing business, Eliza put up thin walls in her big house to make private rooms with their own entrances. She left herself a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom. She put an ad in The Tico Times and La Nación and gathered her first couple of visitors. Some of her first visitors kept coming back, especially Sweater Vest, who had been visiting Eliza’s for about twenty years.

When Manuel put up the wall, Eliza planted vines to grow alongside it. Her side, which was still mainly undeveloped, looked like an intriguing secret garden. Even when Manuel tried to sell his side, potential buyers would try to peek over.

“And what’s over there? Who owns that side? Are they selling?”

Manuel asked the eldest son, Pancho, to take over his side so he could go back to his HVAC business in Long Island. Pancho did better for a while, but like his father, he focused too much on attracting Americans. After five years, they closed the bar and restaurant.

Then, Eliza’s younger son Lalo wanted to reopen the restaurant as a pizza parlor. Pizza was popular in Costa Rica, and Lalo learned the skill from a successful pizza place in Long Island. Manuel was going to take over the HVAC business, and that would free Lalo to come down to Costa Rica. Lalo couldn't wait to leave the HVAC business, but a bitter divorce kept him from leaving. He had a young son, Cesar, with his high school sweetheart. She would not let them go and used Cesar as an anchor.

By then, it was the late nineties. Time kept passing. Manuel’s building sat empty, unused. Pancho moved to Florida and started a family of his own. Manuel got remarried to a thirty-year-old who was pregnant with his third child. Before he remarried, he signed the HVAC business over to Lalo and his property in Costa Rica over to Pancho. It was, Eliza had to admit, the smartest business decision he had ever made on his own.

Pancho decided to “sell” his side to his mother and join the properties back together. Her business, at this point, was doing well, and she had built five small studio villas, which she would call the “standards.” After a few years, she built a few one-bedroom and two-bedroom houses. She still had a lot of virgin land—there was the haunted rock that she refused to move, so she couldn’t build there, and the grove of mango trees. Americans loved them and they served as a small amount of secondary income, so she left that half of her land undeveloped. Unlike Manuel, Eliza made small decisions. He had already used all of his land for the restaurant, the bar, and the two large pools.

Pancho signed his land over to Eliza. Eliza gave her payments directly to Manuel, since the family respected the land as his. Manuel’s new wife was upset with this outcome, since she had expected to marry a wealthy landowner and had learned the truth too late. What’s worse, she discovered Manuel’s tendency to sleep with other women, and Manuel insisted on coming by Eliza’s with fruits and gifts. The fact that Manuel was still obviously in love with his ex-wife infuriated Eugenia. She started frying all his meals in an attempt to hasten his death.

Eliza tore down the wall separating her property from Manuel’s. She let her visitors use the two pools, and rented out the bar and dance floor to anyone who wanted to throw a party. She kept the liquor license and let people from the street drink there. She reduced Manuel’s complicated menu to burgers, fries, and salad. If someone wanted to throw a party, they could hire a caterer.

Her new business model worked well. She didn’t have any one kind of visitor—She got Canadians, Europeans, Americans, retired people, families; folks who were having houses built in Costa Rica and needed a long-term place to stay, or Costa Ricans who worked in San Jose. They usually wanted something quiet, something different from the beachfront resorts and expensive hotels.

Luis finished sweeping and ran to throw away the glass and begin mowing the lawn. He always ran everywhere. Luis was a relatively new hire, but he did a fantastic job. Luis was about thirty-five and could do just about anything: he worked with metal, built furniture, maintained the grounds, he could train and kill animals. He could fix a car, a toilet, a sick chicken. He knew how to smoke out wasps and make his own pesticide to kill ants. Luis didn’t deal with electricity, but Eliza could understand that. He had black hair, a smiling, almost boyish face, large rough hands, and the waist of a ten-year-old boy. His skin was the color of roasted coffee, and he often wrapped an old t-shirt around his head when he was cutting grass or spraying chemicals. When he took his shirt off, Eliza could see what looked like two bullet wounds in his back. Eliza knew he had come from Nicaragua during the civil war, but she didn’t ask any questions about his past.

He was the best hire she had had in a while. Until the previous month, there had been three gardeners: Luis, Carlos, and Sergio. Carlos was good but old, and he kept injuring a knee here, a hand there. Finally, he had broken his foot by falling off a roof while trying to adjust an antenna. He lived with his daughter in San Jose now, and was more or less content with his forced retirement.

Sergio was too slow and took too many breaks. He disappeared and claimed to do some task that, upon inspection, had remained undone. You could tell that he thought with his pants and not his head. Then Doña Eliza caught him stealing steaks from the kitchen. That was it for him—She had even changed the locks to the bar and the kitchen just in case. Sometimes disgruntled employees wanted revenge.

Maybe he was the one who broke in last night, Eliza thought. But no, that didn’t make sense. Sergio would have known that that was her simple kitchen, and that there was nothing worth stealing there.

Luis was a good worker. Fast, honest, and kind. He did not hit on the pretty girls, did not fold napkins into birds and leave them on their doorsteps, did not cut flowers from the road and try to put them in their hair. Doña Eliza knew that while American girls might smile at boys who did that, it made them feel watched and uncomfortable.

Eliza checked her calendar. A new guest, an American named Richard, would be coming soon. She knew from experience that American men usually wanted a maid. At lunch, she would ask Luis if he knew anyone who would make a good maid. She trusted his judgment.

Luis finished mowing the lawn by the mango groves. He hoped it wouldn’t rain too hard. When it did, he had to make sure no mud slid into the large square pools. This usually meant piling sandbags along the side of the pools to divert the mud. If any mud got into the pools, it was a pain to clean. If that happened, he wouldn’t have time to make bars for Eliza’s windows today.

Luis headed up to the main house for lunch. Eliza had a communal kitchen area where he kept his lunch, or where people who stayed in the private rooms could put food. Most people rented out the houses now, so hardly anyone used the big kitchen. Luis used the back for storage: extra refrigerators, stoves, and a couple of toilets.

Luis found that Eliza had made soup, which he happily accepted over his leftover chicken.

“Luis, I have a question. Do you know anyone who might be a good maid?”

“I think I do. Yes, I know a lady. She’s very nice.” He slurped some broth. “Very sad, though, her husband and son were killed in an accident a long time ago. Now she just has a daughter. She was just a baby when it happened.”

“How did they die?”

“The family is from Nicaragua, and when they came, they lived in one of those shantytowns. You know; no plumbing, no electricity, houses made from just a bunch of metal parts leaning on each other. They lived under a bridge. During a storm, there was a landslide, and it killed a lot of people.” Eliza nodded and Luis bit into a piece of potato, which was hotter than he expected, and he winced. Eliza had seen him do that every time he ate her soup. He never seemed to learn that potatoes were always much hotter. “She’s a great worker though. Really, she just wants a better life for her and her daughter.”

“Yes, of course. Well if she would be interested, maybe you could bring her around one day.”

“Sure. I’ll ask her.” Luis bit into a carrot cautiously, found it to be cooler, and chewed it like a squirrel.

“It’s going to rain early today,” Eliza said.

“Yes, I think so, too.”

They ate and it began to pour. The chicharas didn’t even have a chance to sing before the rain. They usually made their funny sounds around noon and six.

Eliza did the dishes and Luis started forging the bars. He made one and found he didn’t have enough metal to continue. He waited for it to cool off so he could paint it and show Eliza. He was sure she would be fine with how it looked.

Since Luis couldn’t work outside in the rain, he went down to the bar and started to sand it. It needed to be re-varnished. There had been American pennies embedded into the bar once, but they’d either been picked out or worn down by sanding. Sometimes he could see the outline of a presidential head.

Eliza counted money and decided how much she had to get from the bank to pay Luis and, possibly, for the new maid. She would have to go tomorrow.

Who owed her? Those girls would have to pay her soon if they wanted to stay another month. It was almost June already. They hadn't given any indication when they might leave. The brown-haired one was good about paying, but the blonde had a tendency to “forget” things. When it came to paying bills, forgetting was never really forgetting.

She counted on her fingers—One, two...yes, those girls would have to go out of the country soon. Foreigners were only allowed to stay in Costa Rica for three months, and then they had to leave the country for a few days. They could take a bus to Nicaragua or Panama, which was what most people did. Either way, they were running out of time. They had already been in Costa Rica for at least two months.

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Chapter 2: Price of Paradise

Clara shaded her eyes as she lay, half in and half out of the shallow pool. She smoked a cigarette and listened as Lana del Rey poured from her phone. She liked the shallow pool because she could keep her hair dry. She had black eyeliner smeared under her eyes from who-knows-when, and while she never bothered to fix it, she did apply more, so she looked permanently hung over. She liked that.

Her phone would probably get too hot to play music. That happened sometimes. Sarah looked at her phone and took another drag. She wished the Internet reached down here. It was strong up by the big house and the hourglass pool, but she would have liked to watch Netflix in the square pool.

Suzie swam laps in the deeper pool. Her one-piece racing suit had become transparent from sitting out on the clothesline to dry, so now she wore a black sports bra and dark boy shorts to swim.

Luis started up his lawn mower and began to cut the grass around the pool. Clara watched Luis mow back and forth and back again. The property covered ten acres. He had a lot to do.

“Do you think it’s zen-like for him?” She asked Suzie once she’d finished her laps. “Do you think he like, meditates as he’s working?”

Suzie made a face. “I don’t know if he thinks about it like that. It’s his job.” Suzie pulled off her swimming goggles. They hadn’t snapped yet. She had taken care of them by saturating them with baby oil after each swim. She had olive skin, but she developed moles quickly. She had one on each elbow, one on her wrist, and the one by her upper lip was starting to grow.

The sun was high in the sky. It must be almost eleven, Suzie thought.

Clara dropped her cigarette into the pool. “I wish he wasn’t so loud,” she laughed. Months of swimming had also faded Clara’s bikinis, so now she wore lace bras and thongs in the pool. The hair on her body had turned blonde, so she stopped shaving.

Clara and Suzie didn’t know what happened to the other gardeners. Luis was very serious and didn’t talk to them often. Clara liked making him pick coconuts so she could watch his thin body slide up a palm tree, but he was nowhere near as good looking as Sergio.

They had liked Sergio because he was young and gorgeous—twenty-nothing with abs and glowing green eyes, a cocked half-smile, sharp teeth and wide shoulders. Clara had made love to him several times and had offered him to Suzie, but she was content to watch him clean the pool. She stayed out of the studio and took her laptop to the pool by the main house or sat at the bar while they were together. She had once been drunk enough to watch, out of curiosity, but Sergio was too eager to get her involved.

Clara messaged her friends about the hot Latin affair and sent photos to her giggling girlfriends. Then, one day, she convinced herself that she was pregnant with his child. She wasn’t, but her panic sustained her and killed her boredom until her period came.

Clara had been at a yoga retreat in the jungle prior to staying at Doña Eliza’s. She vomited salt water at dawn with the rest of the yogis, she went to the bathroom in a hole and didn’t use modern plumbing or electricity. She had stayed there for several months before coming to Doña Eliza’s retreat. She had yet to see San José, or any Costa Rican city, for that matter, so despite having been in the country for five months, she still believed that Costa Rica was a relatively simple country with limited access to Internet and McDonald’s. She had taken to watching true crime shows on Eliza’s English cable channels—shows about women who finally murdered their husbands, or stalkers who hunted ballerinas and classical musicians and dumped their raped bodies down elevator shafts.

This was not Suzie’s first time in Costa Rica. Her grandfather was Costa Rican, and she had visited his house when she was a little girl. He had lived in Heredia until his death five years ago.

Suzie was a little more familiar with how things worked here, but her Spanish was limited. She knew that all the gardeners at this resort had probably been Nicaraguan. Nicaraguans had rounder faces and darker skin than Costa Ricans, and usually ended up as gardeners or maids. A lot of them lived there illegally. They lived in houses like tin cans under bridges or on the side of a mountain—undesirable property due to the landslides during the rainy season. Her grandfather had a Nicaraguan maid until he had caught her stealing drops of lotions and creams. She had been taking a pump here and there and putting them in little baggies or between folds of aluminum foil. That was it—she had been fired. A week later, he had a new maid.

Suzie and Clara had gone to NYU together, and they decided to travel over the summer before applying to graduate school. Neither wanted to continue their education, but they both had to keep their student debt at bay.

Suzie had paid for college herself. She had taken out loans, but only for two years since she had started out at a community college and transferred into NYU. Clara, positive that someone in New York would recognize her as a stunner and take care of her needs, plunged into a beautiful studio apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, then, somehow, into a condo. She could find men willing to pay her rent and mortgage (especially if they were married, because they had to secure a love nest), but not her education. They encouraged her to drop out and model instead. Clara had modeled a bit on the side, but found that the money wasn’t all that great, and most of the modeling scene was about attending parties, not eating, and taking selfies and drugs.

First, she had to get rid of her condo. The men who had previously talked about the importance of love and passion were now talking about how their wives were great partners, and how, in the end, they had to secure their lives, work on their relationships, and spend time with their families. They told her that she did not understand because she was so young. Clara did understand, though. What’s hard to understand about being used?

Suzie found a job answering emails for a website. To afford rent, she had to live in the worst neighborhood within range of the subway: a two-bedroom in East New York. Her first week there, an unarmed teenager was shot and killed by the NYPD just two blocks away. She wrestled home through riots and protests for a month.

Suzie’s life was less glamorous than Clara’s. It always had been. She made a large pot of rice and lentils at the beginning of each week, which she ate until it was gone or until it became an inedible, simultaneously soggy and crunchy slop. On Friday, she would order takeout. She walked to the park on the weekends, but she didn’t have money to do anything she wanted to do, and she wasn’t pretty or thin enough to lasso a wealthy man.

Suzie wasn’t ugly, but she had never considered herself beautiful. She had a round face, a flat nose. She was of average height with mousy brown hair that flipped out when it was too short and became stringy when it was too long. When she was with Clara, she saw the attention men gave her. They were always sending her drinks, offering smokes.

Six months after graduation, her student loan bills started coming in. Suzie took on a second job giving tours on those red double-decker buses: rain, shine or freezing cold. She started reciting her tour lines in her sleep. That’s when she decided to stop paying for her student loans, and she started saving that money for a trip to Costa Rica.

Clara wanted to come too, but she wanted to either go into the jungle or to an all-inclusive resort. For Suzie, both of those were problematic—She couldn’t afford either.

You would think that going into the jungle and living without plumbing would be cheap, Suzie thought, but people will spend thousands to shit in a hole in the woods.

So they settled on this retreat instead. Suzie had been there longer since Clara had that stint with the yogis. Clara bunked in Suzie’s studio, and they split the rent.

Doña Eliza had chickens, three pools, and small studio houses for half of what Suzie paid in New York. They deferred their loans on the basis that they had no jobs. Secretly, they both hoped that no one in the United States would pay their loans back, and then the system would collapse, and everyone’s debt would be forgiven.

Paradise had its own problems: Suzie and Clara’s pool of money was running low. Clara didn’t want to admit this, and she compensated by swiping her credit card. She didn’t know how close to her limit she was, and she treated her card like a magic gem that she could wave and suddenly, she’d have art supplies, food, or a cash advance.

Suzie didn’t have a credit card and started doing freelance work online. Mainly, she wrote book reviews for self-published books. They were terrible, all of them. Some were romances—stories about monsters from one comic book fucking a monster from another comic book, or bestiality, or airplanes fucking bears, or whatever such thing. “Pick any two objects and write a story about them fucking” seemed to be the only rule.

One story was about a woman who got off by sitting on a little boy’s face in the back of a public bus. At the end of the “book,” the protagonist killed the boy with her thighs. After she posted her review, the author asked Suzie if she wanted to ghostwrite more chapters.

“After reading your review, I think you really get what it’s about. I can send you some photos of the protagonist in fishnets …”

Suzie politely declined.

Her parents did not understand her decision to go to Costa Rica. Suzie could feel their disappointment, but they didn’t really understand. She could work two jobs, take unpaid internships to nowhere, and eat her lentil gruel for the next decade. No one wanted to pay her for the work she wanted to do, and seemed to expect her to do it for free.

Her family’s disappointment had paralyzed her at first, and she had almost considered going back and begging for her old job. She resisted, and beyond the initial panic, she found that ignoring her student loan debt felt great. She didn’t pay taxes on her freelance work.

Clara, unlike Suzie, did want fancy things. She wanted to shop at Whole Foods, to visit those hotels nestled in the mountains and lounge in the infinity pools, to get massages with exotic oils and make love to mixed-race natives with dark skin and light eyes. She had no shortage of marriage proposals from wealthy old men and stable, appropriately-aged military men. She was seriously considering becoming an army wife. It would mean a good income, and her husband would receive benefits for being married.

But she didn’t have to decide that now. They reached their studio, rinsed the chlorine off their bodies. Clara was careful not to get her bouncy curls wet. They threw on loose dresses and sandals and walked towards the local super.

The girls made it back to Eliza’s with Bamboo and chips just as the rain started. They had walked to the town square, the soccer field by the bus stop, where everyone stood gossiping. Using a combination of Suzie’s broken Spanish and the locals’ English, the girls found out there was a scandal in Turrucares, the town next to Eliza’s. A prostitute, either Nicaraguan or Panamanian (everyone was very insistent that she was not Costa Rican) had seduced and lived with an older Swedish man. He did all of his business in Europe, but moved the money over to Costa Rica to avoid paying taxes.

The story, more or less, was that he had come back to his home in Turrucares, but the doors had been locked and his keys no longer fit. The woman said that he had been drunk and high, the man said that she had been in the company of other men. He could hear their breathing and smell their lovemaking from outside.

He stayed in a nearby hotel until they could work out their problems. The hotel maid found the man’s body in the bathtub, wrists slit. The Costa Rican air had a way of tightening around the heart and squeezing passion out of even the driest prunes.

Some said the man was stupid for falling in love with a woman who was obviously using him. Some felt sorry for the broken-hearted old man who had been seduced by a vixen. The woman in this situation, while she couldn’t claim much of his money, came out of the ordeal with his truck.

The girls took their bags of alcohol and junk food and walked home. They closed the gate behind them as thunder rumbled in the distance. Suzie grabbed her laptop and Clara picked some leftover magazines from the kitchen area, and they went down to the bar to drink and eat. They noticed a part of it had been recently sanded, and sat on the finished side.

“He deserved it. Why does any old man think a beautiful woman wants to get with him? I mean, it was clearly for money.” Clara had memories of living an easy life, of a time when her only job was to be pretty. Of course, she had to keep everything hairless, her roots touched up, her body tight. She had to play second fiddle to a serious girlfriend or a wife (they were always less pretty, yet held in higher esteem). Her dates would constantly have to excuse themselves to talk to their real women, and then the waiters and the bartenders would avoid making eye contact with Clara as she sat alone and beautiful. Clara was forgetting that part of it, and was thinking only about the moment the check came and she could sit back as her date threw a black card at everything.

The girls were sitting at the large, empty bar. Suzie was trying to get an Internet signal. She could go up to the big house, but it seemed so far away, and the rain drops were heavy.

Clara scrolled through an old copy of Fast Company that had been left by the judge when he had come the previous week. He had come with his daughter, and they stayed in a two-bedroom near the bar. The men in the magazine were wealthy but not entirely old or repulsive.

“Would you fuck him?” Clara asked Suzie. Suzie looked over at a face she didn’t know, some man in jeans and a t-shirt with his arms folded and a half-smile.

“I mean, for money? No. I don’t think so.” Suzie was reading a book about werewolves fucking an army of Frankenstein’s monsters. The author kept calling them “Frankensteins” instead of “Frankenstein’s monsters.” The minor error aggravated her. She had the feeling that this novelist had never read Shelley’s original.

Clara kept flipping. She could meet one of these men at a conference, maybe. There had to be events where rich entrepreneurs liked to hang out. She could be a cocktail waitress, or pretend to be an entrepreneur herself. These days, rich people hung out in jeans and shirts from The Gap. There was no way to look at someone and tell if they were rich. Maybe she could have an idea for one of them to build. An app for models. An app for pretty people to filter out ugly people. Why hadn’t anyone done that before?

Suzie paused to look at Clara. “If you could make a million dollars doing anything, absolutely anything, what would it be?”

“Make a million dollars? Someone should just give it to me. I deserve it.”

A mango landed on the roof, a sound like a bowling ball colliding with bone. They winced.

“Maybe I could learn how to code,” Suzie said. “The women at my old job, they could make a lot of money if they could code. They got scholarships, job offers on LinkedIn like, all the time.” She remembered one woman who hadn’t even gone to college. She was thin, allergic to everything, and sat on a yoga ball instead of a desk chair. She had no debt and her starting salary was a clean 80,000 a year. Suzie had graduated from NYU and her starting salary had been 32,000.

“Code? What do you mean?”

“Like writing code. Making apps for phones, front end stuff...” Clara wasn’t listening. She was flipping through rich men, trying to find one who was wealthy but not too old, attractive but also single (so not too attractive). It wasn’t good for business if the man was just as pretty as she was.

Clara pulled the clip out of her hair and started twisting her blonde ringlets around her fingers. Suzie knew that when Clara did that, she was deep in thought.

Suzie wrote her review under her pseudonym Lilith Black. Lilith Black sounded like the kind of woman who would read and review, but not write, romance novels:

Werewolves Fuck Frankensteins delivers exactly what it promises. While it’s short, this fun (and deliciously sexy!) book chronicles the feelings of loneliness both groups undoubtedly feel. Werewolves, who are more comfortable with their carnality, help the inexperienced Frankenstein’s monsters to use and discover their bodies. If you’re into the student-teacher dynamic, this is a great read. Following the monsters through their deflowering feels almost like reliving your own first time! I would definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in monster erotica!”

Suzie scowled at her own overuse of exclamation points and the way she had passive aggressively used “Frankenstein’s monsters” instead of “Frankensteins.”

An iguana scratched the top of the bar. Both girls held their breaths. Everything made a sound. Everything moved. Everything was doing something. Then the rain unzipped from the sky. A thousand glass marbles hit the pavement at once; Suzie could almost feel them hitting her teeth.

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Chapter 3: Family Business

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Chapter 4: Employee Relations

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Chapter 5: Jaco Used to Be Fun (and So Were You)

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Chapter 6: Employee Relations II

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Chapter 7: Price of Paradise II

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Chapter 8: Eliza's Used to Be Fun (and So Were You)

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Chapter 9: Employee Relations III

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Chapter 10: This is Why It's Called the Rainy Season

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