Part Two: Chapter Six

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Finally, Esperanza invites Atlas to a “Goodbye Summer” party at her house. Atlas decides not to mention that technically it’s already fall, and instead feels Atlas Read’s charming persona take over. 

“It’ll be fun,” she promises as she regales him with descriptions of her indoor poor, staff of faithful servants, and loveable father. “No one throws a party better than the Martinez family.”

If she only knew, Atlas think as he listens to himself agree that he’ll be there and yes, that sounds amazing. Sometimes he feels like a robot has replaced him, and he’s watching his own life like an action film where his robot has the leading role.

To prepare for the party, Max takes him swimsuit shopping. As soon as they flip through the hangers, they argue like a married couple about which suit Atlas should wear.

“Briefs are in right now,” Max explains as he holds up a suit the size of a tissue. The lime green color doesn’t help either.

“There’s no way I’m wearing that.” Atlas holds up a loose pair of gray swimming trunks. “How about these? They’re a neutral color, and they will hide the parts of my body I’d prefer stay hidden.”

“That swimsuit looks like something my grandfather would wear,” Max says. He holds the gray swimsuit between his thumb and pointer finger like a used diaper, then disposes it back on the rack. “You need to stand out amongst the other hormonal young men vying for Esperanza’s attention.”

Max selects a peacock print suit and holds it up.

“Are you kidding me?” Atlas asks.

“Okay, that one was a joke. But in all seriousness, we only have a few hours to find you the perfect suit. Start digging.”

Eventually, Max buys Atlas two suits: the lime green briefs, and a red suit that looks like a pair of boxers.

“Bring them both,” Max says as he brushes his hands together to signal that he’s washing them clean of Atlas. “Look at what the other guys wear, and then wear that one. But I bet you ten bucks it’s the briefs.”

Atlas shakes his hand. “You’re on.”

Mary drops him off at Esperanza’s house an hour late. “You’re fashionably late,” she claims, though he secretly attributes their lateness to the two hours it took Mary to prepare her scoping equipment. The Porche is now stuffed with a camera bag, weapons bag, disguise bag, and many other unmarked bags that Mary thinks will come in handy on their expedition.

“Remember the plan,” she tells him as they get closer to Esperanza’s address.

“What plan? My part of the plan is to go inside, swim in the pool, hit on the girl, and lie around. What part of that could I possibly forget? You’re the one who get to put on a disguise, sneak onto the grounds, take photos, and try to figure out where they keep the weapons and drugs. You’re the one who gets to do all the fun stuff.”

“I’m sorry, I know. But Santiago’s bodyguards make visitors go through a body scanner, so we can’t even give you cameras to plant. Your eyes will have to be your cameras.”

“I don’t understand how Esperanza can possibly justify her father owning a body scanner.”

“We see what we want to see,” Mary says as she stops outside the gates. “Good luck, Atlas. I’ll meet you here at 7:00 PM. Remember, if you need help, activate the calling device in your flip-flop. It’s not made of metal, so they shouldn’t be able to detect it.”

“Got it.” He climbs out, gives his sister a salute, and watches her drive away. Then he finds the guard post and presses the “Talk button.”

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