Red had thought of that day in prison so many times. The day when Andy Dufresne got out of solitary and barred his soul to Red about his guilt over his wife’s death and his desire to start his life over in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
At the time, it seemed like the heartbreaking final words of a broken man. Red worried that his friend had given up hope and was going to end his life. When he heard Andy acquired six feet of rope from another inmate, he feared the worst.
And then Andy disappeared. He crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side, as Red liked to say. And that’s when Red remembered Zihuatanejo. And he remembered his promise to visit a hayfield near Buxton, Maine should he ever get paroled.
That’s how Red found himself breaking parole to travel to Fort Hancock, Texas, the spot where Andy had hopped the border to Mexico. He was filled with so much hope as he traveled on that bus to Texas. Hope that he hadn’t felt in a long time.
It was hard finding a coyote to sneak him into Mexico from America. They typically only sneak people into America. But a few inquires led him on the right path and eventually he found his way into the country.
Finding Zihuatanejo was even trickier. He didn’t speak Spanish. And he got turned around so many times on the way there. Eventually though, he found the little beach town. And, in spite of all of his troubles, he never lost his newfound optimism.
His stomach was filled with butterflies as he made his way to the beach. He could feel his heart pounding against his chest. His hands shook. His throat felt dry. This was the moment. He could see his friend over by a boat.
He walked up to Andy and the two embraced. It was the first time he felt truly free in as long as he could remember. It was the greatest moment of Red’s life. He was so excited for what the future would hold.
The two spent the next few hours catching up. Andy told him all about his new life. Red caught him up on everything he missed at the prison and how things changed after the warden killed himself. They quickly fell into their old routine, but in a brighter, happier setting.
Then Andy invited Red to crash on his couch back at his bungalow. Red humbly accepted.
“There’s just one thing I should tell you,” Andy said. “It’s not just me living there.”
“Oh?” said Red. “You have a roommate?”
Andy laughed. “Not exactly,” he said. “I live there with my girlfriend Maria. She’s great though. You two will get along swimmingly.”
Maria was cordial to Red that first encounter, but a tad standoffish. She made a few “jokes” about wishing she had known to make more dinner and about how she could always reschedule date night for another evening. The jokes were playful, but also a bit passive aggressive.
That night, as Red tried to fall asleep on the couch, he heard the two arguing in the bedroom. Maria went back and forth between English and Mexican, but the gist of it was her being upset that he hadn’t told her about the secret note he left for his friend to arrive unannounced at any time.
By the third day, she had dropped any effort to be genial or playful. She began openly asking Red how long he was planning on staying and if he was planning on looking for a job. And the icy stares she gave Andy every time he entered the room made Red long for the days where his biggest adversary was an overzealous prison guard.
A month in, the only sound that was ever heard in the tiny little bungalow was shouting. Every day was tense. Andy spent more and more time with Red out on his boat. They lingered longer and longer at a local bar before coming home.
Then, one day Red awoke to Maria frantically searching the house. “Where is he?” she shouted at Red. “Where’s Andy?”
“I don’t know,” Red said groggily. “I haven’t seen him since last night.”
But that’s when he noticed the Charo poster in Andy and Maria’s bedroom for the first time.
“Have you checked behind there?” Red said.
That evening, after finding a postcard hidden in his jacket, Red was on a bus to Sayulita to once again be reunited with his friend.
“I hope I can make it to this new town,” Red said softly to himself on the bus. “I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope he doesn’t already have another girl waiting for him there. I hope.”
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.