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Chicacabra (Chapter 3)

June 6, 2010

WARNING: Straight men should not enter Chicacabra lair. The LATINO HEART PROJECT cannot guarantee your safety, your sanity or your manhood within these hyper-estrogen walls. Enter at your own risk.

CHICACABRA

By

Yoly Solis

Chapter 3: Teflon Princess

 

Ti-ti (tea-tea)

Younger man, boy toy.

Preferred entertainment for women over 40.

Women under 40 can keep the older men.

**

Joyce gawked; she couldn’t help herself. With reverence, the crowd encircled the woman as if they had come just to see her.

“That’s Carmen, the Teflon princess,” Cristina said, pointing her chin.

Joyce thought it a mean thing to say but didn’t comment. She had learned her lesson, or so she thought.

“What is she wearing?” Gisela asked.

“Looks like Anne Klein, linen from top to bottom. Could be a knock-off, though.”

“She never wears knock-offs.”

“What about her shoes?” Gisela asked between sniffles.

“Strap-py, spiked heels, maybe DSW,” Cristina said.

“Look at her purse,” Maria Elena said, pointing. “You think it’s a real Chanel?”    

Cristina leaned into Tía Margarita’s ear. “If she puts her purse down, cover it up with the laundry and see if you can find the made-in-China tag inside.”

Tía Margarita nodded then scattered the laundry on the bed to prepare the trap.

Joyce realized her mouth was open and snapped her lips shut. But Carmen soaked in the gawking stares like a puffed fish. And why not? She looked airbrush perfect.

Expensive product encased every strand of geometrically highlighted hair in place. Make-up was impeccable; as if painted on by a professional and as if a humidity-eliminating force field surrounded her out of reach of the Miami jungle. Either that or she had no pores. Her white linen blouse and cropped pants were pressed just enough to allow creases in acknowledgement of the sacred material. Her strap-py sandals showed off a recent pedicure, a French style Joyce had never dreamed of trying out on just her feet. Or perhaps she had glued acrylic nails on her toes? Anything was possible in that crowd.

Her age was a mystery, not a wrinkle on her face. She could have been 40 or 60, it didn’t matter; either she had superior genes or the best plastic surgeon in Miami.

Joyce pulled at her faded Abba T-shirt and stepped back into the shadows.

Air kisses exploded like machine guns as the Teflon Princess approached.

“Ay, Gisela,” she said in the melody of a Doris Day tune. They air kissed; their lip-gloss had nothing to fear.

“Ay, Carmen, my dear, dear friend, thank you for coming in my most darkest hour.”

Carmen sighed then looked her over. “What did I tell you about wearing batas?”

Gisela pouted then looked down. “My mother lent it to me, she said I’d be more comfortable and I don’t have to wear a bra in this.”

 “That,” she said, waving a manicured finger up and down her body, “is very unattractive. I’ll bet the puta doesn’t wear batas.”

“Waah!” Gisela plopped back on the pillows.

Cristina elbowed Joyce. “What does she know about keeping a husband, eh?”

Joyce shrugged.

“Carmen’s husband was so afraid of her that one day, when she wasn’t home; he packed his stuff and escaped. And he left a note promising her the house, the car, the bank accounts, retirement plan, and alimony for life. Then he begged her for a divorce.”   

“That’s impressive,” Joyce said.

“Damn right it’s impressive. I don’t know anyone who got it all without a fight.”

Maria Elena guided Carmen to the grief bed. “Here, Carmen, sit, tell us what you’ve been up to.”

She looked at a spot then shooed away some neighboring tissues before sitting. “Well, I’m so sorry I’m late, it’s just that, well, you know,” she let out a demure giggle, two fingers over her mouth, but not close enough to defrock the lip gloss.

Carmen let go of her Chanel purse and Tía Margarita immediately covered it with a towel. Joyce’s eyes grew wide then clutched her own made-in-China vinyl purse.

Oxygen was sucked out of the room as more and more women surrounded Carmen. If only old Hoover could do that.

Carmen patted her perfect hair, cupped her delicate, never-washed-a-dish fingers over her mouth and said, “We did it in the closet.”  

“Was it a walk-in?” Cristina asked.

“What does it matter?” Maria Elena said.

“It matters if you do it on the floor or standing up. What about the shoe rack?”

“Wait a minute,” Maria Elena said, “you still seeing el ti-ti?”

Carmen nodded then smiled.

Joyce got sucked into the moment. “What’s a ti-ti?  She asked.

“A younger man,” Cristina said.

“An illegal immigrant, young stud.”

“Huh?”

Carmen looked up at Joyce. Joyce cowered back.

“Do I know you?” she said, looking her over, up and down, up and down. Did these people ever maintain eye contact? 

“Ay, Carmen, this is Joyce, my wonderful friend from work.”

She looked at her suspiciously. “Do you know what a ti-ti is? 

Tía Margarita unzipped Carmen’s purse, and instead of checking the label, she began to inspect every item inside. She unrolled a pack of condoms and held it up to the light.

“A younger man?” Joyce said, wondering what in the hell had possessed her to open her mouth.

“Not just a young man, a virile, hot, sexy, young man,” she said then licked her glossy lips.

“Yeah, without papers.”

“Of course,” Carmen said, “we have the perfect arrangement.”

“How old is he?”

“He says he’s 21, but since he has no papers, I have no proof.” She smiled, showing off fluorescent, white teeth.

“Ooh,” moaned the crowd.

“And how old are you, Carmen?”

Carmen snapped a look at Cristina. If snakes had writhed over her salon styled head, she could have turned the woman to stone.

“Shut up, Cristina.”   

Cristina leaned into Joyce. “I’ve known Carmen for thirty years and she hasn’t aged a day. She must be close to fifty by now.”

Joyce nodded but said nothing.

“Where did you find him, at a club?”

“Ay, that’s a funny story,” she said, an artificial chuckle whooshed through her lip liner.

“One morning, I happened to be at the red light of 8th Street and 67th Avenue, and there he was, standing with a mob of illegals, waiting for someone to give him work.”

“You picked him up off the street?”  

“I needed some work done in the yard, and I thought, for twenty dollars I could probably get a full day’s work out of him.”

“I’m sure you did,” Tía Margarita muttered.

Carmen turned to glare at her and in a split second, Tía Margarita stuffed the Chanel purse under the laundry.

“Anyway, I wag a finger at him; he walks over to me and leans into my car door. His tight, firm abs peek out from underneath his shirt and I know, right then and there, I want him.”

“Ooh,” the crowd moaned.

“Then what happened?”

“I say, so what kind of work do you do?  He says, anything you want, mami linda. And then I say anything? And he smiles and says, I’m yours, baby.”

“All men say that and then they leave for you for a firm, younger culo,” Cristina said.

Gisela moaned. “Ay, I miss my Pedro’s bald head and firm, round beer belly!”

“He gets into the car and says, take me wherever you want, baby, I’m yours. And I say, I have a lot of work for you and he says, I think I can handle it.” Carmen shrugged her shoulders like a shy, little girl. The effort was a waste. “Goose bumps covered my body.”

“Ay, did it tingle?”

“I take him to the house, we look at each other and he follows me as I walk slowly up the stairs. I say; I need you to caulk my bathtub. He smiles.”   

“I thought he was doing yard-work.”

“I run the bath. I say, I don’t want you to dirty my house, you’re an illegal immigrant, all dirty and everything—I lick my lips and look down.”

“Ooh,” the crowd said. Tía Margarita lost interest in Carmen’s purse and leaned in.

“What did you see?”

She spewed a Teflon chuckle and said, “Everything.”

The room erupted in laughter.

“Then what?”

“Then, my dear amigas, he takes me to heaven.”

“Your Tío Roberto did that once, about fifty years ago,” Tía Margarita said.

Joyce looked at the other women. It was like watching a porn movie without the sex, their faces dreaming of ecstasy they’d probably never know. She approached Gisela.

“Gisela, I’m really sorry, but I’m late for something, I–”

“No, Joyce, you can’t leave me. I’m dying, look at me, I’m all alone, I can’t eat, please, Joyce, don’t leave me—not when I need you most!”

The others gave her the what-an-awful-friend-you-are look. She blushed, sighed and nodded.

“Where’s my purse?” Carmen asked.

Tía Margarita threw the Chanel back into Carmen’s hands after shoving the condoms in her bra next to Pedro’s neon bikini underwear.

Carmen stood. “Remember to call the plastic surgeon I spoke to you about. Start with the stomach stapling then lift those two, National Geographic lumps on your chest. Then, maybe you’ll get your man back.”

“Ay, Carmen, thank you so much for coming. What would I do without you?” Gisela gushed.

Joyce’s mouth dropped open. “How come she gets to leave?”

“We need her to leave so we can talk about her,” Cristina said. “She gave us at least two hours worth of chisme, maybe more.”

Good-bye air kisses shot through the room. Joyce stepped away to avoid the nasty ritual. A kiss should come from the lips; lips to lips, lips to cheek, lips to forehead but the art of air kissing eluded her. It required a special kind of unnatural contortion, like Yoga. Somehow, they managed to look like they touched lips to cheek, but in reality they barely touched ear against ear while lips smacked. She’d never get it right.

The moment Carmen left the room the chisme began.

“Do you think she locks el ti-ti up in the basement?”

“There are no basements in Miami, boba. If there were, we wouldn’t need hurricane shutters.”

“You’d need hurricane shutters anyway. The house would blow away and it’s too hot to live in a basement.”

“Let the house get blown away,” Maria Elena said, “I’ve got a brother-in-law whose ex-wife’s next-door neighbor is the cousin of the Miami FEMA director’s wife. Any damage and I’ll get a check, like that.” She snapped her fingers.

“She’s such a puta,” Tía Margarita said, readjusting the souvenirs in her bra.

“No Tía, putas only go after married men. Carmen is just a slut,” Gisela said. “But my Pedro is with a puta!” She screamed and raised her arms up to the ceiling.

“Her culo isn’t big enough for her to be a puta. She’s only a slut.”

“Yeah, a middle-aged slut.”

Joyce was glad she hadn’t left. God knows what they’d be saying about her.

Cristina slapped her forehead. “Now I know where I’ve seen that outfit.”

“Which outfit, Carmen’s outfit?”

“La vente y la vente!”

Murmurs rushed through the crowd.

“Ten dollars!”

“The entire outfit?”

“Boba, each piece. I remember; it’s exactly the same. I bet you anything she got it there and that she didn’t buy it at Bloomingdale’s.”     

 Suddenly, the women grabbed their purses.

“Gisela, get your face on, hurry.”

Gisela threw off the covers, sat at the dresser, and while spatula-ing on her make-up, Cristina teased her hair.  

This was her chance. Joyce shuffled over to the mirror and said, “Okay, Gisela, I’ll see you on Monday then.”

Gisela waved the wand of the extra-thick, extra-black, extra-clumpy mascara. “No, Joyce, you have to come with us, please, please, please, don’t leave me, not when I need you most.”

“Gisela, I don’t even know where you’re going, I’ve got stuff to do, I–.”

“Dios mió! You’ve never been to la vente y la vente?  How long have you been in Miami?”

“Uh, no, I’ve never been and I’m not dressed up enough.” She tugged at her T-shirt, “Maybe next time–.”

“She’s a virgin!”

The crowd cackled. Joyce blushed.

“Sorry, my amiguita, you’re coming with us. It’s time you popped that cherry!”

The women primped in front of every inch of mirror in the house then sprinted towards their cars. Gisela clamped on to Joyce’s hand and yanked her inside Maria Elena’s van. The panel door slid shut.

Tía Margarita was wedged firmly against Joyce, forcing her butt cheek to dangle in midair. Tía Margarita wouldn’t budge, so Joyce leaned her face leaned against the hot window while her shoulder smashed up against the door’s steel handle. 

Cristina reached over the front seat and stuck her fingers in Gisela’s hair. “Look at these roots!”

Joyce had seen monkeys at the zoo do the same thing to each other in search for fleas. At any moment, Cristina would find a bug and pop it in her mouth.

Tía Margarita pushed Joyce further into the van door, crushing her shoulder. Joyce inched her body upwards, and instead of finding more room, she earned a clear view of a roll of Trojan condoms and neon men’s underwear resting inside the old lady’s bra.          

“So what is this place—a restaurant, a club?”

“It’s paradise; we find every mentirita you can possibility imagine there.” 

“Huh?”

“Chopping, chopping, chopping.”

“Oh, the mall?”

“Better.”

“I need a reencuentro outfit for when Pedro sees me. I want him to drool, suffer when he sees me again.”

“He’ll suffer, alright.”

“Shut up, Cristina.”

“Maybe something in red. Red is passionate, just like my Pedro.”

“We should find you a surveillance outfit, too. It has to be comfortable enough for you to sit in the car for hours, but look good enough so that if he or the puta spots you, you look nice.”

“Maria Elena,” Gisela said, “I thought you knew a private investigator?”

“I got him to run the plates for free,” Maria Elena jutted her chins in the air. “He charges a fortune for puta surveillance.”

“Waah!”

“We’d better shop for a legal-separation outfit just in case.”

**

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