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Chicacabra (Chapter 6)

June 27, 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 6: Reading, Writing, etal

Puta (pooh-tah)

Slut, ho

Bad, bad woman with unhealthy attraction for married men.

Prominent features: Mentirita tetas, camel culo, frizzy hair, spandex mini-skirt and platform shoes.

Hated by housewives everywhere. Very entertaining.

**

They drove East on Coral Way. Joyce wouldn’t be returning to that Kmart for a very long time, if ever.

“Why don’t we go to the Dadeland Barnes and Noble’s?”

“It’s too far away from la puta’s house.”

Joyce stared out the van’s window as Coral Way transformed into the unattainable Coral Gables. Remnants of Spanish architecture added an aloof, you-can’t-afford-this-neighborhood ambience to the lush landscape. They flew by fancy hotels, expensive office space then Miracle Mile appeared.

“We wouldn’t have to pay for parking if we’d have gone to the Dadeland Barnes & Nobles.”

“It’s okay. Tía Margarita has Spanish coins that weigh as much as quarters.”

Tía Margarita smiled and shook her bloated purse.

“Now if only we can find a parking spot.”

Maria Elena circled the block three times.

“You can’t just circle, you’ve got to stalk a parking spot,” Cristina said.

Joyce closed her eyes. They had driven by three empty spaces only a block away. Carsickness could be in her future, especially with a stomach full of fried Chicacabra food.

A dozen or so parking spots stood in front of the bookstore. All were occupied. So Maria Elena stopped and blocked a lane of traffic.

The congested traffic protested. Maria Elena blasted a Grupo Niche CD over the noise.

A man stuck his head out of the car window and yelled an obscenity. The chicas didn’t notice. Joyce slid down in her seat.

Tía Margarita stared at Joyce. Without warning, the old woman began to sniff her like a hound dog on the hunt.

“You don’t have a bidet in your bathroom.” Her face roamed an inch from Joyce’s ear.

“How do you wash your dirty parts?”

Joyce looked away and suppressed a scream. Tía     Margarita stabbed her shoulder. “You use a can to wash? I used to, before Tío Roberto installed my bidet. Before, I never went anywhere without my can of peaches.”

Maria Elena turned the music up. No one heard the old Chicacabra. No one could save her.

“If you don’t wash, it smells like bacalao. I use special, anti-bacalao soap, then, I powder it. When I was young, and had my monthly visits, I used to–”

“Look,” Joyce said in an unfamiliar howl, “that woman is leaving.”

Tía Margarita looked away. Joyce sighed with relief.

A designer-dressed woman strutted along the sidewalk towards a prime parking spot. But there was a problem. The priceless space stood behind their van. Without hesitation, Maria Elena shifted to reverse. Joyce slunk back even lower in her seat.

Horns blared, obscenities shot through the humid air as Maria Elena reversed into congested traffic. At least she had her blinker on.

Before entering the expensive BMW, the woman scolded the chicas in silent Coral Gables, snob rhetoric. She couldn’t be heard over the music; nevertheless, the chicas yelled back obscenities, accompanied by the obligatory hand gestures. Joyce lowered her head and cupped a hand on her forehead.

The ladies filed out of the van while Joyce waited for the curses to stop. When it was safe, she jogged after the chicas.

It was best not to have any expectations that this Barnes and Nobles resembled anything Joyce was used to. In the near future, when space exploration expanded, chain stores and franchises will open on other planets and local aliens will adapt the facility to their needs like a McDonalds in Tokyo.

She peeked inside first. The bookstore was different somehow. An eclectic mix of people cluttered the aisles. Well-to-do seniors and housewives gathered in the self-help area. College students and outdated yuppies gathered in the new release areas while the not-so-well-to-do gathered in the music section upstairs. And then there were the people who just didn’t want go home. They gathered in the cafeteria, sipping coffee and browsing books. She was intimately familiar with the I-don’t-want-to-be-at-home crowd–aliens or not.

She followed the big hair and symphonic chatter. The chicas huddled in the geography section.

“They really should give us shopping carts. How are we supposed to carry all these heavy books to the cafeteria?”

Tía Margarita drifted towards the medical section.

“Hurry, grab a table before they’re all gone.”

Cristina locked arms with Joyce and dragged her to the cafeteria. The last table was taken before they arrived. Joyce moaned.

“We need to stalk a table. You stand over there and I’ll stand over here. As soon as someone looks like they’re packing up to go, you stand behind them and put your hand on the chair.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Then you’ll have to pretend you’re going to faint and hope someone believes you and gives you their table.”

“No way, Cristina.”

“You Anglos are so repressed! Okay, I’ll do it. Go stand in line.”

Joyce searched the long line of caffeine-addicted bookworms. “What do you want me to order?”

“Get a couple of those brownies; make sure they give you the biggest slices and a couple of apple pastries.”

“No coffee?”

“Tía Margarita has a thermos in her purse.”

“We can’t drink coffee from a thermos in a bookstore café,” Joyce pleaded.

“We can read a book for free, why can’t we drink coffee for free?”

No way she would win that argument so she trudged to the end of the line. By the time she looked back, Cristina had already cornered two tables and six chairs. She later learned the sixth chair was reserved for purses.

Tía Margarita was the first to arrive with her nose in a large medical manual. She sat next to Joyce.

“Look,” she said, pointing to the anatomy of male genitalia. “This is what my Roberto used to look like. This,” she pointed, “is smaller now, but these are much bigger and hang real low.”

Joyce looked out the window.

Maria Elena and Gisela carried a dozen books each, complaining all the way to the cafeteria. They stopped at the divider railing.

“Grab the books, I’m breaking my back,” Maria Elena said in a moan too loud for the environment.

They handed the books over to Joyce and Tía Margarita while Cristina stayed on as a lookout to guard the invaluable tables.

Gisela bit into the apple pastry. “Ay, Joyce, what am I going to do?  I can’t eat, I can’t sleep; I just want to die.” She swallowed then ripped off another bite.

Tía Margarita extracted that dreaded thermos from her heavy purse and began to pour shots of espresso in miniature, plastic cups. Joyce felt the dirty looks of paying customers.

“La puta has to come from one of the Amazon countries.”

“No!” Gisela screamed.

Everyone stared. So Joyce wouldn’t be returning to the Coral Gables Barnes and Noble’s for a very long time either.

“Yeah, must be. When did Pedro say he was ever going to the Amazon jungle to hunt for gold?”

“How do you hunt for gold?  It’s not like you shoot it or anything.

“He said he was panning for gold. The Indians take a frying pan, stick it into the river until gold chunks glitter on its bottom and then they pull it out.”  

“Sounds easy. You’d think a lot of people would be doing it.”

“They do, but mostly only the locals. There are no hotels; you got to sleep outside with the anacondas and mosquitoes.”

“Ay, Pedro is allergic to mosquitoes! What if he forgets his Caladryl?”

“That’s nothing; wait till a giant anaconda sucks in that bald head of his. Just ask J-Lo; she’ll tell you.”

“Shut up, Cristina.”

“Did your daughter tell you when he planned to leave?”

“Ay, Joyce, he didn’t say but she’s calling him to find out and talk him out of it. It’s so dangerous!  Why would he risk his life like this?”

Gisela hung her head. Joyce cringed, praying she would hold back the inevitable wail.

Cristina crossed her arms. “I don’t believe any of it.”

The chicas looked at her.

“It’s the perfect plan,” she said leaning into the table. “Apparently, Pedro isn’t as dumb as he looks.”

“Or as big as he looks,” Tía Margarita said pointing to the anatomy drawing in her book. 

“He’s in trouble so he’s making this all up so Gisela will feel sorry for him and forgive him.”

Joyce frowned. “Seems a little overdramatic, don’t you think?” She instantly regretted the remark.

Maria Elena basted on some red lip-gloss. “I’d better call Enrique el Santero to make sure. He’ll tell us.” She flipped over a much-too-tiny-phone for her chubby fingers and long acrylics. She bent her thumb back and dialed the number with a yoga-like pose on the ball of her thumb.

“Enrique, es Maria Elena, te acuerdas de mi?”

“What are you wearing to the quince?” Cristina asked Gisela.

“Oh, no, I can’t go, I’m so depressed and I can’t go without an escort–without my Pedro.”

“Lots of women go without their husbands.”

“I can’t, I just can’t.”

“Joyce, why don’t you go with her?”

“Huh?”

“Gisela, you have to go, Maria Elena booked that fancy banquet hall—Hialeah Banquet Hall number 19–and Elenita is dropping from the sky in a huge, golden egg.”

“I can’t, I just can’t.”

“She’ll kill you if you don’t go; murder you in your sleep. She paid $7.50 per person and you already RSVP’d.”

“They’d better have some thick ropes to hold Elenita. That egg will crack before she hits the ground,” Tía     Margarita said.

“Ay, Joyce, you have to go with me,” Gisela said.

“I, er, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Chica, un quince, Maria Elena’s daughter’s sweet fifteen’s. It’s a big deal.”

“Oh, I don’t know, I–.”

Maria Elena dramatically flipped the phone closed. “Enrique got us an emergency appointment. We have to go now.”  

Books, tiny espresso cups and pastry crumbs cluttered the table.

“We should clean up this mess,” Joyce said.

“No time. Tía, leave a tip.” Tía Margarita dug into her purse and tossed a Spanish coin on the table.

Joyce sprinted out of the bookstore, wishing she wore a baseball cap and dark glasses.

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