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Chicacabra: The Mechanic (Chapter 19)

September 26, 2010

Chicacabra

By

Yoly Solis

Chapter 19: The Mechanic

 

Eres una estúpida (eh-res/oo-nah/ess-too-pea-dah)

You are a stupid woman.  Cross arms for emphasis.

 

**

She shouldn’t have worn that faux-silk blouse, sweating like a 70’s puberty-ridden schoolgirl on her way to meet David Cassidy. The clock towered over her. Tick-tock-tick-tock. Fifteen more minutes and The Gladiator would be in sight. She bit her dry lip. Paint on some lipstick immediately.

“Ay, that’s a pretty color, Joyce” Gisela said, peeping over the cubicle wall.

“Well, remember I promised to try.”

“Uh-huh.”

Joyce blushed. “So what did Giselita say?”

“Ay, Pedro says he’s still going to the Amazon.”

“Have you spoken to his brother?”

“Si. He says that Pedro spends every night on his couch, and then I say, why isn’t his van there? And he says, ay, he lent it to someone.”

“Oh.” 

“Carmen says we must do puta surveillance. That’s the only way to know for sure.”

“Why don’t you think about it for a while?”

Her eyes watered. “I guess I really don’t want to know.”

Joyce nodded. “Then that’s okay, too.”

“Do you mean it, Joyce?”

“Yup. You do whatever feels right. Don’t worry about what people say.”

“They say I’m a fool and that I should kick him out of the house. But I can’t. First, he’s not even in the house, and second, he won’t even talk to me. Besides, I don’t want to be mad at him. I just want him back more than anything. But if he goes to the Amazon, I might never see him again. I just want him to know that I love him.”

“You watch, Gisela, you’ll get the chance to tell him what you need to tell him. Think positive.” 

Too bad she couldn’t take her own advice. Joyce was positive The Gladiator wouldn’t notice her. It didn’t matter though. Just looking at him made her heart sing. So what if their love affair would be imaginary. Sometimes that was all a woman needed. Reality, on the other hand, she knew all about.

“Ay, Joyce, look at the time. We’d better go. Manny’s waiting.”

Oh, yeah.

**

 

Gisela managed to hunt down the very last parking spot in front of the garage. Joyce, on the other hand, sat on Eighth Street, blocking horn-blaring traffic–an impotent effort to enter Balado Tires. She had graduated from chica driving school.

A Toyota left the lot and Pepe shooed her into the few inches left inside the clogged garage entrance. Although she parked five cars deep, only her front hood enjoyed the awning’s shade.

The car’s air conditioning couldn’t compensate for the raging sun while in park. Left with no choice, she got out and stood in the scorching sunshine. She shouldn’t have worn that blouse.

“How jou bing, Yoyce.”

“Pepe,” Gisela said, “Her name is Joyce, with a jota.”

“Oye, tu, I learnt Eengleech con Justi-Language. Me graduate first in me class.”

“Say it with a jota—Joyce.”

“Okay, jota lady.”

Joyce peered inside the cool darkness of the garage. Nothing. She shielded her eyes and tried again. It was like looking inside a deep cave.

“Jou leaf car, peek up later.”

Joyce looked at Gisela, pleading with the saddest eyes she could muster.

“Is Manny here?” Gisela asked.

Thank the Good Lord for Gisela.

“He go to part chop. He back later.”

Now it was Joyce who wanted to cry. She needed her Gladiator fix.

“I thought you were going to take a look at the car now,” Joyce said.

“Jou see many cars, many, many cars,” he said waving his hand across the lot. “We berry beezee.”

Single, delusional women all over Miami must be bringing their cars to that garage. “Okay,” Joyce said.

“Pepe, we’ll be by after work, okay?”

“Jou call despues.”

“Ay Joyce, let’s go to the fruit stand for lunch.” This place has the best pan con lechon.”

Joyce was so disappointed she didn’t even notice Gisela had suggested a non-fried, healthy lunch for a change. “Okay.”

“We’d better drive there. It’s too hot to walk over.” The fruit stand was half a block away.

As usual, the few parking spots were taken. So they parked a quarter block away; two doors down from Balado Tires and in a tow away zone.

Shaded by colorful awnings, overloaded bins bulged with exotic, tropical fruits and unusual looking vegetables. After searching the bins, Joyce finally recognized two types of bananas, although there were at least half a dozen to choose from. Ah, tomatoes, only 39 cents a pound. She must shop there.

Gisela ignored the overflowing fruit bins and headed straight for the counter.

“Dos pan con lechon, por favor.” She turned around and asked, “Joyce, what do you want to drink?  Batido de mamey?”

Joyce shrugged. She could use a shot of Bacardi, perhaps with an exotic fruit stuck inside the shot glass; super size it, please.

Joyce leaned on the counter and wondered where the smell of roasted meat was coming from. Weren’t they at a fruit stand?  

The waitress dumped lumps of orangey-red fruit in the blender, then added milk and about a pound of sugar. The kitchen window slid open and two paper plates overwhelmed by sandwiches, grease spilling onto waxed paper, slid in front of them.

Joyce lifted the greasy, waxed paper. “What is this, Gisela?”

“Pan con lechon—the best.”

Gisela took a bite, shiny grease dribbled off her already shiny lips.

So much for the fruit. Joyce bit into the sandwich and moaned like an erotica writer. “It’s pork, isn’t it?”

Gisela nodded.

“It’s so tender, so juicy, and it has a lemony taste.”

“That’s the adobo.”

“What’s that crunchy, yummy thing inside?”

“Pork rinds. Good, eh?”

Good didn’t begin to describe it. These pork rinds weren’t from the potato chip section of the grocery store; they were homemade. She reached for the cup and sucked the straw of her orangey-red shake. “I’ve never tasted anything like this. It’s not citrus; it’s kind of meaty, like a mango.”

“I think mamey is a cousin of the mango, like Puerto Ricans are to Cubans.”

Munching on the million-calorie lunch, she almost forgot about The Gladiator–for a split second.

“So you think my car will be ready this afternoon?”

Gisela swallowed. “I’m sorry Manny wasn’t there.”

“Oh, please,” Joyce said, waving greasy fingers in the air, “I need to get my car taken care of, that’s what’s important.”

“Uh-huh.”

“The good thing about pan con lechon is that you don’t have to apply lip gloss after eating.”

“Don’t be silly, Joyce. Lips gloss always goes on no matter what you eat.”

As soon as she had taken the last grease-filled bite, a cup of sugary espresso slid forward.

“Gisela, I know you have a lot on your plate right now,” Gisela glanced at her plate, “I mean that figuratively.” She shrugged and sipped her coffee. “But don’t you think you should have a conversation with Mrs. Anderson?  I mean to clear the air, let her know she should respect you and your abilities more?

Gisela smiled. “Ay, she’s not so bad.”

“She’s pretty bad, Gisela.”

“I don’t know; I kind of feel sorry for her.”

“Why would you feel sorry for her? It’s not like she’s nice to you.”

“I don’t know; she just seems so sad, kind of lonely or something. I think it’s all an act. No one is really that mean.”

**

 

Pan con lechon bulged in her stomach like a sack of hardened concrete. Her eyelids were just as heavy.

She pressed the intercom button. “Gisela, are you making coffee?”

“It’s not three o’clock yet, but if you want, I will.”

“Nah, that’s okay, I’ll get some regular coffee.”

Rule number one: Lean Cuisine morning, noon and night. Rule number two: If breaking rule number one, never eat pan con lechon and a mamey shake on a workday. No wonder siestas were popular with the Chicacabras.

She dragged her heavy ass out of the chair and headed for the office kitchen. Mrs. Anderson and ass-kisser-number-one chatted by the refrigerator.

“Hi, Joyce,” Mrs. Anderson said, “Would you like some chocolate? One of our vendors sent it over.”

Joyce had never said no to chocolate; that day she would make history. And if she dared ingest a chocolate nibble after eating pan con lechon, her stomach would explode like Sigourney Weaver’s compatriots in Alien.

“No thanks.”

Ass-kisser-number-one pointed at Joyce. “You’ve been hanging out with them a lot lately, Joyce. You went to lunch with Gisela. Oh, and the other day, didn’t you go with her somewhere after work?”

If Joyce did a Linda Blair at that moment, she’d spray bright orange mamey instead of avocado green on ass-kisser-number-one’s face.

“Mrs. Anderson, looks like our friend here needs more work on her desk. I’ll be happy to oblige.”

Mrs. Anderson laughed. Ass-kisser-number-one’s forehead vein bulged.

“I’m not wrong about you, Joyce. You are definitely management material.”

Joyce grunted.

“Did you mail in your iPod form?”

“Not yet.”

Ass-kisser-number-one glared at her like a jealous wife.

“Don’t wait too long, it has an expiration date.”

Mrs. Anderson left with ass-kisser-number-one trailing behind.

Joyce stared at the kitchen door. Mrs. Anderson was cultivating a kindergarten; test tube cubicle employees that grew into real live pathetic grown-up children. Argh.

The phone was ringing by the time she headed back to her cubicle.

“This is Joyce, may I help you?”

“Hello, Joyce. This is Manny.”

Nice voice. Very, nice voice. She tapped her keyboard.

“Hello, Manny, may I have your last name so I can look up your policy in the computer?”

Silence.

“Hello?”

“Uh, this is Manny from Balado Tires, your mechanic.”

Holy hunk! It’s The Gladiator!

She opened her mouth, a squawk escaped. She covered her mouthpiece. Her fruit stand greased lunch stabbed at her gut; the stomach alien wanted to escape the pod.

“Hello?” he said.

She cleared her throat. “Oh, I’m sorry; there must be something wrong with the phone. Yes, what were you saying?”

Her voice had dropped a few octaves; she sounded like sex-crazed Samantha Jones. Pathetic.

“I checked your car and it looks like we’ll need to replace a valve in the…”

Too late. No time to turn away from the mouthpiece. The mamey-pork erupted before she could stop it. Oh, no, Krakatoa East of Java; 6.5 on the Richter scale.  Her cubicle smelled like a rib joint. She would purchase a neighboring plot next to Gisela. Clearly, it was time to die. 

“Hello?”

Joyce waved the smell away to no avail.

 “Hello?”

She tapped the mouthpiece then crumpled some papers. “Uh, I’m sorry, Manny, this phone is really acting up.” “What were you saying about the valve?”

He chuckled.

Joyce slouched in her chair in defeat. It was over. Any slim chance to see The Gladiator with his skirt on — or off — had evaporated. Her forehead dropped into her palm.

“The work should run about $30.00. Do you want me to do it?”

If only.

“Sure, okay, whatever you say.”

“It’ll be ready tonight.”  

“Is 6:00 PM okay?”

“See you then.”

She hung up the phone and banged her head on the desk.

Gisela’s curls popped over the cubicle.

“I think we need to spray something.” She diffused Lysol over the contaminated area.

“Sorry.”

“I don’t think I should have given you pork for lunch.”

“Manny called.”

“I know.”

Joyce looked up at Gisela.

“What did he say?”

“First of all, it’s time for me to die, and second of all, he’s only charging me $30.00 for some valve. I’ve never left a mechanic without spending less than $300.”

“He’s giving you the Miami Chica discount. So why are you going to die?”

“I burped into the phone.”

“Ay.”

“It was loud.”

“Yeah,” Gisela said, “and smelly, too.”

“What am I going to do? He thinks I’m a pig.”

“Just pretend it never happened. Once, when I was dating Pedro, I passed gas at the movies. We were watching one of those scary Halloween movies, and when hockey monster jumped out of the water, it happened. And everyone heard.”

“What did you do?”

“I started to cry.”

“What did he do?”

He laughed.

“Then what did you do?”

“I cried some more. And he laughed even harder. He teased me for months, and to this day he likes to take me scary movies so I can tirar un pedo. At least that was before la puta. She’s tirando the pedos now.”

A burp, a fart, did any of it matter in love? Probably.

“Sometimes, he even calls me his little peito.”

Her eyes watered.

“Will I ever get him back, Joyce?”

“I hope so, Gisela.”

What would The Gladiator call Joyce, his little burpito?

To be continued…

 

 

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