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Chicacabra (Chapter 25) Conga Line

November 7, 2010

Chicacabra

By

Yoly Solis

Chapter 25: Conga Line

Energúmeno (en-err-goo-men-oh)

Beyond idiot. Closer to imbecile. Often said by abuelos.

Statistics show that Energúmenos are growing in numbers. Abuelos blame video games. Wouldn’t occur if children watched telenovelas. Click dentures for emphasis (you don’t know how to do that?)

**

 

The conga line had formed around Gisela’s cubicle. In all her misery and without hesitation, she helped her fellow cubicle inmates.

The phone rang. “This is Joyce, may I help you?”

“This is Mrs. Langdon, wife of Mr. Langdon, CEO of Easten Industries.”

Argh. Not another Mrs. So-and-So. Joyce didn’t need Tarot cards to see the future of this call.

“When my husband decided to purchase this health plan for the company, he was assured that professional, board certified physicians would be on the plan…”

How do you know, lady? You weren’t there when he bought it. Uh, let’s see, he was only interested in the cost, but he didn’t tell you that, did he?

“…and this so-called doctor, who has more vowels than the alphabet can handle, tells me that pasta is not an alternative to controlling my cholesterol. Well, he is seriously lacking in both….”

Blah, blah, blah.

“…and I want an explanation as to why a physician would say such a thing. My cook prepares a low-fat Pasta Primavera and she says…

Get out of the mall, get a life and leave me the hell alone, lady.

“…So what are you going to do about it?”

How about I tell you to kiss my working-class ass?

“If you call the member services, toll-free number, they’ll be happy to change physicians–”

“This is absurd. I have already changed Primary Care Physicians three times and you have yet to answer my question.”

“I’m not a doctor, Mrs.Langdon.”

“Then find me one or I’ll tell my husband about your inadequate and deficient service. He’ll take his business elsewhere.”

Oooh, I’m so scared. My knees are shaking. Kiss off, rich witch! “Please hold.”

“Gisela!”

**

 

“I spoke to Mrs. Langdon’s cook and gave her the recipe for Tía Margarita’s brown rice with garlic vegetables. Her cholesterol will drop right away. Poor Mrs. Langdon.”

“Are you kidding? The woman lives like a queen and she has nothing better to do than torment the help, which by the way includes us.”

“She’s just lonely. Mr. Langdon is messing around with a puta also. I feel her pain.”

“She told you that?”

“Oh, no, of course not. But she knows,” Gisela sighed. “We always find out sooner or later. I know about Mr. Langdon because Rosita, Tía Margarita’s Goddaughter’s cousin, just came from the Old Country and Tía got her a job at the Biltmore Hotel cleaning rooms. She’s sees Mr. Langdon and his puta there almost every week.”

“Uh, how could Rosita have recognized Mr. Langdon? How would she know what he looks like?”

“Tía Margarita gave Rosita a camera. She said to take pictures of men who check into the hotel with putas–when they weren’t looking, of course. Tía shows us the pictures all the time. Her puta picture album is full. She just started a new one.”

“Oh.”

“The putas are lucky Tía Margarita is afraid of the internet. She thinks computers carry viruses and that she can get the bird flu from touching a keyboard.”

“Oh.” 

“The only difference between Mrs. Langdon and me is that her husband does it in a five-star hotel and mine does it in the back of a van.”

“You don’t know what Pedro did in the back of his van.  And please don’t ever compare yourself to Mrs. Langdon.” Joyce glanced at her watch. “Look, it’s after 12:00, we should get going; I need to talk to you about something.”

**

 

Lunch never happened. Joyce had forgotten that rat-eyed Mrs. Anderson had arranged an attendance-mandatory luncheon. She couldn’t just blurt it out. They were at the office and she had no idea how Gisela would react. She was in enough trouble already.

“So you’ll come over tonight, okay–alone, no chicas? We need to talk, just you and me.”

“Okay, Joyce, but I have to stop by Carmen’s house first. She wants to show me her new teta pumps. They’re the latest thing; she can adjust her tetas to different sizes, from B all the way to D, depending on her outfits. Isn’t that amazing?”

“Huh? Uh, no, don’t go by Carmen’s first—see her after we talk, okay? Come straight from work.”

“Must be important; is something wrong?”

“No, nothing. By the way, do you have a copy of your employment contract around?”

**

 

At five to five, Joyce’s phone rang. She stared at it then reluctantly picked up. “This is Joyce, may I help you?”

“Hi, Joyce, it’s Manny.”

Mmmm, yummy Gladiator calling, eh? Me like-y very mucho, me thinks…

“I’m sorry to bother you but Pedro asked me to call.”

Thank you, Pedro!

“Well, he says he’s left six messages for you and hasn’t heard anything yet. He’s making me, and pretty much everyone else, nuts. Any news?”

“I haven’t had a chance to speak to Gisela yet. As a matter of fact, she’s coming over later on so we can talk.”

Wouldn’t you like to come over, too, Gladiator? Your chariot or mine?

“That’s good. Maybe we can all go back to our routines again.”

Is that what you really want, Gladiator? Don’t you want to spice it up a little?”

“That would be nice, I guess.”

“Okay then, I’m sure you’re in a hurry, I’ll let you go.”

Don’t hang up, don’t hang up. He hung up.

**

 

            In Miami, the difference between rush hour and gridlock took approximately five minutes. Those five minutes landed her in the middle of a vehicular clot.             Fifteen minutes later, Joyce heart banged against her rib cage; her hands shook. Road rage had consumed her. So this is what it felt like. She had seen it on the news for years and couldn’t understand how traffic could drive someone to violence. A weapon, all she needed was a weapon.

She snarled at the car next to her. Suddenly, smoke danced in front of her windshield.

“What the hell?”

She looked around. The others snarled back at her.

“No!” 

She hadn’t noticed the gauge. The dial vibrated in the red zone. Smoke plumed from the car’s bowels. “No! No! No!” She banged the steering wheel.

After she unclenched her fingers from the steering wheel, she rolled down the window and turned off the engine. Then she turned on the hazard lights.

Horns blared, blaming her. Yes, hand me a weapon, please. She pulled out her wallet and searched for the AAA phone number then glanced at her watch. She wouldn’t make it in time.

“Looks like my car overheated, Gisela. I’ve got to wait for a tow.”

“Manny has a tow truck,” Gisela said.

That’s right. When The Gladiator wasn’t fighting a fierce enemy, he moonlighted as a mechanic. 

Joyce told her the location. She crossed her sweaty fingers and hoped the Gladiator would rescue her from the Bird Road mob.

“Yeah, keep honking, jerk-offs! My Gladiator will cut off tongues, arms and legs and kick your asses, you nasty, evil road people.”

**

 

An hour later, the traffic died down, but the heat felt as intense as ever. She was tempted to stand under the palm tree on the side of the road but felt safer inside the metal encased sauna. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The back of her shirt felt as if it were glued to the seat. She didn’t want to think about how her bottom felt.

Flashing yellow lights appeared from behind. She turned and saw the Balado Tire truck sign. The sun dropped slowly from the sky. She couldn’t make out the driver. A man jumped down from the truck. His outline burned in fiery orange as the falling sun caressed his broad chest and trim waist. It had to be him.

“Hi, Joyce,”

Her body had melted into the vinyl seats; his voice melted her heart.

“Hi, Manny.”

She could barely make out his face as golden sparks exploded around his handsome features.

“I’m so sorry, Joyce, I got here as fast as I could. I don’t understand it, I checked the radiator myself.”

“Oh, it’s not your fault, Manny, the traffic was awful.”

“Yeah, but still.”

He popped the hood and disappeared underneath, provoking an erotic image to pop into her mind. He slammed the hood shut, startling her. 

“We’re going to have to tow it in, sorry.”

She nodded, not sorry at all.

He turned the tow truck around, and like magic, hooked up her car. “C’mon,” he said, “get in the truck, we’ll drop your car off at the shop and I’ll drive you home.”

Now that sounded like a plan. She peeled her sticky ass off the front seat and tried a sexy walk towards his truck. Luckily, he didn’t look. Sweat had caused her polyester-blend pants to rub against her thighs like sandpaper. She’d have to practice the walk some more.

She jumped in the truck and combed her hair with her fingers, hoping the blasting air conditioner would dry it out.

“Here,” he said, handing her a tissue box.

Argh. He had noticed that she was sweating like a wet mop–that sexy, wet mop look. 

“Thanks.”

She wiped the sweat off her neck and forehead and crinkled the damp tissue in her palm.

He held out his hand. She glanced at his palm then at him.

“I spend a lot of time in this truck. There’s a mini-waste basket in the back.”

“No, that’s okay; I’ll throw it out when I get home.”

“You’re embarrassed?” He smiled.

She blushed. “I’m not going to give you a tissue loaded with my sweat; no way.” She sounded like a sixteen-year-old.

“Why not?” He turned sideways, one eye on the road, one eye on her. “Wouldn’t you take a tissue loaded with my sweat?”

She’d not only take it, she’d probably rub it all over her body.

“That’s not the point, it’s just–”

“The point is: your sweat probably smells sweet. But I’ll never know, will I?”

Was he hitting on her? Was it possible? Or was he just teasing her?

“Here we are.”

Where had the time gone? No! She had to know what he meant.

“Have a seat in the office while I get your car to the garage.”

He sounded businesslike, almost cold, as if he didn’t want to smell her sweat anymore. She sniffed under her arm then strolled through the garage and found his office. A picture of a beautiful girl sat on his desk. At first her heart sank. She was too young. Ah, yes, must be his daughter. Thank every angel in heaven.

She sat across from his desk and leaned over to read the paperwork sitting on the blotter.

“Hola, Yoyce!”

She snapped her head backwards. Her heart pounded in her chest. She caught her breath and said, “Hi, Pepee.”

“My name is Pepe, P-E-PE. Pepe.”

“Okay.”

“Say it, Yoyce, repeat, P-e-p-e.

“Pepe.”

“Good, berry good. Jou peekee panee good.”

“Grassy-ass.”

“Eh, Maybe not so good.”

The Gladiator walked in. “Pepe, puedes llevar la señora a su casa?”

“Si, si, como no.”

“Joyce, Pepe will take you home, I’ve got to pick up another car tonight; must be the heat.”

No! Please don’t go. Tell them push their own car.

“Sure, of course.”

“I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know about your car.”

She gritted her teeth. So close, yet so far. 

“Great. Thanks, Manny.”   

Pepe offered her a shot of espresso. She downed the sweet, potent liquid like a shot of bourbon.

“I teach jou panee, okay?” He said, leading her to his truck.

She strained her head backwards and got the last glimpse of her Gladiator then fondled the still-wet tissue in her pocket.

“Sure, why not?”

“Repit after me…”

To be continued… 

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