fidgets, sporting a big smile, straddling a backwards chair, his arms
crossed on the chair back facing the vinyl dinette table scattered with pungent
beer cans and spicy food. Trumpets blare from a radio filling the room with
so funny?” asks Jesus, looking askance at Diego while leaning back in his
chair, sprawling his lanky body but keeping his hand around a can of beer on
the table. In his mid-twenties, Jesus is the oldest of the four young men
gathered around the table, Diego's the youngest, perhaps 18. The mid-day Tucson
sun illuminates the floating dust of the dinette area drifting through a screen
door to the backyard.
appears happy to have gained the attention, his smile expanding amidst a
scraggly light beard with mustache plus a crew cut. Like the others he wears
khakis or cutoffs with t-shirts or tank-tops.
was just thinking,” Diego begins eagerly but is cut off.
that does strike me as hilarious.” Jesus laughs and takes a sip from his beer
you don't pull a muscle,” interjects Martinez leaning against the wall,
shirtless, muscular and clean shaven except for a large mustache. His hair is
combed straight back.
slightly more rotund than the others with a small mustache, laughs from his
seat on a low cabinet, “He pulls his muscle every night.”
makes a face at Diego, “Give Maria a call, dude.”
was just thinking I haven't seen her in a while,” counters Diego.
a pause in the conversation Jesus stops his beer can just before taking a sip,
furrowing his brow, “She used to be over here all the time.”
A regular locomotive pulling trains,” says Marcos.
she disappear all a sudden?” asks Diego.
leans forward, while still standing against the wall, “I hear she's in a 'committed'
committed relationship? Maria?” Diego sounds astounded.
watch your language around Jose, okay?” continues Martinez, “He and she are a
smile has become a wide grin, “The number is sixty-nine no doubt.”
raises both hands shoulder high, “I'm just telling you, they're sweet on each
bet he's mostly on her,” razzes Diego.
way they are always together now. He fell hard,” Martinez replies.
laughs while standing with his crotch protruding, “With Maria we were all
others laugh and point at Marcos.
he know about her rep?” asks Diego.
guy just arrived a month or so. Maybe not,” says Jesus.
wetback in love,” razzes Diego.
you calling a wetback? Your mom's still in Mexico,” chastises Martinez.
been here long enough to pack Maria's butt,” replies Diego.
waves his hand like he's pushing him away, “That ain't sayin' much. Like what,
ain't wearing a shirt because it's still drying outside on the line,” says
Diego pointing at Martinez.
using that slur. He's just un-doc-u-men-ted,” replies Jesus.
wetback,” answers Diego.
reacts aggressively pointing at Diego with his beer can, “Don't call me a wetback,
my family has been here forever.”
suppose they came to America on the Mayflower,” jests Diego.
did not come on the Mayflower,” says Jesus pointedly.
maybe it was the Nina, the Punta, and the Cunta Maria,” says Diego.
mean the Santa Maria. And no Mexicans came to America in the Santa Maria,” says
Mexican-American I know came in the cunt of Maria. She gets around,” says
chimes in, “That girl's like an alkaline battery.”
battery?” asks Martinez.
Ever-ready,” says Marcos.
her red hair she's more the coppertop,” says Diego.
me,” replies Jesus laughing.
points directly at Jesus, “Hey. You took her out a while back.”
never even kissed her,” replies Jesus.
never even kissed her!” Diego sounds skeptical.
the whole night she never got above my waist,” replies Jesus sipping his beer.
High five dude,” laughs Diego reaching. The others chuckle as Jesus leans
forward to slap Diego's palm.
nice cunt on that babe, though,” says Jesus, “I even ate a little of it.”
taco, dude,” laughs Diego, “I'll bet she was jalapena.”
leans back in his chair again, holding his can of beer.
young man walks into the room staring at a cellphone held waist high in front
of him. Everyone suddenly becomes quiet. The newcomer looks around the room at
Jose, wassup?” asks Diego.
coldly stares at his cellphone, “My girlfriend's dead.”
Your cellphone's dead?” asks Marcos.
Maria's dead,” replies Jose with a trembling face, “Car accident.”
funny,” says Marcos.
gives him an angry look as his muscles tighten.
razzes Diego sarcastically.
she can't be dead,” Marcos frowns, “I was just talking to her on the phone.”
looks directly at Marcos, “That's what they said.”
said?” asks Marcos.
said she was talking on the phone and ran a red light,” answers Jose weakly.
looks completely confused, “What the fuck? When?”
an hour ago,” replies Jose.
when I was talking to her. She hung up on me,” says Marcos.
didn't hang up on you, asshole, she was killed,” interjects Jose.
That cunt Maria?” asks Diego.
moves aggressively toward Diego. Jesus and Martinez stand up between them.
got to be joking,” continues Marcos.
I look like a fucking comedian?” says Jose, turning aggressively towards
asks Diego again.
is still shaking his head, his voice faltering, “She can't be dead. I was just
talking to her.”
conversation pauses as the five men comprehend the circumstances.
slumps into his chair while lamenting, “We were just talking about her.”
leans plaintively toward Jose, “Everybody loves Maria. This can't be true.”
do you know this for sure?” asks Jesus.
sister texted me,” replies Jose, his wrinkled face fighting tears, “It's on the
I'm sorry,” says Martinez stepping to put his hand on Jose's shoulder. Jose
lowered his head.
stood suddenly and threw his beer can against the wall.
can't be Maria, not our Maria,” says Jesus angrily, staring at the wall.
Jesus,” says Diego.
up. Asshole. You didn't really know her,” snaps Jesus at Diego.
knew her?” asks Jose.
knew her, and I loved her but,” says Jesus trembling, “but I knew about her too
and I didn't treat her right.”
about her?” asks Jose, slowly comprehending.
just, she had too many friends,” says Jesus, “I wasn't able to handle it. But
she never hurt anyone.”
may not be the time,” suggests Martinez quietly to Jesus.
always thought she would be there for me,” says Jesus, “and then she was gone.”
do you mean then?” asks Jose. He looks completely forlorn and confused.
wasn't anyone's,” says Martinez to Jose, “until you came along.”
all loved her,” says Jesus, “until you came along. Then she changed. She was
like a flower that just bloomed when you came along.”
knew Maria well?” asks Jose.
knew all she wanted was to be loved,” replies Jesus looking away, “we all took
advantage of her for that.”
do you mean you took advantage of her?” asks Jose puzzled.
you came along and she had no time for us,” says Jesus, “for me. Still I was in
love with Maria.”
was what I asked her,” interjects Marcos animatedly, “I asked her why she
didn't come around anymore. She said she was in love. Then she hung up on me.”
everyone looked at each other in a momentary silence. Even the radio ended a
song and sat quiet.
didn't hang up on you god damn it,” yells Jose in an angry voice without
moving, “she was killed because she was talking to you.”
leans forward palms up like he was catching a medicine ball.
she was telling me she loved you,” answers Marcos with a pleading look.
stood still for a long time, not moving even his eyes, though tears formed at
the corner of his eyes. The radio began playing a somber instrumental.
only been here a short time,” he says finally, “I only knew her a short time.”
funny,” says Marcos. Jose gave him an angry look. Marcos shook his head and
continued, “No, listen, we knew her a long time but we never really knew her.
Jesus is just saying we thought we did, but we didn't respect her. You did. You
gave her life and love after all these years. She loved only a short time, but
it was all with you.”
silently looks at Marcos for several seconds before looking at the floor and
sagging, “It doesn't help.”
froze. No one moved or spoke. Except for Jesus, who started to sob.