She fiddles with a small, tart, green lime, turned right side up on the metal, white-lacquer table. Charcoal doesn’t exist at their pascuas cookout in Los Ébanos, Texas, two blocks from the nickel it costs to cross the Río Grande on the Chalán. And, lighter fluid does not taint the pure mesquite wood, burning rust, and year aged crust covering the black metal grill. Newspaper sways from many hands, over the flames, sending orange bits of what looks like fire flies, up into the air, and down into the wild cilantro field that grows beside it. Dozens of cebolla halves are wrapped in foil and poked all over the silver balls with a fork. Pale, flesh colored chicharrones de pig and de res combined together in a green plastic bowl are set beside the flames, and atop a stack of different colored bricks. Tortillas toast brown around the edges.
The Tecate is cold and pours down her freezing throat, swaying her hips, and causing the sun to reflect off the salt on her lips. Confetti lingers under her bra and dirt is caked in the creases behind her knee, outside of her white Sunday socks because the ruffles are hot. Meat drips, and mouths drop as we all watch the fuego rise with the wind. Red, wet, fresh round steak sliced thin, covered in spices, smashed in. An overnight beer marinade sleeps over the flames, collecting black crisps on its edges and brown molasses puddles over the top. The fajitas are tender, burnt, roasted, and rare. Crispy, young grass-and-grain-fed steer, boiled in the morning, and wrapped in maíz cuddle with the hands of hungry familia.
From under the vergonzosa tree, she stares at what used to be the strip of land between the grill and Buela’s house. She sees herself jump over the tops of drying field grass, and kick up dust clouds from the back of her running white patent-leather church shoes.
Attached to a rope, held by a heavy hand, and dangling from a mesquite tree touching the sky, her piñata dangles very high. Candy drops from what would have been las legs of la sirena, at the busted seam between the tip of her tail and her fin, onto the grey dust and gravel. Buela throws herself on the ground, not afraid to snag her nude-colored-knee-highs, while she sifts through the caliche to gather enough paletas, pink peeps and chocolate conejos for her baby nieta who always gets trampled when she runs out. She is not shy or afraid, darting her arms in front of other baby faces to catch handfuls of the candy cascades.
Chile serrano, piquín, habanero, jalapeño, and cilantro, soaked in the juices of chopped tomate y limón, from the trees in front, pile themselves perfectly in a mound on top of her tortilla chip. Aguacate halves are green half-moons beside the comida, and a spill of sal y pimiento stars fill the sky of my Styrofoam plate.
from Empanada: A Lesbiana Story en Probaditas
© Anel I. Flores, 2012