Jorge Mendoza was the last man to receive a call. As he picked up the phone, he was still debating whether to go to work or not. If he went, what would the other men think? If he stayed home and lost his job, no one in the valley would hire him. And if he got deported, he would lose everything.
I got up from the floor and glanced at the frozen lake. In the morning, the sunlight streaked across it like bright scribbles of yellow crayon. I saw yellow spots all over the cabin.
“You got a little too mcskunk last night,” Wiley laughed, pressing empty beer cans to his chest. Wiley was big. His body was shaped like a bulb baster.
B was small and just flushed the toilet. “Mcskunkess is up. How ya feelin’, bitch,” he smiled as he walked toward me. B had a patch of frizzy hair that looked glued to the top of his head.
“Um,” I said.
The Union of Pennames, Imaginary Friends and Fictional Characters (UPIFFC) has gone on strike. The reasons for this are unclear, but there’s a bunch of them outside my office window at this very moment alternately singing We Shall Overcome and making unflattering chants that feature my name and the accusation of miserly behavior on my part: “SAY HEY FREEMAN/HOW ABOUT A FEE MAN.” Don’t blame me, I didn’t say these were good chants.
Anyway, my penname, Ms. Leila Allison, seems to be the brains of the outfit, which is the only good news I have to report. Until she either gets bored with this rebellious activity, or the situation is in some other way resolved, I am forbidden to use the alias. Until that time, however, the show must go on.
When the 1st mate opens the door to the crew’s lounge and mumbles something at me, I slide The Universe and Dr. Einstein snugly between the pages of Penthouse. He mumbles at me again, but the only thing I hear is “boy.” His incessant use of boy rankles me worse than if I were 14. I remind myself that I’m 24, then hide behind the cover of Penthouse and read “…the heartbeat of a person traveling with a velocity close to that of light would be slowed.”
In my father’s building, there was a daily ritual. The old ladies from the building would gather in the lobby and wait for the mailman, saying things like, “I hope he doesn’t come as late as he did yesterday,” or “Remember that Thursday in October when he didn’t come at all?”
I was so used to being scared and running by then, I don’t know, guess I just always seen it coming. We spent a lot of years running, Ma and me. Start out seeking something better, that life we never had, just to hightail it in the night when that life went and turned its teeth on us.
Country living, living in nature’s bountiful bosoms, being a country girl, pastoral delights and splendid nights with stars shining bright.
Don’t, just don’t shovel that hot, rancid, fly infested, maggot breeding horseshit in my direction. I been there and done that. I sat on that milk stool. I swam in that polluted pool. I slept on the straw mattress with the rats and fleas. I churned butter, collected eggs, slopped the hogs, fed the chickens, shoveled the shit, planted the garden, weeded the rows, gathered the crops, canned, and sewed.
And, I cooked, cleaned, snapped beans, made beds and did the laundry in my spare time.
My country, the country that I lived in, was more than a place in space and time it was an evil disposition of heart and mind.