Friday, June 27, 2008

Oscar's adventures continued

He walked down the dusty street toward the table in the shade where the Senora was lifting tamales out of the deep aluminum pot. I want to talk to you, he said. Let’s go inside. She tried to slip subtly between him and the door, a curtain hanging across it. We can talk here, she said, almost cajoling. There’s no one around. Everyone’s gone to the circus. I went last week already. You should see it. It’s starting now—can you hear? They have lions that piss--she was babbling. He took a step closer and saw her daughter rise, her usually genial face now blank and menacing, but he couldn’t feel afraid. He was looking at a Halloween mask from the five and dime, only the eyes were alive. He dodged between them. This wasn’t what he’d planned to do. Before he could stop himself he was pounding along a corridor. He glimpsed a withered couple slumped in their chairs as if petrified, the thick lenses of their glasses making their eyes looked like huge shimmering cataracts. A philodendron trailed along the tiles. The hall grew longer and longer until at last he burst out into a dirt yard where a fire was burning and stumbled over crockery into a pile of cornhusks. He swore and heard an answering curse in English. It had come from the corrugated shed to his right, a stream of liquid running toward the dusty mango tree. With sweating hands he grasped a rope handle attached to a metal panel. In the sudden gloom he saw a man bound to a chair, his matted beard touching his chest, reeking of urine. The man raised his eyes. Please get me out, he said. I’ve made thousands of tamales and I can no longer stand the smell of corn.

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