HOLLYWOOD—In the booth at Mi Ranchito restaurant, Jason drank Candy's lilac perfume in his nostrils. Her wishing well eyes turned fiery as she spoke:
“When I first come to the U.S.A. I stay with this man, El GÃ¼ero. He was nice to look at, his skin was white as yours, and everybody thinks he's an American, but he was a snake. His wife going to have a baby and she sells tamales on the street. Mario El GÃ¼ero never worked, he played to the lottery all the time. My English is so bad. I know nothing,” said Candy.
Even now in the midst of this cruel confession, a smile flickered on Candy's face as she summoned a memory of El GÃ¼ero. His eyes. He couldn't have been unaware of the affect his eyes had on people. They were a bewitching color mingling a turquoise of Caribbean sunset and a hint of jade.
“Very charming smile he had, too,” Candy continued. “He said he loved me and that he was going to leave his wife. I succumb to his charms and I believe this guy with a young girl's heart. And now my heart is rusty. She was very religious, his wife, and when she go to the church, we made chaca chaca. And he had a wonderful car, a convertible yellow car from Alemania—how you say? I can't speak English. I know nothing,” she said with deepest conviction.
Jason cringed. Every time that she reiterated that she knew nothing, he wanted to throw her a volume of Mylanta to whisk away all those negative beliefs.
“I fall in love with the car and the light fold around my head and the wind blow in my hair when the pregnant wife roll on the church floor and speak in tongues. I dreamed of our wedding, of my white dress and the flowers, white orchids. When are you going to tell her the divorce, I say. He promise he going to get a cheap Salvadoran how you say? Liar.”
Jason gave her a huh? look.
“Who go to the courts and speak to the judge.”
“You mean lawyer,” Jason interjected.
“Yes, liar. Well, he never talk to the liar. Always next week. And I decide he no touch me no more. Not O.K. And then he turn ugly. He start to call me bad names, ugly names. Even if he look like a white angel, he's a peeg.” (Jason knew from his experience in the ESL mills that peeg was pig.) “He made me believe I was trapped in his house. Before I go the park, the store. Not now. He made me believe that if I left, the Migra would come and take me back to my country. And one day when the wife was out praying or selling tamales, as I watch dishes two strong hands grab my throat. The fingers pinch my throat shut. I was watching the dishes, and El GÃ¼ero, he strangle me.” Candy gasped, started breathing faster and frenzied. The tears poured from her eyes. She trembled. The jukebox blared:
Veni veni venii veni corazoncito
“The world was floating away. I drifted on the edge of the wind. My grandmother used to say that when we die we go with the wind.” She paused and put on the outlandishly large sunglasses. Jason's hands reached across the table and pulled them off, so he could gaze at her eyes.
“I was about to go into the wind,” she said. “It roared in my ears. The steel hands squeezed my throat. And I grabbed a 'killet.”
“Killet?” Jason shot another huh? Look.
“You know you fry egg on.”
“Oh, a skillet.”
“Like I say. I take the 'killet and hit him on the head. He bled. He dead.”
Good Shakespearean that he was, Jason could hardly fail to appreciate, once the initial shock of the revelations wore off, that like the Bard of Stratford on Avon, Candy chose to end a major scene on a rhyme. And, it also ank in that he had fallen in love with a murderess.
(to be continued)
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