Sept. 7th, 2019
I live in a place that I never dream of.
When people start dying again I’ll have to be on top of it so I can leave before I know it. Right at the point where my brother comes to tell me. Right when I see the tears and his mouth shake before he tells me. Then I’ll go. I won’t really know, but I will. It’ll be easier.
Mail takes time to reach you in Spain. Time because it has a journey ahead of it. The hardest part is the beginning, before the mails been conceived, right when it’s an idea. The effort needed to turn those thoughts to black ink and to send them across an ocean – it’s a rare thing that happens so often. It’s a thing taken for granted to have your brother write that mom’s sick again, and it’s rarer that those words can fly. Rarer even more that they’d land safely, given their weight. But it makes sense too. Their sharp words, words that won’t let themselves dull and dim until they’ve found rest in a heart. And sharp things fly and land so much easier.
But it’s rare they’d land and rare they’d stumble along, hitchhiking through federal trucks till they’ve come to the town I live beside. And then into the hands of a poor man who unknowingly is committing murder.
The postman walks up the cobble and spits into a potted plant that’s overgrown and takes out some glasses before looking at the note, up at the numbers on my home, and then back at the note. A knock later means I’m being burglarized by a man who won’t take anything that hasn’t already gone missing. I see the address on the letter and I turn around before he’s left and grab my phone and ring the police and tell them to come quick! There’s been a murder!
And they ask, another? And I say, I had a big family!
But they won’t come this time. I turn back to the postman who’s smoking something green and hand him a 20 for his trouble and he nods and asks me if everyone’s still coming over tonight and I tell him how else should you mourn! Bring Cara!
Well, the night comes and the cold too and so I burn the firewood I have and when that’s gone burn the letter because it seems like a proper funeral that way and the people in the town have come over and they cheer because they think it’s symbolic but I haven’t even read it. It might just say that his wife had another baby.
But he didn’t send a letter for the first. Baby’s don’t make it across the ocean. Baby’s are too heavy and not at all sharp. They sink.
And the postman’s barber asks los muchachos estan todos siento mi amigo. And in English he says, for who do we drink?
I grab my bottle and raise it and say, I’ve never known!
There’s a laugh beyond the postman who must’ve noticed how the letter hadn’t been broken. Only him, the rest don’t know much about rare things and crossing the ocean.
Shots go around and they don’t last long on the table and then another wave comes poured in those same cups and they go slower at first, but then all at once. When they’re poured again I watch to see which lasts the longest and make bets and it’s the tequila in the cup that says I love America that lasts the longest. It’s knocked over and then another is poured and this time it’s the first drunk. I don’t look at that cup anymore and find a new one to care about. The next one has a bunch of low resolution printed leaves. It doesn’t belong to me but I’m sure the people of the town will leave it and so it will become mine. The fireball makes the green leaves look red and when Cara drinks it she says ah! Caliente! Odio tequila!
I hate Tequila too, I say. It’s the one thing we have in common. Other drinks don’t do this, but tequila makes her get up and sit in my lap and kiss my cheek big like a mother would. She’s younger than me. My arm goes around her and the guys give a cheer or two in some Spanish I haven’t learned because they only say it when we’re drinking. She turns to them and says, for our Nino, on his Birthday!
I’m supposed to take a shot for each year of my life, starting when I first drank. I’m lucky I waited till 16. I take one, another, another, another, another, another, and puke. A cheer! I take one more, and another, another, another, and puke. Cara kisses my face and wipes away the tears that come from puking. I understand in a blurred way why people die then. They get too old to take that many shots. Either the liquor gets them or the mob. I take the last shot and the tension and silence that held the room is released all at once and the Postman jumps on a table and pulls up a Postwoman and they begin to strip themselves, but don’t touch each other. Another round of shots for everyone but me, and then some more townspeople are on the table. My head leans back and my body falls away.
Hours later Cara wakes me up. She says she’s leaving. She kisses my cheek and says something I don’t understand. She wobbles to the door. The door wobbles too. There are empty buckets near me. One is filled with puke, one with the remnants of water droplets. My shirt is drenched, and I suppose they must’ve poured it into me to keep me alive for another year. I have to make sure not to buy a bigger bucket, otherwise I may drown before I die of thirst.
People are dead around me, but they’ll come back by morning. I close my eyes to skip to then.