“Most of the lanterns were broked in the stampede,” Cooch says, and he lifts a candle to his face.
Take these, a terrible voice demanded, brushing past the back of my stool. The hands dropped a plastic pearl strand into my lap and lingered against my waist. You will use them tonight. The men like them.
Cooch noticed too, and his eyes were bright white and he had sandy dark skin, like the phantoms that chased me in my sleep. So I looked away.
I was still dreaming of going home. Maybe I could get home by 1925, dios mio. But Vaudeville was dying, and I had no true home.
Cooch kept talking, and his heavy breath blew against my face powder. “You gon’ do that snake dance tonight, hm? Why, you looked like a serpent made of stars.”
“Si, I am going to,” I said. “Cooch, could you bring me a candle?”
In Mexico I would be with Mama reading Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz under the trees where Papa slept. He worked hard, and his face often looked sad and tired and awaiting Mama to die. I think he knew she would.
Mama’s funeral was on a day of rain. It hadn’t rained in two years, and finally — we stood there praying to Quetzalcoatl or Jesus or anyone for the little mercy that should have been given. My hair was darker than black that day, and Papa said I reminded him of her and to get away.
He called me every name I never heard and every word I never said. He threw at me an avocado and told me to ‘eat up’ and get fat and show the white men what a Mexican cunt looked like.
Read the full story in MMR Anthology 2011.
Lisa Marie Basile is a writer, living in New York, and Editor-in-Chief of Caper Literary Journal . She has had work published in CommonLine, Aphros Literary Magazine, Vox Poetica, and The Medulla Review, among others. She studied English Language and Literature at Pace University in Manhattan, where she received 1st place in PU’s Annual Writing Contest for poetry and fiction. Her web site is www.lisamariebasile.com and www.caperjournal.com.