YOUR WIFE IS HOT
I am racing away down this highway like a meteor. Christ, I’m doing eighty-five in this old truck. The wind is whipping my hair into my eyes. The hills all around me are as black as a Bible and turning slowly past me. But the dome of this night sky scintillates without changing.
Whoa! A meteor! I saw a meteor! Wow, it just scratched across half the night sky! I swear I could see red and yellow when it finally burst. A meteor is just dust just rolling through this universe in solitude for a million years. Then, by chance, it is attracted to earth where it scrapes itself into a rainbow vapor against the deceiving atmosphere.
I call myself a writer. If I couldn’t call myself a writer I’d have to blow my brains out.
When I was twelve my father dropped me off at school and then he went home and dropped dead of a heart attack. My big sister picked me up from school and I thought she was lying to me until I saw my mother.
My mother was religious and so to make sense of my father’s death she became more religious. My big sister left home, but I remained behind with Jesus.
My father died so young that there were only crumbs of benefits left to us. My mother struggled and prayed harder and harder. Then, when I was a senior in high school she got colon cancer but she prayed and convinced herself that it was just “a food allergy” until it was too late and she died.
I had a girl who liked me in high school but she got engaged to a pre-med student. I was then alone and pretty much broke. I lived in a smoke-filled rented house with five other guys and tried to go to community college. My mother’s sister told me that if I didn’t know what I wanted to do then I should get a business degree because I could use it anywhere. So I tried.
When I was a kid I was a loner anyway. I spent summers on a lounge chair in the back yard reading a whole science fiction book every day. My father had been a boxer in the Navy and a college football hero. He had to have been disappointed in me but at family gatherings he always asked me to define some word and then he would proudly say, “Did you hear that?”
Now I was a young man on my own and painfully aware of my shabby “coat of arms” and afraid of my social caste. So the voice in my head began to tell me that I was a writer who was gathering experience. Somehow that got me through all the menial jobs and the humiliating office work that the agency for temporary workers found for me.
Then when I was twenty-one some relative had died and I got a few thousand dollars. I moved out of that smoke-filled house and I resolved to live frugally and to write “that book”.
I bought an old pickup truck with a loud muffler and a skull-and-bones motif chrome trim from some tough guy with a beard and tattoos. His name was Dusty. Dusty is the one who told me about the trailer park owned by some charismatic church. The rent was too good to be true. And Dusty was the property manager. Well, it certainly promised to be an experience that I could “gather”.
The trailer park was a cluster of old trailers, long ones and short ones. It was located on a dry, dusty plateau surrounded by Eucalyptus trees. I rented a short trailer. A long trailer was my nearest neighbor. Dusty told me that the “charismatic leader” of the church, Pastor Abundio, lived there in the long trailer with his wife Chicharra.
I did not see anyone else around in the trailer park. Dusty told me that most of the renters were (and he chose his words carefully) “undocumented workers” for whom Pastor Abundio would contract jobs. Then Dusty added, “You won’t see them most of the time. They come home late and dead tired. But on Friday night they like to drink and sing at the fire pit over there. You are welcome to join in.”
Well, I figured that at least I would have no distractions. How wrong could I be?
I will tell you how wrong I could be.
One afternoon it was 104 degrees. I had my netbook set-up on a folding table right beside the air-conditioner. That air conditioner could barely secure a zone of comfort for me. It was set into one window of my trailer and I looked out at my neighbor’s trailer.
That’s when I saw her.
The door of Pastor Abundio’s long trailer flew open and out stepped a dark and beautiful young woman with long wavy raven hair. She was wearing only a satin slip and she had on thin slippers. She stood on the tiny porch and she tipped her face to the sky and closed her eyes as she pulled back her long hair with both hands and pursed her dark brown lips and exhaled long and slowly. She held that pose for at least a minute.
I knew that it must be she, Pastor Abundio’s wife, and I licked her name upon my lips, “Chicharra”.
Chicharra went to the side of their trailer and retrieved a hose with a tiny sprinkler attached. Chicharra wiped her forehead with the back of her arm. She carried the hose and sprinkler midway between their trailer and my trailer and she set it down. She went back and turned on the sprinkler and a mist of spray arose.
Then I could not believe what happened next.
Chicharra began to dance into and out of the pillar of mist. She raised her arms she kicked her shapely legs as high as her shoulders and she twirled. She bowed and dipped and arose again with a kick that lifted her off of her feet and she gently landed and lifted her leg behind herself and bowed and twirled.
Her wet satin slip clung now tightly to her body.
I was leaning forward and staring through my window at this erotic ballet and then I sat back like a dreamer awakening and I was afraid for a moment that I had heat stroke. I guess I did in a way. But I leaned forward again. In a sudden inspiration I grabbed my smart phone and I began to take pictures. Then I set my phone to take a video because I had to capture that flowing dance. I told myself that I had always been fascinated by the grace and precision of the human body during gymnastics and formal dance.
I also had a raging baton in my pants.
Suddenly Chicharra stopped and stood straddling the sprinkler, facing toward my window. The spray went up under her fluttering slip and reappeared coursing back down her legs and she tipped her head back and blew and she shimmered in the hot sun.
She lowered her head slowly and that was when she saw me looking at her. I fell back in my chair as if she had slapped me but she slowly smiled and she put her left hand on her hip and she waved at me with her other hand. I raised my own hand in embarrassed acknowledgement.
She had not stepped out of the rising spray.
She finally came over to my window and said up to me, “Please, no tell my husband. He no likes me dance.”
She looked at my rumbling air conditioner and said to me, “I am Chicharra. My husband is Pastor Abundio. My air conditioning no work. You know fix maybe?”
My Spanish was weak but I pointed to my face and I said, “I am called Evan.”
Chicharra grinned and teased, “Heaven? Very nice for you.”
I clarified, “I’m Eh-van. No mechanic. No mechanic. If you like, I can see air conditioner.”
Chicharra nodded and replied, “Eh-van. Yes. Very nice. Please, you look?”
Not only was it as hot as Hell outside but my imagination spun fantasies of Chicharra that drilled down into Hell itself and surely would be branded onto my poor barbequed soul when Satan finally owned me.
As we walked together toward her trailer I said awkwardly, “Good dance. I liked. You dance before?”
Chicharra replied softly, “Little girl dance in Mexico. Very poor. Abundio let me dance in club. Los Pobres Caballeros de Cristo (Poor Knights of Christ drug cartel) come to club. Drug men want to buy club, talk to Abundio. Then Abundio say he talk to Jesus. Jesus tell Abundio come to America take me his, his wife. Abundio say Jesus tell him I no dance no more.”
I walked up the steps to her trailer a little slower now. I was sure that I was about to “gather” one too many experiences.
The inside of the trailer was ostentatious with religious displays. I had an uneasy feeling and I thought of the phrase “protests too much”.
Chicharra said, “Here air condition. No work no more.”
I had to focus. It was ten degrees hotter in that trailer than the furnace outside. My skin was crying sweat. I looked at the air conditioning unit as if I had any idea about how to repair it.
I said, “Just a moment,” and I got out my smart phone and noted the air conditioner’s brand name and number. You can find a YouTube video for repairing anything I was once told. I had to dry my fingers before my touch registered on the touch-screen. Sure enough, there it was. I started the video.
The instructions commenced and in the first couple of sentences the instructor said to make sure that the air conditioner is plugged-in (well, duh) and then he said to confirm that a fuse had not blown. (Boing!) I set my phone down on the nearby lamp stand.
I turned to Chicharra who was gleaming with sweat and I had to look aside to ask her, “Fuse box? Electricity?”
She replied, “Oh,” and gestured for me to follow her down to the far end of the trailer. I followed her rolling hips as she walked.
To the bedroom. Jesus Christ, their bedroom.
I quickly said, “No, no. Electricity. Fuse box?”
Chicharra said, “Sí, sí,” and she continued a few more steps and she opened the closet door. She knelt down and motioned for me to come to her. She laughed as if at a child and motioned again for me to kneel with her as I had been just standing there beside her apprehensively.
I crouched beside her. My knee made a popping sound. Chicharra placed her hand lightly on my knee and laughed and said, “Don’t break.”
Her naked shoulder was against mine. I could smell her overheated aromas.
She pointed to the right-hand wall of the closet. There was the fuse box. I immediately saw that one of the switches was off. I clicked it and we both heard the rumble of the air conditioner.
Chicharra arose with a hop and a delighted clap and then quickly reached down and offered to me her hand as if I needed help to get up.
Believe me, part of me was already way up.
I don’t know what went wrong with me next: I took her hand as I stood up.
She leaned forward and kissed with glee my hot sweating unshaven cheek. She rubbed her lips and laughed, saying, “Salt of earth. Very good.”
With her face being that close to mine I turned into those brown eyes and that sweet breath and those sweaty aromas. My instincts grappled with my better angels and I was actually paralyzed.
She narrowed her eyes right into my own eyes and she shook her head and then she laughed again and said, “Thank you, Eh-van.”
I found my volition and I turned and I walked out of there as quickly as was polite and I was waving and saying, “Well, I work now. Much work.”
That rest of the day I was just sitting in front of my netbook, glancing up at my neighbor’s trailer, imagining, imagining.
The evening had sneaked over me when there came the sudden pounding on my door that shook my persistent reveries about Chicharra.
I opened my trailer door and the door could not frame all of the man who stood there. My eyes popped involuntarily. He was massive. He reminded me of a Polynesian war god idol, he was so imposing and fierce of expression.
He said, “I am Pastor Abundio.”
Then I saw standing behind Pastor Abundio, looking around those big shoulders, Dusty, the property manager.
Pastor Abundio looked down at me and asked, “You are Eh-van?”
So this is how it was going to end for me.
I answered with shivering nonchalance, “H-, hi. Yes. I’m Evan. Hello.”
Pastor Abundio thrust his arm toward me and I flinched. He was holding my smart phone.
Pastor Abundio said, “You left this.”
I took the phone off of his table-top palm and I hoped that he didn’t notice my trembling.
Pastor Abundio said, “My wife told me everything.”
I was just smiling and nodding. Then I heard myself say, “Your wife is… WAS, was hot. I fixed her… IT, it.”
Pastor Abundio considered me for a moment. I felt like a supplicating condemned man.
He asked me, “Do you like Jesus?” and I kept smiling and nodding and Pastor Abundio then said, “You come to my church Saturday morning. Dusty will show you,” and then he turned and walked away past Dusty who continued to look at me with an ambiguous smile.
I shut the door. Out of nervous habit I turned the phone on to check it and I almost dropped it. There in the opening screen was the video I had taken of Chicharra dancing, ready to play at a touch of the Start arrow. I remembered for certain that I had left it on the YouTube video.
I suddenly knew what was meant by the expression “my knees got weak”.
The next day, Friday, was a blur. I did not know what to do. My mother always had told me to pray and so I prayed and I prayed and then when it became evening I joined my fellow residents at their campfire. Dusty had provided cases of beer. I drank enough beer to quench the fires of Hell. The workers all laughed at me and slapped my back, I can remember.
I awoke the next morning on my porch sitting against my trailer door. I had enough time to rub tap water on my face, drink long from the faucet, and then go to the bathroom, before Dusty pulled up in his truck outside my front door and honked.
He hollered, “Let’s go,” and pounded his fist against the outside of his truck door. I wobbled out my door and the workers who were squeezed in the back of his pickup laughed at me and beckoned me to get in.
They didn’t talk to me directly but they were all grinning at me and muttering to each other and chuckling.
Pastor Abundio’s charismatic church turned out to be what looked like an abandoned homestead at the far edge of the plateau. There was the crudest of crosses made from nailed lumber and painted white and leaning against the wall beside doorway of the square structure. There was no glass in the windows. Inside was painted black and it made me feel like the interior had been burned out. There was a motley assemblage of various chairs and benches toward the center of the room as if they had been corralled. They faced a raised platform draped in white linen. A sparkling pink cross had been painted on the wall behind the platform using metal-flake paint. A hole cut strategically into the ceiling permitted a shaft of light to angle onto the center of the platform.
The workers took seats and so did I. Several of the workers glanced over at me with what I thought was commiseration but they quickly looked away. Through the windows were beautiful views of the hills that looked like square photographs hung against the black walls.
Pastor Abundio entered with Dusty behind him and they walked slowly up to the raised platform, climbed up, and turned and stood looking over the heads of the congregation. They both wore black choir robes.
I looked around.
I saw Chicharra entering wearing a pink choir robe that I thought she must have sewn and she walked slowly up to the raised platform. All the workers bowed their heads. Chicharra sat on the steps of the platform. She looked slowly around the room at the bowed heads and then her eyes found my eyes and she bent forward ever so slightly and I got the message that I was supposed to bow my head. I did so.
Pastor Abundio began to preach sentences alternately in Spanish and then in English, beginning with, “We are the Poor Knights of Christ…”
Here and there workers would look up and nod and then lower their heads.
I quickly realized that Pastor Abundio was speaking religious platitudes and philosophical inanities. For a moment I thought that someday I would write a comedy skit about this. Then a chill descended upon me as Dusty said, “Let us all show our great gratitude to our Pastor Abundio.”
Dusty walked up to each worker in turn and held open a black sack to receive their “offerings”. Each one took a fistful of dollars and dropped them into the sack. Dusty came up before me and he held out the open sack and he smiled with that ambiguous smile and nodded. I took out my shabby wallet and stuck my fingers into the slit of the pouch for my only cash, six one dollar bills. Dusty nodded and shook the sack. I dropped my cash into the sack.
I was suddenly terrified.
Had my “gathering” of experiences made me a drug cult slave? What had I done? I had shackled myself with guilt and fear. I was insane. I was no writer. I was a stupid loser!
At 3:00 AM this morning, Sunday morning, I arose and I tossed my netbook and clothes and a bag of toiletries into my truck and I quietly rolled away from the trailer park, gritting my teeth at every stone my tires crunched.
So here I am racing away down this highway like a meteor. The wind is making my hair whip like flames. I am not a loser! I am not a loser!
I am a writer!
The CHECK ENGINE NOW light suddenly glows on my dashboard as if red hot from friction. The engine starts to make a tapping sound like a hammer on nails. A spear of terror stabs my guts. I cry out, “God, why have you abandoned me?!”
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