Fiction: Grown-Ups These Days

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“I still can’t believe we’re going to see J-Lo tonight.”

“I know, crazy, huh?”

Lily nods. She’s sitting on one leg folded underneath her, the other leg crossed over, back against the seat, arms on the armrests, like a young Spanish grandee lounging in her favorite chair, a glass of sweet red wine between her painted fingertips.

She smiles. “When I was little, listening to her songs and dancing in my room with my sisters, I never would’ve thought, not even in a million years…”

Her voice trails off.

Sitting across from her at the table, Nestor, brown and stringy as a strip of jerky, slowly nods his shaved head. He picks up a half-emptied glass from the table and takes a smooth swig of wine. Actual clouds drift across the sky, thin and flat, making for a beautiful sunset above the Nevada desert. The air is warm, dry, smelling the nothing smell of hot sand, mixed now and then with a whiff of baked dog turds left on the patch of fake grass, flies swirling around them like tiny little buzzards.

Glass in hand, Nestor swats at a stray fly, spilling drops of red on the patio table. He wipes the liquid with his hand, peeking up at Lily to see if she noticed, but she’s staring serenely at a little white dog chasing a buzzing winged dot, its head darting around like a squirrel’s. The dog stands still, firm, waiting, trying to look out of the corners of both its animal eyes, feeling for the slightest tickle, something to snap at. A fly lands near its tail and the dog whips around to bite it, chew it, eat it, swallow it, but the fly is too quick and zips away to live another minute.

Lily smiles at the dog. “I think it’s hilarious how much he hates flies.”

“That fucken dog is spoiled.” Nestor wipes his red-wet hand underneath the seat cushion, staining it. “’member the dogs in Mexico? They don’t give a fuck. Just laying out in the street, underneath somebody’s car, with a whole gang of flies living on their face, a shit ton of people passing by.”

Lily shakes her head, sort of listening. “Yeah, but pobres perros–roaming the streets, with no food, no owners.”

Pobres perros nothing! They have owners! You don’t think they have owners? They just don’t baby them like we do. Plus, even the ones that don’t have owners still find food. They eat!”

Nestor relaxes.

“You need to stop pampering this little motherfucker, I’m serious. If he bites one more person…”

He kills the rest of his wine. A red stream slides down from the corner of his mouth and he clears it away with the brown of his hand.

Read the rest of the story at La Bloga

Featured image: Daniel Ramirez/Flickr

Hector is the founder and editor of MANO magazine as well as the host of the LATINISH podcast. A Chicagoan living in Las Vegas, he's a former deputy editor of Latino Rebels as well as a former managing editor of Gozamos, an art-activism site based in his home town. He was a columnist at RedEye, a Tribune-owned daily geared toward millennials. His work has been mentioned by The New Yorker, Good Morning America, TIME and other outlets, and his writing was featured in Ricanstruction, a comic book anthology whose proceeds went toward recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. He studied history at the University of Illinois-Chicago where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States.

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