|Doña Selina died last Sunday. She was 84. She raised 14 kids, only six survive. She left countless grandkids and great-grandkids. The Las Vegas (NM) Optic didn’t even bother to count her descendants. The tenor of the obituary was resigned to a lot of things.
Lorenzo is the last of his mom’s male children. He’s a wreck of a man; just the frame of the cocky teenage boxer grinning in the promo shot of 1964. During his last match, he missed his opponent but squarely hit a ringside steel post. He tore his glove. He tore ligaments. It was all over after boxing the Panhandle for 18 months.
33 years and many bottles of La Copita later, Lara (does everyone in this little burg have a nickname?) befriended me. He does more than ask for small change for malt liquor and GPC cigarettes. He sits at my table in the guest chair and tells me who’s related to who. He gives me archaic Spanish blessings. I give him rides to Ida and the Sav-o-Mat, though they’re less than two blocks away. His manners are elaborate; I like to imagine Old World. If you blur your eyes you see a pale Celtic Spaniard. You can imagine life in his hazel eyes too, but you have to squint hard.
It can be an honor to be dumped on. Lara came by after his mom’s funeral. I had recited the rosary the previous night with the Hermanos. .had fucked up the fourth decade badly. I added an extra “Dios te salve” when the mood was to do our thing and git out. I didn’t vary my little oraciones either, which is okay in English, but not in Spanish where there are more than 10 variations to choose from, and folks expect to be entertained by prayer. Imagine that. Why does silence fall in the church when it’s my turn to recite something? Is it scrutiny? Appreciation? What?
We went and got a quart of beer to share, I rolled one for me. We talked. He asked if he could stay over. I made the daybed upstairs and turned in.
He says it was a seizure. …him in my arms like a laboring cabrito, quaking and heaving animal language. His skin’s hot and smooth, his blackwatch boxers and brilliant white T-shirt soaked. I stroke his arms, rub his shoulders. It’s over.
Selina, send someone to hold me when it is time.
© Tasso 2000