Who could say the man she married did not love her as much as the young Floyce Alexander? They brought children into the world and by the time he saw her again, years, even worlds later, they were as much gone as he. What worlds? she laughed.
He rode in the pickup with Jess and his father. They went to Wapato to fight gamecocks. It was illegal, but who cared? They were all Mexicans with more Spanish names than Maltos. The blades attached to the chicken’s feet were the most frightening thing to him. The old man smiled. The cocks’ beaks were ready once their scent was shared, forcibly. Jess’s father lost as many fights as he won. It was the birds who lost, and no bird ever won. Yet there was always next time. They put the wooden cages back in the pickup bed and drove home, where they kept the cocks in the backyard, out of sight.
Don’t think she became less desirable to him, Juan admonished. Don’t think I didn’t want her too, that time in Mexico City when he left because he had to get back to the States before Jess had returned from Acapulco where he was with his friend all the while. She simply said No and she meant it. She was not only beautiful but stubborn. I told her I wished I were named Floyce Alexander.
He met Cathleen in Seattle and the years went by when he could conjure no one else in his harem of memory. Only Irene Castenada . . . But it was her world, the one she wanted, and besides, he had his chance, it hurt her, it was a wonder she could give birth after that . . .
Juan told Wall all this, in his fashion. He left out the parts he knew firsthand and may have embroidered those he had heard from one of the two of them, but he found the words and uttered what there was to say, from that perspective. Not long after, Wall was busted and sent up. Juan never regretted not telling him what Juan would write much later, much much later . . .
When it rained in northern California Juan missed New Orleans. God knows he never thought of Sunnyside, or White Swan or Brownstown, Toppenish or Wapato, not once he was elsewhere, with the Irish lass and if not by his side, by hers, and God knows, as they say, what to do when the shit hits and other evil enters the portals, even if Dante’s sign Abandon hope . . . is hard to read after so long and no one who will volunteer their time to come down off the hill this far and repaint it.
(21 July 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander