She was standing next to a poster which said Conserve water, it’s for everyone’s good. She was wearing a beet-red dress and impeccable patent leather high-heeled shoes. Her hair was black, almost plastic, cut by well-sharpened scissors. She was as pale as a whore from the Caucasus or, if you like, as white as oatmeal or bull’s semen. “A white woman for this black and stupid night,” I thought. The street baptized with the name of a saint, the narrow sidewalk, and, from the depths of the sewers, the smell of urine and rat’s blood, excrement and Wizard air freshener. She stood with her chin raised, her head back against the wall, gazing distractedly at a poster with enormous letters in helvetica: “There are no obstacles, only bad decisions.” I stopped, my balls were on fire, maybe because it had been months since I had brought a stranger home to cover with my dirty sheets, full of mustard and orange soda stains, spattered with drops of blood and squirts of fountain pen ink. I approached her, mysteriously, as if I were clutching a knife in my hand, only to pull out not a gleaming, sharp blade, but rather some raspberry candies which also shone a brilliant red. I offered them to her.
I put the key in the keyhole, blindly, since my eyes were elsewhere, and my lips were plastered to her nipple, as hard as a dried hazelnut. “Wait ‘til we get inside, papito,” she said, and her little daddy obeyed, pushing open the pine door which smelled of age and varnish, flicking on the 50-watt bulb, and inviting her into the apartment with no carpeting, no sink in the bathroom, no closet with broken doors, no aquarium full of bulge-eyed fish, no Hershey’s wrappers strewn on the bathroom carpet. And she came in, as ugly as she was in reality, exposed by the vile, yellowish fatality of the light bulb, with her bad haircut and her worn-out shoes, and her nails painted a miserable orange and her skin toasted to the color of a corn tortilla, and her vagina, clean and pink like her dress with the cigarette burn on the décolletage. “How much do you charge to make dinner?” “Nothing,” she answered and set about preparing two fried eggs, oozing oil, and warmed up some Bimbo bread on the griddle and squeezed the ketchup bottle as if she were gripping a huge cock, trying to work out the last drop of sauce.
We brushed our teeth with the same frayed brush and gargled Listerine and showed each other our tongues the way two people who are about to beat the shit out of each other show off fists adorned with rings and scarred bones and bruised knuckles. But the truth is we were completely exhausted, myself because of work, my hand sore from constantly stamping the bottom left corner of hundreds of invoices, and because of taking the subway all the way to Atzcapotzalco to collect a debt and coming back and waiting around for some asshole manager to get the notion to tell me, “go home now so you can come in early tomorrow.” And she was on the verge of falling asleep, bothered by the purple blossom on the side of her ass. “A fucking dog bit me,” she lied, because in fact she had already been screwed three times, three bad decisions she had made trying to overcome the obstacle, the great obstacle. “I’m your good decision, my little whore,” I told her, but she couldn’t hear me, she was asleep, filling my throat with the smell of Listerine, nestling a knee in my testicles, which had been throbbing a few hours earlier but which were now cold like two bruised meatballs recently taken out of the refrigerator.
She stayed and lived with me while I looked after her dogbite and she made me spaghetti, sometimes with cream and sometimes with tomato sauce and never with mustard, which is how I really liked it. What she did do well was to suck me off while I closed my eyes and imagined the Caucasian whore with the blue-black hair and impeccable shoes who I had picked up on the corner of a street named after a saint. And to go on stamping and signing invoices became a little less boring, because I knew that when I got back to my apartment I would open the pine door and she would be there offering me a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce, and her lips, swollen and red like a bubble gum bubble on the verge of popping, and her now-scarred ass, and my somewhat neater house, with no Corn Flakes sprinkled on the floor, no Rimbro jockey-shorts hanging from the window lever, no urine stains on the toilet bowl, no boxes of Cream of Wheat stacked in the oven, no porn mags stiff with semen littering the bathroom floor. “In the end the whore became your servant,” she told me a few months after we had gotten married in a civil ceremony since we didn’t have enough money to jerk off Christ, nor enough for the clothes, and as for the rice, we preferred to eat it with fried plantains, very green peas, and well-cooked corn.
Now once again I walk the street where I picked up my wife and mother of my two children, and I sigh when I see a young thing with milky skin and big eyes who calls out to me and says: “why don’t we get together, papito.” And, making a fool of myself, I put my Samsonite briefcase on the ground so I can fumble through my pockets while I look at those 16-year-old legs and those nipples licking at the décolletage of her dress, and those little Chihuahua ears, and I find a 200 peso bill which I show her, passing it between her legs and giving her a weak bite on the shoulder. “It’s all I have,” I tell her, but she responds tenderly, “It’s all I’m worth,” and we go to a hotel called Fabiola where they never have hot water and there’s no music in stereo, no rugs, no neatly-arranged clothes, no boxes of Cream of Wheat stacked in the cupboard, no idiotic children yelling, no whores with scarred asses screaming at you for money to buy diapers, to pay the electricity, the water, and the rent.
Text by Guillermo Fadanelli
Translated by Matt Madden, 1999.