You woke up at 2 p.m, something you do after you got the night job at the restaurant. The sun was out. The city, Gotham, was still intact; the skyline full of crucial lines, people screaming for no reason, and the train going uptown leaving citizens behind. Everything was ordinary, average means that everyday was identical. A repetition of actions. Reappearance and echo. You wondered if you were alive, checked you vital signs, saw yourself in the mirror while wearing some underwear you could finally afford. Alive, yes, you were alive, if alive meant that you were working like a slave to pay the rent and waking up at the same hour, daily, alive.
The phone rang. From far you could see the caller ID picture, it was your mother. You hesitated to pick it up since she would spend the entire afternoon talking about the same things with different words. Did you eat?, she will ask you. Do you have a girlfriend? She will demand until you will need to make one up. No me digas que no te haz bañado, asqueroso, she will say it like an old CD of Tulile. After the questionnaire and the criollo FBI interrogation soon the phone will go under a stage of silence. Si, mami, soy un sucio. But then she would just ignore your stupidity and continue with her business, because, she doesn’t have time for your rudeness and attitude. I am calling you not only to see if you are okay but to also invite you to a party they are having… you know, the other side of the family, tú sabes, los riquitos. She will talk to me as if she were giving me a speech so I can vote for her in presidential election in the R.D. You will know how that works; even if you vote or not, she will win anyhow. Magic. Black magic. Connections. Cédulas. Hey, who knows? Welcome to the Caribbean and its wonders. I didn’t question her words. Los fulanos esos?! they think that their bathrooms are made of gold. Mami I don’t really want to go… I told her with the biggest honesty in the world. But you went anyway. Mothers, they always win.
The residence was located in the upper section, those de la high, we will know them, la high class apartments. They have a fat white cat named Mizu and he’s not even Asian. You know you are in the right place because of the smell… Goddamn smell of chicharrones, tostones andmoro de habichuelas negras. You can’t avoid the scents of wet land seeping into the pores of your brain. Let’s clarify, don’t get used to such a barrial treatment… It’s only “for especial occasions.” It’s a sacrifice for these elite people to eat such cheap food, but they ate it anyhow.
You knock the door, it must be the right apartment. It has to be, with decorations in the door that stand out from the rest. You knock the door with such a delicacy, to not disturb their prestigious status – the most peaceful and educated people on Earth. You wait for them to open the dark door. You wait, you waited, and you got tired of waiting. Of course, they have an up to date bocina blasting some Anthony Santos. Until you got some super powers and you knock the door like you were on a street fighter – Jack Veneno type of masculinity – even though you were skinnier than a broom stick. It worked, they heard you and someone was opening the door, at the time you panic but you keep your composure.
Guess who opened the door. The neighbor – la vecina más ajentada que conozco en mi santa vida. I bet she didn’t even offer herself to open the door. I can swear she went straight to open it like she wearing panties in her own house. She said to come in and kissed me on the cheek leaving an orange stain. Great! This can’t get any better, I thought silently.
I entered a long hallway with portraits of so many individuals that I lost the count. Although many of them were little kids half naked running in the countryside and black and white pictures from the first decadents whom came to the states. You can’t not the miss fake roses with a small mirror vanity, and of course, the bright ass colors of the apartment — green and orange. As you walk, you think to yourself, “who was the genius that designed this shit?” But you didn’t say a word about the decoration, the neighbor or the loud bachata. You greeted them with a simple hello because you didn’t want another lipstick stain around your mustache.
There’s must be ninety people in that small space, at least. All I could see was the tops of their heads moving with the rhyms, and kids running around in groups like they were going on an excursion to another galaxy, something like Dora would do.
I heard a man’s voice, “entre, entre, no le tenga vergüenza a la gente que ellos no muerden.” He piles me into the multitude of people who are mostly woman between there fifties and men who no loner remember their names. Everyone is singing and clapping their hands.
I took a look at the corners of the room, there were white chairs everywhere and of course, a big couch. Don’t mess with the sofa if you don’t want to be dead. That couch, they took care as if it was a fragile infant son. They even have plastic all around it, so it doesn’t get damaged with anything, since it cost them their entire life. Yet, they’ll never get to enjoy it because every time they sit on it, sounds like they’re farting so they sit on a hard chair instead.
That’s how we are, we spend our lives taking care of things, afraid they would break since they cost so many tears, and then we die, and another’s ass sits on the sofa not caring at all.
And then you see them hugging each other, something they don’t do the rest of the year because they are too busy with their lives between appointments, rent, and beauty salons. At this moment they love each other, and the owners of the apartment are no where to be found, apparently they are dancing too, because they also miss the bachata, the deal of the colmado, the cousins and las tías with floral dresses, and everything in between – even the chicharrones y empanadas hechos en casa.
Mizu was probably hiding under the bed, eating the leftovers in the kitchens or being used as a horse by the chamaquitos. What about me? You must be asking… I was trapped between the music, the noise and family, above all family. I check my vital signs, I was living, but living with a different heart beat. My body was moving like Gotham, but not as polluted and black, but like a land mass, and soon I was one of them, I returned to life, home, casa. Then I thought to myself while Fefita La Grande was playing in the radio, it’s never too late to return home, like the owners of this high class apartment did tonight, we must all return home, eventually.
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Fior E. Plasencia is a lover of perico ripiao, an artist, poet, and educator. Fior was born in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. She moved to New York City at the age of 12 and began writing short poems often using what she was learning in her bilingual class. Her work has appeared in The Acentos Review, Sand Canyon Review, New York Dreaming, Brown, Loud, and Proud Zine and others. Fior is also the author of the poetry book “Para Cenar Habrá Nostalgia.You can find her work at: mujerconvoz.com