January 17, 2006

A bra made from two tortillas...

On the road to Mc Carthy, © Janelle Meraz Hooper
1-17-06- Dear friends, I must be away from my computer all day. Please enjoy another piece of the first chapter of A Three-Turtle Summer. The first lines were offered here not long ago...
A Three-Turtle Summer by Janelle Meraz Hooper
Chapter one, A Sister in Trouble
As another card dropped from Gregoria’s dress and slid across the floor, Vera added, “We’ll strip you down to your rosary before we ever play cards with you again, Momma.”
“Yeah,” Pauline, chimed in, “the next time you’ll play in nothing but your lace step-ins and a bra made from two tortillas.”
“Well, at least I’ll be the coolest one at the table,” Momma chirped.
Vera reached across the table to gather all the cards and reshuffle them. “We’re going to start all over, and we’ll watch you every minute.”
Grace felt a sharp pain in her stomach when she looked up and saw her husband’s scowling face through the screen door. Why was he home so early? She didn’t have to look at him again to know his normally handsome blond features smoldered with disgust.
Dwayne hated for Grace to have her family over. There would be trouble once her family left, since the room was heavy with the smell of pinto beans and tortillas. When they visited it was bad enough. It irked Dwayne even more when her dark-skinned family stayed for meals.
“Gawd almighty!” Grace had mimicked earlier in Dwayne’s high twangy voice to her sisters, “A Texan breakin’ bread with tacos! What will folks be thinkin’?”
The minute Grace’s family saw Dwayne, their laughter died, and they quickly packed up their cards, crochet cotton, and magazines that had filled a hot afternoon with laughter and joy. One by one, they lined up to leave through the back door.
Grace said a quick goodbye to her mother and sisters and moved away from the narrow doorway as the women filed past Dwayne. She held her breath as Pauline and Vera passed the loathsome soldier. She never knew what her sisters might say. All she could count on was that her mother would deliberately say something sweet to him. Always gracious, she wasn’t one to pick a fight.
“Poor thing, you look absolutely beat,” Gregoria Ramirez said to Dwayne as she winked at Grace. “We’re going to get out of here so you can take a nap before dinner.”
Grace’s mother’s words were mollifying, but Gregoria didn’t walk around Dwayne to rush out the door. Instead, she stood her ground and looked him straight in the eyes until she intimidated him into stepping out of her way.
When Grace’s mother stepped onto the porch she leisurely adjusted the plastic tortoise shell combs that held her long, dark hair in a bun. Then she fished her clip earrings that matched her outfit out of her dress pocket and put them back on her ears. Grace gasped when she saw her mother nonchalantly slip another extra card that was also in her pocket into her purse before she stepped onto the sidewalk.
Pauline was next in line. “Dwayne, this heat’s too much for you, it’s over a hundred today, you’d better take it easy,” she cautioned. The sound of her high heels click-click-clicked on the shiny kitchen floor and made Dwayne cringe.
From the beginning of her marriage to Dwayne, Grace had been caught in the ferocious sandstorm that swirled around him and her sisters whenever they were together. Raised on a cattle ranch where his father’s booze bottles almost outnumbered the cattle, Dwayne didn’t know what to think of Pauline’s high-heeled shoes and frilly clothes. He just knew he didn’t like them.
For her part, Pauline never considered making any changes to accommodate the manipulative soldier her sister had married.
Dwayne clinched his jaw and refused to let himself look down at Pauline’s high heels as she passed him, but she knew that he knew that she wore them. Always playful, she did a quickstep on her way to the door.
The ruffles on her colorful full skirt moved to the music her heels made as she walked. Before she passed Dwayne, she adjusted her peasant style blouse with the elastic around the top to make sure her bosom wasn’t exposed. It was a subtle movement; only Grace noticed it.
Pauline lingered in the doorway as she said goodbye to Grace, then glided out the door and tossed her long, wavy black hair. The movement jangled her large, golden earrings as she crossed the threshold. “Adios, Muchacho!” she called to Dwayne, as she gave him a backward wave. Grace’s eyes flew to Dwayne to see if he noticed that her middle finger stayed up longer than the others. He didn’t. He was already looking at Vera.
“You look like hell,” Vera said as she passed a sweaty and wrinkled Dwayne, “and you could use a shower. Phew!” she added as she marched out the door. Grace saw her mother give Vera a sharp look when she got to the porch, but her oldest daughter just shrugged her chubby shoulders, as if to say it was the best she could do. This cowboy had used up all of his good graces with her.
Grace wasn’t surprised that Dwayne had remained quiet while her family left. She imagined that he had plenty to say; he just didn’t dare say it. Not with these women, who weren’t as meek as she was. She couldn’t tell which woman he feared the most: the mother, quiet but cunning; Vera, outspoken, tough, and fearless; or Pauline, who could cut a man to ribbons with her tongue and flirt with him at the same time.
As Vera reached the sidewalk at the bottom of the porch stairs, Pauline broke into a sprint ahead of her across the yard to Vera’s car and jumped into the back seat, still giggling. Pauline had given her first gringo salute when she held up her finger to Dwayne, and she was tickled with herself. Even her mother’s look of disapproval couldn’t dampen her glee.
When Gregoria opened the car door on the passenger side to get into the front, Pauline buried her face between her legs in her ruffled skirt, to muffle her laughter. Vera opened the door on the driver’s side and stopped outside the car to light a Kool and let some of the hot air out of the car before she got in. She waved a final goodbye to Grace just before she slid behind the wheel and started the old blue Cadillac.
Published by iUniverse, 321 pages, $17,95

Quote du jour:

"Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at with no result." Winston Churchill

No comments: