Rapt attention

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chapter IX

As Lavelle stepped back to close the door on another day of trimming split ends from his flock's heads and hearts, a final ray of desert sun stopped him, casting a godly arc across the hair-strewn floor. And into the light stepped a miracle. A goddamn miracle.

It began with the leg of a saint, a perfect, wrap-around-your-hips-for-a-virgin-ride, cocoa brown sister of Sofia Loren's that reached into his heart and between his loins and drew forth from his diaphragm a magnificent Hallelujah Chorus - all four voices - of a moan. The leg was followed by a body that conducted Lavelle's string section along a mighty wave of pizzicato that plucked him from his soul to his sacrum.

And then he saw her face. Wondrously languid eyes, ravenous lips and a chin god surely intended to fill the empty space in every man's - and woman's - lap, all surrounded by a tawny halo of silken, slightly kinky waves that caught the lingering light and revealed her as the Madonna. His very own Virgin de Needles.

Her labial presence lifted him to the tips of his cowboy boots as he ascended a mighty, pulsing crescendo. Her lips parted. He opened his heart and every orifice he possessed to welcome the manifest manna for which he had waited all his life.

She looked into his eyes, his essence, and she purred, “Yo, Baby. Hi. You my bro', man. Er, half bro'. Who knows, maybe quarter. Was never too good at math. Anyways, pleased to meet chu, man. I'm Isabel, with an 's.' Everyone trying to stick in 'zs' these days where they don' belong. Mama was the same. …”

Lavelle's ascension had peaked, excruciatingly unfulfilled, and his various parts descended back to Earth with a thud when he fell to his knees. He took a deflated look at his Virgin as she continued her rapid-fire delivery of familial connections.

“So. Wasn' sure you knew Mama kicked.” Isabel reached out a powerful arm to pull him from the floor. “Just las' month. Pretty sure you didn' know about me, either.” She thought he was dizzied by the news and pushed him into his barber chair. “I'm the only one to stick with her, I guess. She was one crazy bitch, sure, but no one's all bad. Chu know? She wan' to love us. We got a sister out here, too, right? And I got a secret. Mama gimme it. A family secret gonna make us fat an' happy an' rich. Que rico! So, you ever hear about them ol' Harvey Girls?” She leaned against the counter, her back to the mirror.

Lavelle had no idea what she was talking about, but the veil of ecstasy was finally fully drawn back and he truly saw her for the first time. From her matte black engineer's boots and pink lace socks to the virulent magenta shorts that didn't quite cover her divinity to the halter top that barely reined in her voluptuousity, he'd gotten the sexy stuff right. She was six feet of brown beauty. But the rest of her? He knew Satan had a hand in this woman's creation. On the other hand, fat, happy and rich had some appeal. He decided to listen, warily, with his hand clutching his pocket Bible.

“So, like I says, great-great abuela, Martha, now she was cool, Mama say. Had to be good to be a Harvey Girl. Worked hard at the El Garces hotel for a year and save every peso of it. But they din' hold them customers to the same standards. One of them bastards takes her and then has the frickin nerve to pay her to shut her up. Course, she no' stupid. She take it, but she can' stay shut up forever. Come six or seventh month, they throw her out. Jus' like that. They say she a whore and tell her never come back. She set out for L.A., and five generations later, we more brown than white, kinda black in your case, bro'.”

Isabel put a booted foot on either arm of the barber chair. Lavelle began to sweat as though he'd gone for a noontime jog, and he tried mightily to keep his eyes on hers.

“So now here's the secret. Chu ready, man? This so good, it make you piss. So Mama, just before she die, she say great-great abuela, she never get to take her stash with her. It still there. It still there, man! In a secret place only we have the hint to find. From great-great abuela to her daughter to her daughter - you get it, right? It's there jus' waitin' for us.”

“What's there?” Lavelle's hand had abandoned the pocket Bible and he clasped his sister's ankles. Or half sister or whatever the hell she was. He didn't really care, because his eyes had left hers and he was on the verge of the most carnal of sins.

“Gold, bro', gold! Oro del Dios! An' it ours, man. All ours, and the sister.”

Lavelle's hands dropped as quickly as his eyes raced back to Isabel's.

“We just got to find it, bro'. Problem is, they 'bout to fix up that ol' hotel. Come March. So I go by, to check it out, right? That casa's one big stinkin' cooker of honky trash. Bad asses in every room. But we got to get in there, man, find our great-great abuela's stash. It's our destiny, bro'. We got to get it between them booting out the tweekers an' they start knocking out walls. It ours, man. Mama say. You in, man?”



Blue Heron said...

Mama Mia!

Anonymous said...

Great job, the humor, the descriptions, the fun light hearted adventure, it is fabulous!