First You See Her Then? Part 2
They talked and talked so I walked and walked. Before I knew it, I was a fair piece down First Street and nearing Ford Boulevard
Tommy Villalobos, Contributing Editor
Read Part 1 of First You See Her Then?
Published on LatinoLA: February 28, 2017
"What else you got?" I said, hoping to recapture the only friendly moment she had offered me.
She merely waved her hand over the books surrounding her. So as to maintain contact and not to have to keep calling her "her," I now asked her for her name.
"Why do you want to know?"
"Well, in case I run into you at some airport, I don't have to yell out, 'Hey, you, the one with all the books and brains and beauty, how are you?'"
"You don't have to yell at all. Just don't say anything. Keep walking." She fluttered a hand in the air in the direction of the street as if directing me onto the street and away from her.
"You don't want to get to know me better?"
She was being coy. Other batos would have said, "She ain't that pretty. Let her die all alone in some jacal." But not me, Edgar Solotán, whose ancestors fought in key battles en La Revolución Mexicana, both sides. She was fighting her destiny. I was going to show her we belonged together, sticking our noses into the same book over a dribbling baby.
"Let's each grab a favorite book and meet at some park. I'll bring the wine and potato chips. You bring your pretty self."
"I try not to disappoint."
"And you don't."
"I do and will. I will not meet you at a park, a zoo, or Metro Rail station. ¿Entiendes?"
"Not when you put it that way."
"That's the way I will always put it, for now and all eternity."
"Can you really see that far into the future?"
I never received a response, for another person, a guy who looked like an Aztec warrior who moonlighted as a fashion model, walked up and stood at the other end of the stall. I, with thinning hair, an egg-shaped head, and thick glasses, stood helplessly by as my book lover was transformed into an idol worshipper before my eyes. She scampered over to him like a puppy dog finding its master after wandering for days in and around Griffith Park.
They talked and talked so I walked and walked. Before I knew it, I was a fair piece down First Street and nearing Ford Boulevard.
My thoughts rested with the self-realization that even females with brains were not attracted to a book collector and observer of the human condition. I'm talking about me, Edgar Solotán, to be sure we're on the same página. Where was the justice? A fellow who looked like that good time Charlie always gets the girl at the end of any chisme.
Was I admitting defeat?
"If she was that smart," now said the Pepino, quaffing his beer, "that means she knew you weren't quite right." I did not like his response. He was not only slow, but lacked understanding.
I launched my counter-assault. "I did not fall. She was there the very next day. She even smiled at me when she saw me."
"Sure she wasn't laughing?" said the Pepino.
"No, because she then said that she was glad to see me."
I picked up a book, a mystery, I think. The Man Who Loved Me But Then Went Away by Claudia Myopiaz.
"Was that a friend?" I asked her.
"The Aztec Warrior with a fat modeling contract."
Even her "Huh?" sounded intelligent, even alluring.
"Yesterday as we were talking, this man stood over there"--I pointed an accusing finger to the very spot where he had stood--"and you zoomed to him as if he were a monster magnet and you a tiny, collectible pin."
"You say, 'Oh,' I say, 'Oh-oh.'"
"We're very close."
"He's already your husband? Did you marry him last night?"
"No. He's my brother."
Sure, I said to myself. She did not have his height, bearing, or muscle tone. I was onto her.
"Yeah, that's why I always take the sisters over the brothers," the Pepino interjected.
I ignored his sarcasm and pressed on. I asked her why she closed shop on his demand.
"Because it was time for me to close and he was taking me home. He drops me off and picks me up. I have a protective brother via my mother."
"Yes, I have one of those, too."
"How come you talk like that?"
"Are you questioning my manner of expression?"
"See! Like that."
Again, her "Huh?" reflected a certain level of savoir-faire.
"I mean to say, yesterday, here and there, you sounded all chola-like. You even called me, 'Ese,' a mark of distinction in barrios in every direction. You sounded like a legitimate chola, not a fake one."
"It comes and goes."
"By the way, books are my passion. But I don't like mysteries."
"Too bad. We have some of Rudolfo Anya's Sonny Baca mysteries."
"Do you have any romances?"
She eyed me with eyes that told me that she knew what I was thinking, while, at the same time, telling me my hopes had no basis in reality.
"You know, you haven't bought not even one book for being so in love with them."
While I was reflecting, she continued.
"Are you sure you adore books?"
"It's my religion. I think I'm a high priest. I collect them like some people collect boyfriends." I was proud of my last statement since it was the perfect sentence to elicit a positional reaction from her.
"I have the perfect book for you." She whipped out a slim book and held it under my nose. I couldn't read the title from the angle she was offering. My expression must have told her, for she assisted me.
"Read and absorb," she ordered, adjusting the angle.
To be continued
Email the author