He just hangs there against the wall, smiling at me

By Daniel A. Olivas
Published on LatinoLA: February 29, 2004


Wilfredo likes to dress to get Pap? all riled up. You know, Willie wears those short-shorts that you see on the ladies who walk up and down that bad street near the Shell Station that Mam? says no self-respecting good Catholic would wander by unless your car died and you needed to get some help from Manny who works there. Mam? says those putas have no right to mess up our nice neighborhood. But the neighborhood don?t look so nice and I figure some pretty ladies walking up and down a street can only make things look nice, right?

So, Willie likes to put on these short-shorts that are so tiny that his nalgas are hanging out and then he pops in these blue contacts so that his eyes look like he?s out of some scary space movie where only one person knows that the aliens are taking over people?s bodies and no one, not even your father, believes you when you say they?re going to take us over, too. I hate those movies. They make my stomach hurt.

Anyway, today Willie comes down the stairs looking so pretty with his long legs showing and his eyes not looking scary this time for some reason but shining a blue that looks like Uncle Chucho?s restored Mustang instead of a space alien?s eyes. And I think to myself that Willie?s cheeks even look special, kind of red like a flower, like the blush Mam? finally let me buy from Sav-On even though I?m only twelve but she says, mija, you?re a good girl so it?s okay. I think Willie likes to take a little of my blush every so often because I see big fingerprints in it that are bigger than mine but that?s okay because I think he looks prettier than me anyway so he should use it. So, this morning here comes Willie looking really extra pretty and Pap? is reading La Opini?n at the breakfast table, drinking his hot, black coffee after finishing a nice, big bowl of menudo which is his special treat on Sunday mornings.

Willie sits down at the table without saying nothing. Mam? is busy at the stove, cleaning something up, I don?t know what. I?m on the floor watching the Power Puff Girls video on the small TV that sits on the kitchen counter near all the Coke cans for recycling. I look up and smile at Willie. Willie reaches across the table and grabs a piece of pan dulce and these little gold chains that hang from his wrist just jingle-jangle and they remind me of Christmas which is a mile away. Willie gives me a wink and I smile and look at Pap? who is now looking up at Willie but Pap? isn?t smiling and so my smile falls from my face like a dirty sock. I don?t like Pap??s eyes right now. They?re all squinted-up and his big, black eyebrows come down in a mean ?V? and he puts his coffee cup down on the green place mat and some of it spills over the sides of the cup but Pap? doesn?t seem to care.

Finally, Pap? says, ?Qu? es esto?

What?s what? Willie says through a mouthful of pan dulce.

I turn to look at my video again but not for long. Mam? screams and my head swivels like a chair and I see Pap? holding Willie against the wall and something doesn?t look right because Willie is looking down at Pap? even though Willie is shorter by about six inches and then I see that Willie?s feet aren?t touching the floor no more, they?re just dangling there like a doll?s feet and I notice for the first time that he?s wearing these pretty, clear-plastic sandals. And I don?t know what to do so I just sit there with tears coming down my face like someone just turned on the backyard hose and Mam? isn?t moving, too, but now she isn?t screaming, just standing in the kitchen, hands pulling at the dishrag, mouth open like an empty can of tuna and eyes owl-wide.

And Pap? starts to yell something in Spanish so fast I don?t know what he?s saying. And then I see Willie?s pretty, fake blue eyes flicker towards me. And he smiles. Not a big smile. Just enough so that I know he?s smiling at me. And suddenly my tears turn off. Just like that. And the house seems so quiet now, like we?re suddenly under water, but I see Pap??s lips moving fast like a cat. And Willie just hangs there against the wall, smiling at me. Looking pretty.

About Daniel A. Olivas:
"Willie" first appeared in the online literary journal, In Posse Review, and is featured in Daniel's short fiction collection, "Devil Talk: Stories," forthcoming from Bilingual Press. Visit www.danielolivas.com for details.

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