Sometimes it's better not to see
Daniel A. Olivas
Published on LatinoLA: December 29, 2002
Alfredo sits across from his best friend, Alfredo, who goes by ?Al.? Alfredo looks down at the opened package that sits on his antique mahogany dining table.
?Best fucking birthday gift you?ll ever get,? says Al as he drinks from his bottle of San Miguel. ?The best, mi amigo. No shit.?
Alfredo stands and his chair makes a squeaking sound on the hardwood floor. He then, very carefully, reaches into the box and pulls out the gift. ?Heavy,? he whispers. ?Heavier than it looks.?
Al smiles. ?Yes, hombre. Pinche heavy.?
Alfredo lifts the gift, a pewter plate, large and muted in the afternoon sunlight that invades through the bay window. ?Looks like a plate,? he says.
?Uno nunca debe confiarse en las apariencias,? says Al.
Alfredo holds the plate higher and the sunlight glints off its side. ?Appearances are deceiving?? he asks.
?What do I do with it?? asks Alfredo.
Al laughs. ?The question is: What will it do with you??
?Mi amor, what is this?? asks Mar?a as she runs her index finger along the rim of the plate. It feels cool and smooth to her touch.
?A gift,? says Alfredo. ?From Al.?
?Since when did Al acquire taste??
?Now, now. Be nice.?
Mar?a bounds out of their bedroom wearing blue UCLA shorts and a little T-shirt that says ?Phish.? Alfredo looks up from his TIME and admires her figure.
?Yes, mi amor,? she says. ?How else can I keep you interested in me unless I have buns of steel??
?Not fair,? says Alfredo. ?You?re beautiful and brilliant. You make Johnny Cochran look wet behind the ears.?
?Yeah, making a lousy 75K a year.?
?More than I make.?
?That?s different,? laughs Mar?a. ?You?re a writer.?
?Have a good work out.?
?I will,? she says as the heavy, oak door groans open.
?I love you.?
Mar?a blows a kiss to Alfredo and leaves.
A half-hour after Mar?a leaves for the gym, Alfredo hears a sound coming from the plate. It sits solidly in the middle of the dining table like a shrine. Alfredo walks over to it. He hears voices emanating from the plate?s murky silver center.
?Oh, that feels good,? he hears. It sounds like Mar?a?s voice He looks into the plate and sees her, lying on a massage table at her gym. She has no clothes on and lies on her stomach. A young woman in white shorts and matching T-shirt massages the back of Mar?a?s thighs. Her white hands look like reverse shadows on Mar?a?s cinnamon skin. Alfredo wants to blink but he cannot. He leans closer.
?How about this?? the young woman asks Mar?a. She works her small, strong hands up deep into Mar?a?s buttocks and down towards her crotch. The young woman closes her eyes and bites her lower lip with straight white teeth.
?Mmmmmmm,? is all Mar?a says. ?Mmmmmmmm.?
The plate suddenly goes blank and the voices stop. Alfredo says, ?Oh, shit.?
An hour later, Mar?a comes home. She has showered and her ebony hair glistens with moisture.
?Hola, mi amor,? she says.
Alfredo sits on the couch. His brow is furrowed deep with lines.
?Everything okay?? asks Mar?a.
Alfredo sits silently. Then, as Mar?a walks over to him, he asks, ?Good work out??
?Oh, yes, mi amor. I really needed it.?
?Get a massage??
Mar?a almost jumps. She coughs and runs her fingers through her hair. ?Why, yes. Before working out. A quick one.?
Alfredo sighs. ?Hope it felt good.?
Mar?a coughs again. ?Yes, it did.? She looks over to the dining room table. The plate is not there and the table looks barren like a desert. ?Where?s the gift??
Alfredo looks at her.
?Mi amor, what happened to the plate??
?I decided that it didn?t belong here anymore.?
?It just didn?t belong.?
Mar?a shrugs. She kisses Alfredo on the forehead and heads towards the staircase.
?Gonna? go on the Internet for awhile,? she says.
Alfredo sits looking at the gleaming, polished expanse of the dining room table. It looks like a dark ocean to him.
?It just didn?t belong,? he finally says with a little laugh. ?Just didn?t belong.?
"Sight" first appeared in MindKites and is featured in Daniel's unpublished collection, "Devil Talk: Stories."
Daniel A. Olivas:
Daniel's first short fiction collection, "Assumption and Other Stories," will be published by Bilingual Press in spring 2003. Visit his webpage at: http://www.homestead.com/DanielOlivas/olivas.html