A glass of crazy, p.15
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       A Glass of Crazy, p.15

           Tina Laningham
 
I don't know if it was the fresh air or what, but when I woke up, it felt like I had come out of a coma. I couldn't remember ever sleeping that hard and at breakfast, Dad said it was the altitude. Kat must have still been asleep because Dad and I sat alone at the kitchen table in our pajamas and it felt like home.

  When Berta came over and refilled Dad's coffee cup, I said, "I'll have some," and then remembered Berta didn't speak English.

  Dad gazed at me. "When did you grow up?"

  "Like, a long time ago?" I rolled my eyes.

  In Spanish, Dad went on and on to Berta about something and then said, "Berta's makin' us some mango and papaya crepes. You're gonna love it."

  Across the kitchen, Berta pulled down a copper skillet and beamed until Kat paraded in and the smile on Berta's face dropped.

  "Mornin' sugar," Dad said. "We're just fixin' to eat."

  Kat was already dressed-at least parts of her were covered-in all black, heavy eyeliner and red lipstick.

  "Why aren't you dressed?" she asked Dad.

  I must've been invisible because she didn't even look at me.

  "Berta," Kat yelled as if Berta were deaf. "Stop! No breakfast!" Kat turned back to Dad and planted her hands on her hips. "You said we were eating out."

  Dad stood up. "Well, uh, lunch. But we can eat out for breakfast too."

  As much as I wanted those papaya and mango crepes, I got up and headed to my room and on the way up the long, spiraling staircase, I wondered how Kat became the boss of us.

  At the restaurant, Dad said to the waiter, "Tres caf? por favor," and I beamed because without asking, he had ordered coffee for me too. I scanned the part of the menu written in English for those crepes.

  While Dad and the Kat creature ordered scrambled eggs, I found crepes on the menu, but they were filled with cream, not fruit. Dad saw my finger underneath the word crepes and said something in Spanish to the waiter. The waiter smiled, took our menus and left.

  Dad leaned toward me. "Mango and papaya crepes weren't on the menu, baby doll. They're making 'em special just for you."

  A woman sashayed in front of our table wearing a gauzy dress and Dad stretched his neck to finish watching her go by. I swore she was a model in a magazine I'd seen somewhere before. The Kat wrapped her hands around Dad's face and moved it to hers. "Aren't you glad I'm not high maintenance when it comes to ordering breakfast?" She kissed him lightly on the lips.

  Dad nodded, looking all dazed.

  My stomach churned. I tried to remember if I had said something to make her mad. It started at dinner last night when she didn't know how to pronounce brochette, but it was other people who disagreed with her, not me. The waiter set three glasses of orange juice on the white linen table cloth. Dad raised his glass and waited for us to do the same.

  "Here's to my two favorite ladies in the world," he said.

  The Kat's shoulders sank and she put the glass down without taking a sip, which only left Dad's and my glasses to clink. The Yellow Rose of Texas started playing and Dad reached for his phone.

  "Mom has that ringtone!" I said.

  Dad started talking to someone and got up from the table. The whole time he was gone, the Kat fidgeted in her chair and I was afraid to say anything. It was a good thing I still had the orange juice in my hand because drinking it gave me something to do; only I wasn't expecting it to taste that yummy-I'm talking mouth watering sweetness. This was some serious orange juice. I emptied the glass and the second it hit the table, the waiter appeared and took it away.

  "We need to change that ringtone," the Kat said when Dad got back to the table.

  "Baby, it's my signature song."

  The Kat gave Dad a cold stare. "It makes you old."

  Fortunately the waiter brought our food before Dad handed the phone over to the ringtone police and next to my plate, another full glass of that awesome orange juice appeared. I was so absorbed in the sweetness of the fully ripened papayas and mangos that I tuned out the Kat because feeling good and listening to the Kat were two things that didn't go together. When I took the last bite, Dad said, "Wait 'til you try Berta's."

  I couldn't imagine anything tasting better.

  The Kat spent ten minutes in the bathroom after Dad paid the check, but she didn't look any better when she came out. Heading downhill, we walked in a single file line on a skinny sidewalk with Dad leading the way. I was last. When we arrived in the town square, the cathedral I first saw from far away stood in front of me and I gasped. Pink spires reached through the sky as if they dwelled in heaven.

  "Let's go to Mass," I said, really just wanting to see the artwork inside.

  The Kat rolled her eyes.

  Dad pasted on a strained smile and said, "Not today, honey."

  I peered at the Kat. Dad sure liked 'em bossy.

  We weaved our way through the mango and papaya colored shops draped with pink bougainvillea from the flat rooftops above. The Kat bought everything she liked and Dad paid for it with pesos. When Dad's hands were full of shopping bags, I became the second bag carrier.

  In one shop, the Kat bought a replica of an old Spanish sword. I told Dad it reminded me of the one we bought in Spain when I was little and Dad explained that the Spanish swords had made their way here when Spain ruled Mexico. "You still have it?" Dad asked.

  I made a sympathetic face. "Mom sold it."

  "You should've never let your ex-wife sell all your good stuff," the Kat said to Dad. "Why'd you let her take advantage of you like that?"

  Dad shrugged and smiled like a little boy. I wanted to scream. First of all, our family stuff was none of Kat's business. And second, it was Mom's stuff anyway because Dad had to make up for cheating on her. And third of all, if the Kat creature wasn't blowing all Dad's money, Mom and I wouldn't have had to sell everything in the first place. I didn't know who was pissing me off more, Dad or the Kat, but I had to physically clamp my hand on my mouth to not scream.

  I was still angry when Dad wanted me to pick out a T-shirt and that's why I picked one with a man who had bullets strapped across his chest like a big X.

  "Ah, Pancho Villa," Dad said chuckling while the Kat shook her head in total disapproval. "A revolutionary who fought for the poor about a hundred years ago," he added.

  "Perfect," I said, since Mom and I were poor.

  "He was a bandit," the Kat said with a look of disgust.

  "But he stole from the rich to give to the poor," Dad argued. "A Mexican Robin Hood."

  The fact that Kat hated the shirt made me like it more. I wore it to the dinner table that night, hoping the Kat would have more of her friends over to see it, but it was just the three of us at that long table in the dark dining room.

  "Hey baby," Dad said, holding a glass of wine. I had to remember that ninety nine percent of the time when he said "baby," he was talking to the Kat. It was hard to adjust because when he used to say "baby," he was talking to me one hundred percent of the time. I checked to see where he was looking and this time he was talking to me. "Since you like Mexican history, I'm gonna take you to the place where it all began."

  "Where's that?" The Kat sounded annoyed.

  Dad finished off the wine and his cheeks turned all rosy. "Delores Hidalgo, birthplace of Mexican Independence."

  "Fine," said the Kat. "I need more Talavera anyway."

  "What's Talavera?" I asked.

  The Kat didn't answer. Finally, Dad explained it was the colorful plates and bowls we were using. "We just bought this whole set," Dad told the Kat.

  "I need more." She squinted and held up a bread plate. "I'm tired of this pattern."

  Dad smiled. "Looks like we're goin' to Delores."

  I was ready to go home.

  - 16 -

 
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