A glass of crazy, p.16
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       A Glass of Crazy, p.16

           Tina Laningham
 
When we got to Delores the next morning, it didn't look anything like San Miguel. Delores was plain; I mean it had some cool old buildings and stuff, but the dull colors and flat concrete streets were boring, or maybe it was just me not wanting to be anywhere with the Kat. I wore my Pancho Villa T-shirt again just to annoy her.

  The Kat insisted we go to the Talavera factory first, since she was obviously the most important person in the car. Okay, she didn't actually say that, but did she need to? In the factory, poor Dad had to translate the Kat's rude remarks to the lady who was showing us the dishes. I'm pretty sure he changed everything she said because Dad could never treat anyone that way. But then again, I never thought he'd treat me like I came second to some floozy, as Mom had called her.

  Anyway, two thousand pesos later, the men at the factory loaded the Kat's new dinner set for twelve in the back of the SUV. Dad said it sounded like a lot, but two thousand pesos was really only two hundred dollars. I didn't say it out loud, but Mom and I could've bought groceries for a whole month with that much money.

  With the Kat creature climbing all over him, Dad drove to the Delores Hidalgo town square and found a parking place next to a huge church.

  "Come on, baby," Dad said nudging her away. "I'm tryin' to park."

  The Kat giggled and gathered her purse.

  My stomach felt weird and I may have said in my out-loud voice, "Could you be any tackier?"

  We climbed some steps to an open area as big as four basketball courts, except it was made of flat stones. At one end, an orangey, ancient-looking cathedral had two square bell towers that stretched three stories above the clock tower in the middle.

  "It all started here." Dad stretched his arms wide.

  I felt myself grinning because Dad was getting ready to launch into one of his good stories.

  "More than two hundred years ago, from the pulpit in that church, Father Hidalgo told the people of Mexico to revolt against the Spanish and take back their country. Within minutes, six hundred men gathered on this open square with machetes. That's how the Mexican War of Independence got started."

  "Did they win?" I asked.

  "They sure did," said Dad. "Every year on September sixteenth, people come here to celebrate Mexican Independence Day."

  "Like our Fourth of July?"

  "Yup, exactly like ours."

  "So Pancho Villa was here?" I stretched out my T-shirt even though I was looking at Pancho Villa upside down.

  "No, baby. He led another revolution about a hundred years later. That was against a corrupt president."

  I thought about the Spanish sword the Kat bought and how insulted Rafa had felt when Mom said Mexico was represented under Spain in our d?cor de United Nations. I looked up at Dad and said, "I want a machete."

  "Oh God," the Kat moaned. "I need a margarita."

  "Well baby girl," Dad said to me, "I'd buy you one, but I don't think they'd let you take it back on the plane." He put one arm around the Kat, the other arm around me, and started walking. "How 'bout an ice cream cone instead."

  For once, I agreed with the Kat. I needed a drink.

  On the way to the park, we walked past a giant statue of Father Hidalgo raising a banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe and calling the people to revolt. It seemed right that he would carry that banner, but when the Kat wore that belt with the Virgin of Guadalupe at the airport, she looked like a weirdo. When we got to the ice cream cart, Dad ordered helado con besos de ?ngel, meaning ice cream with angel kisses and I had helado de p?talos de rosa, or ice cream with rose petals. The Kat ordered tequila ice cream.

  "Does it really have tequila?" I asked, realizing I'd made the wrong decision. It was the first time I'd spoken to the Kat directly, but she didn't answer.

  Finally Dad said, "It probably does, sugar. This is Mexico."

  I could trip on a crack in the sidewalk and drop my ice cream cone, but I seriously doubted Dad was going to let me buy the one with tequila, so I just kept walking.

  We sat on a bench under a tree licking our ice cream cones and watching children play with toys their fathers were selling along the sidewalk. I felt like Dad's kid again, listening to him tell stories about the history of Mexico. He always made every place we visited more fascinating and I missed that-I missed him. I identified with the story he told today because Mom and I were like the poor people and Kat was the foreign ruler who had made us poor. Dad was definitely on the wrong side-he needed to get some guts and overthrow the nasty ruler.

  That night, Dad and the Kat went out to meet some friends after dinner and I Skyped Rafa, even though I knew he would be upset I still didn't have a photo of the Kat.

  "It's not like we're a big happy family smiling for the camera," I said.

  "Try to sneak one when she' not looking," he urged.

  "Okay, okay."

  When I woke up in the morning, Dad's SUV was still gone. I didn't know if they had come home already and gone back out or if something bad had happened, like they got drunk and had a wreck. I asked Berta while she was cooking migas, but she couldn't understand me.

  I waited at the breakfast table for about an hour with Fandango at my feet and then went back to my room to shower. I figured by the time I finished with that, Dad would be home. After towel-drying my hair, I ran to the window and the empty driveway gave me a sinking feeling. I wondered if Dad even wanted me here.

  I nearly cried and decided the best way to avoid that was to get some fresh air in the garden. When I scurried downstairs and through the kitchen, Berta and the man who had washed Dad's car were drinking coffee and talking about something in Spanish. Rather than interrupt, I went on outside where sunshine warmed the top of my head and a hummingbird darted in and out of an orangey flowering vine.

  On a chair at the corner of the patio, I sat and wondered if it was my fault Dad didn't want to come home. Fandango jumped on my lap and I nuzzled him close. It was pretty obvious the Kat and I didn't like each other. Maybe Dad thought I was cold and irritable like Mom. That made sense because he left Mom and never came back, but can you divorce your kid too? I waited in the chair for a long time and let Fandango lick tears off my face as quickly as each one appeared.

  When I got tired of that, which didn't take long, I went upstairs and called Mom to make sure she was okay. Mainly, I needed to know she was still there, but again, no answer. Not even a reply to the email I sent on the first day. Maybe she didn't want me anymore either.

  Speaking of Mom, I'd stashed a couple of her painkillers in the pocket of a pair of jeans. I flung off the covers and dug through a drawer, checking all the pockets until I felt the pebble-like pills deep in the front pocket of my favorite jeans. I swallowed one. With the afternoon sun streaming in, Fandango and I burrowed under the lime green covers and drifted away. La-La Land wasn't such a bad place after all.

  - 17 -

 
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