Rubia awoke curled between two Hefty sacks smelling of bread and day old fish. She punched into one and found a roll she could eat, and a plastic knife that seemed clean enough.
She’d never been in this barrio before but knew that left of the mural of Xochiquetzal, she’d find the apartment with the blue door and a place to sleep.
She touched the letter folded inside her bra, and tried not to think of the desert, the truck driver who picked her up, or the payment she’d made for the ride.
Soon she arrived at the blue door and knocked, but no one answered. She saw three windows. The first was too high, the second too narrow, but the third one seemed like she could fit her way inside. She took out her plastic knife and pried off the screen and slipped inside. The house felt as though a mad mariachi band had just finished playing.
A piñata in the shape of a bear lay on its side, a hole in the belly revealing atomic fire balls, tootsie rolls and bubble gum whistles. The table spread out before in a feast: enchiladas, chicken in mole sauce, and chile verde. Her mouth watered. She stuck her finger into the chile verde.
“Fuck that’s hot.” Her taste buds felt as though they’d been gone over with a very sharp razor.
Then she took the cake knife and carved out a hunk of enchilada.
“¡Ay de mí! She yelled, tears streaming down her face.
Then Rubia grabbed dipped a wooden spoon it into the velvety mole sauce. The chocolate coated her seared tongue and she gorged herself, then began to look around for somewhere to sleep.
The couch’s springs poked into her like a cattle prod. She went into the bedroom and leaped onto a double bed, but it reminded her too much of sleeping on a slab of rock. She rolled off and saw a small bed. She slipped under the crocheted blanket and fell asleep.
The Osezno’s, Pablo, Luz and Junior, arrived home and noticed something was wrong. Pablo signaled to his wife and child to go into the kitchen area and pulled a gun out of the back of his jeans. He padded silently across the room and pointed at the table. Enchilada and verde sauce speckled the table, and what was worse the mole was almost gone. Suddenly he heard snoring in the bedroom and walked inside.
“Who the fuck are you bitch, coming in our house eating our food?” he boomed.
Rubia opened her eyes to the barrel of a homemade zip gun. Just then Luz and Junior poked their heads around the corner.
“Who’s this blonde puta Pablo?” she screamed.
“Fuck, I don’t know, some stupid bitch in Junior’s bed. I’ve never seen her before, back off woman.”
Just then Junior pointed a finger and said, ”Look.” They all followed his finger to where Rubia’s blanket had dropped away. A necklace of bruises trailed down to arms riddled with what appeared to be cigarette burns.
She looked into Luz’s eyes and said, “Luzita, don’t you recognize me?”
And just then Luz did, it was her cousin Ruby from Juarez. She sat down next to her on Junior’s bed and started crying. And that’s when Rubia told them her story. By the time she finished, Pablo had called some of his Quarteño friends and said he’d be back that evening to celebrate Junior’s birthday.
That night, when it came time to hit the piñata, Ruby beat it with a baseball bat so hard its head split open on the sidewalk and the candy spewed everywhere. That’s when Pablo returned with his friends, ready to enjoy the feast.