Whittier Boulevard

Lucinda Crespin

She sits on the curb of Whittier Boulevard and Atlantic
It could be any street corner in any neighborhood
She watches the lowriders as they pass at 5 miles per hour
Here come the show cars with their fancy paint jobs
The Sons of Soul, Orpheus and the Latin Lords
They stop in the center of the Boulevard
One car club at a time, they begin to make their cars dance
To the rhythm of oldies, disco, cumbias or mariachi music
I wonder what they will be blasting today
Hydraulics bounce the cars up and down, to the left and right
Bam! Synchronized they drop their cars to the ground.
I hear it before I see it, they sling profanity like rocks
The peace, the show, the fun is slipping away into the darkness
I watch as a dozen young men and girls quickly get out of their cars
Crowbars, bats, and bottles flying through the air
The beauty of the Capri is distorted
The flames a patchwork of color with no form
Windshield glass flying through the air
3 young Chicanos are beating the disco king
He tries to shield his face and tries to roll away
There is nowhere to run he is caught between
Their kicks and the tires of the bleeding Capri
A loud thump of iron and wood as it hits a target
It resonates like the bass of a stereo through the air
A Chicano falls to the ground, his head is bleeding
He rolls on the concrete holding his head
His face hidden beneath the crimson
“Beto! Beto! Are you alright?” He kneels by Beto’s side
Tears in his eyes he says, “Come on ese, get up, you can do it bro”
Beto’s hands relax as he takes his last breath, his brother kneeling at his side
A flood of tears trickles down the crimson and red tears hit the ground
El Chicano stands up with a determined look on his face
He goes to his car, looks at windows broken, bashed with a bat
he reaches past the sliced leather into the glove compartment
he pulls out a gun and looks around, blood, glass, crowbars
He finds his target, “Hey Orpheus,” he yells to the guy with the bat
As the batboy turns, the shot rings out and the bullets fly
His brother’s killer falls to the ground and the crowd runs
East, West, North, and South
away from the bullets that continue to fly
The sirens are blasting and drawing near
The flashing lights are getting brighter
The shooter falls on one knee, tears streaming down his face
“I have to go Beto, I’ll see you soon Bro”
He looks back at his brother one last time
he runs into the dark of night
A flood of memories fills her mind, she remembers
Her brother was shot and killed on Breed and First Street
She whispers a prayer to God as she runs towards home
Away from the memories that make her bleed
Away from the violence and senseless death
Away from the boulevard, this city, this life.

I Need New Jeans

Cassius Epps

The fitted sheet dares me to move.

It’s almost 11 o’clock, which means I’ve been depressed now for my entire fucking life.

My room is lit solely by a lamp passed down to me by my mother. On the desk next to my bed are fast food wrappers, a half-drunk cup of coffee, and a half-empty beer bottle from yesterday. The floor is littered with clothes, possibly dirty, possibly casualties in my crusade to find a black top for work. The faintest hint of rose absolute oil battles the tea tree oil on my scalp—my room smells of medicine and well-maintained gardens I never grew up in.

The move here had been hard. I am never in a good mood. Even adults, especially young ones, feel unseen and unheard. I, with all my voice, with all my strength, am unable to move from this bed, for fear that I might never be heard again.

So, I sit. I sit and I sit and I sit. I jerk off. I sit. I jerk off again, this time with straight porn. The next time I try to reclaim that feeling. That undefined ubiquity of youth. To know that it’s gonna happen soon without fully realizing the anticipation of sex. Your friend will bring it up. He’ll mention some sexual escapade he’s extracted from the grapevine or he’ll turn on his laptop, only to have forgotten to press that “X”, and there it’ll be. The shining reality that beneath it all, beneath identity, pure fuckery exists. It isn’t about getting hard. Yes, you are hard. It isn’t about that. It’s about the excitement. The coy reality that is brotherhood. It’s about desire with another person. That carnal undertone, that craving for release, that energy to be passed, it was in your blood. And it still is.

Soon after I run a towel over my hip, wipe away both my ejaculate and my desire to think about my lurking sexuality. I return to my position. I look toward the ceiling. A fly. No, not a fly. Just my eyes playing tricks again. Flies don’t come here. My room is off limits to them. They respect that. Acid rises from my gut, making this the fourth time tonight I chew on Tums like stale Starburst. I should cry. I should cry right now and get it over with. Then I can move.

Tonight feels familiar. It feels like Leon. Like the smoke of his cigarette will reach my nostrils and trigger the calm of a never-satiated, never-initiated addiction if only I can be young enough again. If only I can stop being me. Being me, being this institution, it is… It just is. It hurts. But it doesn’t hurt hurt. It just doesn’t pay. And I work a fulltime job to be paid. Anything outside of that is just bullshit. But Leon worked. And so did Wardell. Yes, my grandfather and my father worked. Every day. They hated each other.

“For the first four years of my life,” Wardell had once yelled at Leon, “I thought my mother’s name was Bitch!” When Wardell walked across that street and ran from the police that my mother had called, the police that fired a bullet into his temple in front of a child’s birthday party, all that was left was Leon, a grandfather. And then there was nothing because Leon was dumb enough, inconsiderate enough, to die. Maybe work, a man’s work, isn’t a yard stick. Maybe I’ve traveled further than most already.

I could turn on the TV, but I can’t come up with anything to watch. I continue to sit in silence. Not silence. The fan is going. Marlon has forgotten to move my ceiling fan over to the new house. Either that, or he doesn’t care that I’m now out three hundred dollars for a ceiling fan I’d picked out specifically to match my furniture. Maybe he does care and that gives him some sick pleasure. Maybe I should cut my step-father some slack. Maybe I’m paranoid. Maybe I want to vilify my stepfather because father figures are a whole house of bullshit. Men aren’t built to raise things like me. There is no sculptor for this clay. And as I write this, I realize I am simply crying for attention, but fuck you, I’m broken. No one is working the controls.

This isn’t a story. Stop reading this. Stop listening to this in your head. It’s not a story. You see, a story is something with a beginning and an end. There’s no narrative arc here. This is my existence. I get up every day to eventually be forced to do this, I will do this. I will fall. There’s a fly in my room. My eyes are okay. It’s not glaucoma. Dad had glaucoma. This isn’t glaucoma. I’m fine. There’s a fly in my room. He doesn’t know the rules.

I don’t move. This isn’t a story. I move a little, maybe. Does it count? I play with the seam of my pants. I need new ones soon. Maybe tomorrow. The fly buzzes. My senses feel raw at the sound. He moves. He is unable to stop. Something in him tells him to keep going, keep going, keep going. Bzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. BzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzz. I turn to him. BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! He zips over cum-crusted boxers and shoes with no boxes. He flies past a mirror with no vanity. He sees his prize. A big shining light. The bulb of my lamp, of my mother’s old lamp. This lamp, oh boy, this lamp. The lamp was made in the 90’s and the wattage is impossibly high. The fly, the bzzzzzzzz fly, he sits directly on the bulb. Smoke rises immediately from my lamp, from my mother’s lamp. A tear falls from my eye. I do not move.

Death with a Flower

McKenna Williams

You will always be the one who almost killed me
You with your sweet lies and false promises
You lured me into your silent darkness
Your charm easily hypnotizing
Presented with a flower, symbolism of love
I gave myself to you willingly.
Your insidious nature revealed quickly
Your disguise falls away to reveal your true form
Grim reaper
Caught in your trap as you scrape and tear at my flesh
I shriek and cry
Digging my nails into the earth
Dragging myself towards safety
Your grip becomes stronger, suffocating
My wearied body thrashes and writhes
A final shove away from you liberates me
I wail loud from the wounds you have inflicted
The agony too much to bear
Cold creeping in,
Refusing immobilization,
Compelled to get as far away as possible
Leaving behind the pieces of me you now hold captive
in your crypt
lifeless and haunting
Pieces of my heart lie in your tomb poisoned and rotting
The stolen portion of my soul now a lonely apparition,
Wondering the graveyard wretched and angry.
Seasons pass, Scars remain
A Reminder of my encounter and a warning to the reckless.

Measure Once by

Heikki Huotari

The gist of it comes within fifteen human
feet of me then changes course, then changes
horses, then the prisoner selected is a function of
the luminosity and shape of faith, the cross-
communications of some random hazards, rabbits
from the past. A minor character, a carpenter, a
pencil in his lips, misfits an odd shaped element of
dry wall. Taking comfort out of context, guess
who’s Doppler shifting now. Of helium balloons
you’ll need eleven, not one needle, not one ham-
mer, not one hat, but pasteurized, homogenized, and
gravity, and as exact.

Another Verdict For the Suspected Genocide Lady

Misael Osorio

It’s a frantic desperation that compels our limbs to go
it will remain indelible her name would be spelled in smoke
inconceivable undertaking though there are no predictable horrors
now to disturb your sleep having seen the bodies of our parents
mauled by police dogs dragged through the streets of Prague.
our heroes and our foes though we the actors of our history
in bold strokes perhaps bound to fail because of catastrophic errors
in our genes like for instance the fumbling of the nation’s will.
the boys couldn’t look at you in that sense of wonder anymore
but as that acidic foaming at the mouth in the clear signs of desire
nauseating frantic dizzying or not brailleric in its song of dots
discovering how beauty has a corrupting quality of bluish poison
and in any case every energy is wasted
in the convulsing waves of laughter
that mysticism that comes with age
and we don’t have to plan our holidays according to the seasons
we could take a dancing trip
if that were to happen we could even lose our fright
we could tour the golden fields of Troy
during the harvest of the wheat
and clouds will roll in clusters
and it will be like an exploration of our shared consciousness
and it will be found
that all experience can be created out of songs
and so that is the reason this song is Gregorian
and this piece is classical
and this song has no name
and this name has no numbers one
writes of the trains
and the forced marches just like that
and the days of hunger and the days at sea and the fireworks
and the triumphal entries and the noise of cannons
confused with the noise of celebration
and the broken bottles and the sticky floors.
in one moment, all the memories of rain which people tend to overlook
or simply ignore because there is light and sound to hold our attention
come rushing in like a roaring typhoon
and a lady with her little dog waltzes in
to do me a great mercy
claiming to know the secret’s in the black book
of how to choose the sick the weak among our fellow wolves
a well-meaning mother that is correct not like the others
those rustic symbols of power in a set of graceful movements.
if someone were to send her voice wrapped in cellophane
and dry foliage i would dare not see her face because the pages would
frighten me with their black and white rumble
this is all i know: that it would be like learning a new language
a small kindness after all that would be to have seen
those horrors to have felt the hand of destiny
pulling and pushing away because otherwise she could not
do anything useful but we judge nonetheless
what could she have done?
this is the reason why we don’t
the events caught up with us and we are all touched
by a monstrosity just like that casually.

Wounded

Denise Kollock


My heart, why do I need that? See…
I’m used to these wounds
digging deeper into my flesh
bloody Mary red bursting-
bursting out, creating a river of tears. These tears
running down my canvas.
This blood, gliding slowly down my body
causing another catastrophe,
this calamity of suffering.
 
It’s fine.
 
 
no, seriously. It’s really not fine,
my heart is worn out
stitching is taking its toll
these bandages are getting weaker.
If repatched to be broken again, then
what’s the point? What
is the point of even loving
because, in the long run, I am just
damaging myself even further.
Is there ever a
point?
 

Pavlov’s Kitchen

Steven A. Hinkle

The small kitchen is always bright. 
Across the stain of uneven patches,
Red shades pain intimate eyes.
Two black hands drag on a white face.
They recently traded living spaces
With their old mother goose.

Now the sun never sets
Over the hollow-cored doorway.
Dipped in bronze,
It watches the back door
For the chef at the back-burner
As he beats the cock’s children
To a scramble.

The rooster crows out
Of habit but not out of necessity.
Drinking Wild Turkey,
He turns toward tomorrow
And watches the sun he couldn’t raise.

Smoke recesses into the vent And the chef preps
Interspecific genocide.
His flame beams at the scent,

Rising and falling
With the traveling heat.
The eggs form a compromised State of agency.

The chef rings Pavlov’s bell
And summons me to eat. Famished, I feast
On red and yellow children

The Adventures in Normality

Natalie Mora

                One look at the house and I already wish I’m anywhere but here. Laundry is scattered all over the matted carpet in the living room and dirty dishes are playing a game of Jenga in the kitchen sink. It’s impossible to be gone for more than a couple of days without the house becoming a site of utter catastrophe. I make a mental list of what I’ll need by the end of the day: laundry detergent (preferably lavender-scented), Band-Aids, new dishes. I notice one of my mother’s medication bottles on the floor and assume she needs a refill.

                I begin by picking up all the clothes so I can throw them in for a wash, careful not to set off any of the traps masked under the protective layer of laundry; it’s sometimes difficult to determine whether the traps are set for pests or for humans. After the traditional sweeping and dusting, I move to the kitchen. I always start the dishes last, a habit I formed through the trauma of my first job. I was in charge of cleaning the dishes of people celebrating a birthday or of families too lazy to cook for themselves. There was something about those families that made me instinctively curl my hands into tight fists and made my face twist the way it did when I had to stand in front of a restroom stall while on cleaning duty. I wanted to take a picture of their smiling faces, hang it in my living room, and label it, “The Lost Reality.”

                Before I can begin the dishes, my mother shuffles into the kitchen with a bottle of pills in one hand and an empty glass in the other.

                “Cleaning dishes so early?” she says, leaving her glass next to the sink.

                “It’s actually already one o’clock, so… not that early,” I say.

                She places her pills in the cabinet above the stove. “Always have something smart to say, don’t you? You get that from your fa—” Her words catch in her throat, and she instinctively glances at my father’s picture on the fridge, absently scratching her arm and peeling off the scabs that are already there. She shakes his existence off her tongue and continues. “Look, just do me a favor and wash my cup. And make sure you get those giant orange stains off.”

                “Ma, those aren’t stains. Those are the designs.”

                “Oh. Well, scrub them off, anyway. They’re ugly. And make sure you clean those dishes right. You know how I like them,” she says, walking back to her room.

                “Whatever you say, Ma.”

                I’m already used to her ridiculous requests. Last week, she wanted me to paint our cow cookie jar all white. Her rationale was that it was unbecoming for any creature to have black spots on their skin. I didn’t have any white paint, so I painted it yellow instead.

                I found it shattered the next day.

                As a creature of habit, I start with the plates, and I pick one up from a set that I bought recently. The way the gray border circles the muddy center reminds me of how a freshly dug grave would look after an April shower. It’s a shame that I have to work on the dishes, since I’m actually fond of this set. I bring the dish over my head and smash it onto the floor, shattering it into six large pieces and many other tiny bits. I grab the glue and begin putting the pieces back together, forcing parts to fit like a toddler playing a puzzle. I push the dish-turned-mosaic off to the side and pick up the next plate, then the next, and the next. Small fragments of glass become embedded into my fingertips, staining a majority of the plates. I’ll just have to tell my mother that I decided to paint the dishes again.

                Once I complete the plates, I move on to the cups. Compared to plates or bowls, cups are trickier because they tend to be smashed into miniscule pieces, making the job of gluing it back together arduous. I decide to work on my mother’s cup first. I know that I have to get the designs off, because I don’t want to have to calm my mother down when she finds out I didn’t do the dishes the way she likes them.

                Better to indulge the beast rather than provoke it.

                A sponge won’t get rid of the designs on the glass, so I grab a knife and begin scratching off the ink. Each stroke leaves thin lines engraved into the glass, but I continue anyway since my mother won’t care about the marks as long as it’s clean.

                I try to convince myself that when my mother sees that I did the dishes the way she likes them, and that her cup is stain-free, it will bring us closer to mending our relationship. I often fantasize about what would have happened if I had never moved out. When I left, it took a piece of my mother, and then when my father… well, it was the final blow.

                All that matters to me now is her happiness. This is my punishment. This is my redemption.

                The glass’ screams refocus my attention to my task, and as I push the knife into the cup for one last stroke, the cup shatters into my hand. I let out a shriek and quickly throw my undamaged hand over my mouth, holding back the rest of my gasps of pain. Two inches of glass is lodged into the center of my palm, and I gently tug on it, testing just how rooted it is. I count to three, hold my breath, then finally pull it out and watch as the pool of crimson flows off my shaking hand and drip onto the remains of the cup in the sink. I quickly eye the broken pieces to see if it I can salvage them enough to reconstruct, but I realize it’s beyond reparation.

                My mother rushes in a few seconds later, darts her eyes between my hand and the broken glass, and says, “Were you able to get the stain off?”

The World is Wide Enough for White People and Me

Crystal Solano

            Like a good Mexican I got there late. The fiesta started at 4:30pm and sure enough I didn’t pull up until 6:00pm. I spotted the house right away. It was a wedding, but there was a jumper in the front yard for children. As I walked up, I watched seven or eight brown faces appearing and disappearing behind the inflated faces of Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach. My sister greeted my boyfriend David and me at the entrance.
            “You’re late,” she said as she kissed us, “and now there’s nowhere for us to sit.”
            I smooth-talked excuses into the air that no one paid any mind to. My sister and her husband led us to the back gate and the music began to grow louder and louder. The DJ blasted Banda through the speakers. This made absolutely no sense because there was a live Banda lounging lazily on the other side of the gate. Como les gusta tirar el dinero, my mother would say. Next to the Banda was the DJ with one hand on his headphones, nodding his head to the music. This was my sister’s best friend Rocio’s wedding and there was no place to sit. While my sister scoped out the area, I ran into the bride and groom. Rocio is a Mexican American, daughter of immigrants just like me. The groom, Michael, was born and raised in Connecticut to a very Caucasian, conservative family. Michael’s family welcomed us warmly and told us to sit anywhere we’d like. We laughed and thanked them.
            I looked around and caught my sister trying to make eye contact with me across the yard. She pointed at available seats for us directly across from each other. We made our way over. A Caucasian couple was blocking two of the seats and I asked if they were sitting there. They enthusiastically shook their heads no and motioned for us to please sit. I noticed that as my sister was making her way across the table to sit, she had a decision to make. There were three available seats. To the right of them was a chatty Mexican family while on the left was an older Caucasian woman and man scrolling through their phones gripped tightly against their chests. My sister glanced once at her options and promptly sat next to the Mexican family without missing a beat. I suddenly became aware of the fact that I was taking note of my sister’s biased actions. I wondered if I would have done the same thing if I hadn’t been scrutinizing my surroundings, including my very own thoughts.
            All of Michael’s friends and family came directly from Connecticut. I visited Michael’s family with my sister over the summer and was shocked by my very first visit to a small town where everyone knew everybody. I remember driving two hours through a pine green forest to get there only to find myself actively trying to get out. Every time I stepped into town, my inability to escape their long gazes resulted in my defense mechanisms to activate. With lowered eyes, I became painstakingly aware of the color of the arms that swayed back and forth beside me. “What a pretty color?” I’d think to myself realizing I was keeping my head down in shame and embarrassment. Immediately after this realization, I shot it right back up and locked eyes with anyone who would dare keep staring. A few did and I imagined myself walking right up to them, my finger poking their chest repeatedly and saying “If you were in my hood, you’d. Get. Shot. For staring like that.” It’s funny because now, in Santa Ana, California, They are the ones keeping Their heads lowered. I wonder if any of Them recognize me and realize They, too, had made me feel this uncomfortable. The thought of their potential repentance made me feel a bit sorry for Them.
            My sister attempted a conversation with us across the table with no success. The live Banda began playing unbelievably loud so we motioned toward the taco stand on the other side of the yard. I stood in line and noticed very few Caucasians with street tacos. Instead, they forked at their small plates of salad and pasta. I turned back to the taco stand and as I ordered “tres de pollo con todo, por favor!” I became acutely conscious of the way the taquero showered my tortillas with grease and rubbed them around the grill. I had observed this hundreds of times in my lifetime so why did it now appear sweaty and dirty to me? Is this how They view my favorite food? That’s ridiculous. Imagining their ghastly faces disgusts me and I can’t help but coo. “You’re not sweating, little tortilla! You’re glowing!” Then I told the taquero to add two more to my order.
            The wedding had a Mexican antojitos stand and I’d never seen one at a party before so I was ecstatic. The party was elegant and white but once you made your way over to the antojitos corner, it was a different story. Lining the table in a flamboyant fashion were bionicos—chopped fruit covered with yogurt and topped with raisins, shredded coconut, and tiny, colorful marshmallows, tostilocos—Tostitos, pig skin, cucumber, jicama, Japanese peanuts, hot sauce and chili powder, chicharones—fried wheat snacks topped with hot sauce and lime juice, micheladas—beer mixed tomato juice, limes, and hot sauce, Tajin brims the edges of the cup. I looked around the fiesta again and was deflated to see that They wouldn’t even try it. I felt a pull to befriend them and coax them into trying a tostiloco or a bionico. I would even go easy on the hot sauce. Before I could step a foot in their direction, I imagined their face scrunched up in disgust as I’d present them with a treat I’d prepared. Instead, I frantically looked at the table with treats and tried to find a way to swoop them into my arms and run. I was defeated. I was unable to protect all of the things that I loved. For the second time tonight, a battle ignited inside of me. A part of me wanted to initiate conversation and make them feel welcome. The other half of me wanted to keep Them as far away as possible and to keep Us safe. This awareness caused me to act. I recognized a woman from Connecticut who showed me a picture of her cat. As I made my way back to my table with arms full of tacos, tostilocos and bionicos, I tapped her and said, “You’re the cat lady!” She smiled and nodded, then turned her back to me. I admit it, that may not have been the smoothest way to start up a conversation but still, there was my attempt at being friendly with White people. I shrugged and let the battle rage on.
            As I silently thanked the genius who suggested the antojitos table, I watched more and more people get up to dance. The old school Mexican dads at the fiesta began to do the traditional zapatiado, the shoe dance, similar to tap dancing. At first glance, the dance seems like a mindless combination of kicking and stomping, but if you pay close attention, you could feel the smug spirit of our ancestors gloriously and adamantly refusing to let traditions die, even in a new country, even in a new world. I burst with pride as I watched the Caucasian people clapping along and laughing with the rest of us. Soon after, Rocio’s mom announced the traditional Vibora de La Mar, or the Serpant of the sea game. In Mexico, this is a traditional singing game for children where two individuals clasp their hands together in the shape of an arch and the rest of the kids form a line grabbing on to the person in front’s waist and run through the arch until the two kids decide to bring the arch down on someone and capture them. In weddings, it is quite the opposite. The bride and groom stood on chairs clasping hands while being held by 4 or 5 of their most trusted friends. Two lines separated by gender formed and one line began to run through to try to knock down the bride and groom.
            Everyone began crowding around. The music began to play and the whole backyard buzzed with excitement. I forgot the differences in skin color and grabbed the cat lady by the hand. The women went first. The lyrics began, and we were off. Round and round Rocio’s sister took the lead maneuvering us through tight crevices between the tables and straight through the chair holding Rocio with a feisty shove in her direction. Her loyal five including my sister successfully kept her up as we went around and around in a laughing frenzy. It was a whole three minutes of uncontrollable laugher once we finished.
            Next was the men’s turn. Rocio’s brother took the lead and began slowly skipping until the climax of the song. He then led them to rush full speed towards Michael and his four brothers holding him. Rocio’s brother rammed right into Michael’s chair and stumbled to the ground, taking down with him one of Michael’s brothers. The two of them reached for the chair Michael was standing on and the unsteadiness caused Michael to topple over both of them. The yard howled with laughter but I saw the intense anger in Michael’s eyes for a fraction of a second before it became a smile again. All feelings of joy and laughter left me as I dared to look around at the other Caucasians. The older women, including Michael’s mother and aunts, had tight, disapproving smiles that I feared might turn into snarls. “Would you look at these hooligans and savages finding enjoyment in knocking my beloved son off of a chair?” I heard the mother say. “This is what our poor Michael is marrying into?” I heard an aunt say. My cat lady grabbed my shoulders from behind disrupting my imagination and yelled “Why are you still standing here? Run, the bouquet toss is about to start.” I looked up and it was just me. No one was snarling. No one was calling us hooligans. It was just fear. Everyone was smiling again. No one was overthinking Michael’s fall but me. I felt robbed of all enjoyment tonight but who did I actually have to blame but myself? My feelings of mistrust interpreted every smile as fake, every laugh as mocking, every comment as judgmental. I, more than anyone, should know what allowing fear to win does to a victim. Victim? Am I a victim? No. I, too, would be cautious to try a food I didn’t recognize. I, too, would be bewildered if my loved one fell off a chair and a room full of strangers roared in laughter.
            This epiphany engulfed my thoughts and I sat back at my table and watched two women screech at having the bouquet tossed in their direction. These Mexican women tugged back and forth before one of them lost her grip then proceeded to walk off and smooth out her hair, giggling. I wondered if They were having a good time tonight. I wondered if They were as paranoid as I was. Everyone was laughing. Everyone was smiling, except for me… and the kid with chamoy drenched fingers and face pleading with his mother for another round of tostilocos. “Andale ammmaaaaa” I heard him say.