It’s one of those hazy Sunday mornings when everyone in town wakes up saying, “I drank too much last night.” You might hear it whispered by a woman standing in front of the stove, frying eggs and chorizo for her family, a thumping pain in her head, you might hear it from the lips of her husband, hair messy and damp from sweaty sleep, from their nineteen year old mustached boy, groggy, a foul smell in his mouth from too many tequila shots and going down on his girlfriend’s cousin visiting for the weekend from Arizona, from the early morning customers at the Cambodian-run Donut Palace, where a man in cowboy boots paying for a gooey bear claw suffers from a terrible hangover.
“I drank too much, that’s for sure,” says Fernando Lopez.
“We all drank way too much,” says Lucia Martinez.
“It had to have been that last Dos Equis,” says Claudia Lopez. “I knew once I got to four I should have probably called it a night.”
It’s noon, and they’re standing outside of Sacred Heart Catholic Church where mass has just ended. They’re enjoying complimentary glasses of lemonade, prepared by old lady Chole, a pious woman who most definitely did not have too much to drink last night.
Nearby, Francisco Lopez, neatly shaved and still half-asleep, stands in a rumpled tie, Russian Red like the color of his girlfriend Anna Martinez’s lipstick. They are barely touching, not because Anna suspects anything should be wrong between them but because old lady Chole is standing two feet away, her beady eyes squinting hard in their direction.
Francisco licks his dry lips. He’s supposed to be listening to Anna’s monologue on the evils of community college statistics classes, and how she’ll never be able to transfer to a good school like Pomona if she doesn’t pass this class. Francisco nods in agreement every two sentences or so, frowns, says, “I know, I totally get it,” with choreographed precision.
He could care less about Anna passing statistics and going to Pomona. He himself is only taking Algebra with overachieving high school teenagers with hearts set on Stanford and guys like himself, still living at home, playing video games competitively until the wee hours of the morning, jerking off to lesbian porn and hiding the sticky evidence on socks, later to be washed by their unsuspecting mothers.
What he’s really doing is paying attention to Anna’s chest, rising and falling in rhythm to her breathing, her nipples poking out from the stretchy fabric of her dress. He thinks of her cousin, in route to her home in Tucson, and how she refused to take of her top when he went down on her, only pulled up her tight skirt and slid down her panties so they rested awkwardly over her ankles.
“By the way, thanks for driving Brenda to the bus station last night,” Anna says. “My parents are really grateful.”
“No problem, I was just hanging out with the guys in Jorge’s basement. I wasn’t doing anything exciting.” He doesn’t mention the countless shots of Jose Cuervo, sharing the topless photos Anna had sent him as an early birthday present to Jorge and the rest of the gang, driving intoxicated to Anna’s house to pick up her cousin, parking near the Greyhound station on graveyard Main Street, fumbling in the backseat of his car, in the dark, not bothering to think about the how or why but instead focusing on the I can’t believe this is happening.
“My parents want you to come to lunch with us. We’re going to Fortune House. I told them it’s your favorite.”
Francisco thinks of free egg rolls, spicy pork, chop suey, Cantonese noodles, hot and sour soup. An hour and a half later, he’ll go from saying, “I drank too much last night” to “I ate too much this afternoon”, reach for an Alka Seltzer and some ibuprofen, pull the blinds down in his room, and fall asleep until his mother shouts at him to come downstairs for dinner. In his dreams, he’ll get his girlfriend’s cousin to take her top off, he’ll get his girlfriend to take her top off, and they’ll rendezvous under a starlit sky, beat-driven music pulsing in the background. In his dreams, he’ll say, “I didn’t fuck enough last night.”
Betsabe Gomez is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Last year, she was managing editor of Breakwater Review, the online literary arts journal.