Tacos

Tacos

A Story by Fred Pierce
"

It's tough to break the chains of other's expectations, especially as an illegal immigrant...especially if your a mother...and especially if within you resides the spark of an entrepreneur.

"

TACOS

 

by

 

FRED PIERCE


 

 

     With a sense of hearing only a mother has, she heard the faint sound of her baby making cooing sounds from the crib at the foot of her bed.  The fan, setting on top of the rickety old dresser, oscillated back and forth.  Turning over slowly, in order to not awaken her husband, she looked at the alarm clock’s large red numbers on the TV tray that functioned as her nightstand.  It was 4:30am.  In one hour the alarm will sound waking her husband who will tell her to shut the damn thing off. She would turn it off, get up and begin her day. He would turn over and go back to sleep for another hour.

Five hours earlier she finished the laundry, cleaned up the kitchen and slipped into bed trying not to wake the baby or her husband.  It was at this hour her husband was horniest and when all three of her children had been conceived. How she envied his simple routine.  Wake up, go to the corner and wait with the other Hispanic men for someone to drive up and hire the lucky ones to do a day’s work.  He would stay until he was picked.

At the end of the day, whether or not he was picked, he would come home, grab a beer and watch the flat-screen television while she cooked dinner.

     The kitchen was the warmest room in their small three room house.  One warm afternoon she wiped the small beads of sweat on her face and asked, “I could use a little help… do you mind?”

He looked at her as the living room ceiling fan above him wobbled back and forth making the small room the coolest room in the house.  

“You had all day to prepare supper while I busted my a*s out in the heat.  Yes, I do mind.”

She never asked for his help again, even after two more children arrived.

She prayed silently and waited.  Perhaps the baby would go back to sleep.

      Either the prayer was not answered or the baby ignored God’s request.  Soon the cooing turned, predictably, into whimpers and then crying.  The baby was hungry or it had a wet diaper, or both.  It didn’t matter.  She would not stop crying until she was fed and her diaper changed.  There was no reason for her husband to get up.  His milk never came in… hers did.

     She held the baby as it suckled tightly to her breast.  After a while she switched the baby to the other breast.

When the baby fell asleep she slowly stood and carried her to the crib.  She covered the baby with a tattered baby blanket, stood for a moment watching her little angel breathe, then went to the kitchen to begin her daily routine.  It was the same routine every day; prepare his breakfast, wake up her husband, resist his advances and make oatmeal with buttered toast for the older children.  She would make him a lunch and put it in the same brown paper sack he’s used for the past two months.  That had to be some kind of record.

     “Where’s my blue work shirt?” he asked.

     “On the clothes line.  It might not be dry.”

     “You know that’s my favorite shirt… it’s my lucky shirt.  I always get work when I wear it.”

     He stood shirtless with coffee in hand, not moving. 

     “I’ll get it,” she said as she put two extra chicken tacos into the sack.  She made the tortillas exactly as her mother taught her and as her grandmother taught her mother.  They were soft and delicious.  His lunch was primarily leftovers from supper the night before.

     She got the shirt.  It was not quite dry.  She handed it to him; he sat his coffee down and put on the shirt.

     “It’s a little wet but no matter,” he said, “In a couple of hours, because I’m wearing my lucky shirt, I’ll be working and it will be wet with my sweat.”

     The oldest child walked into the kitchen, rubbing the sleepy from his eyes and said, “Momma… I’m hungry.”

     Her husband grabbed the sack with one hand and grabbed her a*s with the other as he walked past her and toward the back door.  She slapped his hand and quickly glanced to see if the oldest child, a son almost four years old, had noticed.  He did not.  She smiled.

     “I see you have already dressed yourself for school,” she said with pride as she tussled his hair.  One of the things she loved about this country was the attention it paid young children.  Her son was attended the Pre-K four year old class at the local elementary school just two blocks away. He stirred the melting butter into the oatmeal, smiled, and began eating. 

The second son, wearing his older brother’s hand me down pajama bottoms and thoroughly worn house shoes, shuffled in and without saying a word took his place at the small table. 

She smiled again.  He was almost three years old and was a very quiet child.  She put oatmeal, along with a small glob of butter on top, in his favorite Spiderman bowl.  He bowed his head.

“God is great, God is good, let us thank him for this food.  Amen”

She swelled with pride, poured a cup of coffee and sat down with her sons while they ate.  She loved this part of her day.

     The oldest finished first and took his bowl, spoon and empty glass to the sink where he rinsed them and placed them to the side.  The second son finished soon after and mimicked his older brother by taking his bowl, glass and spoon to the sink. 

She cleared her husband’s bowl, coffee cup and spoon then wiped the table clean.  Six months earlier she found the table on the sidewalk in front of a home two streets over.  At the time they did not have a table but had three unmatched chairs she found the same way a few months before on another street.

     “Momma… the baby is awake.  She’s crying.  Want me to go get her?” the oldest son asked.

She nodded and smiled.  After putting the baby in a playpen, which was found the same way as the other furniture, she began making the breakfast tacos she would sell.  Her husband did not know about her business venture.  He was a proud Hispanic man.  She told him once she wanted to find a job and he said no.  None of his friend’s wives had to work, nor did any of his cousin’s wives.  He would not be the only husband who was not man enough to take care of his family.

     Ironically it was her husband’s actions, thanks to an act of kindness, which was the beginning of her little business.  He felt sorry for an old man who was at the corner every day hoping for the chance to work but was rarely chosen.   Her husband gave the old man one of the tacos she made for lunch. 

“Thank you,” the old man said.  As hungry men often do he ate it quickly.

“That, my son, was the best damn taco I have ever had… in my whole life!”

“I’m glad you liked it.  My wife makes them for me every day.”

“You are a very lucky man.  I bet she is as beautiful as she is a good cook.”

The husband nodded and said nothing more.  Hispanic men, often known for having girlfriends, are especially sensitive to any kind of compliment their wives receives from other men.  Most Hispanic men knew this and were careful how they complimented other men’s wives, except for old impotent men who got tickled when a young husband became angry at the compliment.  It meant the young husband perceived the old man to be a possible threat, when it came to the young man’s wife, and this always made old men smile.

The husband knew his wife was a better cook than his own mother, though he would never admit this for his mother’s sake.  However, he did tell his wife one night when he was especially horny.  He knew compliments were the key to breaching her objections to his amorous advances.  It was one such occasion when he mentioned the old man’s compliment about her tacos.

“Really?  What else did he say?”

“He said, ‘I bet she is as beautiful as she is a good cook.’”

“Really?” she asked, smiling and beginning to purr like a kitten.

It was this sound and smile for which the husband anxiously waited then said, “Absolutely… and the old man is right.”

She relented and afterwards, while her husband slipped into deep post-coitus sleep, she laid thinking about the old man’s words, “The best damn taco I have ever had… in my whole life!”

The seed was planted.  She began to plan.  At first she would make just a few, a dozen at the most, and try and sell them at the beauty shop around the corner, near the cleaners. Just to see if they would sell. She walked out of the beauty shop holding $12… they bought them all.

With the money from the sales she bought more flour, eggs and chorizo the next day and while carrying the baby, with her middle son in tow, she sold two dozen breakfast tacos at the beauty shop and the cleaners making $24.  She was ecstatic.  With the money clinched tightly in one hand, and her baby in the other, she walked to the grocery store and bought more flour, eggs and chorizo.

Her mind raced as she tried to think of other businesses where she could sell her tacos.  Each place she went bought her tacos.  One of the patrons of the beauty shop asked if she could make extra for her to take home.  Her business was growing so fast it made her head swim to think of how well she was doing and what it might become.

All was well with the world and she was never happier. The next day she made four dozen tacos and again she sold all of her breakfast tacos.  She made, with unexpected tips, over $50 in just three hours and had made more money than her husband. Somehow she would have to figure out a way to tell him without embarrassing him.  The exhilaration of success was amazing and she began thinking about all the possibilities as she walked to the grocery store to replenish supplies. By her calculations she might be able to make nearly a $100 tomorrow.

“Give me your money!” demanded the voice from behind her.

She slowly turned around.  He pointed a small gun at her and repeated his demand, “Give me the damn money or I’ll shoot you and the kid!”

She tearfully handed him the money, he snatched it from her hand and ran away.  She started to cry and walked slowly home. Being in the country illegally she could tell no one. They planned on the baby to be born at Val Verde hospital in Del Rio, TX so the newborn would be a naturalized US citizen.  But, it did not happen that way; instead a midwife delivered the baby in La Potasa just 22 miles from Del Rio. 

She could not tell her husband, the police… no one for fear of the consequences.

Her husband walked through the front door not saying a word to her, took off his boots, grabbed a beer from the fridge, turned on the TV and flopped down on the couch.  She could see he was in a bad mood.

“How was your day?  Did you work today?”

His silence, along with two more beers, answered her question. 

“Supper is ready.”

Silence.

“Supper is ready,” she repeated.

“I’m not hungry.”

“But it’s already made.”

“Damn it!  I said I’m not hungry!”

She fed the boys and the baby, cleaned up the kitchen, washed clothes and crawled into bed after midnight.  He rolled over and kissed her on the shoulder.  She remained still and did not respond.  He kissed her again.  Nothing.  He gave up, turned over and went back to sleep.

She laid there trying to decide whether or not to give up the dream that made its way into her life.  She looked at the clock.  It was 4:30am.  In one hour the alarm would go off…

 

© 2017 Fred Pierce


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Added on February 8, 2017
Last Updated on February 8, 2017

Author

Fred Pierce
Fred Pierce

Austin, TX



About
I have published several short stories many years ago with NYC publisher Sterling/MacFadden. I recently began writing again after taking several years off from writing in order to build my two b.. more..

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