Issue 31 — 

Hemil Garcia Linares
David Lott
Hemil Garcia Linares

Featured on ArLiJo.com


The Hurricane

Whatever is done for love always occurs beyond good and evil.
—Friedrich Nietzsche


Can we stay here? asked the child and Magda, for the first time, did not know what to say. She breathed in deep and finished the last of her cigarette. She looked at the child. His brown eyes awaited an answer. She put out the cigarette in the ashtray and sat the child on her lap while cigarette smoke drew arabesques throughout the room.

We can't stay here. We have to move my darling, she said and kissed him. It was not a lie. They had to move every two months. Magda, already accustomed to the routine, was getting ready to take a bath while Bobby, her child, dealt with their errant lifestyle with the help of a videogame he took with him all over Virginia. They had been traveling for almost three years. New faces, always different and terrifying, appeared and disappeared quickly from their lives like the cars on Arlington Boulevard. The large and unfamiliar avenue was home to Latino restaurants, laundry mats and food stores, and was sprinkled with South and Central Americans—cigarette in hand—as they waited for some contractor to offer them work, if only for a few hours.

The room on the third floor where they live has an perpetual smell of tobacco that seems has always been there; a rancid smell as if the room—the whole building—had been constructed by smokers who had purposefully left their cigarette buts inside the fragile walls of pressed wood. Can I turn on my videogame, mommy? said Bobby and Magda gave him a consenting look. I have to take a bath, sweetie, she said. She went to the bathroom and left the door ajar. She looked at her thirty years in the mirror, or are they thirty-three, Magda? Does it matter? As she took off her pajama her cinnamon-brown skin, still soft, glowed inundating the yellow walls of the room. In her tired face, her vibrant eyes shone bright. They were of a green like the Caribbean Sea, a calm and transparent sea that on occasions can turn wild and unpredictable, like a hurricane, and she knows, although she may not want to accept that she carries a hurricane inside her.

Magda turned on the water faucet and the warm water bathed her skin. She slid the soap around her arms and back then searched for her generous breasts, she dallied about and then slowly reached toward her stomach, and her sex; she cleansed her thighs and calves, and finally, she bend down to caress her feet with the soap, I'm exhausted, she thought.

She remembered her brother had offered to give her a job in his store, back in Guatemala, and told her not to worry about anything. A little help wouldn't be bad now, she thought. How different things were from five years ago when she came to the United States with so many dreams. She was working as a waitress at a Mexican restaurant and received very good tips. After a year she met Jose Ramon, a good-looking Mexican employee who swept her off her feet. And as a fool (she thinks now) she lost her head and became distracted: let's go dancing, Magda; lets take a trip to the beach, princess. And it was all dancing, trips and happiness until she became pregnant. When she told him, Jose Ramon seemed happy and they went together to her first prenatal appointment. But the next week, the Earth, Immigration Services, destiny, God, the devil or the chupacabras must have swallowed Jose Ramon because she never saw him again.

She had a difficult pregnancy and was forced to leave the restaurant, and from then on her life took a sudden twist. So now, what are you working in? her brother asked her once and she simply answered, I'm independent. I work in sales.

Now the view couldn't be starker, or could it? If she could only return home with money, always the damn money. If she had money she'd send everyone to hell. I should hurry and get ready. And if I listened to my brother? Maybe things would be easier there. But my baby, that's the problem. Would he get used to life there? He has to practice his Spanish, and the food would be the hardest. Mommy, I don't like beans, he says and he won't eat them, but he can sure down those chicken nuggets without a problem. He's so adorable with his Nintendo. Why don't we have a house, Mommy? he asked the other day and he caught me unprepared. We'll have a beautiful house, I tell him. When? he asked. I told him that someday and changed the conversation and asked if he would like to go to Guatemala and meet his grandparents and he said yes kids are so clever but only if we would have a house there. I said yes, and told him that the grandparents' house is large and that it is ours too and that we will go to the beach and that when we sit on the beach we won't ever leave and­.

She was almost finished bathing when the bell rang. Mommy, the bell is ringing, said Bobby, and Magda rinsed quickly and closed the faucet. She grabbed the first towel she could find and put her hair in a ponytail. She put on a fuchsia robe and stepped out of the bathroom.

Who is it, Mommy? the child asked without stopping his videogame.

I don't know, sweetie. I'm gonna see, she answered, walking towards the door. There was a strange man outside. She looked at him as she raised one eyebrow and after making a sign she closed the door. Bobby, sweetie, go over to auntie Sandra's for a bit and I'll pick you up later, ok baby? she said and disconnected the videogame. She put it in a bag along with some cookies that were on the nightstand. The boy left the room with the bag in his and knocked on the next door. A messy-haired woman in red shorts and wearing only a bra opened the door, and when she saw Magda, they understood each other without saying a word. As soon as the boy had entered the other room, Magda returned to hers.

Come in, darling said Magda to the stranger waiting outside and close the door. She barely hinted a metallic smile as she took off her robe and lay down on the bed, naked and lost because she knew that the hurricane she carried within even though she did not like it would come afloat once again to lash against the sheets.


Biography:

Journalist and writer Hemil Garcia Linares was born in Lima, Peru. He has published articles in Peru’s El Comercio newspaper, as well as in several Hispanic periodicals in the United States. He is editor of Raices Latinas, a bi-monthly magazine in Northern Virginia. His stories have been included in anthologies in the United States, Mexico, and Argentina. He was a finalist at the 2008 Junin Pais International Short Stories Contest in Argentina. Contact him at his webpage, www.hemilgarcia.com, and blog, www.hemilgarcia.blogspot.com.




Copyright (c) 2009 by Hemil Garcia Linares.
 
Visit this author's homepage at http://www.hemilgarcia.com


 
David Lott

Featured on ArLiJo.com



Carambola

The haiku master Basho

named himself

after the word

for banana tree –

it’s true.


But if he had seen

the starfruit tree

in this Caribbean courtyard

we might know him today

as Carambola.


As every star is a sun in potential

every ripe starfruit

is a sun in miniature

and each carambola tree

a little daytime

constellation.

Copyright (c) 2009 by David Lott.



My Left Shoe

My left shoe

co-anchor of the cat’s six-o’clock news

brings updates from the outside

encrypted in sniffable bits:

how fresh the grass

whether the road’s being re-surfaced

who stopped to pet the neighbor’s dachshund.


Remarkably smooth transmission

from a leather-tongued informant

often with foot in mouth.


Copyright (c) 2009 by David Lott.


Nesting the Feather

Sure, I type the emails.

Word-process the docs.

Text-message when I have to.

Slide the stinky markers

across the dry-erase whiteboard.

Pencil in the ovals.

Ink the forms in black.

Color within the lines.

Yeah, but this is where the quill sleeps.

Right here.

Copyright (c) 2009 by David Lott.



Playing White


Playing white

against my six-year-old twins

I to start with just king and pawns

and one of my opponents says

“Let’s pretend we’re playing out on a boat.”

Fine with me.


Then a little later

“Daddy, let’s say you’re an electric eel

and we’re both sea turtles.”

The tortoises and the hare, maybe

but okay, sounds good.


And then about five moves afterwards

as they already have his highness on the run

“Dad, pretend your team is called ‘the boney shore’

and ours is ‘the night-lit sea.’”


Exactly who is it

that verses them

so swiftly and thoroughly

in regicide?


Copyright (c) 2009 by David Lott.



Biography:

David G. Lott, an associate editor of Potomac Review, has taught English at Montgomery College for seventeen years. His work has appeared in Light, Aethlon, Washington (D.C.) City Paper, and Opium, and he is currently working on a collection of poems called Gringo in Guayama, about his time living in a small Puerto Rican town.