Narratives

Green Cat Liquors Series: Part III

I heard a knock on the door.  Mamá had left to go to the liquor store, so I opened the door assuming she had come back.  She had warned me about opening the door up to strangers, and had always insisted that I ask who was at the door before opening it.  But I really thought Mamá was at the door, too young to discern that Mamá had her house keys.

door

“Hey, your mom sent us for her wallet.  A little boy at the store hurt his arm and your mom is over there helping him out . . . she needs money to buy more gauze for his arm.”  Three teenage girls stood there – like older sisters keeping guard, protecting.  Their faces were soft like caramel chocolate and their hair was adorned with hair bobbles like the bubble gum in the one-cent machine at the liquor store.  The machine for which I so eagerly searched for lost pennies on the ground.

“Okay, wait.”  I closed the door.  Mamá kept a clutch-like brown wallet in a 3-tier wire-hanging basket in the kitchen.  I grabbed a chair to reach for it, and just like that the wallet walked away with $205 from the AFDC check she had just cashed.

When Mamá came back, I asked her if the boy’s arm was okay.

She asked me, “What boy?”

I felt a flash of heat consume me from inside. My cheeks throbbing hot and a pounding reproach in my head.  Instantaneously we both looked toward the empty wire-hanging basket.  The blaring questions, the look of disappointment, the slamming of the door, it’s all a blur now.

The next time I tasted bubble gum, it didn’t taste as sweet.  Strangers who looked nice were still strangers.  The windows became suspicious.  That month Mamá rationed our food more strictly.

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