Appears in Other Voices #43
Chuy was late and I was considering going to sleep. I was tired and it was cold. Just as I began to take off my clothes, I heard him beep three times. It was 11:25.
I looked out my window and saw it was snowing. Chuy waved his hand insisting that I get inside the car. I put on my sweater and coat and ran outside.
Chuy leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. He was wearing a red button down shirt and black slacks. He lifted his feet to show me his boots. I recognized the red stripe on the back. Prada. “Chuy, where the fuck did you get those shoes?”
“That doesn't matter right now. What's important here is what you're wearing.” He looked at my clothes with disappointment. “You look hideous. I'm so embarrassed for you—going to the club like that. I know you aren't looking for any dick tonight, but it wouldn't hurt you to put on some heels. What happened to that Dolce shirt I lifted for you at Marshall Fields?”
We drove in silence to Angel's house. It was the first snow of the winter; we'd had an unusually long and mild fall. The snow fell with violence as if it were trying to catch up for lost time. Chuy had the heater on full blast and it was making my eyes burn. He pulled over in front of Angel's apartment building and lit a cigarette. He honked and five minutes later Angel came running out. The way Angel walked always fascinated me. The way she could run and skip around in stilettos as graceful as a marionette. I knew I would never walk like that. I was always clumsy. I would even trip in winter boots. It made me feel awkward and heavy when I was with her. I looked fat and mismatched next to her tiny neat frame. That night she wore a black fur (from one of her many tricks), red leather stiletto boots, and a gray mini skirt, despite the snow. Her fake rhinestone lashes were glued perfectly on her eyelids. Her bright lips were a sliver of orange, demanding attention away from her large hook nose.
She leaned over from the back seat to kiss my cheek and looked down to see what I was wearing. “How dare you wear those chunky boots to the club! ¡No tienes verguenza!”
“I'm cold. I don't care.”
“Where are we going?” Angel asked as she opened her compact and began penciling in her left eyebrow.
Chuy looked at her through the rearview mirror. “To my house for cocktails first. My mom is at her boyfriend's house.”
We drove for about fifteen minutes before getting to Chuy's. The car started to smell like man. Angel always had a distinct smell of armpits and perfume. Angel's smell and Chuy's cigarette were making me dizzy.
As we pulled up to Chuy's driveway, I realized that I didn't have anything to drink.
“Chuy, turn around and go to the liquor store. I want a forty. Please.”
Chuy looked annoyed. He threw his cigarette out the window. “But I'm going to make martinis.”
“I know, but I don't like martinis. You know that. I want a forty.”
“Fine. Martinis are for sophisticated ladies anyway.” Chuy flipped his hair and laughed.
He turned the car around and drove three blocks to the liquor store. I handed him three dollars, but he didn't take them. He came back lighting another cigarette and handed me a Corona inside a brown paper bag. Chuy knew it was the only thing I would drink.
We all ran to the back door to get out of the snow. When Chuy opened the door, I realized that his basement apartment was almost as cold as it was outside. Angel and I were reluctant to take off our coats because we were so cold. We sat at the kitchen table while Chuy mixed the martinis. I opened my forty and drank half before even he even finished. The Corona was almost frozen and was making me shake. My nipples were piercing through my thick wool sweater. Angel stared at me from across the table, her black penciled brows wrinkled in confusion.
“If I had tits like those, I would be topless all the time. And with that face, I would always be painted. Always.”
Chuy turned around. “She never paints herself. She won't even wear heels. Look at her, sitting with her legs wide open and drinking a forty like a gangster. I've been thinking and I think she likes pussy.” Chuy handed Angel her martini.
I crossed my legs. “No I don't. I'm pretty sure I like dick. Breasts are nice to look at, but I like dick. Definitely.” I took a sip from Angel's martini. Chuy took a basket of sweet bread from his cabinet and put it in the center of the table. I took an empanada. Chuy walked away to the bathroom shaking his head.
Angel gulped her second drink and stood up. She took off her knitted red sweater to change it for a black sheer blouse she had in her purse. Before she put on the blouse she started dancing to New Order's “Bizarre Love Triangle,” playing on the radio. She was mouthing the words and walking back and forth flipping her hair until she began giving me a lap dance. The first time Chuy and I met her we were at a party and Angel had been “doing show” to Lil' Kim. It was Angel's trademark.
I felt awkward and tried not looking at her face. I focused my eyes on her tattoo—a red and black snake that wrapped around her belly button. It seemed to be dancing too. When I looked up, I was startled to see her naked chest. Brown and smooth like a little boy. Her double D breasts were gone. They were sitting meekly on the table. When she noticed me staring, she pulled her blouse over her head and put her breasts back on. This was the first time I had ever seen Angel without a shirt. Angel was always saying that one day she would fuck enough guys to buy some tits. She wanted big ones so she could go back to the old neighborhood and show them off to all the guys who used to kick her ass in high school.
When she finished adjusting her breasts she pulled up a chair next to me and stared at me for a long time. “Girl, let's paint you.”
“Paint me then. Paint me to the sky.” I said and finished my beer.
By the time they were finished, I looked metallic. And somehow, I had high cheekbones and my wide nose was thin and angular. Angel sat down across from me with the satisfied grin of an artist.
“Angel, I look like a trannie. I don't like it.”
“No bitch, you look fierce, like me. You're a beauty queen. You should go to school like that.”
Chuy rubbed some mascara off the corner of my eye. “You should see what she wears to school. It's amazing that she ever gets laid.”
I groaned. “I think I need a joint.”
“Roll one.” Chuy said pulling his long black hair into a ponytail.
“With what? I don't have any paper.”
“Use an apple. Or aluminum. I know how to do it with an apple. There's a special way to cut it so you can smoke with it. And it tastes better than aluminum.”
“I'm not going to use an apple. How pathetic would that be?”
“Well, we could use Bible paper. I think it's thin enough,” Angel suggested.
“Go find one, Chuy.”
Chuy came back from his mother's bedroom with a worn leather Bible. The spine seemed to be cracked in half. I ripped a page out from the beginning. I rolled the joint as tightly as I could, trying to avoid any ink on the page. When I was finished, it turned out to be much too loose and covered in spit. The weed was falling from the ends.
Angel watched us smoke while she drank her martini. “Watch you guys burn in hell. That, or become prophets. If you talk to God, tell him that I said to suck my dick.”
The three of us laid on Chuy's bed watching the guy after Conan O'Brien, waiting to get high. We never did. Chuy and I got headaches and Angel fell asleep with her mouth wide open.
When the show finished, Chuy stood up and put on his shoes. “All right,” he said, “let's go. There's a trick waiting for me at the club,”
Angel sat up rubbing her eyes, smearing her eyeliner. I turned to her. “I don't feel like going anymore. It's cold as hell and I'm tired.” I walked over to the window. The snow had stopped and had turned into gray slush. “It's ugly outside.”
“I don't feel like going either.” Angel said.
“Fine. I'm leaving.” Chuy picked a handful of condoms from his drawer and stuffed them in his pocket. He slammed the door as he left.
Angel and I washed our faces and went to sleep.