Fiction — From the September 2008 issue

Willows Village

( 2 of 7 )

I knew I was going to get one of those jobs. I mean, I applied at more dealers too, but my gut feeling told me that it was going to happen with those first ones interested in me. I was trying to figure out which would be better money, used cars or new car sales. I didn’t have enough information about either, so I just thought about it. One strong guess was that the new car job would require better clothes. Maybe a suit, but at least a couple of good coats and pants, but for both some dress shirts. Ties too. I felt it even more when I dropped in on them again telling them I was still looking, still hungry for this work. I think both of them liked me, but I also felt like they might have been seeing that I was wearing the same white shirt and tie. I could not go there again in the same shirt and tie, and if they did call, I had to have something else, no matter what. So I stopped at a store afterward and bought another of both. They weren’t the most expensive, but I was almost out of money, and that wasn’t good. I needed to buy a few shirts. And the rest. I could get some money from home, from my parents. My wife, Suzie, was living with my suegros, her parents, so we wouldn’t have to be spending on rent.

This time I got in late. I took a long drive once it got to be afternoon, got stuck in a lot of freeway traffic I didn’t know how to get out of, and I had to go to a few stores to find the shirt and tie once I found a mall. I had to put gas in my car too. I went to a drive-through and got a large soda and stayed parked in the lot awhile. It was that it made me feel bad that I would have to borrow from my parents again. My mom anyway. She wouldn’t even tell my dad. It was nice sitting. I needed it. I even turned off the radio. I think I was there a long time. I thought of going to a bar, but that didn’t seem right to buy beer too. And there was plenty of beer and wine at Aunt Maggy’s. I missed home and wished this would stop. It was getting dark. The automatic lights were already on the Willows Village sign when I drove in.

“Did you get a job?” Aunt Maggy asked.

“No, not yet.”

“You’re so late. I thought maybe you found one.”

Lorena came to the kitchen from her room. She looked concerned too.

“Are you hungry?” Maggy asked.

“What’d you buy?” asked Lorena, interrupting. I had the shopping bag in my hand. “Let me see,” she said, reaching for it.

“It’s just a shirt and tie.”

She already knew it because she took them out before I answered. I don’t think she thought much of them.

“You have to be hungry. Sit with me.” Aunt Maggy sat down at the kitchen table. It was full of all kinds of stuff, not only the wine bottles and glasses but a stack of folded towels and women’s colorful underwear, top and bottom. Even a full grocery bag not unloaded. “Lorena, can you serve him that Chinese food? I think there’s a lot.”

“I can do that,” Lorena said. “Of course.” She kind of stepped into the kitchen like it was too dark to see, even though the bright panels of ceiling lights were on. “Where is it?” There was so much everywhere.

“It’s there. Somewhere. Maybe I put it in the fridge. I don’t remember now.”

Lorena opened the refrigerator door and stared, then she stuck her hand in like touching any one thing wrong might tip over something else. “Way in the back somehow,” she announced. “But it is here.”

“Are you okay? _¿Todo está bien, _Guillermo?”

I guess I was grouchy. For one, I felt like being called Billy. “I think I’m a little tired is all. I’m fine.”

Lorena was trying to get to the microwave. She had to move lots of things.

“You have to put it on a plate,” said Maggy. “Those takeout boxes have wire.”

“I already know. I already have it on a plate.”

Maggy stared at the mess on the table like it was someone’s fault. “Do you need your clothes washed?”

“I was going to ask. I sure do.”

She picked up the tie I just bought. It was on the table too. “Do you need some ties? Jim has so many ties. I think he has some shirts that would fit you too.”

I couldn’t believe it! “That would be so great, tía,” I told her.

To make room on the table, Aunt Maggy had Lorena take the towels and underwear and my two things upstairs. I really liked the Chinese food too. It was the best I’d ever eaten.

More from Dagoberto Gilb:

Fiction From the June 2010 issue

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