First You See Her, Then You Don't, Part 3
Her face told my face to move or the attached legs at the other end would kick me hard and far.
Tommy Villalobos, Contributing Editor
First You See Her, Then You Don't, Part 1
Published on LatinoLA: March 31, 2017
First You See Her, Then You Don't, Part 2
"What Not To Say to a Chica in Or Out Of the Barrio by Alex Finable. Dude knows of what he speaks." She then withdrew the book quickly and hid it below the counter, as if preventing me from gaining any free wisdom.
"You seem to have a book for everything."
"I use them like balas."
"But a guy doesn't want to be shot at when he talks to a girl."
She gave me a look worthy of an international assassin ready for a formal execution. It was a cross between a snarl and a smirk.
"I have no problem with you outside of you not buying any books."
"I find it distracting to buy books when someone who looks like you is hawking them."
"Why should I distract you? You seem to be distracted all by yourself."
"I'm normal. You might even say boring. That's why I need a woman in my life who wouldn't find me boring. You like books and reading them in a quiet room, a cup of hot chocolate within reach, I'll bet. Do you find me boring?"
I have to admit, that was a thrust with a rusted, serrated knife right through my corazón.
"Are you sure you feel that way?" I said, giving her a second chance.
"Willing to testify in court."
She unhooked the chain again and closed the overhanging stall door on my face. I rushed to and waited outside the exit door in the back.
When she came out, my inquiring face met hers. Her face told my face to move or the attached legs at the other end would kick me hard and far.
"And don't follow me," she added out loud. "My other brother, nickname Bofón, is meeting me at the taco truck on the corner."
"You are sending me mixed signals. On top of all the others you have sent me."
She proceeded to lock the door then headed down the walkway.
"I yam howta beer," said the Pepino. He waved his hand for another.
He was swaying on his barstool as if he were a cobra ready to strike.
"So, did you get the girl?" he said when his beer was set before him.
"I'm still working on it. But that is beside the point."
"The point being?"
"That I was in love."
"No kidding," said the Pepino.
"I am a true romantic. Last one, I think."
"You must be kidding there, too."
I didn't know why he thought me such a committed comedian.
The very next day, I returned to the book fair. My heart sank below my knees and down to the heel of my left foot. The area was empty. I saw this bato sweeping. I went over to him and asked him about the whereabouts of the beauty in the bookstall. I even pointed to the spot where she had floated.
"I just clean up," he said, and then pointed to a woman who was stepping into an office nearby.
"I can talk to her about it?"
I headed for the woman who had now disappeared into the office. I hurried over, in case she, too, vanished into barrio air.
As I rushed in, I nearly rushed up her back as she had stopped to read something she held. She was well dressed. My stomping caused her to turn and face me.
Her look told me, "What in holy chimichangas do you want?"
My responding stare must have said, "I am not sure but I've been looking all my life for it, can you help me?" for she then looked at me as if I had just hatched a large goose egg on her floor.
I said aloud, "I am looking for a young woman. Pretty. No, gorgeous. She worked in a bookstall over there," I said pointing to the heavenly spot.
"Why?" she said, with a superior air.
A surprise question that did nothing but give me a blank mind and an iced up tongue. She pinch-hit for me.
"Do you do business with her?"
Oh, would I, I thought. Instead, I chose the fabled higher ground. "I have this crazy notion that we hit it off and she would be crazy to see me again."
"She would be, for she is on her way to England. Oxford. Trinity College."
"What?" was all I could come up with on such short notice.
"Yep. She is a dedicated young woman and her only focus is Medieval English Literature."
"Her only focus?"
"And her love of books, in general. And she grew up right around the corner from here."
"I love books, too," I said, trying for points and an inroad.
"Then why aren't you sitting somewhere reading one?"
A good question and I aimed to give her a worthy answer.
"I am on a hot trail."
"Well, I won't keep you."
"But you are part of that steaming trail. What is that angel's name, anyway?"
"You were close, just like your stab at romance."
"We call her Angelica. She's my niece."
"Will I see your sobrina again?"
"As soon as I find a good deal on a crystal ball. Maybe online. Then I'll let you know."
There stays my romance.
"That's it?" said the Pepino with a burst of three burps. "You started out a dark horse who became a dead horse."
"Neither," I said, keeping my fortitude. "I am the second mouse standing by."
"What second mouse standing by?"
"The early bird catches the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. I think I read that on gang graffiti two blocks from here."
"But you didn't get the girl," he insisted.
"Then you'll have to come back for another story as the rest of my life unfolds," I said, finishing my beer.
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