“I’ve been a bad daughter, momma. I didn’t even tell you how Big Toño died, and it’s been seven years,” said Sandrita, with eyes wide open. “Look at all you do for us. I should be the one making you coffee.”
“Ah, don’t be silly, bebé,” said Anahí. “I might be on a wheelchair, but I’m not an invalid. I’ll throw in a little ron criollo, so you can relax, okay?”
“Thank you, momma,” said Sandrita standing up. “So after we took that guy’s money and left him to his luck in the Honduran bush, by that turbulent Río Lempa, full of fucking river creatures and devils and ghosts, without a penny, nor food, we got into an old red truck el Gallo had arranged to take us through Honduras all the way to Guatemala. We were concerned for our safety because at that time there were news of Salvie migrants being jacked or kidnapped in Honduras, but actually the trip through The Country of Great Depths was blah, except for the heavy rains that pushed landslides and flooded roads, to the point where we had to wait a long time for one of the roads to get cleared, and were scared because there were some jungle thugs (the kind we used to call cusucos) they might have been good people but they looked like cusucos to us, and we were keeping an eye on them as we waited for the waters to clear off the road, and I told el Gallo to make sure the cusucos saw we were armed, and el Gallo, who was such a sweet guy underneath, actually did as I said, and started playing with his little cuete and then the cusucos actually came up to us, and asked us where we were from, and we said we were from The Country of Great Depths, and they said, no way, you’re fucking Guanacos, heading up North, that’s what you look like, you fucking crispetas, and you better stop hyping your pewpewpew like you own these hills, because we got real cuernos ︻╦╤─ , and you don’t want us wildin’ on your ass, do you? So we stopped making eye contact with them. They were keeping an eye on us, and ugly mocking us, but we played dumb. In time, the water came down, and everyone got through, including the cusucos. But that shit soured things between our men, who hated being clowned, and particularly not being able to talk back. The geezer who was driving us, a former commercial truck driver named, I forgot what his name was, but he was a former trailer dude, and he was pretty up there, one of those mens you can tell have been through a lot, thievery, jail, murder, alcohol, all kinds of shit, you could see it in him, anyway, he told el Gallo in a pretty bad way that he was out of his mind to take his cuete out like that, as if he were a fucking cowboy or something, and el Gallo, who was pretty sour after the cusucos had clowned us, told the former truck driver not to talk to him like that, that he was no fucking kid, and that he was trying to protect his old ass too, but the former truck driver kept at it as he drove, and I don’t know what the hell was wrong with his teeth but he kept spitting out the window as he drove, he’d been doing it all through the Honduran roads actually, but as he argued with el Gallo, he started spitting more often, and it was gross, because I was sitting by the window right behind him, and more than a few times, fucking spit hit me in the face, not to mention wet ash from his cigarette, thought that I could stand, and so I got tired and tried to close the window though it was still rainy, the heat was unbearable, so I told the driver quit fucking spitting baby, you’re giving me a facial, like that, and as he was already pretty dizzy from his argument with el Gallo (that’s how heat is, a fucking monster that feeds off itself), I should know, well, this crazy old timer driver, who wasn’t that bad otherwise, he had a lot of crazy jokes, all ass and titties stuff but super funny, except when he was dizzy and his jokes became insults, well, he said shut the fuck up, like that, that he spit as much as he liked because this was his truck, and that we weren’t paying him as much as the trip was worth, anyhow, so if you want, he said, jump right out baby, I ain’t even slowing down for your ass. You’re probably asking yourself where Big Toño was in all of this, because, though he could be an asshole to me, and he was, a lot, he never ever allowed any other fucking hombres to be assholes to me, that is the honest to God truth, and it’s one of the reasons why I loved him, growing up without a dad, you know, so many fucking assholes try to get wise. Anyway, it’s not like Big Toño, my sweet José Antonio Torres Cepeda Jr., q. e. p. d. , was just quiet up to that point: he was stunned. And I’ll tell you why. I’m tired of holding this shit in momma. Like I told you, we kicked off that fucking lying indio, who turned out to be smarter than all of us put together, and he might even be in the news right now, but I’ll tell you about him later. Well, for some reason Big Toño was against us kicking the Ecuadorian indio out of the group, and tried his best to get him to stay, but we outvoted him. I’d always been better at convincing people than he. And that got him cunty, but the worst for Big Toño was that we took the indio’s dough, and even his rainbow bag, which Big Toño flung out the window daring anyone to talk back. José Antonio was a tough man, you know. And in some ways he was the most straight-up hombre I ever met. Though in other was he was a complete crook. Anyway, he was mad about that whole situation and so later in the trip, when we were splitting the little indio’s bread, Big Toño said, he didn’t want any of it, and I told him he was crazy, that we needed the dough, and so we started throwing down, by then it was already late, and the former trucker stopped in a cave he knew from his trucking days, and shared stories of how he used to bring prostitutes there, and how one busty one turned out to have a hanging nozzle between the legs and he’d already paid and didn’t want his money to go to waste, it sounds bad now, but they were really funny stories actually, anyhow, we were supposed to sleep there, but Big Toño and I kept throwing down, so we walked off from the group to let them rest, and at some point Big Toño pushed me pretty hard, and I slapped him on the ear, and he was going to whack me, and so I told him what I’d been waiting to tell him in the US, go ahead whack me, you fucking hijoeputa fag, you’re going to hit a pregnant woman, and that’s how he found out I was with baby, not in Uncle Sam’s, like I’d planned, but that’s the thing about plans… they seldom come true, I should know, so Big Toño found out in the darkness, like that, though he didn’t know it was twins of course, nor girls (I didn’t even know that, though I had a feeling), he thought it would be a boy, he was certain, he didn’t say, but I could see it in his face the next day. He didn’t hit me of course. He sat down on a big rock and asked me if I was sure. I said for sure baby and the argument ended right there, as if someone had thrown water on it, and I tried to see his beautiful manly face in the dark, I think I managed to, my feeling is he was crying. We stayed a while like that until we heard some animals or monsters or devils or ghosts in the bush and headed back to the cave, actually laughing, that’s how we were, swinging moods all the time, and then we laid down and slept, or tried to sleep, and in the middle of the night I felt that he hugged me with his thick hairy arms, momma, I’ve never felt such thick manly arms around me before I swear. The next day he didn’t say a word. That’s what I’m saying. He was stunned. He was pretty nice, sometimes, you know that momma, but always without words. He was sweet and frail with body language and looks. It was funny how finicky he got. So when the thing between the former truck driver and el Gallo happened, Big Toño didn’t get into it, he didn’t even tell me off for asking el Gallo to show his cuete to the jungle thugs, though I knew he didn’t approve, I knew it all from his body language, I knew that man like the palm of my hand, momma. But when the former truck driver told me to shut up, after I told him to stop fucking spitting, Big Toño snapped, and you know how he was when he snapped, sorry I don’t mean to laugh, but all hell broke loose, the red truck was a nightmare, and it was raining and thundering outside, and this old timer kept spitting, and I don’t know if it was the rain or the spit that was hitting me on the face, or my warm pregnant blood, but I wasn’t going to put my window down so he could spit away, and I couldn’t help myself, somehow got to a place where I could aim at the dude’s face and, sweet momma, I spit right in his left eye. Self-control has never been my strength, well, you should have seen that poor señor, we almost crashed, and that should have been an omen, life is full of God’s omens momma but we’re so dumb we pay no attention to them, it’s our damned faults. He slammed on the breaks and the red truck almost fell off a cliff before coming to stop.”
“Now all of you cerotes are going to get the hell out of my fucking truck,” he said.
Everyone tried pleading with him but he wasn’t having it. He was an old timer. He’d seen a lot. And so I looked at el Gallo, my dear cousin, we used to call him Pepito when he was young remember how mad he used to get, fucking colorado like crazy, and I have always communicated like that with him, and so el Gallo knew exactly what I was asking him to do. He put the little cuete right on the former trucker’s temple. And so the dude had no choice. El Gallo tried to be pretty nice about it though. He was such a sweet, gentle guy inside. Most rough men are. I knew him like a brother. He told the former trucker, it really sucks it has to come down to this caballero, or some high sounding word like that. Just get us to the Guatemalan border and we’re cool. We can split after that. The one thing we’re not going to allow is for you to leave us in the middle of a fucking mountain in the rain. We hope you understand that caballero. I swear he sounded just like Pablo Escobar. It was the gun, obviously, but the former trucker pretended to be convinced by el Gallo’s deference, men are like that, they need to be talked to like that, sideways, so their pride don’t get hurt, and el Gallo knew all about that, he grew up with us women, we was sensitive like that. Big Toño on the other hand, didn’t have a way with words, he was a man’s man, all action, no explanations. And I knew him so well, I knew he was about to obliterate the former truck driver with his fists, part of me wanted him to (I mean, what do I got a man for?) but I knew this wasn’t the right time, so I held Big Toño’s hand sweetly, like a little boy, hoping he wouldn’t snap, and I pulled it off. We got back in the red truck…but you’re not going to believe this ma, ten minutes later, as we were coming down a steep hill, the fucking asshole driver geezer put the window down and started spitting again! Do not fucking spit— please, please, please, I said. We were really close to Guatemala. The former trucker tried to talk back to me, you could tell he hated me, but as he opened his trap some white and pink shit flew out of it and he slammed on the breaks again. Mis dientes!Mis dientes! he yelled out. And believe it or not we all got out and tried to find the mother fuckin’ trucker’s fake ass dientes in the rain. That’s why he’d been spitting so much! It’d been some fake dientes that didn’t fit well, or whatever the heck. I’m such a bitch for laughing. The whole shit was so outlandishly tragic. The thing is we couldn’t find his fucking fake dientes. We tried begging, all of us soaked, but the old trucker said something like you can kill me right now cipotes, but I’m not going to go anywhere without my grill, seriously. It was my wife’s Christmas present, you have no idea how much she saved for them, she’s a seamstress, I can’t let her down like that. And that’s when Big Toño snapped. Your choice, he said dryly, and then he swung at him, and he hit him so hard that it was good the old trucker didn’t have any fangs in the gummers because if he did he would have lost them again. I hope you find your fucking pearls, Big Toño said, I can’t have a pregnant wife getting wet and spat on like that. We won’t steal your ride, we know you use it for work, you’ll get it back, I promise, but we got to go. The old trucker didn’t try to stop us all at. He just looked at us with hatred and that hatred might have washed all over us, like an acid, bitter rain, because those things exist momma, good omens, bad omens, mal de ojo, hexes, all of that, when somebody looks at you like that, with real actual fucking hate, mierda, evil gets rubbed off on you, and in this case we got soaked in geezer hate.”
“And then you crashed,” stated Anahí, matter of fact.
"Yes, and then we crashed, momma. It was a steep hill..."
Reggaetón Cruise excerpt. From Chp. 11, "The Spitting Trucker." All rights reserved. Grady Miller Books/ Patricio X. Maya 2021.