Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Microfiction: Fox Street


Mama yelled at her in Spanish, “Where are you going? Get back in here!”

She yelled back in English, “Leave me the fuck alone.” She slammed door and ran down the five flights so fast she was on Southern Boulevard before she knew it. It was a relief being outside with all the lights and people in the stores, and all the boys and girls laughing and shouting on the sidewalk. People were having fun because it was Friday, and they had a few dollars to spend. More than her, but that was OK. Better to be wandering around out here than stuck with Ma’s endless complaints and those corny Mexican soap operas.

She took her time going up Southern, past Avenue St. John, and the smells from the restaurants tempted her. So did the boys driving by in their pimp rides, big Escalades, calling to her and giving her the eye. One fat black boy with a red do rag whistled. She gave him the finger but smiled and swung her butt, so he’d understand she was playing. She was glad she had put on her pink top from Conway with the skinny straps. He went, “Mmm-mmm-mmm, boriquena baby,” and they roared off in the direction of Manhattan. She looked after them and just noticed the skyline in the distance. It rose up dark against the last glow of light in the clear sky.

She strolled along, feeling good about herself, and decided to get some pizza. She went in a place a friend’s father owned, but the line was too long and the place was mad hot. She’d rather stay outside. The breeze was fresh, and for once the Long Island Sound had a clean salty smell. Images of Orchard Beach and all the sexy men over there, they crowded her mind. She looked hot in a bikini, and she loved looking at those muscle boys in their Speedos, DR and PR and the Russian ones too.

Of course, she remembered, I got these braces on. Nobody gonna be lookin at me twice until they’re off. She cursed and turned away as two boys sidled up close, hitching up their baggy jeans.

She shrugged and leaned against a shuttered storefront after the evening turned to full night. She noticed a change in the atmosphere. More dangerous. Or maybe she was more restless. She thought, So damn sick of this hell hole, then dragged herself onto Longwood. Her heart quickened when she walked uphill a block and saw the Fox Street sign ahead. A couple of years ago, before her grandfather in Mayaguez died and left them some money, they used to live in one of the shelters there. She stayed away from the street now.

She stopped for a second and decided to go along Fox anyway. It was on the way home, and she wanted to see if it was the same dump. Creepy characters used to hang out there, especially that tall black Dominican guy, Oswaldo, who’d stand outside the front door and make nasty comments on all the girls walking down the street. Especially if the girls were about eleven or twelve, like she was back then. He was a powerful man with no front teeth.

She took careful steps all along the block, wary of the boys in ghetto pants with glazed expressions on their faces, who watched every one of her movements. She started to relax a bit after she passed her old stoop and didn’t see Oswaldo. There was a thin old, bent-over Puerto Rican man sitting on the lower steps, having a cigarette. He nodded at her. She could tell he recognized her, because he muttered, pointing his head towards the alley next door, “Watch out.”

She turned, confused, and walked quickly on. She was almost at the corner when a tall man came out of the darkness.

“Anika. Anika honey. You back.” A car turned the corner and lit up his face for a moment. He was grinning with a full set of teeth. Oswaldo put his arm around her and bent down close, muttering, “Oh, I missed you, little girl.” He smelled like sweat and weed. He always did. Eventually she had got used to it. She even kind of missed it when she moved.

Anika wasn’t used to it any more. She decided she wasn’t missing it. “You smile real big now,” she said, pushing at him. She tried to laugh to keep him from going off.

“Braces, baby girl? For that perfect Hollywood smile. Mmmm.”

His hands tightened on her. He bent close to her face, close enough to kiss or bite. She twisted in his grip. Those white white teeth were all she saw.


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Sun Oct 02, 07:29:00 PM  

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