by Jorge Santana
In the ranch where I grew up there were few neighbors, but one of them was Doña Maclovia and her strange family. Maclovia’s husband was a quiet, tall man, much older than her; a reserved man, sitting on a bench for hours, staring at nothingness, letting the days go by as if they were free. He always wore the same clothes, the same hair, the same look; a man that I thought was mute for many years, until one day he shouted in a low and hoarse voice, “watch out!” because there was a snake in the stable where I used to look for those little critters that dig holes in the earth to catch their victims, the famous “toritos,” small rhinoceros beetles. Maclovia was a short, dark, robust woman, with grayed hair, with huge breasts, which she unenticingly pressed against me upon her greetings, and also always the same clothes, or at least so I remember. Maclovia smelled like an old forgotten book. Her house was immense: two stories, with paint peeling off, which had once been a screeching green, but it was in deterioration, with a rusty gate, and some broken windows covered with duct tape. In the kitchen, to help out, Maclovia had set up a small shop, which had no ads other than a Coca-Cola sign outside the house. There was an old refrigerator that always shocked me horribly when I pulled out a cold, sweating apple soda, my favorite. Maclovia, apart from sodas and other dusty things, sold marshmallows. Sometimes they were very hard due to the months without anyone buying them, but it was the only sweet available in the inhospitable desert. Maclovia was the first to arrive at house wakes, those funerals where you could smell death because you had the deceased literally in front of you, without a box, sometimes on the floor, or in his own bed where he had died. Maclovia was a churchwoman; the first to arrive at mass, the last to leave. She hosted a nativity scene at her home, and she tucked and raised that baby Jesus: the only of her possessions that shone polished. She had roosters and a pig that accompanied me in nightmares, because once when I wanted to feed him, Maclo told me to be careful because he could bite my hand or eat me like the others. Maclovia sold burgers, stark and simple. She made the meat, and softened the hard bread with butter on the griddle. She finished it with simple slices of avocado, and accompanied with a soda, that hamburger tasted like glory in those forty-odd Celsius, I sat on the bench outside her kitchen to finish every bite.
One day, the dogs of the neighborhood, several of them, went blind. They kept running into trees and walls, blind and bleeding. Maclovia, so they wouldn’t get close to her chickens, had thrown boiling water on their eyes. When I found out, I never visited her again. I did not turn around to see her again; she became like a witch in my childhood mind. I did not let her hug me again and feel those huge breasts of a protective mother. Anyway, that’s just how this is dear reader.