Lily dropped spoonfuls of pork filling onto the masa while Rosa folded corn husks around the mixture. She caught Rosa looking at her intently. “What is it, Rosa?”
“None of my beez-wax.” Rosa shrugged her delicate shoulders. “Priest’s old record player break? You and Sarge tired of dancing?”
Warning alarms went off in Lily’s intellect while her home people vibes perked up from their nap. “The record player is working fine.” Lily thought of the little “Do Not Disturb” sign in Anton’s distinct handwriting she’d found taped to the outside of her apartment door when she’d left to come upstairs to make tamales with Rosa. “We danced yesterday, just not as much as usual. Sarge’s feet needed a rest after all the time he spent in Mrs. Ling’s cold basement that’s all.”
“Hmm, his feet, si.” Rosa adjusted her arrangement of tamales in the steamer. “You weren’t in Ling basement. Why Lily look like she need a rest big time? Some other dance start-up?”
Lily scraped the last of the pork filling from the bowl for the last two tamales. After depositing the pork, she set the large spoon in the bowl and closed her eyes. “Why is everyone so interested in if we’re having sex or not?”
Rosa gave a little laugh. “Oh funny one, Lily. You know why. Everyone wants know when you break cold shoulder streak. Hombres wait and see if Sarge stay or go. Mujeres wait and see if Sarge stay or go. Men watching Lily. Women watching Sarge. They play wait and see game. Maybe they get some chicken soup and some bread. That simple. No sex means odds better chance for them.” Rosa put the cover on the steam pot of tamales then turned to where Lily was still standing with her eyes closed. She put the empty bowl in the sink then pushed a chair against the back of Lily’s knees as an invitation to sit down. Taking another chair for herself, she glanced at the children in the other room before giving Lily her full attention. “Rosa got one tough question. No more for Lily today. Okay?”
Lily nodded and opened her eyes. “Just one. Promise.”
“Deal. Here we go. Lily holding back with Big Man because of what John do?”
Taken off guard by Rosa’s unexpected reference to John, Lily turned to face her. “Fuck John’s shit.”
Rosa’s eyebrows shot up with the force of Lily’s quiet reply. “Bueno John plan. Why Lily hold back?”
“That makes two questions.”
Not to be put off by what she considered a language technicality, Rosa held her ground. “No. Same question. You know what I mean.”
Lily sat listening to her home people vibes for several moments. “I’m not holding back. Not like your question means. I’m waiting. That’s different.”
Tapping her fingers lightly on the table, Rosa watched the children in the other room while she considered Lily’s response. “What for? Never know how much time we have with people, Lily. Don’t waste too much waiting. Maybe Sarge right for Lily, maybe not. One way find out. Make a leap.”
Lily rubbed her eyes then scratched her scalp. “It’s not me who needs to make a leap, Rosa. It’s him. He’s a little stuck.”
“Oh? How about a push? Little push for little stuck. Like record player sometimes need to get to the next song. Nothing hard. Tiny tap.” Rosa illustrated her notion with a very small movement of her fingers.
Lily looked away from her widowed friend and started thinking about last night’s hours’ long conversation with Sarge. Closing her eyes again she focused inward on her now wide awake home people vibes. She could feel Rosa watching her with concern. “Nope. No little tapping. No little pushing.”
“How about a big shove? Hm?” Again Rosa illustrated with her hands.
Lily shook her head. “No shoving. Sarge has been pushed and shoved a lot regarding his personal life, Rosa. That’s why he’s stuck right now. He wants to get unstuck.”
Rosa gave a two thumbs up sign. “Bueno. Let’s unstuck him. What need for that? Hmm? What the recipe?”
“Recipe?” Lily cocked her head to one side and stared at Rosa. “Recipe, hhhm, good idea, Rosa, let’s stir something up.” Lily drummed on the table with the heels of her palms. “Where’s the photo-copy you made of that little grey book?”
“What Lily thinking?” Rosa pulled her chair over to the cabinets. Standing on it she took the stack of photocopies from the top shelf. She climbed down as Lily brought the yellow and white pages to the table. “What we doing, Lily?”
Lily put a hand on the telephone books. “You ready to do some serious shoving and pushing, Rosa? You ready to play what Anton calls ‘mind fuck hard ball’?”
Rosa glanced at the photocopied book pages in her hands then at the telephone books. She held up the stack of photocopied pages. “Why? Lily got clue why Sarge got pimp book?”
“Ha.” Lily pointed at the pages in Rosa’s hands. “That book is the glue that’s got Sarge stuck. I’m damn sure it’s messing with his mind, Rosa. I think that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do. Lily thinks it’s about time that shit went right back to where it came from, his family.”
Rosa set the stack of photocopies on the table and stood thinking. She looked at the telephone books then at Lily and nodded. “Si, Rosa play ‘mind fuck hard ball’.” She smiled. “Like old times with Juan.” Her hips swayed as she did a little two step dance. She picked up the yellow pages and turned to the construction advertisements. Finding the pages Lily and Esther had shown her after she’d made the photocopy of the pimp book, Rosa laid it open on the table. “Rosa got ideas.” She and Lily looked at each other. “Lily got ideas.” Rosa flipped a corner edge of the stack of photocopies. “Mrs. Ling got lot mind game ideas. Let’s play.”
“Mrs. Ling? Really?”
Rosa laughed. “Mrs. Ling’s funny bones very wicked. Mind mess game her kind of game.” She went to her large oversized recipe book and turned to the inside back cover. She showed Lily the cartoon taped there. Lily whistled and her eyes opened wide with comprehension of the meanings of the images and the words.
One way to make tamales –> http://whatscookingamerica.net/CynthiaPineda/Tamales.htm
Another way to make tamales 🙂
Making Tamales In Oaxaca Mexico
In a Mexican village located on the coast of Oaxaca local women traditionally prepare tamales for a birthday celebration
The woman whose birthday it is works with her daughter in law and her sister in law. In the background you can hear the radio intermixed with “sounds of the campo” including children doing their English class homework.
When new banana leaf is needed, one woman steps from the shelter to harvest some leaves from a banana tree.
The chickens to be future tamales scurry the ground.
As the birthday woman continues to assemble what will be 500 tamales, her grandson plays mañanitas, the traditional Mexican birthday song on the instrument he is learning in school.