August, 1998

Christopher Gardea
4 min readNov 16, 2018

Carolina was the eldest of three children born from Rosa Pimentel. They lived beyond the city limits in a single bedroom which was really a converted garage. The room was always dark no matter the time of day and when Rosa would turn on the television their few belongings would resolve themselves upward because the television was on the floor. She and her daughter worked at the same denim maquiladora but were unaccustomed to seeing each other. On one occasion, Rosa was approached by her supervisor Martin Minus at the end of her shift and was led into his office where he asked she take a seat. She did and he fixed his eyes on her while perched on the corner of his desk, waiting for her to speak, like in the movies you see about stock brokers or business men. Did you raise your daughter to be a fucking snob like the rest of them, he asked. Rosa looked at him despite his cutting remark and instead at the fact that she has remained estranged to her daughter’s life outside of their passing conversations which took place while one of them was half awake. I want to know why she has refused my calls, he said. Although he was in charge formally, Rosa was nearly twice his age and this became apparent after his accumulated frustration wore itself out and he realized how the arrogant unthought and budding slander of her child would only reflect his deficiencies, socially.

Walking behind his desk, which was really a table taken from the lunchroom, he said, I want you to give her this letter, otherwise I’ll refuse the time she requested off this weekend.

She took the bus home that evening and the following day nothing came of this.

The following week it rained for the first time in months. Carolina stood beneath the thatching of a colonia that sold cigarettes and mops and waited for the rain to stop. She had a book with her but drew it close to keep it safe while her brown skin produced itself along her blouse. Down the street outside of a small club a topless woman held up an umbrella wearing nothing but black leather boots and as she came to approach she asked if she could go inside even though she was too young. The topless woman shrugged and said, I don’t give a fuck what you do. But before she walked into the club the woman asked if she had a smoke whereby Carolina shook her head and pointed down the street in the direction she came and the woman took her leave with her umbrella.

The narrow bar was called Amadeus and the first thing she noticed was that the floor was completely dry and that she wasn’t sure if wringing he hair would anger the bartender. She asked where the restroom was and he pointed in the only direction the bar led. It’s down there mija, on your right, he said. When she returned another man whom she had not noticed upon entering asked if she would consider working for him as a dancer at a different club across town. I’m not a very good dancer, she said. He laughed and said that it’s more about presentation than confidence; that most men are too stupid to know what good dancing is anyways.

In the beginning, after walking home from school, Javier would make an extra trip to visit Carolina when she was not working but over time these trips occurred less as he began to realize how futile his efforts were. As a fireman, or rather an unpaid volunteer trainee who’s soon to be considered for recruitment, he often struggled with meeting women his age who didn’t find his life droll. She never considered Javier her boyfriend but she did find the way he always bore her gifts to be romantic in a pathetic way. Rosa would often find cheap jewelry and lottery tickets in her laundry and angrily question her daughter, then Carolina would accuse her mother of being jealous on the grounds that no men desired her anymore.

They had sex one morning once her mother left for work. Even though the occasion itself was planned it was Javier’s idea to meet in the morning rather than the evening because, as he explained to her, he read of the health benefits at work which stimulated your productivity. A small cloud of burning lard rose about their heads as she made scrambled eggs from a carton and a pair of heart-shaped pancakes which creased at the edges and from across the room he heeled off his boots with some imbalance while thumbing for any station on the television that was cycling music videos. After eating on the bed and watching television they got undressed.



Christopher Gardea

I write about people in the desert, American culture. The occasional essay.