Nineteen Seventy-Seven

8:21 PM


by Rudolfo Carrillo

Here is a house with an oval of grass out front. The lawn is surrounded by cold lava rocks. The rough stones have been smashed to bits, are colored like dried blood. Banging them against the sidewalk makes small white sparks.

The family next door gets up every morning at four. Lights come on, trucks zoom away and the lot of them spend the last minutes of night wrapping up copies of the daily paper. The old man wears a cotton hat, smokes Viceroy brand cigarettes.

Across the street is an airline pilot with a small foreign car. He has a swimming pool. A woman in a bathing suit and long beach towel wanders back and forth between the front door and his Triumph, singing songs from Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.

In the white house with grey trim, Chen practices the viola. His parents own a restaurant filled with heavy wooden chairs. The cook on the corner drives a Cadillac El Dorado. He has painted the automobile bright green, refers to it as the luckiest car in the universe.

There are more plants in the back yard; the sprinklers come on at midnight. A small garden with oleanders and roses has been cleaved out of clay in one corner. The far end, beyond the peach trees, smells of dog piss and pine sol.

Summertime comes around. The swamp cooler shakes and buzzes. As evening advances all of the neighbors walk out to the street without their shoes. Everyone wants to talk about food, how long the days have become or why the surrounding desert sings.

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