City of my Life: Stories About Maiami II – Dan Brat

Yusmila’s frying plantains by the time Gloria wakes up. Dizzy and drowsy from the night before’s excesses, she walks toward her master bedroom’s glass shower, but decides to have a coffee instead. She throws her pink silk robe over her baby blue satin slip and walks barefoot down the stairs.

Into the kitchen, she cringes at the sight of the maid, who’s dressed like a mix between elementary school nurse and elementary school lunch lady. Buenas señora, quieres un café? She closes her eyes and shakes her head in Yusmila’s direction and snatches the cafetera from the glass-ceramic electric stove top. She looks out the window at the front garden as she applies counter-clockwise pressure to the aluminum device. She strains her arm and grunts in frustration. Deja que te ayude señora. “Don’t start, please, Usmi.” She relaxes her palm and brings it back down from her face. Radio Caracol is playing from a white two-in-one device built into the wall. No one has ever tried to use the intercom feature, except for her husband when they first moved into the house on Alhambra Circle, seven years ago. With a towel she’s able to open the percolator. “Usmi, can you fill this for me, I’m not feeling too well.” Yes, señora, I do it forjiu. Gloria walks away from the kitchen and into the small bathroom by the garage. She opens the mirror cabinet and pulls out a plastic bottle labeled “Alprazolam.” The label also reads “Warning,” a capital red “CAUTION,” a message about alcohol consumption, which to Gloria reads like gibberish. She takes six pills and sits down on the toilet, drops her head and holds up her forehead with her open palms.

* * *

Gloria is back in bed and Yusmila has cleaned up most of the glass shards when the kids come home. The maid prepares their lunch at the table. They’re served rice and beans, ropa vieja, plantains and an arugula, mango and pine nut salad, with salt and red wine vinegar. The boy of twelve devours his food in minutes and serves himself a second plate, while the fourteen year old girl barely touches her plate. She’s concentrated on text on her hand screen. No tiene ambre, niña? The girl shakes her head without looking up. “Where’s mom?” She’s tire en el cuartoShe have a big day.

* * *

Her husband has thirty-two missed calls and seventeen voicemails. “Gloria, you’re losing it, please.” Voy sshht matarI have to go. She hangs up, and he quickly dials the house line. Come on, pick up. His phone beeps. Another text:
Gloria (4:57 P.M. 1+30557478XX): Youl
c stupis fuk ill brek all ur shit and done
The phone rings. “Hey, I’m worried. Gloria just called me. She doesn’t sound right. I’m scared.” He tells her not to worry. “I need to see you.” I’ll come in tonight. Don’t worry. “What happened to your laptop?” She threw it in the canal. I’ll explain later. Don’t worry. “I love you babe.” Clicks, and he tries the house phone again. No señorLa señora ya salió.

* * *

She regains consciousness as someone pulls her out of the car. “Where am I?” She looks at the four-door luxury sedan, reduced to half its original size. “What happened?” The police report states that she ran a red light and t-boned a compact two-seater making a left turn onto US1. Her attorney, a partner at Morgan & Morgan, manages to have the manslaughter charges dismissed, but she still has to go to traffic school for the reckless driving ticket. The city places a “Drive Safely” memorial marker along the side of the road for someone’s loving abuela.