PACHANGA TIME – Fawzy Zablah
August 4, 2020
Once, youse both was at a strip club on Calle Ocho called Pachanga Time and youse went to the restroom to take a number 2 and youse cleaned up and threw the tissue in a trash hole next to the sink. Then the Haitian restroom attendant yelled something in Creole at youse both, and youse didn’t understand because of his monkey French and youse both, Dominican Siamese twins, were so HIGH on that Bolivian marching powder. Youse both, connected at the hip, kept on walking and he went after you and your brother attached to you…yelling at youse ears. But youse both went out and sat down at the table where your best friend Miguel was at.
And the Haitian kept yelling in youse ear, in your face like a black dog standing upright.
“Was wrong with this guy,” Miguelito said.
“I don’t know,” you say.
“He’s crazy,” your brother says.
Youse both finally just give in and throw a $20 dollar bill in his face and he throws it back at youse and walks away, barking away into the darkest corner of the club.
And then youse order more Heinekens and watch the beautiful muñequitas walking, talking, smiling, and dancing for that CHEESE. And every two songs, it wouldn’t fail, just like motherfucking clockwork, a nice baby would come to youse table shaking her ass saying, “Tip me for my dance please?” And how, I ask youse, how can you say no to that? You can’t, you just can’t.
“Yes sweetie,” you say, putting a dollar in her thong.
And that is why youse can’t stay in a place like this for too long. It’s too nice, and we all have to send money for our families back in our countries. We ain’t here to feed her family!
But you would, oh you would! ‘Specially you.
And then Esperanza sees youse both twins and Miguel and she comes over. She was from Cuba and she had the finest body in the whole place. Youse both were regulars when it came to her, so she treated US VIP. Let me tell you, youse dropped some mulah here!
“Hi Miguelito, Andy, como estan?”
“Nosotros estamos bien mami. And you?”
She sits on Miguelito’s lap. You make eye contact. Your brother looks away.
“How’s your wife Miguel,” she says.
“She fine, still recuperating.”
“Y el bebe?”
“The baby is fine too. He is 18 months. He so cute.”
“You got a picture?”
“Oh damn no I have one at home. I promise you next time I’ma bring it. Cool?”
She was looking so hot in her black thong swim suit. She had some big boobs and youse both just love to look at her. You know you don’t have a chance with her. Specially with your brother stuck to you, and that whole being married thing! But Miguelito, that was another case, he did have more than a chance. It was a sure thing with her because youse alway pay attention to her body language. She wanted him. And maybe he’d had her, but to tell you the truth you don’t know what stopped him. Your brother said it was the man’s CONSCIENCE. Perhaps it was his wife, or his son. You guess he was really in love. All this time knowing him, you think he’s only had like one dance with Esperanza.
Hope, her name was hope. What a beautiful name, no? Youse both take a sip of your Heineken and smile at her. Your twin is a lot more drunk than you.
She has her arms around Miguelito, clinging to him. She raises his left shirt sleeve and there’s a big scar going up to his shoulder. It looks like a bad burn.
“Miguel, how did you get that baby?”
“Oh that,” he says, raising the rest of the sleeve. “Eso mami,’ eso me paso en el DR.”
“How,” she asks, with a frown.
It was the first frown youse seen her with.
“Oh, is a long story. I got electrocuted.”
“Electrocuted? How Papi’?”
“There’s always blackouts in my old neighborhood. Un apagón, you know? So then the power comes back, but not for our house. So over there in the islands, we fix that shit ourselves. Tu sabes? Well, I climbed the electricity poll with my tools, and I’m trying to reconnect the shit. ‘Cause sometime you just have to knock that shit with a hammer. So I’m trying to fix it, and boom the power come back and that current went through me and I was left hanging from the pole. And that’s the last thing I remember.”
“Oh my God, Miguelito! Is a miracle you still alive.”
“You better believe it. My mother was like, ay Miguelito you were just hanging limp with your arms facing the sky como si fueras Jesus.”
Youse don’t interrupt him once, us twins, just longing and listening. But youse both picture Miguelito hanging from a pole looking like Jesus. Miguelito had a good guy’s face but if youse ever crossed him he’d kill you.
“Oh my God, Miguel. That is so crazy. You must have a guardian angel.”
“I guess so mami.”
They look at each other and both of them smile.
“Would you like a dance,” she asks.
Miguel just nods and she stands up, grabs him by his right hand and leads him away to disappear in the champagne room.
Youse siamese twins attached at the hip were left alone at the table. Your brother was really, really drunk and high and had finally stopped nagging you about working tomorrow and youse wives at home. You explained to him, after snorting some Colombian marching powder that youse both hardly ever have fun, hardly ever wild out. You said, you need this. Youse both brothers attached at the hip needs youse tiny expressions of explosions. Youse need yo Pachanga, ’cause it will get you, youse both.
There was a commotion at the front door and in it made you jumpy. Everyone was looking towards the entrance of the club. Somebody was yelling a bunch of stuff. People close to the door started getting up and running outside. Youse even heard some chanting.
“What the fuck is going on,” youse both say, looking at another patron.
“Who knows? Let’s check it out.”
Youse get up and go outside, and out there, on eighth street, there’s a whole group of people yelling and singing.
“Se murio Fidel!” they yell.
Some of the people, most of them Cuban, are even crying and racing. Cars are beeping their horns and slowing down. An older woman in her late fifties come and hugs youse both.
“Fidel is dead,” she says, holding youse tight, swinging back and forth.
“Se murio Fidel?” says the guy who came out with me.
People were chanting in unison. “Fidel is dead! Cuba Libre!”
The dude youse came out with let go of the woman and youse all looked at each other. Youse both smiled and began to cheer with them too. And more people, like hundreds filled the streets running and yelling “Fidel is dead.”
“Se murio el cabron,” a man said, putting his arm around youse both.
Cars drove by honking horns and waving Cuban flags. It was like a carnival on the streets. Most of them people were so happy and cheering and all that good shit. Youse wanted to go back inside the club to tell Miguel and Esperanza and watch the news on the club’s big screen television but youse so curious about what the crowd would do next.
All the Cubans were crying in a group in the middle of the street. Some women were collapsing right there on the bare street. Youse stood there transfixed at the scene with a couple of dudes from the club. Youse all watched and laughed. Youse all, felt it was so clean, and beautiful history is happening.
Then a skinny Cuban with a boom box came running, yelling, “Tomo el poder Raul. Cayate niño!”
“What happened,” said a skinny man.
“Se acabo brother. It’s over man, Raul has taken over. I just heard it on TV.”
The men started yelling to the crowds that it was over and Raul, Fidel Castro’s brother, had taken power and begun killing people in Havana.
And then a fat Cuban woman threw a brick at a store window and youse both realized that’s when everything changed. The cops showed up on horses and in riot gear. And the mass of Cubans ran setting cars on fire and everything that wasn’t tied down.
Storefronts are burning to youse right. This was like an apocalypse so youse both turned to go back to the club. There was confusion in the mob.
Youse go inside the empty club and the liquor and cocaine is getting to you. Youse stand by the champagne room hoping Miguel would come out soon. Youse send him a text message. Still nothing. Youse cell phone started ringing, it’s both youse wife. Youse look at each other and don’t pick up. Youse hear more screaming at the front of the club. The bouncers was trying to keep the doors closed. You get nervous and both youse legs started buckling. Your own brother is nervous, he starts yelling.
The cocaine is hitting youse hard dog! Both youse fools. Same thoughts running through youse head. Need to get home. Wife is calling. Riot outside. Fidel is dead? Getting home late. Might have spent rent money? Miguel is getting an almost three hour lap dance. Must get Miguel, must get through rioters, must get home.
Youse call Miguel but he ain’t picking up. Youse make to go into the champagne room but the bouncer wont let youse in.
“You gotta pay first.”
“Our friend is in there. He don’t know what’s going on. We just want to get out of here man. Can you get him for us?”
“Wait here dudes. Is your brother okay? He looks pretty plastered. What’s your friend’s name?”
“Miguel, just tell him we waiting for him outside that it’s an emergency. My brother will be fine. You’ll be fine? Right?”
“Yeshh..I’ma be fine when…we…get…to our wives.”
The bouncer went off and disappeared into the champagne room’s maze.
Youse cell phone is ringing again. Youse wives again. Youse pick up.
“Where da fuck are you?”
“Oh, ma we at the club.”
“There’s a fucking riot on the news.”
“I know baby, we right there. We trapped in the club.”
“We not taking no more of yo shit. You both need to get your asses back here. You don’t get back here before 4, we gonna pack our bags, and take the kids with us to New York. We sick of this shit!”
She hung up.
Miguel came out with Esperanza.
“Why you gotta take so long!”
“There’s a riot outside dog! Fidel is dead!”
“Se murio Fidel,” said Esperanza.
“We have to get home dog, my wife is gonna kill me.”
“Why they rioting,” said Miguel. “Shouldn’t they be celebrating?”
“They think Raul has taken over. They say he killing people in Havana.”
“That’s crazy, let’s go.”
You kissed Esperanza, who said she was going to get a ride with one of the bouncers, and youse all three was off.
Out in the street, youse start running with Miguelito by your side and a fucking cop knocks youse to the ground. Miguel tried to help you but a cop on a horse almost tramples him.
“Let’s go,” he said, helping you up.
“I think he broke our leg.”
It must ‘ave been some sight, Miami was burning, or at least Calle Ocho was. They was gonna trample youse, all this mass of people running from the police, they was gonna trample youse and your brother.
The people took Miguelito with them. They ran all over youse and youse grab on to water hydrant and try to get up. The cops ran towards youse like storm troopers hitting people with batons and spraying them with mace. Youse get caught by some mace in your eyes. It stings like hot sauce. You can’t see, and you feel your way along the burning streets when youse hear gun shots.
Youse try to keep moving, and your brother is out of it. You yell Miguel’s name, walking along.
You smell smoke. Wood burning. You was ready to swing at anyone. People were yelling and crying and there are explosions. Youse feel the heat close to your face. Then youse feel a hand grab you.
“My eyes, my eyes are burning. We got to get out of here!”
“I’ll get you some water, you have to stay down.”
Miguel is cowering over youse both.
“What’s happening,” you say.
“The world is ending,” your brother attached at the hip says.
He grabs youse close to him and pieces of chips fall over you. They feel like wood chips.
“They set the club on fire,” he says. “It’s burning to the ground.”
Your eyes are still burning and you smell the smoke and people were screaming and gun shots and you feel like youse in hell. The both of youse are trying to convince yourself that it wasn’t really Miami burning. It couldn’t be. The oars are not in flames. And youse was going to be okay. You and your brother attached at the hip. You put youse head down crying. There was a swift pop to the back of you head and then blood trickled down. And then youse getting beat with a baton and get thrown to the ground.
“Don’t move! Police! You’re under arrest!”
You still couldn’t see anything, youse were face down on the floor, and then they slipped handcuffs on you.
“Miguelito, you still there?”
“Yeah, I’m here dog. I’m with you, the police got us.”
His voice was broken. The cop picks youse up off the ground. Youse can finally see some. Calle Ocho was in flames and Miguelito was covered in blood. They throw youse in a police cruiser and all youse can think about is your kids.
“Please officer,” you say, in drunkenness. “You have to take us home. We don’t want to lose my family. Please Mr. officer. Please. They will leave us sir, and they will take the kids.”
The pig ignores you and youse all three spend the night in jail. In the morning, the smoke billows up from the city to cover up the sun and that reminds youse of the Los Angeles smog. When you and your brother, you washed dishes in a Salvadorian restaurant and nobody cared youse was Siamese or Dominicans in LA and why is youse in the wrong coast? And youse tell them you was in NYC and it was just work, and youse try Los Angeles because of your cousin, and then you and your brother, your Siamese brother attached at the hip, youse say you’ll be heading to Miami where youse don’t have to work all the time but also have fun, but youse didn’t think youse wives would win the Visa lottery and ruin the fun, and then kids, and then this and you and your brother have all just been trying to stay sane in an insane town full of beautiful ugly crazy people high on sun RAYSSSSSSSSSSSSSS…..