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When an open window suddenly slams shut, it shocks me . . .
Unconsciously, I drove toward the ever-expanding bakery with its extra-filled jelly donuts and rum–drenched chocolate cakes smothered in white, flaky coconut frosting . . .
The lights went out. His parents always turn the light out, even though he asks if they can stay on. The lights went out, and his room transformed. The posters on his walls disappeared underneath a blanket of darkness. The bed gradually seemed further and further from the ground. The lights went out, and the monsters came out to play . . .
It was a normal stay-at-home dad day for me. I was chatting with tall, thirty-something Dominique, broad-shouldered in a sundress, big hands like fluttering pigeons. She was paying her daughter’s college tuition by watching a pair of three-year-old twin boys whose parents sold antiques in the West Village. Dominique held my attention and that of a couple of moms—Juliet, a single bartender, and Sage, an erstwhile graphic designer whose husband renovated brownstones. They each had a toddler. As usual, I was the only dad in the park. But caregiver-ship trumped gender. I was, essentially, one of the gals . . .
Because of the incessant drumming on congas, radios blasting salsa or narcocorridos. Because flatbed trucks pull up and sell watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas, grapes off the back. Because there is nothing as nice as a nap in the grass while watching a woman walk past. Because plantains fry nice, pork’s sabor when slow-cooked in its own fat, rice and beans is enough in the stomach to drink all day. Because lengua, sesos, and chicharrones are a taste acquired by those nostalgic for elsewhere. Because life is glorious when there is so much on the line. Because it was winter. Because the blue-sky illusion of warmth persuaded me to go to Humboldt Park that day. To visit Umberto, as Jose Luis tipped me to do, as he served breakfast tacos where North Avenue intersects with California . . .
“Brad Delp fucking killed himself, man!” Lairmo was frantic. “The voice of a fucking angel! Gone!” Lairmo popped the lid and dipped his head into a can of varnish for a big morning wake-up huff. His mouth puckered, eyes squinted shut. Calmed, he sat in his white overalls, shaking his head. “You know how many people his songs have made happy . . . ?”
It’s eleven o’clock in the morning but dark as night . . .
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