they call this street “la boca del lobo,” alex had said. the mouth of the wolf. watch yourself.
the house was a lacquered lime green. later, i would see the paint on the back of don alejandro’s hands.
we knocked the door and waited while the house slowly woke. don ale opened to allow a crack of yellowed light in, disheveled from the night shift. we walked into darkness, into the mouth of the wolf. in silence we watched el chapulin on the dusty television set and waited. a cat in a tentative corner tore at last night’s dinner, glancing up with its clouded eyes.
margarita would later lean over and whisper, while we set up the cameras, that her brother had murdered her papi. she would say it with the same painted smile that she would use to talk about her sons’ hemophilia.
don ale wakes the house slowly, turning on lights, disappearing behind stained curtains, speaking in hushed tones.
later we would sit around the table to margarita’s home-made papas fritas and bistec and don ale’s arroz, and wonder when the house had gotten so warm. don ale would tell jokes and i would translate and he would invite us to come back without the cameras, so he could make pancakes and we could all greet a rough day slowly. margarita’s smile would look different now, although i knew it hadn’t changed.
we would go out to the street in the mouth of the wolf, and i would walk with don ale. it would be nothing like walking alone. i would chat with the woman in the shop, who at first would not have smiled. don ale would call me away when the coffee had boiled. alejandro jr would show me his painting of colored spots on a blue background. the “n” in the corner, he would explain, had stood for his grandmother. he would tell me about how he read her to sleep each night before she died.
this neighborhood has teeth, but they misunderstood the wolf when they named her. i felt her warm breath, saw her lips wrapped softly against her smallest.
Je faisais peur au loup | bobi + bobi
Quand j’étais petit, je faisais peur au loup.
When I was little, the wolf was afraid of me