Lately, the mornings had grown crisp. Even here, below the tropic of Cancer, where they were rumored to have the second best climate in the world, they suffered a few weeks of weather where she regretted having neither heat nor air conditioning in her house. Its brick and concrete walls held-in the cool air. In the summer, this was a welcome fact. Now, in mid-November, it created the effect of the cold storage locker at the butcher shop in the small South Dakota town where she had grown up.
The butcher shop had a room-sized walk-in freezer that functioned as a meat safety-deposit vault. People in the town paid to rent private lockers. Ranchers could bring a live cow to the butcher and he and his family would kill it, age the meat, wrap it in neat packages labeled hamburger, rib eye, chuck roast, rump roast or sirloin; and then stow it away in drawers big enough to hold an entire dismantled cow. When she was very small, she could remember going to the locker with her mother or father to get the week’s meat from the drawer that had their name scrawled on a piece of masking tape stuck on its front.
The locker also sold ice cream sandwiches by the carton of 50 or so, which they would take home and store in the freezer compartment of their refrigerator. They were square little bars—half the size of the bigger ones you could buy individually at the supermarket, and she grew chubby the year she turned nine—probably mainly due to her mother’s lack of rules about how many could be consumed daily. When the supply grew sparse, it was replenished by whoever went to the locker—her mom or dad or oldest sister.
It is early morning and she puts off getting out of bed to face the brisk air. Water is streaming into the pool. She can hear its hiss as the hot volcanic water hits the cooler water of the pool. Pasiano the gardener clears his throat. Later, when Yolanda arrives, the dogs will grow restless and bark to be fed. It is not the bright morning promised by the precognition of the weather channel. Even through the white scrim of the manta cloth drapes, She can tell that the sun is muted. The past two days have been marked by intermittent rain showers coming from a sky permanently cottoned-over by a layer of clouds that now and then the sun peeks through. As she lies in bed typing, she can see a light ray through the curtains, but it fades quickly away.
8:01. It is now legal for the noises of the day to begin. The neighbor’s spoiled son roars by in his ATV that is muffler-less. The harsh sound slashes a gash through the gentler sounds of the day: the whisk whisk whisk of Pasiano’s broom, the surge as a steadier supply of hot water streams into the pool from the pipe hidden within the concrete form of a plumed serpent that spews water from between the fangs of its open mouth.
She has fantasized about stringing a wire across the cobblestone road to spill that teenaged brat from his ugly machine. This is the violence prompted by an early morning slaughtered by his ear-splitting exit. On weekends, he is up the hill and down the hill with his friends. Once, when she went to protest, they steered their monster tricycles in her direction, veering off just as she jumped back onto the sidewalk. She couldn’t hear their laughs above the deafening din of three bikes, but the girls on the back of the vehicles turned to look at her as they roared away, and their mouths were stretched in broad grins of amusement over this aged gringo who had come out with a frown to comment on the fun of youth.
They have gone. She can hear their mechanical beasts speeding down the road toward the carretera, their loud roars terrorizing neighborhood after neighborhood as they pass. She returns to the house to make the phone call to the office that will protest this noise and this small terrorist action.
“Yes, senora, we will look into it.”
“Will you call their father this time?”
“Yes, senora. The father is in Guadalajara now, but when he comes, we will call him.”
“They veered their bikes toward me so I had to jump back on the sidewalk!”
“Yes, senora. We will tell them.”
She hangs up knowing they will not tell the parents anything. They are important enough to have a huge house here in the tennis club where she lives— house they use on occasional weekends. A house which sits empty for most of the year. A house where they once brought their children and their cousins and friends to swim in the steaming hot water of the club pool or their own pools. A party house for their children, now that they have reached their teen years.
The father would be an important business man with connections, perhaps a judge or politician. It was rumored that one of the houses on her street, one further up the mountainside, was owned by a member of the cartel.
Whatever the truth of this, the complaint would not be made. In Mexico, so long as their misdeeds did not come too completely to the surface, the rich were invulnerable—cushioned by a layer of privilege augmented by mordida. No foreigner who chose to come up against a Mexican would ever win—no matter how large the misdeed. Murderers might be caught, but the case would then fade away in time so that they might never be tried, but again would be released on some technicality given birth to by mordida. Houses and land paid for in full by gringos could be reclaimed by entrepreneurs or ejidos powerful enough to know the right judge or the right politician.
Now the roar of the ATV’s is forgotten with the passing of the first truck hauling gravel and stone up to the construction site at the highest point presently reachable on the mountain. One day those mountains that rose so beautifully above her would be filled with houses to the very top; but for now, as the noise of the churning engine fades into the cold white sky, she contemplates what she will write about now that the demands of the prompt have been met. She will not write a funny rhyme today. Her mind has already been trapped by the mood prompted by the demands of this day’s topic.
She wonders how the parts of what she has written can be brought together. It is as though she has written a beginning and an end with no middle. Perhaps that was how a novel was begun in the mind of a novelist—to start out with meat in a cold storage locker and end up with a neighbor’s son terrorizing the neighborhood on an ATV. Was that how it went? Could she stuff those two vignettes with enough information to stretch them apart like a bota bag full of sweet wine? Did she have the capacity to grow those grapes, the skill to ferment them and siphon them into the bag she has created on this cloudy morning that only now was beginning to let the rays of sunlight through? That strong Mexican sun made more powerful by the high elevation of this place at the almost top of a mountain on a street set at such an angle that if there were ever snow here, she could step outside her house and sled in one straight line down to the lake that was a mile away, across its frozen surface, all the way to the other side.
The Prompt: Today you can write about anything, in whatever genre or form, but your post must include a speeding car, a phone call, and a crisp, bright morning. (Wildcard: you can swap any of the above for a good joke.)