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(in the restaurant)
a jukebox...
half tejano with the other half equally divided between Guns N'Roses and Aerosmith--four songs for a dollar.
a waitress...
fuck-me-fire-engine-red lipstick, docs and fishnets,
singing along to the tejano that makes her skin crawl--not knowing if the short pauses are where syllables break or new words
the owner...
85 years old, 4'10", with coke bottle bifocals. She's standing on an onion crate at the sink in back, washing dishes, all pre-hobart-like. She can't see the 2a.m. crowd, can't hear the tejano twang. But she knows Sweet Child O' Mine and she sings it, in her heavy accent--loudly

* *years passing like weeks* *

(in a place far from home)
another building...
windows boarded with a broken down juke box, the cord unplugged and duct-taped to its side and tables set for guests who'll never arrive. A woman peers across the dark room at a blindfolded boy.
a girl...
equally hardened and softened by the days gone by, who believes in everything and nothing
a grandmother...
lost, loved, already missed

I peeked in but didn't help pack.
I was born up north and would, now and again, return.
This would be my last visit.

(on my wall)
a frame...
old, with tiny scratches from moving. There is the tiniest cobweb in the lower left corner but for some reason, the thought of removing it disheartens me. So, it stays. It becomes part of the story.
a face...
darkest green eyes from golden skin. The wood is old, yes, but the face--always young. I don't see her when I look at this, but I know that she did.
a memory...
'I was 20 there' Tencha said, pointing over toward the large frame. We were counting the till at table 4 under the velvet painting of the blindfolded boy swinging at a pinata. I poured more coffee and gave her a minute to tell me about the large painting over booth 17. 'It was a beautiful day, m'ija, and the sunset lasted for hours.'

My father told me recently, on one of his rare visits, that of course the portrait wasn't her. I know that this may be true, but it is not my truth. I hold the memory nearer to my heart. It was the truth as given by her and it's as much mine as the portrait.

*

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