She wore jeans that hardly fit over her ass and a studded belt that held them up for dear life, cutting the massive chicho around her belly button in half and carefully distributing the fat into two equal parts. She always got rips in between her thighs and patched them up with dark fabric.
She was down for cuddling, or not cuddling. Her parents weren’t cool about having dudes over, but I would climb up the ‘scape and into her bedroom window after everyone went to sleep, and we would fuck on the floor because her bed would squeak. Sometimes I felt bad when I pulled out and came on her tits or something. She couldn’t really go take a shower at that time without her pops asking questions. So she would wipe it off with a dirty sock and wait until the morning, when I would shamelessly crawl back down into my apartment two stories below.
There was a Watchmen poster on the door of her dining-room-turned-bedroom to cover the glass, and no lock. She put a little pestillo on the door, but her pops didn’t like when she had it on because he thought she was doing some weird shit. They had a pretty strict open door policy in their home. He didn’t like that she was into graphic novels and vaina rara, as he would put it. Or that she wore a lot of dark colors or that she could not dance tipico to save her life. He worried that she wasn’t Dominican enough, that she wouldn’t find a nice rich stud from Santo Domingo to wife her up. It wasn’t like that, though. I saw a Fernandito Villalona on her iPod once, next to her other white music. And he would never know it, but she was a real Dominican in the sack.
We didn’t have much in common and I didn’t really take her out on dates but she liked going to the Film Forum downtown and sometimes we would skip school and take the 1 train down to Houston and watch a movie of her choice that I usually ended up digging after all. Then we would walk to this used bookstore that she liked and she would pick up more graphic novels and talk about how she wanted to write her own some day. She never let me read her stuff, but I took her notebook out of her nightstand one night while she was asleep and the stuff was pretty damn terrible.
There was a mutual understanding about the whole thing. She knew I wasn’t the type of cat to bring home for dinner. I wasn’t going to be sharing a glass of Johnny Black with her pops. And I knew that moms wouldn’t be making some salcocho with her in the near future either. But we enjoyed one another’s company on those nights that we were hit with the harsh reality of staying here for life. Of never amounting to shit. Of being stuck in the same run-down pre-wars catching leaking ceiling drippings with aluminum pots and resenting our piece of shit supers. We’d weave our fingers together and look up at the poorly painted uneven walls, letting the jarring sounds of broken steam valves drown our vulnerabilities.
It was a crazy humid day in August and she crawled down the fire escape and knocked on my window. Talk about she couldn’t sleep. It was too hot to fuck, to cuddle—to do damn near anything without getting agitated. So we sat outside, the backs of our thighs sticking to the old brown paint and the smell of the puddles of piss below us crept up and into our noses so we could almost taste it. She didn’t say anything. I didn’t say anything. We didn’t say anything for hours. We just sat there listening to the sounds of our breathing and wiping the sweat off from behind our knees.
When the sun started peeking over the Manhattan skyline, she got up and began to crawl back up to her bedroom window. I knew she was upset about something. I grabbed her by the hand and we both paused.
Fuck, I thought.
She looked at me like wondering what the hell was going through my head. I knew what was going through hers. I had never felt that sudden need to connect with her, to worry about her. Maybe it was the heat that had me feeling kind of trippy. Maybe it was the humidity. She wanted something, but she wasn’t going to ask for it. I knew what she wanted and just the thought of giving it to her was fucking with me. Girls get crazy when you start to show them you care—even when you don’t. I let go of her hand and got up to go back to my apartment. “Bye, Melanie,” I said with a yawn and unstuck my balls from my thighs. She turned around and crawled back into her bedroom window.
The weeks after that were different. It’s like I flicked on a switch in her head and I knew that this, whatever it was, was plummeting to its demise at a hundred miles per hour. I stopped knocking on her window at one in the morning, I stopped cuddling, and I stopped stealing graphic novels for her. I guess I felt like an asshole for impregnating this idea in her over the last six months that I had no intention of seeing to fruition. But I wasn’t guilty enough to stop myself from wrecking havoc on her poor little heart. It was only a matter of time before the stench of this dead animal in the living room of us would spread. It would get to her soon.
After cooling it for a couple of weeks, I wanted to see her. It was Saturday morning and she would be in her room writing, fresh off a nice hearty breakfast featuring lots of fried shit. So I climbed down the fire escape. When I knocked on her window, there was no answer. I kept knocking for a few minutes, thinking maybe she was in the bathroom, but she never came. I sat there on the scape, still damp from the morning dew and the sound of sirens put me to sleep. I had dozed off for around a half hour when I heard voices coming from inside of her room. There was a dude in there. Some fucking dude! I tried peeking through the slit in her curtains, but I couldn’t see shit. Damn yo, some dude is in there, I thought. I pressed my ear against her window and I hear them talking. She was giggling the way she would when I touched on her tits.
“Cueraso!” The word came out like projectile vomit and I couldn’t stop myself. I panicked.
She tore her curtains open and I saw her there, her big tits barely in her shirt, her belt cutting her fat chicho, and some cat standing behind her. Sure, I was embarrassed. I was on some stalker shit.
“What the fuck, Benji!”
“What the fuck you!”
“Is there a problem?” the dude said from behind her.
“Yeah, bitch. There is a fucking problem!”
“There’s no problem”
“The fuck you doing with this cat, Mel?”
“None of your business, Benji”
“It is my business!”
“You jealous or something?”
“Jealous? Me? Jealous?”
I felt the blood get thick in my veins and my hands balling up into fists. Chill out, Benji, I tought. She ain’t shit.
Then, I saw them both turn towards the door, panic in their eyes. Her pops had a job as a truck driver, but sometimes if he had work in The City he would take a break and come home for lunch between jobs. There was no telling when this would happen, but now he was at her door with two cats fighting over her on the other side.
The door swung open and he looked at all three of us. Shit, I thought.
It would go down one of two ways. Either he would whip out the belt and go to war on her ass, and maybe the other dude, or he would be silent. The latter was your least favorite choice—it meant you were neck-deep in shit and the damage was irreparable.
He didn’t say a fucking word, yo.
It went down like this: Melanie got shipped off to some campo in D.R. where her second aunt would teach her how to be una muchacha decente. She would go to church on Sundays and Thursdays and learn all her Ave Marias and not look at another dick until she got married. And I would climb up to her window and sit out on the fire escape alone remembering the smell of the sweat in between her tits, waiting for the sun to peek over the smoke stacks of decrepit buildings.