The old men sit on the square. Watch the comings and goings in the morning air, their cigars lit they smoke, cough, spit. It is a fluid morning like any other, the train arrives and leaves after the usual commotion people crowd on, rowdy muscle types hang on the outside as the train pulls from the station. Men in black suits gather on benches overseeing the square, occupants in their corner of the world. The oldest one, Miguel, his wife just died. He curses the young boys hanging off the side of the train, fools all, he says, fools all. Today quiet, he stares up through the tips of the poplars.
Hey, papa Torres, his arm extended calls over the train whistle, dos senoritas, he points to two young American tourists at the edge of the park—one sits on her suitcase, the other paces smoking a cigarette long and slender. She’s blond and wears sandals, the other darkened chestnut hair rests her head down between her arms, her legs spread. “Miguel go talk to the two American beauties, ask them where their father is, ask them if they are married.” Miguel’s eyes lower from the trees tops, he grunts a reply arching his back further, resting in the gravity of the earth. He nods, resigned.
This brethren approaches the two senoritas, tips his hat and asks the question with a respectful smile, Senoritas, where are the two lucky men you travel with today? Now, these ladies in Mexico are used to this question from the first leg of their vacation. The older sister forgot it was only 1980—she wanted to roll time into a magical future devoid of sexism. She raises her hot head, looks at the man, his light frame burdened in the black suit, she recognizes as wool. Her dress is Indian Chintz with no bra, her luggage disappeared into the morass of the Mexico City airport and she only can say, Buenos Diaz, which is most likely the wrong one because it’s before noon. There is no way she wants an attempted conversation. So her second words are No padre. She lowers her head, she has told him the truth as promised to herself, she has no father.
The man shuffles back to the other old men sitting in the square. Her sister returns, What did he want? The usual, where is our father. The train is seven hours late, it is not her dream vacation in their second class non-air conditioned car, packed with workers. She learns her way through a country she swears she’ll never return to. But in this life she’s far too young to make such pronouncements.
Miguel too, missing his wife, is making decisions staring into space. The young senoritas wait, the old men watch, their eyes coveted into some communication no one understands between the sexes. Miguel, of course, barely looks at the two women, he’s short for this world in the long time honored tradition of men who die soon after their wife’s passage. He understands about the souls of men and women. Things young women—senoritas—cannot fathom until they grow old.