Across town, Fat Eddie put down his telephone and turned to his wife. “They want us to make the cake for the wedding over at the Bend Saturday. What kind of cake do you think would be right?”
“Three tier, bride and groom on top. Just make it big. They like everything big over in the Bend, you know.”
He began to fetch the big round cake pans and the square pan for the groom’s cake. “They want a spread of prime rib, too. We gotta go and get some. I wish they’d just settle with a Mexican spread like everyone else does.”
“Wouldn’t be the Bend without the prime rib. You know that. You just stay off the beer until the reception is mostly done. Don’t need you drunk over there, you know?”
“I wonder if she’s gonna still work on catfish night?”
His wife looked at him with amazement. “A girl from the Bend. Work as a catfish girl? Get a life Eddie!”
“Mike works here.”
“Mike works here because June works here.
Once he has June, you’ll loose your little catfish girl. Get ready for it!”
Eddie went to his pantry to fetch the ingredients for the cake.
Buddy dropped into the local pub to have a beer. The place had been a Mexican Restaurant, but after a while, the beer sold more than the tacos so now the only Mexican food in the place was the nachos that graced the table while you drank beer. His mother had called him and he’d driven all the way down to be at the wedding. This afternoon his mind was troubled, though, and a few beers would ease it a bit. The little bar was actually dirty, and the food would make you sick, but that didn’t matter because no one ever really came there to eat anyway. They went there to sit at the tall tables and play video games, drinking piss warm beer and telling lies. Anyone who was stupid enough to eat there deserved what they got.
“Miller,” he said as he sat in the booth.
The young girl took his order and returned with the chips, sauce, and beer. He sipped the glass and ate a chip. She watched him and since it was not a very busy afternoon, she came back to talk a minute. Her name was Sabrina, and she’d known Buddy all of his life. In high school the lines between Mexican and Anglo had been heavy and black, but they had become light and gray of late and her heart warmed to the boy she’d loved all of her life.
“How’s it going, Buddy? You in town for the wedding over to the Bend?”
“Oh, yeah. Wouldn’t wanna miss that crock of shit! Not every day you see a sixteen year old girl get married on your momma’s back porch.”
The waitress smiled. She was thin, but not too thin. Her jeans fit well, and she had on a little Mexican top that accented the slight figure that she had. Her hair was dark, and very tightly curled, falling to her shoulders. In all of her years in high school with Buddy, she knew his moods. She knew a lot more about him than that. They had been on the school newspaper when they were seniors, and more than one time they had cleared the drafting table off and fell into each other’s arms. Then, after graduation, they’d drifted apart. The little west Texas town had exactly two kinds of people in it. There were those who stayed, and those who left. She was one of those who stayed, and Buddy was one of those who would never be home no matter how far he went. Still, inside he was coming to the slow realization that just perhaps “home” was more than the Bend, and as close as this young lady’s heart. She never pushed him toward any choice. She was just always “there.”
“Yeah, but this sixteen year old is the Catter!”
“You know, I get the impression that little girl was born fully developed. I can’t remember a single time she didn’t look like Tanya Tucker.”
The waitress sat in the booth opposite Buddy, and studied his face. “You’re taken with June, ain’t you?”
He looked up from the beer, “What in the world makes you think that?”
“Oh, a woman knows. Hey, it’s not so bad. Mike’s like seventeen, eighteen, huh. June’s sixteen, but you Buddy, you and me, we’re twenty-one! When we were in high school she was like eleven!”
He smiled, “Yeah, and she looked just like she does now.”
“Well, your brother…”
“You’re step brother is close to her age, and
they’ve known each other a long time.” Her finger eased across the table and played with his hand that was on the beer glass. “Why don’t you try someone who’s more your age, and type?”
He let his other hand lay gently on hers. “Sabrina, I don’t let that bother me. I don’t like Mike anyway. You know that. June is no angel, but she deserves more than him.”
“Well, she probably does deserve better, I’ll give you that, and you are right; June the Cat is not an angel by any stretch of the imagination!”
The woman who owned the bar came in and Sabrina got up and began wiping the table as if she had been there all along working. Leaning over, “Where you going tonight?”
“Home. Over to Momma’s. Where else? What you got in mind?”
“I live over on Cactus Drive now. Not much of a trailer, but I got beer, and a VCR. If you wanna?”
“I’ll drop by after I pay my respects, ok?” She winked and went to refill his glass.
Sabrina Sanchez was thought of as “Mexican,” but her real heritage was Comanche. The land of the Bend had been her people’s land until the last century when the ancestor’s of John Stillwell had suddenly turned up on it and the Comanche were all moved off after being sold out by an old Witch Doctor who vanished into history. Now the Indian face was so rare in west Texas that any dark skin that wasn’t Negro was regarded simply as Mexican. But Sabrina’s father had never let her forget that she was not a Mexican but a descendant of a proud race.
Buddy sat there and drank beer until he could no longer feel his lips. He was looking for direction and would not find any answers tonight, only a headache in the morning. Events were swirling around him so fast that the beer could not slow it down. As he looked over at the bar he thought that perhaps somewhere in Sabrina’s arms tonight the rush in his head would subside somewhat and for a little while he would just be the Buddy that he’d been before Mike came along!The Butcher Shop