Dennis E. Thompson
The hot sun glinted from the gold chain resting on his bare
chest. He reclined off the veranda, sweat glistening from his white,
bloated belly. He enjoyed his new home, an imposing structure built
into the hillside. The marble pool, its ornate fountain spilling
water, created continual music for his ears. He admired his kingdom,
a thirty-six-hole golf course, expensive condominiums built where
decaying hovels had once existed.
He remembered the day when the bulldozers razed the shack homes.
Families made their pilgrimage, carrying boxes of their lives and
loading them into trucks to leave the area. Many of them had risen
from their squalor and had come to him for work. They became his
gardeners, greenskeepers, caddies, and household servants. He
enjoyed watching them work as he sunned himself.
On this day, they were preparing for the banquet he was hosting
that evening, a feast to celebrate the power and strength of the
dollar. The governor of Jalisco, investors from Guadalajara and
Chapala, all would attend to laud his conquest, the renovation of
He smiled as four old men worked together to build a platform
riser for the mariachi band. Two younger fellows carried the feast's
main course, a large trussed pig, a whole mango stuffed into its
mouth. They labored up the small path from the roasting pit, bearing
his meal on a palanquin-like stretcher. The pig's eyes, sunken,
charred by the fire, appeared to chart their course toward the
kitchen entrance. Greasy juices dripped down their shoulders and
backs, making a trail on the ground behind them.
He turned his attention to Ana as she stood at the table folding
linen napkins into peacocks. Her small, delicate fingers darted as
she worked. Ana was his favorite. He liked the way her crisp, cotton
uniform clung to her firm, nubile body. Someday, he thought to
himself, when she and I are alone.
"Ana, come here," he called to her.
She approached him, eyes averted.
"Rub this sun lotion on my back," he demanded.
"Si, Senor." Her brown hands quickly rubbed the white cream
across his thick, bristly back. When finished, she rose and walked
away, wiping her hands, ready to complete her work at the table.
He cocked his head to the side, watching her behind move to the
rhythm of her gait. His eyes were transfixed. His gaze was broken by
the sound of a sudden "thwap" from above. A large palm frond crashed
next to his chaise lounge. The sap-smeared, pithy stock slapped the
back of his leg as the leaves fluttered to the ground.
He bolted upright and squinted into the bright sunlight filtering
through the palm tree. The man noticed a simian-shaped body clinging
to the tree, a machete raised high.
"Goddamnit, Ana. What is he doing?" he yelled.
She rushed over to him, staring up at her husband hanging high
overhead. She called out, "Victor, que estas haciendo?"
A second branch dropped, brushing hard against the man's back.
The machete tumbled down landing near his feet. Victor called down
from the treetop.
"Es para la mesa, es un centro de mesa para sentar el cerdo."
She picked up the machete from the ground. Tracing her finger
along its edge, she looked him in the eye and smiled.
"He says it's for the table, a centerpiece for the pig to rest
"Ahh," the man grunted, returning a smile. He carefully lowered
himself back onto the chaise lounge, now garnished with palm leaves.
D. E. Thompson lives and writes in the heartland of central
Iowa. He holds a MA degree from Iowa State University and teaches at
Des Moines Area Community College. His work has recently appeared in
Colere, Sketch, and The Wabash Review.