Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mucho Trabajo (Too Much Work)

     Every time I pull up on his arms, his ass sinks deeper to the ground. I say, “Push. Bobby. mas rapido,”  I tell him, “I’m doing all the work here.”  
     Bobby has an ankle tucked under each arm pit, but he’s too short, too weak to lift coach’s ass off the lawn. Keys fall out, jingle on the sidewalk, and for some reason I think about my father getting home, the way he throws his keys on an end table like they’re not a ring of janitor’s keys, but the weight of the world that has lifted and now we can finally eat dinner. I look at Bobby.
     I whisper loud as I can. I tell him, “ stop ” We both let go and I can hear bobby’s low blubbering. His eyes shine and he whimpers like a small animal. A sprinkler chatters like a machine gun over near the baseball field. The sun is down and the School Grounds are empty. “Man up.” I tell him.
     “Coach.” he says. “we’ve killed coach.”
     “Get over it.” I say, “ Coach is gone. We got to get rid of this body..”
     “But, shouldn’t we just call somebody? If we told the cops what happened?”
     “Forget it man. It’s coach and your just some skinny wet-back. What are the cops gonna do?”  
     “Nicho,” he says, “Nicho” he  calls my name, and I think I hear my mother’s voice waking me up. I can smell green chilis; they’ve been simmering.  I taste her tortillas, just a little burnt, the way I like it, and my stomach makes a noise louder than the keys. I look around, but nobody’s there.
     “Let’s try rolling him.” I tell Bobby, then I pick up the keys and we start rolling coach’s dead body to the cafeteria. 
     Bobby pops the window. We get coaches body inside. I know there is nobody here. The cooks clean this place and leave early. Enrique is still cleaning the girls locker. I know his routine; there’s time. It’s just me, bobby and coach. A small light on the dish washer guides us through the heavy pots and the stacks of plastic trays. It’s still warm near the machine, The steel sink sparkles and smells like bleach. 
     “Be careful man. Don’t knock anything over.” I tell him.
     “Now what?” Bobby says and I can smell his sweat.
     “The knives are over there.”  I point him to the cutlery. “Get me a big serrated one.”  He bumps into a empty stock pot, A deep gong vibrates through the kitchen and into the empty lunch room; my heart stops.
     Bobby’s eyes go wide. He grabs a knife. We wait for footsteps. Nothing happens. Then, he looks relieved and asks me how I know so much about this place.
     “I work here,”  I tell him. I think about how long we’ve known each other, but he doesn’t know shit about who I am; how I work lunch while he’s clowning at the pic-nic tables.  
     Bobby hands me a bread knife. “bigger.” I tell him. “There’s a carving knife in that rack near the ovens.” 
     He hands me the knife.
     I get the scullery aprons, the plastic caps and yellow gloves. The cap crinkles then smoothes as I stretch it on. We don’t talk, and you can just hear the knife sawing through bone.” Hold on to his arm.” I tell him.
     He throws up
     “Pull tight, so I can work the knife in.” I tell him.
     “This is fucked up.”
     “Yeah right.” I agree,  “like we have a choice?  Like what happened didn’t happen and I am not holding Coach’s arm.”
     The same arm that grabbed Bobby, and Bobby’s mouth was pushed into the metal so hard that his screams sounded hollow and tin. When I first heard it, I thought some kid was stuck in a locker. I figured that I was just going to break up some foolish prank. Then I rounded the corner and saw coach with his pants down and bobby bent into the locker and shit just happened.

     ‘It isn’t what you think.” coach said.
     I didn’t say anything. He pulled his pants up and turned towards me. I heard keys jingle, and loose change. I saw that big arm, and his hand. Then, I felt the heft of those books: the biology and chemistry I had been so hopefully struggling through; they now felt heavy and dangerous. My back pack swung and coach was tumbling and there was a flicker at the end of bobby’s hand like a needle. like he was sewing something into coach’s shirt, but it was a small knife and I wanted to stop it, but when I grabbed bobby’s hand it trembled empty, and the knife was now in my hand and coach’s face  was close and open; not pain, but wide and silent like he couldn’t believe that everything could pass so easily away. 
     There is just the three of us in scullery now -- Bobby, me and the dead guy.
     I put coach’s arm in the garbage disposal. His hand is sticking out of the sink like a drowning man. I flip the switch and the hand turns slowly as it sinks into the machine. “I’ve cleaned up worse.” I lie. But it is true that I have made things disappear.
     “What if they find out?” Bobby asks me.
     I can feel the keys poking . They’re heavy and my pants feel different with their weight.
     “No body. No crime.” I tell him, “There’s a mop and bucket in the janitor’s closet. The bleach is underneath the stairs.”

Armando Stiletto

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