Lamb in sauce
Michel Encinosa Fú
(Translation: Daniel W. Koon)
Axxón 150 - May, 2005
Mrs. Chavez sticks her head out the kitchen door.
Mr. Chavez smiles and turns off the flatscreen. He slowly makes his way to the dining room and sits down at the head of the table.
Willie comes running, wearing his Solitary Hunter visor and firing his submachine gun left and right. He dives under the table, emerging on the other side, and pulls the firing pin of a smoke grenade, his lips pressed tightly and his muscles tense.
Sally arrives stiffly, sporting her very first brassiere. She mutters, "Hello, everyone," and falls into her chair lifting her turboskate-covered feet onto the table.
Connie levitates into the dining room, her pupils dilated, avoiding collisions with the furniture. Before she sits she whispers "decarbonization" six times.
Mrs. Chavez carries in a dish of lamb meat in sauce.
"You look exhausted, honey... Willie, take off that hat and stop shooting phantoms... Sally, take your wheels out of the salad... Connie, please, aren't you going to say hello?"
"Your Highness, refuge of senile insanity, we salute thee," Connie declares, eyes staring vacantly. "Peaceful backwater. Mountain, wind, god."
"Holy crap," Sally leans toward Connie. "Hey, what did you score today? Dolphinator, Eagle Fire...? Or did you get some Transit Zero? Tell me, damnit, was it Transit Zero...?"
"Sally Chavez! Get those wheels out of the salad this very second!" Mrs. Chavez raises the plate over her head. "I've told you a thousand times that I don't want any mud on the tablecloth!"
"Mud! Everybody into the trenches!" Willie dives under the table, with such skill that it shakes and the glass of water adopts a threatening angle. "Boom, boom, boom...!"
"Merciful heavens!" Mrs. Chavez rights the glass with one hand while she sets the plate down with the other.
Sally applauds enthusiastically.
"Hey, you with your head in the clouds...," Mrs. Chavez looks at her husband. "Would it be such a bother for you to keep your children in line every once in a while?"
Mr. Chavez smiles and continues drumming his fingers on the table. Connie examines her nails, moving her hand closer, then further from her face. Mrs. Chavez fishes Willie out by his neck, tosses him into his seat, serves the soup and then returns to the kitchen.
Sally whispers into Connie's ear, "Listen, worm, if it's Transit Zero, give me one... Or I'll tell them all about you know what."
"You know, don't know, if you know, who knows," Connie babbles.
Willie slurps his soup like a beast. Mrs. Chavez arrives, takes his plate away and discreetly leaves.
"Why doesn't mommy ever eat with us?" Willie asks, paying no attention to the removal of his soup.
"Because she slips out to smoke without daddy seeing her," Sally replies in a high voice. "She can't smoke and eat at the same time. A vice of symbiotic synergy, they call it nowadays. That's why she's so fat. And has those yellow fingers."
"Does Daddy know?" Willie looks at Mr. Chavez, intrigued.
"Yes, Willie, Daddy knows," Mrs. Chavez answers from the kitchen. "I'm going to have to mop up the floor with somebody's face."
Mr. Chavez finishes his soup, smiles and puts his plate to one side.
"The face is the mirror of the soul....," Connie begins to recite.
There is a knock at the door.
Instantly Sally takes off, turbos on full, and opens it, "Hey, guys! It's Percy!"
"But now there's no more soup!" Mrs. Chavez replies.
"Really, I don't feel like soup," Percy declares. He hangs up his overcoat and approaches the table. "But the meat in sauce smells tasty."
"Help yourself," Sally offers, reverently.
"Thanks, little sister," Percy takes a seat to the left of Mr. Chavez. "Hey, dad. How's it going, Willie? Healthy and green, Connie? That smells amazing, really."
"It has garlic," Mrs. Chavez warns, from the kitchen doorway.
While she is speaking she allows a puff of smoke to escape, and Mr. Chavez wrinkles his brow. Mrs. Chavez disappears.
"It doesn't matter," Percy begins to serve himself. "I took an antiallergen in the taxi."
"It could just as well be arsenic instead of garlic," Sally observes.
"In that case I'd plant a toxin barrier in my larynx," Percy laughs. "Can't be too careful in my line of work."
"You never see any morality engineers getting killed on the news," the invisible Mrs. Chavez mumbles from the kitchen.
"That's because you only watch the corporate news. From time to time the independents connect. The corporates are crap."
"All is crap," Connie agrees. "Thou art crap and unto crap thou shalt return."
"You're gonna be crap if you don't give me a Transit Zero," Sally hisses at her. "C'mon, please. I tasted it once and..."
"Tasted what, Sally, dearest?" Mrs. Chavez leans over her, having appeared out of nowhere and serving the meat in sauce. "Don't forget the salad, kids, it's good for you ... Tasted what, Sally?"
All eyes move instantaneously to Willie. All but Sally's eyes. Instead, she grips her fork in a menacing manner.
"Timmy, Timmy, the one in 4F," Willie mumbles between chews. "In the service elevator. He lowered his pants, and she tasted him."
Everyone looks at Sally.
"That's a lie!!" she screams.
"How quickly they grow up in this building," Percy laughs, his mouth full. "Good thing I left when I did. I was nearly polluted myself."
"We need to talk, little lady," Mrs. Chavez lowers her face to Sally's, who remains speechless. Her mother's fork is as big as her own. Mrs. Chavez looks at Mr. Chavez. "And you're not going to do anything?"
Mr. Chavez arches his eyebrows and reaches his arm toward the salad. Percy is already there. Each serves himself.
"You're already polluted," Sally shoots back between sobs, looking at Percy.
"Meaning....?" he asks, puzzled.
"Please, please, please...," Connie mumbles.
"Shit," Sally grips her fork more tightly. "I told you, give me the Transit Zero or else... You asked for it." She turns to face Percy. "I was there on the sofa, four years, seven months and eleven days ago, and I saw the two of you on top of this very table."
"Which two? What are you talking about?" Percy forces a laugh.
Sally turns to Connie, "and I suppose that you don't remember it either, huh? You were in your shorts and nothing else. And you were pulling him toward you by his shirt and he bit your..."
"SHUT UP!!!" Connie explodes and lowers her eyes.
Underneath the table there is an exchange of kicks. Above the table, stifled moans of pain. Connie begins to recite a poem by Tennyson.
Mrs. Chavez's eyes scan the table, "Are you going to tell me what this is all about? Or do I have to line you all up against the wall?"
Willie begins reciting a table of logarithms.
"Kid stuff, mom," Percy says.
"I am not your mother," Mrs. Chavez grabs his plate. "Ask that mental birth defect what kind of vat he had to rent to get you," and she leaves for the kitchen.
"What's a vat?" Willie asks.
Percy starts to explain it to him.
A mumbling is heard in the kitchen.
"Did someone hear the videophone ring?" Sally asks.
"She would be calling Mrs. Chaviano," Connie guesses, holding a slice of carrot up to the light. "What a family of vampires, don't you know..."
"Actually, that would be Mr. Chaviano," Sally corrects her, and she leans over toward Percy. She almost puts an elbow in Mr. Chavez's plate, who pulls it away a little, smoothly.
"Metastatic palimpsest of workmanlike gnosis, deliver us from evil," Connie prays.
"I saw them in the mall," Sally hisses into Percy's ear. "I went to buy a Yupi Lindo, and I saw them. Mommy and Mr. Chaviano. Kissing by the flowered walkway."
Percy, who has been explaining in-vitro fertilization to Willie, replies out loud:
"And what's so awful about kissing Mr. Chaviano by the flowered walkway?"
Something breaks in the kitchen. Perhaps a plate. Or two.
The room's videophone rings.
Mr. Chavez rises from the table, smiles and takes the call.
White marble face on the screen. Unmodulated voice.
"My Colonel, sir. The raid went exactly as planned. But we have twelve kids... You know, my Colonel, neon kids, street vermin, nobody knows where they came from... They saw it all."
"All of it?"
"All of it, my Colonel, sir."
Mr. Chavez ponders a few seconds and passes his tongue through his lips.
"Line them up, lieutenant. Take a laser and kill the lot of them."
The face of the lieutenant blanches from white marble to bedsheet white.
"Uh... Yes, my Colonel, sir... As you command, sir."
Mr. Chavez closes the communication channel and, still smiling, returns to the dinner table.
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