Issue 35, Final Fringe


by Carmen Adamucci Issue 27 08.15.2011

The car stopped in front of the labor camp. A gringa was driving—a blonde. She wore big sunglasses, had an exquisite gap in her front teeth. From the camp’s windows some of the men watched as she fooled with her hair in the rearview mirror. Others scrambled outside behind Lupe, who jumped across the unmade cots to reach her first. Lupe, twenty-two, curator of a vast and eclectic adult magazine collection, stood by her window and sent the others away. They obliged out of respect—Lupe spoke English—and scattered across the yard. A few lingered by the doors, smoking cigarettes, leering. Others hung around the benches near the dead oak tree. Two guys wandered back inside the camp.

“You are one pretty whore,” Lupe said.

“Go to hell,” said the woman.

It was not every day a gringa offered herself at the camps. Most Fridays, regardless of the state they were working in, it was Mexican women. Two at a time, three at time—once they even got four Mexicans and a Dominican. Manny was the only guy who would not take his turn. Lupe could hardly tolerate Manny anymore: all the Catholic talk, all the sermons. Fairytales about love and his wife back in Jalisco. “Keep sending your money,” Lupe said once. “She can buy lace panties for your brother to sink his fingers into.” Manny shrugged him off. “You’re just a little boy raised by the camps instead of a mother,” he said.

The woman’s tank top was cheap and thin—the kind purchased in packages of three—and it clung to the film of sweat glazing her freckled chest. Lupe wanted to pry her pallid thighs open, to wedge his hand into her clammy warmth, to cup his palm between her legs and squeeze until she yelped.

The woman kept the car in drive, unpainted toes putting pressure on the brake, sandals on the floor beneath razor-nicked calves. Her feet seemed twice the age of her face, stained green around the soles, as if they just trudged through a recently mowed lawn. Lupe inched closer to her window so she could see the erection in his shorts.

“I know what’s there,” she said.  “Now back away from my car.”

“Why, sweetie? I got money.”

“Get that thing out of my face.”

She exhaled with practiced exaggeration and pulled a wisp of hair behind her ears.  Lupe backed away. She was thin, almost gaunt, but why should he care? Lupe crossed his arms and massaged his shoulders where the straps of his picking bag would dig into his skin. “How much?” he said.

“One hundred.”

“A hundred dollars?”

“That’s right.”

“How about fifty? Fifty and we can—”

The woman tapped the accelerator and the front tires spit dirt and stones at Lupe’s legs. He sprinted toward her. The car had only one working brake light.

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Carmen Adamucci

Carmen Adamucci

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Carmen Adamucci is an MFA candidate at Columbia University. He is also a fourth generation peach grower in southern New Jersey. This story is part of a collection. Visit his website here.