Los Sures, Part 10: How Do You Say, “Smorgasbord” in Spanish?

Boared in Ponce

We ran back with the camera in her hand and tried to get the giant pig to come closer. “C’mon, Wilbur,” she said to it. But it stayed in a dark corner.

Fever said that the pig was boring and left. “Evie,” I said. “Look at this one.” A pig in the next stall had its snout pressed against the slats. Ever brave, he touched its nose. “Oh wow, it’s wet.”

I touched it too, but quickly. “Oh wow.”

“That’s snot,” Fever said. He was right behind us.

“No, it’s not.”

“Yes, it is. Yes, it is.”

Evie said, “Let me take a picture of you.”

She took pictures of us and the pigs, and then Mami called.

We ran back to see Mami and Titi talking to the thin man. He was smoking a cigaret, and hanging from a hook in front of him was something weird. It was long and pink and something dark and red was coming out of it. We didn’t recognize at first.

“It’s a pig!,” my sister screamed.

It was much smaller than the ones we’d seen. Its little front hooves were bound. We could see its eyes still open and its mouth curled open to show its small bloody teeth. A stream of blood trickled from a hole in its neck. Without taking the cigarette from his mouth, the man cut open the pig’s belly in one, long cut.

“He’s killing the pig,” my brother said.

“Is it dead?” my sister said.

My mother took the camera from her and snapped a few pictures of the pig. You could see its skeleton inside. “C’mon, kids,” Mami said.

On the ride back, we were quiet. Evie just looked outside the car. “Poor little pig,” she said.

“Yeah,” Fever said. “But you like pork chops.”

“So?”

I said, “Leave her alone.”

“Pork chops is pigs, you know.”

“Leave him alone,” Evie said.

Back at Titi’s house, they roasted the little pig over a barrel. The smell of it filled the backyard. That night Mami tried to get us to eat it. “C’mon, you like this.” She turned to my sister. “Evie, mira, it’s food.”

But Evie said, “No,” and so did I, even though I was very hungry. The grownups, their faces and fingers shiny with grease, laughed at us. My brother ate a big plate of pork with rachi rachi and rice and beans on the side. Later, my mother brought salami and cheese on buttered bread to me and my sister.

Evie said, “I wish Papi was here.”

“Me, too,” I said.

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