A fat, worn cardboard box sits in the center of the living room. A friend has carried it back from Chile for us, Tito tells me. Its tattered corners testify to the thousands of miles it’s traveled. This is Tito’s first package from home. He seems content just to looks at it. He tells me he was waiting for me.
It’s our secret by consensus, our neighborhood pothole. From the front seat of a car, nothing betrays how deeply it falls beneath the pavement. Up close it looks like nothing more than a shallow indentation. The sensible driver, rather than swerve into on-coming traffic, will opt to drive through it. “And pah! El hoyo gets him,” Tito tells me each night.
“It’s a concepto among Latin peoples,” Tito tells me. He is trying to explain the mutterings between the guys who huddle together nightly a few doors down. Our little block once was quiet at night. Then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, they appeared with their boasts, guffaws, groans, and rattling beer bottles. It doesn’t help that our bedroom window overlooks the street.
The more problems, the better. That’s what Tito says. He claims he loves problems. That was what he did best at his old job in the port, where he had to decide where to dock a given ship, when to unload its cargo, and how to get it all done within the shortest time possible, in time for the next ship and its precious perishables.
In those breathless days when Tito and I were getting to know one another, I dreamed of roses. Dark, luscious and red, partly opened, densely packed, a bouquet overflowing with fragrance. In my fantasy I open the door and see Tito, his arms full of roses, roses, roses, and his radiant face peeking through the crimson blossoms.