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Qué Lio

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He knew. He knew she was the only thing standing between his brother and damnation. That Ramon would drown without Lydia to anchor him. Still, Cisco could not help but take that one last thing for his own. That one last night. Hot and sticky, mid-summer breeze blowing in from the fire escape. Weighing them both down in their sweat and their need. She looked up at him, pleading si and pleading no at the same time. “I love your brother.” “You love me more. You’ve always loved me more.”

She bent then, his beloved, because she is honest above all things. Pure. Unable to lie when the truth is right there between them. Or when he slipped her dress from her shoulders, kissing each inch of smooth brown skin he uncovered. He saw her first. She belonged to him first. When she still knew how to laugh and smoke and sin just a little.

She came to him unashamed. Naked in moonlight. Eyes like stars. “Mira,” he told her. “I don’t need light when I have you to guide me.” Tomorrow they would part. Tomorrow they would each rip off a limb. But that night...oh, that night they clung to each other. Holding on as tightly as two people could. Ramon had found God behind bars, but in those hours between dusk and dawn it was Cisco who sank to his knees and prayed. He worshipped at her feet. At the backs of her thighs. In that salty cave of her sex. There would be no other religion for him but the one he’d found in Lydia’s bed.

Her soft little sighs and whimpers were real and honest boricua music, her fists beating an accompanying rhythm on his back. But she was generous, giving, kind...and she refused to play alone. That was the first time Francisco ever felt like Papa Fuerte...when she whispered her name for him, “Franny,” and took him in her mouth.

1960. Seventeen fucking years he’s lived on that memory. On how they made love. On how they were love. It hasn’t changed over time. Hasn’t altered. His mind doesn’t play tricks. He sees the truth every day. He sees the fruit they bore. His nena who sings like an angel...whose voice comes from Lydia’s breathy moans and his hoarse promise of “siempre.” Mylene. Mylene.

Cisco gave up everything so his brother wouldn’t drown...and now they all sit in judgment of him because he’s alone at sea. Because he’s the only one strong enough to ride out the storm brewing in the Bronx.

Papa Fuerte. Father to everyone but his own child. Husband to a woman married to another man.

He welcomes damnation with open arms.