Tío Checo and the Baby Jesus
by Okasha Skat'si
Tío Checo became a saint on January 6, 1996. That year, he was working as a custodian at one of the two-hundred-dollar-a-night hotels down on the Riverwalk, picking up plastic highball glasses around the swimming pool and piloting a yellow mop bucket across the floor of the bar when it shut down at midnight. Not rocket science, and not anything that needed a driver's license. The year before, he had been a fry cook at Lonchería Las Palomitas, and the year before that, he had had steady work as a tag-team driver, picking up Mexican trailers at Customs in Laredo and long- hauling the electronics or auto parts or whatever up to Dallas and beyond. But then he and his long-term companion Jim Beam had a close encounter of the sir-please-blow-into-this-mouthpiece kind just outside Buda, and his driving career came to an end.
So it was Tío's day off, and my mom and her sisters and sisters-in-law had been deep in tamalada madness for two days. There were pork and beef tamales, deer meat from a buck one of my cousins had shot just before Christmas, huge bowls of arroz and frijoles borrachos and atole. The women all sat around the kitchen table drinking warm Coke or limonada while the washtub-sized steamer hissed and rattled, the home-sweet-home fragrance of chile ancho and comino mingling with the spray-on pine scent from the fake Christmas tree in the living room.
Purchase the issue to read more of this piece and others
Or buy the rest of just this piece for $0.50!
"Tío Checo and the Baby Jesus" is roughly 15104 words.
Okasha Skat’si is a writer/artist/photographer, ex-academic, and current art student whose work centers on environmental and mythic themes. She is Tsalagi by blood and was multicultural before there was a word for it--born in Mexico, spoke Spanish before English, lived most of her life on the Texas/Mexico border. She writes about the history and environment of the border region under the byline Penelope Warren. As Okasha Skat’si, she is coauthor of The Growing, an SF novel that made the 2007 Gaylactic Spectrum Best Novel shortlist.