Five Things That Never Happened to Maggie Chascarrillo

1968: Ball Of Confusion

Surrounded by her mud pies, Margarita Luisa Chascarrillo -- known as Perla to her friends -- realizes she has forgotten underwear again. She knows because the drying mud has started to itch, and when she scratches at it, there is no underwear. Maybe she was wearing underwear this morning. She can't remember.

Perla is bored of her mud pies, and her bottom is scratchy. But even from over here, she can hear the yelling coming from her house. Her papa is home for the weekend, and she thinks that he probably shouldn't see her when she's been making mud pies. Maybe Isabel will know what to do. She carefully wipes first one hand, then the other clean on the front of her dress. Then she scoops up a mud pie to bring to Isabel. That will be a nice present.

Isabel is in fifth grade now, and is very grand. Even though she has friends and secrets, though, she still has time for Perla. In fact, Isabel and Perla have their own secrets. Isabel made paper dolls for Perla from cut out pictures of fashion magazines. She tells her which girls in school are mean, and which boys are cute. She has promised to teach her things, secret things: When you're a little older, Perlita, I'll teach you how to smoke, she said, and let Perla play with the bright red carton and its picture of the funny lions. Not at Isabel's house, but down at the ballfield, because the smoking and the funny lions are secrets. Isabel's belly is a secret, too. Lately she has been letting Perla touch her belly, which is fun. Soon there will be another little girl, and you will be her friend like I am your friend, Isabel says. Sometimes she seems frightened, but Perla and Isabel are both excited about there being another little girl. They play with paper dolls, and play family. Fashion magazines don't have many pictures they can use for papa dolls, but that's okay, because Perla and Isabel don't want to play with papa dolls in their families anyway. Papa dolls just yell.

Scratchy from drying mud, Perla wanders into Isabel's yard. She thinks she hears Isabel's voice inside, but she must be wrong. When she peeps into the kitchen where the voice is, she sees Isabel's older sister Chabela's friend. She doesn't like him: he is loud, and he yells at her when he sees her catching frogs or just playing in Isabel's yard. Now he looks funny, because he isn't wearing any clothes. Chabela's friend has hair on his back! His hairy back makes Perla laugh out loud.

Chabela's friend turns around at the sound and Perla sees Chabela behind him. Only it isn't Chabela, it's Isabel. She opens her mouth to yell, but Perla's not worried. Isabel is always yelling; Perla knows they are still friends and later will run to the ballfield and catch frogs.

Perla runs to Isabel and throws her arms around her. She has forgotten about the mudpie.

Isabel's naked chest is smeared with mud now. She glares at Perla, who has fallen on to her behind and is thinking about crying. Isabel's eyebrows draw together and she glares and starts to yell. But Chabela's friend starts yelling even louder, and Isabel transfers her glare to him. Perla doesn't understand the things he's saying, but they make Isabel wrap her arms around Perla and hold her tight, like she does sometimes when Papa is home.

"Perlita," sing-songs Isabel, and holds Perla to her muddy belly. Perla traces a picture of a little girl in the mud there, and is happy.

1977: Seventh Dream of a Teenage Heaven

Perla can't stand her mother anyway, so she has no objection to her mother foisting her off on aunt Vicki like pile of old clothes. This way she can keep working at Sal's, and doesn't have that little brat Esther following her around all day, wanting to play. Maybe Mama didn't want her to be a bad influence on the kids, but she didn't want to spend time with them anyhow.

Besides, this way she gets to spend more time with Letty.

Aunt Vicki won't let little Margarita stay there if she doesn't learn to wrestle, so it's running laps around the block every day after school for our Mag. She works with weights, and practices headlocks on Vicki. In theory, anyway. In practice, Vicki's training method involves Perla getting thrown to the floor a lot. She gets very used to the sight of little birds fluttering over her head as she lies on the mat after a spectacular flight over Vicki's head.

Perla wants to quit, but Vicki is frightening when she yells. There will be no non-wrestlers living in Vicki Glori's house. Perla suspects that she's being trained up to defend the family honor against Rena Titañon, but she knows she is destined to disappoint; all she is good at is fixing cars. Once, Aunt Vicki tries to stop Perla from working at Sal's -- she says it's unfeminine, but probably just resents the time wasted that could be spent wrestling -- so Perla runs away and hides for two days in Letty's basement. Lou says one day you will be a prosolar mechanic, eh, Maggie? and oh, she doesn't even dare to dream that far ahead. But one day she will wash out as a wrestler and when the day comes she needs to be ready to grab her mechanic career by the horns, and she will not let even Aunt Vicki stop her from training.

When Vicki finds her at Letty's house, Perla is prepared to out-scream her aunt to keep her time at Sal's. But Vicki arrives shaken and conciliatory. The weekend Perla ran away is one of the rare weekends Quina Chascarrillo bothers to call her sister. Vicki has let slip that Margarita has run away, and would you believe that Quina has maternal instincts? She rips Vicki a new one, and the chastised auntie is prepared to let Perla work at Sal's just to get her home before Quina comes rampaging from Dairytown, breathing fire and grabbing airplanes out of the sky like Godzilla.

When Letty dies, Perla stops working at Sal's.

She'd stop wrestling after the accident, too, but Vicki won't let her. To Vicki Glori, there is only one grief: that Rena Titañon does not publically acknowledge her champion. Well, two griefs, if you count her fury at all the queers in wrestling. Too apathetic even to run away, Perla works out as she is required. One day Vicki decrees she is ready to compete. Dressed in yellow and black tights and a little cape like a deranged superhero, Perla -- Margarita Bumblebee (designing personas is not Vicki's strength) -- is thoroughly beaten in the ring. After a year of ignominious defeats, Vicki at last throws up her hands in disgust. Perla will never beat a wrestler half her size, let alone Rena Titañon. The wrestling practice is over at last.

Perla finds work waitressing at Bumpers. She thinks about stripping, but decides her butt is too big.

1983: If There's a Heaven Above

It's been hot and dull since the return from Zhato. Once you've been involved with revolutions and dinosaurs, normal mechanic work -- even prosolar mechanic work -- is a letdown. They fix a couple of rockets, and deactivate Demoña's old two-person robot she isn't using any more, but mostly it's just cars and engines. And as glamorous as it is to be Rand Race's assistant, plenty of Maggie's job consists of handing him the right screwdriver. She did more actual mechanic work back at Sal's, fixing cars for Lou. Even Rand Race is bored, so it's no wonder that Maggie, sick of bringing him water and passing him the lug wrench, shares the boredom.

"This bites, Margie," he tells her, after they've rebuilt one too many sports cars one scalding August day.

When Yax Haxley comes running in with word of a job in Troubania, they all leap at it. Anything to get out of Hoppers in August, y'know? Daffy and Hopey and Izzy and the gang are sorry to see her go again so soon, she thinks, because after Hopey yells at her for wasting her life on the motherfucker when she should be a fucking master mechanic by now, they all drop some acid behind Del Chimney's old place and drive around Hoppers terrorizing the baby punk kids.

In Troubania, mending the rocket, Maggie is reminded that being Rand Race's assistant is the same wherever she is. He's still calling her Margie. She's still bringing him water and passing him the lug wrench. It's cooler, and she's getting drunk on vodka instead of beer, but otherwise just the same. Her mechanic skills are atrophying.

Until one day she passes Rand Race a lug wrench, and he opens a compartment deep inside the rocket, and a mechanized wolf-thing bursts from the compartment, grabs him by the arm, and drags him deep into the Troubanian woods. While Duke, Yax, and the locals run around shouting and firing guns randomly into the forest, Maggie coolly examines the compartment from which the mechanized beastie originated. There's another creature in there, a deactivated one which looks damaged. Serene, Maggie opens up the robot to find its control processors. It's the work of two minutes to rewire it to take her to its mate; she climbs aboard with only Rand Race's lug wrench for a weapon, and off she goes. It's quite a ride: Maggie leans back, laughing, as she holds on to the leaping creature with one hand and swipes away tree branches with the wrench.

Rand Race is wrestling fruitlessly with his captor in a clearing when they arrive. Maggie's reprogrammed robot pet savages its former comrade, and the disheveled Rand Race is flustered when he is freed from the monster's clutches. Maggie's hand appears in his field of vision, and his eyes sparkle as she helps him to his feet.

"Impressive," he says, as they smile down at the clashing wolfbots.

A chorus of cheers greets Rand Race and Maggie as they emerge from the clearing, the victorious and ferociously loyal robot at Maggie's heels.

"Rand! Rand!" cry the locals.

Maggie smiles. She doesn't mind letting Rand Race take the credit; she knows what she's done. But Rand silences the acclaim with one outthrust and muscular arm.

"Not me," he says, grinning at Maggie. "The heroine of the hour is --" he raises her arm above her head and turns her to face the crowd, "Maggie! Maggie Chascarrillo, master prosolar mechanic!"

1987: All In My Mind

*slap*

*slap*

*slap*

The cracking sounds of hand to flesh ricochets through Maggie's skull. Each smack consumes her senses, drowning out the all-encompassing misery which has been eating at her for years. Sometime after the masochistic parade of This Is Your Life ends, she opened her eyes, cheek still stinging -- and stares up into Hopey's smirking face.

She's naked, lying in bed with Hopey, who's blowing sloppy smoke rings into her face.

This isn't Texas.

This isn't 1995.

The ridiculously complex dream Maggie has just awoken from is already muddling, blurring at the edges, vanishing into incomprehensibility. Details bob to the surface: posing for naked pictures; Speedy dying; dating girl wrestlers. Whoring herself.

Hopey leaving her alone for years and years.

It all spills out of her in a rush. She's Dorothy Gale, returned to Kansas, if Kansas were Hoppers and Toto a bassist in a terrible punk band. You were there, and you, and you, she thinks, hysterically.

But Hopey just smiles. "Tell me something, Mag: why do you think I would leave you behind to go on tour an' then stay away from you for so long?"

Maggie relaxes as the dregs of the dream swish away. Nightmares didn't need to make sense. Hopey stubs out her cigarette then climbs on to Maggie, all bony elbows and tiny sharp hips. Sometimes when Hopey kisses her Maggie gets tense and miserable, but this time she melts into it, lets Hopey's laughing and oh-so-skilled tongue lap up the last misery of a nightmare that had seemed to take years. Hopey skins out of her black T-shirt and tugs down Maggie's blanket to suck on her nipple. But Maggie, usually content to be the passive recipient of Hopey's eager ministrations, wants more tonight. Not much of the dream is left, but she remembers passivity. Waiting for Hopey, wondering if she were alive.

So she rolls over, pushing Hopey down in a tangle of skinniness, and shucking off Hopey's jeans as if she's a laughing ear of corn. When Maggie brings her face down between Hopey's thighs, Hopey hollers in pleasure, and sticks both legs up in the air at crazy angles.

"Dunno what's got into you, Maggot, but I'm not complaining," says Hopey, and she reaches down to grab handfuls of Maggie's none-too-skinny flesh. Then she's whooping and yodelling her pleasure, and Maggie realises she likes this. Not just likes being the active one, not just making Hopey happy, but the taste, the smell, the texture of Hopey's flesh tightening and convulsing under her tongue.

Tomorrow morning, Maggie realizes, she will get in the bus and go on tour with La Llorona. Maybe she'll be a groupie, though given what their bus looks like, she'll probably be the mechanic necessary to get them out of L.A., let alone on a nationwide tour. She'll be there if they succeed, and if they fail and break up she will be there to be yelled at and to offer marvelous consolation sex. She'll be there to see Ohio for the first time, and if the band plays Niagara Falls. She'll be there if they meet artsy poseurs in New York City; laconic, wolfish musicians in Baltimore; prostitutes in Texas. There will be screaming fights and probably broken furniture. She's looking forward to it.

1997: So Alive

No matter how she twists and inhales, Maggie will not be able to pull on this pair of jeans. She sighs, and finds worn old shorts to wear to Hopey's. Her ass is never going to stop growing, she knows this. One day it will grow so large that Cheetah Torpeda will have to fight it to determine who gets ultimate control of Southern California.

She picks up a six pack on the drive down, and enough lo mein for two. Hopey loves the lo mein, and they share it while listening to one of Terry Downe's folk tapes. Hopey mocks the album for being crazy sweet for a bitchy, bitter old dyke like Terry, but Maggie sees Terry's newest tape lying by Hopey's stereo.

Afterward, they lounge on the front porch, finishing the beer, and start on another six pack Hopey has in her fridge.

It's a beautiful evening in Los Angeles.