The sun was setting in San Antonio, Mexico and Paco was too early for the date with Angelica Garcia. He was dressed in a white workout suit and wore his black glasses that made him look smarter. He lingered at a crosswalk to watch a horde of American tourists huddled in front of a restaurant menu board.
Paco held a long stem red rose and knew his biggest difficulty was getting past Angelica’s mother, but he was at least two steps ahead of any mother in Mexico. He was a teenage boy and knew everything.
Paco slowly walked toward the Garcia house and practiced what he’d say to Angelica’s mother. When he finally arrived at the front door he checked his clothes over for smudges, knocked on the door and forced a big smile.
“Pasa te, Paco,” Angelica’s mother said.
Paco opened the screened door and went in. “Buenos tarde. Senora Garcia.” He reached to remove the baseball cap that wasn’t there and adjusted his glasses. He smiled again.
Senora Garcia was putting away groceries from two bags on the table. Paco saw his chance. He put the rose on the table and helped Senora Garcia.
“This is for you.” He retrieved the red rose and held it out for her. He heard at church roses were her favorite flower. He had thought of everything.
She smiled, took the rose and put it in a vase on the table. She then sat at the table with arms folded and said, “Angelica is getting dressed. Sit.”
Paco was afraid of what Senora Garcia might ask, but he was more afraid of what he might answer. He knew in any discussion with a Mexican mother silence will never betray him.
Senora Garcia looked over her glasses and said, “I am only permitting this… movie… because I know your family.”
Paco nodded and smiled.
Angelica is not yet a woman and when I was a young girl I could not date boys until I was 16.” She waved her finger in the air. “Not one day earlier. But…” She rocked back in the chair and gave a little sigh. “…I guess times have changed.”
Lowering the newspaper Senor Garcia said. “Yes, darling, but we snuck out many times before your mother allowed us.”
Senora Garcia glared over at her husband with narrowed eyes.
Abruptly Angelica appeared from around the corner clutching her cell phone. “Hola, Paco.” She wore tight jeans stuffed into white go-go boots and a hot pink, half sweater that exposed her belly button. Her large breasts strained at the one button that held them in. It was an unusually warm day and Senora Garcia was sure the spring fertility gods were conspiring against her on her daughter’s first date.
Senora Garcia looked intently at Angelica’s clothes, their eyes met and they glared at each other, daring the other to blink or make a comment. This was it, mother against daughter. Death would follow if one word was spoken.
Angelica’s father saw the pending doom and suggested, “It will be cold after the movie. You should wear something warmer. Isn’t that right, Paco?”
Paco knew what to say. “Si.” He smiled.
Angelica’s eyes dropped and before she could turn away her mother added, “And I want your phone.”
Angelica’s eyes flared. “My phone?! “Why?” She clutched it to her breasts.
“Because this young man needs your whole attention. How would you like it if he was always talking on the phone?” Isn’t that right Paco?
The question was too full of nuisances and contradictions for Paco to answer. His lips moved but no words came out. Angelica saved him by speaking next.
“I thought you wanted me to carry one whenever I went out? For safety. Isn’t that what you said, mother?” Angelica knew she had her mother on this one.
Senora Garcia said in a calm voice, “You won’t need a phone because you are with a man. He will take care of everything. Isn’t that right, Paco?”
Again the question was too full of potential problems, so he retreated into silence and a smile.
“Let me have the phone.” Senora Garcia flicked the phone from Angelica’s hand like a black belt Shaolin priest.
Angelica silently sulked away and felt utterly defeated. Like a little baby she would have to give up her plaything and get dressed.
“Paco, you are so young.” Senora Garcia said looking over at him as she sat down again.
“I am almost seventeen.”
“Almost…I know hormones rage in the youth of Mexico. I am not that old and…” Senora Garcia’s voice trailed off.
Paco was prepared, “You are welcome to come too, Senora Garcia.” He was sure she wouldn’t come. But he had enough money if she did. He was one step ahead of any Mexican mother.
“No thank you, Paco. You know it is a long walk to the theater and the weather can change, it will be dark when you get out and…”
Paco played his trump card. “I have hired a taxi. Both ways.”
Senora Garcia looked at Paco and showed no emotion.
This time Angelica appeared again in a brown sweater that covered her midriff, all buttons in place and holding, plus. If her mother said one word about the white go-go boots, Angelica would kill her in her sleep that night. No teenage girl could live with a mother like that.
“I think Angelica is ready now.”
Luna Sanchez knocked on the door.
Senora Garcia would only allow the date if Luna, her daughter’s BFF, came along. Luna was small and bony with sharp features, mocha skin and shocking blue eyes. She wore a T shirt that read: Keep Mexico Weird.
“Paco hired a taxi.” Senora Garcia announced.
The girls looked at each other and smiled.
Angelica noticed the rose and said, “Paco brought you this. How sweet. Mother, when was the last time someone brought you flowers?”
Senora Garcia glanced again to her husband who buried his head in the newspaper. Then she turned toward Angelica and Paco. “I am not worried about you Paco. You are from a fine family. I am more worried about…” She looked over at her daughter and gave the Mexican mother’s stare, the stare that could stop the universe of the divine Creator with its intensity.
At the bottom of the steps the taxi was parked and ready. The driver removed his cap and with a flourish, bowed and opened the backseat door. He winked at Paco. The girls got in an as they drove away Paco looked up at the full moon rising, smiled, and knew he took care of Senora Garcia. She was totally impressed with his politeness, classiness and his silence had not betrayed him. He was a teenage boy and in command of the world.
Senora Garcia looked at that same moon and smiled too.
The taxi driver slid in a disc of one of Angelica’s favorite songs and gave Paco a sly smile. He was Paco’s secret agent, paid extra to apply some miel, honey to the date.
In front of the movie theater, the driver quickly parked and again with a bow, opened the door for the girls. They stood and waited while Paco paid the driver. Paco felt flush with success overcoming Senora Garcia and tipped an extra twenty Pesos.
When the same taxi pulled back up in front of the Garcia house, Senora Garcia was outside sweeping. She handed the driver 5o pesos. The double agent tipped his cap and said, “No problemo.”
The theater was crowded and Paco and the girls found seats near the front. Seated high above them, with a commanding view of the seats below, sat Senora Salcido with her young girls. She had her cell phone cupped in her hand and pecked out a cryptic text to Senora Garcia. “J.” When Angelica reached up and unbuttoned one of her sweater buttons, Senora Malone’s finger hovered over the text keys. But it was hot in the theater, so she allowed one loose button. Two would be a sin.
When the movie was over Paco escorted the girls to the waiting taxi, the back door open, the driver smiling with hat in hand.
Angelica stopped, turned to Paco and said. “It’s a warm night. Let’s save you some money. We can walk home.”
It was not what Paco had planned, for his plan was to return to Angelica’s house, order a large pizza for the family and then he and Angelica and Luna would listen to music and laugh until her parents went to bed; then when Luna went home he’d…. But he could say nothing now, his plans were destroyed. He knew by the time they walked home it would be too late. He looked at the driver and shrugged. The driver gave his best, double agent smile and drove quickly back to the Garcia house the children were walking home.
Senora Garcia did not panic. Her network of mothers was long and trustful. With several phone calls she arranged so there would be a mother on lookout on every street along the way home to watch her daughter. It was Mexican mothers — juntos sempre — together always.
When Paco, Angelica and Luna reached the start of Calle Independencia Senora Valdez was the first to text in. Another J.
On street six it was, “No kissing.” But at street five it was reported Luna walked behind the two and they, it could not be confirmed, were holding hands.
With more than a dozen streets to go, Senora Garcia whispered a small prayer to the Virgin Mary. This was the street Luna lived on and her daughter would now walk unescorted the rest of the way home. Senora Garcia quickly hurried for the door mad at herself for not allowing her daughter to have a phone. She could have called her daughter to let her know her mother was not far away and watching her every move. Was she failing at her sacred duty as a Mexican mother?
Senora Garcia stopped his wife. “We can trust our own little girl. The time has come. She is not a baby anymore. What could happen this close to home?”
Senora Garcia’s mind exploded with infinite possibilities─ sex in an alley, pregnancy, poverty, crime, prostitution and eventually her daughter’s agonizing death as a drug addict because she failed her duty as a mother on her daughter’s first date.
“Against the sacred duty as a mother . . . “ Senora Garcia blessed herself “… I will not go down there.” It was hardest thing Senora Garcia had ever not done.
Paco and Angelica walked down the dimly lit street hand in hand and talked about the movie and laughed again at the funny parts. The night was warm. He looked over at Angelica and she loosened one of her sweater buttons. Paco pretended not to notice. When he looked again only one button now held back two large, firm breasts from spilling out into the soft moonlight. Sex was not the first thing that came to his mind. It was Senora Garcia castrating him with an old, rusty fish knife. He knew unless he had a witness to the whole button affair, no one would believe he didn’t help those buttons.
On the last street the widow Rosa Del Toro O’Reilly lived, and she was addicted to Mexican romantic movies and the dreamy music of Vicente Fernandez − They were her life and soul now that her husband had died. When Senora Garcia called to be her last faithful lookout, Rosa felt in her heart the sacred duty, plus she had binoculars and could see everything magnified to the 22nd power.
Rosa followed the couple down the street with the binoculars but when she turned to glance at the television and looked back the kids had disappeared. She frantically scanned the street, panicked, and grabbed her phone. Rosa flew open her window listening for the muffled ecstasy of a virginal orgasm. Then a gentle breeze came up, the clouds parted and the full moon highlighted the young couple in the doorway. Rosa raised her binoculars and watched them intently. If the girl had sex and became pregnant it would be her fault and she and Angelica’s mother would be mortal enemies until the end of eternity. Rosa started to call but paused when she heard Angelica’s sweet voice.
“Thank you, Paco. When I am an old woman of forty, I’ll always remember my first date.” The voices faded out and then Rosa heard sweet innocent laughter. Rosa’s finger hovered over the last number. She raised the binoculars again and framed in the doorway and lit by the heavenly moonlight Rosa saw Angelica put her arms around Paco and kiss him. Rosa’s throat tightened, moisture filled her eyes and she began to tremble. She dropped the binoculars and softly wept. Then her finger touched the last number and Senora Garcia answered immediately. Rosa’s voice crackled with emotion, “Muy linda.” She hung up and quietly sobbed with thoughts of her innocent youth as she watched through the binoculars at the two embrace in the moonlight.
Next day Senora Garcia called all the women involved thanking them for their sacred duty as Mexican mothers.