A Kiss in the Corn
Shush, you stupid corn stalk
*some explicit content
Chapter IV. | Antagonists
“Shush, you stupid corn stalk. You trying to get me caught?”
Joe is panther-like, peeking with stealth through the sinewy shoots. Remy’s brought a girl out to the fields, and he knows it. You could say the two workers lack responsibility. Still, after more than an hour’s search, even laborers need a break. Joe pulls a water bottle out his knapsack and treads up the incline leading to the river. Unknowingly, he’s got an audience of two.
Farmer John is watching. She is always watching, with her eyes searing so red that the irises look it too, eyes that seemingly never got sleep. No, just watching all the time. She’s got a long weed poking out her mouth, chewing it briskly, steadily. Farmer John kind of leans over while she watches too, squinting from the sun and grating the crumbling, boney projections inside her mouth until they chip or go missing. Her lips are almost black, yet, although she is a smoker, it’s probably just due to her being a dirty woman. Remy even started a rumor that she ate mud. Though he did call Farmer John a “he.” Pronouns.
The other player in the act is an unnoticed figure on the Mexican side of the river. It moves without hurry, barely out of sight. It’s carrying something heavy over its back. Joe takes a few puffs from his own cigarette before saving it behind his ear. He crunches his plastic bottle and finally yells out, “Come on Remy! (No one wants to be searching for you like this, all the day.)”
The sound of his voice causes some crows to call. Joe looks back at the river, noticing the figure for the first time. It looks directly at him, then puts a hand to its waist … Joe hits the floor running.
The only noise he hears is from his own lungs inflating and deflating. His hands seem to spew out sweat, while his heart nearly bulldozes through his sternum. Still racing, it seems to pull him, through his chest, and off into safety. Joe hits the dirt at one point, crawling like a soldier between the low alfalfa stock. Knees and elbows in the soil, he eventually leaves the blue for the yellow corn stalks again, now able to rise up to a crouch.
After minutes of reaching deeper into the groves of corn, taking extra care not to stir a single stalk, Joe collapses. He grabs a tall firm shoot and plops into the dirt, sliding down it like a pole. The stalk splits somewhat towards the base and falls over. The sound is like a miniature tree falling in a mini Amazon. For a moment he panics, thinking, Shit! I’m a tree cutter. Then he remembers it’s just corn.
Now able to catch his breath under the shade of the golden forest, Joe slowly drops his eyelids. But a voice is heard nearby. “Hold on. What was that?” Some whispers.
“It was nothing, just a little jackrabbit.”
“Remy-yuh! You play too much …” Joe crawls himself closer to the conversation. He stops just before reaching a small break in the fields.
“Uh-oh, Remy’s got himself a chulita,” Joe remarks under breath. He moves in and considers emerging to scare them, but he hears the woman’s breathing. A familiar pattern. Joe frowns and a bubble of air comes to the back of his throat, ready to yell and embarrass them in the act. No, he swallows it, keeps his mouth quiet, and chuckles. “Huh.”
While retreating back into the “woods,” he manages enough noise to catch the woman’s attention. Figuring he’s caught, by instinct, his eyes go straight for the woman’s, and her eyes beam back. In that two-second glance, the green reflecting in the sun portrays a jungle of emerald treasures that will plague Joe’s curiosity for the rest of his life. Remy is covering the lower half of her face, perhaps sucking her tongue, maybe biting her lip. Her glare flows intently at Joe’s, hiding in the darkness of the stalks. It is as if they had always planned to meet in the fields and look at each other this exact way.
Veronica’s stare finally breaks when Remy’s movements get too rough. She grunts as he ruffles her hair. She says, (Wait yourself, boy. Let’s go walking towards the river, come.) The last thing Joe catches is Veronica fixing her bangs back down, then he disappears. He stumbles on his way to the farmhouse.
“I see ya, Joe.” Farmer John greets him as he stomps onto the porch. “Watching you all is like some big farce, I’ll tell ya.”
“Huh? What you mean?”
“Your little fiascos and runarounds. It’s like watching a damn tel-A-novela.”
“Is it, now?”
“Well, your credence may follow mine, might not. But I tell ya, I can’t stand y’all Mexicans. Filthy rotten sons-a-bitches. They are the darkness of our time, and will only destroy what this great country stood for. Notice I said, ‘stood.’ Now they oppose us and invade us. All they is is our enemies. And Remy there is public enemy number one. ¿Tú comprende?”
“Why do you hire us then?” Joe smiles, anxious to hear her response.
“Good question. It’s simple. Y’all are good for bossing around, and that’s about it. I mean, prime example; Remy over there is only good at two things. Working and impregnating. That girl I seen y’all with is only good for two things as well.”
“Impregnating and birthing, and that’s it. And then she’ll grow fat and ugly with a missing tooth, worse than mine here. Lookee.” She smiles to show her raggedy teeth. “So I pose the question: What are you good at?” She scratches her ear and laughs. “Doggone, boy. I guess I gotta figure that one out.”
“How’d you get a name like Farmer John anyway? Are you like a trannie or what-you-call-’em?”
“Nah, chico. My name is Mary John Ryner. Born and raised, female. Pronoun, female. Pronoun. Didn’t think I’d ever have to explain that one! Now listen to me — ”
“Ah, it’s like a religious name then. I got a cousin, her name is María Juan. You know, that’s like Mary John. Oy, it sounds weird in English. Can I just call you Farmer Mary?”
“Do I have to go through my names and pronouns again? Gah-lee!” Farmer John watches as Joe gets up, apparently wanting to leave the conversation, maybe kick himself in the head a few times. She clears her throat for one more tidbit.
“Look, Joe. That girl has a lot of shit on her plate, and last thing she need is to get knocked up by one of you crash dummies. So we’re clear, there’ll be no men upstairs with me and Verona or whatever her name is. Those are ground rules, ya hear me? No machos. Now that’s a pronoun for your ass!”
“Yeah, I hear you. But you better tell Remy that same info, Ms., ‘cuz he’s the one got his hands in everyone’s pants — ”
“Why? You see something?” Joe sucks his lips in, the vivid green of Veronica’s eyes still fresh in his mind — and the sounds of her making out with Remy.
“Nah, I didn’t see nothing. I’m just telling you, he’s that way. Fool got with my sister and cheated on her in her own apartment. I don’t get why you’re on my case so hard,” Joe tells her.
“I remember you from the ice cream truck that day. You and your Asian sister saw the doctors on the Mexico side. I talked to those doctors. I know who you are.” A flux of heat comes over Joe once more, suddenly recalling his encounter with this woman before. And with the guys in the medical van. La güera! he thinks, and he starts pacing on the wooden porch, eyes traveling in all directions, tugging on his thick turtle collar.
“Mira, it’s not what you think. I’m out with La Poza … No more. I swear, I — ”
“It don’t matter to me, boy. I still hired you, or didn’t I? Shit, I ain’t gonna call the ICE on ya.”
“Ooh, thank — ”
“Whether you’re with Poza or not, I’mma still keep my eyes on you for sure. But it’s that slow chubby one I’m not too confident about. All I’m saying is watch him for me, will ya?” Joe nods and takes a deep breath. His eyes drift toward the river at the edge of the fields. “Don’t worry ‘bout them dudes. You’re safe here. And … I got the piece to prove it.”
She makes a chick-chick and a pew sound to signal what she means. Then a noise like out of a bird cage is heard inside.
“What is that?” says Farmer John.
“I don’t know, sounds like a — ”
“Aw shit! I left the dang-on rooster in the house. Freaking Cocky, get your ass outtathere. ‘S gon’ be chicken shit every-which-where.”
Joe kind of laughs. “It is gonna be some shit, count on that.”
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