Tag Archives: Tacos

The Breath of Los Angeles

For Breath of Los Angeles.
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

Liberty lies in the wake of a blue house ghost. Christmas glass shines like ass. A ruby red orb like a planet at dusk, in the dust of the Old West. Cowboys cling to the hard backs of horses, sunsets spill, tequila dreams drop like rockets from the moon into the sea. We see. Martians of nuclear clouds. We see. Buildings blowing like bubbles on days of infamy.

Felipe Flauta drags a 39-gallon gray plastic trash can from the kitchen to the back alleyway. It’s full of food waste and he cries as he turns it up and over the lip of the Dumpster. The lip of the Dumpster.

He recalls the clothing store chick in the mall who laughed at him when he brought her a rose and fast-food Mexican from the food court. “I wrote you a love poem,” he told her. He pulled the crinkled notebook paper from his pocket and handed it to her.

Her name was Glenda. Glenda? Was she a good witch? She was embarrassed as she took it. “I’m at work. I’ll read it later.”

“Would you like to eat food with me?” Felipe asked. He brushed the dark hair from his eyes with his fingers. “Do you like burritos?”

That made Glenda laugh as she stood behind the counter. “No. I hate burritos.” She had tossed up blonde hair and she wagged it behind her with a shake of her head. She was overly perfumed. “Don’t you know I’m out of your league? Because I am.”

“You don’t have to be so cruel,” Felipe said. He was meek. He was humble. He was shy. He was small. “I was just trying to be nice. I like you.”

“But I don’t like you. You are pursuing something that is bound to crush you. I really have to get back to work now.”

She walked away from the counter to help a dingy customer with some crappy, overpriced clothes. Felipe sighed. He held the bag of Mexican food tighter in his hand. He went back out to the food court and found a lonely table away from everyone else. He sat down and pulled a burrito out of the bag. He released it from the warm paper. It looked delicious, but he suddenly wasn’t hungry.

He sat stone still and thought of how Glenda had hurt his small heart. Small heart? Then he cried out. “My heart is large and full of foolish love!” People in the food court turned to look. Some pointed and laughed.

Felipe stood up. He reached down and took the burrito into his hand and walked back to the clothing store where Glenda worked. He marched straight to the counter where she was now leaning over and flipping through a dirty magazine. “Hey!” Felipe yelled.

Glenda looked up. She made a face. “You again? What do you want now?”

“It’s feeding time for all the animals,” Felipe said, and he threw the burrito at her face as hard as he could.

She made an ohhh ughhh sound of some sort and it forced her face to contort and shift. The burrito burst open, and its contents covered her heavily made-up face. She screamed as she pawed away the mess. “What the hell!”

Felipe grinned because he knew he had done well in the art of revenge, trickery, whatever it was. “I’m not a fan of food waste. I had to use that burrito for something. Have a nice day.” He walked out as she wept.

Felipe Flauta leaned against a wall in the alleyway and smoked a Spanish cigarette. He was wearing a soiled white apron. The kitchen at Thunder Taco was a hard, messy place to work. He smelled of food and sweat. He always seemed to smell like food and sweat. Food and sweat or dirty dishwasher. He did all the dirty jobs. He figured that was because he was meek and shy and lonely and unsure and wasn’t always able to speak up for himself.

Felipe lived with his Aunt Grasella in a stucco hacienda on the wrong side of the tracks on the wrong side of the city. His parents had died in a hot air balloon crash over the Grand Canyon. His siblings were all older and had moved on. Felipe had a small bedroom with one window that looked out on an alley. His bed was made for one. His existence was so completely singular. He had a stereo and liked to listen to old Rush albums. He would sometimes smoke marijuana and exhale the smoke into his pillow so his aunt wouldn’t smell it. One day she did and she got angry and made him get a job. And that’s why he was a dishwasher at Thunder Taco.

Someone called his name from the kitchen. “Felipe!” He tossed his smoke to the ground and went back inside. A cook by the name of Bryan told him there was someone out front who wanted to see him. Bryan was pretty much an asshole, Felipe thought. He never let him bum smokes. He was saltier than soy sauce. “Who is it?” Felipe wanted to know.

“I don’t know… But she’s a fox.”

Felipe wasn’t familiar with the term. “A fox?”

“She’s hot. She’s got a great body.”


“Yeah, man. Get out there before she takes off… Hey wait, come here,” Bryan said to him. “Let me give you a little advice. Chicks like her dig a guy who sweet talks them. You know, poetry and junk like that.”

“But I’m not a poet. I’m just a dishwasher.”

“Anybody can be a poet, man. Tell you what. I’ve got a line you can lay on her that is guaranteed to get you some action.”

“Action?” Felipe wondered.

“Dude. I’m talking about the ol’ in-out, in-out.” Bryan the asshole cook took his right pointer finger and inserted it into a hole created by his left pointer finger and thumb. He imitated the action of intercourse and grinned.

Felipe was puzzled.

“Sex, man! Sex! I’m talking about man on woman WrestleMania, dude. What’s your problem? Are you afraid of girls or something? Geez.”

Felipe looked down to the ground. He didn’t like the way Bryan the asshole cook talked. Someone put in an order at the window. Bryan looked at him and just shook his head. “I’ll keep the line to myself. I got to get back to work, but take some sort of action, man. Or you will always be just a dishwasher.”

Felipe washed his hands and looked at himself in a clouded mirror above a sink. He took a deep breath and walked out to the front of the restaurant. Glenda from the clothing store at the mall was sitting at a table by the window and looking out at the world. He walked over to her. She turned to look at him. “Hey,” she said.

Felipe sat down across from her. “What are you doing here? I didn’t think you liked Mexican food.”

“I’m not here for the food.” She licked at her Disney Channel mouth and acted nervous. “I came to see you.”

“Me? Why? I thought you hated me.”

“Hate is such an ugly word.”

“What is going on with you?” Felipe wanted to know. He was feeling distrust. “Do you have emotional problems?”

“No… I’m sorry I made fun of you,” she said. “I act like that when I’m nervous. I know it’s terrible, but I can’t help it. I always regret it after.”

Felipe looked around as if there might be someone else behind the scenes pulling her strings. He thought it was all an act. “Are you a puppet?” he asked her. “Puppets creep me out.”

“A puppet? No, I’m not a puppet. What a strange thing to say.”

“Is that all you want?”

“Don’t you have something to say to me?”

Felipe leaned back and strummed his fingers against the window. “No. What would I have to say to you?”

“You threw a burrito in my face. It was mortifying. I was hoping you’d at least apologize, and we could move on from this. Maybe be friends.”

Felipe looked up and toward the kitchen. Bryan was hovering in the shadows and watching them. He was doing his ol’ in-out, in-out routine with his fingers again. Felipe cleared his throat. “Do you want to have sex with me?”

Glenda’s sweet-as-rhubarb-pie face morphed into a sour snarl. “What!?”

Felipe leaned forward and put his elbows on the table and looked right into her eyes. “I asked you if you wanted to have sex with me.”

Glenda fumed. “Are you being serious right now?”

“Yes. What’s the problem? Geez.” He looked across the restaurant at Bryan who was shaking his head in the positive and grinning triumphantly.

“Do you know anything!? Have you any clue what romance is? What love is?”

Felipe was more than surprised by her words. “Love?”

Glenda began to cry. “You don’t throw a burrito at someone who loves you.”


Glenda suddenly stood up. “I love you, Felipe! I’ve loved you since tenth grade.” She covered her face with her hands and cried harder.

Felipe jumped up in shock. “This is hot and fresh and a jiggled mystery to me.”

She pulled her hands away from her face and looked at him. “You’re a senseless fool, Felipe Flauta. A god damn senseless fool.” Glenda dashed from the love ruins of Thunder Taco. She paused outside on the other side of the window and looked through at him one last time before running away.

Felipe slumped back down in his seat at the table and withdrew into his deeper self. Bryan the asshole cook sauntered over. He slapped a white towel over his shoulder and clamped a hand on the young man’s shoulder. “That was rough, man,” he said. “Real rough.”

“She could have been my person,” Felipe said softly. “The one person who could love me forever… And I threw a burrito at her.”

Bryan took the seat across from him, folded his arms, and sighed. “And you straight up asked her to have sex. Damn, man. That takes guts.”

“And what good did it do me? She ran straight out of my life.”

“Do you love her?”

Felipe was shocked that Bryan the asshole cook would even utter those words. “I think so.”

“Then go after her. Go find out for sure.” Bryan got up and started to walk away.

“But I’ve got a pile of dishes back there that need attention,” Felipe called out after him.

The words floated across the waves of dying light as the whole of reality stood still. “Fuck the dishes… Love is everything and more now.”

Felipe looked around at his present-tense broken future. He got up and went to the door. He pushed it open and stepped out. The breath of Los Angeles struck his face, and he went into it and after her, his royal soul on indelible fire.


Check out the latest post at my companion site, Blowtorch Pastoral: The Baker.

Have You Heard of Personal Space?

Cat sitting in red plastic spaghetti strainer on kitchen counter
Polly the cat sits in a spaghetti strainer.

I don’t know what it is, but lately I feel like a human magnet.

That’s not the same as a chick magnet. I define human magnet as in everywhere I go, other human beings seem to have the need to get in my personal space… Uninvited and unwanted, of course. In light of the whole COVID mess, I have become hypersensitive to people getting too close to me when I am out in public. I really don’t like it.

Since I am a house husband, I do most of the grocery shopping. Other than our crappy Walmart, the town I live in has only one regular grocery store… And it sucks. It’s too small, it never has anything in stock, and it takes forever to get through the checkout lines because they can’t retain new employees for more than 4 hours it seems. But enough of that, the point is that the town is growing and growing and so the grocery store is getting more and more crowded. So, pretty much no matter when I go, the aisles are usually crawling with undesirables of all types.

The problem I have been facing lately is that whatever product I’m looking for, there’s always a cluster of other people right there and in the way. The section can be completely empty otherwise, but sure enough, when I go to get the one thing I need, someone’s right there, bent over and filling half the aisle with their huge ass. Ugh.

It happened to me twice today alone. The first time was in the Latin American food aisle. All I needed was one damn can of enchilada sauce. There was one other person in the whole area, and what was she doing? Standing right in front of where the enchilada sauce was and filling, and I mean filling, her cart with boxes upon boxes of taco shells. And she was going at it like a fiend. One would think she was on Guy’s Grocery Games and the countdown was on to win $20,000. Who the hell eats that many tacos? Wherever and whatever is going down with that kind of party, count me out. I like tacos, I just don’t want to be around when that digestive nuclear bomb goes off.

Anyways, I grumbled, looped around and came back later to get my one can of enchilada sauce. The taco shell section was obliterated.

The next event occurred in the salad dressing aisle where they keep all the mayo and Miracle Whip. Whip. That’s fun to say. But once again, the aisle was barren except for this couple kneeling down in front of the mayo… And I just got an image of Louis Gossett Jr. calling Richard Gere “Mayonnaise” in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman… Yeah, I watched it. So what? Check the clip out below.

But like I was saying, this couple was kneeling down in front of the mayo and looking and talking and talking and looking at all the different jars they had there. I’m like, “It’s god damn mayonnaise. Pick one and move on!” I didn’t say that out loud, I just thought it to myself. So, once again, I had to reroute, loop around, and come back. These people are chewing up my valuable time! Valuable time like writing about mayonnaise, I guess.

But the main point of this article is the fact that people have little to no sense of personal space. I don’t know if I smell good or what, but the last few times I’ve been at the store, people have creeped up on me so close that I can actually feel them breathing down my neck. I’ve had people rudely reach out in front of me, from the side and the back, and snag something off the shelf. I’ve had people nearly step on my shoes. I’ve had people nearly dry hump me from behind. What the hell!? I just want to step aside and say, “Could you back off please!” But of course, I never do. Not in this day and age. You never know what kind of lunatic you’re up against.

I want to wrap up my bitchfest by talking about the biggest violator of personal space in my entire life… Polly the cat. That’s right, our pet cat takes the cake, and the cat chow, when it comes to invading personal space. I don’t know what her problem is, and we are always asking that very question, but we have never had a cat that gets so right up into your face as this one does.

Polly isn’t one of those nice kitties that jumps up on your lap, curls a couple of times, and then plops down for a nap. Nope. Not this one. Polly is the type of cat that literally tries to crawl up your body and rest on your shoulder. And that’s how she got her name… Because when she was a kitten, she’d love to climb up and sit on your shoulder, like a parrot. Get it? But now that she’s full grown, and I mean really full grown, (she’s a fat cat, a chonker my wife says) she can’t sit up on your shoulder but really just rests her head on it, her two front paws wrapped around your neck like she’s giving you a hug. Cute, yeah, but then she licks. Yep, she’s a licker. Any kind of exposed skin is doomed to be assaulted by that sandpaper tongue. I don’t like it. My wife doesn’t like it. It’s gross. That’s the point at which we softly push her aside. And the whole gross licking thing is part of the reason we don’t have dogs. It’s so off putting and just not for us. We’re not prudes, just cat people. No offense dog lovers. She’s also into headbutting and nose to nose staring contests. It’s creepy.

If you haven’t guessed by now, the picture at the top of this post is Polly sitting in a spaghetti strainer while I was cooking dinner the other night. I never had a cat that had to be near me or next to me or on me so much. She literally follows me around the house. We don’t let her in our bedroom at night because she would literally sit on one of our faces. (I could say something dirty here, but I won’t). I don’t know about you, but I can’t sleep like that. So, out she goes to the living room. Nighty night.

Maybe I’m overreacting about all this closeness, but you have to admit, a lot of people are gross, and I don’t want to get sick. Besides that, it’s just downright rude. Sure, some might say “excuse me” but the majority say nothing at all and actually act like I’m in their way. Hmm. I was here first, dipshit. I have rights. I guess I just need to plot out my course more carefully and do the best I can to avoid the glommers who love to glom on me. My wife says I just need to accept and appreciate the love, not from the people in the grocery store, but the cat. Accepting love. That’s always been kind of tricky for me, but I’m trying.