by Jael Strong
“I want to play the video games, abuela,” Miguel said as the hostess called them to their table.
“You can call me grandma,” said Birdie as she pulled Miguel away from the orange rifles dangling from the game machines.
“Papa told me that you are abuela.” They were seated within direct eyesight of the games and Miguel could only stare longingly as every other child dropped endless quarters in the slots.
“Can you imagine, Daisy? Telling him to call me abuela,” said Birdie to her sister. Daisy shook her head from side to side disapprovingly. Turning her attention to Miguel, Birdie tussled with his hair as she told him, “I am not Hispanic young man. You may call me grandma.”
Miguel slumped his shoulders and fingered the menu, but his eyes drifted always to the game room and the orange rifles. The other boys laughed heartily every time they blasted the guns.
“Have you picked what you want to eat?” Birdie asked, but Miguel didn’t answer. “How about dessert, if you’re not hungry for any real food?”
Miguel liked the idea of dessert, a moist chocolate cake with ice cream, but he still said nothing. He could only gawk at the other boys having a good time, wishing he was one of them.
“He’s not listening to you, Birdie. His mind is only on that stupid shoot ‘em up game,” Daisy laughed.
“Is that what you are thinking about Miguel?” Birdie asked.
Miguel didn’t have a chance to respond. Daisy interjected, “That’s all he’s thought about since we got here. Let me give him a quarter for the game.” She rifled through her purse.
Miguel hungrily waited for his liberation from the old women, but grandma would not have it. “Don’t give him a quarter!” she snapped. “Let him stay here so that we can get to know him better. Daisy, put your money away.”
Miguel fell back into his seat as if those orange rifles had been aimed at his chest and the other children had opened fire. Daisy spoke up for the boy. “Birdie! He wants to play. He probably played those games with his father all the time. Don’t they like those kinds of shoot ’em up games? That’s why the crime rate is so high.”
Miguel glared now at the old aunt, but she adjusted her napkin and smiled, happy that she could come to his defense. Miguel opened his mouth and his dark cheeks grew crimson as he prepared a barrage of complaints for Daisy’s ears. Birdie recognized that murky expression and intervened. “Relax child we’re not talking badly of your father.”
“She acts like he’s a scoundrel or a bad man.” His chin began to quiver.
“That’s a big word for a little boy,” Birdie laughed.
“Stop laughing at me!” Miguel was getting loud.
“Relax child! Don’t listen to Daisy. She doesn’t know eggs from rocks. I’ll tell you a secret though.” Birdie leaned in close to Miguel while Daisy took her turn at glaring.
Miguel didn’t say anything, but watched intensely as his grandmother opened her purse and revealed a black shiny handgun. Miguel instinctively reached for the grip, only to have it yanked away by his grandmother.
“Are you crazy?” She smiled. “Do you want to get me arrested? That’s not a toy.”
Daisy frowned contemptuously. Birdie smiled. Miguel sat back and listened to his grandmother speak. The tales unfolded while he chomped on his burger and fries and then his chocolate cake and ice cream. Miguel, so mesmerized by his gun-toting abuela, didn’t notice the orange rifles dangling unoccupied in the game room. “When I was a child,“ said Birdie, her eyes going wild as she spoke, dancing from object to object, not really focusing on any one thing. “My grandfather took me to the field in the back of his property and we shot at trees. When they come to steal my wallet, I’ll yank it out and that’ll be that. They best not try to hijack this old lady‘s car or climb through my window in the middle of the night. I’ll take aim with my wrinkled hand and fight ’til my last bullet is spent. Boy, I won’t be taken down easy. Pow!”
About the Author
Jael Strong is a writer for TheWriteBloggers, a company dedicated to creating professional blogging content for increased internet visibility.