Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Karman Rodriguez Barranca Costales.

Karmen and I sat once again in Teresa’s living room, a safe distance apart, she on the sofa that ran along the wall with the large windows facing the street, me on a brown upholstered arm chair cater-corner to the larger piece of furniture.

I noticed very faintly the hairline scar that started from below her right eye and circled around her cheek and almost down to her mouth. It was a scar she had gotten when she was a kid, when a bunch of kids were playing ‘ball’ with an old tin can and one flew up and cut her face. I liked the scar, I always did, it matched in its own way one I had behind my right eye—it looks like crow’s feet, exaggerated crow’s feet, another remnant of a dangerous childhood.

We sat and waited for the other to speak first. It had been almost 40 years.

She began: “The dinner was no good? You are home early.”

“You know me and crowds. No different from when I was 17.”

“And I was just 16.”

“Now you are Karman Rodriguez Barranca Costales.”

She told me of her short marriage to German Barranca, a second-baseman who had four cups of coffee in the big leagues. She managed, while they were married to get her high-school equivalency diploma, then enroll in junior college, then the University of Cincinnati, then University of Cincinnati Law School.

Now, 41 years after she was a ticket-taker at Francesco I. Madura stadium in Saltillo, Mexico, she was a financial planner in Solano Beach, California, just outside of San Diego, with something like two dozen ball-players and former ball-players making up the bulk of her practice.

“You have done well, Karmen. I knew you would.”

“You, too. Though you are not the English professor you had hoped to be.”

“No, a different path presented itself. I had no money for graduate school and I followed it. I guess it’s ok. Some days I like what I do.”

“That is better than average and you can still read Chaucer and Cervantes. There is no law against that.”

It was now almost three in the morning, and though we were not talked out, we knew it was time for bed. She headed off to the small room we had shared during the summer of 1975. I removed the cushions from the living room sofa and folded out my bed and made it with the sheets Teresa had left for me.

I kissed her and kissed her again and thought about her as I knew her. She held my hand and kissed me again.

“Good night, Jorge Navidad.”

“Good night, Karman Rodriguez Barranca Costales.”

It was better this way.

I had a game in less than 12 hours.

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