My mom loves Costco now, she used to love Sam’s Club. Her eyes widen and get giddy once she’s there.
“Griselda, búscame un carrito.”
I’ll lose her at some point after spending a few seconds too long sorting through a pile of oversized coffee tins, and then eventually find her two aisles over carrying a sack of elbow macaroni under one arm and a bucket of Tide under the other.
This visit wasn’t any different. We waded through the sample area, where the crowd of shoppers had thickened. It was because a skinny, blonde spiky-haired employee was about to begin a knife presentation. He looked about nineteen or twenty and kept checking his watch nervously. I watched him adjust his belt a couple of times and eventually step up onto a little platform surrounded by rows of tuna cans and pickles. He tried to muster up enough energy to look enthusiastic.
“Quédate aquí, voy a buscar spinach. No te muevas, a veces regalan cuchillos.”
I stood next to a Señora holding a rotisserie chicken and together we watched the kid set up his knife kit. “Tiene buenos cuchillos,” she whispered. “Si,” I whispered back. It was a whole thing now, the area around the kid had been taken up, we all looked up and waited.
My grandfather had been the butcher in Guadalupe Bravo, Chihuahua, a tiny speck of town somewhere on the border not too far from Juarez. Many times, I’ve thought I had it in me to be a butcher, too.
The kid was a couple of minutes into his presentation now, so far, no giveaways. He’d gone through the paring, peeling and boning knives impressively; chopping potatoes, julienning carrots, then slicing bone, cardboard, aluminum. It wasn’t boring. Some people walked away but the Señora and I stayed on, along with several others. By now there was a new Señor in our group, he was wearing a blue T-shirt and a cap that read ‘Bimbo’ across the front. He was holding a paper cocktail plate with a few buffalo wings on it.
Next up was a half-inch steel bar. The guy showed the crowd the serrated utility knife and began sawing away. It was working, and after a few seconds, he stopped and presented the indentation the knife had made on the steel. He asked if there were any buyers and everyone stayed silent, watching him, hoping he’d up the ante.
Suddenly Bimbo cap said, “Mejor que los vaya a vender en Juárez, a los carteles.” The crowd tittered. “Si, verdad,” responded another voice from behind me, “Así cortan pescuezos rapidin.” We all laughed, si, verdad, si, mejor en Juárez, pesquezos, rapidin. Someone said he should sell them door to door over there. I don’t know why but at that moment, we laughed even harder. We lost it when he pulled out the butcher knife. I saw the Señora pull a little crushed up Kleenex out of her pocket and dab the corners of her eyes, her face distorted. The blond kid looked up at everyone, looked confused for a moment and then giggled, assuming we were just really enjoying his presentation.
Gris Muñoz is a frontera poet and fiction writer. She is the author of the hybrid collection Coatlicue Girl (Pandora Lobo Estepario, 2018). Her work has been published in Black Girl Dangerous, Bitch Media, and St. Sucia, among others. Her fiction has been featured in the anthologies Turtle Island to Abya Yala, Lowriting: Shots, Rides & Stories from the Chicano Soul, Tlaa: A Collective Indigenous Expression and the upcoming Third Woman Press anthology. Gris is currently commissioned to write the biography of acclaimed LA artist Fabian Debora. She lives in El Paso, Texas.