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Old favorites, foo in a comfy-size Neighborhood SI-ore! AFTERWORD Pride BY DAGOBERTO GILB It’s almost time to close at the northwest corner of Altura and Copia in El Paso. That means it is so dark that it is as restful as the deepest, unremembering sleep, dark as the empty space around this spinning planet, as a black star. Headlights that beam a little cross-eyed from a fatso American car are feeling around the asphalt road up the hill . toward the Good Time Store, its yellow, plastic smiley face bright like a sugary suck candy. The loose muffler holds only half the misfires, and, dry springs squeaking, the automobile curves slowly into the establishment’s lot, swerving to avoid the new self-serve gas pump island. Behind it, across the street, a Texas flag, out too late this and all the nights, pops and slaps in a summer wind that, finally, is cool. Pride is the fearless reaction to disrespect and disregard. It is knowing that the future will prove that wrong. A good man, gray on the edges, an assistant manager in a brown starched and ironed uniform, is washing the glass windows of the store, lit up by as many watts as Venus, with a roll of paper towels and the blue liquid from a spray bottle. Goodnight, m’ijo! he tells a young boy coming out after playing the video game, a Grande Guzzler the size of a waste basket balanced in one hand, an open bag of flamin’ hot Cheetohs, its red dye already smearing his mouth and the hand not carrying the weight of the soda, his white T-shirt, its short’ sleeve arms reaching halfway down his wrists, the whole XXL of it billowing and puffing out in the outdoor gust. A plump young woman steps out of that car. She’s wearing a party dress, wide scoops out of the top front and back, its hemline way above the knees. Did you get a water pump? the assistant manager asks her. Are you going to make it to Horizon City? He’s still washing the glass of the storefront, his hand sweeping in small hard circles. The young woman is patient and calm like a loving mother. I don’t know yet, she tells him as she stops close to him, thinking. I guess I should make a call, she says, and her thick-soled shoes, the latest fashion, slap against her heels to one of the pay phones at the front of the store. Pride is working a job like it’s as important as, art or war, is the happiness of a new high score on a video arcade game, of a pretty new black dress and shoes. Pride is the deaf and blind confi dence of the good people who are too poor but don’t notice. A son is a long time sitting on the front porch where he played all those years with the squirmy dog who still licks his face, both puppies then, even before he played on the winning teams of little league baseball and city league basketball. They sprint down the sidewalk and across streets, side by side, until they stop to rest on the park grass where a red ant, or a spider, bites the son’s calf. It already swells but he no longer thinks to complain to his morn about ithe’s too old nowwhen he comes home. He gets ready, putting on the shirt and pants his morn would have ironed but he wanted to do it himself. He takes the ride with his best Best of fhe Old & New! All the latesf in Organic & Natural foods and 22 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5/25/01